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Paleolithic Lifestyle

A paleolithic lifestyle (also known as paleo or primal lifestyle) refers to living as humans did in the paleolithic era (Old Stone Age), or attempting to recreate such a lifestyle in the present day. The rationale for such an approach is that humans have evolved for millions of years in a paleolithic environment. Therefore, their body and mind can be expected to be perfectly adapted to the concomitant hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Agriculture, on the other hand, only appeared about 10 000 years ago at the beginning of the neolithic era, and industrial society only about 200 years ago. Proponents of a paleolithic lifestyle assert that insufficient time has passed for humans to adapt to the changes brought by farming and industrialization, leading to a misfit between modern lifestyle and the human genome.

Here are six key elements of the Paleolithic lifestyle, according to Pedro Carrera-Bastos, a Swedish health researcher specializing in the effects of “ancestral” diets, and his colleagues.


Getting enough vitamin D is crucial to bone health, and may also play a role in preventing cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The simplest way to meet your needs: sunlight. But modern office-bound humans rarely spend enough time outside to get enough. Some hunter-gatherer cultures at high latitudes have found other ways – the Inuit, for example, rely on fatty fish for vitamin D.


Go to sleep when it’s dark, get up when it’s light. Our bodies have powerful internal clocks that try to enforce this simple rule. Even a night or two of disrupted sleep has immediate effects on your appetite hormones ghrelin and leptin. That’s why sleep patterns are closely related to obesity and metabolic syndrome: Too little sleep is most common these days, but too much isn’t good either.


An obvious one – but easier said than done in the modern world.


The typical hunter-gatherer life punctuated long periods of low stress with short bouts of acute stress that triggered the fight-or-flight response. In contrast, modern office workers often show signs of chronically elevated stress, which can have consequences such as elevated blood pressure and a weakened immune system.


Sure, paleo folks got more exercise than we do. But what kind?

  • Large amounts of light-to-moderate activity, such as walking or jogging, while hunting and foraging. Estimates place the typical distance covered at five to 16 kilometres per day.
  • Hard days were usually followed by easy days – though not totally sedentary.
  • Short bursts of very high-intensity activity. This can be mimicked with interval training once or twice per week.
  • Wide variety of daily activities that strengthen the whole body, ranging from carrying children and digging tubers to dancing.


The paleo diet is often hyped as a meat lover’s fantasy. While it varies from culture to culture, modern hunter-gatherers typically get only 35 per cent of their calories from meat, with the rest derived from plants. Even if we assume a 50-50 split, the greater caloric density of meat means that, by volume, the paleo “plate” would have had significantly more vegetables and fruit than meat on it.

BOTTOM LINE: So will going paleo really pay off with better health? As a big-picture guide to how to organize your life, definitely. But don’t get carried away with trying to recreate the exact details of a long-lost diet. Humans have changed and diversified even over the past few thousand years, so the only way to know what works best for your genes is to experiment. Go wild.

The essentials of the Paleolithic Diet are:

Eat none of the following:

  • Grains- including bread, pasta, noodles
  • Beans- including string beans, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts, snow-peas and peas
  • Potatoes
  • Dairy products
  • Sugar
  • Salt

Eat the following:

  • Meat, chicken and fish
  • Eggs
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables (especially root vegetables, but definitely not including potatoes or sweet potatoes)
  • Nuts, eg. walnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia, almond. Do not eat peanuts (a bean) or cashews (a family of their own)
  • Berries- strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc.

Increase intake of:

  • Root vegetables- carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, Swedes
  • Organ meats- liver and kidneys

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Mediterranean Diet Helps Heart Even Without Weight Loss

A new study offers further evidence that a Mediterranean-style diet is good for your heart.

The research found that unsaturated fats from foods such as avocados, olive oil and nuts increase the body’s ability to use insulin. Reduced insulin action can lead to diabetes, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Researchers examined how three different types of balanced diets consumed by 164 people with mild hypertension but no diabetes affected the body’s ability to maintain healthy insulin levels and regulate blood sugar levels. The three diets were rich in either carbohydrates, protein or unsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil.

The diet rich in unsaturated fats improved insulin use significantly more than the high-carbohydrate diet, which featured refined carbohydrates such as pasta and white bread.

This beneficial effect of the unsaturated fat diet occurred even though the participants did not lose weight.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.


A Chicken Dish Inspired by Traditional French Cooking


6 small garlic cloves
3/4 cup finely chopped parsley
generous pinches of freshly ground black pepper and salt
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on
2 tbsp unsalted butter
juice of 1 large lime


  1. Grease grill and preheat barbecue to medium-high. Finely mince garlic and place in a small bowl along with parsley. Sprinkle with generous pinches of salt and pepper. Set aside 1/3 cup parsley mixture.
  2. To stuff chicken, carefully loosen a small section of skin on meatier part of each breast. Insert index finger and carefully lift skin off meat, making a pocket but leaving all other edges sealed. Spoon about 1 tablespoon parsley mixture into pocket. Seal by gently pressing edges of skin and meat back together. Sprinkle each breast with generous pinches of salt and pepper. Barbecue with lid down until chicken feels springy when pressed, from 7 to 10 minutes per side.
  3. Just before chicken is cooked, place butter in a small saucepan. Place on stove, barbecue grill or side burner. When butter starts to foam, stir in reserved parsley mixture and lime juice. Place chicken on a platter or individual dinner plates. Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately. Great with sliced tomatoes or carrots, zucchini and a crusty French baguette.

Source: Chatelaine

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