The Paleo Diet – Part 4
Implementing a Paleo Diet
How much of a paleo-like diet one adopts depends on their health. Someone with autoimmune disease or not in good health will do better by eliminating most, if not all, the foods that cause leaky gut and dysbiosis. Someone else with reasonably good health who just wishes to drop a few pounds or increase their energy may do fine by significantly reducing grains and sugar.
Foods to Include
- Grass fed bison, beef and lamb are very nutrient dense foods, and contain all the essential nutrients for human needs, especially if you include some organ meats, such as liver and heart. And if you make bone broth from these sources you get more collagen and minerals.
- Locally raised pork and chicken.
- Pastured eggs — especially the yolks.
- Wild caught fish, such as Alaskan salmon, sardines, small species of tuna, herring, anchovies, and other wild caught fish.
- Vegetables — mostly above ground green leafy veggies such as kale, chard, spinach, bok choy, broccoli, salad greens, celery. Most of these are too high in oxalates to eat much raw. Cooking lowers the oxalates — which form crystals in the body which can cause pain and block the absorption of calcium and magnesium. Also, raw cruciferous vegetables, those in the cabbage family can block the thyroid glands uptake of iodine and are better cooked or fermented, like sauerkraut.
- Sea vegetables, at least once a week for their mineral and iodine content.
While some fruits contain significant amounts of antioxidants and other nutrients, the amount of sugar, especially fructose, can make eating much of these a liability. Fructose is the most metabolically damaging sugar. Fructose causes more liver disease these days than alcohol. It has the same damaging inflammatory effects on the body as alcohol without the buzz.
In general, have whole fruit for dessert in the evening. Fruit earlier in the day can de-stabilize blood sugar. Avoid the sweet, low nutrient tropical fruits like bananas, in favor of temperate zone berries.
No fruit juices or dried fruits, or “fruit drinks.” The sugar is very concentrated. Vegetables have all the nutrients that fruits do, without the sugar. Some root vegetables are fine – beets, carrots, turnips, avoid potatoes, they are especially high in glycoalkaloids which cause leaky gut and dysbiosis and have a very high carbohydrate load.
The best fruits? - avocado, olives, zucchini and cucumber. All low in sugar.
Fats and protein are both essential macronutrients. There are no essential carbohydrates. Our bodies can make the small amounts of sugars needed from protein. Also meats contains some glycogen, small amounts of stored sugar in muscle meats and liver.
The fats from pastured animals is very beneficial and contain the fat soluble vitamins D, A, E, and K2. Also many plant nutrients cannot be absorbed without fat. Butter, or ghee, from grass fed cows is very rich in these fat nutrients.
Coconut oil – 96% saturated fat is a very good food, as well as MCT oil, a derivative of coconut oil high in ketones for brain and body energy.
Olive oil and avocado oils are from fruits not seeds, and don't have many of the pro-inflammatory omega six fats found in seed oils.
To avoid hunger between meals, include more fats with your meals or have a teaspoon of MCT oil or coconut oil between meals.
If you have an autoimmune condition, have other serious health challenges, or just want to perform at a high level, you will do better leaving out most, if not all of the following foods:
- Eliminate grains, especially gluten-bearing grains, wheat, spelt, barley and rye. Also, no corn, oats, millet or rice.
- Eliminate what are known as psuedo-grains — quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and chia.
- Eliminate legumes. These are beans of all kinds. This includes peanuts and cashews.
- Eliminate sugar. This includes honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, coconut sugar, the sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol. Also stevia, and especially artificial sweeteners such as nutrisweet, splenda, sucralose and saccaharin.
- Restrict fruit to one or two servings daily. Eliminate fruit if you wish to lose weight. Also limit starchy vegetables to 2-3 times weekly to lose weight.
- Eliminate seeds and nuts. Remember that anything nature designed as a seed to grow a new plant does not want to be digested and will cause leaky gut and overgrowths of unfriendly yeasts and bacterias.
- Eliminate alcohol. Alcohol is a refined carbohydrate, the byproduct of sugars from grains or fruit being fermented by yeast. It is a fungal toxin that causes leaky gut and disrupts blood sugar and in excess causes illness and bad moods and behavior.
- If we have a yeast overgrowth in our intestines, which is common, eating sugars, fruits and grains causes alcohol production in the gut, a common cause of brain fog, liver toxicity, bloating, gas and other digestive and systemic disorders.
- Eliminate nightshade vegetables — potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Goji berries are also in the nightshade family.
Now that it seems like there is nothing left to eat, let me remind you that all the above substances cause leaky gut and yeast and bacterial overgrowths, or dysbiosis. In order to recover our health, especially if there is auto immune disease or other serious health problems, we have to heal the gut wall and restore beneficial gut organisms. This will reduce the flow of toxins into the blood and allow absorption of the nutrients in our food to help restore our health.
Keep in mind, however, that there is a spectrum of paleo-like approaches that people can insert themselves into. If you read paleo websites, many are tolerant of nuts and seeds, and the less starchy nightshade vegetables. If you don't have much in the way of digestive/immune issues you may be more tolerant of low calorie sweeteners like stevia or xylitol. You might also do okay with modest amounts of nuts or seeds – still better soaked, drained and dried to lower anti-nutrients.
Quite a few people, typically of northern european descent, can tolerate some dairy products. Commercial, fluid milk should be completely eliminated as it is very different from what came from the cow. This milk is pasteurized, homogenized, reduced fat, deodorized and has oxidized powdered milk added back. This milk is a breast and prostate cancer risk, it is not a bone food or health food, and it is quite high in sugar. Goat and sheep milk is less allergenic.
However, butter from pasture fed cows is a very good food. If you are dairy intolerant, ghee, or clarified butter, again from grass fed cows, might work for you. Cheeses and butter from grass fed cows, goats and sheep are good sources of vitamin K2.
Best Snack Foods
- hard boiled eggs
- left over proteins from the night before
- meat bars like Zora bars or Epic bars
- jerky - best from pasture raised animals
- celery or carrot sticks with almond butter
Some people prefer to make these changes gradually, but the best success I see is when gluten, grains and sugar are eliminated right away. Some people immediately feel better, some will go through a few days of detox. Drink plenty of water and use activated charcoal capsules to reduce detox symptoms.
Tips for Eating Out
We give up some quality control when we eat out and risk gluten and glutenoid contamination. Tell your server you are gluten and grain free. For breakfast have poached eggs and the best quality meat they offer. Get a side of fresh fruit if there are no veggies. For other meals, get the best protein, avoid anything that is fried or deep fried, choose broiled when possible. Ask for no starch, extra veggies. For salads, avoid house dressings if not made with olive oil or avocado oil, ask for a side of olive oil and vinegar.