Paleo Diet

One of the the latest diets sweeping the nation and very popular with celebrities is the Paleo Diet.

It is named after the Paleolithic Period which dates back 2.6 million years to a time when early humans were using stone tools and were essentially hunter – gatherers, before we were even farming or growing crops. It is also referred to as the Caveman or Stone Age Diet, for obvious reasons!

The idea behind the diet is that the foodstuffs fit in with our earliest eating habits of vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots and meat, and so are healthier than processed foods or dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, and alcohol or coffee which weren’t produced, and are consequently excluded.

Whilst on the face of it the diet seems intuitively better for us with it@s “back to basics” approach, , there are concerns that keeping to the diet very strictly can result in a low calcium intake and therefore cause health problems such as hypocalcemia.

The problem lies in the evolutionary path humans have taken since the Paleolithic Period.

Just 10,000 years ago, no one past infancy could digest milk sugar, called lactose. Babies always made lactase, the enzyme that breaks down this sugar, but after weaning lactase production would stop, causing adults to be lactose intolerant.
If you bear in mind the Paleo diet is from the stone age, before farming, we wouldn’t have been going around drinking milk from other animals. Carrying a milking stool and a stone bucket when hunting would have been rather impractical!

What happened when we started farming was people from Northern Europe, East Africa and the Middle East all started raising cattle or camels and gained the ability to digest milk past infancy. Genes variations that allowed an adult to produce lactase became prevalent and adults now had the ability to drink milk. This produced some profound advantages for lactose tolerant societies as before this people had to ferment the sugar out of milk thereby losing about half of the calories, with the ability to digest milk humans could take advantage of this extra energy and other nutrients not destroyed by the fermentation process.

The insistence of the Paleo diet on no dairy produce means it is going back to a time beyond which we have evolved, and in doing so ignores a vital foodgroup.

If you do want to try the Paleo diet then I would recommend you do so with this in mind, and don’t make it a long term diet, it will certainly reduce your calorific intake and in doing so aid weight-loss, but be aware it is not a forever diet and can have health implications over long periods.

As ever, the best type of diet is one which you can sustain for long periods, one which changes your eating habits and provides all your nutritional needs on a daily basis. Short term “fad diets” are ok for losing weight over the short term, but what happens when you revert to a “normal” diet is that invariably the weight goes back on causing the familiar yo-yo dieting we are all so familiar with!

For a long term diet plan with a fast boost to kick-start your weight loss I would recommend the 3 Week Diet.