Many people think that the “Paleo diet” is synonymous with a “Low-Carb” diet.
This most certainly is not the case.
A central feature of the Paleo diet is that how much carb, protein or fat that one eats is not as important as where the carbs, fat and protein came from.
For example, a carb from a banana is fine, but a carb from bread isn’t.
I can see Caveman scratching his head and saying, “Surely a carb is a carb wherever it came from?”
This conundrum can be explained by the fact that bread also contains gluten, WGA and phytic acid, whereas bananas don’t contain these harmful substances.
And what’s wrong with gluten, WGA and phytic acid?
1. Gluten (which is in fact a protein) disrupts appetite controlling mechanisms (by blocking the action of a hormone called leptin) and it might also make your gut a bit too ‘leaky’ by acting on a hormone called zonulin.
The Bottom Line – a carb from one food is not necessarily as healthy as a carb from another food.
So choose your foods more carefully rather than worry about how many carbs you are eating.
Do we know what Palaeolithic Man ate? He did eat fruit, vegetables, root vegetables, meat, organ meats, fish, eggs, insects and nuts. What we don’t know is how much of each food he ate; though he certainly ate enough to grow tall and to live to a ripe old age according to fossil records.
One presumes that in parts of the earth where plant matter was in abundance Man ate a high-carb diet; and where animals were in abundance he ate a low-carb diet.
And what didn’t Palaeolithic Man eat? He definitely did not eat grains (i.e no bread, rice, chapatis, oats or bran); dairy products (other than breast milk as a baby and young child); refined vegetable oils; refined sugar; alcohol; pulses or legumes.
There are many hypotheses as to why Man’s brain size and intellect grew. One theory is that controlling fire made cooking possible, which in turn made food more digestible.
So a previously undigestible yam becomes an edible food. And instead of spending all day gathering enough berries and other low calorie plants, one cooked yam could provide as many calories as several hours of hunting and gathering previously did.
Man not only had some new ‘free’ time now he also had many more calories from cooked meat and tubers. This combination of easily digestible food with extra leisure time might have accelerated the growth of Man’s brain.
Another criticism of the Paleo diet is that modern foods don’t resemble pre historic foods, so however hard we try we can’t eat as pre historic Man did.
Continuing with the banana theme, yes, bananas today have been bred to be sweeter than pre historic bananas; my point is that at least bananas were on our menu 200,000 years ago, unlike bread or sunflower oil, which weren’t on our menu in any form.
Surely it is better to eat a “sweeter-than-the-standard-pre-historic-banana” which our metabolism has evolved to digest rather than substances which haven’t been part of our diet for 95% of our existence?
Others might say, “But we can digest bread, so how can it be harmful?”
Well, just as smoking one cigarette won’t kill you, neither will eating one slice of bread.
And just as some people can smoke 20 cigarettes a day and live to 100, so too can some people eat a loaf of bread a day and live to 100.
But the probability of living well and to 100 is higher if you don’t smoke, as is the probability of living well and to 100 if you cut out or eliminate foods which weren’t part of pre historic Man’s menu.