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What is "Paleo?"

One of the biggest buzz words in health and nutrition these days is Paleo, or Primal, or Ancestral, or Caveman.  All of these tend to refer to the lifestyle of trying to emulate the health-related behaviors of our ancestors.  Primarily, we're referring to our pre-agricultural ancestors.

What? You want to act like cavemen?  Hunter-gatherers?  Stop living in houses and start roaming the earth in search of roots and berries to eat?

No, of course not.  The Paleo movement looks to customize the lifestyle of yesterday's hunter-gatherers into today's world.  It's not some sort of role-playing type thing.  So don't give up your house and start stocking up on loincloths, but think about what our ancestors did as they evolved.  That's right, this is largely based on what Homo sapiens evolved eating and doing.

One thing we didn't do was eat a lot of grains and sugars.  Those foods didn't exist before agriculture for the most part, and our bodies are not well adapted to handle such stuff.  It's not just a matter of being gluten intolerant, it's a matter of being glucose and fructose intolerant (and these are really the only two worth mentioning since all carbohydrates that we're capable of digesting eventually get broken down into these two).  Too much of those two sugars sends our insulin rate sky-high, and that sort of sustained insulin high is what leads to the massive weight gain and increase in such deteriorating diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and even neurological issues such as ADHD, Autism, and Multiple Sclerosis.

So the basic foods of Paleo eating are meats (grass-fed and organic if possible), fish (wild-caught if possible), vegetables (again, organic if possible), some nuts and seeds, a little bit of fruit but not too much (to avoid too much fructose), and healthy oils and fats.

What about exercise?  Less than you might think.  Without all those carbs racing around in your bloodstream looking for an outlet other than adding body fat, you won't need to be a constant treadmill slave.  In fact, that's not really good for you either.  3-5 hours of low-impact exercise such as walking, hiking, or easy cycling a week.  A couple sessions of full body high impact weight or resistance training - 15-30 minutes a session.  And a session of sprints.  That's all you need.  You'll keep stress hormones out of your body and optimize your body's natural method of keeping fat off.

Anything else?  Sleep.  Get the best sleep you can.  Keep active and healthy - get out and play on occasion! And keep your health in mind as you go about your day.  Don't stop thinking about it, a mindful life is a successful life!


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