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How long did prehistoric people live?

caveman family

Whenever I read through posts criticizing the paleo diet I always see the same argument presented. Why would anyone want to mimic the diet of our prehistoric ancestors, when their average lifespan was only 25 – 30 years? There is of course, a very simple answer to this question (Otherwise I wouldn’t be on Paleo myself!) , cavemen (and cavewomen) lived a lot longer than this.

So why is this figure quoted? , surely we can trust major scientific journals when this information is quoted? The trick here is in understanding the statistics, and then also in understanding the causes of death. In fact after proper analysis , you may be surprised to know that a recent peer reviewed journal estimates the modal age of death for people in hunter-gatherer societies to be around 68 – 72.

If you’re wondering why there is such a difference in mortality figures quoted then let me explain.

The over-arching factor here is in the high infant mortality rate. Nearly 40% of hunter-gatherers died before the age of 15, and a large proportion of these died before the age of 5. Of those who reached adulthood, their expected lifespan was much higher than 30 (easily 60) and the cause of death was generally infection or trauma (not heart disease or cancers such as those which plague our modern culture).

If we look at modal age of death we get a much higher figure. Corrected modal age of death means the age at which most people died who lived past 15 years of age. By using this figure we correct for the higher rates of trauma and infection which skew the results when looking at ‘average’ life span in hunter gatherers and by correcting for infant mortality we get a better understanding of exactly how long our prehistoric ancestors really lived.

These figures are similar in modern hunter – gatherer societies and are also evidenced by estimates from fossil records from our prehistoric ancestors.

What’s even more interesting is that following the transition to an agricultural society, the average life span actually dropped (yes – dropped!) to 20 years. Not only did lifespan decrease, after we changed our diet, we became shorter AND had reduced bone mineral density (which gives a fairly strong argument against critics who say we need dairy for our bones). Average (corrected) life span then remained below prehistoric levels until well into the 20th Century and the advent of modern medicines such as antibiotics.

In other words, we might not want to mimic prehistoric approaches to medicine, but mimicking their diet provides health, vitality AND longevity.

So, if you’re concerned about your health and want to live a fuller longer life, then consider Paleo, and if you need an image to help convince you then check out the picture below of aborigines (take special note of the middle man) prior to the introduction of western foods into their diet. My grandfather never looked that healthy!

 

aborigines

    How important is a good night’s sleep?

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    We all know how rubbish we feel without sleep. Many of us are so consistently sleep deprived we have forgotten what “good” actually feels like. Whichever of these applies to you, you must pay more attention to the quality and quantity of your sleep. One bad nights sleep can cause insulin resistance similar to that of a type II diabetic. Think about how rough you feel when you lose sleep. That’s similar to how a type II diabetic feels when their disease is uncontrolled.

    Maybe you think sleep is for weaker people, you have amazing stamina and another cup of coffee will see you through the day. Then consider this: The Disease Control Centres have shown that shift work and sleep deprivation is actually a type of carcinogen (that’s right it can cause cancer!). Insufficient or poor quality sleep puts your body under significant stress, compromises your immune system and makes you overweight, forgetful, and irrational.

    Our caveman ancestors never had an alarm clock. They went to sleep at sunset and got up at sunrise. Like every other living thing, they were in tune with the seasons and the natural state of day and night. They rested in the daytime when they were tired and at night they slept. This is what our genetics  expect us to do but most of us live out a very different reality.

    Lack of sleep causes stress. Stress has an additive effect. We lose sleep, work more, worry about money, and take care of our children. All of this increases our stress levels. Good sleep is one of the most important factors in reducing stress and if we are sleep deprived stress can cause elevated cortisol levels in the evening.This makes you tired during the day and wired at night, which then affects your sleep quality. It’s a vicious circle.

    So, how long should you sleep each night? Well, you should aim for at least eight to nine hours of sleep every night. Basically, If you still need an alarm clock to wake up on time then you’re not getting enough sleep. The bedroom MUST be dark , the kind of dark that our caveman ancestors experienced before civilization, city life and light pollution. That means no light whatsoever. No TV (not even on standby), computers, or even alarm clocks. Even go so far as to cover the LED lights on your alarm. Don’t resort to sleep masks. Block the light from your windows with blackout curtains or tape them up with cardboard if need be. Whatever you do, the room must be dark. If you learn how to sleep well, you’ll have improved memory, fewer allergies,  less inflammation and recover faster from exercise. If your even a little overweight, this is especially important. If you want to lose weight , make sure a good night’s sleep is a priority!

    Ken Burge (inventor of the Paleo Burn Program) provides a real insight into the hormonal and biochemical process which makes sleep so crucial to weight loss and ongoing good health. CLICK HERE to learn more.

      The Benefits of The Paleo Diet

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      Advocates of the paleo diet (or caveman diet) tell us that from an evolutionary point of view we should be eating simpler foods, such as those eaten by our caveman ancestors more than 10,000 years ago. Quite simply, the foods that were available to us for the last 100,000 years or more consisted of either animals we could hunt, fish we could catch or fruit and vegetables we could find and gather (a hunter gatherer diet). Through the process of evolution, any species can gradually adapt to new food sources. However evolutionary change is slow and our diets changed dramatically around 10,000 years ago through the advent of farming and refining of food and though we can survive on those foods, we can’t really thrive on them as our bodies are still much more suited to the hunter gatherer diet than they are to a modern diet of refined and processed foods.

      Though the concept of paleo seems sound, in practice what benefits of the paleo diet will you experience if you make that choice. What do people actually report after they switch to the caveman diet?

      Simply Better Food:

      Before I even begin to discuss what the benefits of the paleo diet are, the first point to note is that from the outset you will by default being eating healthier. The paleo diet doesn’t advocate extremes in dieting, starvation diets, calorie counting, dieting pills or untested supplements. Any decent paleo plan, just says, hey, eat simple healthy food and you’ll lose weight and feel great. When you eat paleo, because you’re avoiding processed foods, you’re avoiding all of the toxins included in those, by cutting out refined wheat and sugar, you’re reducing the development of intestinal yeast infection, abdominal bloating, insulin resistance and a whole range of other health issues. And by (for the most part) only including lean meats, eggs, nuts, fruits and vegetables in your daily meal plans, you’ll be supplying your body with all the nutrients it requires without the need for pills or supplements. In short, paleo is healthy by default, the foods it recommends give you all you need to function at your best and feel great.

      Weight Loss:

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      When you eat paleo, you lose weight. Its as simple as that. I’m not going to lie to you and say that as long as you eat strict paleo you can gorge yourself to bursting at every meal and expect the pounds to fall away, but I will say that you will lose weight without ‘trying’ to if you switch to the caveman diet. You won’t need to count calories or feel hungry all the time. Why?, because when you eat paleo, by default you avoid foods with addictive qualities (sugar, refined wheat etc) , and by improving the nutritional quality of your food, you raise your metabolism and most importantly when you’re on the paleolithic diet you avoid foods which cause excessive release of insulin and subsequent formation of fat. As a result you’ll also find that when you lose weight, you’re burning fat and retaining lean muscle which will leave you looking at your very best.

      Better Lifestyle:

      When you switch to the hunter gatherer diet, you don’t just change your diet, you change your life. Believe it or not, we’re not really meant to work so hard we can’t sleep, then exercise with long slow cardio for hours at the gym (at no small expense) for hours every day, and then still not see proper results. When you switch to the stone age diet, you sleep more, you exercise differently (and use up less time doing so) and you reduce stress levels, and all of this leads to you losing weight, feeling a whole lot better,  and believe it or not makes you more productive in your work and home life. There are numerous studies showing that stressed out type A personalities DO NOT get more done, they just feel worse, and when you switch to the paleo diet the lifestyle changes you make will benefit not just your size and shape, but your whole life. The paleolithic lifestyle is quite simply a happier one!

      Reduced Inflammation:

      Many of the foods in our modern diet, really do us no favors when it comes to our immune system. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of why the paleo diet has a positive effect against inflammatory disease and provides a boost to the immune system as quite honestly immunology is a more complicated topic than most mortals can accurately understand or describe. Quite simply by avoiding processed foods, refined wheat and sugar, your immune system will function better and inflammatory processes (particularly allergic processes) will be controlled. The end result of this is that if you suffer from any form of inflammatory disease such as colitis, arthritis, asthma, acne etc (the list goes on) , when you switch to the caveman diet these conditions will improve, possibly even go away altogether. Even if you don’t actively suffer from any of these diseases, the positive effects of the paleolithic diet and lifestyle will help any underlying conditions and ultimately make you feel fitter and healthier.

      Other Benefits

      Apart from those I’ve already mentioned, there really is a long list of benefits in store for you when you switch to paleo. I’ve listed some more below.

      Better Hair and Beautiful skin

      Better mood, and increased mental clarity

      Significantly raised energy levels.

      Less abdominal bloating and wind

      Reduced risk of serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

      Reduction in insulin resistance helps prevent and/or control diabetes.

      Less allergies

      Conclusion:

      Our modern diet is so far removed from what evolution is currently dictating that we should eat that it makes many of us sick and overweight. The good news is that the Paleo Diet will make you feel and look your best. I have no doubts about that. If you’re serious about giving the paleolithic lifestyle a go then I would highly recommend following a reputable paleo plan. for info on some of the better paleo plans available on the web please see my reviews of paleo diet plans.

        Healthy Skin Using The Paleo Diet

        Healthy Woman Eating an Apple-cropped

        The paleo diet has helped a number of people improve their overall health, since the diet eliminates harmful carbohydrates and foods that are high in lectins from the diet. Some individuals who follow the paleo diet have also reported having more energy, losing weight more easily, and not having to deal with allergies anymore.

        But perhaps more importantly for some dieters is the fact that the paleo diet can dramatically improve the health of your skin. Following the caveman diet can cure acne and other skin conditions like rosacea and psoriasis. This is because many of the foods included in the diet reduce inflammation and rid the body of the impurities that cause acne. According to the Primal Toad website, more than 17 million people in the U.S. have some form of acne. A diet rich in protein and vitamins, like the paleo diet, could improve acne in just a few weeks.

        The paleo diet includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with herbs and meat. These foods remove dirt and impurities from the body. Acne forms when there is a buildup of toxins in the body, and foods that are high in sugars and simple carbohydrates can make acne worse by causing the skin to produce more oil, which clogs the pores. Fortunately, these foods are not a part of the paleo diet.

        Herbs are an integral part of being paleo, and are strong antioxidants that help the body fight off free radicals and enhance the immune system. If you’re fighting acne, here are some herbs to take on a regular basis.

        • Basil. This herb is rich in vitamin C, which is antibacterial and prompts collagen production to make the skin firm and blemish-free.
        • Burdock root. Burdock is high in B vitamins, and is an antibiotic that cleanses the skin and internal organs.
        • Dandelion. This herb cleanses the liver and reduces inflammation to get rid of acne.

        Eating vegetables at least twice a day gives the body adequate supplies of vitamins A, C, and E, which keep the skin soft and supple. A number of vegetables, like mushrooms and spinach, are also rich in selenium, which clears the skin, prevents new acne from forming, and helps to reduce dark spots.

        Eating nuts can also help to cure acne and provides the body with adequate protein to reduce the redness and dry skin that comes from psoriasis and rosacea. Almonds, walnuts and Brazil nuts are among the healthiest, as these nuts also contain high amounts of zinc and iron.Making fruit smoothies or fresh vegetable juice is another way to maintain the paleo diet while keeping the skin glowing and healthy. These smoothies, along with meals like grilled or baked fish with steamed or raw vegetables, or snacks like fruit salads and paleo-friendly trail mix, will keep the skin moisturized and free of breakouts. Fresh herbal teas are also a part of the anti-acne diet, particularly those that contain the herbs listed above, along with herbs like milk thistle or marshmallow.Keep these tips in mind whether you’re considering the paleo diet, or want to know how to make your paleo diet plan more effective when it comes to getting a clear complexion.

        If you’re interested in tailoring the Paleo Diet to treat acne and / or improve the quality of your skin then I would highly recommend the Skintervention program. You can read my brief review HERE.

          Lower Your Blood Pressure Using The Paleo Diet

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          The Paleo Diet has a variety of benefits in terms of your overall health – and lowering your blood pressure is one of them. Without doing anything except for eating Paleo foods, you can see a dramatic drop in your blood pressure, which is ideal if you have high blood pressure to start with.

          Without tailoring any of the foods that you eat, you will immediately see a reduction in your blood pressure and that is because you are reducing the amount of sodium that you are consuming. Processed foods are known for being extremely high in salt due to the preservatives. As you begin to replace processed foods with real foods, your body will notice that it is not getting the sodium it is used to and this will cause your blood pressure to drop.

          Pathologic high blood pressure is also going to reach the normal range once you begin to reduce your stress and cortisol. The Paleo Diet has shown that you will be able to do both of these things because the foods you are consuming on a regular basis are healthier for you. Cortisol is often responsible for belly fat and the only way to get rid of this is by reducing the cortisol in your body. This is just another benefit of the Paleo Diet.

          Prior to going on the Paleo Diet, you will be eating all sorts of foods. Most likely, you are like the rest of the world and are eating too many sugars and too many carbs. This means that you are also craving sweets because of the chemical reactions set off in your body. Fructose is going to be metabolized differently than glucose. It will turn into fat and a significant amount of weight gain. Along with the weight gain comes an increase in blood pressure.

          Fructose is also bad because it will turn off the appetite control system, thus making you feel hungry all the time. This will allow you to overeat and end up with more health problems.

          Fructose is not found in the Paleo Diet, which means you instantly benefit. There are no triggers going into your body to turn off the appetite control system. You will not overeat and this is going to allow you to reduce your weight – and everything that your weight has caused in terms of health.

          It’s not uncommon for people to see an instant drop of their blood pressure within days of being on the diet. Fructose can actually be more dangerous than salt. As a result, you need to reduce or eliminate both fructose and salt from your diet – and this is what the Paleo Diet does. Meanwhile, you can still be eating “real” food that tastes good. You don’t have to consume fructose and salt to make your food taste good. You will soon learn that it tastes just as good (and better) without it.

          Uric acid is the byproduct of fructose and this can begin to increase within your system, causing you to have a high blood pressure even after the fructose isn’t being consumed. The longer you stay on Paleo foods, the easier it is to purge the uric acid from your system.

          When you go on the Paleo Diet with the thought process of wanting to reduce your blood pressure, there are some things that you will want to do. By modifying your diet to meet your health goals, you can ensure that your blood pressure is one of the first things to drop. Avoid nuts and seeds and fruit once you first begin. While you will read that these are OK, you want to distance yourself from fructose for a while. Eat more green vegetables. This includes lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts and anything else green.

          As you eat the animal fat, don’t focus on the fat. If you try to go low-fat, it will fail you. The reason is that your body needs the fat in order to produce energy since it is not getting the carbohydrates that it is used to getting.

          The Paleo Diet will work to lower your blood pressure and if you learn what foods within the diet to eat more of, you can see faster results.

          NB: If you suffer from high blood pressure then you are advised to discuss treatments with your Doctor before starting on the Paleo diet as there are health implications with respect to changes in your current blood pressure both up and down especially if you are currently on anti-hypertensive medication.

          If you are interested in utilising the paleo diet to reduce your blood pressure, then please check out my Paleo Diet Plans review page.