piramideBy: Toine Wilke, Dutch nutritionist, biochemist and seaweed expert. What began as an esoteric trend in the world of food has over the years begun to be deeply rooted in nutritional thought. Unlike most diets the paleo diet is less a trend than a permanent way of eating that is, in fact, eons-old. But what is this paleo diet exactly? And what can you do with it? The paleo diet, or Paleolithic diet, or hunter-gatherer diet, is based on the presumptive diet of human ancestors in the Paleolithic. This is the extended period of 2.5 million years to 10,000 years ago. During this time, before people lived in houses, they lived in, and directly from, nature. Our ancestors had no permanent home or residence and collected their food every day. They ate what was available: sometimes the encountered a lot of berries, other times they made use of the mushroom season. Sometimes they were lucky in catching a big animal like a wild boar. They would eat it on the same day. After all, they had no freezer to store it! The paleo principle The principle of the paleo diet is very simple: eat like your ancestors and your body will become stronger. Early humans are known to have been incredibly strong, agile and athletic. There is a reasonable amount of scientific evidence that they were almost never sick. Contemporary lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease were hardly found in prehistoric times. And honestly, have you ever heard of an obese prehistoric man? What to eat and what not to eat The paleo diet has you eat in the way our ancestors ate. That means the following: - Paleo: Nuts, Fruits, Meat, Fish, Vegetables, Eggs, Seaweeds. - Not Paleo: Milk, Grains, Soybean and any processed food, such as Soda, Chips, Bread. Enhance your nutritional density What food does the body and mind, differs for any individual. A change of diet may work great for you, while your neighbor notices little difference. Yet there are a number of substances that we quite universally do not get enough of on our normal Western diet, and that are abundant in the paleo diet. Of these substances, including fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and certain minerals, it is known that they are important for health. The paleo diet enables you to recover some of the health of primitive man! The wilder the better If you apply the paleo principle to your daily life, it is important that you start eating as many real, fresh and local foods that qualify for honoring the paleo paradigm. The emphasis is not it in the details. Questions such as: is broccoli paleo?, or, did primitive eat liverwurst?—These do not really matter. Both products fall within the paradigm. However, times have changed and so has food, so do not get worked up too much about the details. When you focus on organic and “as wild as possible” you are optimizing nutrient intake. Products produced with modern farming techniques are less ideal. Taking food from nature can be fun as well as free. For example, take dandelion leaf. It is very nutritious and it grows everywhere. This ubiquitous "weed" contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber, but also many vitamins and minerals. Young dandelion petals are a tasty and healthy addition to any salad, smoothie, or stew. Besides dandelion leaf there are many more examples. Once you dig in, a whole new world opens up for you. Awaken your inner prehistoric (wo)man There are people who go through life as a fully primitive (wo)man. They live in the countryside and eat all their paleo food raw. To follow the paleo diet, you do not have to go that far. Basically you can just start by replacing your non-paleo foods by paleo foods, if only incidentally. Also, it is great fun to experiment with primal food and recipes. Try some organ meat or raw shellfish or buy a fresh mackerel straight from the fisherman, place them in a marinade of organic honey, briefly put it in the oven and serve it on a hand-picked bed of seaweed. Makes you wild doesn’t it?