What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo Diet is one rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, lean meats, poultry, fish, seafood, nuts, seeds and healthy fats. It cuts out the sugar, salt, starches, grains, legumes, dairy and highly refined processed foods.
The Paleo Diet was created by Loren Cordain in the early 2000’s. It is based on the idea that because of our genetic makeup and evolutionary biology we should mimic the food groups our ancestors ate with modern day foods that are readily available to us. By cutting out certain foods that we are not designed to eat improvements in health can occur.
It is not a radical diet by any means and like many diets it advocates not only lean protein but fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy oils. It is widely accepted that cutting out high amounts of sugar and salt in processed foods is beneficial to your health.
So why cut out grains, legumes and dairy?
Grain and legumes contain anti-nutrients called phytate and phytic acid. Anti-nutrients work against us by joining themselves to nutrients like Calcium, Vitamin D and Zinc making them unavailable to the body. This can affect your bone health and create nutrient deficiencies.
Dairy can create an inflammatory response in the body and is a highly acidic food. Milk is designed to make young animals grow rapidly from infancy as their sole food. It contains hormones to help provide the young animal with a strong immune system. Hence the reason why Breastfeeding your baby is considered so important for the first 6 months of a babies life. Cow’s milk is designed to feed young calves just as a mothers milk is designed for her baby. No other species drinks another animals milk. Dairy products also contain lactose which some say 75% of individuals find hard to tolerate causing bloating and gas. Research is also now showing that Calcium isn’t as bone protective as once thought and that levels of Vitamin D are what can help with your bone health.
Is this another Fad Diet?
Since Loren Cordain’s first book in 2002 the Paleo Diet or Paleo Movement has grown in popularity. Most fad diets are big for the first couple of years and then fade away but the Paleo Diet and Movement associated with it is only becoming more popular.
The Paleo Diet (revised edition) 2010 and ‘The Paleo Answer’ 2012 written by Loren Cordain are the best resources for explaining the origins of the Paleo Diet and they provide scientific evidence to show why we should eat more of certain foods and eliminate others. Great inspiration and anecdotal evidence is included in the books outlining the improvements people have had to their health by following a Paleo Diet.
Foods to eat on the Paleo Diet
Meats – grass fed if you can
Fish and Seafood – wild if possible
Fresh Vegetables – except starchy vegetables
Nuts and Seeds
Healthy Oils – Olive Oil, Walnut Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil
Foods to Eliminate on the Paleo Diet
Starchy Vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava
Legumes – Beans, peas, peanuts, chickpeas, lentils
Grains – Wheat, rice, buckwheat, quinoa
Dairy – milk, cheese, butter, all milk products
Bad Oils – Canola, Sunflower, Peanut
The Paleo Diet is likely to be a big jump for a lot of people who eat the traditional Western diet full of cereals, breads, dairy products, refined sugars and highly processed and packaged foods.
But as suggested in Loren Cordains books try the 85/15 rule. If you follow the diet 85% of the time you will see improvements. You can also have great results by taking it a bit slower. Start by adding in more fresh vegetables, lean meats, fruit and healthy oils to your diet. Then focus on reducing and eventually eliminating the starchy veg, grains, dairy and legumes.