Saturday, October 22, 2011

Going Paleo- Eat Like a Caveman

It's hard to believe anything we read these days.  The CDC says 68% of Americans over 20 are overweight or obese, but at the same time 1 in 8 Americans are hungry.  One second the talking heads on the evening news are reporting on the glorious crusade to fight the epidemic of childhood obesity. . . . by the way, America is starving.

It's easy to read what we want to believe on the internet, but the facts are clear as mud with so many studies funded by corporations trying to prove a point.  Skepticism is a useful tool to apply to anything we read online.  That's why I wasn't sold at first glance when I first read up on the Paleo approach to eating in a Crossfit forum.

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It sounded interesting, so I dug a little deeper.  After running across Mark's Daily Apple and the success stories there, it seemed definitely worth a test run.  Check it out for yourself and you'll see that there are more benefits than just weight loss.

The basic theory is this:  people were hunter-gatherers before they were baker-farmers, and our systems are better equipped to handle the former system.  Grains are essentially evil, containing few nutrients and lots of little nasties like lectin, gluten, and phytates- anti-nutrients that inhibit the body's ability to absorb the good stuff from the otherwise healthy food consumed.  Sugars and trans-fats are also off-limits.  If you'd like to know why, just do a search on Mark's website- he likes to pick studies apart, and there's lots of research backing him up.

The essential Paleo regimen consists of meat, eggs, nuts, fruit, and vegetables.  The greatest controversy amongst the Paleo bloggers seems to be over beans and dairy.  Considering the bloating and gas that often results from eating legumes, it would make sense that there's something in there that the human system doesn't appreciate.  As for dairy products, the industry is a marketing powerhouse, but there's a lot of lesser known truth to suggest that sticking to fermented dairy (think: yogurt, cottage cheese, buttermilk) and avoiding the rest is the healthiest approach.

Other resources that can help answer questions would include some interesting published research here, PaleoHacks.com, Robb Wolf's Revolutionary Solutions to Modern Life, and Whole9.

For some hindsight, check out previous articles in the Chronicles of Dietoptia at OneFaceInTheCrowd.com .  In the next installment I'll share what it's like to eat paleo- the struggles and the rewards.  In the meantime, use the resources listed to read up on the paleo way and tell me what you think.

Article first published as Going Paleo: Eat Like a Caveman on Technorati.

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