For those who are unfamiliar with the Paleo Diet, the diet is based on the foods consumed by our ancestors during the Paleolithic era during a 2.5 million year period that ended 10,000 years ago. The belief is that by returning to our original ways of eating as hunter-gatherers or cavemen, we can take back our health and wellbeing that is rightfully ours. In general the diet consists of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, roots and meat. The foods not allowed include grains, legumes, dairy products, starches, processed foods, refined sugar/salt and alcohol. In Part 1, I gave my vegan perspective on 4 of the key aspects of the diet, 1) Consume whole fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, 2) Avoid processed foods, 3) Avoid refined carbohydrates, starches and sugars, 4) Avoid dairy products and 5) Avoid peanuts and soy products.
I will now continue with some additional pros, followed by the cons I see to this dietary approach.
6. Avoid Omega-6 Oils and Balance Omega 6/3 Ratio
Good healthy fats are an important part of an optimal health. By obtaining fat from good quality oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and fish oil, you are ensuring the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients and promoting wellbeing. However, our modern diet is way too high in Omega 6 fatty acids and lacking in Omega 3. Cooking oils which are high in Omega 6 not only further aggravate this imbalance, but when heated at high temperatures become susceptible to oxidative damage which is more dangerous than trans fats. The best oil to cook with is coconut oil. Make sure that you are getting Omega 3 from fish oil, flax seed, seaweed or other sources (good quality meat for those on the Paleo Diet).
7. Avoid refined salt
Although sodium is essential to the functioning of our bodies, there is no question that most of us have too much sodium in our diets. Processed table salt, which is 99% sodium chloride is not good for our health. However, Celtic and Himalayan sea salt both over 80 trace minerals we need for the optimal functioning of our bodies. I support the Paleo recommendation to cut salt consumption way down and avoid refined salt. However, it is important to consume some sodium in the form of a good quality sea salt. Don’t be fooled by “iodized” salt. You can also alternatively obtain iodine from kelp or supplements.
8. Only choose organic grass fed, lean meats
Even though I don’t follow or believe a meat-based diet is necessary if you are careful to obtain all the nutrients you need (including Vitamin B-12, Omega-3, and Vitamin D3) from supplementation or alternative sources, I do agree with the Paleo recommendations on the quality of meat to consume. Organic grass-fed beef is much richer in nutrients and lower in saturated fat and doesn’t come with the risks associated with antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones, GM feed, and other inhumane production tactics.
1. Consume high amounts of meat, poultry and fish
A diet heavy in animal foods is also very acidic. There is no question that an acidic diet causes the spleen, liver, heart and kidneys to get overworked. This can lead to a host of health problems including chronic conditions that flourish in an acidic environment such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other. For this reason its extremely important to find the acid/alkaline balance, which generally means consuming a lot more vegetables than meat. Animal protein is also generally much more difficult to digest than plant protein. Although saturated fat is healthy in some forms (such as coconut oil), too much saturated fat in the diet from animal sources also contributes to disease. Additionally, there are many problems associated with factory raised chicken and grain-fed beef, beginning with the antibiotics and growth hormones they are injected with. If one becomes lazy on the Paleo Diet in seeking out the best quality meat sources, their health will suffer. Finally, there is no question that most of the fish and shellfish contain mercury and other pollutants that can be damaging to our health. The only fish I would recommend consuming if I were a meat eater, is wild caught varieties from clean waters. I do however support supplementing with a good quality fish oil for obtaining Omega 3 fatty acids.
2. Avoid gluten-free whole grains
Although I mentioned in part 1 that I wholeheartedly support the elimination of refined carbohydrates and gluten containing grains, I do not feel that we should also eliminate gluten free, low-glycemic grains such as quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, brown rice and millet. Quinoa for example is a complete protein, containing all amino acids. These grains are excellent for supplying quick energy and a balanced diet. Many of these complex varieties are also high in magnesium, phytonutrients, fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorous and many other important vitamins and minerals. I believe the key is balance and that each person needs to understand their unique physical make-up to determine the appropriate amount of gluten-free grains in their diet. As I’ve stated before, unused carbohydrates get stored as fat, which contributes to many of today’s health problems.
3. Avoid all beans
The Paleo Diet does not permit the consumption of any legumes/beans. The belief is that they are anti-nutrients due to their lectin and phytic acid content that don’t allow for the absorption of nutrients from accompanying foods. Due to the difficult digestibility of beans (FODMAPs), they may irritate the digestive system and promote autoimmune disorders. Overall, because beans are missing an amino acid, they are said to be a poor quality protein. Although I agree that peanuts and soy are legumes that should be avoided, I do not believe the entire category should be restricted from our diet. Beans are one of the richest plant sources of protein available. They are also a low-glycemic, complex carbohydrate, providing the body with energy, essential vitamins and minerals, and antioxidant protection. Beans are low calorie (yet filling) and low-fat, beneficial for preventing and treating diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Enjoyed 2-3x per week, beans (a natural food brought to us by mother earth) provides an array of amazing health benefits. By pre-soaking beans, preparing them with a bit of spices and seaweed to aid in digestion, and eating them with vegetables rather than grains or other types of protein, you can virtually eliminate any digestive side-effects.
 (n.d.) Retrived from http://thepaleodiet.com/what-to-eat-on-the-paleo-diet/
Published On: April 04, 2013