What is the "Paleo Diet?"
Unlike other diets that are designed around weight loss, the Paleo Diet is a healthy approach to changing our relationship to food. Over the past several hundred thousand years, humans have biologically adapted to eating whole foods such as plants, meat, and seafood: all of which are packed with the nutrients our bodies evolved to thrive on. The Paleo Diet is based on the notion that in order to obtain optimal health, that modern humans should go back to eating real, unprocessed foods that are more healthful rather than harmful to our bodies. It wasn't until agriculture came onto the scene roughly 10,000 years ago that modern foods such as wheat, sugar, and chemically processed vegetable and seed oils entered into the equation. This tiny fraction of our evolutionary history simply is not enough time for the human body to adapt to these foreign and unnatural food products. Many modern diseases of our civilization such as autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity have accompanied the introduction and global spread of industrialized food. The paleo approach to this problem emphasizes returning to a more ancestral approach to eating. The paleo diet consists mainly of eating whole, unprocessed, nutrients-dense and nourishing foods and avoiding foods that cause inflammation, wreck our gut, or derail our natural metabolic processes.
Some of the guidelines for following a paleo diet include:
|Grass-fed meats||Cereal Grains|
|Fresh Fruits & Vegetables||Dairy|
|Fresh Vegetables||Refined & Artificial Sugar|
|Nuts||Overly Salty Foods|
|Healthy Oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, coconut)||Refined Vegetable Oils|
Of course, the paleo diet can be approached from several different angles, and there isn't just one definitive, "one size fits all" paleo diet. For some, they choose to go super low-carb while others may occasionally include foods such as a baked potato, butter, or a bowl of white rice every now and then. Others may completely keep dairy out of their diet while some less hard-core paleo folks will just keep dairy to a minimum. However, despite all of these different approaches the core of paleo eating remains the same:
- Avoid foods that harm us by causing inflammation, low metabolism and wrecking the gut. This means abstaining from inflammatory foods such as artificial sweeteners, processed foods, gluten-containing grains, legumes, and other "industrial" foods commonly found in the supermarket.
- Eat whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense, nourishing foods. This includes grass fed and pastured meats, eggs, wild-caught seafood, vegetables, seasonal fruit, and plant-based protein such as healthy nuts and seeds.
- Eat whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense, nourishing foods.Prioritize grass fed and pastured meats and eggs, wild-caught seafood, and vegetables. Enjoy fruit, nuts, and seeds in moderation.
- Avoid foods that will harm us by causing systemic inflammation, wrecking our guts, or derailing our natural metabolic processes. Abstain from toxic, pro-inflammatory foods like gluten-containing grains, legumes, sugar, and the laboratory-concocted Frankenfoods found in the middle aisles of your neighborhood supermarket.
Physicians, biochemists, nutritionists, and other researchers are starting to come around to the benefits of ancestral nutrition, and people who adopt a Paleo-like approach to eating are reporting significant improvements in their general health, body composition, and energy levels. Most importantly, there’s evidence that folks who eat this way are reducing their risks of numerous diseases and disorders that are associated with the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.).
I know what you’re thinking: how can this be healthy? Many folks seem to think that eating Paleo means going super-duper low-carb and consuming gobs and gobs of meat and animal fat. But for me, Paleo looks more like this: