It seems like new fad diets are being introduced week by week, but the ones that offer lasting health effects have more than a few core elements in common.
One of the most widely praised “new” diets of recent years is the Gluten-Free Diet. The protein gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye.
Anyone suffering from Celiac disease must exclude gluten from meals, but others have found that eliminating glutens helps lower cholesterol levels, aids in digestion and increases energy levels. To replace over-processed starches, gluten-free dieters eat more fruits, vegetables, fish, meats and dairy products.
Greece provides a good example of the traditional Mediterranean diet. Most of the Greek fat intake comes from olives and olive oil. Consumption of healthy cereals, vegetables and fish is part of the daily routine, with meat as a weekly supplement.
Also, Greeks typically drink wine every day, which contains antioxidants that are good for heart health. This parallels the eating habits of coastal Spain, France and Italy.
Quite recently, Dr. William Li of the Angiogenesis Foundation has proposed a cancer-preventing diet that includes lots of fish, shellfish, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Deliberately missing from his list of cancer-fighting foods are grains of any kind, meats, dairy products and all but a handful of legumes.
What these three diets and many others have in common is emphasis on whole foods, especially vegetables, and Omega-3 oil containing foods, such as fish. They also promote the elimination of empty calories found in sugar, starch and Omega-6 oils, such as those that come from grains.
The Paleo diet, which models the eating habits of our caveman ancestors, is quite similar to these. It emphasizes the consumption of lots of produce, the avoidance of carbohydrate-rich foods and the intake of high-quality protein and fats. It brings into focus the instinctive wisdom of hunter-gatherers who had no access to processed foods.
Perhaps by remembering the ancient food knowledge society has forgotten, we can regain the strength, stamina and wellness we once had.
Alfablue, April 2011