Paleo diet is a simple concept. It is a shift of one’s diet to approximate the diet that humans ate during their evolution. In other words, it is an effort to eat the foods we are most adapted to eat. Evolution takes hundreds of thousands of years to evolve major adaptations to dietary changes. Although, humans have a remarkably flexible digestive system and metabolism any long-term shifts in diet away may push this flexibility to its limits resulting in disease and decreased well-being.
The great thing is that you can’t really do it wrong. It is a set of principles that one can easily incorporate to any degree you like. If you like the diet you can get more serious about it. The Paleo principles can also easily be adapted to a low carb, weight loss or Keto diet. It can also be adapted to a low lectin diet (see Dr. Gundry’s work) by eliminating all nightshades, grains, legumes and animals fed with these foods).
One paleo principle that needs special mention is that the Paleolithic diet was extremely varied. It is a hunter/gatherer diet there was minimal food storage and no refrigeration. The diet was very dependent on seasonal availability and exploiting many micro environments and their plants and animals. This variety of foods resulted in avoiding the toxins and increasing the nutrients that can result from our over-reliance on a handful of species (such as wheat and soy).
Grains and Starches: Grains were not domesticated until about 10,000 years ago, thus are somewhat foreign to the evolutionary diet. Starches are composed of glucose (sugar) molecules. Thus, generally they easily convert to sugars stressing our sugar based metabolic pathways. This can lead to blood sugar issues and diabetes. These starches and sugars can also provide too much food to yeasts and certain bacteria, throwing our flora out of balance and thereby causing lots of digestive issues and having far reaching effects on the brain and immune system. Generally, the Paleo diet is noted for reduced levels of easily converted (low glycemic) starches and especially grains (especially wheat). Grains were not domesticated till maybe 10,000 years ago. In addition to the starches grains also contain many compounds that can cause issues such as lectins (chemicals plants produce especially is seeds and skins to deter animals from eating them). Most root vegetables contain starches with low glycemic index due to being high in fiber and having starch molecules resistant to our enzymes (resistant starches – see fiber below). Thus, root vegetables are often a preferred form of starch. White potatoes are not ideal but acceptable occasionally in moderation (potato starch is too readily broken down). Some better starches are yam, cassava root or four, plantain, squash, onion, beets and carrots.
Flour: Some of the common flours that can be used instead of wheat or grain fours are cassava (ground yucca root), tapioca (yucca starch), arrowroot, coconut four (fiber), chestnut flour, and nut flours (especially almond and hazelnut).
Fruit: Fruit in excess have lots of sugars and can cause many of the same issues as in starches above. Fruits were a great calorie source in season and have some nutrients and antioxidants and fiber (see below). However, many modern fruits have been selected for size and increased sweetness. Small fruits are more nutrient dense. Brightly colored fruits are higher in antioxidants. Most berries are a better choice than large sweeter fruits. Other fruits can certainly be used in moderation. Fruit and vegetable based powders are an easy and tasty way to supplement (see below).
Sugars: Natural sugars were only found in small amounts in the Paleolithic diet. Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners are avoided. Small amounts of honey, maple syrups, dates and other dried fruit can be used in small amounts. Stevia is a good non-caloric sweetener. Erythritol and Xylitol can be used. They are natural sugar alcohols that the body can’t absorb or metabolize so they do not affect blood sugar. Similarly, the bacteria and yeasts that cause cavities and harmful biofilms in the gut can’t eat these sugars so they have an inhibitory effect on these problems.
Proteins: The main protein sources of the paleolithic diet was animals fed on grasses and wild foods. This resulted in high levels of Omega 3 oils and low levels of omega 6 oils. When this ratio gets reversed it pushes the body to increased inflammation. The omega 3s have many important functions in hormones, the cell membrane and the nervous system particularly. Eggs and dairy products should also be grass-fed. The amount of protein eaten by our paleolithic ancestors probably varied considerably at different times and locations. But generally, fish, eggs, poultry, and red meat was a vital part of most paleolithic diets. Insects and reptiles were often an important component of the diet. Most of us will forgo these foods. But cricket powder is highly nutritious, low on the food chain, and available on Amazon.
No Paleolithic groups were vegetarian or vegan and it not easy to maintain a satisfactory diet as a vegan. Eggs are a concentrated, nutritious source of protein. Dairy (see below) and protein powders made from these are available. Eggs and dairy should be grass-fed. Also, in the suggestions below is a mushroom fermented pea protein that would be a good source of plant protein for those wanting to reduce animal-based proteins.
Nuts were an important part of the paleolithic diet. They generally are a great source of minerals, protein and fats. The best nuts are filberts, almonds walnuts, macadamia, cashews, pistachios and pine nuts. Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds can all be used. These can be eaten raw. Digestibility can be increased and lectins decreased by sprouting or soaking followed by low temperature roasting.
Vegetables: The Paleolithic diet consisted of lots of green matter. The modern diet has much less vegetable matter and diversity. These greens supply vitamins, minerals, trace minerals anti-oxidants and many other compounds needed by the body.The Paleo diet was very high in vegetables. Fruit and vegetable based powders are an easy and tasty way to supplement (see below).
Legumes like grains were not probably eaten in quantity until 10,000 years ago. Like grains, they are full of anti-nutrients such as lectins. They can be eaten in small amounts of these antinutrients are reduced by pressure cooking, soaking, fermentation, etc., but only if tolerated.
Fats – MCT’s and Omega 3s: Polyunsaturated fats coming from grains and seeds were rare in the Paleolithic diet. These polyunsaturated fats can easily go rancid in the body causing many problems such as free radicals and toxic waste. The exception was omega 3 fats produced by grass and algae, and concentrated in cold water fish and to some degree in grass fed animal products (see proteins above). Mono-unsaturated fats are found in nuts, avocado and olive oils and are generally beneficial. Saturated fats also found in meat and dairy are generally healthy and a good source of energy. Confusion remains as the medical establishment taught for years that saturated fats caused heart disease. They do not. One group of fats needs special mention, Medium chain fatty acids (MCTs). These are especially found in coconuts. They are considered the healthiest fat as they are so easily converted into energy, including in the brain (which requires a huge amount of our total energy). Vegetable oils (other than olive, avocado, hazelnut and coconut) should generally be avoided.
Dairy: Dairy would have been a rare find in Paleolithic times. Yet, dairy in moderate amounts is acceptable in the forms of grass-fed animals’ butter and cream and fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir and small amounts of cheese. Do not use cow products if sensitive. Milk and Lactose containing dairy should be avoided.
Fiber and resistant starches from fruit, vegetables and roots would have been a much bigger part of the diet in Paleolithic times. These fibers slow the absorption of sugars into the blood and feed beneficial bacteria in the gut. These bacteria are essential to prevent the wrong bacteria and yeast from growing and play an important role in digestion, the immune system and the nervous system. Resistant starches are resistant to the enzymes of digestion. These starches are converted to sugars much more slowly minimizing the above problems. Fiber and resistant starches feed beneficial bacterial improving digestion, microflora, regularity and reducing small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). For this resistant they are often referred to prebiotics, and in the long run may be more important than probiotics (good bacteria cultures). Resistant starches are common in many root vegetables, such as yam and cassava. Glucomannan is one such starch found in Konjac root.
Protein and Meal Bars: These can be a great way of eating right, on the run with high quaity protein, fats and fiber and keeping carbs to a minimum.
Vegetables: The Paleolithic diet consisted of lots of green matter. The modern diet has much less vegetable matter and diversity. These greens supply vitamins, minerals, trace minerals anti-oxidants and many other compounds needed by the body.
Modern indulgences consistent with the paleo diet. Dark chocolate, coffee, tea, mate and red wine in moderation have many antioxidants.
Avoid: Over refined foods, artificial sweeteners, polyunsaturated vegetable oils (see fats above).
- Intermittent fasting: Food was not available every time we were hungry. We evolved to primarily utilize fat burning metabolism except in the short periods after meals. Eating whenever we are hungry or bored creates a lazy metabolism that predisposes us to obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome (causing high blood pressure, high blood fats, and high blood sugar and increase cardiovascular disease risk).
- Interval training: This is the occasional short bursts of extreme exercise pushing our anaerobic metabolism to the extreme. It is part of the paleolithic lifestyle as it was necessary for hunting or when being chased by predators. This type of exercise has long term positive metabolic effects.
Supplements to help with the Paleo diet:
Sign-up for Dr. Michels FullScript Dispensary:
This will allow you to set up an account, see pricing and order.
Once in the store navigate to the Catalog, then to Categories.
Then you should see the four categories right below where it says Dr. Michels Fullscript Store Categories.
Click on the Paleo-Friendly and you will see all the products listed below.
Links for the products below will work if your fullscript account is set-up and logged in.
Protein and Meal Powders
- Pure PaleoMeal Vanilla: Good tasting meal replacement with complete bovine protein, MCTs, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Pure PaleoMeal Chocolate: Good tasting meal replacement with complete bovine protein, MCTs, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- KTO-360™ Powder: Good tasting meal replacement. features collagen protein, MCTs, avocado oil, butter and fiber.
- Mycopure Golden Mild: Plant based protein (rice and pea) fermented with shitake. with mushroom extracts, minerals and turmeric.
- Mycopure Chocolate: Plant based protein (rice and pea) fermented with shitake. with mushroom extracts and minerals.
- Whole Body Collagen: Collagen for bone, joint and skin.
- WheyBasics: Highly purified, undenatured whey protein per serving in a great-tasting, naturally flavored formula.
- Egg White Protein – Chocolate: 100% derived from egg albumen, and is produced from a superior extraction process allowing for easy mixability and digestion.
- Egg White Protein – Vanilla: 100% derived from egg albumen, and is produced from a superior extraction process allowing for easy mixability and digestion.
Medium Chain Fatty Acids
- MCT Colada: Emulsified tasty MCT oil. Easily dispersed, easily absorbed. Pineapple coconut flavor.
- MCT Liquid: Pure MCT oil.
- KTO-C8 Chewables 60t: Tasty chewy treats with 500 mg. caprylic acid. Watermelon/Strawberry flavor. very low carb.
- KTO-C8 Liquid: Pure Caprylic Acid (a MCT)
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- OmegAvail Lemon Drop Smoothie: Emulsified good tasting fish oil for improved digestion and absorption
- OmegAvail Smoothie Citrus Sorbet: Emulsified good tasting fish oil for improved digestion and absorption.
- OmegAvail Smoothie Key Lime: Emulsified good tasting fish oil for improved digestion and absorption.
- OmegAvail Smoothie Mango Peach: Emulsified good tasting fish oil for improved digestion and absorption.
- OmegAvail Liquid: High quality distilled fish oil flavor (lemon flavor)
- OmegAvail Hi-Po: 1500 mg. EPA/DHA per capsule (2 softgels)
- PaleoFiber Unflavored powder: Twelve type of hypo-allergenic not irritating fibers.
- PaleoFiber® RS: Resistant starch powder from green banana and potato starch.
- Glucomannan 575mg Capsules: Soluble bulking fiber can aid in weight management, constipation, digestion.
- Glucomannan Powder: Soluble bulking fiber can aid in weight management, constipation, digestion.
Protein Bars, Meal Bars and Fiber Bars
- Chocolate Mint Fiber Bar: Delicious, high fiber bar containing a generous 14 g of dietary fiber per serving, prebiotics, no sugar.
- Ketogenic Coconut Hemp Chocolate Bar: Low carb chocolate with hemp and pumpkin seed protein, almond and sunflower butter and coconut.
- Cocommune Bar: Chocolate Coconut Bar with prebiotic fibers an no added sugar.
- EssentiaBar Double Dark Chocolate: Delicious bar optimizing the intake of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and micronutrients with whey and rice protein, omega 3 and prebiotics.
- NRG Meal Bar: Chocolate coated bar with whey protein, L-carnitine, coenzyme Q10 (ubidecarenone) and vitamin E.
- P.B. Meal Bar: Chooclate/Peanut butter bar with whey and pumpkin seed protein.
- Pure PaleoBar: A great-tasting chocolate flavored nutrition bar which features a true Paleo profile, with bone broth protein isolate, hemp protein, and pumpkin seed and coconut oil.
Fruit and Vegetable Powders
- PaleoGreens – Lemon/Lime: A great tasting food made with over 90% organic ingredients, vegetable, fruit, and berry and grass juices.
- PaleoGreens – Unflavored: A great tasting food made with over 90% organic ingredients, vegetable, fruit, and berry and grass juices.
- Paleo Reds – Strawberry: Great tasting fruit powder. Over a dozen fruits and vegetables and their phytonutrients from the red/purple group, 80% organic and antioxidant rich.