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The Paleo, or Paleolithic Diet, is a diet based on the foods that our ancient ancestors may likely have eaten. These foods include meat, nuts and berries, and excludes foods that weren’t yet available 2.5 Million to about 10,000 years ago – prior to advent of farming – like grains, legumes, and dairy. The diet is based on the premise that Paleolithic humans evolved nutritional needs specific to the foods available at that time. Proponents argue that this is true because modern human metabolism has been unable to adapt fast enough to handle many of the foods that have become available since the advent of agriculture. Therefore, proponents believe that modern humans are maladapted to eating foods such as grains, legumes, and dairy – and in particular, the high calorie processed foods that are a staple of most modern diets! Paleo proponents claim that modern humans’ inability to properly metabolize these comparatively new types of food has led to modern-day problems such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. They claim that followers of the Paleolithic Diet may enjoy a longer, healthier, and more active life.
So what do the critics of the Paleo Diet? Critics have raised a number of objections, including that Paleolithic humans did eat grains and legumes; humans are much more nutritionally flexible than the diet advocates claim; Paleolithic humans were not genetically adapted to specific local diets; and that the Paleolithic period was very long and there may have been more variety in diet that the advocates claim.
So what are the basic guidelines for eating “Paleo”?