top of page

Modern Paleo: A Guide to Nourishing Your Body with Whole Foods

Updated: May 20

In a world inundated with processed foods and fad diets, it's refreshing to turn to a lifestyle that goes back to our ancestral roots while accommodating for the demands of our modern world. Enter the "Modern Paleo" diet—a holistic approach to eating that prioritizes whole, nutrient-dense foods while embracing modern tweaks for optimal health and vitality.

At the core of the Modern Paleo philosophy is a reverence for organic, whole foods that nourish the body and mind. Here's a breakdown of its guiding principles:

Hydration and Electrolyte Balance

Hydration is key to overall well-being, and the Modern Paleo diet emphasizes the importance of staying hydrated. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day, remineralized with electrolytes or a sprinkle of unrefined salt to replenish essential minerals and maintain hydration balance.

Minerals are the spark plugs to your cells and due to our fast-paced, stress filled lifestyles your body is utilizing minerals faster than your modern diet can provide them. This is also due to the fact that our soils are depleted from industrial farming practices and our water has been stripped of natural minerals from over-filtering. Therefore it's important to remineralize your water to ensure that you have the electrolytes you need for optimal cellular function.

Other beneficial beverages include herbal teas, bone broth, and sparkling mineral water with a splash of fresh lemon or lime.

Sweetened & Caffeinated Beverages:

Sugary beverages like juice, soda, sports drinks & specialty lattes spike blood sugar, deplete minerals, feed bad gut bacteria and cause a stress response in your body. They are void of fiber or any beneficial nutrients. So in essence they are empty calories tht keep you craving sugar. Caffeinated beverages stimulate the release of adrenaline which triggers your fight or flight response. If you are someone who is already under stress or prone to anxiety, caffeine is not a good fit for you. These beverages are also diuretics, meaning they deplete your cells of hydration and should be completely avoided or consumed on a VERY occasional basis. Green tea can be the exception as it has a smaller amount of caffeine with many beneficial antioxidants.

Here are some other more beneficial options for support energy & stress response:

Non-starchy Vegetables & Low-Sugar Fruits

The cornerstone of the Modern Paleo diet is consuming a variety of organic, whole foods packed with nutrients. Load up your plate with a variety of colorful vegetables including:

  • Leafy greens: spinach, kale, arugula, chard, romaine, radicchio, beet greens, etc...

  • Cruciferous veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, radish, bok choy

  • Bell peppers

  • Zucchini

  • Carrots

  • Celery

  • Onions

  • Garlic

  • Sweet and purple potatoes (up to 3/4 cup per serving to support balanced blood sugar)

  • Beets

  • Cucumber

  • Jicama

  • Tomatoes (actually a fruit but no need to get technical)

  • Mushrooms - all varieties

  • Winter squash: butternut, acorn, delicata, spaghetti (These can be a bit on the starchy side so keep to 1/2-3/4 cup per serving.)

For a sweet, satisfying treat that has fiber + antioxidants without spiking your blood sugar levels you can incorporate 1/2 cup serving of (1 cup total per day) of lower-sugar fruits such as:

  • Berries

  • Apples

  • Pears

  • Kiwi

  • Watermelon

  • Citrus - oranges, mandarines, tangerines, grapefruit, lemon, lime

  • Green banana

This doesn't mean that you can't enjoy other fruits such as mango, pineapple, papaya as well, I just recommend limiting these more sugary fruits as they can spike blood sugar too high and too quickly. For more info on why we want to keep blood sugar balanced CLICK HERE.

*Pro tip: Frozen blueberries + Hu Salty Dark Chocolate is a fantastic treat!

Herbs & spices are jam-packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants that help your body eliminate and break down toxins and boost immune health:

  • Parsley

  • Basil

  • Cilantro

  • Oregano

  • Dill

  • Chives

  • Lemongrass

  • Turmeric

  • Ginger

  • Cumin

  • Cayenne

  • Cinnamon

  • Star Anise

  • Nutmeg

  • This list could go on and on...

*Pro tip: Make my Magic Green Herb Sauce for a delicious sauce to drizzle on veggies, & protein, or mix with extra olive oil and lemon for a delicious salad dressing.

REMEMBER... Color = Nutrients!

Aim to have at least three different colors on your plate per meal. This will help to ensure that you are providing your body with a variety of nutrients it needs to keep you happy & healthy. Have fun, get creative and experiment with different flavors combinations. Cooking becomes easy the more you do it and eventually will become second nature so don't be intimidated to start. Watch cooking shows, look up recipes online (google "Whole 30" or "Paleo" recipes) and dive into the wonderful world of cooking at home to support your health. You won't always create a masterpiece dish, but who cares! The point is that you are enjoying real food.

*Pro Tip: A great place to begin to get your cooking juices flowing is with a meal service like Green Chef or Sunbasket. (Choose the "gluten free" option.)

Quality Protein

Protein is essential for energy, muscle, hormone production, metabolic & immune health and overall cellular function. Focus on getting at least 30 grams per meal and always opt for high-quality sources like...

Preferred protein sources:

  • Grass-fed and finished meats

  • Wild-caught fish and seafood

  • Pasture-raised poultry & eggs

  • Wild game

  • Organ meats, or an organ supplement like Heart & Soil or MK Supplements

These choices not only provide ample bioavailable amino acids but also boast healthier fat profiles and have higher levels of essential nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, selenium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D & Choline.

Other protein sources:

  • Beans or lentils

  • Raw or soaked & sprouted nuts and seeds

  • Gluten-free grains: buckwheat, quinoa, wild and brown rice (1/2 cup serving to support balanced blood sugar).

  • Protein powder: PaleoValley, Truvani, Ancient Nutrition Multi-collagen

  • Limited amounts of organic tofu or tempeh

    • Soy products MUST be organic! Otherwise Soy is a highly GMO crop that is laden with toxic pesticides & herbicides.

    • Soy turns into estrogen in the body and therefore should be avoided for those with hormonal imbalances or suspected imbalances.

Healthy Fats

Dietary fat is not your enemy—in fact, it's a vital component of a balanced diet and a healthy body. Fat helps to improve flavor and satiety of meals so that you don't over-eat, but even more importantly it is ESSENTIAL to having healthy cell membranes, absorption of immune & brain supportive nutrients Vitamins A, E, D & K, and is a pre-cursor to every hormone & neurotransmitter. If you don't have enough healthy fats in your diet then you will absolutely have poor immune health, low energy, difficulty focusing, mood & hormone imbalance.

Embrace healthy fats found in:

  • Cold pressed & raw oils: olive, avocado oil & coconut

  • Grass-fed butter & ghee

  • Raw or soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds

  • Tahini and nut butters

  • Olives and avocados

  • Wild caught & low-mercury fish: "SMASH" - Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies, Sardines & Herring

  • Grass-fed meats

  • Pasture-raised poultry and eggs

Beans & Lentils

Beans and lentils can be great sources of complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber, minerals, and fatty acids. However, it's important to note that their outer shells are designed to resist digestion, allowing them to pass through the gastrointestinal tract intact. This natural mechanism enables the seeds to be excreted and potentially grow into new plants.

While these shells are indigestible for humans, the bacteria in our gut can partially break them down. This fermentation process produces gases like hydrogen and methane, which can cause bloating and discomfort. The resulting gas can irritate the gut lining, disrupt bacterial balance, and lead to inflammation. Hence why many people complain of GI distress when eating them.

To mitigate these effects, it's beneficial to soak and sprout beans and lentils before consumption. This process helps break down the tough outer shells, making them easier to digest and enhancing the bioavailability of their nutrients. CLICK HERE for a helpful soaking nad sprouting guide.

Nuts & Seeds:

Nuts and seeds are another important component of a modern paleo diet, offering a rich source of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. They can make for an easy snack and support sustained energy levels. However, similar to beans and lentils, nuts and seeds contain compounds like phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that can hinder digestion and nutrient absorption.

To maximize the benefits and minimize digestive issues, it is advisable to also soak and sprout nuts and seeds. (Or buy them pre-sprouted HERE.) This process breaks down the problematic compounds, making the nutrients more bioavailable and easier to digest. By incorporating soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds into your diet, you can enjoy their full nutritional potential without the discomfort of digestive distress.

Gluten-Free Grains, in Moderation

The occasional inclusion of gluten-free grains (quinoa, buckwheat, wild & brown rice) can be beneficial to a balanced diet. Keep servings to 1/2 a cup to maintain stable blood sugar levels and support digestive health (as too much can be irritating to the intestinal lining).

Nourish your microbiome with probiotic rich foods:

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live within your GI tract. They are essential to your overall health because they are one of the first lines of defense against illness causing pathogens and are also critical to your body's ability to break down and absorb nutrients from food.

Good source of probiotics include:

  • Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Raw, Grass-Fed Plain Yogurt

  • Coconut yogurt - try Cocojune or Coconut Cult

  • Kefir

  • Fermented pickled veggies (not vinegar pickled)

  • Sauerkraut or Beetkraut -  try Pickled Planet

  • Kombucha

  • Tempeh (must be organic)

  • Miso

  • Kimchi

Avoidance of Gluten and Processed Ingredients

To optimize your health and vitality, steer clear of gluten and gluten-containing grains which includes wheat, barley and rye and anything made from them: bread, crackers, pasta, cookies, cake, pastries, etc... Whether you realize it or not, the majority of Americans have some level of intolerance to gluten where it causes a low-grade inflammatory response inside your GI tract. When you are eating gluten on a regular basis it will contribute to chronic inflammation that can turn into unwanted symptoms (skin problems, digestive upset, diarrhea, constipation) and eventually even autoimmune disease or other chronic illnesses.

You will also want to avoid refined sugars, artificial flavors, food dyes and other processed ingredients as these are made in a lab and are stripped of fiber and nutrients, leaving behind a "food like substance" that your body doesn't even recognize as food. These products require your body to detoxify and remove them which stimulates an immune response and contributes to chronic inflammation that can lead to dreaded symptoms including:

  • Weight gain

  • Digestive issues: acid reflux, bloating, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, constipation, IBS

  • Food sensitivities

  • Signs of aging (wrinkles!!)

  • Anxiety, depression

  • Skin problems: acne, rosacea, eczema

  • Hot flashes

  • PMS, PCOS, hormonal imbalances

  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: crohns, colitis

  • Joint pain

  • Poor blood sugar regulation, insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Thyroid disorders

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Cancer

Instead, focus on whole, unprocessed foods that nourish your body and provide you with the nutrients your body needs to function optimally!

Support good digestion with 'Rest to Digest'

Your body must be in a relaxed state in order to properly digest your food and absorb nutrients. If you are stressed out while eating such as while eating on the go or working, your body will not be in the right mindset to produce enough digestive enzymes to fully break down your meals. This can also happen when you eat too quickly without chewing well enough. Poor digestion will result in digestive upset symptoms (acid reflux, belching, bloating, stomach pains, diarrhea, constipation, IBS), microbiome imbalances, food sensitivities and leaky gut. Poor digestion is an underlying root cause for many of the ailments that plague our modern society today.

In order to promote good digestion, here's how you can practice Rest to Digest:

1.) TAKE 5: Before enjoying your meal, sit down and take 3 slow, deep breaths. This will help your body enter into a relaxed state. 

2.) CHEW: Chew each bite slowly & thoroughly.

3.) SAVOR: Avoid working, talking & looking at screens while eating. Focus on simply enjoying your meal.

In essence, the Modern Paleo lifestyle offers a roadmap to vibrant health and well-being by prioritizing nutrient-dense whole foods, embracing mindful eating habits, and making informed choices that honor both our evolutionary heritage and modern sensibilities. By nourishing your body with the bounty of nature and steering clear of processed pitfalls, you can thrive in today's fast-paced world while staying true to your ancestral roots.

Click the button below for my list of "Foods to Focus On" :

While I always stress that majority of our diet come from whole food sources, there are many great companies out there making pre-packaged foods that I feel are a fine addition to your diet.

Click below for a list of my Nutritionist Approved Pre-packaged Products:

85 views0 comments


bottom of page