The paleo approach – should we look backwards to move health forwards?
There’s no mistaking that Palaeolithic-style nutrition is a hot health topic. Lauded by people with varying lifestyles, from those in remission from illness to professional athletes alike, the modern paleo diet picks up on dietary principles from the past.
It’s fair to say that refined sugar and processed, fat-laden products that contribute to collective suboptimal health are not ancestral foods. Commercially prepared nutrient poor options that provide little other than empty calories are not recommended by nutrition experts, regardless of dietary persuasion. Therefore, with the paleo objective being to eat clean by incorporating whole plant foods and lean proteins, there’s plenty of scope for it being personalised to provide valuable guidance, especially in a gluten and /or dairy free scenario.
There are numerous options on the paleo spectrum. In some circles, the true way is to eat predominantly vegetables and fruit, with meat and seafood in moderate amounts and nuts and seeds included at the top of the food pyramid. Other perspectives allow for a more moderate approach.
The diet plan embraces the principles of a higher protein and lower carbohydrate intake. It promotes high fibre but not via the consumption of whole grains and heralds a higher intake of monounsaturated fats and Omegas 3 and 6. Potassium is an integral part of the plan, while sodium is mainly side-lined. Followers are encouraged to balance dietary acid and alkaline and increase their intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant phytochemicals.
Aiming for a colourful plate increases your chances of including a wide range of those vitamins and minerals vital for maintaining optimal health. With plant-based power highly regarded and vegetables a crucial component of the diet, be inspired by seasonal ingredients.
Investing in a slow cooker is a useful way to experiment. Different types and cuts of meat can provide distinct selections of nutrients. Don’t forget our ancestors would have been extremely efficient, eating fish for example from nose to tail.
Supporting your gut is fundamental to health. Get liberal with therapeutic herbs and spices, which also support your body’s natural detoxification processes. Consider the healing properties of bone broth for collagen production.
Aiming for optimal health needn’t negate the occasional tempting treat! From paleo pancakes to muffins, many companies provide nutritious gluten-free flours and low-carb, protein-rich bread and cake mixes that deliver on the paleo diet principles without deprivation.
By YGF’s registered Nutritional Therapist:
Andrea Carroll Langan MSc BSc mBANT CNHCreg
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