Heralded for its long list of health benefits, the Paleo Diet has made its way into the mainstream over the past few years thanks to numerous best-selling books and TV celebrities such as My Kitchen Rules chef Pete Evans spreading the word about Paleo. Pete's book Family Food has enjoyed much success, and Paleo based food blogs and programs are springing up all over the internet. Converts are raving about the diet in their social circles and gyms, leaving many wondering what exactly is this Paleo diet we keep hearing all about?
Also referred to as the "Primal", "Caveman" or "Stone Age" diet, the Paleo Diet is based on core principles from our hunter-gatherer, ancestral lifestyle. Although at first glance it may appear to be another new fad diet, Paleo is actually about returning to a simpler, healthier way of eating that supports health and well-being.
Mark Sisson, author of the best-selling book The Primal Blueprint, explains that while the world has changed in innumerable ways in the last 10,000 years, the human genome has changed very little and thus only thrives under similar conditions.
While Paleo followers won't be found throwing spears or wearing lion furs, the "Paleo way" does go beyond the foods we eat by emphasising healthy lifestyle habits such as getting enough sleep, stress reduction, sun exposure, exercise, and avoiding harmful substances.
Eat Drink Paleo blogger and author, Irena Macri, says that in today's world we are largely desk-bound, consuming packaged, processed foods, living with chronic stress, and not getting enough sleep, all of which can make us sick, fat and depressed. To achieve optimal health, the Paleo lifestyle draws its core principles from our ancestors who ate whole, unprocessed foods, moved more, slept better and stressed less.
It's not about re-enacting the Paleolithic era, says Macri, but rather recognising our genetic predisposition and applying current knowledge of how different foods and activities affect our body's functions like metabolism, digestion, insulin sensitivity, and systemic inflammation.
The diet combines these principles with modern scientific research and good common sense, and is intended as a framework rather than a "one-size-fits-all" approach to eating. Paleo can be tailored to individual needs, goals, body types and sensitivities.
Paleo focuses on real, whole, unprocessed foods. This reduces, and in most cases eliminates, consumption of preservatives, additives, artificial colours and flavours, hidden sugars, artificial sweeteners, sodium and flavour enhancers. As a result, you eliminate toxins and increase nutrient intake.
Paleo is a diet rich in nutrients, placing a huge emphasis on fresh organic vegetables. Instead of filling up on processed carbs such as bread and pasta, Paleo followers get their daily dose of goodness through organic lean meat, veggies, fruit and berries, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, all of which are full of vitamins and minerals.
Most people experience weight loss and muscle growth while eating a Paleo diet and keeping an active lifestyle. Improved metabolic processes and gut health, better sleep, stress management, sufficient Vitamin D and a healthy ratio of Omega-3/6 fatty acids all aid in burning off stored body fat.
The Paleo diet provides lots of fibre, which together with adequate water intake and a smaller intake of sodium help to decrease the bloat many people experience on a Western diet. Plus, the Paleo diet helps to improve the gut flora which is essential in keeping healthy digestion.
"Hangry" is a combination of hungry+angry, which is a common symptom for many people suffering from acute or chronic hyperglycemia. This also happens when the blood sugar drops and the person gets a rapid onset of hunger accompanied by irritability, fatigue, disorientation, and a foggy mind. Meals consisting of protein and fat are very satiating. The energy your body gets from fat, protein and some glucose from low GI carbs is released slowly and evenly throughout the day. As a result, the blood sugar levels stay stable and you rarely experience energy drops; hunger develops gradually without mood swings.
Paleo consists of healthy fats from grass fed meat, poultry, seafood, coconut, olive oil, nuts and seeds. There are no trans fats. A healthy ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids is also promoted. The right types of fat are essential in maintaining healthy arteries, brain function, healthy skin, as well as decreasing systemic inflammation.
People following the Paleo/Primal diet experience many of the below benefits:
The Paleo diet focuses on unprocessed whole foods, lots of healthy fats including saturated fat, grass-fed, free-range meat and eggs, lots of fish and seafood, vegetables, fruit, berries, nuts, seeds and some natural sweeteners. It excludes grains, legumes, processed sugar and most dairy. Some people include healthy dairy foods like kefir, full fat natural yogurt, some aged cheese and butter, but of course it really depends on your sensitivities. Paleo also focuses on local, organic produce and good farming practices.
A common misconception about the Paleo diet is that it's a low-carb diet with a focus on meat. While a lower amount of carbohydrates may be consumed compared to the standard Australian diet through the exclusion of grains and refined sugars, plenty of carbs are still consumed from vegetables, fruits and nuts.
There are a few hard and fast rules on the Paleo Diet, but as we mention above, Paleo is a framework and a lifestyle which means many people choose to be a little flexible in their approach, taking what works for them and their bodies.
The Paleo Place is a Sunshine Coast cafe dedicated to healthy and delicious Paleo foods. The restaurant is open 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch from 7:00am - 2:30pm, with kitchen closing at 2:00pm. We also have a selection of takeaway foods and complete pre-made meals to reheat and eat later! We look forward to seeing you soon! Simply come in or book ahead to reserve a table by calling 5491 8388 or book online.