In our modern world, convenient, fast foods are more popular than fruits and vegetables it can be hard even to grasp the idea of eating like our ancestors.
There is a growing community of people who swear by the health benefits of ancestor like diets including Paleo, Primal, or “The Makers Diet.” The health benefits of these “ancestor diets” include:
- Reduce Inflammation
- Promote Weight Loss
- Improve Satiety
- Regulates Blood Sugar
- Reduces Nutrient Deficiencies
The current obesity epidemic and rise in cancer and chronic disease rates are without a doubt related to how we nourish our body and how agriculture and farming practices have evolved over generations.
Our ancestors had no options for convenient foods, reduced fat, sugar-free and long shelf life processed frozen meals or snack foods. They simply ate moderate portions of the whole, unprocessed foods that were close to their original form.
These types of foods were extremely satisfying, resulting in natural portion control and appetite regulation.
I will review some of the nutrition and eating strategies of previous generations and how they are healthier options for the current populations.
Cook Most Meals At Home
Our ancestors did not have the luxury of driving by several different restaurants and fast food chains on the way home. They could not just go out to eat or pick up something in the drive-through.
Meals were planned out in advance and prepared from scratch; this is the key to healthy eating.
Eating out is convenient, but the foods are not as healthy, cheaper quality, they contain significantly higher unhealthy amounts of sodium, trans fats, sugar and other taste-enhancing preservatives like MSG.
The portion sizes are also significantly larger than a traditional portion size of a meal prepared at home. The combination of unhealthy amounts of ingredients and larger portion size will not only result in weight gain, but it will also increase the risk for chronic diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and even cancer.
Use Real Whole Unprocessed Ingredients
Our ancestors ate most of their foods as close to their natural form as possible. They hunted and gathered, picking foods off of trees, vines, etc. They did not have foods that had a long shelf life out of a can, bag or box.
The most common foods that are on an ancestor diet like Paleo include:
- Unrefined oils like coconut oil
Most of the foods listed are high in heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, protein and anti-oxidants which all improve overall health and quality of life. These foods contain no additives, dyes, added sugars, processed fats, or preservatives to increase shelf life or improve texture.
All of the dangerous additives that are in most mainstream foods can damage our gut, resulting in low-grade inflammation, weight gain, poor energy and nutrient deficiencies.
The chemicals in these foods also put us at an increased risk for chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, thyroid disorders and even sex hormone imbalances, in both adults and children.
Foods to avoid on an ancestor or Paleo diet include:
- Refined oils like vegetable oil
- Sugar in any form
- Processed junk food packaged snacks
- Caffeine-containing foods or drinks
If this seems daunting or unrealistic, know that even eliminating a few if not all of the above food sources will improve your health.
Eat Full-Fat Options
Our ancestors who hunted and gathered or farmed ate full-fat foods. They consumed real butter, high-fat protein/meat options, oils, nuts, seeds, and later on full fat dairy.
It is not a coincidence that our obesity epidemic grew when we as a culture shifted to low fat and fat-free food options or nutrition plans in the 80’s and 90’s.
Fat has several health benefits including:
- Cell signaling for nervous system
- Brain nourishment
- Appetite regulation
- Hormone production
- Increase nutrient absorption
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s
- Improve Immune System
- Alleviate Depression
- Improve Body Composition
- Cardiovascular Protection
- Improved Behavior
- Preserve Memory
- Prevent Cancer
- Improve Eye Health
Heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids are the best, including cold-water fish, olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
Quit Eating “Mini Meals” All Throughout The Day
Somehow the diet industry came to the conclusion that eating small meals all throughout the day is the best way to be healthy and manage weight.
The reasoning behind this was you do not get hungry as often, and you will keep your metabolism burning. This type of eating actually trains your body to depend on food for fuel rather then it’s own fat stores, resulting in mood swings and fluctuations in insulin levels.
Consuming small meals also is like a tease to our body, because we are never truly satisfied due to portions being so small.
Our ancestors had to hunt and gather their food, resulting in less frequent meals and larger portions at the meals that they did eat, yet they were lean and energy levels allowed for a very active lifestyle.
This type of eating is similar to intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is when you only eat within a 5-8 hour time period per day. Research has shown that intermittent fasting helps control weight, glucose levels, appetite and mental clarity, to name a few of its benefits.
Start out by skipping your first or last meal of the day (or even better have a healthy protein shake for that meal) and increase your portions slightly at the 2 meals you do consume.
Consuming healthy fats, vegetables and protein will deliver the best results. Hunger and mood swings will reduce if not go away by intermittent fasting or eating on a similar schedule as our ancestors once did.
Eat more simply, and try to consume foods that are as close to their natural original form as possible. It is best to avoid foods that come packaged in a box or bag.
Changing your thought process into preparing your meals at home and eating out less will improve health and your overall quality of life. Planning out meals and easing your way into the approved foods will yield the best results.
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Inpost Image Credit: shutterstock.com