This is a common question I hear when people are considering trying a “paleo” lifestyle. “If I eliminate grains, legumes and dairy, will I get the nutrients I need? And will my kids get the nutrients they need?”
YES! And then some.
There are NO essential nutrients in grains, legumes or dairy that we can’t find in paleo-friendly foods. In fact, many nutrients are found in more concentrated amounts due to the nutrient dense foods that are emphasized. A paleo way of eating can certainly provide the nutrients we need, and coming from well raised sources, our body knows how to use them well.
Nutrient benefits of paleo foods:
- More bang for your buck! Calorie per calorie, meats, seafood, veggies and fruits are more nutrient dense than grains, legumes, milk and processed foods.
- Plenty of fiber from vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Check out Chris Kresser’s “Myths and Truths about Fiber“
- A balanced omega-6 (pro-inflammatory) to omega-3 ratio (anti-inflammatory).
- Vitamin and mineral consumption is far above the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake). Calcium is one exception, which will take a closer look at in an upcoming post.
- Rich in antioxidants (substances that help protect against free radical damage to our cells) and phytochemicals (compounds in plants that have health promoting benefits).
Robb Wolf has a great post, “Kids, Paleo and Nutrient Density,” that I recommend you check out.
‘Paleo’ is often lumped in the same category as the Atkins Diet, referred to as a no- or low-carb way of eating, and criticized for it’s elimination of necessary “food groups.” In my opinion, ‘paleo’ is not a “diet” at all, it’s more accurate to refer to the Standard American Diet as an excessive carbohydrate diet (link), and we should be much more concerned with getting plentiful nutrients from whole foods rather than eating fortified food products that someone has categorized into a “food group.”
Which plate looks like it contains more “nutrients”? The one that is all too common in America today, or the “paleo-friendly” option?
Remember, there are many ways to “eat paleo.” It’s not a simple prescription stating that if you cut out grains, legumes and dairy you’ll be a picture of health! That’s step one. Step two involves testing tolerable foods and adding in healing foods. Step 3 is about fine tuning and adopting a plan that is sustainable for you.