Several years ago, I was diagnosed by an allergist, who is also an alternative medicine practitioner, with a yeast overgrowth. He placed me on the Candida diet and gave me some healthy meal plans to try. My son went on it with me as moral support. I had a hard time with it, but he seemed to thrive, and started researching similar diets. He discovered the Paleo, short for Paleolithic, diet, also known as the Caveman diet, and found that it differs little from diets for yeast infections. I have also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which is characterized by fatigue, stiffness, and generalized muscle and joint pain. He read that some people have had positive results with fibromyalgia on the Paleo diet, so we decided to try it.
What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet is simple in concept, but can be difficult to follow. The basic idea is to replicate as closely as possible the diet of our ancestors prior to the adoption of farming. Stone age hunter gatherers ate a diet that is very close to that of wolves, being high in animal protein, fat, and vegetable matter, and low in simple carbohydrates. It turns the USDA food pyramid upside down. The general rule is, if it can be processed with a fire and a sharp stick, you can eat it. Processed sugars, grains, dairy other than eggs, and anything made with them are strictly off limits. Red meat, fish, foul, green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts and seeds should make up the bulk of your meals, in that order. Legumes, such as beans and peanuts, should be avoided, as they contain substances which actually interfere with your ability to digest the protein they contain (this is why beans are associated with flatulence).
Certain other foods, notably cashews, are also off limits due to toxicity issues. Cashews are actually a relative of Poison Oak. The nuts must be roasted in their husks to destroy the irritating oil they contain. High carbohydrate, starchy foods, such as potatoes and bananas, should be limited as well. The difficulty becomes obvious when you visit your local market. You will end up shopping at the two ends of the market. Read any ingredient label, and you will find that a good rule to follow is that if it comes in a box, bottle or carton of any kind, you shouldn't eat it (even if you aren't on the Paleo diet).
Your New Grocery List
You may also notice that your produce selection is somewhat limited. Our ancestors generally consumed around one hundred fifty different vegetables. Your market may carry only seven or eight. A garden is a good investment. Another issue is that your local meat cutter probably doesn't have any mammoth steaks on hand, and what he does have will be grain finished, usually on GMO feed. If at all possible, look for pasture raised, grass fed meat, and be careful, grass fed doesn't always mean the livestock weren't finished at the feedlot on soy and corn. This is important because of the balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. You need both, but the American diet has too much omega-6 in it.
A major source is the meat of animals that have been fed large amounts of grain, which upsets the fatty acid balance in their bodies. Grains and sugar do the same things to you. This is part of the reason why so many Americans are prone to obesity and a host of other diseases. Grass fed meat will generally have a balance close to that of wild game, around one to four omega-3 to omega-6, whereas grain finished beef is closer to one to twenty.
It's Worth It
Despite the shopping issues, and the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and cravings you will suffer for a week or two as your body rids itself of the modern addiction to sugar, we found the health benefits to be worth it. My cholesterol began to drop, and has continued to do so. Equally important, my pain has diminished. It isn't gone completely, but the improvement has been dramatic, despite my other health problems, including hypothyroidism. My son lost forty five pounds in one month, it simply melted off of him. He ultimately dropped from two hundred fifteen pounds back to his high school weight of one sixty five, without any increase in activity. We didn't even know he was overweight!