Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What is the "Paleo diet"?

The Paleo Diet is sometimes referred to as the Cave Man Diet or Hunter Gatherer Diet. It is pretty straight forward and easy enough to understand that, well, even a cave man can do it.

Essentials of the Paleolithic Diet
Eat none of the following:
·         Grains- including bread, pasta, noodles
·         Beans- including string beans, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts, snow-peas, peas, and Soy!
·         Potatoes
·         Milk and Dairy products (We're not baby calves, Moo!)
·         Salt
·         Sugar, and most sugar substitutes- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) (Avoid it like your life depended on it!), Splenda, Maltodextrin, etc.  These all cause an insulin spike in the body as they have a high glycemic index. It's little wonder that one of the main diseases on the rise is Type 2 diabetes, right behind obesity and a whole family of auto-immune diseases.

Oh, No! So what do we eat...?!

Eat the following:
·         Meat, chicken and fish
·         Fats <--- Yes, you read that right: Fats. Coconut, fish oil, olive oil, animal fats etc. 
·         Eggs
·         Fruit
·         Vegetables, especially root vegetables,  carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, spinach, seaweeds (believe it or not they are tasty) broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, cauliflower etc. but definitely not including potatoes or sweet potatoes)
·         Nuts, eg. macadamia, brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts. Remember do not eat peanuts (a bean) or cashews (a family of their own)
·         Berries- blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries etc.

Try to increase your intake of:
·         Organ meats- liver and heart, tongue etc. a lot of people may not like these and won’t eat them, but that's okay too!

GBP: Grains, Beans and Potatoes
If you've gotten this far, here is the "Why" of avoidance: 
·         GBP contain toxins when raw. Cooking destroys some of the toxins, but not all. 
·         They are poor sources of vitamins (particularly vitamins A, B-group, folic acid and C), minerals, antioxidants and phytosterols.
·         They are loaded with carbohydrates; after they are cooked they are rapidly digestible. This causes a high glycemic index, almost like eating raw sugar which leads to sugar spikes.  Yea Type 2 Diabetes!
·         They also contain enzyme blockers, and lectins.

·         Enzyme blockers, are also known as "Protease inhibitors". They block the enzymes that digest protein (Proteases) as well as can affect the stomach protease enzyme "pepsin", and the small intestine protease enzymes "trypsin" and "chymotrypsin". Some of these enzyme blockers also block the amylase inhibitors which digest starch.  As another function they also act as a type of pesticide, protecting the grain, bean or potato.

·         Lectins, these are the shock troops of the food chain.  Here is some of what they can do while in stealth mode i.e. In our bodies:
·         Strip protective mucus off tissues,
·         Damage the cells lining the small intestine- disrupting the microscopic fingers called villi and microvilli,
·         Get swallowed whole by the small intestine cells ("pinocytosis")
·         Bind to cells including blood cells causing a clot to form (hence they were initially called "haemagglutins")
·         Make a cell act as if it has been stimulated by a hormone
·         Stimulate a cell to secrete a hormone
·         Promote cell division at the wrong time
·         Cause growth or shrinkage of lymphatic tissue ("outposts" of white blood cells)
·         Cause enlargement of the pancreas
·         Cause cell death (apoptosis)
·         *Cause cells to present codes (HLA's) that they normally should not use*
·         *I put a star by that as this is one of the neat little tricks lectins have in their arsenal: They literally trick the immune system into thinking that intruders have been found and activate the immune system inappropriately   leading to "autoimmune disease".  In other words, it makes the immune system attack itself. 

Imagine if a military could get its enemy to do that to itself... and a lot of us do it willingly every day to ourselves and to our families when we make the weekly innocent trip to the grocery store.

A couple of observations
The local grocery store: Notice that the majority of the healthy stuff is on the outside, or perimeter of the store, such as the fruits and veggies, meats etc.  The isles contain the unhealthy stuff.  On the next visit to the local grocer, Whole Foods included, we read a label, notice that almost all of the packaged products contain the same ingredients in some combination or another: Wheat or some type of a grain (Corn is a type of grain), sugar or sweetener (HFCS), potato, soy, and/or dairy. The rest is artificial flavorings or coloring... Really kind of boring from the creative perspective. 

The pantry and cupboards in the home: The packaged foods in the pantry that contain the  grains, sweeteners, preservatives, etc.. can last in there almost forever.  If you want to do an experiment, take a package of cookies, crackers, potato chips etc. and just put them on the shelf.  Go back and look at them in a few weeks, 6 months, a year... There will be almost no change! Good for the pantry, bad for the body.  Consider that grains excavated from the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs were still viable and sprouted after thousands of years locked away!

Try the paleo diet way of eating for just thirty days (Often referred to as the Paleo Challenge) and see how you feel. If you feel better, what have you lost? You do plan on eating anyway, right? So why not give this a try? If you don't feel better, healthier etc at the end of the 30 days, please feel free to write to me and tell me how crazy I am!

And, just in case you're curious, here are some videos that talk about some things that have happened for people that have started eating this way...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y8PMx1gRL4  <--- tzniut (modesty) alert! There is a woman working out ;-)

For further informative reading, check out the links on the side of the blog, or the all-knowing

These books can prove helpful:
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf 
The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain
The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.
These should be obtainable from the local library, so you can try it out without buying anything other than food, of course.

Remember the old saying "You are what you eat".


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