What is a Paleo Diet?
A Paleo Diet is a way of eating to avoid causing inflammation in your body. Many kinds of plants are well equipped to fight you in harmful ways. They contain substances which can attack your body’s immune system and gut in ways which can make you chronically ill.
By removing these harmful things from your diet, your body can naturally heal itself. You will have more energy, better sleep, less aches and pains, and you will improve your metabolism. Your body will naturally shed unwanted fat. Your cholesterol profile will improve. You will lower your chances of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Anthropologists have been able to look into our past, as humans, to assess the changes that happened when agriculture was developed about 7,000 years ago. Prior to agriculture, man was taller, stronger, and very much free of chronic diseases. After the beginning of farming, with the domestication of many grains, legumes, and livestock, man became, on average, shorter and more prone to cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. The average life span was shortened.
Why did this occur?
Contained in grains, legumes, and the nightshade plants are many harmful substances that can cause a leaky gut. Things such as gluten, lectins, and saponins are common to these foods. They are protective mechanisms for the plants, helping them to survive and multiply despite birds and other predators that might consume them. Unfortunately for those humans who eat these foods, the effects on the gut causes small holes to form, increasing the permeability to unwanted substances like bacteria and other toxins. This can lead to chronic inflammation and toxemia, promoting other diseases from diabetes, to arthritis and cancer.
How do I start a Paleo Diet?
Make a commitment to follow this strictly for a minimum of 30 days. The first week may seem the most difficult, but with the proper supplies and support, you should not be hungry and should have success. This is not a calorie restrictive diet. It is changing your food choices to a healthy, non-inflammatory program.
- All grains. This includes wheat, oats, rye, rice, “ancient grains,” whole grains. All grains! Also eliminate pseudo grains like quinoa and chia seeds
- All legumes. This means beans: red beans, kidney beans, favs beans, Lima beans, string beans, lentils, chick peas or hummus, and PEANUTS (yes, they are a legume, and not a true “nut”). Any bean. This also includes peas. White potatoes and green tomatoes. Both very destructive.
- All dairy: milk, yoghurt, cheeses of any kind, cream, kiefer, cottage cheese.
- Refined sugar.
- Grain fed meat
- Processed food containing chemicals and preservatives
- Grass-fed meats, and fish. Organic poultry and eggs
- Fresh fruits and vegetables (think: broccoli, cauliflower, onions, lettuce, cucumber, squashes of all types, mushrooms, asparagus, and so forth)
- Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts)
- Almond or coconut milk (unsweetened). You can ask for this in your coffee
- Sweet potatoes or yams.
- Honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar in modest amounts
You may eat as often as you need. Three meals a day with a couple of snacks is fine. If you eat small meals more frequently, there is less fluctuation of blood sugar. Only eat until you are satisfied. Do not overeat.
Shop your supermarket, or try Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s for some items.
On the web:
Thrivemarket.com. They have an entire Paleo section that you can order from. It gives you a great idea of the selection of Paleo foods.
Try PaleOMG.com, a blog from Julie Bauer. She has great recipes.
To read more:
The Paleo Solution Diet; Robb Wolf
The Paleo Answer: Loren Cordain, PhD.
After your thirty days, if you have followed this very carefully, you should have more energy, less aches and pains, better sleep, and very likely, less body fat! Please continue the “diet,” as it is a lifestyle and way of eating that you can hold onto for life.
Wishing you the best in health,
Clifford Gluck M.D. FACS