What is a Primal/Paleo Diet? DaiaSolGaia’s Thoughts…

by Ravi

Ravi and Jack eating out...

We realized that we didn’t have a post detailing what we would describe as paleo-primal type diets. Paleo-primal diets rely heavily on anthropological data and the accompanying assumptions with physiological and biological tidbits thrown in… and mix. The result is that we all have our opinions of the details while there are some central tenants that paleo/primal eaters agree on.


We have noticed a huge percentage of the people getting down and dirty discussing, researching and speaking for the paleo diet are very well educated and articulate. Many are practicing physicians that are applying these principles with astounding success with their patients. And also, many are scientists and nutritionists that are exploring the new discoveries that the foods we eat actually turn on and off different genetic “switches” and that combination of on and off genes dramatically affects our health and well being – much like the proper on/off of binary code “switches” are the basis for all computer programming.  We are literally re-programming our genetic potential for success (good health, long life) rather than failure (diseases, imbalances and early death).

Basic (mostly) unchallenged tenets of the Paleolithic (primal) Diet:

– We evolved either to eat meat or because we ate meat – different viewpoint details abound.

– We ate more meat than anything else, provided it was available/obtainable.

– We ate a very wide variety of meats (and other foodstuffs) and we ate most if not all of the parts of the animals we acquired – the selecting factor of foodstuffs being availability.

– We foraged mostly when convenient (passing a berry bush) or for survival (when meat was scarce).

– We ate eggs, sometimes abundant and easily obtainable, sometimes the nests were pretty high – either way, it would seem that eggs were probably prized because of taste and nutritional value (intuitively/experientially understood).

– When foraging for survival, any and all edible things able to be found (and known not to kill you) were consumed in varying amounts – basically depending on how hungry you were- edible roots and tubers, berries, fruits, nuts, eggs, insects, and leaves/grass.

– I personally believe that the paleo purists contention that dairy is non-paleo is false. Somewhere much further back than conventional anthropology dates goat domestication, about 10k years ago, I believe we captured and kept goats (who easily traveled with our transient HG ancestors)  and started consuming dairy (goat milk products) as a significant nutritional adjunct to our diet. I also believe it was long enough ago to impact the evolutionary adaptation of at least some populations of humans.

Goat milk is markedly easier to digest and has quite some evidence of beneficial profile for human nutrients. It is also being discovered that human babies that develop allergies to cow’s milk when it has been necessary to bottle feed, tolerate goat’s milk as the better replacement by huge margins.  Please see my upcoming posts for my lengthy discussion/arguments for paleolithic dairy consumption.

I’ve chosen to create 3 levels of paleo diet adherents:

Paleo-Purist: Meat including the WHOLE animal – organs and muscle flesh, eggs, some fruit, some nuts, no extra salt (somewhat debated), no dairy, water to drink, some seeds (survival only strategy), minimal sweet anything and if so, in the form of raw honey and not too much, seafoods of most kinds (somewhat debated), fermented plant matter, the concept being that fruit and some vegetables may have been foraged after starting to ferment and decay, (translation – a beer or two…  😉 ) and that’s about it remembering that the variety of animals eaten and foraged plants was probably **very**diverse.

Paleo-Inspired/Lacto-Paleo: This is a broad category and I daresay, where most people who identify as paleo fall into. Adherence to the purist principles is not absolute – one particular promoter uses an 80/20 formula, but, you could say, 80/20 of what? I think probably the answer would be 80% of the purist line, 20% of everything else ranging from dairy and foods unknown to our ancestors and including the “cheats” of pizza, beer, non-paleo desserts and the like. Here is an *excellent* link to a very comprehensive summary of what we would term a firmly “paleo-inspired” diet from blogger Diana Hsieh.  The variations “allowed” are ones that seem not to be physiologically detrimental to our bodies and/or may even be beneficial even though our evolving ancestors may not have had access to them.

Paleo-Leaning: This would be the least paleo, and in a paleo-purists eyes, not paleo at all. However we believe that everyone is at a different point and has different needs of the moment.  We prefer to be firmly in the “paleo-inspired” eating pattern detailed above, but just adopting eating habits that include good fats, dropping refined/processed foods and reducing sugar will improve your health remarkably in the paleo direction.

If you have any comments or corrections to our not-meant-to-be-the-last-word explanation here, please feel free to comment!

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2 Responses to What is a Primal/Paleo Diet? DaiaSolGaia’s Thoughts…

  1. h says:

    “Basic (mostly) unchallenged tenants of the Paleolithic (primal) Diet:”

    I’ll challenge you on this:

    Assuming people aren’t living *in* the diet, those would be “tenets,” not “tenants.”

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