Paleo, Paleo, Paleo......


Background

Q: What Does "Paleo" Even Mean In The First Place?

A: "Paleo" is short for paleolithic, and refers to the Paleolithic Era of human evolution, from approximately 2.5 million years ago until about 15,000 years ago. This time period spanned between the first invention of stone tools by early hominids, through the evolution of anatomically modern Homo sapiens, and ended at the invention of agriculture.

Q: Why Should We Care About The Paleolithic Era Today?

A: To put it simply: the Paleolithic Era is what formed our species. Evolution is a slow process. Our species had a leisurely 2-3 million years to adapt to our environmental niche. The invention of agriculture, only 10-15,000 years ago, was a very sudden and dramatic shift in diet and environment for many human cultures. Foods like cereal grains (wheat, rice, barley), legumes (beans, peanuts) and dairy not only appeared, but became dietary staples, when earlier they would have been rare-to-nonexistent. The primary idea behind the paleo diet is that humans, as a species, have not yet evolved to be able to handle these foods well.

Food

Q: What Should I Eat?

A: DO eat these foods:

  • lots of animal foods: meat, eggs, fish/seafood

  • nuts/seeds. The following nuts should be consumed with high omega-6 fat content: walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts etc. Coconut is much lower in omega-6 fats and is rich in saturated fats and can/should be consumed more frequently than the above nuts. Remember that peanuts are legumes, not nuts, and are even more concentrated in omega-6 fats and anti nutrient lectins.

  • lots of vegetables

  • fruits (in moderation if trying to lose weight; lower-sugar varieties like berries are a good choice over high-sugar fruits like grapes, bananas, or oranges.)

  • for cooking fats use, low Omega-6 fats like beef tallow, butter, lard from pastured pigs, olive oil, palm oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil.

Optional, depending on your tolerances:

  • starchy root vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes (Note: Again, concentrated carbohydrate sources can inhibit weight loss. If you are working out and need to supplement calories or carbs, eat these starchy foods according to your needs.) Remove and discard peels of tubers to avoid concentrated anti nutrient sources.

Q: So, What Shouldn't I Eat?

A: Stop eating these foods:

  • everything made from grains like wheat, corn, rice, barley and oats: this includes all baked goods (bread, crackers, muffins, cookies, etc.), pasta, and breaded/fried items

  • sugar in all forms except whole fruit

  • vegetable and seed oils like corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, sunflower/safflower oil, etc.

  • legumes (beans, peanuts)

Some people choose to use a strict paleo diet as a safe (nutrient-rich) elimination diet, to diagnose or alleviate various inflammatory issues. These foods may be eliminated:

  • conventional pasteurized milk. Raw milk contains lactase which helps digest the milk sugar (lactose). Pasteurization deactivates this enzyme, leaving the body with indigestible lactose that can cause irritation. Casein (milk protein) is another known gut irritant. However butter and fermented dairy products such as yogurt cause much less problems due to their content of lactose and proteins.

  • nightshades: Tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant and peppers are all New World plants that some individuals may not be adapted to; these usually trigger autoimmune problems and so those with known autoimmune disease may see improvement with these foods removed from their diets.