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Published on March 11th, 2013 | by Pauli Halstead


The Paleo Diet for our Modern Times

The ancestral human diet was the natural foods that were consumed by evolving humans over a more than two million year old time span. This evolutionarily successful way of eating was essential to our evolution. According to many studies there is now much supporting evidence that the diet of our paleolithic ancestors may be a guide to the proper nutrition of modern humans as well.

The ancestral diet consisted of wild animals, (especially the brains, bone marrow, fats and organs), fish and shellfish, foraged wild plants, eggs, insects, nuts, seeds and berries. This diet (high in omega-3 fatty acids), provided the nutrient dense balance which allowed our ancestors to thrive and pass on their genes to subsequent generations.

Historically, the first major change in the human diet began with the cultivation of grains, about 10 thousand years ago. The cultivation of grains, and the advent of animal husbandry, led to a widespread replacement of an animal and fish based diet with cereal grains and dairy. Subsequently, the Industrial Revolution led to the onset of advances in crop manipulation, intensive animal rearing practices, and food processing, all of which radically reduced both the qualitative and quantitative balance of omega-3 fatty acids in the food supply.

There is now much data on the subject of soil depletion. If livestock are fed a diet of grains grown from nutrient deficient soils, this diet will not give adequate nourishment for the animals. Subsequently, if we are eating these animals and their milk, cheese, butter and egg products, then consequently these foods will not contain the essential minerals and nutrients to promote our heath as well.

In trying to approximate the paleo diet for our modern times we must choose carefully which foods to consume. One of the most important choices is grass-fed meat which retains the omega-3 fatty acid balance necessary for heart and brain health. The definition of grass-fed is that cattle, bison, yak and sheep, have consumed nothing but mother’s milk and fresh grass or dried grass hay during their lifetime. Unfortunately some products are marketed as grass-fed when they are not entirely grass-fed. Ask for exclusively grass-fed, no grain finishing at all, when purchasing these products.

Exclusively grass-fed meat, pastured poultry and dairy products, organic vegetables, nuts, seeds and berries, will best replicate the diet of our ancestors. We can still adapt this way of eating to our modern tastes to make it interesting and delicious. Good health is actually not a diet, but a way of life.

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About the Author

Pauli Halstead began her culinary career in 1973 at a tiny vegetarian restaurant in Berkeley, California. Over the years, she has owned a restaurant in San Francisco, a renowned catering company in Napa Valley, and opened another café in Santa Fe. She is the author of two books, Cuisine for Whole Health and Primal Cuisine, Cooking for the Paleo Diet. She can be reached at cuisineforwholehealth@gmail.com.

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