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Foods That Are Out on Paleo

THE ELIMINATED FOODS

The foods which are inflammatory, contain more anti-nutrients than nutrients and do not support human health...

GRAINS

Grains is a huge category - and one of the most controversial. Everyone has heard of how wheat, with the gluten protein that it contains, might prove challenging to human health. But a Paleo diet removes all other grains too, for various reasons. Mostly, however, this is because grains are foodstuffs which contain both nutrients and anti-nutrients, as the plant proteins are packaged alongside the plants' defence mechanisms. These defences are there to protect the plant from consumption - and for humans these anti-nutrients can create complications with digestion, immune health and triggering inflammation. The category of grains includes rice, oats, millet, buckwheat, barley, rye, spelt, einkorn etc. This eliminates all breads, pastas, cakes, biscuits, cereals, snack bars AND THEIR ‘GLUTEN-FREE’ COUNTERPARTS which are usually entirely made with other eliminated grain starches and flours.

REFINED AND PROCESSED FATS

Fats can be saturated or unsaturated (mono- or poly- unsaturated) and this alludes to their chemical structure. Processing a fat creates the potential risk of damaging the fatty acid particles by 'oxidising' them. The more unsaturated, the more at risk these fats are for being damaged by heating because they are more 'breakable' by the heating process. Damaged fats are damaging to the body because we utilise fat to make every cell. It's a bit of an oversimplification but utilising damaged fats makes damaged cells. Refining and processing oils literally overheats and oxidises fats before they are even put into their bottle. When following Paleo (or any anti-inflammatory diet) we recommend avoiding every vegetable oil you would buy in the shops, including rapeseed and canola, corn oil, anything that says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated and all foods cooked in these oils (without honestly knowing the quality of the production). These fats are highly likely to be poorly processed, poorly stored and of absolutely questionable (potentially toxic) quality.

DAIRY PROTEINS

Dairy is excluded on a Paleo diet, specifically because of the proteins rather than the fat. So though ghee comes up as a ‘Superfood' (because it is ALL fat), dairy is a very complex category - just click the link in the above title for why dairy fat is ``IN`` and dairy proteins, and therefore milk, cheese, yoghurt etc., are 'OUT'. Paleo templates exclude all homogenised, pasteurised, commercial dairy because it is devoid of nutrients and full of antibiotics, potentially hormones and is affected greatly by the feed and pharmaceuticals fed to factory-reared animals. However, the protein of even good quality dairy can be inflammatory to certain individuals - so dairy consumption is one of the most personalised areas in Paleo.

REFINED, PROCESSED SUGARS

Sugar gets a rough deal in today's modern media. Paleo too eliminates everything that contains refined sugars and syrups etc. including white sugar, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar (as this is basically a cactus-based version of high fructose corn syrup) and anything labelled sucrose, sucrase etc. For all the nitty gritty on the sweet stuff, click the linked title. But sugar is eliminated because the metabolic and biological effects of refined and processed sugars on the human body have been shown, time and again, to contribute - in the long term - to negative health outcomes and inflammation.

LEGUMES

This category eliminates all beans, peas and pulses. This includes chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, soybean and even tamarind and all bean flours (which includes 'gram' flour, made from chickpeas and a common ingredient in middle eastern bread recipes). . This ALSO eliminates peanuts and, strictly speaking, green beans, sugar snap peas etc. This is not a grey area category, though because of individual tolerance it almost could be... MANY people are fine with legumes but many struggle with the lectins and phytates they contain (see the Gluten page linked in the title above for all about Lectins and from there, jump over to our All About Legumes page to read more). In our classification, and the Paleo template, the nutrient profile of most legumes is deemed NOT good enough to offset the anti-nutrients they supply. However, these are foods that are often reintroduced after an initial trial without them, particularly the 'easier to digest' legumes such as sugar snaps and green beans etc. See our Paleo Reintroductions page for more on this.

NON-NUTRITIVE/ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

This category eliminates xylitol, erythritol, stevia (which contains no nutrients and may even feed some ‘bad’ intestinal bacteria). It also eliminates the more commonly questioned sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame K… Whilst the non-nutritive/artificial sweetener debate is hugely controversial, at Paleo in the UK we err on the side of caution. Our full rundown of these ‘low calorie’ alternatives can be found on the page linked in the title. But when good, unrefined sugars are allowed on a Paleo template, we'd advocate that instead of sugar-like caloric and nutritional emptiness you might as well JUST EAT NUTRIENT-DENSE WHOLE SUGARS… this includes fruits, raw honey and blackstrap molasses. Studies are starting to show that artificial sugars may impact the microbiome, brain health, appetite, satiety and insulin regulation so because these ‘modern’ inventions may utterly alter innate human biology, the Paleo template advocates avoidance.

ALCOHOL

Such a shame, but alcohol is basically concentrated and fermented sugars which are technically toxic. So there is no way that alcohol can be healthy from a physiological standpoint. AND YET, as we always say at Paleo in the UK, life isn't just about food. This means that whilst metabolically speaking, alcohol isn't 'healthy', it may eventually form part of a healthy Modern Paleo lifestyle. For all about the theory behind this elimination/reintroduction status of alcohol visit the page linked from this section's title. If you want to know how best to reintroduce alcohol after temporary avoidance (which we would recommend in the first initial stages to truly gauge impact) then visit our Paleo Reintroductions page.

SOY

Soy is a tricky one, because it does have some nutritive value and it is a staple of vegetarianism. But it is also a legume, which we know is eliminated. Soy warrants further mention however because it is a heavily processed food when consumed in Western society. Soy is also highly correlated with oestrogen dysregulation and imbalance and when a food like this is highly processed (think tempeh, tofu, soy sauce, soy protein and soy lecithin) it becomes a food which can be easily consumed in excess, providing biological dysregulation and little nutrition. Soy lecithin is used EVERYWHERE as a thickener and preservative and whilst this may not be as impactful as drinking endless soya milk, it might be something you want to avoid when you embark on a Paleo lifestyle.

EMULSIFIERS, THICKENERS, PRESERVATIVES, DYES

Guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, sunflower and soy lecithin, cellulose gum – these are all additives to foodstuffs which thicken, emulsify and ‘bulk up’ the products. They can also really affect the digestive tract as either major gut irritants and dysregulators of digestive function. As for the Preservatives – if something kills bugs in food it can kill the bugs in you (also known as the microbiome). This is not a good situation. And food dyes are renowned for their effects on children, behaviourally, emotionally and on their concentration. All of these things are heavily processed and artificial. This eliminated category is everything put INTO your food that wouldn’t be there naturally or if you made it yourself. Whole foods do not need to have additives, preservatives, thickeners or colourings – even if those colourings are ‘naturally derived’. These add no nutrition to the diet and may cause more harm than we have yet identified. No matter how ‘Modern’ your ‘Paleo’, there is no place for these additives in real food.

Want all of this information in a handy e-book / PDF guide? Just fill in your email to have the full Paleo Diet Ins/Outs & Reintroductions Guide emailed straight to your inbox:
 

A WORD OF CAUTION

The ‘RULES’ pages of Paleo can read a little bit like a prescription – and they are supposed to: we are providing the basic understandings of what’s on and off the Paleo table.

However, always, always bear in mind that Paleo is a TEMPLATE – and the above ‘rules’ define the outline of this way of eating.  If you’re unsure about what Paleo really is, do read our “What Is Paleo” page, and if you’re at all confused as to “Why Paleo”, please check out our “Paleo Purpose, Macronutrients and Weight Loss” Page.

In reality all humans are different and what your ultimate “Healthful Diet” will be will depend entirely on your individual circumstances. It also must be combined with an overarching understanding of incorporating nutrition into a whole Paleo Lifestyle.

Nothing here is meant to trigger controlling, restrictive behaviours. Paleo really is designed to help you heal from inflammation and provide yourself with stable foundations from which you can experiment with and enjoy food that’s healthy and nourishing, for you.

A WORD OF CAUTION

The ‘RULES’ pages of Paleo can read a little bit like a prescription – and they are supposed to: we are providing the basic understandings of what’s on and off the Paleo table.

However, always, always bear in mind that Paleo is a TEMPLATE – and the above ‘rules’ define the outline of this way of eating.  If you’re unsure about what Paleo really is, do read our “What Is Paleo” page, and if you’re at all confused as to “Why Paleo”, please check out our “Paleo Purpose, Macronutrients and Weight Loss” Page.

In reality all humans are different and what your ultimate “Healthful Diet” will be will depend entirely on your individual circumstances. It also must be combined with an overarching understanding of incorporating nutrition into a whole Paleo Lifestyle.

Nothing here is meant to trigger controlling, restrictive behaviours. Paleo really is designed to help you heal from inflammation and provide yourself with stable foundations from which you can experiment with and enjoy food that’s healthy and nourishing, for you.