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What Is Paleo? A comprehensive Guide To Paleo Diet

July 25, 2018

What Is Paleo? A comprehensive Guide To Paleo Diet

What is Paleo?

Paleo is a diet that is largely based on nutritient-rich plant-based foods and lean meats for optimal health and longevity.

A 'Paleo diet' acts as a guideline that firmly focuses on the foods that were consumed by ancestors during the famous Paleolithic period, emphasizing eating foods that are naturally occuring and unprocessed in an effort to preserve the natural nutrition and health benefits of the plant-based foods and lean meat incorporated into the diet. To this same point, paleo promotes consuming food in it's purest form and removing heavily processed foods that are often filled with excessive amounts of additives, sugars, and unhealthy fats, and replacing it with food that nourishes the body and the soul to allow for optimal health.

Foods To Include In A Paleo Diet

If you want to give paleo diet a try, that means placing a greater focus on the fresh, whole foods that contain natural fats as mentioned. Some of these whole foods to consider include:

Fruits and Vegetables

There is a multitude of benefits that come from incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your daily lifestyle, with a big benefit being that fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that help the body fight degenerative diseases like diabetes, cancer, and neurological decline. A few recommended fruits to include cantaloupe, mangoes, strawberries, and figs.

For vegetables, it is advised that when looking to follow the paleo diet to focus on non-starchy varieties like onions, peppers, asparagus, celery, spinach, carrots, parsley, eggplant, broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, and pumpkins. Starchy vegetables include butternut squash, yam, sweet potato, corn, sweet potato, and beets. One of the the first rules of the paleo diet is to eat a lot of diverse vegetables. You can also try fermented vegetables to enjoy the probiotic benefits they have.

Seafood And Fishes

seafood

If you want to dive deep into the sea for a bite, then the types of foods to consider include, crawfish, shrimp, clams, lobsters, scallops, oysters, and crayfish.

Seafood and assorted fish have a high nutrient density per calorie. They are also great sources of omega-3 acids that have been known to reduce one's risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, red snapper, sunfish, tuna, tilapia, swordfish, shark, bass, and trout are recommended when following the paleo diet and lifestyle. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients.

Focus On Good Fats

There are lots of misconceptions about fats giving them a bad reputation, when in fact there are certain fats that are essential for proper nutrition. Not all fats are created equal.   Saturated fats are vital and play a key role in the body. In fact, they make up about half of the structure of the cell membrane. They also improve the absorption of calcium and enhances immune functioning.

The good thing about saturated fats is that they don’t raise your cholesterol level. In a paleo diet, you need some fats to help the absorption of vital vitamins such as A, D, E and K. It is important to note that highly processed seed oils and trans fats are not recommended in a paleo diet.

According to a paleo diet, poly-unsaturated fats like Omega-6 fats should be consumed in moderation. Remember that you only need fats that your body cannot produce.

The best fats and oils that are recommended for a paleo diet include coconut oil, avocado oil, macadamia, olive oil, ghee, and grass-fed butter. The body requires energy, and according to a paleo diet natural fats and oils are the most preferred sources.

Go For High-Quality Lean Meat

If you are a vegetarian, then paleo diet may not suit you, because a paleo diet highly encourages compliementing your fruit and veggies with chicken wings, juicy steaks, lamb chops, liver and fish as previously mentioned.

Organic meats are rich in nutrients and liver is actually one of the most nutrient-rich foods that you could prioritize. Additionally, focusing on grass-fed beef rather than grain-fed in essential whether you are following the paleo diet or not.

Research shows that grass-fed beef contains high fat-profile compared to grain-fed. Grass-fed meat is rich in omega-3 fats and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). They also tend to have more vitamins such as A and K and minerals such as iron and potassium. Other quality meats to consider include pork, poultry, and free-range beef selections. Game animals like venison, quails, and bison are also preferred. Other proteins such as eggs can be considered but the recommendation is that you should not exceed six in a week.

Some Seeds And Nuts

Nuts and seeds are great paleo foods, but are advised to be consumed in moderation. Nuts such as cashews, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds are great inclusions for the paleo lifestyle.

Foods To Avoid In A Paleo Diet

Processed Grains

Wheat and other processed grains and legumes like beans and peanuts aren’t recommended. Sandwiches, bread, toast, pancakes, hash browns, English muffins, corn, and corn syrup are not advised when following the paleo diet.

Dairy Products

Another category that is advised against when following the paleo diet is dairy, one that is often hard for many (who doesn't love ice cream now and then?!). Dairy products such as cottage cheese, cream, powdered milk, yogurt, pudding, low-fat yogurt, dairy spreads, ice cream, and butter are not part of the paleo path as they can tend to be heavily processed.

Soft Drinks

Soft drinks such as Coke, Sprite, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and other types of soda pop are packed with lots of sugar and fructose, which are not part of a balanced diet or lifestyle, are not included on the paleo diet. Artificial sweeteners are also not recommended. If you must sweeten your food, the recommendation is to use maple syrup, honey, or Stevia.

Fatty meats are also not paleo-friendly foods. Hot dogs, spam, and other low-quality meats should be avoided. Foods that are high in sodium should also be avoided. Energy drinks, alcohol, starchy vegetables, snacks, and sweets aren’t Paleolithic.

The paleo diet comes with several health benefits; and depending on your condition, the most common benefits that paleo diet delivers include improved blood lipids, reduced pain due to autoimmunity, and weight loss. You also enjoy reduced risks of heart attack, sugar crashes and stroke. Studies done by CDC show that ancient hunters and gatherers had no cases of stroke or heart attack, so it is advised that following this diet similar to that one our ancestors can provide similar benefits. Since paleo doesn't recommend salty or processed foods, it could also work well for people with certain health conditions such as diabetes. A low-sodium diet is also ideal for those with high blood pressure.

Other benefits of paleo diet include reduced acne, improved athletic performance, improved energy, better sleep and optimum health.

health benefits of a paleo lifestyle

Paleo Diet Tips

Want to give it a try? Here are some tips to Guide you

  • Plan Well. Try to devour only the foods that are paleo-friendly. Anything that doesn’t fall into the above category isn’t ideal.
  • Exercise regularly. Go to the gym and do yoga. This helps you to build muscles and strengthen your bones.
  • Try to de-stress your body by doing nature walks, meditations and breathing techniques and more.
  • Let family members and friends know about it. They can support you on your paleo journey where possible.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This helps to eliminate feelings of tiredness and hunger.
  • Start slowly. Understand your diet needs and triggers. With time, you’ll adopt the right routine.

Pros of Paleo

  • You learn several recipes and how to cook.
  • You enjoy a happier mood, lose weight, look healthier and enjoy other long-term health benefits.
  • You learn how to read and interpret various food labels.
  • You relax and de-stress your body.
  • You get to understand your mind and body more.

Cons of Paleo

Paleo can be hard to stick to, but just like anything, it takes time and dedication. If it works for you, keep going!

Conclusion

Following a paleo diet, just like our Paleolithic ancestors, means focusing on foods that are naturally deriven from plants and lean meats.

On a paleo diet, you enjoy a multitude of health benefits such as weight loss, increased energy, reduced diseases and optimal health. The above is a paleo diet guide and tips on how you can get started!

 

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