01 Apr Paleo- Modern Day Living with Ancestral Principles
As I promote the Paleo lifestyle among my patients, colleagues, friends and family, I am often met with puzzled looks and skepticism. It’s not surprising that many have a hard time understanding why removing things like grains, dairy, and soy from one’s diet would possibly be beneficial. After all, isn’t wheat the “staff of life” and dairy is what makes our bones strong? While these products are certainly marketed to be necessities in any healthy diet, I’m actually convinced that they are in fact NOT necessary food groups.
In an effort to address the skeptics and the critics, I’ve compiled the top ten reasons why I use and promote the Paleo diet to many of my patients. Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all plan and can be catered to each individual’s needs and goals.
Here are the basic factors that I feel make this diet superior to all others:
1. Limited GMOs- According to the USDA, over 85% of corn and over 90% of soy have been genetically modified and over 75% of the processed foods in our supermarkets contain genetically modified ingredients. While GMO’s haven’t been around long enough to understand the damage that they can do to our health, neither have the recently discovered unidentified strains of proliferating bacteria in our gut. Connection?
2. Nutrient Balance- Paleo encourages a more balanced intake of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats. The primary role of grains (and carbohydrates in general) in the body is to provide energy, while proteins and fats help with everything from combating inflammation, to repairing tissues, vitamin absorption, and promoting cognitive function. Thus, a balance of these nutrients is vital for optimal health while an imbalance of these nutrients, as in the typical Western diet, will promote fat accumulation and other health issues.
3. Elimination of Gluten- If you’ve been following my column I’m sure you know where I stand when it comes to the health issues related to gluten. Current statistics are showing that many, if not most, people have some type of sensitivity to gluten and these numbers continue to rise.
4. Elimination of aspartame, nitrites, high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial food colorings, sulfur dioxide, trans fats, sulfites, and other sweeteners, fillers, and preservatives- Do I really need to explain how nothing good can come from the above ingredients? That will be an upcoming article all in itself.
5. Eliminating Common Food Allergens– Did you know that humans are the only mammal that consume dairy as an adult and in fact most people have some degree of dairy sensitivity or lactose intolerance. In addition, cases of peanut allergies gluten sensitivities, Celiac disease, and soy allergies are increasing daily. Currently, soy, dairy, peanuts, wheat, eggs, shellfish, fish, and tree nuts are the top allergens in America. The Paleo diet, automatically rids 4 of these major allergens.
6. Increased Fruit and Vegetables- The vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables have been linked to everything from fighting inflammation, to lowering cholesterol, reducing bodyfat, improving cellular function, and preventing cancer.
7. Anti-inflammatory- Inflammation is known as the Silent Killer. As we’ve known for years, there is a link between inflammation and heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and many other diseases. Paleo encourages foods with anti- inflammatory properties and avoids those which increase inflammation.
8. Healthy Body Composition– The obesity epidemic is still on the rise. Paleo not only improves body composition but also eliminates the Yo-Yo dieting which stems from many fad diets.
9. Mindful Eating- Paleo diet promotes a more mindful relationship with food. With Paleo you must plan ahead, shop for your food in advance, and take time to prepare your food before enjoying it. These acts of actually having to ‘hunt and gather’ food help to enforce a more mindful and appreciative relationship with the nutrients being consumed.
10. Family Togetherness- A Paleo lifestyle can also bring a family closer together by promoting healthy, home cooked meals over dining out. This lifestyle can also be a great way to get kids involved in selecting and preparing meals, shopping, even growing a garden of quality organic foods. These practices instill healthy eating habits that children will be able to draw upon as they grow.
You just can’t avoid the fact that we are what we eat and I’m a firm believer that consuming healthy, balanced diet is the best way to ensure that you are leading a healthy, balanced life!
–Jason M. Kremer, DC, CCSP, CSCS