Try the Paleo Diet: eat like a caveman

by Staff Reporter

The year about to end popularised many diets: low carb, gluten-free, the Mediterranean diet, Paleo diet and more. It can be hard to keep pace with the trends let alone make sense of them.
But GazetteHealth is intrigued by the Paleo or caveman diet. Its boasted benefits include improved muscle tone (without even training), reduced inflammation, a reduction in auto-immune diseases, improved mental clarity, better skin, nails, hair and reduced risk of heart disease. Its approach emphasises returning to a more basic approach to eating: if you can’t hunt or gather it (figuratively speaking), don’t eat it.
I spoke to Gary Kealy about the challenge of switching to such a regime. Kealy, a personal trainer, nutritionist who has adopted Paleo, has reported significant improvements in his general health, body composition and energy levels.
Deconstructing the Paleo diet
What’s in? Most vegetables, some fruit, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds. Unprocessed foods. Taking the time to source quality ingredients is key to good health.
What’s out? Anything the body doesn’t recognise as food such as highly processed foods along with grains, gluten, pasteurised dairy, refined sugar, legumes (this includes peanut)
How can this be healthy?
Excluding grains, legumes and dairy – these are good foods and surely we need calcium and complex carbohydrates for a balanced diet? Kealy explains: “For our body to use the calcium that we consume in our food there must also be magnesium present in the ratio 3:1 (calcium: magnesium). Essentially, calcium needs to be consumed with magnesium for our body to absorb it. In effect, the bioavailability of calcium in milk products is far less than the dairy industry claims. Green and leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli are a far better source of calcium.”
But what is so wrong with grains, which are good sources of fibre, minerals and B vitamins? “Their processing by the gut can cause serious problems, for example IBS. Grains, by their very nature, are designed to survive the digestive tract of animals. This could get very complicated but again in general, fibre, minerals and all vitamins can be obtained far more easily from vegetables, meat and eggs,” says Kealy.
If you spend an extra €20-30 a week on good quality, healthy food you will increase your performance across the board and have much more mental acuity and day-to-day vitality. So a Paleo diet, if it suits, could be valuable.
Before embarking on the Paleo diet, remember that life is meant to be fun, exhilarating and joyful. If a day passes and you feel none of these things, try to touch base with what is important: family, friends and helping others.

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