Not a Diet
The core support for this way of eating comes from contemporary biology, physiology, and biochemistry, even though the initial insight leading to the Paleo diet was gleaned from studies of Paleolithic man and both modern and historically-studied hunter-gatherers. There are thousands of scientific studies that evaluate how components in foods interact with the human body to promote or undermine health. These are the studies used to form the base of the Paleo diet.
Happily, there’s a lot of wiggle room in the Paleo diet. It encourages you to experiment so that you can figure out not just what makes you healthiest, but also what makes you happiest and fits into your schedule and budget. There are no hard and fast rules about how much protein versus fat versus carbohydrates to eat and when to eat. There are even foods (examples: high quality dairy, potatoes) which some people choose to include in their diets – whereas others do not.
The Paleo diet is not really a "diet". It is a way of life. It is not a difficult diet that requires a great deal of willpower and self-deprivation in reach of some predetermined goal. Because the real goal of the diet is long-term health and the long-term rethinking of your way of eating, the Paleo diet allows for imperfection.
It gives you the flexibility to experiment to discover what is optimal versus what is tolerable and to find what works best for your body, long-term. Sustainability is an important concept of the Paleo diet, meaning that this is a way of eating and living that you can commit to and maintain for your entire life. For most people, flexibility is achieved by following an 80/20 rule (or a 90/10) rule, which means that 80% (or 90%) of your diet is made up of healthy Paleo foods and the other 20% (or 10%) is not. Many people find they are healthiest and feel best when their 20% (or 10%) continues to avoid the most researched-confirmed inflammatory foods such as wheat, soy, peanuts, pasteurized industrially-produced dairy, and processed food chemicals.
What to eliminate
The foods that are eliminated in a Paleo diet are the ones that that are difficult to digest (which can cause gut health problems and contribute to gut dysbiosis
), and have the ability to stimulate inflammation or mess around with important hormones. It also eliminates those foods that provide our bodies with very little nutrition (especially for the amount of energy they contain).
Typically, a Paleo diet will exclude:
- grains and pseudo-grains/non-gluten grains
- legumes (legumes with edible pods like green beans are fine)
- dairy (especially pasteurized industrially-produced)
- refined and processed foods (including refined seed oils like canola and safflower, refined sugars, and chemical additives and preservatives)
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