If this has you thinking about the Stone Ages, you've got the right idea. Researchers and followers of this diet say that our genes are encoded for a diet other than the more popular Standard American Diet. They assert that our genes are virtually the same as those of our ancestors and that because we have introduced a plethora of grains and starches, we cause our genes to malfunction leading to disease, faster aging, and other health challenges of today. Our ancestors apparently were slimmer, stronger and faster than we are today. They are said to have had straight teeth and flawless eyesight. Rare were the diseases of modern times such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, schizophrenia and cancer. So what was their secret?
The theory behind the Paleolithic Diet is that during our evolution as human beings, for thousands, perhaps millions of years, our ancestors ate meat, fish, poultry (fowl), and roots, leaves, and fruits of many plants. Prior to the development of agrarian societies, about 10,000 years ago, most all people were hunter-gatherers, meaning they collected various fruits and vegetables to eat, and hunted animals for their meat. These people rarely drank milk beyond infancy or ate grains. There was very little grain intake. The Neolithic foods of today including the introduction of "cooked" grains, beans, and potatoes have doubled or tripled the amount of calories we take in and the refining process has taken whole grains and whittled them down to almost useless starch.
Carbohydrates in the Paleo Diet come mostly from fruits and vegetables., as opposed to coming from breads, cereals, pastas, and cooked grains. Paleolithic peoples tended to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and consumed about 100 grams of fiber daily. Wow! We tend to stick with the same half dozen or less favorite fruits or vegetables and we're lucky if we get 25 grams of fiber daily (and that's being generous).
Hunter-gatherers consumed about 30 percent protein in their diet. Their diet also provided much higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. One of the interesting dietary comparisons that we can make is that they tended to eat a diet high in cholesterol (about 480 milligrams daily) yet their blood cholesterol levels were much lower than the average American of today.
The take home here is not for everyone to assume the Paleolithic Diet. We ascribe to moderation and eating a wide range of organic fruits and vegetables, free-range and hormone-free poultry and beef, and limited organic dairy products and grains on occasion. We would encourage everyone to experiment with variety and see what works best for their body. Challenge yourself to introducing a new vegetable to your diet once a week. At the same time, try and limit your consumption of overly processed grains, sugars, and "foreign foods" like soda and artificial sweeteners.
Consider a plant-based Paleo approach where the majority of your food comes in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds with fish, poultry and again, vegetables being the main sources of protein. Remember that not everyone is suited for one diet so experiment and see what's right for you. Many people who have switched to a plant-based Paleo way of eating have lost weight, toned up and cut their risk factor for many diseases including type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, obesity, and heart disease.