Starting your Paleo Lifestyle
I have been working with quite a few patients for a while now. So from experience, I have learned what works and what doesn’t. Make no mistake, when changing your eating habits you are changing your entire lifestyle as well. This can be a daunting change, because switching your normal routine is never easy. But don’t let that scare you off, you may be surprised at how easy moving to Paleo can be. As long as you have the right tools and the right information. I can help you with this, I have information from hundreds of patients, which puts me in a great position to give you tips to transition easily and be successful and changing your life to a Paleo lifestyle.
1. Embrace the Paleo Diet – There are two types of people when it comes to the Paleo Diet. Those that are all in, or those that want nothing to do with it because it is some crazy fad. By the way, this is a 10,000 year old fad since it is in fact the way man has always eaten. Even in the research environment, Paleo has been studied for the last 30+ years. So if you are not in the camp rebuking Paleo, then you are on the winning team. Paleo is starting to become a household word. You may find yourself shocked at just how many people are eating the Paleo Diet. You are not alone.
2. Find a local Paleo source – Small Paleo cafes are popping up more and more. Seek them out as they will usually have Paleo in the name to attract their audience. However, you can also find non-Paleo restaurants that have Paleo options. This may mean picking apart the menu a little bit, but that’s okay if you stay Paleo.
3. Think ahead – As you are headed into your week, it goes without saying that time will start to evaporate and you will be scrambling to find those extra minutes for food preparation. Think about the meals that you want to have in the upcoming week and prepare what you can for them ahead of time. This may mean nothing more than cutting up some vegetables and having them already sliced.
4. Cook with leftovers in mind – Always prepare more food than you are going to need. This serves 2 purposes. Foremost, you will have food for lunch the next day. Thus, no excuses about not having a Paleo meal. Second, you will have food in the refrigerator to snack on if you get hungry.
5. Don’t tempt yourself – For whatever reason, it seems that the foods that have a way of creeping back into your eating pattern are grains and sweets. The best way to avoid them is to not even be around them. If you don’t bring them in the house, you are not going to eat them.
6. Keep Paleo Snacks Around – Be realistic, you are going to get a sweet tooth every now and then. It is just human nature. If you have some Paleo snacks around, you will have something to hold you over without the guilt of feeling like you wrecked your diet.
7. Flavor your food – Fats and spices are an asset to Paleo eaters. They help stimulate the senses and add another dimension to your food. Even the most bland meats and vegetables can be brought to life with the right combination of spices. Most of the Paleo cookbooks offer great suggestions.
8. Pocket snacks – It is always handy to have some nuts around. Nuts are easy to keep in almost any situation and they provide a good balance of fat, protein and carbohydrate.
9. Eat as many different colored vegetables as you can. Different colors mean different nutrients, try as many different ones as you can to make sure you take in adequate nutrients. In addition to nutrients you will also be taking in a lot of fiber, fiber makes you feel full and satisfied which help prevent you from making bad food choices.
10. Consistency is the key. You do not have to be prefect. That is not realistic. But you can easily be consistent. If you make a mistake, don’t beat your self up, just get right back on your routine. What we are really trying to accomplish here is that you are eating Paleo the majority of the time. Eating something non Paleo occasionally, is not going to ruin your diet.
If you follow these 10 steps you will most certainly succeed. Here is your map and guide to transform your life into the Paleo Lifestyle. Just like many others you will now also feel the benefits of eliminating foods that cause inflammation, and begin to feel good. Before you know it you will wonder why you haven’t always eaten this way. The other great thing about going Paleo is that once you follow it and live it you will never go back to eating gluten and dairy again. You eventually will not miss them, and you will not feel good if you do eat them.
How many times have we seen the commercials for allergy medications? During season changes, every commercial break, it’s so common we don’t even notice. Allergy medications take up a huge section at the pharmacy. In the U.S. it’s very normal to have allergy symptoms, especially in Houston. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, the environmental allergies start presenting symptoms and there you go, off to your local pharmacy trying to buy some relief from your stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy watery eyes. I bet you never considered that there were other options to help you with your allergies. But there are.
First, let’s take a look at the typical approach to allergies. Most medications available fall under the category of anti-histaminics. They are designed to decrease the production of histamine, a trigger for allergies and the culprit of many allergy symptoms. Yet, as good as some of these medications are at relieving allergy symptoms, they do nothing to prevent the onset.
Let me introduce you to the concept of functional medicine. Functional medicine is the concept of addressing the underlying causes of conditions rather than chasing symptoms. The premise is that supporting the function of the body inherently promotes alleviation of symptoms. Allergies are no exception.
One of the most common connections is food allergies / sensitivities. This is a commonly talked about subject in functional medicine, not just because it is related to seasonal allergies, but because it is the initiator of many common symptoms. The beauty of functional medicine when it comes to allergies is that many of the approaches used to help control symptoms are also part of the prevention process. A great example is quercetin. Quercetin is a long time proven anti-histaminic while at the same time an anti-inflammatory. So not only do you benefit from decreased histamine release, but you also promote the healing process in the gastrointestinal tract by reducing the level of inflammation.
The best thing you can do for yourself is food allergy or food sensitivity testing. But to start, you can try eliminating gluten’s, wheat’s, eggs and dairy. These are more than likely the causes of your dysfunctional gut or allergy symptoms. If you eliminate these, you will see an obvious decrease in histamine, and therefore an obvious decrease in symptoms.
You really shouldn’t have to suffer. Functional medicine is really the way to go if you want to eliminate allergies and the highly inconvenient symptoms that go along with them. When turning to functional medicine, you will find non- medicated, safer, healthier solutions that will also help heal your gastrointestinal functions, and in turn balancing out your immune system in general.
Memory is A Skill
Have you noticed a decline in your memory? Do you find it harder to remember things these days? Are you walking into a room and forgetting why you went in there or do you forget someone’s name 5 seconds after they just told you what it was? These are all indications of poor memory. Many people think incorrectly that memory loss is simply a part of the aging process. Memory is an acquired skill that must be nurtured. As we age we can actually enhance our memory by providing our bodies with what it needs and by putting our brain to work.
It’s not your age, it’s your Diet
One of the reasons that many think that memory loss is part of the aging process results from lack of awareness of those things that rob the brain. The brain, like nearly all areas of the body has specific requirements. It must have a constant energy source so that it can carry out the tasks that we place upon it. The brain also demands precursors to help it form new tissue. That stated, our diets have a significant role to play in how our brains function. The diet either helps us develop new neurological tissue and think better or it sabotages us by promoting a chronic inflammatory state that damages our brain tissue over time, resulting in potential memory loss.
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet provides the perfect ground work to develop a better memory. Again, having a good memory means having a good supply of energy to the brain routinely to allow it to carry out its function. As glucose is the preferred energy source for the brain, a diet that manages glucose levels and prevents fluctuations will support memory. Studies have shown than when the glucose levels are stable the brain is able to form new networks of interconnections. The complexity and function of the brain grows. In contrast, when glucose levels are unstable, the brain suffers and interconnections are not made. Even worse, an overall state of inflammation is created that stimulates neurodegeneration. You don’t notice it all at once, but the brain is slowly declining as neurological tissue is lost.
Equally important in the management of brain health, are fatty acids. Fats make up the coating around the nerve cells that speed up the processing of a neurological impulse. Additionally, they also are needed to make healthy membranes for the nerve cells. Without these fats, the nervous tissue begins to degenerate. It does not have the ability to repair itself as consistently as it needs to. Moreover, just as abnormal levels of glucose can cause inflammation in the brain, so to can fats. Diets higher in inflammatory omega 6 fats such as those found in the Standard American Diet (SAD) contribute to neurodegeneration. Likewise, diets such as the Paleo that lead to consumption of higher amounts of omega 3’s as are found in nuts and wild protein sources inhibit the inflammation. Not only do they inhibit brain tissue damage, but they also promote brain tissue development.
I’m sure you have heard the expression “use is or lose it”. This applies as equally to the muscle tissue as it does to the brain function . When you use your brain on a daily basis, and give it the necessary precursors and nutrients that it needs, your memory enhancement will change as quickly as changes in muscle tissue from exercise.
Ahh, wheat! How we do enjoy it. We put it in everything. Flour helps us make our soups and broths thicker. It allows us to bake cookies, cakes, and pizza’s. And who really wants to eat a burger and a slice of cheese if we didn’t have two slices of bread to put it between? It’s hard to imagine going to a ball game and asking for a hot dog without a bun? Things just would not be the same without wheat. Or would they?
For some reason, there seems to be an attraction to wheat that we can’t explain. There is a strong attraction to wheat that you can really feel physically especially when you stop consuming it. I am not surprised because this grain has begun to permeate our food supply. It’s almost impossible to find a package food that does not have wheat in it! It is obviously very popuplar, but at what cost?.
Wheat allergies do not just present themselves in the gut
As many are aware, an allergy to wheat is relatively common. More prevalent than previously given credit for, allergies to wheat can create a multitude of symptoms. Conventional thought has suggested that a reaction to wheat meant gastrointestinal distress. However, as we better know now, gastrointestinal dysfunction does not make up the largest percentage of reactions against wheat. Instead, areas such as the nervous system are more dramatically impacted. Likewise, the skin can also be affected leading to notably rashes. This does not mean that the gut does not have a role. It just means that if you are only looking to the gut for an answer to your ails concerning wheat allergies, you may be overlooking the problem.
Allergy or sensitivity?
Moreover, the definition is not completely accurate. What most of us consider as wheat allergies are actually wheat sensitivities. Therefore, if you are looking for an allergy by traditional standards, when in reality it is a sensitivity that is causing the problem, you are likely to miss the primary cause. Add to this that wheat as we know it has changed greatly over the years. We no longer eat the strains of wheat talked about in the Bible. Instead, if you are consuming wheat in the form we know it today, you are consuming a hybridized form. This hybrid form produces a greater quantity of the allergenic proteins, thus making it more reactive.
If you were told that you have an allergy or a sensitivity or something like that to wheat, would you be able to stop eating it? You wouldn’t really have a choice if you wanted to feel better. If you gave it a try, you could be amazed at how much better you would feel. Especially if you ae routinely consuming wheat. I have seen countless patients that remove grains from their daily diet and feel so much better just after a month. Yo don’t want to dismiss a wheat allergy. You could be opening the door to reactions against other things you re eating. Also when consumption of wheat stops you may be removing unexplained symptoms that were connected to your wheat allergy. You can’t go wrong with a grain free diet based in whole foods. You could also follow the Paleo Diet, this is exactly the diet you need to be eating to get rid of those allergies and unexplained symptoms.
Our Food is Hurting Us.
You are exposed to it every day and don’t even realize that it is harming you. Three times each day at least, and often times more, you are coming into contact with substances that are negatively affecting your health. Sometimes they are obvious, other times they are hidden. They have the potential to cause reactions, whether as simple as annoying congestion or as serious as a chronic ailment. What are we exposed to every day that has the potential to have this great of an impact on our body? It is our food, the very thing that we have to consume to maintain life.
We have reached a tipping point with food. Once only viewed as a necessity to sustain life, now our view about what is classified as food is different. Consideration has to be given to not only the beneficial role that foods can have, but also to the damaging effects that food may present. We have even come up with catchy terms like “junk food” because we know certain foods should not be routinely consumed. You honestly have probably given little thought to why a food might be called such.
Food Can Make us Better Or Sicker
Food is a very powerful substance. It has the ability to help regenerate health, while also having the ability to weaken our bodies to the point of allowing disease promotion. Yet, most of us don’t realize why this is. In short, it has to do with the interaction of our bodies and the food we were intended to consume. There is synergy between whole, unadulterated foods that are raised and grown in an environment that is minimally affected by man and our bodies. This food matches the way in which our bodies function, literally down to the level of our DNA. In contrast, more modern foods don’t mesh with our bodies. Rather they work against us placing undue strain on our biochemical systems. Herein is the link for why we are seeing an increase in food allergies.
Allergies Are Not A Normal Reaction
Allergies are not a normal reaction from our body. They are triggered by interaction with substances that stimulate the immune system to be over-reactive. In the case of food allergies, you are eating something that is not consistent with your body. This list of foods that are damaging to the body and the immune system is long and continues to grow. But you don’t need a list of foods to avoid. Like I tell my patients, you just need to know where to shop and what to avoid.
Inherently, the more unrefined, non-genetically modified foods you eat, the less likely your food is damaging your health. Food allergies are a manifestation of the ill effects of unrecognizable foods. You know, the ones that make up most of the typical grocery store. These foods promote deterioration of our guts and find their way into our system to trigger reactions. What we think of as the typically allergic reaction is often multiple reactions but they all stem from intake of the wrong foods.
Just as eating the wrong foods can make your symptoms worse, eating the right foods can help alleviate your symptoms. When you are eating a Paleo style diet, you are eliminating the major triggers for the immune system. Remember, allergies to food are not inherent. They exist because we consume food that is “junked” up, which we fondly call “junk food”. Getting back to the basics of food selection is a must for reduction of the common food allergies.
What is “Detox”?
Detoxification has become a buzzword in healthcare. Unquestionably when performed correctly it works. Otherwise, so many people would not be interested in detoxification programs. But detoxification also comes with a stigma. Many hear detoxification and shun the idea because they associated it with frequent trips to the restroom and feeling poor. If this is what you experience with detoxification, you are not undergoing an adequate detoxification process. In fact, you may be doing your body more harm than good.
Do You Know Why You Should Detox
Detoxification is an important concept in today’s world. We are inundated with toxic chemicals and substances from nearly every direction. As we become a more industrialized society, chemicals that did not exist 50 years ago now saturate our environment. Those that we deemed toxic decades ago remain because they don’t breakdown efficiently. This is a real problem as bodies have the same burden. While we have effective means to breakdown some toxicants, not all are so easily transformed and released from our system. Thus our body needs support. Add to this picture the fact that we produce our own toxins that have to be equally eliminated. As you can see the load of toxins can become burdensome rather quickly. With this toxic burden often come many common symptoms. These include fatigue, weight loss, allergies, and gastrointestinal dysfunction just to name a few.
Detoxification Does Not have to be Confusing
Detoxification can seem like a confusing term. Much of this has originated from the idea of detoxification being confused with colon cleansing, or as it should more accurately be stated colon purging. When I speak of detoxification, we are referring to a completely different process. Detoxification, or as the research community calls it detoxification, is a true bodily process. It is something that your body performs on a daily basis. Without it you would accumulate numerous internal toxins that would damage the body. When we speak of physiologic detoxification, we are actually referring to the process of transforming a harmful substance into one that is less damaging to the body and eliminating it through the liver and ultimately the bowels. For this to happen, purging to the bowels is not required, and further not recommended.
The Benefits of Detoxification
Detoxification has numerous benefits, the most profound of which is the reduction of chemical substances that promote inflammation and degeneration of our bodily systems. As these systems degenerate, the body becomes less efficient as it is becoming toxic. The human body can deal with some toxic burden, but the system cannot handle an accumulation of toxins, whether environmental or produced from within. When our inherent detoxification systems are functioning appropriately, many of the common symptoms noted above become less significant. If the body is not focused on dealing with the strain of toxins, it can increase the resources needed for energy production, promoting a healthy immune system and optimizing bowel function.
The Paleo Diet Accelerates Detoxification
Since detoxification is founded in good health that instinctively means that the Paleo Diet must be a part of it. The Paleo Diet has some true advantages when it comes to daily maintenance of detoxification or application of a detoxification program. Foremost, the Paleo Diet provides adequate protein. Protein is essential to maintaining good liver function and without it, the liver lacks the resources to efficiently clear toxins through the second of its two stages. Additionally, the diet emphasizes the incorporation of vegetables and fruits. These have 2 key advantages, fiber and antioxidants. Fiber is necessary as it provides a binding site for toxins so that they can be eliminated. Antioxidants are needed to reduce the inflammatory load that can present as toxins are being eliminated. These same foods also provide the nutrients needed to support the phase one of two that is a part of detoxification by the liver.
How to Have Detox Success Using the Paleo Diet
A successful detox begins with the Paleo Diet. When using the Paleo Diet, you are incorporating foods that are naturally nourishing to the body, provide the essential nutrients needed to support the body’s detox process, and avoiding the consumption of foods that are themselves toxic to the body. If you are serious about detoxification, you must follow through on the Paleo Diet. The best part is you will get to enjoy tasty, nutritious food while supporting your health at the same time.
Don’t Sabotage Your Paleo Diet with Corn
With so much talk over the last few years about gluten, it can be confusing to know what to eat and what to avoid. The food industry is not making it easier for you either. They label many products as “gluten free” without themselves really knowing what contains gluten and what does not. As a consumer, this leaves you second guessing your decisions about the appropriate foods to stock your pantry and refrigerator with. Moreover, it results in your frustration as you feel that you are eating foods that do not contain gluten, when in reality they do. If you feel this frustration that I speak of, know that you are not alone. There are others as agitated about this mislabeling practice as you.
The Food Industry’s Lie
Likely the food ingredient most to blame for the food industry’s misguidance is corn. Some time back my curiosity was triggered by all of the gluten free labels in the grocery store. Not being able to leave well enough alone, I had to examine each of the labels to see what the main ingredient replacing the commonly used wheat was. To my surprise, every bag I picked up at that particular store stated corn as the primary ingredient. Spinning the bag from front to back repeatedly, I had to check to make sure I was not misreading the label. But I was not. It said what I feared. It stated gluten free and then went on to use corn as the replacement ingredient. My first thought was this is blasphemy. If we counted the number of times I have instructed patients on the importance of being grain free and not just gluten free, my frustration with the food industry would be well understood.
What is Corn really?
In short, corn is a grain, and as with any grain, there are inherent risks associated with eating it. Corn has become a science experiment in many ways. The conversation on avoiding corn can be irritating for some. I completely understand this, yet, we have to recognize the history of corn and what has been classically considered gluten free. Originally, gluten has been considered only to be a problem if you were eating wheat, oats, barley or rye. While these unquestionably contain gluten, they are not the only ones to do so. Gluten, and more specifically prolamines, one of the immune stimulating components of gluten, is found in all grains. So by its very definition, this makes corn a problematic food. Corn contains gluten because it contains the prolamine, zein.
But My Recent Lab Tests Don’t Show a Reaction to Corn
The picture can become especially confusing when you factor in lab testing. Labs associated with food reactions have the ability to check two types of reactions, immediate and delayed. The immediate reaction is what we think about as a classic allergy. Delayed reactions are not allergies, but rather sensitivities. In the case of corn, as with almost any food, you can develop either type of reaction. Most individuals are somewhat aware of allergies, but they may still hide themselves and not be apparent. The idea of having a full blown allergy attack is certainly possible, but does not represent the majority of allergic reactions. In contrast, it is also possible to have a delayed reaction which takes longer to manifest after exposure to the stimulating food. For most food reactions, delayed reactions are what I recommend testing as they can be the most elusive. Yet as with any food testing, caution should be used with interpretation and understand that there can be a degree of unintended ambiguity with the results. If a food you were suspecting does not show up, there remains the possibility that your immune system may be reacting through a mechanism that was not part of the testing you performed. This does not mean the testing is flawed, rather that the immune system is complex.
Corn Has Many Problems
Corn is a known problem though. When you factor in the fact that it is a grain, often refined, and genetically modified when derived from commercial agriculture sources, corn should quickly lose its appeal. Corn is not the food that many of us once thought of it as. Rather, it is a genetically mutated cross between a food substance and bacteria able to produce a damaging toxin that has been shown in studies to damage red blood cells. Equally as important, this same toxin damages the gut lining according to additional research, setting up the infamous “leaky gut”.
The Best Solution is Avoidance
The best solution to escaping all of these damaging effects from a genetically mutated food substance that the food industry has lied to you about is avoidance. If you are not eating it, it cannot damage your health. Make no mistake, the consumption of corn as we now know it, as with other grains, has been repeatedly shown to be problematic to the health of humans. Whether it is the promotion of intestinal permeability and autoimmune reactions, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, or other common health ailments, your health will benefit most by not consuming grains. Therefore, if you are looking for the most ideal pattern to support your efforts, the Paleo Diet is your answer.