Numerous people see the Paleo movement as a super-clean, version of the infamous Atkins Diet; lots of lean meats, no carbs, no dairy, lacking in variety, and expensive. These opinions are simply not entirely true.
The FACTS are: Paleo is clean, but you CAN have carbs, avoid self-deprivation, and you can even keep your fats too!
The name Paleo stems from the Paleolithic era, which was a pre-historic period when early man began to emerge. This is why it is sometimes called the Caveman or Evolutionary Diet. It came about as scientists were studying how early man ate and how their eating affected their health status. Scientists found that conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes were nearly absent in our pre-historic past, and researchers wanted to determine if diet played a role.
The cornerstone of the Paleo Diet, is a restriction of items such as grains, sugar, and processed foods while encouraging consumption of vegetables and meat as primary energy sources. This is a sharp contrast with the food pyramid of the early 1990’s, where grains, bread, and pasta were the principal sources of calories in the Standard American Diet, appropriately abbreviated “S.A.D.”
The problem is that S.A.D. has led to unprecedented rates of obesity and chronic disease in epidemic proportions. Researchers have found that because our early ancestors were hunters and gatherers, our genes innately evolved to digest meats and vegetables easily. On the other hand, since sugar and carbohydrates were much harder to find in nature, we have little to no genetic protection against the deleterious effects of the massive amount of carbohydrates that we eat in today’s agricultural society.
So what does that mean for you? It means that foods that you can readily find in nature are part of the Paleo Diet because that’s where our ancestors found food. Our genetics have evolved to provide our bodies with the necessary proteins and biological machinery to handle meats, veggies, and fruits in a highly efficient and effective manner. Still, carbohydrates are not the enemy. In fact, they are essential for the body in small portions similar to what you would find in fresh fruit. However, grains and plain sugar bombard our systems with so much glucose at one time that our bodies often become overwhelmed. This is a major factor contributing to the increasing rates of obesity, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, and many other secondary conditions.
As a structural chiropractor, I take care of patients on a daily basis who must decrease inflammation and their overall body weight in order to maintain healthy and balanced spinal structure and function. As an individual’s weight drops and the inflammatory response of the body diminishes, the spine will have greater protection from disc degeneration, arthritis, and other degenerative issues.
While my primary focus and expertise is in structural correction, I recommend the Paleo Diet because of its focus on fresh meats and vegetables, providing a scientifically sound way for most people to eat for weight control and optimal health.