Those who choose to live a pure or strict Paleo lifestyle are truly making a conscious and positive health choice. Not to take anything away from these people or diminishing their choice in any way, many who are researching Paleo dietary benefits may find this regime too restrictive or difficult for their chosen lifestyle.
For most people it may be impractical for their food choices to be based solely on what our Paleolithic ancestors ate. Hard-core Paleo adherents believe that there is a big difference between a true Paleo diet and an ‘optimized’ modern diet, with its more lenient guidelines. Others believe that the absence of a certain food in the Paleolithic era does not necessarily mean that foods such as cheese and other dairy products is unhealthy for the modern person.
Paleo vs Agrarian Diet
Technically however, once these food groups are added to a traditional Paleo regime it becomes an Agrarian diet. The Agrarian (farming) diet occurred later in human development as farming and herding practices were introduced. Although the Agrarian diet is considered by most experts to be vastly superior health-wise to the modern Western diet, many people do have health issues with these non-Paleo foods.
Agrarian foods such as dairy and grain-based foods cause many problems for a very large number of people, and many more are certainly undiagnosed. These problems are often caused by intolerance or allergic reaction. Excess consumption of these food types can also be the cause of unwanted weight gain.
Humans have developed in different countries, on different continents, with different sources of foods and different eating habits which can all lead to a tremendous individual variation. For example, one society may have raised animals and had a strong dairy culture. Their descendants may be able to eat and even thrive with a high inclusion of dairy products in their diet. Others may have ancestors who did not, and they may suffer symptoms of lactose intolerance at lower consumption levels. This is why we are no longer surprised when we see that some people can clearly tolerate dairy products while others cannot. Some people feel better on a low-carb diet while others perform better when they eat more carbs.
For those who have autoimmune diseases some foods such as nightshades, eggs and dairy may exacerbate their symptoms while some people can load up on these foods without any problems at all. Due to our genetic inter-mingling, it is rarely obvious to most what their particular gene set has set them up for diet-wise. We will all make our own dietary choices based on others’ experience and suggestion, but we have to make adjustments to suit ourselves and our family based on our particular needs and possible intolerances.
The beauty of the Paleo diet is that in its purest and simplest form relatively few would be affected by intolerance issues to Paleo food. ‘Relatively few’ does not mean none – there are those allergic to shellfish and even specific vegetables, but these are far less than those affected by following many other dietary disciplines.
So when we decide, as individuals or families, to make a positive dietary change, we have many choices. A first big choice is whether to start strictly Paleo, then selectively add more choices and moving towards or into an Agrarian diet, or whether to start Agrarian and subtract items that may still be causing problems.
In their strictest forms, these diets differ in their allowed inclusions, while many followers happily exist in a blended overlap of the two. They share similarities and their differences are sometimes a matter of degree. Both seek to strongly avoid highly processed foods and foods based on refined sugars.
If you are addicted to a modern diet and are suffering the health consequences of it, exploring the benefits of either or both of these diets will be a very positive life choice.