The Paleo Diet – Part 5
Let's review the benefits of a paleo-like diet.
Insulin Resistance All carbohydrates except fiber turn into sugar rapidly in the body. An increase in blood sugar (there is only one teaspoonful of sugar in our entire blood supply) causes an increase in insulin, the hormone which delivers sugar to the cells for fuel, and converts excess sugar into bodyfat. Years of excess carbs, in combination to damage done to cell membranes by improper fats, causes chronically elevated insulin, reducing the number and effectiveness of insulin receptors, requiring increasing amounts of insulin to metabolize sugars. Insulin resistance is the major underlying cause of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's and cancer. Eliminating nutrient robbing grains, beans and sugars and replacing them with high quality animal proteins, fats, and vegetables, all of which are nutrient dense, will reduce insulin resistance and the risk of the above diseases.
Leaky Gut and Dysbiosis Leaky gut, or permeable bowel, is the condition in which the cells that line our digestive tract develop gaps between them or through them that allow things into our bloodstream that shouldn't. These partially digested food particles, bacterias, yeasts and viruses then burden our immune systems, causing or contributing to inflammation, toxicity, and disease.
Dysbiosis is a lack of friendly gut bacteria or overgrowths of unfriendly bacterias and yeasts, such as candida. These overgrowths secrete toxins that either go to the liver or “leak” through the gut wall into our blood.
Dysbiosis is caused by antibiotics as medicine, or in our food, chemicals and toxins in our food and water, such as pesticides and chlorine, and by our diet.
The foods that cause leaky gut and dysbiosis were largely or entirely absent in the pre-agricultural diet. What are these foods?
- All grains — especially wheat and gluten
- All legumes — these are beans of all kinds, including peanuts and cashews.
- All pseudograins — quinoa, chia, buckwheat and amaranth.
- All nuts and seeds — anything that nature made to become a new plant does not want to be digested and will do things to disable our ability to digest anything.
- All nightshades, especially potatoes, but also tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.
- Alcohol — Even if you don't drink, yeasts in our gut ferment into alcohol.
- Alcohol sugars, such as xylitol, mannitol, and erythritol. These are fermentable sugars and will feed yeast and other unfriendly bacteria.
The most important of these to eliminate are wheat and gluten. Then all the other grains and legumes. More people are tolerant of nightshades, nuts and seeds and pseudograins.
Sugar is also very important to reduce, or better yet eliminate as it feeds yeast and bacterial overgrowths which also contribute to leaky gut.
Cell Membrane Damage The cell membrane is the “skin” of our cells, of which we have trillions. Because transfats are difficult for us to use, they build up in the body. When they become lodged in our cell membranes they prevent the cell from taking in nutrients and eliminating waste products. Vegetable seed oils also damage cell membranes because of their pro-inflammatory effects and they easily oxidize, causing further damage. All the Crisco, margarine and snack foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that most of us have eaten in our lifetimes, can actually take years to clear out of our cell membranes once we quit eating them. For the most of us our cell membranes need an “oil change” to get rid of these toxic fats and replace them with healthy fats.
The Paleo diet eliminates transfats and vegetable seeds oils, which are soybean, corn,canola, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed and cottonseed oils, replacing them with the fats found in pastured meats, eggs, dairy and fish, pastured butter, as well as coconut, olive and avocado oils.
Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Diet Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, are industrial agriculture at its worst. Taxpayer subsidized GMO corn and soy fed to overcrowded cows, pigs and chickens in unsanitary inhumane conditions is what passes for meat, egg and milk production. Growing grains and beans to feed animals and humans destroys irreplaceable ecosystems, topsoil, aquifers, and uses up fossil fuels and spreads toxic residues of drugs, fertilizers and pesticides through our food supply and environment.
The healthy alternative is to vote with our food dollars for local, pasture raised animal products and vegetables, grown locally and organically. Yes, it does cost more to grow organically and to purchase local, pastured animal foods. But the hidden costs of “cheap food” from giant box stores and conventional agriculture end up being extracted by our very expensive and inefficient health care system, as well as the toll on the environment.
By far, the most sustainable agricultural practice is rotational grazing on permanent grasslands. This will build topsoil and requires no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Grazing animals convert something we can't digest, cellulose, into something we can — protein and fat. There is a very good TED talk by Alan Savory about his experience in Africa restoring overgrazed drought damaged land to fertility using rotational grazing.
The health and environmental benefits of a paleo like diet are well worth considering, especially for those with autoimmune issues or other health challenges.
- Nutrition and Physical Degeneration — Weston Price DDS
- Primal Body, Primal Mind — Nora Gedgauges
- The Paleo Approach — Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Health Your Body — Sarah Ballantyne Ph.D.
These last two books are highly recommended as how-to guidebooks to find better health.
Other Important Books and Websites
- Good Calories, Bad Calories — Gary Taubes
- Dangerous Grains — Braly and Hoggen
- Grain Brain — David Perlmutter MD
- Cereal Grains — Humanity's Double Edged Sword — a scientific paper by Loren Cordain
- The Big Fat Surprise — Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet — Nina Teichulz
- Vegetarian Myths — Leirre Keith
- Death by Food Pyramid — Denise Minger
- Protein Power Lifeplan — Michael and Marydan Eades, MDs
- The Paleo Approach Cookbook — Sarah Ballantyne Ph.D.
- Primal Cuisine — Pauli Halstead
- Garden of Eating by Rachel and Don Matesz — the first 75 pages of this book has very good diet and nutrition information.
Websites & e-newsletters