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Everything You “Know” About Paleo is Wrong

June 11, 2014

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When you think about the Paleo diet, you probably picture a bunch of beef, right? Men and women piling their plates up with heaps of animal protein, and casting aside all other sources of nutrition. This is an incredibly common—and incredibly unfounded—belief about the Paleo diet.

Far from being all about gnawing meat right off the bone, going Paleo means consuming whole, real, unprocessed foods that nourish your body and promote optimal health! Here’s a myth-free rundown on what you will—and won’t—be eating if you opt for a Paleo diet:

Grains… who needs them? Grains were introduced to our digestive systems about 10,000 years ago, and while this may seem like an eternity, it’s actually relatively recent in the grand scheme of human civilization (archeologists estimate that modern humans have been around for about 200,000 years!). Because of this, we didn’t evolve to properly digest them. We all know what gluten can do to our bodies, but what about lectins? Lectins are a natural part of a plant’s protective mechanisms and are mostly concentrated in the seed. They can damage and destroy the cells lining your intestines, creating small holes that can lead to leaky gut. This condition allows foreign bacteria (like E. coli, yuck!) to leak into your bloodstream and causes a low level of inflammation throughout the body, which can eventually lead to tons of health issues.

Paleo and vegan diets have a lot more in common than you think. Whenever I cook a meal, the largest portion on my plate is a vegetable. Following my personal rule of 60% vegetable, 20% protein and 20% fat, you can be sure that I’m getting my daily dose of vitamins and nutrients. Like vegans, those following the Paleo diet also avoid dairy, because lactose is poorly tolerated by adults. If you’re worried about calcium, have no fear! Simply incorporate more calcium-rich foods, like leafy greens and sesame seeds, into your diet.

Superfoods are a daily priority. We all know that superfoods pack a huge nutrient punch and provide our bodies with endless benefits, so you should eat them as often as possible, no matter what diet you follow. And there are tons to choose from: avocado, coconut, goji berry, hemp seed, maca… the list can go on for days! At the top of the Paleo superfood list sits bone broth, as its gelatin and collagen can help heal leaky gut. It’s also high in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, and reduces joint pain. How’s that for a magic potion?

Last but not least, the Paleo diet is customizable to your body.Yes, there will always be those who feel the need to share their disapproval if you do not strictly adhere to the “rules” of a diet, but the best part of healthy eating is that you get to make your own choices based on your body! For example, if you can handle dairy with no side effects, by all means have raw cheese and milk once in a while. If you’re not a fan of beef, stick to poultry and fish as your protein sources. I personally enjoy adding raw goat cheese to my eggs occasionally, since I have no issues digesting it!

Even if you don’t agree with the philosophy of the Paleo lifestyle, there is one thing we can all agree on—that there is not one diet that works for everyone. If you tried to follow the Paleo diet and it didn’t work for you, ditch it and try something new! One of your main goals as a human is to find a diet that you thrive on and that makes you feel beyond your best—and experimenting with new diets and different food along the way is the fun part!

Have you tested out the Paleo diet? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below!