The Paleolithic (Paleo) diet, also called the "Caveman" or "Stone Age" diet, is based on the idea that if we eat like our ancestors did 10,000 years ago, we'll be healthier, lose weight and curb disease (1). The diet is based on a wide variety of meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, and eggs. Vegetables, roots, fruits and berries are included with each meal and food quality is highly emphasised.
Clearly times have changed and humans no longer live off the land like we used to. These days, most people don’t have the skills or the time to hunt, fish and gather their food. The modern world is all about convenience and the majority of us purchase our food from grocery stores, local shops and farmer’s markets. This means that the nutritional quality of the foods we are eating today will be vastly different from what our ancestors ate, however Paleo acknowledges this and promotes seasonal eating; local, organic fruit and vegetables; and high-quality, hormone free, pasture fed animal products.
It’s hard to argue against a diet that promotes so well, the message to remove all processed foods. However, the Paleo community continues to cop slack for eliminating whole grains, legumes and dairy. The belief is that the introduction of these foods during the agricultural revolution is to blame for modern, chronic diseases including obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
The problem does not lie in the elimination of whole foods groups, but rather in the inability of most people to effectively make up the missing vitamins and minerals from other sources. Nevertheless, with a little creativity and planning it can be done, just like a vegetarian can get adequate iron and protein without eating meat. A true Paleolithic diet is extremely nutrient dense when done properly due to the promotion of unprocessed, whole foods and a major focus on vegetables and organ meats. In any case, it is strongly advised that you seek expert advice from a dietitian who can tailor a dietary pattern specific to your individual nutritional requirements.
1. Kohn J. Should We Eat Like Our Caveman Ancestors?2015. Available from: http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/should-we-eat-like-our-caveman-ancestors.