I’ve been eating a healthy, clean diet for quite some time, consisting of organic, whole foods while avoiding pesticide- and GMO-laden foods as well as most processed foods with chemical additives. I kept hearing about the Paleo Diet, but I didn’t know much about it. The funny thing is that it turns out I was eating the Paleo Diet without even knowing it. The purpose of this article is to explain the diet, why it makes sense, and apply some tweaks to avoid minor pitfalls.
The purpose of the Paleo Diet is to take eaters back to the natural diet of our ancestors before grains, added sugar, artificial preservatives and sweeteners, pesticides, genetically-modified organisms were loaded into or onto our foods, and gluten and dairy intolerances were nonexistent.
It is essential to avoid processed foods that are loaded with added sugar, sodium, fats, and other dangerous food additives. The lifestyle diseases and negative health conditions associated with chemically-induced processed foods and refined sugar and salt are well known. Just adhering to a diet that prohibits these foods would be a huge improvement for many people, however, there are a few other areas that might not be so intuitive or mainstream.
The Paleo Diet avoids all grains and legumes. They both contain phytic acid, which binds to nutrients in food and prevents absorption, meaning you are not getting the nutrients that are labeled on the food package. In addition, potentially toxic lectins are highest in grains, legumes, and dairy, which can cause digestive and autoimmune problems. Our bodies are not designed to digest these types of food.
Dairy is to be avoided, although not all Paleo followers adhere to this. I don’t eat dairy, because it is not natural for a human being to drink the milk of another animal, particularly into adulthood. No animal species on earth drinks milk past infancy. If you are going to drink milk, I suggest raw milk or low-pasteurized and non-homogonized varieties, if you can find them.
So what can you eat? Organic fruits, vegetables, and tubers like sweet potatoes are a key part of the Paleo Diet. Grass-fed and organic meat and poultry, along with wild fish, are major components as well. Nuts, seeds, and oils, like olive or avocado, are to be eaten in moderation. Some recommend that fruit be limited, particularly if you are trying to lose weight. I think fruit is an important nutrient and recommend at least five servings per day.
The Paleo Diet is sometimes criticized as an all-meat or low-carb diet like Atkins, but it is not. It specifies certain carbs to avoid, but fruit or veggies are recommended at every meal. Most people don’t like to count calories, but I find that a great balance exists when 40% of calories come from both protein and carbs (it’s going to be a healthy proportion of fruit bc veggies are so low in calories), and the remaining 20% from fat, which will consist of the fats from the protein you eat and any nuts, seeds, oils, or avocados that you eat.
I hope you give the Paleo Diet a try. It is one of the cleanest, healthiest diets I’ve ever come across. Outside of possible detox issues you may experience (mainly headaches) when you first wean yourself from dangerous chemicals, I think you will find it to be more energizing than any other diet you’ve tried.