I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the Paleo or “caveman” diet. Because of the high fat consumption in the Paleo world, this way of eating can be considered unhealthy by the conventional dietary practices. However, every single person who switches to this way of eating feels a great improvement in health, mood, and in some occasions, even cured from many Western diseases. Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, allergies and mental health problems could be a direct result of the lack of nutrients from the modern diet that an average person eats. By adopting a more natural and human-specific staple of food, we free ourselves from the inflammation that causes most of those diseases.
The Paleo or Paleolithic way of eating makes the most sense for fueling our complex body. It is based on how our ancestors used to eat for 500,000 years until about 10,000 years ago when the agricultural revolution resulted in production of corn and wheat. Corn and wheat are big offenders because they contain no vitamins and minerals but anti-nutrients which poison our bodies. I will explain why you should at least try a 30-day test to see how this can help you. This hunter-gatherer diet provides us with fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins, minerals and alkalinity. Animal meat and fat which our bodies are designed to run on are also abundant in the Paleo diet. Our bodies are built to store large amounts of dietary (not body) fat, but they can only store about 500 grams of carbohydrates in glycogen form. It makes more sense to eat animal and some plant fat because it also provides twice as many calories as carbs or protein.
During this 30-day experiment, you will need to eliminate bad offender foods and replace them with foods that are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals. The effects will be incredible and you will never turn back. No one I know who has made the switch, nor myself, could ever go back to eating a conventional diet. We all enjoy our cheat meals but 80-90% of your diet should be good foods.
Part 1: Elimination
We begin by eliminating all grains. Any food made from wheat, rice, oats (oats can be eaten in moderation), cornmeal, barley are all grain products. Grains do not contain any minerals but instead they are made of anti-nutrients which are there to protect the plant from being eaten. These include gluten, lectins and phytates. Gluten is a true destroyer of the body as it attacks and destroys the celia of the small intestine which absorbs all the nutrients that you eat. Even if you don’t have a “gluten allergy”, it is still damaging your body. Phytates make makes minerals bio-unavailable which is another terrible process to happen inside your body. The grains are so empty as far as nutrients go that the manufacturers are forced to try to “enrich” the wheat flour just like the vitamin D in milk, which I will discuss further. The body receives no minerals/vitamins from eating grains but worse, it uses crucial resources to try to extract nutrients from the food you just ate. The same exact thing goes for conventionally produced corn, which is not a vegetable in contrary to popular belief. Corn is 100% starch and spikes your blood sugar. Perhaps in the days of Native Americans, the corn they grew was natural and nutritious.
After the grains we need to eliminate refined sugars. This one is a no-brainer. Toss all processed junk like candy, TV dinners, soda, various snacks and chips. If its packaged in a box or a wrapper, it’s probably filled with crap and is not good for you.
After the sugars, comes dairy. A little cheese is very hard to not enjoy once in a while but milk needs to be eliminated. Most of the human population cannot process lactose properly. The debate is still going on about whether we should be drinking milk from a cow in the first place. Today’s conventional milk is coming from corn and antibiotic/steroid-fed cows and then gets homogenized and pasteurized, destroying any remaining hope for at least a dose of good bacteria for your gut. Unless you have access to a cow that is healthy and raised on a diet of grass, conventional milk will cause inflammation, stuff your sinuses and make you bloated. What about calcium? Many scientific studies found that the cows milk actually increases calcium-loss from the bones! Countries with the lowest consumption of dairy have the lowest fracture incidence.
Eliminate bad vegetable oils. Hydrogenated or trans fats make up margarine and canola oil. The canola oil is often rancid already by the time its on the supermarket shelves. These oils wreak havoc on your system if regularly consumed. My friend Kyle is posting a series of informative blogs on this site with valuable information about fats.
Part 2: Adding good food into our diet
We begin by shopping the outside perimeter of our local grocery store where all of the perishable food is being stored around the center isles which are full of processed crap. The produce department should take up most of your time at the store. Start by finding fruits and vegetables that you like or have considered trying. You can eat vegetables as side dishes, in a salad or perhaps as a blended healthy green drink which I cannot go a day without. Fruits make a great snack in between meals or out on the road somewhere. Yes, fruit does contain sugar but the health benefits of consuming produce (especially organic produce) outweigh the slight Glycemic elevation which is also slowed down by the fiber of the fruit. Consume 10-20 servings of different colored produce a day. This will provide so much energy and vitality that you will never return to the Standard American Diet. You will notice your body becoming lean as your insulin levels will be in check and your blood lipid levels will become perfect. The produce provides so many vitamins and minerals. Also, all produce is alkaline, as you saw in a previous post of mine. Eating fruits and vegetables brings the pH of your blood into an alkaline state where you cannot become sick. Learn to love raw or steamed vegetables. Experiment with salad combinations. There are a ton of Paleo recipes on the web; more than you can cook in your lifetime.
Our protein and fat will come from animals and nuts. As you know we are omnivors, which means we eat everything. Use this to your advantage when looking for protein/fat sources. My favorites are eggs, salmon, steak and bison. Obviously, the higher the quality, the better these products are for you. There will be more posts in the future about the danger of GMO foods and the benefit of eating organic. If you can afford it, the organic way is the absolute way to go. I encourage you as part of this Paleo experiment to eat a wide variety of eggs, fish, and other types of meat. DO not deep fry it or use vegetable oil but rather steam or fry on low heat in coconut oil or butter. Saturated fat molecules are actually healthy for us, as new research has shown. Raw nuts will also provide minerals and can be used as a healthy snack throughout the day. Be careful with how many you eat; they pack a ton of fat so they can lead to over-consumption of calories.
Paleo-eating is truly the way to eat, in my opinion. In the 5 years of so that I have been eating this way, I have eliminated all seasonal allergies, I get sick very infrequently and when I do it is always mild, and I have energy when I wake up in the morning all the way until I go to sleep at night. My salad at lunch doesn’t give me the “2:30 feeling” but rather gives me energy for my night time workout. I am human, of course, and will not turn down a night of beers and wings with my friends once in a while, as long as I don’t have a tournament around the corner. If you can honestly eat 80-90% of your food from your own kitchen, I guarantee that you will achieve any type of weight loss or well being goal. There are many new online communities of people who are sharing their stories and how Paleo has given them another chance in life. In the next blog post, I will reveal a sample day of my diet so you guys can take what you can from it. Enjoy and have a great day! 🙂