What do our ancient Paleolithic ancestors have in common with us today? Scientific genetic research displays evidence that the human DNA genome has changed less than 0.02 percent in the last 40,000 years. Our genes have adapted in a world where all our daily food was either hunted, fished, or gathered from the natural environment. Today's food choices are highly processed, loaded with sugars and sweeteners, and largely derived from animals fed poor diets in equally poor living conditions. We need to give our bodies the foods we were originally designed to eat in order to achieve our ideal bodies, better energy and vitality, and improve digestion, immunity and overall health.
How can the Paleo Diet help you achieve this? Here is a quick rundown of how it corrects seven common problems with the typical western diet;
1. Not Enough Protein
Protein consumption in Western countries makes up only 15% of the total calories consumed. Protein consumption enhances immune function, improves satiety, increases lean mass, increases metabolic rate, and regulates insulin levels.
2. Too Much of the Wrong Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates make up more than half of the typical Western diet, most of these refined carbohydrates, a considerable increase from our Paleo ancestors. As well, the average person consumes about 120 lbs of sugar annually, compared to only 15 lbs per year a century ago.
3. Not Enough Fiber
Calorie for calorie, whole grains cannot hold a candle to vegetables and fruits. Non-starchy vegetables have eight timesmore fiber than whole grains and fruit averages more than twice as much fiber content than whole grains.
4. Too Much Bad Fat
Clinical research has shown that is not how much fat you eat, but what kind of fat you eat that impacts overall health, well-being, and weight lose. Healthy fats are essential for optimum hormonal balance, satiety, weight loss, and immune health.
5. Too Much Salt
Paleo diets were exceptionally rich in potassium and low in sodium. Whole foods such as meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds contain about five to ten times more potassium than sodium. The average Western person consumes twice as much sodium as potassium.
6. Acid-Base Imbalance
The typical Western diet is slightly acidic. Eating too many acid forming foods and not enough alkaline foods can contribute to poor health, weak bones, muscle loss and aging. Vegetables and fruits are alkalinizing to the body, promoting balance and health.
7. Insufficient vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants
The bioavailability of vitamins and minerals are much higher in wild game meats, vegetables and fruits. Grains contain ‘anti-nutrients’ such as phytates that inhibit absorption of nutrients.
Remember, you don't have to convert to a 100% Paleo lifestyle, take your time and slowly integrate changes into your diet for the best results (i.e. start with breakfast). A better brain, better body and better performance will soon follow.
Dr Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS