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7 Reasons You Should Eat a Paleo Diet

March 21, 2014

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The concept of “eating Paleo” has been around for a few years now, and you probably have some sense of what it refers to: cavemen, meat, etc. But what’s really behind the relatively recent diet movement? And is it something you should consider trying?

The Paleo diet takes us back to the basics of how our caveman ancestors ate, with the reasoning that our bodies were designed to properly digest and get nourishment from these types of foods. Following this diet as intended means thinking about the types as well as the quality of the foods that you eat. Our ancestors during the Paleolithic period had to hunt for and gather their food, which means they only had access to wild animals, wild vegetables, and limited amounts of wild fruits. Their foods were not adulterated with pesticides and chemicals.

To mimic their diet as closely as possible, you not only have to eliminate all processed foods and grains, but also locate the purest sources of food available. This means eating wild game, grass-fed meats, organic eggs from pasture-raised chickens, organic vegetables, and small amounts of organic fruits. Some Paleo adherents hunt wild game to get their meat, but this just isn’t a realistic option for everyone. Small, local, organic farms can be your best friend when it comes to finding foods for the Paleo diet. Look for local organic farmers that pasture-raise their meat and eggs and use sustainable organic growing methods for their fruits and vegetables. At first, this diet may feel like a big change from what you’re used to, but the benefits are well worth it. Here are seven of the major health benefits to adopting a Paleo diet: 

1. Blood Sugar: The Paleo diet is a very low sugar diet. The only sugar allowed is natural sugar from fruit, and the allowance of fruit is generally restricted to a few servings a day. This low sugar intake in and of itself helps reduce blood sugar levels, but the benefits go even further. By eating less sugar, your body begins to produce less insulin, and it utilizes the insulin it does produce better, so that when you do eat sugar, it is better able to efficiently digest it. 

2. Waist Size: The benefits of lower blood sugar seen from the Paleo diet also benefit your waist size. Your waist size is tied to your body’s insulin production and its ability to use insulin correctly. By normalizing your body’s insulin levels and increasing its ability to use it, your waist will decrease in size. Why is this important? Because a large waist size increases your risks of heart disease and diabetes.

3. Blood Pressure: Some studies have found that the Paleo diet reduces blood pressure levels. Part of this is probably due to the low sodium levels in the Paleo diet, since salt is not added to foods. Sodium causes the body to retain water, increasing the burden on the heart to pump blood, therefore increasing blood pressure levels. By eating a low sodium diet, like the Paleo diet, you avoid causing an unnecessary burden on your heart. 

4. Cholesterol Levels: Some people worry that eating the amount of meat required by the Paleo diet will raise your cholesterol to unhealthy levels, but these worries are unfounded. The Paleo diet requires that you eat wild game and grass-fed meats, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (good fats) that actually lower your cholesterol levels. In addition, a large part of the Paleo diet is made up of vegetables, and the high fiber content of vegetables helps to reduce cholesterol levels as well. 

5. Appetite: When people switch to a Paleo diet they often find that they get full more quickly, eat less food, and stay full longer. The reason for this is because of the Paleo diet’s high protein content. It takes much longer for the body to digest protein than it does carbohydrates. You’ll feel satisfied longer after your meals, making you less tempted to snack on unhealthy treats throughout the day. 

6. Joint Health: The omega-3 fatty acids found in the wild game and grass-fed meats that make up the Paleo diet are beneficial to joint health. Omega-3 fats reduce joint inflammation and help lubricate the joints, which may help prevent joint problems and reduce the symptoms of arthritis. 

7. Cancer Risk: Because most, if not all, of the Paleo diet is made up of organic foods, your exposure to pesticides, chemicals, and other toxins found in many supermarket foods is minimized, which means your cancer risk is significantly reduced. 

In addition to the health benefits the Paleo diet has for humans, it is also kinder to the environment. You won’t be eating factory farmed animals or foods that contain pesticides, which means you’ll doing your part to reduce animal suffering and decrease water, land, and air pollution.

Does the Paleo diet seem like something you would try? Why or why not? Share in the comments below!