Are you looking to optimize your health through a specific diet? Of all the diet options available to you, which should you follow and why? We don't really believe in "dieting" but rather making the right choices for your "diet" that will lead to high performance and longevity.
There are a multitude of diet plans available, each of them promising something that allegedly can’t be found in other diets. Each diet has its good and bad qualities, which makes picking one challenging and confusing.
A popular diets used by many people today is the Paleo Diet. Similar to other diet plans, Paleo has its positive and negative points. It could compromise the nutrients needed by some of the most important organs in your body, including the brain. One reason the Nootropic Diet is slowly getting noticed is because of the benefits it could bring not just to your body, but also your brain.
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Paleo Diet: The Up, Down, and Everything in Between
What is the Paleo Diet?
Also known as caveman diet, Stone Age diet, or primal diet, this type of diet plan is premised on this simple question: What does a caveman eat?
This means your meal should include what hunter-gatherers ate: fruits, vegetables, seafood, meat, nuts, and anything naturally produced by land and water. According to the diet’s proponents and believers, going back to the basics puts the humans’ diet in line with evolutionary pressures that helped shaped genetics.
In other words, the purpose of the paleo diet is to focus the human body in the way nature intended us to eat. To get the most out of this diet, strive for 35 percent of calories from each fat and carbohydrates, and 30 percent from protein.
What should you eat when following the Paleo Diet?
Determining foods as part of the Paleo Diet can be challenging. Still, ask yourself this question: is the food natural and not a product of certain processes? If the food comes straight from the Earth, then you can have it. Another way to look at it is: if you can pick it or kill it, you can eat it.
Following that guideline, here are foods included in the Paleo diet:
- Meat, preferably lean and grass-fed. This includes beef, chicken, lamb, veal, and vison.
- Fish such as salmon, bass, and tilapia
- Fruits, especially berries, avocado, and fruits with low sugar content
- Vegetables like leafy greens, preferably organic versions to reduce the amount of pesticide, chemicals, and antibiotics contained in every vegetable.
- Nuts, except peanuts
- Natural oils like avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil
- Grass-fed butter
- Cage-free eggs
What foods should you skip?
The answer is simple: anything that hunters-gatherers do not eat must not be included in your diet. To guide you better, here is a list of foods you should avoid:
- Dairy products
- Legumes, which includes beans, soy, peanuts, peas, alfalfa, lentils, lupins, carob, and clover
- Foods with added salt (yes you need salt, but not a ton)
- Refined sugar
- Alcohol, although red wine is an acceptable paleo drink
- Honey, but you can use this sparingly to replace artificial sweeteners or table sugar
- Processed food
- Fast food
- Refined vegetable oils
In other words, any food that comes in a jar, box, or bag must be avoided. This is where shopping the outside of the grocery store is helpful, as the center aisles usually contained processed foods.
What are the benefits of the Paleo diet?
One of the most important benefits of Paleo Diet is that you can finally say goodbye to processed, packaged, and commercially prepared foods. This could improve your overall health because you are able to get rid of excessive sugar and salt in your diet. This will minimize your risk of developing various diseases, thereby prolonging your life. Consequently, a study was published in the journal Diabetologia showing that the Paleo diet better improved blood sugar of the subject participants compared to Mediterranean diet.
Aside from the health benefits, the Paleo diet is often viewed as a lifestyle. This type of diet is something you can start and stop once you reach your desired weight. It is something you continue doing for as long as you can because you get to adapt the changes in your food intake.
Still, don’t limit yourself with food. Since the Paleo diet is also a lifestyle, exercise is an essential part of your routine. Your ancestor cavemen lived and survived with hunting and moving from one place to another. Exercise is required because it burns calories. This is necessary, especially if you will consume foods that are between paleo and non-paleo such as peanuts.
There are tons of communities, both online and outside the digital world, dedicated to helping others succeed on the Paleo diet. You can find Facebook pages or groups, online community forums, and meet-up groups to guide both newbies and Paleo enthusiasts on how to live the ancient lifestyle, or as close to possible. Most if not all of the fruits and vegetables as well as meat sources have changed since this period. Also there are benefits to foods that have been obtained well after the Paleolithic period.
The not-so-good sides of the Paleo diet?
Unfortunately, not everyone is a believer of the Paleo diet. As a matter of fact, the health benefits of following this type of diet are not yet proven. Some experts believe that even if ancient cavemen didn’t have chronic diseases similar to what is happening today, it is not fully attributable to the foods they ate. We have far more environmental risk factors today than our ancestors. There has been a trade off though. We don’t really worry about being mauled by a much stronger and physically capable beast.
More so, it would be impossible to imitate the way our ancestors ate. Some of the animals they hunted and plants they ate are most likely extinct. Also, the animal meat back then was clean and provided better and more potent nutrients compared to most of what we have today – and grass-fed meats are likely not even at par.
That’s not all. The Paleo diet allows you to eat more meat, but keep in mind that anything in excess is not good for the body. Too much protein and not enough carbs, which is what Paleo diet is all about, could increase your risk of developing osteoporosis and kidney damage.
Also excess protein in the diet will convert to glucose and follow the same metabolic energy pathway as carbs. Which is kind of the biggest problem when it comes to the Paleo diet insisting on high protein, but very low carb. We get the desire though. It just sounds nice to try and eat like our ancestors; pure, clean, and natural. However it’s far more likely that they weren’t picky, and would eat anything they could get their hands on. After all, we are talking about survival here.
Aside from this, some of the “banned foods” in the Paleo diet are actually good for you. The nutrient grains, dairy, and legumes, which are not allowed in this type of diet, can promote healthy weight and lower your risk of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Dairy is also a good source of vitamin D and calcium, two nutrients your body needs to reduce incidence of osteoporosis.
A Nootropic Diet: The Ultimate Diet for a Healthy Brain
The Nootropic diet is not complicated; it is straightforward because anything that is good for the brain is recommended. It just so happens that what’s good for the brain is good for the body as well.
The purpose of this type of diet is to put the health of your brain as your main priority and eating everything else in moderation. Your brain and body needs all necessary nutrients to make sure you are in tiptop shape and energetic throughout the day. You can get here by eating the right kinds of fat, adding more fruits and vegetables, and eliminating carbs that are not beneficial for the brain.
High-fat foods, which are where most of your daily caloric intake should come from, are nutrient-dense and keep you fuller longer. This will minimize consumption of empty calorie foods and ,at the same time, ensure that your energy and ability to focus comes from a legitimate food source .
On the other hand, you cannot eliminate carbs completely because your body needs them to achieve a well-balanced and healthy diet. You can limit your intake to make sure your brain still has enough fuel to keep it going.
What should be included in the Nootropic Diet?
- Meat, preferably grass-fed and pasture-raised beef, lamb, pork, and bison
- Organ meat, which is a good source of nutrients and several vitamins
- Fatty wild fish like salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, tuna, trout, catfish, flounder, and tilapia
- Shellfish, which includes lobster, clams, oyster, shrimp, scallop, squid, and crabs
- Nuts, preferably natural and unsweetened
- Full-fat, raw, and organic dairy products, which must be consumed in moderation. This includes full-fat Greek yogurt, homemade mayonnaise, raw whole milk, kefir, butter from grass-fed cattle, cheese, and ghee.
- Oils rich in mono- and/or polyunsaturated fats. Included are olive oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, canola oil, and avocado oil.
- Omega-3 and omega-6 rich foods such as free-range chicken, grass-fed animal meat, vegetable oils, fatty fish, seeds, and tofu.
- Natural saturated fats like whole eggs, palm kernel oil, coconut oil, poultry products without skin, butter, and palm oil.
- Vegetables such as leafy greens, celery, zucchini, and Brussels sprouts.
- Root vegetables like onion, squash, garlic, and mushroom.
- Fruits, which includes berries and avocado.
- Fermented foods such as Sauerkraut (no sugar added), kefir, Kim chi, and salsa.
- Low carbohydrate flours like almond flour and coconut flour
- Homemade condiments and sauces to minimize artificial flavorings
- Pure spices and herbs
- Black or green tea
What about carbs?
Carbohydrates are essential for development of the human brain. This is why it is not recommended that you eliminate them completely from your diet. In fact, what you need to do is simply to regulate it and choose the right kinds of carbs.
- Sweet potato
- Cruciferous vegetable
What foods should be avoided?
- Processed and cured meat because of added sugar, unhealthy carbs, and lots of salt.
- Processed food
- Fast food
- Baked sweets like cookies and brownies
- Store-bough salad dressings
- Foods with refined carbs such as bagels
- Cheese crackers
Need to know which carbs should be avoided? Click here
Paleo or Nootropic Diet: Which is Better?
Both types of diet come with benefits. Protein through grass-fed meats, fruits, and vegetables are highly recommended and ensures that your body gets enough nutrients to keep it up and about. Healthy fat sources are also encouraged while refined sugars are discouraged by both diets.
Still, the Paleo diet is based more on an ideology and philosophy of eating. There is a belief that the more you mimic the ancestors’ way of eating, the healthier you will be. You also live and breath their way of life through food, which is what you use as a guide to keep you on track.
The Paleo diet could promote some health benefits because it is beneficial to eat clean, but the mark is being missed a little and is not focused on the right nutrient ratios. Is it better than the typical American diet today? Absolutely. Is it the best you can do? Unlikely.
On the other hand, a Nootropic diet is not an ideology or philosophy. The purpose of this diet is to ensure your brain’s health and overall function with the help of healthy food choices, hence a high-fat and low-carb rule. Your health, body and, more importantly your brain are not compromised because you are not eliminating certain necessary food groups from your diet.