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A paleo diet is a dietary plan based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era, which dates from approximately 2. A paleo diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering. A paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10, years ago. These foods include dairy products, legumes and grains. Other names for a paleo diet include Paleolithic diet, Stone Age diet, hunter-gatherer diet and caveman diet. The aim of a paleo diet is to return to a way of eating that’s more like what early humans ate. The diet’s reasoning is that the human body is genetically mismatched to the modern diet that emerged with farming practices — an idea known as the discordance hypothesis. Farming changed what people ate and established dairy, grains and legumes as additional staples in the human diet. This relatively late and rapid change in diet, according to the hypothesis, outpaced the body’s ability to adapt. This mismatch is believed to be a contributing factor to the prevalence of obesity, diabetes and heart disease today. Recommendations vary among commercial paleo diets, and some diet plans have stricter guidelines than others.
Finding yourself confused by the seemingly endless promotion of weight-loss strategies and diet plans? In this series, we take a look at some popular diets—and review the research behind them. Paleo proponents state that because our genetics and anatomy have changed very little since the Stone Age, we should eat foods available during that time to promote good health. Our predecessors used simple stone tools that were not advanced enough to grow and cultivate plants, so they hunted, fished, and gathered wild plants for food. If they lived long enough, they were believed to experience less modern-day diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease because of a consistent diet of lean meats and plant foods along with a high level of physical activity from intensive hunting. However, the life expectancy of our predecessors was only a fraction of that of people today. The Paleo diet, also referred to as the caveman or Stone-Age diet, includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.