Paleo: The Stone Age Diet

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Among food trends, Paleo is undoubtedly one of the most popular. For some years now, more and more people have been focusing on Stone Age food: meat and vegetables instead of pasta and sweets. But how healthy is the Paleo diet actually?

© iStock / IGphotographyEat like the Stone Age people

Paleo is derived from “Palaeolithic”, the technical term for the Paleolithic. This is how Paleo describes a form of nutrition that is strictly based on the eating habits of hunters and gatherers. Only what was available to humans 2.5 million years ago is allowed to be served in the Paleo diet: meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts. From the point of view of the Paleo followers, the change in diet has an important reason: The human organism is still adjusted to the Stone Age diet. Natural, original foods are therefore considered species-appropriate and particularly healthy.  This is on the menu at Paleo

Everything that people could hunt, fish, gather and pick in the Stone Age is allowed on a paleo diet. However, since they were neither arable nor cattle breeding at the time, dairy and grain products were blacklisted in addition to industrially produced food of all kinds. In a strict paleo diet, legumes are also prohibited. Potatoes and rice are allowed, but should be consumed as rarely as possible and only in small quantities.

Allowed foods:Vegetables and fruits (especially berries)Nuts and seedsMeat and fishEggsHealthy fats (e.g. olive, avocado or walnut oil)Honey, maple syrup

Prohibited foods:Cereal products (pasta, bulgur, couscous, pastries, cakes)Legumes (including soy products and peanuts)Dairy productsSweets, sugar and sweetenersArtificial additivesAlcohol, coffee, soft drinksProcessed foods (such as sausage)

In addition to the question of what is allowed and what is prohibited, food quality also plays a major role. Paleo supporters advocate using high-quality meat from species-appropriate animals and organic food. The benefits of a paleo diet

Lots of vegetables, organic meat and good fats instead of processed products and sugar – this is regarded by experts as a healthy diet. However, Paleo isn’t just about avoiding certain foods. Rather, the change in diet should be part of a lifestyle focused on health and fitness. Because also in terms of movement, Paleo followers take the Stone Age people as a model. In contrast, the diet and lifestyle in the modern Western world – processed products, high sugar consumption and lack of exercise – is considered unhealthy.

But how does the Stone Age diet actually affect? Scientific studies have dealt with this question and have come to the following conclusions:After a 12-week Paleo diet, the insulin sensitivity of subjects with type 2 diabetes improved by around 45 percent.A paleo diet led to better blood lipid levels in subjects with hypercholesterolemia (elevated cholesterol levels): the bad cholesterol LDL decreased, while the good cholesterol HDL increased.In a study with overweight women, body weight, fat percentage and abdominal circumference decreased significantly over a period of two years.

The increased nutrient intake through vegetables, fruits and nuts can have other positive effects, such as on performance and concentration, sleep, skin appearance and digestion.Is Paleo really healthy?

The paleo diet is associated with a narrow understanding of what is healthy and what is good for the body. However, the thesis that the human organism is still programmed for Stone Age nutrition has not been scientifically proven. Critics and nutrition experts point out that the Paleo diet increases the risk of gout and arteriosclerosis through high protein consumption. In addition, especially the renunciation of dairy and whole grain products can have negative consequences, as they lose valuable nutrition sources of calcium, B vitamins and iodine. Paleo nutrition: With these tips the change succeeds

Despite the possible negative effects on health, many want to try the diet. But that’s not so easy: Paleo is associated with a lot of renunciation. Pasta, bread and morning coffee are not provided. But with the following tips, the change to a paleo diet can be easier:Do not change your diet completely immediately, but gradually eliminate one food at a time.To prevent iodine deficiency, use iodine-enriched salt when cooking and seasoning.Pay attention to a moderate meat consumption and rely more on fish and vegetables.Add variety to your plate and sample the full range of vegetables.If you find it difficult to do without cereals and dairy products, replace them with paleo alternatives: home-baked bread made from eggs, seeds and nuts or nut drinks made from almonds or hazelnuts.

Also important: Have your nutrient supply checked regularly by a doctor using a blood count.