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What is Paleo? Interview with Anja from Paleo360.de

October 21st, 2021  

You have probably heard of Paleo. Paleo means something like Stone Age diet and is based on the original diet of hunter-gatherers. We wanted to know exactly what it means to eat Paleo, what benefits this diet has, also for our gut health, and what a typical day looks like. We interviewed Anja from Paleo360.de and got some exciting answers.

Paleo – for all those who don’t know it yet, what does it mean exactly?

Paleo is a shorter version of the term Palaeolithic, a described age of the Earth’s history. This phase is also described as the Old Stone Age, and the people who lived at that time are also called hunter-gatherers. This also describes their lifestyle. The Earth Age is described as lasting until about 10,000 years ago – a period in which, depending on the region, agriculture and animal husbandry were also established.

Seen in a larger context, humans have undergone an enormous change in their way of life in the last 10,000 years and especially in the last decades and few centuries of industrialisation. From hunter-gatherer to sedentary man. This change in lifestyle and habitat in a relatively short period of time meant that, for example, our digestion and biomechanics could not keep up with the new developments. In other words, our newly created habitat does not fit our genetics, which have developed over thousands of years.

These scientific findings are now being applied to humans and their state of health. Diseases of civilisation such as obesity, inflammatory phenomena, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, etc. are not the fate of man, but a consequence of his lifestyle and the context in which he lives – his habitat.

Basically, for me, the Paleo approach means remembering what it means to be human. Where we come from, how I want to live my life, and for these considerations the evolutionary perspective is taken. And clearly, health is a strong anchor for this consideration.

Incidentally, the scientific basis for Paleo was laid by Boyd Eaton, among others, with the popular science book “The Paleolithic Prescription”. He already predicted that the Stone Age aspect would probably be made fun of. Whereby it was never meant that we should go back to the Stone Age. It has always been about putting the findings about our evolutionary origins into the modern and contemporary context. Of course, the Paleo concept could be marketed quite well with the term Stone Age diet and was thus often misunderstood.

Because sure, technology – the “modern” tools are of course part of it. I don’t want to go back to the Stone Age. On the one hand, humans and their environment are evolving, and on the other hand, I think it is worthwhile to use modern tools sensibly so that we can shape our lives accordingly. However, we should ask ourselves more often what kind of world we want to live in. And whether the world we have created for ourselves is really doing us any good.

In other words, it is worth learning how to use tools so that they can be used well and meaningfully. And we should use our creative power primarily for valuable and meaningful things.

In summary: Our sedentary, civilised and nature-estranged way of life can make us ill in various ways. Various human needs are not sufficiently met. And this is exactly where the Paleo idea comes in. It reminds us of what it means to be human. And combines this with today’s realities and technologies – in order to regain health and prevent illness. With Paleo360, we translate this insight into practical advice. And inspire a change in the areas of nutrition, exercise, sleep and relationships – with oneself and others.

And what makes Paleo360 special?

With Paleo360 we see ourselves as a company that wants to reach people directly and pass on impulses and inspiration for a healthier lifestyle. We want to remind people what it means to be human. We want to pass on tips and tools that enable people to make better decisions for themselves and their own lives. And this in different areas of life and of course always peppered with our own experience.

We also do science communication. In a way that is hopefully easy to understand.

In addition to the very individual benefits that can result, I also see a national and economic benefit in the value of Paleo360. We contribute to healthy people in Germany, who can then also better express their human performance, also often referred to as potential. Of course, our concept does not stop at the borders of Germany and German-speaking people. So far, however, we have opted for our mother tongue in communication.

Why did you decide to follow the Paleo diet?

Exciting question! Looking back, I can formulate several aspects for myself:

This feeling of power – yes, I can do something for myself and my health. I may be at the mercy of many environmental factors, but not fate.

I was already suspected of having fructose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome. During this time I became aware of Paleo and Paleo360. Omission diets didn’t make sense to me from a digestive point of view, but I tried them out anyway. With Paleo360, I became aware of a concept that looks at people holistically, evolutionarily and in a larger context. And it also promised more joy and pleasure in life indirectly. In the meantime, I was able to put together a good toolbox from which I can choose what is right for me and my health and its development. In retrospect, I am glad that a doctor at that time also gave me the stamp “psychosomatically caused complaints”. At the time, I apparently didn’t want to understand how much my health condition was connected to my psyche and my life situation and lifestyle. Today I am grateful for that.

Moreover, it was also a professional decision for me. While still studying toxicology, I started my own business and worked for and with the Paleo360 team, among others. I was aiming for an academic career, but I had also had experiences that made me reflect clearly on this goal.

What has changed positively for you?

We were able to gain different positive experiences. Be it in better dealing with autoimmune diseases, asthma, allergies, food intolerances or achieving top athletic performances and finding meaningful work….

Specifically for me, what has happened is this:

My attitude towards my body and also my life has continued to change for the better over the years. I can now decide more from my gut and from my heart. Thinking is a valuable tool, but not my main decision maker.

I can now also eat anything I want. I can better assess and classify digestive complaints and pains in my body.

I am quite excited about the idea of resilience and even anti-fragility, which I first learned about through Nicholas Nassim Taleb and also in the Paleo network. I trust myself and my body much more. Or rather, I am more aware of drawing my boundaries and appreciating my long-term health. In the meantime, I was able to complete a long-distance race (known to many as Ironman, one of the organisers of long-distance triathlons). And I wasn’t particularly sporty in my youth. I just did it. In my own way. The experience will always stay with me and has strengthened my confidence in myself and my body.

And so everyone in the Paleo360 team, and everyone who discovers Paleo and Paleo360 for themselves, also has their own story. And that is also the cool and valuable thing about it.

In a study with the indigenous Hadza people, it was found that their seasonal and natural diet contributes to a healthy microbiome and higher diversity. What is your opinion on this?

Ich bin fasziniert von Urvölkern und ihren Lebensweisen, obwohl ich bestimmt auch noch gar nicht viel darüber weiß. Und von der erwähnten Feststellung dürfen wir uns meines Erachtens inspirieren lassen. Und uns wieder I am fascinated by indigenous peoples and their ways of life, although I certainly don’t know much about them yet. And I think we can be inspired by the observation I mentioned. And remind ourselves again where we come from and whether a different way of life – one that is more aligned with the rhythms of nature – doesn’t make more sense. This is already reflected in a seasonal diet. A diet that consists of as many natural foods as possible also makes sense to me.

“It’s important for me to be relaxed about food.” – Anja, Paleo360

What does a typical “What I eat in a day” look like for you? 

In the morning: sourdough bread and fried egg and sausage.

Rarely lunch, rather small snacks, if at all.

Evening: warm and often vegetable-heavy. Often fish or meat as well.

I also like chocolate a lot, including chocolate with a high cocoa content. I still eat kebabs, pizzas from pizzerias, rolls, pasta and the like – but less often and more consciously. Eating pasta for once has become a real highlight. It’s important for me to be relaxed about food.

What are common mistakes people make when changing their diet to Paleo? 

Phew, good question. Wanting to change everything at once. Changes simply need patience, time and also love (i.e. the necessary attention). And it’s a process that works best step by step. Hand over responsibility for your own decisions. See nutrition as one of the main levers. But much more effective could be to look at sleep patterns, stress levels and the relationship with oneself and others towards oneself and also the movement patterns of the day.

We are used to looking at just one aspect and looking at it very closely. An analytical perspective. For a holistic view, however, we need the will to explore several perspectives on an issue as equally important and then also to make decisions in which direction it is now right and important to act. And that looks different for every person. Another mistake would be to expect a solution that is already valid for all people.

What is the effect of Paleo on gut health, do you have any experiences?  

Personally, my experience has been primarily good. I can now eat anything I want again. Even when I’m out and about, I don’t have to worry that there’s something I can’t tolerate. Of course, the results can vary depending on your state of health. Building up gut health and being able to tolerate everything that wants to be eaten – I think that is a sensible goal.

In the process of this, I think it is important not to be satisfied with diagnoses. They are an important step in assessing and determining the state of health. However, the body has quite a regeneration potential, which we must also allow. And in my opinion, this process begins in the head, with a decision to want to regenerate again.

Do you have any tips on which Paleo foods can have a positive effect on the microbiome?

If we are talking about the gut microbiome, then there are the typical tips – such as a high-fibre, vegetable-rich and nutrient-rich diet and the inclusion of certain herbs and spices. Fermented foods are also often mentioned.

I advocate also mentioning meat and other animal foods as positive for the microbiome. There are several reasons for this. For example, I have personally found over the years that meat, eggs and dairy are good for me, especially in phases. Some people even have real healing successes as soon as they eat only animal foods – as is the case with a carnivorous diet.

In addition to food choice, I think it is crucial – if not more crucial than food choice – to look at digestion and its functionality.

So how well do I digest? And how can I support and improve my digestion?

Do I produce enough stomach acid? How well can my liver and gallbladder produce bile and bile acids to digest fats? How is my pancreas and its activity? What is the condition of my intestinal lining and its productivity and ability to contribute to better digestion? Many people are already familiar with leaky gut syndrome – a compromised intestinal barrier.

Improving digestion, improving the function of the intestinal barrier – I think that is the right approach. With good analytical tools like those from mybioma, there is already an important insight into what is really happening in the gut.

And of course, there are so many factors that affect the microbiome, and nutrition is only one part of it. Physical posture, how tense and moved the abdominal area is, also plays a crucial role in digestion.

The function of the diaphragm alone (keyword diaphragmatic breathing) and also, among other things, the state of activity of the hip flexor psoas major is crucial for digestion.

As I said, diet is only one lever that acts on the gut microbiome. And for many people, perhaps only a factor of little relevance to improving digestion to start here.

paleo360.de – wer sollte unbedingt Ihre Seite besuchen, was kann man erwarten?

Anyone who is willing to take responsibility for their own health and wants to approach this process holistically. Anyone who is confident in their ability to want to think outside the box and expand their own horizons. Critically questioning, the ability may also be brought along – because this should also happen with our content and advice. But that brings us back to the point of personal responsibility.

With Paleo360, we can provide you with inspiration and impulses that can contribute to the alleviation of, for example, intestinal complaints, high blood pressure, back pain, neck pain, headaches and autoimmune diseases. In other words, symptoms that occur in the context of and in connection with our lifestyle.

What generally moves us is to pass on inspiration and impulses for a sustainable happy and healthy lifestyle. We don’t want to create unnecessary dogma and want to accompany people on their way to a relaxed and appreciative attitude towards life itself. And to transfer this appreciation to food and its added value.

Values that accompany us are openness, appreciation, authenticity, humanity and creativity. And of course, on the whole, it’s about health and making decisions on one’s own responsibility.

We are also committed to strengthening the connection between farmers and non-farmers. After all, farmers are the people who produce our food, shape the cultural landscape and significantly influence ecosystems. And they deserve appreciation and also support in their important work.

Anyone who feels addressed by this should definitely drop by!

Do you have a special offer for people interested in Paleo and gut health?

If you want to learn helpful and cool things about the microbiome, take a look at the corresponding article on the microbiome. There is an introduction and practical tips on the subject of fermentation. And for those who want more, we have an e-book on gut health. Here, a 7-day reset is also described, which is intended to help build up gut health in the short term via nutrition.

For a concrete start, of course, the 30 Day Challenge is quite helpful. The 30 days can be truly life-changing – and we are happy to accompany and support them in our own way.

Great! Thank you so much Anja for the interview!

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical information or instructions. The recipes are for inspiration and are not intended as a therapeutic treatment. If you have any health problems, you should contact a doctor or otherprofessional immediately.

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