You have probably heard a lot about the Paleo diet also known as the hunter-gatherer diet or the caveman diet, turns back the clocks to what our ancestors chowed down on thousands of years ago, such as; lean grass-fed meats, fruit, vegetables and seeds, as opposed to processed foods, sugar, dairy and grains.
But is it good for you and what are its health benefits? We have asked Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns on how this back to basics way of eating can benefit our health…
1. Naturally nutritious
A Paleo diet eliminates processed and refined foods and focuses on real foods. These include plenty of vegetables, fruits, tubers, nuts and seeds, fish and good-quality animal meats and organ meats, as well as traditional ingredients such as bone broth and fermented foods. These foods are all naturally nutrient-rich, and are also low in factors that can impair our digestion and absorption of nutrients, such as phytic acid and gluten found in grains.
2. Good for your weight
Following a Paleo-style diet could be a great way to help manage your weight and stay lean. One reason is because it eliminates refined and processed foods, which are often high in calories, trigger blood sugar swings that make us want to eat more of them, and are low in vitamins and minerals that allow our body to actually use that food for energy. So, by eliminating these foods and focusing on nutrient-rich foods, plenty of protein, natural fats and fibre from vegetables and fruit, eating a Paleo-style diet could help you naturally improve your body composition.
If you’re struggling with the amount of meat associated with the Paleo diet and want to mix things up, or are a fitness fanatic who wants to ensure they are definitely getting enough protein on a daily basis try the brand new Nature’s Plus Paleo Protein (available from naturesplus.co.uk, RRP: £33.95). This powder delivers a full 20g of powder-packed vegan protein and 5g of dietary fibre. True to the paleolithic diet the protein in this product comes from organic sunflower protein, organic pumpkin seed protein, organic almond protein, organic flax protein and organic coconut protein.
The Paleo diet naturally eliminates foods that can have a negative effect on the balance of bacteria in our gut, such as refined flavours and sugars. It also limits foods that are linked with increasing gut permeability (sometimes known as ‘leaky gut’) such as gluten-containing grains, and legumes such as beans and lentils. Increased gut permeability and changes in gut flora can lead to digestive problems and immune imbalances such as allergies and autoimmune disease. Perhaps even more importantly, the Paleo diet favours foods that are especially good for our gut such as organ meats, bone broth and fermented foods.
4. Aids your joints
A Paleo diet could be beneficial for your joints too. Excessive inflammation is a key factor in joint pain and arthritis. By eliminating processed vegetable oils, refined flours and sugars, and focusing on nutrient-rich foods, vegetables, healthy fats and oily fish, the Paleo diet is naturally anti-inflammatory. And by favouring gut health, it could also help us avoid autoimmune conditions that can affect our joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. And bone broth – a favoured part of the Paleo diet – is also a good source of collagen and amino acids that could directly benefit joint health.
5. The best way to stay free of modern disease?
Our ancestors who ate traditional diets were generally free of ‘modern’ disease such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and skin diseases. This is also true of populations around the world who still follow a traditional diet. So by following some of the key principles of these diets – especially avoiding refined and processed foods – we may have the same benefits. It’s even been found that people with type 2 diabetes who are put on a Paleo-style diet have greater benefits for their blood sugar control, weight and other heart disease risk factors than those put on a standard ‘diabetic’ diet.