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What is the Paleo Diet?

Perhaps you’ve been to Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, or the local grocery and seen products on the aisle promoting the Paleo diet. But what is the Paleo diet? The Paleo diet reflects the food groups of our Stone Age hunter-gatherer ancestors. The diet boasts numerous benefits that can help optimize one’s health, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and even promote weight loss.

Protein accounts for only 15 percent of the average person’s daily calories. This number pales in comparison to our hunter-gatherer ancestor diet, which was comprised of 19 to 35 percent protein. Higher protein and fresh vegetable intake have a significant benefit, blood sugar stabilization. The Paleo diet consists mostly of non-starchy fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating these foods won’t spike blood sugar levels since they have low glycemic indices that slow digestion and absorption of sugar in the body.

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Dietary fiber is a necessary component to maintaining a healthy weight. That’s why having a diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables is essential to higher fiber intakes. Non-starchy vegetables and fruits can contain a more than twice the value of fiber than refined or whole grains.

Where’s all the fat? The Paleo diet attempts to replace unhealthier saturated fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that have a better balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. It’s not that all fat is bad, but it’s the type of fat that is eaten that should concern you. This diet will also reduce the number of trans fats that raises blood cholesterol levels and your risk for heart disease and cancer.

Eating all those fresh fruits and vegetables gives your body a super shot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant phytochemicals.

Vitamins are complex organic compounds that regulate certain metabolic processes in the body. They are distinctly different from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Minerals are a group of elements in Earth’s rocks, soils, and natural water sources. About 15 mineral elements have known functions in the body and are necessary for human health.

Antioxidents protect DNA from free radical damage, thus preventing potentially cancer-causing mutations from occurring.

Phytochemicals are compounds made by plants that are not nutrients. Plants made hundreds of these non-nutients. Caffiene is a popular example of a phytochemical.

Schiff, W. (2019). Nutrition for healthy living. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
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Eating fresh fruits and vegetables also improves your consumption of potassium, which is necessary for the heart, kidneys, and other organs to work correctly. The Paleo can help lower excessive sodium intake by substituting foods with more potassium.

Many foods we commonly eat yields either a net acid or alkaline load to our kidneys. Excessive dietary acids can result in bone and muscle loss, high blood pressure, an increased risk for kidney stones, and aggravates asthma. Paleo-approved fruits and vegetables produce alkalines can reduce the risk of chronic disease.

The Paleo Diet is based on seven fundamental characteristics of hunter-gatherer diets that help to optimize your health, minimize your risk of chronic disease, and lose weight.
Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash

Here’s a quick list of the seven fundamentals we’ve covered!

  • Higher protein intake
  • Lower carbohydrate intake and lower glycemic index
  • Higher fiber intake
  • Moderate to higher fat intake dominated by monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with balanced Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats
  • Higher potassium and lower sodium intake
  • Net dietary alkaline load that balances dietary acid
  • Higher intake of, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plat phytochemicals

For more information on the Paleo diet, visit