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paleo diet vs primal diet|dairy on white background|nightshade vegetables|saturated fats|essential oil bottle

Terpene Deficiency / Paleo Air

Paleo Diet vs Primal Diet - Diets Back To Our Roots

Both the Paleo and Primal diets adhere to the same basic principle, bringing nutrition back to the stone ages. The idea of both diets is to eat like a caveman ignoring foods that became prevalent after the agricultural revolution. The idea centers around the fact that a lot of diseases prevalent in today’s society largely began around the time of the agricultural revolution.

It was during this time the composition of our diets largely changed introducing man-made trans fats and increased sugar and processed food consumption. This continues to “contribute to a rising epidemic of obesity and related diseases” according to Harvard primatologist Richard Wrangham 1 . However, there are two distinct diets based on the similar evolutionary science. These two distinct diets adhere to the same basic philosophy of returning to eating like cavemen, but they have some differences.

The Paleo Diet


The Paleo diet suggests to completely avoid any food that was not available for consumption prior to the agricultural revolution. This includes all kinds of foods including dairy, legumes, grains, refined sugars, potatoes, and refined vegetable oils. This diet was largely made popularized by Loren Cordain, author of a few Paleo diet books.

The Primal Diet


The Primal diet is found on the same basic premise as the Paleo diet, which is to re-introduce the way of eating prior to the agricultural revolution. This diet adheres to a lot of the same restrictions. However, it has some major differences including its permitting dairy, potatoes, and other foods restricted on the Paleo diet. This diet was popularized by Mark Sisson, the author of the “Primal Blueprint.”

Key Differences


dairy on white background Dairy


This is one of the biggest differences between the two diets. Paleo restricts dairy and because it’s seen as an inflammatory. Whereas, the Primal diet views dairy as a good source of healthy fat for those that are capable of tolerating it. Obviously, if you are lactose intolerant, dairy is to be avoided even on the Primal diet. However, for those that are not lactose intolerant, it is seen as an acceptable and even encouraged source of protein and calcium 2 .

nightshade vegetables Nightshade Vegetables


This is another big difference between the two diets. The Paleo diet advises avoiding nightshade vegetables. Whereas, the Primal diet encourages the consumption of them. The Paleo diet primarily avoids these vegetables because there have been studies that suggest they are major contributors to aggravating intestinal inflammation to those that suffer from poor gut health and even digestive disease such as inflammatory bowel disease. In a study conducted on mice with inflammatory bowel disease, it found that potatoes ingested played a major role in aggravating intestinal inflammation in predisposed mice 3 .

saturated fats Saturated Fat


Another difference originally centered around the idea that saturated fats were to be avoided at all costs under the Paleo diet. However, Cordain’s revised publication released in 2010 changed the Paleo diet’s stance on this issue and is now much more in line with the same idea shared by the Primal diet that saturated fats can be beneficial for health. Thus, these types of fats are now largely encouraged in both diets.

essential oil bottle Aromatherapy and Essential Oils


While the Paleo diet originally centered on and focused solely on diet alone, it has since encouraged more lifestyle changes that can positively impact your overall health. Now, the Paleo diet encourages the use of essential oils as a means of reintroducing the way our ancestors breathed. Much like the agricultural revolution changed the way we eat, the industrial revolution changed the way we live. Not only do people spend less time outdoors, but the air is more polluted than it has ever been.

As a result, we are unable to gain the benefits our ancestors gained from taking in terpenes through inhalation of fresh forest air which has proven to offer broad beneficial effects on human health including having anti-inflammatory properties 4 . The best way to incorporate essential oils and aromatherapy into your Paleo lifestyle is through the use of a diffuser.

Overall, these two diets have their differences, but they are largely centered around bringing our diet back to the hunter-gatherer days. While there are differences in menu selection and what is allowed or disallowed, they both serve the same relative purpose. The Paleo diet takes it a step further by incorporating lifestyle changes like encouraging the use of essential oils through aromatherapy that can truly enhance the results that you are able to get from the diet itself.

Photo credits: AfricaStudio/shutterstock.com, jopelka/shutterstock.com, AlexanderProkopenko/shutterstock.com, MoustacheGirl/shutterstock.com, its_al_dente

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