Paleo and Raw Eating: Is it Time to Evolve?

The Paleo Diet
 
 

An article from GreenMedInfo.com presents some thought-provoking ideas about the Paleo diet. Should we implement the eating patterns of our ancestors to eat more of a "natural diet?" So much can be said for the choices that people make when it comes to their daily eating habits such as are they truly gluten-intolerant or are they allergic to nuts or do they avoid certain foods because of their culture/religion? But, as this article indicates, trying to eat foods in a more natural state has got to beat the Standard American Diet (SAD) of today that contains so much sugar, preservatives, unhealthy fats and processed foods. Where does one draw the line?
I particularly like the point made in the article about how we as humans are omnivores -- we have the capacity to eat a wide range of foods and as Kristen Gremillion, associate professor of anthropology points out, "rather than trying to base a healthy diet on what we think people used to eat thousands of years ago, it would probably make more sense to look at our nutritional requirements today and find the best way to meet them."
In keeping with today's nutritional requirements, its ultimately key to look at a diet such as this one and perhaps implement parts of it -- not all. While this diet does focus on vegetables and lean meat, it also eliminates other food groups like dairy and grains. The elimination of these food groups is quite controversial by many health experts because there is such a risk of losing important nutrients that our bodies need.
 What happens if you eliminate dairy? The risk of improving bone health for one. By eliminating dairy from one's diet, there is a much higher risk of getting osteoporosis. Also if dairy is eliminated during childhood, important bone mass is interrupted and not getting enough nourishment can lead to disease.
Another importance of having dairy? Dairy helps with the reduction of cardiovascular disease, lowering blood pressure in adults and the disease which is so common now -- type 2 diabetes.
What happens if you eliminate grains? 
Grains give us plenty of nutrients, dietary fiber, minerals and vitamins. The fiber can help in reducing blood cholesterol levels as well as reducing obesity and type 2 diabetes among many other things. Whole grains give us important minerals that are used for bone maintenance as well as giving us a better chance of having a healthy immune system.

The Raw Food Diet

Is the Raw Food diet the answer to eating more naturally? This diet focuses on getting nourishment from foods that are unprocessed and uncooked. But, once again, this article brings up the point about how humans have cooked for hundreds of thousands of years and much benefit has been gained from cooking.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, the board-certified family physician and NY Times best-selling author and nutritional researcher that I've written about before on my blog discusses the many advantages of eating raw food, but also mentions that there are disadvantages. In fact, he says, "eating an exclusively raw-food diet is a disadvantage. Excluding all steamed vegetables and vegetable soups from your diet narrows your nutrient diversity and has a tendency to reduce the percentage of calories from vegetables in favor of nuts and fruits which are lower in nutrients per calorie." 
The bottom line is that a healthy diet does not have to be "all or nothing", it can simply mean that eating more salads is a good thing to do as well as steaming vegetables or eating healthy soups or stews which adds nutritional balance. Remember the 10 Nutrient Density Index Foods I've talked about before? Preparing some of the foods discussed in the above-mentioned article like kale, collard greens or watercress by sauteeing them or making a soup is a "powerhouse" of nutrition. So, having a variety of raw and cooked foods can only add to good nutritional balance.

Is going Paleo or "eating raw" a way for us to evolve? Not necessarily. Why can't we undergo gradual change by eating sensibly? What do you think?

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