Paleo Power: How Eating Like Our Ancestors Could Boost Your Health

Critics of the paleo diet often complain about its trendiness and seemingly arbitrary rules about what you can or can’t eat. What they miss is that the basic principles of the paleo diet can make just about anybody healthier.

The Benefits of Basics

The first thing to note is that the paleo diet gets you back to eating basic, real, nutritious food and cuts back on the nutrient-poor processed items that many Americans eat day after day. By eating more foods that don’t come prepared with added sugars and damaged fats (like hydrogenated oils), you can lower your risk of health problems like obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Fresh vegetables possess disease-fighting capabilities that you can never get from packaged snack foods.

Cook Your Own Food

The fact that paleo necessitates cooking most of your own food also represents a positive step toward better health. Fresh-food cooked at home has fewer additives and more phytonutrients from vegetarian foods than anything you can get at a fast-food emporium that’s often laden with unhealthy additives and ingredients. Cooking for yourself may take a bit more time and effort, but the benefits for your long-term health are well worth the investment.

Say Yes to Healthy Fats

At the same time, the paleo diet embraces the consumption of healthy fats. Those fats help you absorb more nutrients from your fruits and vegetables and help protect you against cancer and heart disease. As nutrition expert Janet Helm says: “Paleo is not a low-fat diet. In fact, it celebrates certain fats. For too long, people thought all fat was bad, so I’m glad to see the emphasis on olive oil, nuts, and avocado.”

Switching from heavily processed vegetable oil to more natural sources of fat can lead to significant improvements in your overall health. On the other hand, avocados, wild-caught fish, and grass-fed meats have fats that improve health, don’t hurt it.

Eat More Egg Yolks and Nuts

And the fact that paleo allows you to eat healthy fats means that paleo eaters are consuming more egg yolks. Tests of the effects of the nutrients in yolks show that it can help heart health and actually improve your cholesterol. Along with eggs, paleo allows you to eat nuts every day (but not peanuts, which, technically, are considered to be legumes that are off-limits). Nuts have been shown to benefit heart health and improve the workings of your brain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, eating nuts as part of a healthy diet may be good for your heart, as it helps lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation.

Keep on Walking

Together with all the helpful dietary advice, the paleo lifestyle also advocates plenty of strenuous exercise. A wide range of research shows how a diet filled with fruits and vegetables combined with consistent physical activity can lower your risk of many diseases. And the exercise doesn’t have to be wildly tiring. Fast walking is plenty good enough.

As the American Heart Association recommends, aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity to promote heart health and lower your risk of several diseases.

Part-Time Paleo

So even if you don’t want to stick to a strictly paleo diet and lifestyle, benefits and weight-loss can be had by being part-time paleo. Just incorporating some of the fundamental principles of the paleo diet into your eating habits can lead to positive health changes and help you shed excess weight. Opting for healthy fats, home-cooked meals, fresh produce, and regular exercise as recommended by the paleo approach can provide a great foundation for long-term health and wellbeing.