So What Exactly is Paleo Power and Why Should Us Seniors Care? + a traditional Italian Chopped Salad to get you there.
Basically, the Paleo plan encourages people to eat the way their ancestors ate. Their way-back ancestors, say about 10,000 years ago, before farming became the way to produce and preserve food.
Why do the Paleo people want us to go back so far in time? Because science suggests our bodies haven’t caught up with technology. Your mouth may say yes to Dunkin Donuts, but your body shrieks NO. Look to Ancestral Health to explain the ills of today.
Although this argument can be taken back as far as Charles Darwin, a physician named Boyd Eaton, MD, wrote a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine in the spring of 1987 called “Paleolithic Nutrition: A Consideration of its Nature and Current Implications.”
You may not have spent much time trying to get papers published in scientific journals, but let me assure you the vetting process is rigorous. If the NEJM took this paper, we should sit up and take notice.
The gist of the argument was that cereal grains were never eaten by pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers. And therefore, shouldn’t be eaten now.
S. Boyd Eaton says, “We are the heirs of inherited characteristics accrued over millions of years; the vast majority of our biochemistry and physiology are tuned to life conditions that existed before the advent of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. Genetically our bodies are virtually the same as they were at the end of the Paleolithic era some 20,000 years ago.”
So, since Eaton threw that bombshell into the scientific stew, physicians, scientists, trainers, athletes, nutritionists, cooks, and ordinary folks have been trying to see what it means in the modern world.
Loren Cordain, an exercise physiologist from the University of Utah, threw valuable fuel on the fire and started a movement he called “The Paleo Diet” which has grown to be a huge trend on google, with millions of searches every month and a growing army of followers.
Why? You may wonder what that has to do with us seniors. Why should the AARP crowd care? We are the first generation to have grown up in the age when processed foods – made of mostly grains, sugars, HFCS, and manufactured oils have come to dominate the food supply in the Western world.
What are the results? An epidemic of the so-called lifestyle illnesses including obesity, heart disease, cancers, MS, Parkinson’s not to mention mental illnesses that have felled millions. Arguments are made that everything from autism to Alzheimers stem from a diet of corrupted processed foods. So even if you are not a Senior, yourself, you have children and parents, and you need to consider this.
And what does it have to do with the Paleo People? They have learned through trial and error, that if they eat a so-called Paleo diet, many of these lifestyle ailments are reversed or never start in the first place.
Are you saying that type II diabetes could be reversed with something as simple as diet? That’s what I’m saying. Yes.
Now that will get your attention, eh?
In a nutshell, the paleo diet recommends a diet of wild caught fish, game, meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries. How hard could that be?
Of course what they leave out is what most of us have been eating for decades: sugars, high fructose corn syrups, refined grains, manufactured oils, salts, processed foods. Some say no dairy, although an argument can be made that certain Paleolithic tribes can be found who still make milk central to their diets.
My friend from Somalia, a man of 70 years, who always says he has one foot on the camel and one foot on the computer, grew up herding camels in the deserts of Somalia and Ethiopia with a nomadic herd lifestyle in the twentieth century. He says they went months with no water. How? They lived on camel milk.
So, you can make your own decisions about dairy. As for me, I’m not about to give up butter, cheeses, cream, and yogurt. I will give up sugar-laced dairy products like the popular sweet yogurts. I will give up drinking milk because it has too much carbohydrate. I will give up grains and processed foods. But butter, cheese, yogurts and cream for my coffee? That stays with me.
I do believe Seniors who wish to remain healthy and viable need to do everything with their power to eat nutritious food, and the Paleo palate just works for me.
I want a broad and varied diet of unprocessed foods because I believe that is my best shot at good health.
Last week, when I attended the Ancestral Health Symposium at Harvard, with its impressive roster of speakers and presenters, my core beliefs were affirmed. Just looking across the room at the healthy, vibrant people, the living embodiment of the paleo way of life and I said YES. I’ll have what they’re having.
I find that traditional practices, regardless of their place of origin, most often make eating a good and healthy diet possible. There is wisdom in tradition. I prefer to tap into that wisdom when ever I can.
Today, for example, I bring you a recipe for a traditional Italian Salad called a chopped salad. It is noteworthy because the vegetables are practically minced, piled high on a plate and laced with bits of flavorful Italian traditional cured meats and provolone. The dressing is nothing more than good quality red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
The waiter brings over the pepper mill and offers a dusting of just ground pepper to finish.
For me this is a perfect example of a Paleo recipe made from a traditional culture, Southern Italy, and a whole meal that just tastes great. Enjoy!
Traditional Italian Chopped Salad, Paleo Style
adapted from Libretti’s, a traditional red tablecloth restaurant in Orange, New Jersey
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh oregano AND basil, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
Cracked black pepper to taste
6 cups finely chopped iceberg lettuce
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1 rib celery, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
½ cup very thinly sliced red onion
½ cup finely chopped berry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped provolone (about 3 ounces) (optional)
2 ounces thinly sliced Italian Genoa salami, cut into strips
1/4 cup sliced pitted oil cured black olives
Whisk oil, vinegar, oregano, basil , and garlic in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with pepper. Set the dressing aside to “marry” while you chop the vegetables.
I use a traditional Italian mezzaluna to chop the vegetables. It’s a half-moon shaped double blade that is used over an indented bowl. It’s worked for Italian cooks for hundreds of years to reduce the food stuffs to a fine mince that blends flavors and releases nutrients in ways they didn’t have to understand to “get”.
Let’s hear it for tradition.
Toss carefully chopped lettuce, parsley, celery, bell pepper, red onion, berry tomatoes, provolone cheese, salami, and sliced olives in large bowl. Pour dressing over; toss to coat. Mound salad onto a plate and serve. Add fresh pepper as you wish.Pin It