I just came across a website called Modern Paleo, put together by Diana Hsieh. It has a section called “modern paleo principles” with a list of 30 nutritional and lifestyle recommendations for staying healthy and avoiding disease.
If you’re looking for a good “blueprint” for health to follow, this is it. It’s one of the bests lists of this kind that I’ve seen. I agree with Diana on every point, with the exception of #30 (which is more about politics than nutrition). I also have some minor quibbles on #2/#6 (I think grains and legumes are okay in moderation when properly prepared/soaked, and I definitely think refined grains are worse than whole grains), #15 (although some nuts are high in omega-6, they are nutrient-dense whole foods with antioxidants to minimize oxidative damage), and #19 (I don’t recommend most commercial fish and cod liver oils, which are rancid, contain synthetic nutrients, or are not high enough in DHA/EPA to have a therapeutic effect).
I’m re-posting the first ten principles here with Diana’s permission. Visit this page on the Modern Paleo website to read the remaining 20 principles. Even better, Diana has included links to additional information for each principle that you can access by clicking on the “+/-” sign.
One last thing. As the saying goes, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Embrace the 80/20 rule with these principles. If you follow them 80% of the time, you’ll be on the fast track to vibrant health. An occasional ice cream or piece of bread isn’t going to kill you or reverse the positive effects of this approach. (Of course this isn’t true for those with true intolerances to dairy and gluten. In that case, 100% avoidance is the rule.)
Modern Paleo Principles: A Work-In-Progress
These principles are in a rough order of importance. If you’re overwhelmed by them, try working your way down the list slowly.
- Eat real foods, prepared well. Prepare your own food as much as you can. Beware the junk ubiquitous in convenience and restaurant foods.
- Don’t eat wheat, corn, rice, or other grains. If you choose to eat some grains, eat them sparingly and prepare them to minimize toxins, such as by sprouting and soaking. Wheat seems to be the worst of all the grains, while rice seems to be the most benign. Whole grains are not better than refined grains.
- Don’t eat sweets: avoid sugar, corn syrup, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, and artificial sweeteners. If you must have some sweetener for a dish, you might try a bit of stevia. With time, your tastes will adjust: ordinary sweets will taste cloying, but formerly bland vegetables will seem delightfully sweet.
- Don’t eat modern oils derived from grains and seeds — such as canola oil, corn oil, or soy oil. Make your own mayonnaise and salad dressing. Don’t eat fried foods in restaurants: rancid vegetable oils are standard for frying. Avoid all hydrogenated fats; they contain damaging artificial transfats. Instead, use liberal amounts of animal fats — like butter, ghee, lard, and tallow — as well as unrefined coconut oil and olive oil. (Reserve your bacon grease: it’s delicious rendered lard!) Do not fear saturated fat: it’s healthy, including for your heart.
- Don’t eat soy. Some fermented soy might be okay, if tolerated. However, all soy is goitrogenic and contains estrogen-mimicking hormones.
- Don’t eat beans and other legumes. If you choose to eat some legumes, eat them sparingly and prepare them to minimize toxins, such as by soaking them.
- Watch your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, as well as your total omega-6 intake. Most people eat far too much omega-6, both absolutely and relatively. Today, the average ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in Western diets is 17:1, but the ideal ratio looks to be between 2:1 and 1:4. To achieve that you’ll need to limit omega-6 intake by eliminating modern vegetable oils and eating high-omega-6 nuts sparingly. You’ll likely need to supplement with high omega-3 fish oil too.
- Eat plenty of high-quality meat, preferably from pastured animals. Grass-fed meats have a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fats than grain-fed meats. Avoid meats treated with antibiotics and hormones, if feasible: the animals are likely treated better, and they taste better. Enjoy plenty of red meat. Try uncured bacon and other breakfast meats. They might not be any healthier, but they taste so much better!
- Eat eggs, preferably from pastured chickens. Eggs enriched with omega-3s are a good option too. Prefer nutrient-dense egg yolks to nutrient-poor egg whites.
- Eat fish and shellfish periodically, preferably caught wild rather than farm-raised.
Don’t forget to click here to read the remaining 20 principles!