The Paleo Template
The Paleo diet is based around eating foods that our Palaeolithic ancestors would have consumed. The Palaeolithic period started 2.6 million years ago and ended around 10,000 years ago. This is when we moved into the agricultural era that we are in now.
Although many of the foods around during the Palaeolithic period are not actually around today, the basis of it is homosapiens (that’s us) consumed a diet made up of organic meat & offal, vegetables, nuts & seeds and a moderate amount of fruits.
Now, your die hard Paleo followers believe that our digestive system is simply not cut out to digest grains, dairy & legumes.
Although this is not entirely true, some cultures have adapted over the years by way of certain gut flora (bacteria) to aid in the breaking down of their most common found foods.
It is true however, that the introduction of grains and pasteurised cow dairy are now proven to be linked to many modern day illnesses.
The Problem with Grains
Grains are a gut irritant and nutritionally poor. Particularly damaging is gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, spelt and rye amongst other things.
Gluten comes from the Latin word for ‘glue’, which is exactly what it does; it glues ingredients together to form foods such as bread, pasta, cous-cous and also many refined and processed foods.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance include:
- Diarrhoea, stomach cramps, bloating & gas
- Brain fog
- Autoimmune disease (MS, Lupus, Psoriasis, RA, Colitis and Hasimoto’s thyroiditis)
The Problem with Dairy
Pasteurising cow dairy involves heating the milk to 145-150F and keeping to there for at least half an hour. This process changes the structure of the milk proteins into something far more harmful. It also strips away lactase, the digestive enzyme the body needs to break down lactose; the sugar found in dairy.
Illnesses related to pasteurised dairy include:
- Diarrhoea, stomach cramps, bloating & gas
- Heart Disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
The Problem with Legumes
Legumes (beans, peas, lentil and peanuts) naturally contain various anti-nutrient factors.
Whilst in small amounts and with traditional preparation such as soaking or fermenting, legumes should not cause problems in healthy people. People with digestive problems or autoimmune on the other hand may find them very problematic.
You can read more in this article ‘Plants Bite Back’ about some of the following anti-nutrients found in legumes:
- Protease inhibitors
- Gut Irritants
Paleo – The Misconception
For ‘non-paleo’ people, the paleo way of eating is often misconstrued. You may have read or heard about paleo and be under the impression that following a paleo protocol is all about eating meat until it comes out of your ears, whilst eliminating just about every other food group.
This is just not true.
To be honest, many people following a paleo way of eating are also getting it a bit out of context by;
Shovelling bags of nuts down their throats
Nuts, like legumes, also contain phytates and lectins. It is a bit double standard to cut out legumes for this reason and then eat bags full of nuts! Nuts are not particularly nutrient dense and can be problematic for many people.
That being said, nuts are very tasty and if you tolerate them and have no underlying health issue – having a few nuts every now and then is not going to hurt, especially when you are out and about and in need of a quick snack.
Loading up on grain/dairy free goodies
Yes the dairy & grain free treats found on most paleo blogs (including mine) are great. They should not however be consumed on a regular basis. Most of the recipes are often high in sugar, normally fructose from honey, which will have a negative impact on your insulin levels.
Treats are just that, a treat. Once a week or on special occasions – fill your boots. Otherwise, keep them to a minimum.
Eliminating all starchy carbohydrates
Paleo does not mean ‘low carb’. Yes there is a place for low carbohydrate diets and a lot to be said for getting the body into ketosis. There are numerous health complaints that do very well on a ketosis protocol.
Athletes or very active people need some starchy carbohydrates.
The starchy carbohydrates allowed on paleo are sweet potatoes, yams and squashes. All of these are loaded with nutrients and can aid in glycogen refuelling, an essential part of optimising recovery and performance.
My Paleo Template
For me, I have found that using paleo as a template with me and my clients – brings outstanding results.
When you tune it in and get it right for the individual, you simply can’t beat it.
Now let me tell you why…
I will some it up in two words ‘Nutrient Density‘.
This is where we need to be, we need to be making sure that our personal nutrition is made up of the most nutrient dense foods available. Although these vary depending on your current health, activity level and personal choices; the most nutrient dense foods are 100% paleo!
When using paleo as a template, the first thing we do is eliminate any foods that are: nutritionally poor, anti-nutrients and also problematic to many health complaints.
- Damaging fats – vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats
- Artificial sweeteners – Aspartame being the worst!
- Refined and processed foods – sweets, pastries, cakes, crisps & fizzy drinks etc
Increase the most nutrient dense foods
Organic grass fed meat, corn fed chicken, wild fish; omega 3 eggs and organ meat are THE most nutrient dense foods you can eat.
Animal meat and organs are loaded with good fats, complete proteins and more vitamins & minerals than you can shake a stick at!
Notice the emphasis on the quality of meat. There is a vast difference between pastured, wild and organic meats nutritionally compared to the poor quality of grain fed cattle, farmed fish and soya fed poultry.
But you said it’s not all about meat?
Vegetables are an essential part of maximising your nutrient intake.
A wide variety of locally grown and organic vegetables should be consumed daily.
Leafy greens, sulphur rich and coloured vegetables all provide fibre, anti-oxidants and an abundance of vitamins & minerals to support a healthy digestive system and work on a cellular level to ensure optimum overall health.
Fruits also play a part in your diet but we are not talking about having smoothies made of bananas, apples, grapes, strawberries and pineapple in one drink – this is a whole load of fructose that we simply do not need.
1-3 servings of fruit a day is sufficient. 3 may even be on the high side for some people, especially if you are watching your weight, suffer with inflammation or have reduced insulin sensitivity.
Other Key Elements of a Paleo Template
Maximising your veggies, eating quality meats, moderate amounts of fruit and starchy carbohydrates are still only a part of the whole picture.
Some other points of a solid paleo diet…
Gut Health – This is always my main focus with any client. Eliminating problematic foods is a start but there are other components that help in restoring a poor digestive system.
Your gut health is the basis for all health.
If you are suffering from any health complaints, chances are there is something not quite right in your gut.
Sleep & Relaxation – Getting enough sleep and learning how to de-stress are vital elements. Lack of sleep and stress are both linked to numerous health complaints.
I work closely with my clients to ensure they have a positive mindset to deal with life’s stresses and suggest ways to improve there quality of sleep.
Exercise – We need to move, it is as simple as that. Our ancestors had to hunt their food and we are blessed in having great foods so readily available.
So we need to stay active and not just hitting the gym 3-4 times a week, all the time!
Spending hours on end sitting is very detrimental to your health; stand up, walk around, get outside and lap up some vitamin D, do whatever it takes to stay active.
Your body will thank you for it!
Your Paleo Template
So, everything I have said is logical, well researched and has hard evidence to back it up.
We eliminate the rubbish and increase the good stuff, simple?
No, sadly not.
As I said, this is my template for me and clients. With so many clients from elite athletes to every day healthy people to some very unwell individuals – this template needs to be put together to suit you.
With the Paleo diet we can resolve many health issues, put diseases into remission and function on a much higher level day in, day out.
Paleo foods can also be problematic!
Out of the box paleo will not suit everyone, although it is a step in the right direction. Some non-paleo foods can also be very good!
Clients with autoimmune such as MS, RA, Psoriasis and Hypothyroidism can have problems with various herbs & spices, nightshades, eggs and also nuts and seeds.
High Histamine foods can be found amongst the standard paleo list of foods and can cause problems for some people with allergies or Rosacea, when was the last time your GP asked about your diet before dishing out some anti-histamines?
Now I have said that I have opened another train of thought… GP’s!
Anti-depressants, Anti-biotic, Anti-inflammatory….
I think I will save that one for another post!
Thanks for reading, feel free to leave comments below or share with your friends!
If you want to find out about how you can restore your health, train like a machine, look like a god/goddess or simply eat a better, more complete diet; book in for a 1 – 1 consultation via Skype or in person with me and I will guide you on creating your own Paleo Template!