What is the Paleo Diet?

What is the Paleo Diet - the short version:

Eating Paleo is an effort to eat real food as part of an healthy lifestyle.

What is the Paleo Diet - the longer version:

The definition above talks about an effort, or a direction to a healthy lifestyle. The Paleo Diet is not a diet with a temporary change of your food intake, instead the core principle of paleo is in eating real food. The usual western diet can rely on heavily processed food which our bodies find hard to process. Paleo is a whole foods diet and it offers guidance as to which food groups are healthiest for us.

The Paleo Diet is described as a ‘lifetime programme ….. and not a quick fix weight loss diet’ – Kerry Torrens, Nutritional Therapist.

Paleo Diet - the basic principle:

Following the Paleo lifestyle is described as a way of eating that goes back to the days of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. It combines modern scientific research and a good dose of common sense in helping us to eat real, whole, and unprocessed foods which are healthful to our bodies.

Simply put, paleo was derived for optimal health, and to achieve this we need to watch what we eat, move more, sleep better and stress less. Ultimately leading to the perfect paleo lifestyle.

Whether the image of the 'ancestor diet' is correct or not is beyond the point. For sure our ancestors did not have access to most of our vegetables and fruits. Tomato, potato, modern carrots and fruits as we know them were not available to our ancestors - most were developed in modern times and/or were confined to other parts of the world. Even modern meat may not compare with the wild game that they were eating.

So we could argue the 'ancestor diet' until the cows come home, but one thing is sure: our ancestors did not eat refined sugar, E-additives and all the industrialised, processed food which is turning us into little stressed chemical factories. And following today's paleo diet is as close to a natural diet as can be.

The basic message is clear:

  • eat unprocessed food
  • eat food groups or types that modern human beings have been accustomed to over many thousand years
  • eat them in acceptable proportions. Note that there are many ways to achieve that balance, which can also depend on your circumstances and lifestyle - Paleo attempts to offer some general guidelines suitable for most people.

Paleo followers aim to eat as naturally as possible choosing to prioritise with grass-fed meats and eggs, wild-caught fish, free-range poultry, lots of fruit and vegetables and other wholefoods like nuts and seeds (in moderation). Followers also aim to recognise their genetic predisposition and apply current knowledge of how different foods and activities affect our physical functions.

Paleo Food PaleoCHoice

For example the belief that our digestive systems have changed little since the Paleolithic era leads to avoiding certain foods that put a strain on our gastrointestinal tract by causing inflammation and derailing our natural metabolic processes. The foods to be avoided can be found listed below:

  • Cereal grains
  • Dairy
  • Refined vegetable oils
  • High starch vegetables
  • Fatty meats
  • Refined sugar
  • Salt
  • Legumes (including peanuts and soy)
  • Potatoes
  • Processed foods
  • Alcohol

By avoiding the above list of foods, Paleo followers believe that they will be better able to control insulin sensitivity, repair gut health and increase nutrient absorption.