First, let’s start out with a look at the concept of diet in today’s society.
It’s no wonder people get confused with all the different diet options and opinions that excists today. A quick internet search will present you with plenty of choices and differing opinions, enough to scare away the most determined person in search of a healthier lifestyle.
The opinions on what a healthy diet should look like differs greatly, from a fully plant based vegetarian type diet to the SAD (Standard American Diet) with it’s low fat dogma and ridiculously high carb recommendations (6-11 servings per day), enough to get the most insulin sensitive individual to start a journey of crazy blood sugar spikes from the moment he/she sits down at the breakfast table. In the other end of the spectrum you have different variations of what’s often called a low carb diet, some having different opinions when it comes to fat intake. But the typical low carb diet contains high amounts of fat, especially healthy natural fats from healthy animals raised on their natural diet, like pastured cows etc. But this way of eating is by many considered more than a simple change in diet. It’s a way of life.
Two of the most known versions of a low carb high fat diet is the paleo diet and the primal diet. Both is considered lifestyles and are not the typical “lose weight” diets that people follow until their weight goal is achived and then they go back to eating the way they did before.
Both the paleo and the primal diet or lifestyle, which is the more correct term, is built on the concept of evolution, and how we as humans, throughout more than 99% of our existence have had a diet consisting of plants and animals. Research has shown that the main part of our diet consisted of meat and fat. In addition, our diet was supplemented with different plants like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, depending on the location and seasons. Only until recenctly (last century) have the fear of animal fat and saturated fat in paticular, been blown completly out of porportion, evident by the many “low-fat” or even “non-fat” products now found on most grocery store shelves. Also very important is the fact that humans throughout almost its entire existence have not being eating grains. Grains were not a part of the human diet up until about 10 000 years ago, with the dawn of agriculture. Thus we as humans are not genetically adapted to effectively digest and utilize grains as a source of nourishment. Another important aspect of the paleo and primal way of eating, is the exclusion or limitation of dairy. Dairy was not commonly consumed until the agricultural area, when it became common to keep our own animals. Finally, the last major aspect of importance in a paleo/primal type diet (there are however other less but yet important “rules” as to foods that should be avoided or restricted, but thats for another post) is the limitation or exclusion of polyunsaterated oils (except for olive oil, which does contain some PUFA’s, but also good amounts of monounsaturated and some saturated fats). Only in the last century have humans started getting copious amounts of polyunsaturated fats mainly through consumption of things like high heat, high pressure extracted vegetable oils.
So what makes the paleo/primal diet so special, or even superior to the other diets out there? Well, I’ve already kind of answered the question, but to make it more clear, the answer lies in our genes. The paleo/primal way of eating is the way we’re design to eat through 2 million years of evolution. By eating this way we’re working with our genes rather then against them, and are giving our body the foundation to functioning at an optimal level, optimizing it’s function and prevent all types of diseases which in large are either fully or partially related to our eating habits.