Paleo is short for Paleolithic. The Paleo diet is a diet based on what our ancestors used to eat back in the day. Our ancestors enjoyed lean/muscular physiques and lived without many of the current modern diseases. An ideal luxury not many get to enjoy in our current times. Their diet was free of grains, beans/legumes, vegetable oils, and refined sugars. Instead, they consumed animal protein, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats. When you eat this way, you rip all the benefits of a truly healthy lifestyle:
- you feel energized
- you look lean
- you digest faster
- you sleep better
- you improve your athletic performance
There are many foods society/companies still market as healthy foods; we are constantly being fed the wrong information, to a point where it even gets confusing and contradicting. Consuming goods that are organic, fresh, and that are given by our wonderful mother nature, is the best rule of thumb. Some of these highly marketed "healthy" and "good for you" food items are not allowed in the Paleo diet for legit reasons.
Some good examples being: dairy, whole wheat foods/empty carbohydrates, grains/legumes/beans, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats.
- Dairy is extremly tough to digest and it is filled with hormones, which is why it has to be pasteurized, rendering its nutrients less available to us and its sugars less digestible. Extra estrogen (type of hormone) causes things like allergies, eczema, endometriosis, early puberty, early menstruation, menstrual cramps, decreased sex drive, acne, infertility, prostate cancer, osteoporosis, among other problems. It is simply not good for us.
- When people consume whole wheat foods or any other type of carbohydrate for that matter, they spike their insulin levels. Higher insulin levels lead to fat storage coupled with the inability to burn it, leads to a negative impact on our body’s regulatory hormones and energy levels, leads to blunt satiety (leading you to eat more of the wrong foods), and causes sugar crashes.
- Consuming grains means consuming toxins. These can block absorption of needed nutrients and are very much associated with auto-immune disorders. Legumes and beans have similar compounds. Grains have only been available to us for 10,000 years; not a long time when you compare that to our two million plus of existence.
- Refined sugars. Lets's not even go there. Actually, let's so you know how bad they are for the body. Sugar is unnatural, it is produced by industrial processes (from sugar cane or sugar beets). It is refined down to sucrose, after it's been taken away any vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes and other beneficial nutrients it might of had. The body is not able to handle sugar, at least not in the quantities that people now consume it. Sugar is also very addictive. Why is it so bad for us, you may still ask? Check these out:
- Leading cause of dental deterioration (cavities,tooth loss, and bleeding gums)
- Main cause of diabetes
- Contributes to heart disease, depression, cancer, mental illness, and hypertension
- Injures liver, pancreas, adrenal glands, and makes our blood sugar levels fluctuate immensely
Altogether we should avoid:
- Unhealthy fats (things like soybean, peanut, corn, safflower, canola oil, etc.)
- All processed foods (foods in boxes and fast foods)
- Sugars: processed, refined, or artificial (except stevia extract, honey and maple syrup)
- All grains, legumes, and beans
- No carbohydrates (except fibrous carbohydrates that come from vegetables, an example being sweet potatoes and broccoli)
- All dairy
- Alcohol (except the occasional glass of wine)
Don't get discouraged by the "can't haves", there are lots and lots of amazing "can haves"! There are great substitues out there for some of these foods and there are enough superb ingredients for one to have a lot of fun in the kitchen. Your diet will continue to be exciting and you will not get bored. I do promise! You should eat:
- All organic vegetables
- All organic fruits (including avocado!)
- All organic, grass-fed, free-range, and wild proteins (including bacon!)
- All nuts (these are my favorite...but you have to watch how many you eat, specially if trying to lose weight)
- Healthy fats (coconut, palm, olive, avocado, animal, nut oils)
- Sweet potatoes
Be sure to click here to check out a long list of ingredients the Paleo diet lets you enjoy!