Our cave-dwelling ancestors would be proud. The Paleolithic (or “Paleo”) diet, which advocates returning to the nutritional habits of our pre-agricultural relatives, has become a hugely popular, mainstream movement in the last decade, according to a recent article in The New York Times. The Paleo diet centers around the basic idea that we should eat the foods that we evolved to eat over millions of years, and avoid foods that we did not evolve to eat, particularly foods that were introduced as a part of the agricultural revolution around 10,000 years ago (a relatively short period of time in evolutionary terms). Nevertheless, what started out as a way of eating to improve one's health has transformed into a way of life for many Paleo enthusiasts. Advocates of the Paleo lifestyle tout particular sleep habits, fitness regimens, and parenting methods as being more “primal.” For many people, this evolutionary or “ancestral” approach to health makes sense, as the numbers demonstrate—in 2013, the Paleo diet was the most-searched diet according to the Google Trends Zeitgeist list. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know to get caught up on the Paleo diet and lifestyle:
Source: The New York Times
- Paleo Diet. Consists primarily of fruits, vegetables, organic and grass fed meats, nuts, seeds, and oils; excludes grains, legumes, refined sugars, all processed products, and sometimes dairy.
- Paleo Fitness. Favors high intensity workouts such as CrossFit, where the body moves in ways that approach how we might have moved as hunter-gatherers.
- Paleo Sleeping Habits. Minimizes unnatural light sources (such as from computers or other electronic devices) late in the evening, which, it is claimed, disrupt circadian rhythms.
- Paleo Parenting. Promotes “unstructured play” for children.