Nutrition – Paleo day 1

Tuesday 08 May 2018

For this week’s blog I thought that I would write about a recent  cookery/nutrition day that I went on. It was held at the Nutrition and Lifestyle Management Centre in Wokingham. It was run by Christine Bailey who as you may know is an expert in nutrition, a brilliant chef, and author of many books. She was co-author of the book called Nourish that is full of easy to follow recipes designed particularly to support people with cancer.

The workshop focused on the ‘Paleo way’ of eating and its benefits for health. It included lots of information and some lovely easy tasty recipes.

In this blog I want to outline what the Paleo diet is, what it looks like in practice, and why it might suit someone with cancer. Then a recipe from the day.

What is the Paleo diet?
Basically the 'Paleo diet' is also known to as the 'caveman diet' or 'stone age diet'. Paleo refers to the Paleolithic Age, about 2.5million years ago, when our hunter gatherer ancestors ate a diet based on meat, fish, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. This was before the agrarian revolution which introduced grains, dairy, legumes, salt, sugar and alcohol into our diet. Over the last century the food industry has changed our diets even more by introducing agrochemicals in farming, processed /convenience foods, and the use of chemicals and food additives. There is, as we know, a growing body of evidence that suggests that our modern eating habits are one of the root causes of many of the chronic diseases common today, particularly in the western world. Many people believe that the human body has not evolved genetically to keep up with the food industry and that the natural diet of our Paleolithic ancestors could be the key to better health.

So let’s look at this further:

10 main reasons why advocates of the Paleo diet are so passionate about it.

1.     It is based on unprocessed, whole foods, which means fewer additives, less unhealthy damaged fats and no hidden sugar or salt.

2.     It is low in salt and rich in potassium, which helps balance the pH of the body making it more alkaline than acid. Having an alkaline body is one of the fundamental positives to try and achieve if you have cancer. Being alkaline also helps to lower blood pressure and preserve bone health.

3.     It is very high in fruit and vegetables so getting your 8-10 portions a day is a doddle.

4.     It is low in saturated fats and high in healthy fats.

5.     It is high in protein which helps to keep us feeling full for longer, helps to keep blood sugar stable, supports the immune system, and helps to prevent muscle mass loss. This is helpful during cancer treatment, when appetites may become reduced or there is difficulty eating and/or swallowing.

6.     It is said to recalibrate the metabolism, which helps to shed unwanted weight.

7.     It is gluten free which helps to banish bloating and digestive problems. Gluten is the name for the proteins found in grains like wheat and oats.

8.     It is a Low Glyceamic Load diet which helps prevent spikes in blood sugar and raised insulin levels and then the inevitable rise in Insulin Growth Like factor (IGF-1)

9.     It is rich in plant based chemicals which, as we know from all of the research, have huge health protective benefits, particularly at cell level.

10.  Finally it is a very simple, easy to follow, regime that is easily adopted.

Quite impressive credentials I would say.

So what’s involved in the Paleo diet?
The basic principles are;

Foods to avoid: processed foods; refined and added sugars; all grains and foods containing them; dairy foods; beans and pulses; processed oils, and white potatoes.

Eat in moderation: salt; raw honey; alcohol; root vegetables, and vinegar and pickled foods.

Eat in abundance: fruits and vegetables; fish, meat and eggs; nuts; seeds; healthy oils and fats; herbs and spices; coconut; coconut flour and coconut milk; almond milk; water, herbal teas and fresh juices.

Looking at these lists I think that the biggest stumbling block for most people would to give up the grains like bread and oats. But Christine did make some cookies and a banana loaf using coconut flour and ground almonds and the results were delicious. I have put the banana bread recipe at the bottom.

Why might this diet suit someone with cancer?
Apart from the 10 points above, I think the main reason is the fact that it is designed to reduce our insulin levels and to prevent production of the insulin growth factor in our bodies. Find out more in our blog about insulin and health.

Making manageable changes
The Paleo diet is said to be a way of life and not a plan that you follow for a period of time. It is important to remember that it is not an all or nothing diet. The best approach is to look at the basic principles and make any changes that would suit you. If you did not want to adopt it wholeheartedly then simply pick some of the healthy recipes as part of your everyday eating, knowing that they will be doing you good.

Chocolate Banana and Almond bread.
Great for breakfast or a snack during the day. It will freeze well. I have tried this myself and it is very moist and delicious.

4 medium bananas
4 eggs
60g of coconut butter
125g almond butter
60g of coconut flour (available in health food shops)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp cinnamon
100g dark chocolate (ideally dairy free)
2 tsps of coconut butter/oil


1. Heat the oven to gas 4 / elec 180’C. Grease a 2lb loaf tin.
2. Combine the banana, eggs, coconut butter and almond butter in a food processor. Add the coconut flour, bicarb and baking powder, vanilla and cinnamon and blend
3. Melt the chocolate with the coconut butter/oil and then mix in to the cake mixture
4. Bake for 45 min till well risen and firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out.


Blog originally written by Caroline July 2014 – updated April 2020

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