It took millions of years for the present human to evolve from its ancestors. While the process of evolution did work for us, it has also made us very vulnerable to diseases and disorders. Our ancestors were athletic enough to chase and get chased by wild animals. They were strong enough to hunt down wild beasts with mere sharpened stones and bones. They could withstand ferocious cold by simply warming themselves up with animal hides. Now look at the present human race i.e. us. Most of us can’t even get up a couple of stairs without losing our breaths. We rely on medicines as much as we rely on food. When we came from such impressive ancestors; how did we end up this way? The answer to this lies in an aspect that changed drastically from then to now – DIET!Our ancestors were pure hunters while we are pure cultivators. When farming came into the picture some thousands of years ago, the human diet changed drastically. Many new ingredients like grains, legumes, pulses were introduced. However, it is now being felt that this new incorporation has done more harm than good. This gave rise to a new diet format called PALEO DIET which literally means ‘Ancient or Old’ diet.
Going Paleo is to follow the diet of the ancient humans who relied on raw nature for obtaining their calories. Therefore, Paleo says to have lean meat, fishes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and even seeds. It strictly forbids the follower from having any grains, legumes, pulses, dairy products, cereals, salt, sugar and any kind of processed food.
Paleo Diet in India
India follows largely a 3-meal per day pattern (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) and knowingly or unknowingly, all the three meals are heavy; not an advisable thing to do from the health perspective. Hence, India is one nation that can benefit appreciatively by adopting a Paleo Diet. This ancient diet has tremendous potential some of which are –
Effective against Diabetes
It might surprise you to know that approximately 10 lakhs Indians die every year due to diabetes and diabetes related disorders. Around 7.1% of the Indian Adult population suffers from Diabetes. Lack of exercise and improper diet are the two major causes of diabetes. The Paleo diet focuses on a protein, vitamin and fiber rich diet and excludes most of the carbohydrates and foods that are high on glycemic index – any food that elevates the level of sugar tremendously in the blood after consumption. Thus, following a Paleo diet protect the body from ingredients that increase your chances of getting diabetes. Several researches have shown that Diabetics when put on Paleo diet showed better insulin response.
Good on the Heart
Another accepted benefit of the Paleo Diet is its beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system. The Paleo Diet promotes the consumption of healthy fats. Secondly, it prevents the follower from having any junk food or processed food all of which are acclaimed to be health disasters. Thus, it controls the level of cholesterol in the blood and thereby prevents the occurrence of any heart and blood related disorder.
Autoimmune and Allergies
In autoimmune disorders, the body’s self defense mistakes the other cells in the body as foreign elements and starts destroying them. It has been proved scientifically that diet is one of the most crucial factors that can promote or prevent the onset of autoimmune disorders. The Paleo Diet being all natural and free from any chemical or processed ingredient protects the body’s internal environment and thereby prevents autoimmune disorders. There have been reported incidences where people have recovered from autoimmune disorders after switching to a Paleo Diet.
The healthy ingredients in Paleo contain anti inflammatory properties and thus it is beneficial for people who are prone to allergies. It is beneficial for asthmatics too.
Degenerative diseases are the ones that occur due to the degeneration of the cells that leads to the break down or malfunctioning of the associated organ or tissue. Some of the most popularly known degenerative diseases are Parkinson, Alzheimer’s, etc. Robb Wolf (student of Loren Cordain) has published on several occasions how the current diet is leading to increased occurrences of degenerative diseases. Paleo diet has been advocated as one of the way to protect you from these illnesses.
In order to adopt the Paleo diet you need to know which ingredients are allowed and which are restricted. We are sharing a list of the ingredients keeping in mind the general Indian diet so that you are able to make your food choices carefully.
Foods that are YES for Paleo
Paleo Diet welcomes all the veggies generously. You are free to eat as many vegetables as you want. The better the quality of the vegetables, the better will be your overall result. Vegetables are rich in minerals, vitamins and dietary fibers. These are therefore, of utmost importance to achieve your health goal. Now an exception to this rule is the vegetables that are high on carbs. Having an unrestricted amount of these vegetables will become problematic for people who are adopting Paleo diet for weight loss. Otherwise, these vegetables won’t harm you in any way. Here is a list of the vegetables that you can include in your meals.
NOTE: Almost the entire vegetable kingdom is acceptable. The below list includes the ones that have high nutritional value and therefore should be there in your meals.
|Vegetables that are Paleo|
|Hindi Name||English Name||Hindi Name||English Name|
|Shatavari||Asparagus||Hara Kaanda||Green onions|
|Chukandar||Beets||Choti Gobhi||Brussels sprouts|
|Turi or Turai||Zucchini||Patta Gobhi||Cabbage|
|Shimla Mirch||Peppers (all kinds)||Phool Gobhi||Cauliflower|
|Paleo Vegetables High on Carbs|
Just like vegetables, almost all the fruits are accepted as Paleo. You are free to eat as many fruits as you want. Fruits, just like vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in anti oxidants that are very important to protect the body from free radicals. However, if you are on a weight loss plan, limit your intake of Bananas as they are naturally rich in sugars.
|Fruits that are Paleo|
|Strawberries||Bananas (Rich in Carbs)|
A Paleo diet cannot be completed without meat. Since the primitive man relied on meat majorly for his nutrition, a Paleo diet focuses extensively on consumption of lean meat (meat without fat). Meat is a rich source of protein. It is required for healthy muscles and for smooth functioning of the inner body. Almost 25 to 30% of the daily calorie intake is to be obtained from meat and fish.
|Meat that is Paleo|
|Chicken (Breast, Legs, Thigh, Wings)||Beef (Meat, Steak, Grounded)|
|Turkey (Breast, Legs, Thigh, Wings)||Buffalo (Meat, Steak, Grounded)|
|Pork (chops, bacon, steak)||Lamb (Meat, Steak, Grounded)|
|Goat (Meat, Steak, Grounded)|
Fishes are loaded with nutrients and are a great source of healthy fats specially Omega 3 fatty acids. This particular fatty acid is very good for the cardiovascular health. In addition, fishes are a great source of protein too. Having some amount of fish in the diet is therefore a dietary recommendation.
|Fishes that are Paleo|
|Hindi Name||English Name||Hindi Name||English Name|
5) Fats and Oils
An Indian diet is incomplete without oil and fats. Secondly, we cannot have raw meat. It needs to be cooked and we would need oil or fat for it. In order to avoid the large amount of saturated fats in available in oils, only certain oils are allowed under the Paleo Diet.
|Fats that are Paleo|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil|
Nuts are a great source of nutrition. They are high in healthy fats, vitamin and minerals. Nuts form a great snack however it needs to be kept in mind that certain nuts are high in fats like cashew nuts that need to be avoided. Stay low on nuts especially if you are trying to lose weight.
|Nuts that are Paleo|
7) Other Ingredients
Eggs: Paleo Diet lets you have eggs. They are natural, unprocessed and great source of nutrition. However, if you are on a weight loss regimen avoid the egg yolk. If you don’t exercise heavily then limit your egg consumption from 1 to 2 per day only.
Tea: You can have the regular tea but in moderate amounts. Adding green tea to your diet is a great way to detox your body.
Honey: You can have honey provided it is pure and unadulterated. Limit your consumption of honey as it is rich in sugars.
Coconut water: It is a great source of nutrition. However do not have access of it. Once in a while is allowed.
Coffee: Limit your consumption of Coffee. You can have black coffee in moderation or coffee with very little milk.
Alcohol: You can have alcohol but only on occasions. It is permissible, because a person cannot give up on alcohol overnight. So a limited amount is allowed.
Note: The meat, egg and even butter and ghee is permissible if it is ‘grass fed’. This means that animal that it is obtained from should not be bred on grains or injected with chemicals. The animal should be bred naturally on grass.
Foods that are NO for Paleo
Keeping in mind the availability of resources in the ancient era, there are many ingredients that are not permissible under the Paleo diet. Here is a brief list –
1) Legumes or Beans
Since the ancient men did not know cultivation and beans were not available in the wild, they are restricted in the Paleo diet. Beans are also rich in Phytic acid that has many health disorders. Hence, all the beans and pulses are restricted. Black beans, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Peas, Chick Peas, Soya Beans, Peanuts, Moong, etc are a big NO!
Yes, not even grains! Grains were introduced only after agriculture came into the picture. More importantly, grains are high in Carbs. Plus grains available today are highly hybridized and processed. Hence, Paleo forbids you from having any kind of grain. Rice, wheat, bajra, Oats, Corn, Grams are not allowed. Derived from grains – Bread, Brown bread, Pasta, Corn Syrup etc. are also forbidden.
3) Processed Items
Anything that was processed and is not natural is restricted. Hence, say good-byes to your pizzas, burgers, hot dogs, cakes, muffins, wafers, chips, French fries, Pasta, biscuits, cookies, sauces, juices, candies and anything that you pick up from the market.
Foods that are Grey Zoned
Salt is the richest source of sodium for humans. Even though Sodium and Chlorine (the elements in salt) are of immense importance for humans, many health experts have condemned it. No research studies have so far shown that salt when taken in moderate proportions affect the health in a negative way. Secondly, having food without a pinch of salt seems non palatable. Hence, you may consume salt in small proportions if you cannot give upon it.
Paleo experts have restricted milk as an ingredient on the menu. Boycotting something as valuable as milk is a debatable concept under this diet plan and hence it has been grey zoned. The reasoning given to explain this is that the ancient men did not have milk except for when they were infants. Advocators of Paleo Diet condemn the fact that humans are the only species that have milk of other animals throughout their life. Rest of the animal kingdom relies on mother’s milk only up to a certain age.
Second reasoning is that a considerable population all across the world is lactose intolerant (a prominent sugar in Milk). This leads to problems like leaky gut, indigestion, acne etc. However, not everyone is lactose intolerant and for them milk is a rich source of nutrition for them that cannot simply be kicked off the list.
Hence, whether you should have milk or not is up to you. If you are certain that you can tolerate milk and dairy products really well, then you may continue with it. It is better to have fresh, raw and grass-fed milk instead of pasteurized one. You certainly cannot have cottage cheese or paneer, butter and ghee if it is not grass fed, buttermilk or chaas, cream, ice cream, yogurt, etc.
Limitation of Paleo Diet in India
Applicability of Paleo as a diet format in India is quite challenging.
- We are born to rely on grains for our nutrition. India is the land of grains. Roti and rice are our staple items. Giving up on them entirely is definitely going to be difficult.
- A large number of Indians are vegetarian and Paleo promotes consumption of lean meat. It can be said that Paleo s incomplete without meat, fish and eggs. This makes it difficult for the veg. to take up Paleo.
- Even if Vegetarians do take up Paleo, they will soon deprive themselves of a vital nutrient like protein. The veg sources of protein like legumes and pulses are forbidden under Paleo. Thus sooner or later, the person will begin to feel the impact. To say it frankly, if you are a vegetarian, do not go for a Paleo diet.
- Paleo forbids from having milk and dairy products that are rich in Calcium, Phosphorus and Vitamin D. These are vital nutrients for the body. Competing staying off dairy is a debatable topic.
- The Paleo Diet is definitely not easy on the pocket. Fruits, vegetables, grass fed lean meat, fishes, milk, nuts, definitely add to your expenses heavily. Thus, Paleo diet cannot be on everyone’s menu in India at least.
Paleo Diet Plan
If you are sure by now that you indeed want to take up a Paleo challenge then here is an easy to follow 7 Day Paleo Diet Plan. Instead of a 3 meal per day routine, we have broken it down to a 4 meal per day plan. You can modify it further to a 5 meal per day by adding a small snack meal between breakfast and lunch.
|Breakfast||A Paleo Omelet|
|Lunch||A big bowl of chicken, beef or pork salad|
|Evening Snack||Apple slices topped with a little almond butter|
|Dinner||Baked fish or chicken with steamed veggies like broccoli|
|Lunch||Sauteed veggies with a few chunks of baked chicken|
|Evening Snack||A fruit of your choice|
|Dinner||Roasted Fish with veggies|
|Lunch||Chicken, beef or pork soup with veggies|
|Evening Snack||A small bowl of salad|
|Dinner||Stuffed Bell Peppers|
|Breakfast||Banana topped with some almond butter|
|Lunch||Baigan ka Bharta|
|Evening Snack||2 Boiled Eggs|
|Breakfast||Steak and eggs|
|Lunch||Roasted meat and veggies|
|Evening Snack||A fruit of your choice|
|Breakfast||Eggs with sweet potato hash browns|
|Lunch||Sauteed Zucchini and Mushrooms|
|Evening Snack||A fruit or vegetable salad|
|Dinner||Sweet Lemon Prawns|
|Breakfast||Egg and veggie scramble|
|Lunch||Fish and veggie salad|
|Evening Snack||Paleo Trail Mix|
|Dinner||Stir fried meat and vegetables|
This is just a week plan for Paleo Diet. You can continue on the diet as much as you want. Paleo is not just a diet it is a way of life. You can modify your lifestyle and eating habits to favour your health and fitness with the help of this ancient concept of having meals. Give it a try and see the change for yourself. All the best!