The Paleo Diet – Diet like in the Stone Age

ZDiet like in the Stone Age – a health trend that has already taken root in parts of our society. This lifestyle is based on the foods that were available thousands of years ago during the times of hunters and gatherers and can still be found today in a similar form. Certain sports principles can also be included. The Paleo nutrition diet is said to have various health benefits: body fat reduction, less inflammation, optimized sleep, higher energy levels and more performance in everyday life are just a few examples1.What does Paleo nutrition mean?

On the one hand, one can only consider the Paleo diet, in which only what is eaten and drunk is in the foreground. Or you can see Paleo holistically as the right lifestyle. Both perspectives assume that our metabolism has hardly changed since the Stone Age and our ancestors from back then ate the things that are still optimal for our genetics. These included roots, nuts, berries, vegetables and animal protein. Milk was not consumed at that time, because the Stone Age people were not sedentary and did not keep domestic and farm animals. A lot can also be derived for the topics of exercise, recreation and sport2.

The people in the Palaeolithic had to sprint away from wild animals from time to time or briefly climb a tree. Also, there was more and more often a heavy stone to carry or an animal to kill. People were physically in good shape at that time, because this daily exercise and the natural foods did not allow for a belly of prosperity. So they were more likely to have good muscles and less body fat. Because they liked to take a nap after physical exertion and still played many games in adulthood, they had good regeneration phases between stressful situations in the wild nature and the fight for survival2. Today’s Paleo advocates translate this into our new world as follows: We need strength training and interval or sprint sessions, enough quality sleep and fun moments, as well as similar foods, as our ancestors of yesteryear. The 10 laws of the Paleo lifestyle

Mark Sisson, an expert on Stone Age nutrition, has summarized the Paleo diet and the associated attitude to life in ten commandments in his book “Health secrets from the Stone Age”2:Eat plenty of plant and animal products (vegetables, berries, fish and meat). Avoid toxic foods (processed foods, addictive substances, allergens such as grains and milk). Move with a lot of moderate effort (walks, exercise in everyday life). Lift heavy (strength training). Take a sprint every now and then. Make sure you get enough sleep (at night and possibly a power nap during the day). Play a lot. Expose yourself to the sun (vitamin D is very important for physical and mental health). Don’t make stupid mistakes (consciously act responsibly and be on the job). Use your brain (keep learning and taking on new tasks and challenges).Paleo Food

The principle of the Paleo diet is relatively simple: Everything that prehistoric people had available and ate is allowed!

Typical “Paleo products” include meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, berries, vegetables and roots, as well as honey and sweeter fruit in sparse quantities. So fewer carbohydrates are automatically consumed, which is why good, natural fats and animal protein serve as energy sources. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are in a gray area, so there are certainly forms of paleo diet in which they are allowed, but with very strict advocates are also taboo. Coffee, very dark chocolate and red wine are also fine in smaller quantities2.These products and foods are taboo in the Paleo diet:

Since the Paleo diet is all about eating natural foods that – at least in their original form – already existed in the Stone Age, all industrially processed products belong to the no-gos. Refined oils and fats, ready meals, baked goods, additives, sweets, sweeteners, artificial colors and sweet drinks should therefore be avoided.

All types of cereals should be omitted. This eliminates pasta, bread, pizza, cakes, oatmeal, pseudocereals and even rice. However, rice is again in a grey area due to its good tolerability. Dairy products are completely taboo, so there is no cheese, yogurt, cream, quark or ice cream on the menu. Virtually every form of sugar is one of the forbidden foods in the Paleo diet. The only exception is – as mentioned above – small amounts of honey and some fruits.Paleo experts also disagree on legumes: they were probably eaten in their original form by the Neanderthals, but they are still viewed critically. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that they contain carbohydrates that are relatively difficult to digest, which like to ferment in the intestine and can lead to flatulence. In addition, they contain antinutrients that are supposed to protect the plant, which inhibit our digestive enzymes. As a result, certain micronutrients cannot be absorbed well and may irritate the intestinal mucosa1. Especially peanuts, soy, lentils and beans are not recommended in the Paleo diet. These products are already very widely bred today, which is why our digestive tract simply does not cope well with them. Chickpeas are still allowed by some Paleo advocates, as long as they are soaked overnight and then rinsed well before cooking. This removes at least some of the antinutrients. Especially for vegans or vegetarians there is a possibility to get their proteins in the Paleo diet. What are the benefits of the Paleo diet?

Because the only carbohydrate sources in the Paleo diet come from fruits, little honey and vegetables and no refined sugar or grains are consumed, you automatically stay in a range of 100-150g daily2. This is beneficial for blood sugar levels, because with these amounts it remains stable and the risk of type 2 diabetes drops drastically. Stable blood sugar also has a positive visual effect3:Fewer blood sugar fluctuations mean fewer food cravings and fewer excess carbohydrates, which are converted into fats and stored around the middle of the body.

Since the potential main allergens gluten, milk and soy are automatically excluded from the Paleo diet, the Paleo diet has a good effect on intestinal health. In people with intestinal diseases, autoimmune diseases or digestive problems, it often reduces the symptoms or even the causes. Without contact with allergens and the consumption of natural foods and lots of vegetables, the intestinal mucosa can regenerate1. You can find out more about this in our article on the Leaky Gut.

The ability to concentrate, the general condition, the quality of sleep, the development of muscles and the mood usually improve through the Paleo diet1. This has to do with the fact that industrially processed products and too much sugar worsen these points. Criticism of the Paleo diet

It is often criticized about the Paleo diet that there are actually many different historical findings on the Stone Age or the different prehistoric people and their eating habits:Scholars don’t always agree on whether the Stone Age diet was actually exactly what Paleo advocates portray. In addition, even during this time, different peoples stayed in different places of the world. They did not always necessarily have the same food available. It is assumed that there were also tribes and peoples who fed almost exclusively on plants and were able to develop and reproduce well with this diet. Recipes and alternative products