Does the Paleo diet make sense?

In their present form, humans have existed for about 300,000 generations; that is, about six million years. By far during the largest part of this time, our ancestors lived as hunters and collectors, because only about 500 generations ago did agriculture appear. Genetically the human being of the present differs very little from those of prehistoric times; that is, the physiological and biochemical processes of our bodies are still optimally adapted to the conditions of living and nutrition prevalent in the Stone Age, or Paleolithic era. However, the diet of the Stone Age man differed significantly from that of the present. Our ancestors mainly ate wild animals and harvested fruits, leaves, nuts and seeds. The very high portion of fruits and leaves in particular in the diet -- which we know as fruit, vegetables and salad -- supplied primitive humans with a very large quantity of micronutrients.

Steinzeitmenschen sitzen am Feuer und grillen Essen

Today's diet: Carbohydrates in abundance

After the invention and development of agriculture, our food supply changed considerably. Plant-based carbohydrates are now produced on a large scale. Cereals, rice, corn and even potatoes now represent a significant proportion of our available food. At present, the vast majority of daily calories are supplied by storage carbohydrates (starch), industrially processed vegetable fats, and relatively fatty meat and dairy products. The proportion of fresh plant foods is correspondingly low. This explains why the daily intake of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and other secondary plant substances used to be considerably higher than is currently the case. However, since our physiological processes developed much earlier, our body is still dependent on the high intake of micronutrients. A nutrient supply such as found in the Stone Age therefore makes sense for optimal functioning of our physiological processes. The results of epidemiological studies, which point to a clear protective effect of the consumption of a large quantity of vegetables and fruit, also falls in line with the Stone Age diet.

Principle of the Paleo diet

The Paleo, or Stone Age, diet is based on the consumption of vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. Off the menu is grains in any form. Grain is said to cause inflammations in the intestine, auto-immune reactions and obesity.
 Legumes are also not included in the diet, because they are said to have properties similar to those of grains. Milk products are also not permitted, because they are said to be responsible for digestive problems and negatively influence the hormonal balance. Sugar, sweeteners and all artificial flavorings are prohibited.

Consideration of the Paleo diet

According to everything known about a healthy diet, the Paleo diet can be rated positively if not for the question of its suitability in everyday use. What is certain is that the Stone Age diet deviates considerably from our current dietary habits. No dairy products, no bread, no pasta: Can this work in the long run? Surely we can do without the above-mentioned food for a few weeks, but a permanent change requires a lot of willpower and consistency. Whether someone chooses this diet depends greatly on how much suffering he or she is prepared to accept with such a serious change in current eating patterns.

For one group of people, however, I can well imagine the Paleo diet as practical, and that is constantly growing group of people with food intolerances, such as lactose, gluten or histamine intolerance. Those suffering from these food intolerances could really benefit from this form of nutrition, because the Paleo diet largely excludes all the foods causing intolerances. It would definitely be worth a try.

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