As we learn about the Paleo Diet, might a partial commitment to its meal planning be something we would commit to?
Pulling healthy eating principles from the Paleo Diet seems to make sense for almost everyone. Committing to our new healthy eating habits for the long term won’t be easy, but the reward will be great.
The 3rd and 4th years of my 26-year marriage to Susan were rough; certainly the most challenging and contentious years of our entire time together.
I failed to maintain sensible balance as I applied for graduate school and attended my first year at Columbia Business School in New York. I thought (incorrectly) that I could focus entirely on my career aspirations for a couple of years, and then go back to focusing on our marriage when “we were all set financially”. Dumb, I know. But, I was not thinking clearly back then. It almost cost us our marriage. Fortunately, I was ready to make the changes necessary to restore balance to my life. And, fortunately, Susan did not file for divorce before I got a clue. I learned that it’s easy to feel commitment on the wedding day, but consistent commitment over the long haul is not easy. But, it is worth the effort and occasional sacrifice.
Can we apply wise principles of consistent commitment to our eating habits?
Aqiyl Aniys from NaturalLifeEnergy.com is an avid researcher of the benefits of a whole food, plant based alkaline diet. Aqiyl promotes exercising and eating a plant based diet as they way to achieve healthy living. In his blog, he writes that, “The Paleo Diet avoids grains and promotes a low carbohydrate diet because grains are a form of carbohydrates and some grains have a negative effect on the body. Grains like wheat compromise our health not because they are inherently bad for us, but because much of the grain we consume is genetically modified and this compromises its nutritional value. What is compelling about the modern Paleo Diet is its emphasis on removing processed foods and dairy from the diet.
This concept is shared by people who eat a whole food plant based diet. Processed foods include genetically modified organisms and toxins that are detrimental to our healthy living. Dairy also undermines our healthy living by supporting excess mucus buildup in the body and its casein protein is linked to increased risk of cancer and other illnesses.“ The CommutaVie team agrees.
However, Aqiyl also states that, “Scientific evidence supports the high protein, low carbohydrate content of the Cavemen or Paleo Diet as being detrimental to healthy living. Yes, in the short-term a high protein low carb diet will show some benefit, but in the long-term this approach to eating is detrimental to healthy living whether or not you eat lean and unprocessed meat.” Considering that my great grandmother’s diet was generally high protein low carb, and she lived to be 96 years old with a lot of energy in her 90s, I cannot agree with that statement.
Doug Robb, a well-known personal trainer in Toronto and founder of HealthHabits.ca, has seen dozens of his personal training clients make unbelievable progress following what he refers to as a “21st Century Paleo Diet”. He covers the history, description, additional resources, and benefits of the 21st Century Paleo Diet in his ebook (pdf) available here. What I appreciate about Doug’s mindset is that he consistently tells his community that Transformation is simple… but not easy, and that There is no “best” diet or eating plan or training plan because our personal situations & challenges are all unique.
Click here for a Paleo-friendly recipe for Chicken Stir Fry on Tiffany and Whitney’s site, HeAndSheEatClean.com. The cool thing about their site is that Tiffany and Whitney have designed a killer Get Started page with “Sunday Food Prep Examples” and a healthy blend of diet and exercise guidance. I like seeing Coconut Oil and Coconut Aminos play prominent roles in the cast of natural ingredients in that Stir Fry recipe, of course. The coconut product links on their recipe page point to Amazon.com and I love competition, but it’s a free country… so you’re certainly free to “buy from the smaller guys who offer you helpful insights and interactive support.” That would be the products pages at CommutaVie.com, as you can guess.
What do the medical doctors say on this topic?
A study launched in 2011 at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) found that people with type 2 diabetes who followed a “caveman diet” were able to improve their blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol by significant amounts in just two weeks. Researchers aren’t sure why the paleo-diet followers had better health outcomes, but it’s possible that paleo-friendly foods might be better suited for a type 2 diabetes diet than other foods, said Lynda Frassetto, MD, a nephrologist and the lead researcher on the study.
“It suggests that all carbs are not equal,” Dr. Frassetto said. “Carbs from fruit and vegetables may contain things that are better for you than carbs from grains. It may be that when you’re eating fruits and vegetables and getting antioxidants and micronutrients — maybe those are what’s missing when you get the same amount of calories from wheat and cereals.”
People with type 2 diabetes who follow a paleo diet may find that it helps them better control their blood sugar, said Melissa Joy Dobbins, RD, LDN, CDE, a registered dietitian, diabetes educator, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “You’re eating hardly anything that would raise your blood sugar,” Dobbins noted. “You’re really restricting carbs, and that can keep your blood sugar down.” The diet also encourages whole, unprocessed foods, which is a healthy approach, she added. Plus, the “bulkiness” of the foods may mean that you will feel full on fewer calories, encouraging weight loss, also beneficial for type 2 diabetes.
Not everyone agrees, though.
Dr. John A. McDougall (in his newsletter) maintains that the Paleo Diet is Uncivilized and Unhealthy and Untrue. He supports his position by stating that “The most effective diets ever used to cure people of common day illnesses, like coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, arthritis, and obesity minimize animal foods and require people eat the bulk of their calories from starches, including grains, legumes, and potatoes (foods forbidden to Paleo eaters). Medical giants in starch-based diet-therapy, include Walter Kempner MD, the founder of the Rice Diet at Duke University; Nathan Pritikin; and Roy Swank, MD, founder of the dietary treatment of multiple sclerosis at Oregon Health & Science University.“
Hmmm. I’ll have to do more research to find peer-reviewed journals that support that approach because it sure seems contrary to most of the research I’ve done in the past 2 years.
Here’s what I learned about the actual IN VIVO biological process:
The Paleo Diet recommends eliminating sweeteners (especially fructose) from our diet. Your heart will thank you when you do. Why? Because excessive fructose (eating more sweetened food when your liver is already full of glycogen from other foods) may cause the liver to synthesize fats. When that happens, the fats are converted to LDL cholesterol. As a result, fat accumulates around the organs and would ultimately lead to heart disease. Here is the evidence about dyslipidemia from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
So, do you agree that we should try to consistently commit to eating “mindfully” and strongly considering the dangers of eating refined sugars and chemicals? Personally, I will be more mindful about buying grass-fed meat rather than grain-fed meat in 2015. I’m assuming it tastes just as good. So, let’s dare to try something different and continue educating ourselves about healthy living.
And, although we’re very busy, we can probably invest a few focused blocks of time in the next 24 hours.
@ 5:15 a.m. – 25 minutes of exercise to move our entire body and raise our heart rate, followed by a nutritious breakfast
@ AM commute – 15 minutes of listening to a nutrition or fitness or personal improvement podcast as we head to work
@ Lunch time – 15 minutes of walking or climbing the stairs… to combat our sedentary desk-work lifestyle AND eating natural nutrient-dense foods
@ PM commute – 15 minutes of listening to a nutrition or fitness or personal improvement podcast as we head home from work
@ 8:15 p.m. – Healthy snacks & 25 minutes of stretching, push-ups, or plank exercises while we watch TV… or during the commercial breaks
To discover how coconut products can support your efforts, please take a look at these posts: