A Nutritionist’s Opinion on the Paleo Diet

One of the questions I got from Facebook was what I thought about the Paleo Diet.  Great question!  Before I dive in, let me define what the true Paleo Diet is.

“The Paleo Diet is based on eating foods that our ‘hunter-gatherer’ ancestors would have eaten prior to the Agricultural Revolution.”  

The Paleo Diet is based on the following principles:

  • High protein content
  • Lower carbohydrate intake
  • High fiber intake
  • Moderate to high fat intake with a focus on the proper balance of Omega 3:6 (2:1) and moderate saturated fat intake
  • Extreme focus on fruits & low starch vegetables

The Paleo Diet prohibits the following foods:

  • All Grains (high lectin content)
  • All Legumes (including peanuts) (high lectin content)
  • Processed oils (unnatural, oxidizing)
  • Refined sugars
  • All processed foods
  • All Dairy Foods
  • Full fat Feed-Lot Raised Cattle

This way of eating eliminates foods that contain ‘lectins’, which are found in high quantities in grains & legumes, because lectins can damage the intestinal lining, leading to many autoimmune disease (arthritis, celiac, diabetes).  Archeological records show that hunter-gatherers were typically free of the Western world’s disease and illness as we know it today until after the Agricultural Revolution, when legumes, dairy and grains became a staple of the modern diet.

The Pros

In my opinion, there are plenty of pros to the Paleo diet.

I’m a big advocate of keeping your blood sugar in check, through a low sugar/carbohydrate diet.  Paleo follows these principles.   It is often very successful in treating cardiovascular disease, diabetes, (even type 1 if caught early), obesity, metabolic syndrome, psychological disorders, cancer, and autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, MS and rheumatoid arthritis.

Secondly, it focuses on whole foods, particularly fruits & vegetables, which is always something a nutritionist believes in.

The Cons

The main con that I see with the Paleo diet is that people believe they are at liberty to eat whatever meat they want, and that it’s ok to have it at every meal.  The true Paleo principal is to eat grass-fed, organic meat, not just any store bought steak or bacon.  The reason for this is that animals that are grain-fed (not grass fed), have much higher levels of pro-inflammatory fats (Omega 6), while grass-fed animals tend to have lower pro-inflammatory fats and higher anti-inflammatory fats.  Confused?  Hopefully not! The main point is you need to be eating high quality meat when you’re on the Paleo diet.

Another con is that if you are vegetarian, you will find it a VERY restrictive diet and likely next to impossible to follow properly, while still getting enough nutrients and calories.

Lastly, not all legumes are bad or hard on the digestive system.  Soaking your nuts and legumes (for another post) activates the enzymes to make them much easier to digest.

In summary, the main principal a Holistic Nutritionist follows is that no one diet works for everyone.  The same thing holds for the Paleo diet.  If you try it out, and feel amazing (great energy, great sleep, great digestion, no cravings), then I’d stick with it!  However, some people feel better eating vegetarian, and with more (healthy) grains in their diet.

What are your thoughts and experiences about the Paleo Diet?  Please share below.

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