When doing an internet search on Paleo Diet topics, I often get results that are spammy in nature. Link after link tells half truths about the Paleo Diet by people trying to sell a Paleo cookbook or some other product. Often, these people have never read any anthropological literature or any real information about the Paleo Diet.
To help dispel some myths, here are the seven keys to the Paleo Diet as written by Loren Cordain Ph.D. and author of The Paleo Diet. He is the creator of the Paleo Diet. Cordain’s work is the result of an analysis of the daily food intake of hunter gatherer societies. After running hundreds of different analyses on every dietary component at varying intake amounts, Cordain realized that these seven dietary characteristics consistently emerged in each analysis.
- Eat fewer carbohydrates than what is recommended in the modern western diet. The carbohydrates you do eat should come from fruits and vegetables, not grains, starchy tubers or refined sugars.
- Eat a higher proportion of animal protein than the typical western diet. About 55% of your calories on the Paleo Diet come from lean animal protein sources.
- Eat a large amount of fibre from non starchy fruits and vegetables.
- Eat a diet with a net alkaline load. An acidic body environment creates negative effects on the body at the cellular level and people with acidic body chemistry are prone to fatigue.[i] All fruits and vegetables are alkaline forming and sea greens are very alkaline forming. Meat on the other hand is acid forming, so you need to make sure that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to maintain the net alkaline load.
- Eat foods with low sodium content and high potassium content. Potassium helps to maintain hydration. Proper hydration enables optimal heart function, muscle contraction and nerve impulse stimulation. Excess sodium causes dehydration. Foods high in potassium include leafy green vegetables and most fruits. Bananas and kiwis are particularly high in potassium.
- Eat a moderate amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Eat nearly equal amounts of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats. Minimize the amount of saturated fat you eat. Cold water fish are high in Omega 3 fats as are Paleo friendly oils like olive or avocado.
- Eat foods rich in plant phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Phytochemicals also known as phytonutrients are plant compounds that boost the immune system and offer health benefits independent of its nutritional value.[ii] Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and green tea are excellent sources of phytochemicals.
If you plan to follow the Paleo Diet, you need to implement these seven keys if your lifestyle change is going to be successful. While getting a Paleo cookbook or two will help you to create Paleo recipes, they won’t help you understand why you are eating the way you are. Knowledge and education is power. By understanding the seven keys to successful Palaeolithic eating, you will always be able to make smart eating decisions.