Keeping it healthy

Paleo Part 2: Four more things I like about the Paleo diet.

Continuing on from my previous post on Paleo, I will be looking at four more things that are mostly good about the Paleo diet.

1. Leafy Greens

Most of us know that we should eat more greens as they are “good for us”. So take a LEAF out of my book, and add them in whenever you can! (I bet you wish I would leaf these puns alone).

Leafy greens have a variety of vitamins such as A, C and folate as well as minerals such as calcium and iron. In addition, the all important fibre is often another benefit of eating your greens.

Recently some research has also been showing that the leafy green vegetables feed the good bacteria in our gut, which can aid digestion and help to reduce the bad bacteria which can lead to further health complications [1].

So as expected the leafy greens are a great food to highlight in the paleo diet.

2. Fruits

I used to hardly eat fruit at all. But, it's hard to tell your family to eat fruit when you aren't eating it yourself. I've also discovered the versatility of an apple when on the go (Uni days!).

As well as being a delicious and easy snack fruit has many health benefits. A good variety of fruit will provide many vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants. They have also been called functional foods as they have shown to promote health and prevent some diseases. The health claims include having antimicrobial activity, anticancer activity, and anti-inflammatory activity. They also boost the immune system as well providing antioxidant benefits [2]. What’s not to like!

Research suggests that we should be consuming at least 2 servings of fruit a day to help prevent chronic diseases [3]. So if you are planning on cutting back on something in your diet, don't skimp on the fruit!

3. Meat, Poultry, Fish

Meat, poultry and fish are all good sources of protein, iron and Vitamin B12. Iron helps to move oxygen from our blood to our muscles which is then utilised as we use those muscles. B12 comes from animal products and is vital in maintaining nerve and cell structure health as well as being involved in the production of DNA. A lack of B12 can lead to a type of anaemia that leaves the person weak and tired [4]. Protein is also important for building muscle and healing wounds.

I remember when I was interested in the paleo diet, I would eat a lot of meat and tended to substitute the meat for other foods such as vegetables or fruits. So even though it is important to have meat products, don’t do what I did. Instead, ensure you still have a good dietary balance. Too much is not necessary and can be unhealthy. Ideally, a serve of meat should be around 60g, chicken 80g and fish 100g with a daily requirement of 2-3 serves per day depending on your age and gender. To find out more specifically what your individual requirements are visit the website or see an Accredited Practicing Dietitian.

4. Avoiding refined sugar

If sugar was an addiction then my son is definitely an addict! Sugar is a necessary part of life as it is found in a variety of forms, in foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. Whole foods often contain a slow release form of energy, while refined sugary products are more often a quick release of energy. While sugar is important for providing energy to our bodies, choosing slow release foods like whole grains, and vegetables will help to reduce energy highs and lows. My son justifies his sweet tooth by saying that "a lolly pop is a slow release sugar because it takes so long to eat". (Good one Jes)

Refined sugar is sugar that has been extracted from a source such as sugar cane. It is often added to foods to add sweetness, but it typically lacks any nutrients while providing plenty of quick release energy.

The Paleo diet suggests that we should avoid refined sugar. This is a reasonable suggestion

as many people consume more energy rich foods than energy they use. If someone is consuming a well balanced diet, most people need to be doing a reasonable amount of exercise to then eat extra foods that contain added sugar if they desire to maintain their weight. So although sugar is necessary for energy, eating food with added sugar is not necessary [5].

Paleo Part 3 will be coming soon!
In this next post I will be sharing my concerns about the Paleo Diet.

[1] Vertical News Health. (2016, March). Bacteria; Sweet discovery in leafy greens holds key to gut health. NewsRx Health, 120.

[2] Skinner, M., & Hunter, D. (2013). Bioactives in fruit: Health benefits and functional foods. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

[3] NHMRC. (2013). Eat for Health - Australian Dietary Guidelines. Retrieved July 23, 2016, from Australian Government:

[4] NIH. (2011, June 24). Vitamin B12. Retrieved from National Institutes of Health:

[5] Eat For Health. (2015, March 27). Australian Dietary Guidelines 1-5. Retrieved July 31, 2016, from

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