Primal and Paleo Diet
“The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility.” – Robb Wolf
Health advantage including improved cholesterol, energy levels, body composition, weight loss, and reduced pain and inflammation from autoimmunity. Many people are understandably not inclined nor satisfied with blindly following new fad diets. Fortunately, the Paleo diet is not just a fad, but rather has stood the test of time. The Paleo diet is based upon the idea of eating the foods our bodies were designed for through thousands of years of evolution. These foods were available to early people through hunting and gathering [meat and fish, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables]. During modern times, advances in technology have made other forms of food available for mass consumption [grains, dairy, and processed foods], which are less nutrient dense, high in empty carbohydrates, and rich in saturated artery clogging fats.
With a very simple shift we not only remove the foods that are at odds with our health and are extremely pro-inflammatory (grains, legumes, and dairy) but we also greatly increase our natural intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants through whole foods. There is a huge industry in supplements where people try to leech out the nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and whole foods to package them in capsules, powders, oils, and potions. We try to harness the health benefits from nutrient dense foods by taking supplements, then many of us fill our tummies with junk completely lacking in nutrients only rich in calories, additives, and preservatives all counterproductive for our health. Supplementation can be helpful in some settings, but does not make up for a diet lacking in whole foods. If you follow a nutrient dense such as the Paleo diet, your need for supplements should be minimal.
Grain is a big business in this country. We see commercials preaching heart health, and seals of approval on packaging promoting in the minds of the public health benefits of grain. Fiber does help to reduce cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and diseases such as diverticulosis. The only benefit from whole grains is the fiber content. Grains lack micro/macronutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and in fact some new evidence suggests components referred to as ‘anti-nutrients” that may leach minerals from the other foods we consume with grains. Grains are dense in empty carbohydrates that stimulate insulin and in excess can lead to diabetes an overwhelming epidemic in our society. Grain is not nutrient dense as are vegetables that also happen to be rich in fiber and confer all the same benefits and more. Why not choose the more nutrient dense option?
Grains were engineered to feed the masses and are relatively new foods to humans in our long history of existence. Our guts thus have not had as much time to evolve and fully adapt to this fuel. We have to process them, and cook them to break down their thick shells. These shells built by nature to withstand the gut and pass through the gut of those ingesting them to fertilize distant soils. Some people appear to tolerate it without ill effect, but many do have real consequences although albeit subtle and disguised. It is now well understood that for many people, grains can stir up inflammation. Several recent studies show gluten intolerance prevalence estimated between 30-70% in the general population. For some people this manifests as IBS or constipation, for others achy joints, but often, vague symptoms that people learn to live with. Celiac disease is an extreme version, that causes sloughing of the gut lining and more severe symptoms, yet it is estimated that currently we are only diagnosing 25% of true Celiac disease, 75% living their lives undiagnosed. If you can afford to choose the more nutrient dense and quality food option, it will be an investment that will pay back in dividends with improved health outcomes in your future.
Image courtesy of The Food Lovers’ Primal Palate – http://www.primal-palate.com
Building a Healthy Paleo Diet:
Lean protein from healthy cuts of unprocessed meat and fish help build muscle, healthy bones, and supports immune function. Proteins even energy release offsets quick release energy sources such as carbohydrates to help feel full and satisfied between meals. Protein also helps blunt the Insulin response that plays a large role in developing type 2 Diabetes in individuals who are predisposed.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They are also a terrific source of fiber to aid in our digestive and colon health. Diet rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to decrease risks of cancer, diabetes, and neurological decline.
Healthy Fats including: Nuts, Seeds, Avocado, Olive Oil, Grass-fed meat, & Fish Oil
Diets rich in Omega 3 and mono-unsaturated fats have been shown to reduce Obesity, Heart Disease, Cancer, Inflammation, and Cognitive decline. Wild meat and grass-fed free range meat is much leaner than their grain-fed counterparts with lower saturated fat content and higher Omega 3 fatty content. Not all meat is created equally, your health will pay off in dividends to invest now in higher quality foods.
What to avoid:
Grains, legumes, starches, refined sugars, preservatives, processed foods, and alcohol. Paleo, in addition to no grains, discourages dairy, another common intolerance for many people. Primal diet is basically the Paleo diet with smaller dairy content.
Testimonial on the power of good nutrition on health and modern illness:
Web Resources to learn more about Paleo/Primal Diet and lifestyle: