What is the Paleo diet?
A paleo diet is a whole-foods approach loosely based on ancestral practices. It's a diet that goes back to a time before what we now call modern agriculture or farming. It includes nutrient-dense sources of protein, fats and plants that our bodies were made to digest, such as:
- Grass-fed meats
- Wild-caught fish
- Fresh vegetables
- Seasonal fruits
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In a strict definition, a paleo diet doesn't have the foods that came later in our history. Some of the modern, processed foods that contain chemical additives and preservatives include:
For a lot of people, the paleo diet is like a template to adapt to what works best for them. Many people on a paleo diet today also include some sources of full-fat dairy, such as butter, cream, yogurt or whole milk.
It's ideal if the dairy you eat or drink is from grass-fed cows. People who have dairy allergies or sensitivities don't need to include it in their diet.
What happened to me when I switched to a paleo diet was fairly dramatic. I embraced a low-carb, paleo-plus-dairy approach and lost 45 pounds without trying too hard.
I also never counted points or calories. I have more energy and feel compelled to be active and get exercise rather than having to force myself.
As for my patients, weight loss is just one of the many benefits. A low-carb or paleo diet can be truly life-changing for people with medical problems, such as:
- Metabolic syndrome (a group of health problems that can raise your chances for heart problems, like heart disease or a stroke)
- Autoimmune disease (an illness of the immune system or the part of the body that fights illness)
- Allergy, neurologic and inflammatory problems, such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome (a disorder of the large intestine), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or when stomach acid flows back toward the mouth), among others
A paleo diet can ease symptoms related to many medical problems by helping people:
- Lose weight
- Have the right blood sugar levels
- Lower blood pressure
- Raise healthy HDL cholesterol
- Lower unhealthy triglycerides
- Stop fatty liver inflammation
- Lessen the need for medications for health problems
- Benefits of not eating wheat or dairy