It’s nearly impossible to walk through the grocery store these days without seeing dozens of items labeled as “paleo” or “paleo-friendly,” but what does that mean?
The premise of the paleo diet is to improve health by aligning our meals with those of our prehistoric ancestors. The program asks, if we evolved eating fruits, meat, nuts, and vegetables, but not grains and processed sugars, could these more recent additions be contributing to the rise in inflammatory disease and other health problems?
Though assertions about disease prevention may be questionable on their own — it must be acknowledged that we live much longer than our Paleolithic forebears at least partly due to modern innovations such as penicillin and heart surgery — there’s still much to recommend the paleo diet.
Here are four ways going paleo can improve your health.
Drop The Junk
One of the biggest problems with the modern diet is how heavily processed our foods are. They’re high in sugar, preservatives, and fats.
The paleo diet, in contrast, is more natural and unprocessed, and also high in fruit and vegetable content. This kind of fare is obviously going to be much healthier for you than French fries and burgers.
One of the reasons we eat so many processed foods today is that we’re constantly on the go: We lead an entirely different lifestyle from the one our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived.
So it’s not just a matter of access to processed foods, but perhaps more the inconvenience of paleo-style foods for our modern lifestyle. Luckily, new companies are making pre-packaged paleo meals, that make it possible to eat smarter while on the go.
Though grains and processed foods may not cause modern diseases directly, any kind of clean eating will reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes by cutting added fats and sugars. One of the key distinctions between modern dining and the paleo diet, in particular, is that while there’s often a lot of fat in paleo meals from consumption of meat, the fats that feature here are the more healthy fats, and that makes a big difference.
Great For Weight Loss
At a time when obesity is more common than ever, any diet that makes weight loss easier is going to be a welcome option. The paleo diet definitely accomplishes this.
You don’t need to count calories on the paleo diet. Eliminating all the calorie-dense junk that comes with our modern lifestyle, from potato chips to prepackaged sauces, means the pounds are more likely to slide right off.
Diets are notoriously hard to stay with because they often require the preparation of a special meal for one or two individuals and different foods for everyone else. The paleo diet is healthy for kids and adults, however.
Apart from the occasional child who is ultra-picky and won’t eat most available foods, it’s not difficult to make sure everyone gets the nutrients they need. In fact, kids are more likely to get a substantial amount of fiber, phytonutrients, and other high-value nutrition through the paleo diet than they would if they were eating typical “kid foods.”
In addition to packaged meals, many new paleo choices have been appearing in grocery stores, including such staples as paleo mayo, pancake mix, and more. That means you don’t have to feel guilty about depriving your kids of their favorite foods; they’ll just learn to enjoy them in different, healthier form.
From zoodles to almond flour cakes, everyone can enjoy this diet. You might find it doesn’t feel the least bit restrictive.