The Paleo Diet: How It Works, What to Eat, and the Risks?

What is a Paleo Diet?

The term ‘paleo diet’ has been derived from the paleolithic era of the Stone Age. The diet is basically a replica of what early humans of the paleolithic era used to eat for survival. Practically, it is not possible to know what early humans ate and to follow their eating habits but the modern paleo diet is convenient for today’s population which consists of whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, lean meat, eggs, and fish. Early humans could possibly eat these from the trees or hunt animals for food.

History of the Paleolithic Diet

The paleolithic era dates back to about 2.5 million years. Hence, foods that are processed packaged, or made by adding many ingredients didn’t even exist. This explains why the paleo diet doesn’t allow people to consume such meals that are made or processed in the industry and not grown naturally by nature.

The paleolithic diet was mentioned first by Walter L. Voegtlin, who was a gastroenterologist by profession in the 1970s. According to him, if the modern generation followed the diet of early humans, they will be healthier. This is because early humans didn’t consume foods that were grown with the help of chemicals such as fertilizers and ate raw food which was healthier than the food we eat now. Thus, their bodies were built physically healthy.

The diet gain popularity when back in 2002, Dr. Loren Cordain wrote a book on the early human diet called ‘the paleo diet: lose weight and get healthy by eating the foods you were designed to eat’. Since then, Dr. Loren Cordain has been recognized as the father of the paleo diet for her expertise in how the early human diet works.

How Does the Paleo Diet Work?

The paleo diet is based on the idea of eating like our ancestors from the Paleolithic era, who were hunter-gatherers. The diet consists of eating whole, unprocessed foods such as meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Foods that are avoided include grains, legumes, dairy products, and processed foods.

The belief is that our bodies are better suited to the foods that were consumed during the Paleolithic era and that consuming a diet based on these foods can lead to improved health and well-being. The specific effects of the paleo diet on health outcomes, such as weight loss, are a matter of scientific debate and more research is needed to understand the potential benefits and risks.

The prehistoric diet includes whatever could be eaten or hunted by the ancestors. Here is a complete guide to a paleo-friendly diet.

Fruits and Vegetables

It is no doubt that fruits and vegetables are packed with excellent nutrients that are essential for the regular functioning of the human body. The problems that most people who follow the paleo diet face are the high sugar and starchy content in some fruits and vegetables. A very simple way to tackle it would be to consume fewer fruits and vegetables that have a high content of sugars or carbohydrates.

Also, the paleo diet focuses on the diet that prehistoric humans ate so make sure to pick fresh fruits and vegetables that are mostly from organic farming practices rather than those grown industrially with the help of fertilizers.

Nuts and Seeds

These are great sources of healthy fats and fibres and so are included in the paleo diet. It is very important to note that peanuts are not considered in this diet because they belong to the legume family which is completely restricted in a paleo diet.


Meat is healthy and was hunted and cooked by early humans. It has a high content of lean protein that is essential to form and repair cells and tissues in the body. Cattle having grass-fed diets have leaner meat when slaughtered as compared to grain-fed animals. This is due to the reason that grass-fed meat is rich in omega-3 fatty acids whereas grain-fed meat is high in omega-6 fatty acids. Also, keep in mind to check whether the animal isn’t treated with antibiotics or any other chemical supplement.


Eggs are considered in a paleo diet because of their high nutritional value. Before buying eggs, remember that the paleo diet must be a mimic of the one that was consumed by early people. Hence, go for cage-free eggs rather than regular ones.

Hens that lay eggs in cages aren’t allowed to move freely and are given limited access to food and water. They are also given hormonal treatments to increase the nutritional value of the eggs. Cage-free hens roam around freely on the farm and feed as much as they want. The nutritional content of cage-free eggs is much healthier than regular eggs.

Healthy Oils

Oils are extracted from plants; hence, they are considered in a paleo diet.


As for seafood, consuming wild-caught marine food is a better choice than buying from a local market or store.


Certain foods are prohibited when considering a paleo diet such as grains, legumes, dairy products, some types of oils, soya, and flour.

Avoiding these nutritional foods may cause the risk of nutrient deficiencies or may link to an increase in the risk of certain chronic diseases in the long term since a paleo diet isn’t a well-balanced diet.

Certain problems are linked to the paleo diet such as diarrhoea or digestive disorders, fatigue, calcium and protein deficiency, low blood sugar level, and low blood pressure.

Updated on: 20-Mar-2023


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