The Paleo Diet

What is a healthy diet? For many, this is a difficult question to answer.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to diet, or to health, for that matter, there are characteristics a healthy diet should have. It needs to be nutrient-dense and based on whole foods, not processed or refined foods. It needs to be nourishing and meet the goals, needs and challenges of the person following it.

In the realm of dietary lifestyles, the Paleo diet stands as a significant player, often sparking debates and discussions among health enthusiasts, nutritionists, and researchers alike. Derived from the Paleolithic era, this dietary approach advocates for consuming foods that mimic those of our ancient ancestors. With its emphasis on whole foods and the exclusion of processed items, the Paleo diet has garnered attention for its potential health benefits. These include:

  • Weight Loss: The emphasis on whole, nutrient-dense foods and the exclusion of processed items may support weight loss efforts.
  • Improved Metabolic Health: Some studies suggest that the Paleo diet may improve markers of metabolic health, including blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.
  • Enhanced Digestive Health: For individuals with certain digestive disorders or sensitivities, such as gluten intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the elimination of certain foods may alleviate symptoms and improve digestive health.
  • Increased Energy and Vitality: Supporters of the Paleo diet often report experiencing increased energy levels, improved mood, and better overall vitality.

More importantly, a Paleo lifestyle is an evolving framework of principles for living well. Experts and laypersons in the Paleo community often differ in some of their recommendations, as well as in their personal choices. This is all part of a healthy debate which is particularly important as knowledge of the principles of robust health remains in its infancy. Individuals also differ in their tolerances and preferences. It is up to you to experiment and discover what works best for you.

The Paleo Diet

At the base of the Paleo diet is the idea of eating real foods, prepared well 

Foods to Enjoy

  • Humanely raised animals, preferably pastured ruminants and poultry as they tend to have a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fats than those fed on grains and soy. Avoid meats treated with antibiotics and hormones as much as possible. Be adventurous: don't neglect organ meats and bone marrow. Make homemade stock made from leftover bones or get the best ready-made bone broth right here>>>>
  • Eggs, preferably from pastured chickens. Eggs enriched with omega-3s are a good option too.
  • Fish and shellfish preferably caught wild rather than farm-raised.
  • Vegetables. These are particularly good when slathered in good fats. Source well and choose organic, local and seasonal wherever possible.
  • Naturally occurring fats including like coconut oil and butter or clarified butter. Beef tallow, lard and duck fat are also good, but only if they come from healthy and well-treated animals. Olive, avocado and macadamia oil are also good fats to use in salads and to drizzle over food. Download our fat guide here
  • Seasonal, local fruits. Fruits are often high in sugars, particularly fructose which can be particularly hard on the liver when consumed in excess. Minimize tropical fruits and enjoy berries plentifully.
  • Nuts, if tolerated can be eaten in moderation. Nuts may require soaking and drying to eliminate toxins. Peanuts are legumes, not nuts. Learn more about the benefits and pitfalls of nuts here and here. Be aware of omega-6 load in some nuts. Grouped and ranked from least to most omega-6 content:
    • (good) macadamias;
    • (okay) cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios;
    • (worse) pecans, brazil nuts, and pine nuts
    • (terrible) walnuts.
  • Fermented and cultured foods including dairy-free yogurt, kefir, and homemade sauerkraut and fermented vegetables are beneficial for your gut bacteria. Enjoy them.

Foods To Avoid

  • Wheat, corn, rice, or other grains. If you choose to eat some ancient grains, eat them sparingly and prepare them to minimize toxins, such as by sprouting and soaking. Wheat seems to be the most inflammatory of all the grains, while rice seems to be the most benign.
  • Sugar, corn syrup, agave nectar, rice syrup, barley syrup and artificial sweeteners. If you must have some sweetener for a dish, you might try some more natural, Paleo friendly sweeteners. With time, your tastes will adjust: ordinary sweets will taste cloying, but formerly bland vegetables will seem delightfully sweet. 
  • Industrialized seed oils including canola oil, corn oil, or soy oil. Make your own mayonnaise and salad dressing. Avoid fried foods in restaurants: rancid vegetable oils are standard for frying. Avoid all hydrogenated fats as they contain damaging artificial trans fats. Choose naturally occurring animal fats – like ghee, lard, bacon grease and tallow along with unrefined coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil. Get your Paleo friendly, all natural, sugar free bacon here >>>
  • Legumes (including soy and peanuts) are best avoided. If you choose to eat some legumes, eat them sparingly and soak and sprout them to minimize toxins. Don't eat soy as it is goitrogenic and contains estrogen-mimicking hormones. Fermented soy might be acceptable in small amounts if tolerated.
  • Dairy products other than butter and maybe heavy cream. You don’t need dairy, but if you can’t live without it, learn more about how to incorporate dairy into your Paleo diet here and consider raw, full-fat and/or fermented dairy.

Identify your range of healthy foods, and eat a wide variety of these. Experiment with new foods, as your tastes will change over time. People will consume different macronutrient ratios on a paleo diet, depending on their bodily needs, health goals, and lifestyle. You will need to find the right range for you.

Use the tools and support available to you – websites, cookbooks, recipes and some of the best Paleo meals delivered right to your door every week.

Browse this week’s menu and order you favorites here>>>>>>

Lifestyle Factors

There are also lifestyle principles which form part of the Paleo diet, further contributing to your optimal wellness goals.

  • Sleep sufficiently and sleep well. Take time off to recover from workouts. Don't abuse your body by failing to give it the rest it requires.
  • Move. Consider alternatives to the standard "cardio" sessions. Try short, high-intensity workouts instead. Try weight training, sprinting, and barefoot running. For more structured programs, try CrossFit or Body by Science. Read on here for more tips on moving around during the day
  • Supplement with vitamin D, based on your blood levels. Consider the following supplements as well: cod liver oil and butter oil; iodine and selenium; magnesium and potassium; vitamin K2; fish oil. Try to get as much good nutrition from real foods as you can, but recognize that depleted soils impact the nutritional values of the foods available.
  • Beware of toxins, such as the BPA lining all canned goods and bromine in hot tubs. You may want to consider using stainless steel or cast-iron cookware as non-stick pans can be problematic. For pure, clean water, use a reverse-osmosis or distiller system. 
  • Skip meals occasionally, particularly when good food isn't available. Try intermittent fasting. Feed yourself well, but vary how much you eat. 
  • Reduce external stressors in your life as much as possible. Get outside, have fun, laugh, smile, relax, discover, travel, learn and enjoy life like a daring adventure! Learn more on how to calm body and mind here

The Paleo diet really is that simple. Once you begin your journey, you will quickly become aware of how well and positively your body, mind and spirit will adapt to these changes. Your health is a process, and focusing on how your diet and lifestyle choice serve and benefit you, will allow you to enjoy the ride.

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