Paleo Health: Nutritional and Health Benefits of the Paleo Diet by Beverly Meyer, Clinical Nutritionist, MBA

June 2013 - images_Page_26_Image_0001

Part 2 of a 3-Part Series

Worried about your weight? Tackling triglycerides? Are you watching your glucose? If so, the “Paleo Diet” may be your new best friend. Paleo focuses on foods we ate before farming and the domestication of animals completely changed our menu some 12,000 years ago. Prior to this time, we were hunters and gatherers and our highly evolved digestive system was fine-tuned to process animal protein, animal fat, coconuts (and coconut fat), and fresh plants.

We are still, today, genetically better suited to this “paleo” diet than to the consumption of grains (the seeds of grass) sugars and milk. Such foods, completely new to our gastrointestinal systems, caused a clear decline in human health by the time of the Egyptian pharaohs.

Because of our extensive history as hunters and gatherers, our bodies evolved to store extra carbohydrate calories as fat – it’s a survival response. We may try to exercise it away, or even to starve ourselves with lowcalorie foods, but what makes the difference is letting our body be the FAT BURNER it was born to be, rather than the CARBOHYDRATE BURNER we have made it. The switch from “carb burner” back to “fat burner” takes about three weeks, but results are often seen within days.

Bottom line: It’s not FAT that makes us fat; it’s carbohydrates!

I have discovered that a majority of my clients are starved for saturated and monounsaturated fats. The US Department of Agriculture told us in the 1960s to stop buying “ranching” products such as beef, eggs and butter, and instead to buy “agricultural” products such as wheat, corn and soy. The result is the worst public health crisis we’ve ever known. Diabetes, Obesity and Heart Disease have all increased roughly 400 percent since the 1960s. And the trend continues to rise! Genetically, we’re born for fat and protein, not agricultural products.

Fat is thermogenic and actually drives the body to “burn” fat for fuel. Most people notice a huge drop in hunger and sugar cravings when they consume quality fats. Body composition can change effortlessly, with lost weight and dropped inches. Glucose and triglyceride levels drop too, and Insulin stabilizes as a result of this delicious dietary change. Since dozens of body systems depend on proper Insulin levels (Insulin is a master hormone), changes can occur in many other areas, including balancing elevated estrogen levels causing PMS, fibroids and prostate concerns.

Irritable bowel, gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea frequently disappear once wheat and gluten are avoided. Neurological changes, and shifts in mood, sleep, anger, reflux and anxiety can also occur without gluten, sometimes surprisingly quickly. Since humans never before ate the hybridized forms of wheat and gluten found in our modern food supply, most of us are highly intolerant to it. After a month off gluten, a brief food challenge with a plate of pasta will usually confirm the benefits to the gut and brain of a gluten-free diet.

For kids, the results can be dramatic also. Fewer mood swings, less tummy aches, increased focus and peacefulness often occur. Having hearty meals with plenty of proteins, veggies, fats and only small amounts of fruit will yield quick and obvious results.

As for dairy, I recommend my clients avoid milk, yogurt and soft cheeses, and stick to ghee, butter, cream and firm cheese (IF they are tolerated). A reduction in reflux, gas and bloating will usually occur quickly. Later on, eliminate all dairy except ghee, and experience further improvements in arthritis pain and more. Next month in Part 3 of this series, we’ll look at food and shopping tips for the whole family.

Meanwhile, suggested reading includes my newsletter at OnDietandHealth.com, the newsletter from MarksDailyApple.com and books by Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf and Sarah Fragoso. Many Paleo Podcasts in addition to mine are on iTunes. Enjoy discovering the satisfying new foods on this diet. You’ll never look back once you’ve fully experienced it. All these authors have excellent research debunking the cholesterol theory of heart disease, by the way. Read up on the health benefits of pastured meats, wild seafood, pastured butter, bone broth and organic veggies.

Beverly Meyer is a holistic and clinical nutritionist in practice since 1985. Learn from Meyer up close and in person at her June 22 “Intro to the Paleo Diet” class, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. at her Diet & Health Center, 12915 Jones Maltsberger Road, Building 600; see her ad on page 26 for more information. Her popular podcast, “Primal Diet – Modern Health,” is available on iTunes or her website at ondietandhealth.com. Follow her blog and Facebook community for the latest in natural health news from “Beverly Meyer on Diet and Health.” She can be reached for consults at 210-826-0034.

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