Wild Foods and the Paleo Diet

Over the years, numerous diets that promised easy weight loss and improved health have come and gone. These types of diets rarely stay popular, as they are based on fads that do not actually promote good health, or lead to sustainable weight loss. In the last few years, the Paleo Diet has become increasingly popular. Unlike other diets, the Paleo Diet can actually be looked at as more of a positive lifestyle change. It focuses on cutting out modern day food items that are full of ingredients that humans don’t need, and getting back to a diet of fruits, vegetables, meat, and seafood much like our ancient ancestors used to eat. This includes many of Northwest Wild Foods staples like Wild Salmon, Wild Huckleberries, Wild Blackberries, Wild Lingonberries, and Wild Mushrooms.

Food in America has changed drastically over the years, and a large portion of the population currently consumes a diet that is full of preservatives, additives, dyes, and ingredients that are almost impossible to pronounce. Humans were not designed to live off of food created in large factories. According to the Paleo Diet, humans do not need dairy products made of cow’s milk, or grain products either. Instead, people should enjoy wholesome real food, such as wild salmon, wild or organic berries, and wild mushrooms. This is not an eating plan created by a diet guru, or celebrity nutritionist- it is based on the natural food items that hunters and gatherers ate thousands of years ago. Wild huckleberries, wild blackberries, wild salmon, wild mushrooms have all been around the Northwest as a wonderful food source for thousands of years. Typically wild foods are much more nutritious as well. Scientists have spent a great deal of time studying the effects of the Paleo Diet, and they have found that it truly does have numerous health benefits.

One observed effect of the Paleo Diet is the prevention of metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a group of risk factors that greatly increase a person’s chance of coronary disease, or other chronic diseases and autoimmune diseases that have just recently become a pandemic in the USA. These risk factors include: high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar, a large waistline, a high triglyceride level, and a low HDL level (“good” cholesterol). The Paleo Diet is high in numerous antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber, which counteracts many of these risk factors, leading to better overall health.

Many people are unaware of the fact that many conditions, such as osteoporosis, hypertension, insomnia, asthma, inner ear ringing, and motion sickness, can be caused by, or made worse by, an acid/base imbalance within the body. The Paleo Diet allows for unlimited consumption of fruits and vegetables, which will cause the body to become slightly alkaline, thus greatly reducing the incidences of these conditions.

In addition to scientific evidence indicating the benefits of the Paleo Diet, many people who eat in this manner report having a great increase in energy and physical well-being. This type of diet is also highly effective for weight loss, and more importantly, keeping the extra pounds off. It can be an adjustment for some people when they begin the Paleo Diet; it is a definite change from the typical American diet. But within a relatively short amount of time, people say that they cannot imagine choosing diary products, grains, and processed foods over fresh and healthy natural foods. A good start is to try making smoothies. In just one wild berry smoothie you can get 4-5 servings of fruits or vegetables. Adding wild huckleberries, wild lingonberries, organic berries with a banana, orange and water can make a delicious healthy treat in just a few minutes.

Sources:
Frassetto, L., et. al. “Metabolic and Physiologic Improvements From Consuming a Paleolithic, Hunter-Gatherer Type Diet”, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, pp 947-955, August, 2009.