Paleo Diet


In a study by Dr Eaton, (1985). Paleolithic Nutrition. New England Journal of Medicine

  • Genes determine nutritional needs and our genes were shaped by what our ancestors ate
  • Many foods at foods with what our ancestors ate and our genetic makeup and this leading to modern chronic diseases
  • Restoring food choices to resemble what our ancestors ate restores our health and wellbeing

Paleo Diet composition:

  • Protein (19 to 35% / 27%), Carbohydrate (22 to 40% / 28%), Fat (28 to 47% / 37%)

Calcium, Osteoporosis and Salt

  • Calcium loss affected by blood acid-base balance: calcium used as alkaline buffer and excess acid in diet leads to calcium loss in urine. Loss of bone calcium leads to osteoporosis
  • Cereals, dairy, legumes, meat, fish and eggs worst for acid: hard cheese is the worst
  • Vegetables and fruits tend to be alkaline, especially raisins and spinach
  • Salt leads is a factor in a range of health disorders such as high blood pressure, stroke, osteoporosis due to sodium / potassium balance. Chloride in salt adds to acid load in body

Lean Protein

  • Lean protein has twice the thermic effect of fat or carbohydrate: it increases metabolism and burns calories at greater rate
  • Diet high in lean meat shown to lower homocysteine levels, improve insulin metabolism, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of stroke and breast cancer
  • Studies show the body and kidneys can easily adapt to high protein diet
  • Lean meat diet compared to vegetarian: greater energy production whilst vegetarian needs energy for digestion
  • Bone marrow as a rich source of fat

Protein-Fat balance

  • Eating too much protein (above 80%) is toxic
  • Fat is needed to balance protein and make it less toxic to the body. Vegetables and fruit provide another balance

Acid-base balance

  • Balance between acid protein sources and alkaline fruit and vegetables needed to prevent bone loss connected to high acid diet
  • High acid diet also connected to muscle loss, raised blood pressure and increased risk of kidney stones and asthma and exercised induced asthma (via constricting the blood vessels in small airways of the lungs)

Mineral deficiency due to diets high in grains, seeds, nuts and legumes

  • Phytates bind iron, copper, zinc and calcium preventing absorption
  • Lean meats are an excellent source of iron and zinc and more bioavailable (4x more than in grain or vegetable)
  • Whole grains disrupt Vit D metabolism which is needed for calcium metabolism
  • Calcium from vegetables and fruit are excellent as they are also alkaline (note cheese and dairy is acid)

Paleo diet promoted for:

  • Ability to lose weight due to high protein (and low carbohydrate intake)
  • Appetite satiety due to high protein (fat and fiber)
  • Promoting insulin sensitivity due to high protein content
  • Promoting low cholesterol and low LDL due to
    • low glycemic intake affecting arterial inflammation and AGE formation
    • low monounsaturated intake affecting lipid peroxide formation
    • omega 3 intake modulating arterial inflammation and blood clotting

Food dangers:

  • Lectins in legumes binding to tissues and causing inflammation and GI permeability
  • Alcohol and chilli peppers also cause GI permeability
  • Molecular mimicry between molecules that cross GI barrier and are attacked by immune system and body tissue may lead to auto-immune triggering
    • Contributing factors include GI bacterial dysbiosis and immune sensitivity

Paleo Lean protein

  • Grass fed beef, free range chicken – due to less grains in diet (leading to more saturated fat) and more grass (converted to omega 3)
  • Pork (especially tenderloin) and turkey as excellent sources of lean
  • Lamb as typically higher in fat
  • Organ meats and marrow as excellent sources of fats, vitamins and minerals
  • Wild game (eg buffalo) is very low in fat and needs slow cooking in liquid
  • Fish is brain food and health protective
    • Needs to be sourced from unpolluted waters (eg mercury contamination) – from urban run off, contamination can be 20x higher
    • Farm raised is typically lower in Omega 3 and taste
    • Canned fish is up to 90% lower in vitamins A, B1, B2, B6
  • Eggs need to be poached, hard-boiled or baked to avoid oxidization of fats

Basic food principles

  • No
    • Grains
    • Legumes – including peanuts
    • Dairy
    • Salt
    • Yeast, baked goods and pickled or fermented foods
    • Processed sugars
    • Starchy root vegetables (potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes)
    • Added fats (only lean meats and oils in small quantities)

Paleo exercise and lifestyle

  • 30 mins a day aerobic exercise at moderate intensity
  • Alternating hard and soft training – intense (eg strength, interval, etc) with recovery (eg stretching, yoga)
  • Incorporating cross training
  • Taking advantage of opportunities to train – climb stairs, walk to shops
  • Eat when hungry, eat the right foods and stop when not hungry
    • Reward food (like X-mas or graduation) – make food a nutritious daily event
    • Relieving boredom and low moods – with nutritious choices
    • Take one day at a time and monitor energy levels – notice what effects energy
    • Notice changes to health and problems that disappear / improvements – build on these
    • Find the keys that unlock sustainable health and enjoy

Sourced from:

Cordain, L. (2002). The Paleo Diet. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons


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