The Paleo Diet Explained

The diet you will abide by on our retreats may sound unimaginable to some but in this blog Tatu, our chef in residence hopes to enlighten you and break it down so that you can see why we implement it and how it can help you!

Wildfitness has adopted an adapted paleo approach to allow for realistic approach of what is achievable in a modern, urban environment. We encourage all natural foods alongside ergonomic wild movement filled with exploration of the internal and external world with awareness and gentleness to ourselves to manage the stresses of modern day life. At the very core of the Wildfitness philosophy is the principle of reconnection; to nature, playfulness, ourselves as humans and one another.

Many think of the paleo approach as being huge hunks of meat at each meal, more akin to the diet of a carnivore, which has been a point of contention through the years. This is not the case and one can even adopt a vegetarian adapted paleo diet although specific food groups must be carefully considered.

“True paleo means eating approximately 75 percent plant based food, non-starchy vegetables, fruit, seeds and tree nuts with the addition of compassionately reared/ free-range meat, fish and eggs.”
Dr Kim Lloyd, founder of the Paleo Society.

An interesting three-week study of obese diabetic patients showed improved total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) control in patients on a paleo diet of similar caloric intake to that of those with a Normal American Diet. The calories were split in the same way in each diet, meaning both groups of patients consumed approximately 54% from carbohydrates, 28% from protein and the remainder from fats. In the discussion the researchers noted that the group on the paleo diet struggled with the quantity of food needed to achieve the required calorie goal to match the control group and therefore, had they not been made to eat the same calorific equivalent, weight-loss would have been significant. This would have undoubtedly in the long term had a further positive effect on blood serum markers such as Glycated Haemoglobin and fasting blood glucose, the two major markers used for diabetes diagnostics and monitoring.

A further study of paleo diet adoption showed slightly different results, most likely based on the difference of macro nutrient percentages (40% fat, 30% protein, 30% carbohydrates) although it was agreed that the diet did have overall positive results for reducing risk factors for chronic disease development. This trial highlighted that an aspect often overlooked is the subjective wellbeing of the participants, a point we feel is important to note in the context of what Wildfitness advocates.

Although performed as an animal trial, specific outcomes of this trial have massively positive implications for immunomodulation and chronic disease states. ‘The geometric mean of C-reactive protein was 82% lower and intra-arterial diastolic blood pressure was 13% lower in the Palaeolithic group.’ (Jönsson et al., 2017). You might ask: what on earth this means and why the excitement? C-Reactive protein is a diagnostic marker used to identify presence or absence of chronic inflammation as well as to monitor inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus. The demonstrated reduction of this in a short term trial strongly indicates that adoption of this eating habit will reduce the risk and expression of inflammation and complications that arise as a result. Longer duration trials would be useful to assess accurately the long term effects of adopting the paleo diet on diagnostic health markers and general feelings of wellness.

One review paper explored the true paleo diet as seen in hunter-gatherers in remote parts of sub-Saharan Africa. One of the concerns in the modern western adaptation of the palaeolithic diet (and all western diets in fact) is the Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio which has been shown to be part of the drive of the chronic inflammatory diseases we see in practice. This paper highlighted that bone marrow and brain would have been consumed in reasonable amounts and both these parts of the carcass would be an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Currently our population is supplementing with high dose EPA fish oils or the vegan alternatives to combat our high Omega 6 intake from grains and animal products. Following a paleo diet high in red meat can lead to a string imbalance of Omega 3:6 which can then lead to inflammation and system damage. Reducing Omega 6 rich foods whilst incrementally increasing ethically sourced Omega 3 sources would be advisable to ensure that immune, nervous and cardiovascular system health is maintained.

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Taking into consideration these findings, adopting a more palaeolithic approach to food is advisable so long as you don’t chose to eat a steak for each meal as you can cause yourself harm through over consumption as red meats contain carcinogens, this will be discussed in more detail in another blog post: Raw vs Cooked.

An extension from a paleo diet is a more general adoption of a paleo lifestyle. Specifically relating to food, it suggests eating locally grown produce and certainly airfreighted acai berries and avocados. Eating locally in season reduces the impact on the planet and also on the water supplies of poorer countries working to supply the western nations with exotic superfoods grown to the detriment of a dwindling water supply.

Have a look at what locally grown produce is available; it will be picked later and therefore have a higher nutrient concentration for your health whilst you consider the health of the planet too. You can find more information about seasonal foods here: eattheseasons.co.uk

We hope this has helped and if you have any further questions - keep checking back to our blog as Tatu will be shedding light on new topics each month. The next one will be on Fasting.