Eating like a caveman: the Paleolithic diet

The Paleolithic diet has gained substantial ground in the past two years as more nutritionists and health gurus turn a sceptical eye to the benefits of a grain-based diet.

Embracing the foods of hunter-gatherers, the Paleo diet is red-hot right now.

Celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Biel and Miley Cyrus are reportedly eating like cavemen.

It was first popularised in the mid-1970s by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin.

The Paleo diet consists of fish, grass-fed pasture-raised meats, vegetables, fruit, mushrooms, nuts and roots, while eschewing grains, legumes, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, processed oils and, in most cases, dairy products.

The basic idea is that by adopting this ancestral pre-agricultural diet, people may circumnavigate some of the "diseases of civilisation."

For Wendy Schwartz, 49, the Paleo diet was a New Year's resolution two years ago.

She has bachelor's and master's degrees in food and nutrition from New York University.

Schwartz has lost 11 kilograms on the diet, and she perceives her health benefits to go far beyond just weight loss.

She says Paleo focuses not only on what you eat but the source of your food.

Schwartz found Paleo because she was having trouble digesting wheat products. In the age of the gluten-free craze, the Paleo diet fits in well.

Some nutritional experts are concerned with the increased consumption of saturated fat from the meat-centric diet and a lack of calcium from the elimination of dairy.

Also, there is much research that shows legumes and whole grains help fight some diseases of ageing and keep blood sugar at appropriate levels.

PALEO DIET

• Eat real food. If you can buy food that doesn't have labels, that's ideal.

• If your great-grandfather didn't eat it, don't eat it. Stop buying foods that have long, complicated ingredient lists.

• As far as vegetables go, focus on fresh lettuces and try to order vegetables without sauce.

• Stop thinking that low-fat is the way to go. Incorporate more extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil.

• Focus on vegetables and healthy oils, and, preferably, pastured and grass-fed lean meats.

• If you can buy grass-fed and pasture-raised meat, get higher-fat cuts. If you can't, go with leaner cuts. (And don't rely too heavily on meat: It should be no more than 35 per cent of daily calorie intake.)

A typical Paleo day

• Breakfast - Pastured or organic eggs with pastured butter or organic coconut oil, a couple of tomato slices on the side and half a cup of organic berries.

• Lunch - Grass-fed burger with a salad of a variety of vegetables, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, romaine lettuce and sliced jicama, walnuts and some avocado.

• Mid-afternoon snack - A handful of organic macadamia nuts with half an organic apple.

• Dinner - Broiled wild Alaskan salmon with organic broccoli, with sesame oil, organic ginger and sesame seeds. AAP

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