Cavemen did not have modern luxuries, but at least their diets were far healthier than those of modern people. Recent research reveals that a caveman diet or Paleo diet is more abundant in minerals and antioxidants than today’s conventional diet.
Dr. Boyd Eaton, who wrote the New England Journal of Medicine paper “Paleolithic Nutrition,” says that the Paleo diet consists of 50 percent fruits and vegetables, whereas today’s diet only has 15 percent fruits and veggies (link). Your antioxidant intake would be 4.5 times higher if you consumed the same amount of fruits and vegetables as early people, and nearly seven times higher if you ate wild fruits.
Unfortunately, man has largely replaced vegetables and fruits with cereal grains, which can cause weight gain and other health conditions. Dr. Joseph Mercola says that the Standard American Diet is very different from that of our ancestors, and may be the reason for the prevalence of diseases like:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Lung and colon cancer
- Dental caries
The Importance of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are nature’s defense against free radicals that attack your cells. Without sufficient antioxidants in your body, you are subjected to oxidative stress, which accelerates tissue and organ damage and may leads to early aging and disease.
There are two kinds of antioxidants you need to get: water-soluble like anthocyanins, polyphenols, and resveratrol, and fat-soluble antioxidants like astaxanthin and ubiquinol. You need both because the interior of your cells and the fluid between them are made up of water. On the other hand, your cell membranes are made of fat.
“Free radicals can strike both the interior of your cells and the cell membrane, so you need to be sure you’re consuming both water-soluble and fat-soluble antioxidants to protect you,” says Dr. Mercola.
If you want to replicate the Paleo diet to get the antioxidants your body needs, your best option is to consume plenty of raw, locally harvest organic vegetables. If this is difficult for you, try juicing your vegetables. You can also eat the pulp, which is nutritious. To learn more about juicing, visit Dr. Mercola’s juicing site.
Dr. Mercola also recommends reducing your fructose and sugar intake to decrease your antioxidant stress. Avoid processed foods and fructose as you increase your intake of veggies. Taking selected natural supplements is also advisable to get the same antioxidants in the Paleo diet.
What About Fruits?
Although Dr. Eaton recommends eating fruits, Dr. Mercola warns you should be cautious when doing this. Fruits are full of fructose, and can be detrimental to your health if eaten excessively.
During the ancient times, this wasn’t a big issue because the cavemen consumed wild fruits, which are smaller. Modern fruits are larger—they have more sugar inside and less skin, which contains the antioxidants.
Dr. Mercola’s standard recommendation for fructose is below 25 grams per day. Only 15 grams or less should come from fruits, because you may eat some processed foods that contain “hidden” fructose.