The Paleo Diet: Eat According to Your Genes for Better Health
Most people understand that eating quick convenience foods on a regular basis is unhealthy. The Standard American Diet (SAD) consists of a massive number of calories consumed from refined and processed wheat, corn and oat based food groups. Our genetic structure has been programmed over tens of thousands of years to function optimally on a very different food pyramid than we have been lead to believe is in the best interest of our health.
This ancestral eating style is known as the Paleo Diet, and is characterized by foods eaten in their natural, unprocessed form. Health-minded individuals are adopting a diet focused on natural, raw foods that are unprocessed and packed with nutrients to promote optimal health and prevent many chronic illnesses.
Processed Foods Promote Disease
Our earliest ancestors lived a much different lifestyle than we do today. Food was scarce, and much time and energy was spent in the pursuit of our next meal. Food when found consisted of nuts, berries, seeds, root vegetable and on rare occasions a raw meat feast. The hunter-gatherer went to sleep many nights on an empty stomach, and certainly the consumption of meat occurred no more than several times a month. This type of early diet is far from today’s refined, sweet-laden feast that many people consume three or more times a day.
Eating in Accordance with Our Genetics
The Paleo Diet works in concert with our genes, as the nutrients it delivers are required for proper health. We understand many of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which are required for cellular health, and there are many other as yet undiscovered nutrients that co-exist in the matrix of natural foods which fuel our bodies. When we eat a diet consisting predominately of refined foods, these nutrients are stripped away and only the high calorie content remains. This is not good for our health, and paves the way for many of the diseases we associate with old age such as cancer, heart disease and dementia.
The Paleo Pyramid: A New Way of Eating
The Paleo Pyramid represents a very different view from the food pyramid we typically see from the USDA. Paleo eating encourages all natural and organic vegetables, minimal fruits, nuts, seeds and free-range meats. It is necessary to eliminate all refined carbohydrates, sweets, breads, pastas and dairy. While this is a major alteration in the eating habits of most people, the results can be astounding.
Paleo Diet Leads to Natural Weight Loss and Improved Metabolism
Natural weight loss is a significant benefit, as a large portion of the nutrient poor processed foods eaten cause slow weight gain over the years for many aging adults. Removal of wheat and corn based food items will result in rapid health improvement. Research indicates that in as little as 30 days, triglycerides, blood pressure, blood sugar and inflammation levels plummet. Most important is the conversion of LDL cholesterol particles from small and dense to a large, fluffy pattern which is consistent with reduction in heart attack risk.
Genetics is the controlling factor that guides our metabolism and proper utilization of the nutrients we consume. Hard wired into our genes is a requirement for certain types of foods. Variability in our individual evolutionary and ethnic origin determines the specific diet we need to follow to achieve optimal health. This has led to the study of “food typing” where certain individuals perform better on a diet higher in protein, while others require a more unprocessed carbohydrate type of diet. Regardless of your food type, following a culinary diet closest to that of your evolutionary ancestors will result in a healthy and disease-free life.
John Phillip is a diet, health and nutrition researcher and writer with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives.
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Article updated on: February 8th, 2011