The 3 Biggest Paleo Diet Mistakes

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paleo, The 3 Biggest Paleo Diet Mistakes

paleo, The 3 Biggest Paleo Diet Mistakes

3 Biggest Paleo Diet Mistakes

As a clinician and leading voice in the Paleo/Primal movement, I attract a lot of clients who have started following the Paleo/Primal nutrition plan.  Most of these people have seen significant health benefits by following the traditional Paleo nutrition plan.  However, many continue to struggle with chronic health issues including low energy, digestive issues and hormonal imbalances.  In this article, I go over the 3 biggest paleo diet mistakes.

I have been tweaking these real food based nutrition plans to help people find their unique balance for years.  Here are three of the most common mistakes I see many individuals making as they follow the real food nutrition plan.  You will also see a great video I did with Garage Games Media on this very topic.  Enjoy it…it is quite informative and full of humor!

Eating Too Much Natural Sugar:

The real food, Paleo nutrition plan eliminates all processed and genetically modified forms of sugar but the general plans allow fruit, honey and coconut nectar.  These are natural sweeteners and have health benefits but they also have drawbacks.  The high fructose content in these sweeteners can put a burden on the liver and hamper its ability to detoxify effectively.  This will result in hormonal challenges and adrenal issues (1, 2, 3).

These sugars also provide the fuel for unwanted microorganisms such as yeast and parasites.  As these microorganisms take over the locust of control in the gut they will release endotoxins that inflame the body (4, 5).

They will also create gut inflammation that damages the intestinal membrane setting us up for leaky gut syndrome.  This will both affect the adrenals and sex hormones which can lead to energy problems and hormonal imbalances.

Reducing sugar content by minimizing the use of coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc. is very critical to maximizing energy, liver detoxification, digestive function and hormonal control.  Stay off the high sugar fruit such as bananas, melon and pineapple and stick with small quantities of low-glycemic fruit such as lemons, limes, grapefruit and berries.   Limit yourself with the popular fruit & nut bars as they may be convenient but they contain a lot of fructose that will disturb your hormone balance.

paleo, The 3 Biggest Paleo Diet Mistakes

Eating Too Many Nuts:

The paleo/primal nutrition plan eliminates the consumption of grains and reduces starchy carbohydrate consumption.  As we look elsewhere to get our calories, nuts are an easy solution.  We are typically quite familiar with nuts as most Americans consume nuts regularly throughout their lives and they are easy to get in any grocery store in North America.

In many health food stores, bulk nuts and nut butters are so popular that they have their own sections.  Almond flour is also a very popular non-starchy flour alternative for baking.  Many of us crave baked goods and we end up using heavy amounts of almond flour for the various pies, pastries, breads and muffins we make.  The paleo diet dosn’t generally put restrictions on the amount of nuts consumed on a daily basis.

My website has many almond flour recipes as well and we have nuts in all of our nutrition programs except for our digestive health restoration and autoimmune elimination program because these programs are for people with seriously compromised digestive health.   Nuts contain a number of anti-nutrients that I elaborate on further in this article and are very tough on the digestive system.

My food guide pyramid contains both nuts and seeds, but as you can see below, they are near the top, indicating lower consumption of these.  I think consuming nuts and seeds, but in moderation, can be very helpful for most people.  I would recommend consuming no more than 1/2 cup of almond flour on your own each week or about 2 cups of nuts.

paleo, The 3 Biggest Paleo Diet Mistakes

Anti-Nutrient Content in Nuts:

Nuts can be quite hazardous when consumed in heavy amounts.  They contain phytic acids that bind to major minerals like zinc, calcium and magnesium (6, 7, 8).  High amounts of phytates in our diet can lead to mineral deficiencies.  These minerals are important for energy production and hormonal balance.

There are also enzyme inhibitors present in nuts that block normal enzyme activity in the body.  This can cause digestive challenges and energy problems.   Soaking or sprouting nuts and seeds helps to reduce phytate and enzyme inhibitor counts and makes the nuts and seeds more bioavailable.

Many nuts and seeds are also very high in omega 6 fatty acids.  Most people in society are already in a state of omega-6 dominance.  Taking in more omega 6 fatty acids only promotes this imbalance and leads to chronic inflammation.

Taking in less omega-6 rich nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, pecans and sunflower seeds would be the right move.  They could focus on higher omega 3 content in walnuts, hemp, chia, flax and pumpkin seeds.

My food guide pyramid contains both nuts and seeds, but as you can see below, they are near the top, indicating lower consumption of these.  I think consuming nuts and seeds, but in moderation, can be very helpful for our health.  I would recommend consuming no more than 1/2 cup of almond flour on your own each week or about 2 cups of nuts.

paleo, The 3 Biggest Paleo Diet Mistakes

The Bottom Line:

Many individuals with digestive challenges have food sensitivities to many different nuts and seeds.  When they consume these foods they increase inflammatory activity and drive up stress hormones.  This drains the body of vital resources and leads to adrenal burnout over time.  For these individuals they need to completely eliminate these from their diet and heal their gut and immune system before reintroducing them.

For most individuals they can consume nuts and seeds in moderation.  A handful of almonds and cashews two or three times a week should not be a problem.  Eating massive quantities of nuts, consuming a jar of almond butter each week and/or making tons of almond flour bread and pastries each week can cause the problems discussed.

paleo, The 3 Biggest Paleo Diet Mistakes

Avoiding Raw, Grass-Fed Dairy:

Many individuals who have been following the paleo/primal nutrition plan have completely taken dairy out of their diet.  I agree that this is a great step for a period of time.  Nobody should be consuming typical processed, grain-fed dairy that is a staple of the Western cuisine.  This form of dairy is highly inflammatory as it is loaded with omega 6 fatty acids, pesticides, hormones and anti-biotics (9, 10).

The only kind of dairy that I recommend is 100% grass-fed dairy that is ideally in the raw form.  Great forms of dairy include raw fermented goat, sheep or cow cheese, yogurt, kefir, Amasai and fermented whey products.

Grass-fed butter or ghee is naturally free of all casein as it is simply milk fat and has no protein so this is a great food to eat.  On the autoimmune nutrition plan, I only permit the usage of ghee.

paleo, The 3 Biggest Paleo Diet Mistakes

The Benefits of Grass-Fed Dairy:

Grass-fed dairy tastes amazing and offers a great nutritional option for those who tolerate it well.  It has many extraordinary health benefits as it is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, carotenoid anti-oxidants, and major minerals like zinc and magnesium.  Cheese has complete protein and tons of branched chain amino acids and CLA which help promote a lean, fit physique and healthy hormones.

Fermented dairy such as grass-fed yogurt or kefir can greatly improve the health of the intestinal tract.  These foods contain trillions of healthy microbial organisms, live enzymes and L-glutamine which is the major amino acid that is needed to produce healthy intestinal cells.

I recommend for those who are dairy free without a known dairy sensitivity to try grass-fed fermented dairy and grass-fed butter and see how their body tolerates it.  These are really fun and enjoyable foods to include in your nutrition plan and they offer powerful health benefits to those who can properly digest them.

I don’t start individuals with autoimmune or digestive health problems on grass-fed dairy, but as their condition improves, than we will try it out and see how they do.  I get much of my grass-fed dairy products from US Wellness Meats.

paleo, The 3 Biggest Paleo Diet Mistakes

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Chung M, Ma J, Patel K, Berger S, Lau J, Lichtenstein AH. Fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or indexes of liver health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Sep;100(3):833-49. PMID: 25099546
2. Bray GA. Energy and fructose from beverages sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup pose a health risk for some people. Adv Nutr. 2013 Mar 1;4(2):220-5. PMID: 23493538
3. Elliott SS, Keim NL, Stern JS, Teff K, Havel PJ. Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):911-22. PMID: 12399260
4. Yemma JJ, Berk MP. Chemical and physiological effects of Candida albicans toxin on tissues. Cytobios. 1994;77(310):147-58. PMID: 8020249
5. Horowitz BJ, Edelstein SW, Lippman L. Sugar chromatography studies in recurrent Candida vulvovaginitis. J Reprod Med. 1984 Jul;29(7):441-3. PMID: 6481700
6. Torre M, Rodriguez AR, Saura-Calixto F. Effects of dietary fiber and phytic acid on mineral availability. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1991;30(1):1-22. PMID: 1657026
7. Kelsay JL. Effects of fiber, phytic acid, and oxalic acid in the diet on mineral bioavailability. Am J Gastroenterol. 1987 Oct;82(10):983-6. PMID: 2821800
8. Bohn T, Davidsson L, Walczyk T, Hurrell RF. Phytic acid added to white-wheat bread inhibits fractional apparent magnesium absorption in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Mar;79(3):418-23. PMID: 14985216
9. Daley CA, Abbott A, Doyle PS, Nader GA, Larson S. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal. 2010;9:10.
10. Ponnampalam EN, Mann NJ, Sinclair AJ. Effect of feeding systems on omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acids in Australian beef cuts: potential impact on human health. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2006;15(1):21-9. PMID: 16500874

paleo, The 3 Biggest Paleo Diet Mistakes

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Dr. Jockers

Dr David Jockers is passionate about seeing people reach their health potential in mind, body and spirit. He is the host of the popular “Dr Jockers Functional Nutrition” podcast and the author of the best selling books, “The Keto Metabolic Breakthrough” and “The Fasting Transformation.



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  1. what do you think about pasteurized sheep milk yoghurt or goat milk yoghurt ?as it is difficult to get raw yoghurt or raw milk where i live.

  2. I would love to tell you they are good, but everyone is a bit unique and we have a tendancy to be more prone to sensitivities to pasturized products. Try them out and see how you feel like your body is reacting to them!

  3. not sure why you didn’t mention Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Jersey, and African and Asian cows. I’ve looked at this before and have had specific experience with it. I used to pick up raw milk at a Holstein dairy, and tolerated it well, but my daughter in law didn’t. She verified it twice, and it was clear that when she drank the raw milk from the farmer who has primarily Jersey(with some Brown Swiss and Guernsey mixed in), she had no problem at all!

  4. Milk from the mother is for the offspring.

    I was raised on a cow dairy farm, and drank raw milk for years as a kid. We humans keep having these conversations about why we should drink milk from this mother or that mother or blah, blah, blah. The conversation should be, why we insist on sucking on cow’s teats.

  5. Dr. Jockers,

    Can you offer me any help with my son that has juvenile diabetes? Is there any cure for these kids? Have you had any experience on the subject? Is there a clinic in the world where we can go and get help? I have read many stories of adults being cured with the disease but none of kids. Is there an alternative method to get rid of insulins without harming my son? We have already tried gymnena sylvestre, MMS, homeopathy, paleo diet.

    Thank you in advance

  6. Hey Evi,

    So sorry to hear about your son. We have seen kids and adults with type I diabetes reduce their dependancy on insulin but I have not heard of their pancreas turning back on once it has been destroyed by the anti-bodies.

    With proper guidance and functional testing you can find key things (like a vitamin D deficiency or food sensitivities) that will help you improve his health. I believe you are on the right route, so keep going forward!

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