The Paleo Diet for Seniors

Steamed fish and vegetables, an example of a Paleo Diet recipe
Steamed fish and vegetables make an ideal Paleo Diet dish.

It’s National Meat Week, and in honor of the occasion, we thought we’d focus on the diet craze that’s been sweeping the nation, the Paleo Diet.

What is the Paleo Diet, exactly?

The Paleo Diet, also known as the paleolithic diet, or caveman diet, encourages its participants to eat natural foods, such as the ones that were around during cavemen times, untouched by agriculture, pesticides, and processing. The diet is therefore high in animal fat and protein, while low in carbohydrates. The diet discourages the consumption of anything ‘unnatural’. Indeed, one of the Paleo Diet’s slogans is ‘if it’s in a box, don’t eat it’.

The main foods eaten by those on the Paleo Diet include game meat, fish, vegetables, wild fruit, eggs, and nuts. Portion control and calorie counting is not necessary on this diet. Absolutely not allowed are cereal grains and legumes, including wheat, rye, barley, oats, brown rice, soy, peanuts (yes, peanuts), kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans, and black eyed peas. Other Paleo Diet no-nos include vegetable oil and sugar.

The Paleo Diet also encourages participants to be physically active on a daily basis, just as our ancestors would have been, right up until the day they died.

Is the Paleo Diet healthy for seniors?

The premise of the Paleo Diet is that many of the ailments we suffer from today can be blamed on additions to the diet that man once thrived on during the caveman times, including dairy products, grains, and sugars. Building on this premise, we can surmise that eliminating these foods from our diet can eliminate many ailments, thereby leading to a prolonged and healthier life. Research does demonstrate that reducing carbohydrates in the diet can mimic the benefits of calorie-restriction in prolonging life, while also helping diabetes sufferers to eliminate the need for insulin.

Some dietitians and nutritionists explain that humans have evolved to respond to and digest foods differently as they age. For example, young people have little problem digesting milk and other dairy products, but the body was programmed to respond differently to dairy as we age, since older people do not need the nutrition provided by milk, which is so important for babies and children. Furthermore, seniors require less calories than the young, while also being more prone to diabetes. Since the Paleo Diet is low in calories and also low in carbohydrates, it can address both of these problems wonderfully. Since it is also low in sodium, the diet is also better for the heart and body.

According to Dr. Loren Cordain, author of the book, The Paleo Diet, “Clinical trials have shown that the Paleo Diet is the optimum diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, help with weight loss, reduce acne, promote optimum health and athletic performance.”

Don’t overdo it

Of course, as with anything else, use the Paleo Diet as a guide, not a rulebook. Eating too much animal protein and fat can be hazardous. Remember that you should still consume meat and fats in moderation. Furthermore, a true paleo diet is not possible to follow, since wild game is not readily available, and it’s not so easy to find wild plant food – rather, you mostly eat food that’s been cultivated and tampered with in some way or another. Even adjusting your diet so that it’s more similar to the paleo diet would be a healthy change.

And be careful about cutting out key foods, since there is plenty of research showing the nutrient-rich qualities of wholegrains, beans, and low-fat dairy.

More research on The Paleo Diet needs to be done before anyone can recommend that others follow the diet full-time, wholeheartedly, but its principles of eating more food directly from nature are definitely worthy of such research.

2 Responses

01.28.13

Your Comments Is turkey bacon okay on the paleo diet for seniors

01.28.13

It sure is! Thanks for the question, Judy. In fact, turkey bacon is pretty good for you.

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