A Paleo eating approach considers the fact that food can make you healthy and food can make you sick.
Surprisingly, other diets really don’t even consider this and arbitrarily decide what you should and shouldn’t eat.
Not so with a Paleo approach. This diet goes back in time to sneak peeks at what the early ancestors of man were eating and then get modern-day man to eat the same thing. If you eat what man is supposed to eat, then you should be able to decrease your health issues.
Your early ancestors ate a diet fit for hunters and gatherers. That’s because they were hunters and gatherers. No one prepared food for them and sent it down from the sky, even though there were plenty of gods they worshipped.
They hunted for meats and they gathered berries, fruits, nuts, seeds, tubers, and other vegetables they found. They ate what was provided for them in nature and they didn’t complain. They were grateful for what they had.
What are the Results of a Paleo Diet?
A Paleo Diet is a moderate protein, high fat, lower carbohydrate diet. However, based on your needs and goals this can be tweaked. What this diet means to you is:
- less abdominal fat
- more energy and productivity during the day
- no sugar cravings
- fewer mood swings
- reduction in the compounds in the body that are tied to inflammation
- less risk to develop heart disease
- less food reactions and food intolerances causing bloating, headaches, skin rashes, and fatigue
- reduction in total body fat with higher percentage muscle mass
- maintenance of body weight more easily without weight fluctuations
- less consumption of genetically engineered foods that cause immune dysfunction later in life
- reduction in hunger during the day
- reduced risk of developing leaky gut syndrome
- elimination of insulin resistance, decreasing chance of developing diabetes
- better nutritional status on less food
- less gas in the GI tract
- more vitality and better health into your old age
The fact is that when scientists visited other cultures to examine the effect of diet on health, no matter where they went in the world, everybody on a Paleo Diet did well.
But once people supposedly got smarter and more innovative, troubles started. The greater the technological advances in society (including agricultural and food), the less healthy the people become.
Now with that said I want to be very clear. You can be healthy, happy, and feel great using any eating approach. The key is to find what works for you and run with it and screw what everyone else says…including me. I’m Paleo biased because I have found that it works unbelievably well for the majority of folks.
Grains are Very Problematic in Your Diet
Possibly the biggest problem with grains is that our ancestors didn’t eat them like we eat them. Health experts tell us grains should make up a large part of our diet, with some experts touting 7 to 9 servings a day!
If you really look at the modern diet now, you’d see that cattle are being fed grains, too – even though a cow would never be found in a cornfield chomping on an ear of corn. They can’t digest it and it causes problems with indigestion for them in the same way it does for you and me.
This dependence on grains in the culture never happened until farming grains became big business. Similar to the cow, maybe your body can and will tolerate grains for a while, but how long will it be before you give them up because your health has degenerated to such a poor state?
Grains and grain intolerance are now tied to over a hundred different diseases including celiac disease, endometriosis, infertility, heart disease, joint pains, arthritis, mental disorders, skin conditions, and other health issues such as headaches, migraines, and more.
Grains are high in lectin proteins, which inhibit the ability of your GI tract to repair itself.
Phytates – What They Are and How They Work Against You
There’s something else you should know about grains.
It turns out that by not including any meat in your diet, your mineral status is far worse than those who eat meats. Yep, surely you have heard that vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters, right?
Well, wrong. Especially when they’re splurging on grains and eating processed foods for filler, the whole time destroying their zinc status because of the excess phytates in the grains. Phytates bind up minerals in food so minerals, such as zinc, are unavailable for your body to use. If food is interfering with absorption of minerals in your body, that is a clear negative.
Besides that, grains really aren’t that high in vitamins and minerals. In fact, the nutrients obtained from grains can also be found in meats. Animals eat many more plants than humans and the nutrients in the plants the animals eat become a way of storing the nutrients for you. It’s a safer way to get your nutrients.
A high grain vegetarian diet is one that fills the body with inflammation, makes it go awry with insulin reactions because there’s no protein to temper the high carbs, and taxes the adrenals.
What about the Glycemic Index and the Grains?
Just because food has fiber – like a whole grain – doesn’t mean it is healthier. Foods are rated for their blood sugar reaction. Healthy whole grain breads can cause blood sugar reactions, even though they are a good source of fiber.
Yep, it is no wonder why people who change their diet to add the healthy grains for more fiber are falling asleep at their desk at work right along with those who are eating Pop-tarts and sugary, boxed cereals. Both contribute to high blood sugar followed by high insulin levels.
How the Glycemic Index is Tied to the Insulin Response
When you eat a high Glycemic index food, you end up with an insulin response. Your body kicks out a higher amount of insulin just so that your blood sugar level will come down. This can contribute to diabetes down the road years later.
In the meantime, your moods aren’t stable, you’re hungrier than all heck, and all you can think about is food. You can’t concentrate on your work or the task at hand.
Thus, by eliminating grains from a diet, like you do going Paleo, you most of these problems more often than not.
The Evil Lectins Appeared in Grains
These aren’t all the problems that resulted from “healthier” grains, though. Researchers started showing everyone that the plant structure of grains included a part on them called lectin proteins.
These lectins include gluten, but there are other lectins in food. What lectins do is cause inflammation in the digestive tract.
They’re also thought to be linked to cell death by contributing to leaky gut syndrome. Once you have leaky gut, you get everything you ate flowing out through the small holes in the digestive tract into your blood circulation where they get deposited in different organs and cause health issues.
And that’s a big problem because simply put, they aren’t supposed to be there. In the second place, your immune system treats these food particles as something to attack and destroy and you end up with an autoimmune disease if it continues.
Grains Linked to Inflammation and Over-acidity
There’s another possible problem with grains. If you eat a lot of these acidic foods, you’ll have an acidic reaction in the body, which means more inflammation, body aches and pains, and fatigue. The antidote is more green vegetables, found in copious amounts on the Paleo Diet.
Remember, any food that causes an inflammatory response in the GI tract is a culprit in leaky gut syndrome, allergies, and autoimmune disorders.
Why the Paleo Diet Doesn’t Include Dairy
Like grains, dairy products can cause an inflammatory response in people. And that’s why they aren’t on the list of foods to eat on a Paleo diet.
You see, the Paleo diet is all about foods that are NOT going to raise insulin levels, foods that won’t acidify the body, and foods that will NOT cause an inflammatory response in the body.
Since dairy products do all three of these things, they aren’t suitable for you. Besides the inflammatory response, a big percentage of people in the world are lactose intolerant while others are allergic to the milk proteins casein or lactalbumin.
Casein in milk varies depending on the cow. The casein in the milk of Friesians and Holstein cows is called an A1 beta-casein, which can be metabolized to produce a chemical that is linked to digestive problem, pains in the joints, and possibly leaky gut syndrome. The casein in the milk of Jersey and Gurnsey cows is called an A2 beta casein protein, which doesn’t have this same problem.
Allergy reactions from dairy are associated with inflammation, and it takes four days to clear the system of any food-related allergy reaction.
Dairy is still a perfect food for babies, and contains protein, fat, and carbohydrate in good proportions. However, it does still cause an insulin reaction even though it does not raise blood sugar much. It’s a low Glycemic index food but can have some pretty bad consequences for diabetics.
Milk may very well be a good food for humans if it wasn’t tampered with. The dairy industry has taken whole milk and decided to strip it of its fat, but that fat may be what keeps us healthy. In fact, some researchers are saying that whole milk protects against cancer of the colon and rectum. Skim milk and low-fat consumption are tied to prostate cancer (1).
The industry also pasteurizes it, which is the equivalency of calling it a processed food.
Most cultures that drank milk products fermented it to kefir or yogurt, which provide the gut with helpful and healing bacteria. This cuts down on the amount of lactose in the milk so many can handle it.
Dairy from goats is an option that some consider being better for humans than milk from cows. The reasons are that goat diary:
- Has more fat
- Less casein and lactose
- Cause fewer issues with digestion
- Appears to be more similar to human breast milk in nutrition and structure
Nevertheless, dairy is dairy. On a Paleo Diet, you eliminate the chance that you’ll get inflammation, allergies, and other problems from dairy.
What about Legumes?
Why aren’t legumes included in a Paleo Diet?
To answer this question, you should first know what legumes are. The term “legumes” refers to a whole group of foods that include different kinds of beans, including soybeans, lentils, and peas. Then there’s the little lone garbanzo bean – also a legume – and peanuts.
Nutritionists have told you for years that these foods are high in nutrients and a good protein source. However, that’s a little questionable now that the data is in.
These foods are high in carbohydrates and low in protein, comparatively. This means that if you’re expecting to use them in your diet as a protein source, you better figure out what exactly you’re going to do about the insulin reaction from all that carbohydrate. In fact, many legumes contain 2 to 3 times as much carbohydrate as protein.
On another note, legumes contain phytates that bind up minerals in food so the minerals are unavailable for your body to use. They also can cause bloating and gas, as the carbohydrates in them is digested pretty easily by gut bacteria but not your own body. With all this bloating and gas, there’s inflammation – and another reason you want to eliminate legumes from your diet.
Soybeans are actually another very questionable food. In the last decade, some scientists came out from behind their white lab coats and told people via the media that soy accelerates brain damage and degeneration and may also be associated with immunity problems.
You’ll find experts out there who swear by soybeans while others are vehemently opposed to it. Still others say soy is okay only if it’s fermented.
On a Paleo diet, you don’t have to make up your mind about soy. You simply won’t be eating it.
And as for the peanut, well, the facts tie in these good-tasting nuts to the lectin protein and inflammation connection. Peanut lectins are tied to inflammation in your gut.
Final Verdict on Grains, Legumes, and Dairy
So is the human body really meant to eat these grains, legumes, and dairy? Scientists as well as Paleo enthusiasts say NO. Stay away from them and you’ll improve your health and do it drastically.
But again, put in the work and search for yourself. Using the Paleo approach to eating is an excellent way to reset your system and essentially start from scratch. Slowly add in problematic foods like those mentioned above to discover what works and doesn’t for you.
My personal biases lie in a Paleo approach but that doesn’t mean it is the correct approach for everyone. Best of luck to you in your search for optimal health and well-being.