The Paleo Diet tries to exclude foods that humans wouldn’t have eaten during the Paleolithic, or hunter-gatherer, era. That was before people farmed most of their food, so the diet bans foods that our ancestors would not have hunted or gathered: grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, refined oils, and alcohol. What’s left? Meat (preferably grass-fed), seafood, fresh vegetables (limiting starchy ones like potatoes), fresh fruits, eggs, nuts and seeds, unrefined oils, and moderate amounts of unrefined sweeteners (like lucuma powder or raw honey). Advocates of the diet say that these are the foods our stomachs are best equipped to digest-- and that like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, we’re meant to be eating only these foods for optimal health.
Weight Loss, At Least Short-Term
The Paleo diet wasn’t created as a weight-loss program-- it’s more about overall health than quickly shedding pounds. Some studies have shown promise for liver fat loss and short-term weight loss, but less for long-term.
Better Insulin Sensitivity
Studies have put both type 2 diabetics and healthy people on the Paleo diet for a short time (3 months for the diabetics and 20 days for the healthy people). The diabetics saw better blood sugar control than they had on a “diabetic diet,” and the healthy people had increased insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.
Better Lipid Profile
In two studies involving healthy sedentary adults and adults with high cholesterol, overall blood lipid profiles-- which measure cholesterol and triglycerides, among other things-- improved on the Paleo diet.
Watch Your Vitamin D And Calcium
Vitamin D and calcium are essential for bone strength, and they work together: vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans don’t get enough of either nutrient, which increases risk of osteoporosis. And several common sources of vitamin D and calcium aren’t allowed on the Paleo diet. In the United States, cow’s milk, some soy milk, and many cereals and oatmeal are fortified with vitamin D. But the Paleo diet excludes dairy, beans, and grains, so Paleo eaters can’t count on those fortified foods for their daily value. Paleo-friendly sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, mushrooms, beef liver, and several types of seafood. The most well-known sources of calcium are also dairy products. If you’re giving up dairy for the Paleo diet, make sure to find other sources, like greens and certain fish.
Tough On a Budget
Since the Paleo diet excludes some of the cheapest nutritious foods, like beans and grains, it can be hard to get the nutrients you need from Paleo foods on a tight budget. One study manipulated the Thrifty Food Plan, created by the USDA to give low-income consumers ideas for nutritionally complete meals. The researchers changed it to fit the Paleo diet, then calculated the cost. To get your recommended daily value of all essential nutrients (except calcium), you have to pay about 9% more than for the standard Thrifty Food Plan. And if you’re buying only grass-fed meat, since Stone Age animals wouldn’t have eaten human-farmed grain, the price goes up.
Paleo-Friendly Products from Blue Mountain Organics
If you decide to incorporate more Paleo-friendly foods into your diet, here are some good ideas!
My Nutty Mylk
Nuts and seeds
Nut and seed butters (except peanut butter)
Superfoods: lucuma, spirulina, and camu camu powders
Havit Raw Almond Herb Sandwich Squares
Coconut flour, butter, and oil
Cacao nibs, powder, and butter
Extra-virgin olive oil
Egg white protein