Previ Point of View: Paleolithic Nutrition
A Paleolithic way of eating has truly become a trend in recent years, and with all trends of course, some information gets missed or “modified.” If you are considering this type of eating pattern, these are the main principles:
The Paleolithic plan (also known as Paleo, Caveman diet, Old Stone Age diet, and Primal diet) bases itself on the presumption of what our ancestors ate before the beginning of agriculture. It theorizes that our bodies, more importantly our gastrointestinal system, has not adapted to the grains, dairy, legumes, and processed foods commonly consumed today. In general, this pattern of eating emphasizes high fiber vegetables, fruits, nuts, high-quality fat, lean, grass-fed meat, organic free range eggs, chicken and turkey, and fresh wild low-mercury caught fish and shellfish. Grains, starches, legumes, dairy products, refined sugars, processed foods, processed meats, artificial sweeteners, trans- fats, and refined vegetable oils are excluded. There are different versions of the Paleolithic diet. The most restricted version eliminates all starchy and root vegetables along with ghee and grass-fed butter. In the less restricted versions, these foods are allowed.
- Bacon: Processed meats are not encouraged on a Paleolithic plan; therefore bacon (sausage, deli meats) are not a suitable option. Sorry Paleo bacon lovers! If you’re staying true to the foundation of Paleolithic nutrition, our ancestors were likely not eating bacon and sausage- just saying.
- Excess Protein, Low Carb: Another common belief is that Paleolithic is a high-protein and low- or no-carbohydrate diet. Paleo does not imply increasing your protein consumption to any higher level than what would be recommended for general health. All refined carbohydrates are discouraged, while whole vegetables are encouraged. Depending on your lifestyle, your sources of carbohydrates may need to be modified (i.e. allowing root vegetables and/or legumes).
- Protein is Protein: Well…yes and no. The quality of your protein sources matters. Nutritionally speaking, organic grass-fed beef, organic free range poultry and eggs, and wild caught seafood strongly differ compared to their conventional counterparts that have been fed a processed diet (i.e. soy, corn) and raised unsustainably. Aside from nutritional content, the importance of choosing high quality protein sources is what you are not getting- you know all the pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals (etc., etc.) that are all toxic to our bodies.
All in all, it could be that the positive outcomes from a Paleolithic style of eating may have more to do with avoiding consumption of refined/processed foods that are known to promote inflammation in our bodies, and focusing on eating more fruits, vegetables, and quality fat and protein sources to promote anti-inflammatory benefits. At the end of the day, there is not one Paleolithic type of plan out there nor is there one “diet” that is right for everyone. Whether you are staying true to Paleo “roots” or implementing a modified version of this plan, flexibility is key.
So Paleo enthusiasts and disbelievers alike, let’s be civilized primitives and take the Paleolithic plan for what it is- one type of eating pattern that aims to optimize wellness by encouraging whole foods. Whether it is the right eating style for you or not is something that a nutrition expert can help you decipher. We encourage working with one of or PreviMedica nutritionists to ensure you are receiving adequate nutrition from your current eating pattern, while addressing your goals and health needs.
Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.