The Paleo Diet is based on the idea that the standard American diet wreaks havoc with our Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) constitutions. It claims that anyone can lose weight and regain health by eating the way our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate – the diet that “nature intended.” Our Paleolithic ancestors may have been generally leaner, more fit, and with less prevalence of disease, but there are endless other contributors to those facts that must be taken into consideration. For example, our Paleolithic ancestors walked nearly 24,000 steps per day. Today, the average American walks closer to 5,000 steps daily. It is also important to remember that our ancestors had significantly shorter lifespans and lacked the scientific knowledge to diagnose diseases related to aging such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes.
- All the lean meats, fish, and seafood you can eat
- All the fruits and non-starchy vegetables you can eat
- No cereals
- No legumes
- No dairy products
- No processed foods
The foods encouraged on the Paleo diet can be more expensive. Processed grains and dairy are widely used in prepared foods, so eating out and consuming non-perishable items may be out of the question. Also, by eliminating all grains and dairy products you are also cutting out beneficial vitamins, minerals and fiber. Because the Paleo diet eliminates important foods, it is recommended that you take a multivitamin. When diets recommend supplementing with a multivitamin this is a “red flag” that the diet doesn’t supply all the nutrients you need.
Because this diet relies heavily on whole meats, fruits and vegetables which digest slowly, it can help keep blood sugar levels more stable than a diet high in processed carbohydrates and refined sugar. High protein and high fiber foods, when compared to low-fat, grain-based foods, fill you up and may help reduce hunger between meals.
Visit MissouriFamilies.org for more information about the health risks of low-carb diets.
Contributors: Loni Stewart, MU Dietetic Intern; Mary Wissmann, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, St. Louis County, University of Missouri Extension, WissmannM@missouri.edu