We were once hunter-gatherers, relying on what we found in nature to nourish our bodies. We exercised continuously on our endless search for food. The sun determined what time we woke up and went to sleep, and the seasons determined what was available to eat, offering different food with unique nutritional qualities every few months.
And then we developed farming, the ability to manipulate the environment and control the availability of food. The protein gained through hunting gave way to fields of grains, carefully packaged in plastic wrap and cereal boxes today.
Grain was the foundation of agriculture, and remains so today. However, we learned to harvest bee colonies for honey, cattle for milk and meat, and started obtaining our food through engineered environments rather than nature itself. We learned to do this faster and cheaper, to manipulate seeds to produce bigger fruit, less seeds, and using less water. The consequence of such convenience, however, may be our heath.
The Paleo Diet focuses on returning the human diet to what it was before the advent of agriculture. The simplest breakdown of permissible Paleo food includes meat, fruit, vegetables, and nuts, while eliminating grains, dairy and processed food. Meals are seasoned with salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.
Creators of the Paleo Diet believe that the evolution towards agriculture and away from our original eating patterns has given rise to various conditions including allergic reactions, acne, obesity and autoimmune disorders, just to name a few.
There is a significant amount of research supporting these claims. Diabetics are often encouraged to utilize the glycemic index (GI). The GI was developed in the early 80s, and organizes foods rich in carbohydrates according to their potential to raise blood sugar. Low GI foods are considered healthier, as they do not cause acute spikes in sugar levels and keep us feeling full for longer. High GI foods cause blood sugar levels to rapidly rise and then drop, causing us to feel hungry again faster.
Meat, fish, and poultry are excellent sources of protein and contain no carbohydrates. The foods encouraged by the Paleo Diet are all rated as low to medium on the glycemic index, making this an ideal diet choice for those with diabetes.
Rob Fields, 27, of Little Neck, is a type 1 diabetic and has been since he was diagnosed at sixteen years old. After just a few weeks of following the Paleo Diet, he was able to lower his basal rate (a continuous supply of insulin administered throughout the day). He lost fifteen pounds in two months, and felt like he had more energy. He also noticed that after his “cheat” meals, he would experience mild allergic symptoms, such as abdominal cramps and an itchy nose, from sneaking grains and dairy back into his diet.
After hearing positive results, I decided to try it myself. The first positive change I noticed was the effect it had on my skin. My skin was noticeably clearer in just the first week. The second positive change I noticed was that for the first time since I was a child, I was able to sleep through the night without waking up.
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Finally, I noticed that I felt full for longer which helped me make better food choices throughout the day.
The combination of benefits made it I used to love, like cheese, frozen yogurt, and bread, and I do allow myself to eat three “cheat” meals each week. I’ve also made some exceptions to the Paleo Diet that keep me happy along the way, like popcorn with sea salt, dark chocolate covered almonds, and honey.
The Paleo Diet claims it can reduce or eliminate susceptibility to diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic degenerative diseases through food. The food we eat today is vastly different from what was available in Paleolithic times. Our , pesticides, and pollution making sustainable, organic choices all the more important when adopting a Paleo diet plan.
For more information about the Paleo Diet, please visit http://thepaleodiet.com/.