- What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet is a revolutionary diet that recognizes the fact that people in ancient times used to be extremely agile, athletic and fit, and that this was because they hunted and gathered the food they ate; as a result, their bodies became adapted to that lifestyle and nutrition. However, once man discovered farming and formed societies and communities to settle down, farmed grains, bread and corn comprised a greater proportion of their diet. Even though our diets modified with time, our genetic makeup did not; consequently, our body was not able to adapt to the nutrients we consume now. The Paleo diet hails from this background and attempts to introduce a diet plan that focuses on everyday modern food that imitates the food consumed in the pre-agriculture revolution era and that was the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. This diet aims to emulate the various eating traits of our ancestors by taking us back to the basics and encouraging us to consume the food we were biologically designed to eat. The Paleo diet aims to introduce food that is available in its most natural form, without even a hint of artificiality in a person’s diet. The Paleo diet eradicates grains (including rice), dairy, legumes (including peanuts and soy), potatoes (they’re starchy vegetables that have a high glycemic index and contain a natural toxin called saponin which causes digestion problems), processed foods and sugar from a person’s diet. Numerous studies have shown that eliminating these ingredients from the diet can lead to a dramatic change in our lifestyle, by reducing the likelihood of disease.
A true Paleo Diet consists of Organic and grass-fed meat and eggs, wild caught fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables including leafy greens (preferably Organic as well), nuts and seeds, and healthy unprocessed oils.
Why aren’t grains Paleo?
Grains are very simple carbohydrates. That means they break down into sugar quickly. This causes a spike in your blood sugar levels, which in turn causes a spike in your insulin levels. High insulin levels prevent your body from burning fat because they cause your body to focus on converting the excess glucose in your bloodstream into energy and storing the rest as fat. Constantly eating simple carbohydrates (especially in the quantities that the FDA recommends) is a surefire path to chronically high blood sugar levels, which can lead to obesity problems and pre-diabetic symptoms. In addition to the high carbohydrate content, grains also contain a boatload of anti-nutrients that can negatively affect your digestion.
Many grains contain gluten, lectins and phytates. Gluten is a protein that is mainly found in rye, wheat and barley. Gluten sensitivity in people is on the rise, along with the proliferation of gluten-free products. Gluten causes celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that is increasingly affecting the world’s population, creating brain disorders and bowel related illnesses. Lectins are also proteins, which, although useful for the body because they provide protection against pathogens and monitor protein levels in the body, can sometimes be harmful. Lectins found in wheat cause autoimmune diseases and damage the gastrointestinal tract. Phytates are the salt form of phytic acid – a main form of energy storage in plants. Unfortunately, unlike plants, humans are unable to digest phytates. That doesn’t sound too bad until you take into account the fact that phytates bind to minerals (magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron) in the body. By binding to these minerals, phytates make those minerals unavailable and take them out of the body. So even if the grains you’re consuming contain a plethora of minerals, your body is unable to process those vitamins and minerals because they’re taken right out of your system.