The last few minutes at my recent cardiologist appointment ended with- "You really needed to see me at this time," he spoke softly. "Your levels are all off. We need to cut carbohydrate consumption drastically."
"How?" I moaned. "I have already cut out most grains, and I am down to sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa. I don't even eat that much at a meal!" I swiftly held up the palm of my hand to show him how much I add to my plate in carb use each time.
He quickly left the room and came back with a pamphlet. Read this. Try this. You've got to do something. "What can it hurt?" he added. "You can't keep on going as you are that's for sure."
Robb Wolf's Quick Start Paleo Guide
He was still talking, but my mind was registering a blank. How much more can I do? I've already slashed my diet to the bare minimum of healthy foods to live as I am now. I know something wasn't working right - but ANOTHER new journey? I began leafing through the pages trying to take it all in. I left the office and stopped at the library on the way home to arm myself with the new knowledge I was going to need to take the Paleo Leap.
Within four days the following symptoms began subsiding:
On top of that, I had lost four pounds. How? I wondered. I had researched every possible new "wave" on fibromyalgia. How had I missed this one tool that I constantly blog on?
I landed on Robb Wolf's site later that week and came upon the following information:
What Is The Paleo Diet?
The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. – Robb Wolf
Building A Healthy Paleo Diet
Ideally one should eat a wide variety of proteins from as many animal sources as possible. One need not and should not avoid fatty cuts of meat, particularly if consuming pastured sources. An often overlooked piece of the paleo diet in popular culture is an over-reliance on standard cuts of meat, at the expense of organ meats, bone broth and other collagen sources. For more information on the historical and practical aspects of consuming a more balanced protein intake, check out the Weston A. Price Foundation. If weight-loss is a goal, protein makes you feel satisfied between meals.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that have been shown to decrease the likelihood of developing a number of degenerative diseases including cancer, diabetes and neurological decline.
HEALTHY FATS FROM NUTS, SEEDS, AVOCADOS, OLIVE OIL, FISH OIL AND GRASS-FED MEAT
Scientific research and epidemiological studies show that diets rich in Monounsaturated and Omega-3 fats dramatically reduce the instances of obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and cognitive decline.
Saturated fat has been demonized by our health authorities and media. What is the basis for this position on Saturated fat? Are current recommendations for VERY low saturated fat intake justified? How much saturated fat (and what types), if any should one eat? Without a historical and scientific perspective these questions can be nearly impossible to answer.
Health Benefits of a Paleo Diet
For most people the fact the Paleo diet delivers the best results is all they need. Improved blood lipids, weight loss, and reduced pain from autoimmunity is proof enough. Many people however are not satisfied with blindly following any recommendations, be they nutrition or exercise related. Some folks like to know WHY they are doing something. Fortunately, the Paleo diet has stood not only the test of time, but also the rigors of scientific scrutiny.
With a very simple shift we not only remove the foods that are at odds with our health (grains, legumes, and dairy) but we also increase our intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Here is a great paper from Professor Loren Cordain exploring how to build a modern Paleo diet: The nutritional characteristics of a contemporary diet based upon Paleolithic food groups. This paper also offers significant insight as to the amounts and ratios of protein, carbohydrate and fat in the ancestral diet.
Our Ancestors lived short, brutal lives! This Paleo Diet is all bunk, right?The Paleo concept is new for most people and this newness can spark many questions. We like people to not only read about and educate themselves on this topic but also to “get in and do it.” Experience is perhaps the best teacher and often cuts through any confusion surrounding this way of eating. Now, all that considered, there are still some common counter arguments to the Paleo diet that happen with sufficient frequency that a whole paper was written on it. Enjoy: Evolutionary Health Promotion. A consideration of common counter-arguments.
Does it work for diabetes?
A great question to ask is “Does the Paleo diet work?” Here we have a head to head comparison between the Paleo diet and Mediterranean diet in insulin resistant Type 2 Diabetics. The results? The Paleo diet group REVERSED the signs and symptoms of insulin resistant, Type 2 diabetes. The Mediterranean diet showed little if any improvements. It is worth noting that the Mediterranean diet is generally held up by our government as “the diet to emulate” despite better alternatives. You can find an abstract and the complete paper here.
Cardio Vascular Disease
According to the CDC, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Interestingly however, our Paleolithic ancestors and contemporarily studied hunter-gatherers showed virtually no heart attack or stroke while eating ancestral diets. The references below will explore these facts to better help you understand the heart-healthy benefits of a Paleo diet.
Autoimmunity is a process in which our bodies own immune system attacks “us.” Normally the immune system protects us from bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. The immune system identifies a foreign invader, attacks it, and ideally clears the infection. A good analogy for autoimmunity is the case of tissue rejection after organ donation. If someone requires a new heart, lung kidney or liver due to disease or injury, a donor organ may be an option. The first step in this process is trying to find a tissue “match”. All of us have molecules in our tissues that our immune system uses to recognize self from non-self. If a donated organ is not close enough to the recipient in tissue type the immune system will attack and destroy the organ. In autoimmunity, a similar process occurs in that an individuals own tissue is confused as something foreign and the immune system attacks this “mislabeled” tissue. Common forms of autoimmunity include Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and Vitiligo to name only a tiny fraction of autoimmune diseases. Elements of autoimmunity are likely at play in conditions as seemingly unrelated as Schizophrenia, infertility, and various forms of cancer.
Interestingly, all of these seemingly unrelated diseases share a common cause: damage to the intestinal lining which allows large, undigested food particles to make their way into the body. This is called “leaky gut and the autoimmune response”. Here is a 7-part video series by Prof. Loren Cordain describing the etiology of Multiple Sclerosis. And please watch this TED talk by Dr. Terry Wahls, MD as she describes how she reversed her Multiple Sclerosis with a paleo diet. If you have an autoimmune disease you might consider trying the autoimmune protocol of the paleo diet. - Robb Wolf
Ok, I've given you quite a bit to chew on and digest. This is going to take some time for those, like me, whom have tried everything and sit staring at the screen here now thinking of all the reasons this diet can't be healthy for them. After all, how many alternative diets and remedies have you tried already? The idea of one more journey, at times, can be a bit more than the soul can bare. I get all this. I was there four weeks ago. But, as I get older, life is slipping by without me. So, take my hand, and let's try one more path.
It's easy. Not much to buy other than less grains and beans. I know you've already checked out the quick guide and thought, "Ok, maybe I can add some of what Robb is saying. But, where do I start? How do I even begin?"
Here you go:
Robb Wolf's Food Matrix Plan
Then give me a shout back in four days. For you Vegan/Vegetarians? As long as you are feeling well, keep up the good work! For those that are flustered because that advantage just kept tipping the scales - I got a new plan, let's dive in.