The Paleo Diet: Why The Restriction on Certain Foods

Individuals who want to lose weight are readily turned off by the Paleo Diet because of the many foods that are restricted in this diet. While the restriction on fatty foods, processed foods, salt and sugar is justified, a lot of people question why grains and legumes are not allowed when most calorie reduction diets permit reduced serving sizes.

To understand the reason for this, we need to take a closer look at the diet of prehistoric man during the Paleolithic Period. Over 2 million years ago, man primarily ate foods that they could hunt (like wild game or bird meat) and conveniently gather (such as fruits and vegetables). Because they have not yet discovered fire and developed cooking, many of the plants that are available could not be eaten raw. Some of them even contain lots of toxins. These were problems primitive man had with grains like wheat, rice, corn, oats, barley, sorghum and millet. Grains are inedible in their raw state. On the other hand, raw beans and potatoes are highly toxic.

However, the Neolithic Period soon saw man using not only fire and learning how to cook, they began to learn how to grow and store food. This new knowledge particularly applied to grains, legumes and potatoes.

They soon discovered that these three foods can become edible if they are cooked. Cooking can also destroy the toxins. In addition, these foods are packed with calories so that consuming only a small serving will have their energy levels rising. Last but not least, these foods can be easily stored (especially during long cold winter months and periods of drought) and transported for trading. With all these positive effects, it comes as no surprise that grains, potatoes and legumes have become a part of the human diet. But are they really that safe to eat?

According to the proponents of the Paleo Diet, these foods still retain many of the toxins that made them unsafe to eat even if you cook them. Insufficient cooking of these foods especially can cause acute gastroenteritis. There is increasing evidence to show that frying potatoes causes the release of toxic substances that can increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Also, while grains, potatoes and legumes have very high carbohydrate content, cooking makes them very easy to digest. This causes the glycemic index to shoot up (also known as the “sugar spike”). Last but not least, unless these foods have been fortified with essential nutrients, they contain very little of Vitamins A, B complex, C, and Folic acid, minerals, phyosterols and antioxidants. Simply put, these foods contain only “empty calories”.

It is because of these reasons that grains, legumes and potatoes and products made from them like bread and pasta are restricted from the Paleo Diet. Discover other food restrictions in the Paleo Diet and learn why they may be detrimental to your health and well-being.

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