The Paleo Diet is a diet derived from what we know about the diet of Paleolithic man, our distant ancestors. Paleolithic man existed before the beginning of agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago. The diet of Paleolithic man was much, much different than our diet today.
One of the main differences between the diet of Paleolithic man and our current SAD (standard American diet) is the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Most Americans suffer a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids while at the same time eating too many omega-6 fatty acids.
SAD Diet Versus Paleo Diet
The ratio of Omega six fatty acids two omega-3 fatty acids in the diet influences a group of critical hormones in the body that regulate inflammation. Eating too many omega six fatty acids pushes the production of chemicals that initiate and maintain inflammation in the body. Since the body uses omega-3 fatty acids to manufacture chemicals that control inflammation, our relative deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids prevents us from controlling inflammatory processes. Too much inflammation in the body is the root of many modern diseases.
The diet of Paleolithic man was much richer in omega-3 fatty acids. The ratio of Omega six fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids in the Paleolithic diet is not to have been between 2:1 to 1:1. The ratio of Omega six fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids in the SAD diet ranges from 20:1 to 10:1. That’s a big difference.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in many green leafy vegetables and in some seeds and nuts like flaxseed, canola seed and walnuts.
Paleolithic man foraged for food. He wandered from one place to another and when he came across plants that were edible, he ate them. Most of these plants were high in omega-3 fatty acids. Once in a while Paleolithic man got lucky and was able to trap or kill an animal of some sort, a deer, rabbit, bird or perhaps a fish. The meat eaten by Paleolithic man was all wild. Wild animals consume plants and other animals for food and so the content of their meat is naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Agriculture Introduces Excess Omega-6 Fat
All that has changed since the beginning of agriculture. With the beginning of agriculture brains were introduced into the human diet. Grains are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Our SAD diet loads us up with omega-6 fatty acids with all the grains that we eat. Many of the vegetable oils that we consume are also high in omega-6 fats (sunflower, safflower, corn, peanut, cottonseed).
Because the meat we eat is raised on grains which are rich in omega-6 fats, our meat is also rich in omega-6 fat, unlike that Paleolithic man. So whereas Paleolithic man got a lot of omega-3 fats in the vegetable plants and meat that he ate, most Americans eat a lot of grains instead of vegetables and meat which is high in omega-6 fat.
How To Get The Benefits Of The Paleo Diet
In order to rebalance your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio you need to eat fewer grains, more vegetables and less meat and dairy products. A good source of omega-3 fats is fish oil. I recommend a high quality fish oil that has had the toxins removed since our oceans are full of toxins. I recommend that you look for a pharmaceutical grade fish oil and take two capsules per day.