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Is There a Scientific Basis for the Paleo Diet Craze?

caveman

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Once upon a time, human beings did not farm. We didn’t process grains into macaroni or make a goat’s milk into cheese. Nor did we work soil, plant wheat, and then grind the wheat into flour in order to bake bread. We most certainly did not squeeze the juice out of grapes and ferment it into wine, and we didn’t raise livestock and then grind the meat into sausage. During this period of time, a human’s life was simply about survival. We would hunt animals or gather edible plants. Most of the time the meat was either consumed raw or it would be boiled into a stew along with vegetables.

This is the diet of a caveman. It is also known as the Paleo Diet; refering to the period of time in the earth’s history that people ate like this. Other names for this diet would be the hunter-gatherer diet, or the Stone Age diet. It was first popularized in the mid 1970s by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin and this nutritional concept has been controversial ever since.

Proponents will argue that the human body has not changed since this period of time but our eating habits have. Since we consume more processed foods now than ever before in the history of the world, we are fighting epidemics such as obesity and related health problems. The proponents of the stone age diet will argue that our bodies were never meant to consume this sort of food and that we should re-adjust our eating habits to recipes that mimic what our ancient ancestors would have eaten. They didn’t have health problems like obesity and heart disease and their diet likely had something to do with that. Proponents will also cite modern groups of people who still eat like this as evidence of their position.

Critics argue that this is complete nonsense. Obesity and heart disease are a fairly recent epidemic and human beings have been farming and processing food for generations without such illnesses. Also they will argue the point that many of these issues occur later in life and that pre-civilized societies had short life expectancies. Studies have also been conducted that conclude a Stone Age diet isn’t more healthy than a regular diet; additionally, many questionable paleo diet choices exist that may not be super healthy.

Putting the scientific debate to the side, a Stone Age diet has some really good and delicious paleo recipes to eat. Many of these dishes will include gourmet foods such as sashimi (raw fish, which most people refer to as sushi although that is not correct.) Roast pork with cooked vegetables is another recipe that falls in the category of paleo recipes as well. Other popular cooking ingredients will include fungus (mushrooms), meats, berries, vegetables, and fruits.  While these recipes certainly taste good, it is important to remember everything in moderation. You will not want to eat beef roast every single day and consider yourself to be healthy. A lack of carbohydrates can cause you to feel tired and lack the needed energy to get through the day. Make sure that you are making good choices when making a Stone Age meal.

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