The Paleo Diet – A Review

You probably know it as the Paleo diet, but it has also been called the Ancestral diet, the Primal diet, the Original diet, the Evolution diet and the Caveman diet.

At Healthy Habits we stress the importance of an anti-inflammatory, natural, whole foods diet.  We’ve talked about it with you in previous blogs, especially during our series on inflammation and nutrition strategies for keeping our buckets from overflowing (see our blog March 31 – May 28, 2013).  I attended an interesting talk last week on the benefits of the Paleo diet and I liked how it fit with our nutrition philosophies.  If you have chronic inflammation, digestive issues, and/or would like to lose some weight the Paleo diet is a well-balanced protocol to follow.

The science behind the diet is that our genes have been set to work better with the kinds of foods that we ate during the Paleolithic period when we were hunter-gatherers as this is when we did most of our evolution.  Today however in North America we live off of processed, unnatural foods based on a culture of wheat, corn and dairy.  These ‘modern’ foods came with the invention of agriculture, and unhealthy processed foods an even more recent invention (think Jello, Kraft Dinner).

If our genetics were mostly set while we were hunter-gatherers then the easiest diet for us to digest and absorb nutrients from is one that is based mostly on animal foods (meat, organ meat, fish, eggs, animal fats), and seasonal plant-based foods such as coconut, vegetables, tubers, fruits and nuts.

On the other hand modern foods such as grains (especially gluten), legumes (including soy and peanuts), vegetable and seed oils, sugar, dairy products (with the exception of full-fat dairy, preferable raw and unpasteurized), and artificial sweeteners, colourings and processed ingredients have the potential to be indigestible leading to gut irritation, leaky gut, inflammation throughout the body, allergic and autoimmune reactions.  Why?  Many people have not adapted to these relatively new food sources, they don’t have the genes!!

This is the type of diet we have been helping clients with for a long time.  Get rid of the processed cereals and bread for breakfast and instead have eggs, avocado and vegetables.  Lunch is a crunchy salad with tuna and olives.  Dinner is grass-fed beef with sweet potato and asparagus.  Snack on a crisp apple and some walnuts or if tolerated full-fat yogurt with berries, nuts and seeds.

Cutting out grains and sugar will also keep your blood sugars steady, help with hormonal imbalances, and aid weight loss.

My gut tells me that this makes good sense!