For most of our evolutionary history, we humans were hunter/gatherers—we hunted animals, fished, and gathered plants for food. Our ancestors of the Paleolithic era ate a diet of whole foods found in nature, like wild game, fish, vegetables, wild fruits, eggs and nuts.
The wild game was naturally organic and grass-fed, meaning the animals grazed on open ranges and ate wild grasses that were high in omega-3, the anti-inflammatory fatty acid, and low in omega-6, the pro-inflammatory fatty acid.
The carbohydrates early humans ate consisted of non-starchy, fibrous plant food pulled from the ground or plucked from a bush. They ate none of the foods classified as carbohydrates today: starches found in grains; sugar; natural and industrial sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup; and dairy products. Theirs was naturally a low-carb/high protein and fat diet that kept their bodies functioning optimally for millions of years.
Why would you want to eat Paleo?
Your goal may be to maximize your body’s ability to burn fat and build muscle, so you can lose weight. Or, you may want to bring down dangerous levels of inflammation caused by our modern diet of highly-processed food, so that you can live an active, long and healthy life. In either case, there’s no getting around the fact that the foods you put in your body on a daily basis are the largest determining factor in what you look like, what you feel like, and how long you live. So why not consume the highest quality nutrients?
Here are five simple tips for eating Paleo:
1. Focus your meals on high quality animal protein foods from natural sources, such as fresh meat, fish, and poultry. Whenever possible consume local, grass-fed, free-range, organic, antibiotic, pesticide and hormone-free meat, which has a healthier fat profile.
2. Eat an abundance of plant food, such as brightly colored vegetables, berries and low glycemic fruit which are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Many of the health benefits are believed to come from the chemical compounds that give them their vibrant colors.
3. Include fresh, raw nuts in your diet, including walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans, filberts, Brazil nuts, and pistachios.
4. Eliminate all grains and legumes (beans) Grains and legumes are a source of anti-nutrients, such as lectins and saponins, which wreak havoc with your hormonal and immune system. Lectins and saponins increase intestinal permeability, raising the risk of inflammatory diseases, such as celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis
5. Avoid vegetable oils, such as soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, corn oil and peanut oil, as well as mayonnaise, margarine and shortening. Increase your consumption of all foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, especially from fish.