By Kellyann Petrucci, Melissa Joulwan, Patrick Flynn, Adriana Harlan

So the USDA food pyramid had major problems, and the new USDA MyPlate didn’t correct those problems. However, the Paleo food pyramid is built on simple, real foods that are close to their natural state. When you create meals with the healthy building blocks of the Paleo pyramid, weight loss is effortless, and vibrant good health is a natural side effect.

Here’s what good health looks like:

  • The Base: Meat, fish, fowl, and eggs

  • Level Two: Low-starch and low-sugar vegetables and fruits

  • Level Three: Naturally occurring fats and oils

  • The Top: Paleo-friendly snacks and desserts made with nuts, dried fruit, coconut flour, and nut flours

When you eat the foods that make up the Paleo pyramid, you’re free from confusion — and free to eat real food. When you choose Paleo foods, you choose a plan that works with your genetics to bring out the best in everything you do. You’ll soon find that the nutrient-rich foods have everything you need to become healthier and stronger and to fight aging.

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Yes, you’ll get enough fiber

You’ve probably been hammered with the idea that you need to eat plenty of fiber. And, yes, fiber plays an important role in healthy nutrition. It helps stabilize blood sugar levels while lowering blood cholesterol. Fiber helps you feel more full, so food cravings are reduced, and it helps you build a stronger immune system with fewer hormonal imbalances. It also acts like a scrub brush for your colon to help keep it clean and healthy.

Based on all of that, you may be worried that if you eliminate whole grains from your diet, you’ll be short on your fiber requirements. But when you enjoy appropriate quantities of vegetables and fruits, you get all the fiber you need from natural, digestible sources.

You may be surprised to realize that the foods you’ve been taught are high in fiber — whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta, brown rice — aren’t the health foods they’ve been advertised to be. Your best sources of fiber, in just the right amounts to keep you healthy, are fresh vegetables; fresh fruit; and, in moderation, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Yes, you’ll get enough calcium

You probably already know that your body needs calcium to form strong bones and teeth. And like most Americans, you’ve been taught to believe that drinking milk is essential for getting enough calcium. But dairy can be a major source of inflammation. Instead, get your calcium from high-quality sources like plants, sardines, seafood, and some nuts.

Here are some good options for calcium that are easy for your body to absorb:

  • Plant sources:

    • Bok choy and cabbage

    • Collard, mustard, and turnip greens

    • Green beans

    • Kale

    • Seaweed, like kelp and dulse

    • Spinach

    • Watercress

  • Seafood sources:

    • Canned mackerel

    • Salmon (with bones)

    • Sardines (with bones)

    • Shrimp

  • Fat sources:

    • Nut and seed butters: almond, sesame, sunflower

    • Nuts: almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, chestnuts

    • Seeds: sesame, sunflower

  • Other sources:

    • Dried dates

    • Dried figs

    • Olives

If you eat plenty of leafy green vegetables and complement your meals with other calcium-rich choices, you don’t need dairy or calcium supplements to meet your calcium requirements.

Yes, you’ll get enough vitamins and minerals

Nutrients work synergistically in your body — the vitamins and minerals cooperate to keep you healthy. When you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, merely supplementing with the one that’s falling short won’t correct the imbalance.

A healthy diet is the best way to supply your body with the balance of vitamins and minerals it needs. When you eat an abundance of vegetables and fruits, as well as high-quality protein and fat, the nutrients in those foods work together to keep your body functioning well.

No, you don’t need whole grains and dairy

Many people were taught that healthy meals must incorporate some whole grains, legumes, and dairy to be complete and to ensure adequate doses of vitamins and minerals. The truth is that grains and legumes include substances called antinutrients that are actually detrimental to your health. In the short-term, they can cause digestive distress and bloating; in the long-term, they can permanently damage your digestive system, which leads to internal inflammation.

And forget what you’ve heard about milk doing the body good. Once you’ve been weaned from your mother, you’re not designed to consume milk in any of its forms. (Sorry, cheese and yogurt!) Cow’s milk is evolved to nourish cows, not humans — and the pasteurization and homogenization processes further obliterate any potentially nutritious components of dairy.

The truth is that grains, dairy, and beans are more damaging than rewarding and don’t add value to investments in your nutritional bank.

Real food always equals real nutrition. Your health is determined by your nutrient intake, and the Paleo pyramid supplies all the nutrients you need in delicious, natural packaging.