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The Paleo diet: Is it right for you?

The Paleo diet has become a popular phenomenon in our modern culture. Paleolithic nutrition is based on the premise that human genetics have scarcely changed since the dawn of agriculture, and modern humans are genetically adapted to the diet of their Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer ancestors. Therefore an ideal diet for human health and well being is one that resembles this ancestral diet.

The Paleo Diet
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Centered on commonly available modern foods, the contemporary Paleo diet consists mainly of fish and seafood, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, roots, nuts, seeds, potatoes, herbs, and spices. Healthier oils including olive oil and coconut oil are permitted. Refined vegetable oils, such as canola should be avoided. It excludes refined salt, refined sugar, processed foods, legumes, grains, and dairy products. This is based on the simple premise that if the cavemen didn't eat it, we shouldn't either. The fruits and vegetables, rich in vitamins, potassium and fiber, represent an important feature of hunter-gatherer diets. What you eat and how much depend on your goals or the specific program you’re on, if you choose to follow one.

Water is the drink of choice, although some advocates also recommend tea as a healthy drink. Unlike raw food diets, all foods may be cooked, without restrictions. Since the diet uses non processed foods, it has been touted as a healthy anti- inflammatory and disease preventing way of eating.

Loren Cordain, PhD, who wrote the book on The Paleo Diet, claims that by eating like our prehistoric ancestors, we’ll be leaner and less likely to get diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems.

There’s no calorie counting, and the fiber-rich fruits and vegetables will fill you up, as will the lean meat or seafood. Some followers of the diet eat mainly fish and seafood instead of the grass fed meats.

There are two popular books on the Paleo diet.

  1. Paleoista: Gain Energy, Get Lean, and Feel Fabulous with the Diet You Were Born to Eat by Nell Stephenson (2013).
  2. The Paleo Diet Revised: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat by Loren Cordain (2011).

News & World Report's experts say the Paleo diet is too restrictive for most people to follow long term, and that it limits some essential nutrients.

So what is your view on the Paleo diet?