The information and recommendations in this blog are not intended as a substitute for individualised medical and/or naturopathic advice.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Not a Recipe ! All about The Paleo Diet ... Part 1

2013! A New Year is a chance to make a fresh start, isn't it? 

If your resolution is to make Health & Wellbeing your priorities, why not educate yourself about the Paleo Diet ? More than a diet, it's a tailored approach, which may help you to stay lean without counting calories, feel healthier and teach you to be in tune with yourself. 

In the first place, why did I become so passionate about the Paleo Diet ?

My health issues started when I was 8 y.o with a Condylar Resorption of the mandible (jaw) . Other problems happened sporadically over the years. Things got worse in 2010, when I was diagnosed with a Posterior Scleritis. I had a 3-month flare of Crohn’s as well, but did not know it was Crohn’s. 

Thanks to a Paleo Diet and lifestyle change in 2011, I managed to come off medication (Prednisone) and put my diseases into remission during one year. In July 2012, I overindulged in gluten-containing foods (sprouted bread). This made me aware of my extreme sensitivity to gluten, and led me to a severe systemic inflammation, as I was diagnosed with Crohn’s (Ileal Terminal), Posterior Scleritis in both eyes, Spondylitis and Condylisis (Inflammation of the jaw joint). I have been on Remicade for the last 2 months and thanks to the universe and modern medicine, I’m almost pain-free now!. I have no doubt that eating the Paleo way helps me to get a better quality of life every day. I believe it will prevent any flare from happening.

You can read my posts on http://sclerite.blogspot.com.au (Use the translator since this blog is in French). 

Also, you can find me on Twitter @nathaliecoach. 

This post (Part 1) breaks down into 2 parts:

-       What is the Paleo Diet? 

-       How to do it? 

The “Paleo Diet” concept has been recognized in the scientific world mainly thanks to Boyd Eaton’s work, published in the 1980’s. Loren Cordain is also one of the pioneers in this discipline called “Darwinian medicine”. He wrote a book titled “The Paleo Diet” in 2002, which counts among the best sellers in the U.S since 2009.

By the way, It is quite amazing to know that, in the U.S, the most searched diet term was the “Paleo diet” for the week ending January 5, 2013 !
  • So, what does “Paleo” mean ?
It is short for the Paleolithic Era or the Old Stone Age.  The Paleolithic period began 2.6 million years ago with the invention of primitive stone tools and ended with the beginning of the agricultural revolution 10 000 years ago.

“Paleo” could be replaced by “Ancestral” or “Primal”. This “Diet” is not a duplication of a caveman diet, because we live in a modern world where our food supply and our environment are different. We try to replicate the nutritional qualities in our ancestral hunter-gatherer diets, by consuming the food groups they ate, chosen from common foods in our local supermarkets, farmer’s markets and health food stores.

As Cordain says, “this diet has not been designed by nutritionists, doctors or faddists, but rather by Mother Nature”. 
  • Why is it beneficial?
Many enthusiastic Paleo bloggers inopportunely fall into the trap of claiming that hunter-gatherers were free of disease because of their diets; and drawing this kind of inference is invalid, as correlation does not imply causation! .

However, this is one of the hypothesis on which researchers work, and so far they have come to the conclusion that what our ancestors ate was superior regarding the nutritional density (Nutrient content in grams / Total energy content in calories or kilojoules) and much less prone to generate toxic effects.

Additional comment 
Yesterday (11th Feb 2013), I stumbled upon a great presentation by Mat Lalonde (Ancestral Health Symposium 2012) 
Mat Lalonde has done his own research about the nutrient density of foods, using the data available on the USDA database.

I think the negative scores are due to the fact that the Sodium content is removed from the amount of Essential Nutrients.

Grains are nutrient-dense, in their RAW state ( which is unedible ... as I know) 



It can be considered as a “Real Food Diet”. 

It involves staying away from packaged foods, take-away meals, supermarkets and any processed foods.

I highly recommend you to read this definition of “good nutrition” by Liz Wolfe http://cavegirleats.com/2012/10/25/good-nutrition-in-100-words-version-4-0/?replytocom=4471

A Paleo Diet is composed of:
  •   Meats and organ meats (grass-fed and organic, not necessary lean    parts of the animal),
  •    Fish (wild) and seafood,
  •    Fresh veggies (organic)
  •   Naturally occurring, minimally processed fats and oils (Saturated Fats are recommended for hot uses, like coconut oil or duck fat for example and Unsaturated Fats for cold uses, i.e Olive oil, macadamia nut oil or avocado oil)
  •    Fresh fruits (organic)
  •            Nuts and seeds (raw, organic), nut and seed butters

Most of the time, to know if a food is “Paleo” or not, just ask yourself “where does this food come from” ? “Has it been grown or killed” ? “How many steps are there before it reaches my plate”? If you unable to figure out how many steps and what were those steps, then there is a good chance it is not “Paleo”.

  • What are the Rules when Eating Paleo?
Diane Sanfilippo, author of the book Practical Paleo, points out that eating the Paleo way is not a dietary prescription. Chris Kresser says it has to be seen as a template rather than a diet, which implies that there is a room for individual variation.

There is not one unique way to eat Paleo. The type of foods, the quantities, the time may vary for each person according their health status, food intolerances, level of activity and tastes.  It may also vary according to the seasons and to the place they live in. It may also vary with the aging process. Some people will allow themselves “cheat meals”, others will have non-Paleo foods once in a while, others will enjoy being pretty strict.

  • A Pyramid pleeeease!

This pyramid was designed by Mark Sisson.  http://www.marksdailyapple.com/introducing-the-new-primal-blueprint-food-pyramid/ 

As you can see, this pyramid includes High-Fat (Raw) Dairy, Wild Rice, Dark Chocolate and Red Wine! It is not exactly what Loren Cordain said. This is to show you that the Paleo community can be somewhat divided, however the common idea is to stay away from processed foods, as much as we can.  

  • But ... Why should we stay away from grains, legumes and dairy ?

Grains (or Cereals)
According to Cordain, grains are not nutrient-rich foods, even though the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia (NHRMC) and the French authorities promote them as a building block for a healthy diet, like many countries do. Compared to Vegetables, Seafood, Meat, Fruits, Nuts and Seed, Cordain concludes that grains cannot be considered as nutrient-dense foods.

Also, grains contain an anti-nutrient called phytate or phytic acid, which binds minerals and make them unavailable for absorption. As a result, grains are said to be detrimental to bone health, because the calcium can not be absorbed as it is bound to phytates. Grains, and particularly wheat, may also impair Vitamin D metabolism. Also, some grains contain gluten (found in wheat and its varieties, barley, rye, triticale and oats from cross-contamination), which is now known to be the cause of Celiac Disease. A few researchers (including Alessio Fasano) believe that gluten could be the trigger for many health disorders. Several key leaders in the Paleo community (Chris Kresser, Tom O’Brian) mention that gluten intolerant people “cross-react” with other foods. Unfortunately, the list of those gluten cross-reactive foods contains ALL grains, which is one more reason to avoid them.

At this stage, I can imagine you rolling your eyes in a “Reeeeeally? No pasta? No bread? No cereals? No complex carbs? No whole grains? Is is possible to survive?” – Yes, it is! Your body may need some time to adjust to this new way of life, but there is a good chance you feel better afterwards! 

Beans and Legumes
All legumes are concentrated sources of lectins. Cordain says that cooking does not eliminate all lectins. Those antinutrients can cause a leaky gut and alter normal immune function.

There is a lot to say about this one ! Here is an excellent post written by Sarah Ballantyne about dairy products., so I will not attempt to do a better job ! http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/10/the-great-dairy-debate.html

  • In practice, what do we eat ?
Well...Eating Paleo means eating fresh foods; as a result, it requires a bit of cooking. It is not difficult, as soon as you plan your meals and your time for shopping for food. You also need a good Paleo cookbook to get started. I personnally love "Practical Paleo", by Diane Sanfilippo.

Eating Paleo can look like that ... 

What are your thoughts ? 

In Part 2 of the article, I will tell you: 
- How the Paleo approach can be beneficial for people who have an autoimmune disease. 
- How Paleo changed my life, as I'm fighting against autoimmune diseases.

If you would like to get the Reference List, please contact. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! 


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