Most people understand that eating quick convenience foods on a regular basis is unhealthy. The Standard American Diet (SAD) consists of a massive number of calories consumed from refined and processed wheat, corn and oat based food groups. Our genetic structure has been programmed over tens of thousands of years. Most people understand that eating quick convenience foods on a regular basis is unhealthy. The Standard American Diet (SAD) consists of a massive number of calories consumed from refined and processed wheat, corn and oat based food groups. Our genetic structure has been programmed over tens of thousands of years to function optimally on a very different food pyramid than we have been lead to believe is in the best interest of our health. This ancestral eating style is known as the 'Paleo Diet', and is characterized by foods eaten in their natural form, unprocessed by a food conglomerate or consisting of foods which were not readily available as our genes were being coded by natural selection.
Convenience Foods Lead to Disease
Our earliest ancestors lived a much different lifestyle than we do today. Food was scarce, and much time and energy was spent in the pursuit of the next meal. Food when found consisted of nuts, berries, seeds, root vegetable and on rare occasions a raw meat feast. The hunter-gatherer went to sleep many days with an empty stomach, and certainly the consumption of meat was no more than several times a month. This type of early diet is far from today's refined, sweet-laden feast which many people eat three or more times a day. Further, many of the foods which are the core of our diet today did not even exist 10,000 years ago. Wheat and corn consumption are creations of modern agriculture, and while these foods have fed countless humans over the recent centuries, they are seen as microbial invaders when eaten and broken down by our digestive system.
Eating the Way Nature Intended
The Paleo Diet works in concert with our genes, as the nutrients it delivers are required for proper health. We understand many of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which are required for cellular health, and there are many other as yet undiscovered nutrients which co-exist in the matrix of natural foods which fuel our bodies. When we eat a diet which consists predominately of refined foods, these nutrients are stripped away and only the high calorie content remains. This is not good for our health, and paves the way for many of the diseases we associate with old age such as cancer, heart disease and dementia. To make matters worse, most meat bought in a store today is the product of force feeding with grains. This refined diet which the animal eats reduces the natural Omega-3 fat which naturally occurs in free grazing cattle, in favor of inflammation producing Omega-6 fats. When the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats increase above 2:1, metabolic changes occur in the body which lead to systemic inflammation and disease.
The New Paleo Food Pyramid
The Paleo Pyramid represents a very different view from the food pyramid we are used to seeing from the USDA. Paleo eating encourages all natural and organic vegetables, minimal fruits, nuts, seeds and free-range meats. It is necessary to eliminate all refined carbohydrates, sweets, breads, pastas and dairy. While this is a major alteration in the eating habits of most people, the results can be astounding. Natural weight loss is a significant benefit, as a large portion of the nutrient poor processed foods eaten cause slow weight gain over the years for many aging adults. Removal of wheat and corn based food items will result in rapid health improvement. Research indicates that in as little as 30 days, triglycerides, blood pressure, blood sugar and inflammation levels plummet. Most important is the conversion of LDL cholesterol particles from small and dense to a large, fluffy pattern which is consistent with reduction in heart attack risk.
Genetics is the controlling factor which guides our metabolism and proper utilization of the nutrients we consume. Hard wired into our genes is a requirement for certain types of foods. Variability in our individual evolutionary and ethnic origin determine the specific diet we each must follow to achieve optimal health. This has led to the study of 'food typing' in which certain individuals perform better on a diet higher in protein, while others require a more unprocessed carbohydrate type of diet. Regardless of your food type, following a culinary diet which is closest to that of your evolutionary ancestors will result in a healthy and disease free extended life.