We’re getting our caveman on Sonoma and you are invited. Ever wanted to harpoon a fish for dinner, or gnaw on a bone and then clean your teeth with it? Ok, well, maybe not. But the caveman, or “Paleo” diet is the latest craze in the healthy living world, and in an attempt to see what it’s all about I helped EA’s CrossFit set up a Paleo Challenge so people to give it a try.
Paleo is a term used to describe the Paleolithic time in history. This was a time in which our Paleolitic ancestors hunted and gathered the food they needed from the natural environment around them. It was nature that dictated what they consumed up until humans started domesticating livestock less than 10,000 years ago. The majority of human existence happened before that time of domestication and scientific evidence shows that our bodies are therefore still best suited to eat according to what nature dictates. Humans have been on the planet for 2.5 million years, and the human genome has only changed less than .02 percent in 40,000 years. So genetically, that means we are still stone-agers living in the space age!
Paleo Diet Highlights
* Paleolithic people ate no dairy
* Paleolithic people hardly ever ate cereal grains
* Paleolithic people did not salt their food, minerals came from the rich soils in which the food was grown
* The only refined sugar they ate was honey, when they occasionally found it
* Wild, lean, animal foods dominated their diets, with a high protein intake when compared to today’s standards
* Their carbohydrate intake was lower, consisting of wild, non-starchy veggies and fruits. Their fiber intake was quite high
* They ate plenty of healthy fats, mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated, and omega 3 fats
* In a nut shell (no pun intended), this diet is based on eating lean meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
* A relatively high amount of Animal protein – lean meats, organ meats, fish, and seafood.
* A moderate amount of complex, low starch carbs from fruits and vegetables, not from grains or refined sugars.
* A moderate amount of fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, high in omega 3 and 6.
* Foods that are high in potassium, and low in sodium
* Consume a diet with a net alkaline load.
* Foods rich in phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Food as Medicine
While most people adopt a paleo lifestyle to lose weight, let’s not forget the real reason we consume food. It’s to keep us healthy. Food’s role as designed is to nourish our bodies and to give us vitality and life. Modern man has turned food into a pleasure principle and in doing so has caused profound negative effects on our health. The Paleo diet is a great way to restore health that is out of balance. It will help improve cholesterol, blood pressure, and other markers of disease. By removing the foods we are not designed to consume, our bodies will do their jobs in restoring, repairing, and putting ourselves back into health balance. There are thousands of amazing testimonials of disease reversal due to removal of processed foods and increase of clean foods we were designed to eat.
Imagine how much movement our paleolithic ancestors had in a day, and what kind of movement they needed to do to simply survive. Scientific evidence shows our paleo ancestors had high amounts of lean mass in comparison to fat mass. There are core, functional movements they had to be able to perform daily to remain at the top of the food chain. Cave men had to be prepared for the unpreparable all the time, and it was their lifestyle as hunters and gatherers that kept them fit for the job. Not just physically, but mentally as well. If you decide to try the paleo challenge, I recommend you exercise the paleo way, too… This includes sprinting, lifting, pulling, jumping, pushing, and moving in unpredictable patterns at unpredictable speeds. Paleo exercise is the CrossFit way. It is the paleo sport of our time and the best conditioning form of exercise today.
Hunt and gather
We are lucky. Here in Sonoma Valley we have many wonderful opportunities to forage and find fresh and organic foods. Here is your chance to hunt and gather at the supermarket, the farmers market, at fruit stands, and at local farms. That is how we hunt and gather in a modern world. There is so much we can do to shift to a more caveman way of eating and moving. I must say the challenge has been a great experience. Very thought provoking and enlightening. Feel free to give it a try.
If you want to learn more about the Paleo Challenge, or about Paleo exercise, check out facebook.com/eacrossfit.