The MTHFR test and the significance of MTHFR had little meaning in healthcare until recently. And while many patients and clinicians are seeing the benefits of undergoing an MTHFR test, it is still not order often enough. The MTHFR test can change the course of care and the decisions that providers make for their patients. In my own experience, I have found the MTHFR test to be a valuable tool that can support the decision making process for treatment. Without it, there is not a full understanding of the influences on one of the most common nutrients, folate (B9).
What Can I Learn from an MTHFR Test?
The MTHFR test provides direct information about the genetic influence on arguably the most important enzyme related to folate. MTHFR, or methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, is the enzyme responsible for carrying out the last step in production of active folate, or 5-MTHF. (It’s not hard to see why acronyms are used most of the time as long as some of these names are.) Most dietary and supplemental folates, as well as folic acid, have to be converted to active folate. If you are unable to manufacture active folate, the crucial process of methylation is impaired.
The value of the MTHFR test is in helping you understand how your genetic influence the activity of this conversion process. When ordering the MTHFR test, the primary goal is to determine if there are mutations. A mutation alters the function of the enzyme and slows the conversion process. This is generally a concern as the number of stressors we endure increases and we have a higher demand for active folate. In today’s world, the demand for active folate is very high. This means that the results of the MTHFR test are extremely relevant. The more mutations the MTHFR test uncovers, the more difficult it is to produce active folate and the more impact the environmental stressors have.
Understanding the Results of the MTHFR Test
There are two areas that are often assessed on the MTHFR test known simply as 677 and 1298. These are referring to locations in your genome. At each location you have a pair of amino acids, one from mom and one from dad. Depending on the combination of them, you can be said to have a mutation if your profile does not meet the optimal pattern for normal function of the enzyme. If you have one wrong amino acid at 677, you have about 60% normal function of the MTHFR enzyme. If your MTHFR test shows that you have two amino acids that are wrong at the 677 location, then you are down to about 30% normal function.
When the MTHFR test shows that 1298 has the wrong amino acids in place, the outcomes are less significant than 677. However, this does not mean that they do not have profound effects. One wrong amino acid at 1298 and you are at about 80% efficiency of MTHFR. Two wrong amino acids create an enzyme of about 60% efficiency. Now here is the eye opening part. When you combine the effects of 677 and 1298, the results are amplified. The efficiency of the enzyme becomes even less depending on the outcome seen on the MTHFR test. Of course as I mentioned early, this has to be looked at in the context of the environmental influences. Just a short list of these is the amount of toxins in your environment, the foods you eat, especially the standard American diet, the balance of your hormones, and your nutritional status.
Undergoing a MTHFR Test
The MTHFR test is not a difficult test. Samples for assessment are either collected through saliva or blood, with both yielding equally good results. The thing that many of my patients like about the MTHFR test, as well as any other genetic test that we offer, is that it is a one-time test. Your genetics do not change, so once you perform the MTHFR test and work with a qualified healthcare practitioner to help you understand the results, you have a pretty good idea of how to manage it long term. The success in managing the results from the MTHFR test is in large part aided by knowing your folate levels inside of the cell. Since this is much different than a standard folate blood test, I often recommend looking at micronutrient levels. Conveniently, the lab that performs the micronutrient assessment is also the one I use for the MTHFR test. With the simplicity of the test and the ability to literally use the information for a lifetime to help offset chronic disease and feel better, why would you not undergo a MTHFR test?
The worst dog food label is often the one that can seem the most difficult to read. Even when the foods are names you recognize, you are still left wondering about some of the ingredients. I know for me, when I the worst dog food label, I was often left wondering, are dogs actually supposed to be eating this stuff. For the most part, the answer is NO!
As I have proclaimed in other articles that I have written, dogs are supposed to be just as Paleo as we as humans are. Your inside dog may eat his quarry out of bowl in the kitchen these days, but his demand for high quality real food as close to that found in nature is still there. So to that end, I visited with my friend Christine Gietzen over at Paleo Pet Goods again. I am always amazed at what she has to teach me about what can be found on the worst dog food label. Here is what I learned on my last trip to the store.
Grains are Often the First Ingredient on the Worst Dog Food Label
Grains are often the first ingredient on the worst dog food label. Now wait a minute. I am be missing something, but I don’t ever recall my dogs having a “grain tooth”. In fact, if you have seen some of my videos shot on the farm you will see my dogs walking in wheat and corn fields with zero interest in eating anything. Moreover, while hunting I have watched a close relative of the canine, the fox, walk all over soybean and corn fields and never pay any attention to the grain. Clearly dogs don’t need grains; which begs the question, why is grain the first ingredient on the worst dog food label? The most common grains are wheat, oats, rice, barley, and corn. They are included for two reasons. They are cheap and a filler. Keep in mind that this is often the first or second ingredient on the worst dog food label. That means that it is the first or second most abundant ingredient in the product.
Worst Dog Food Label Ingredient as a Cause of Allergies
Just as with humans, the further that our dogs get away from their natural diet, the more likely they are to develop health problems. The most common example of this is allergies. So often, the inclusion of the worst dog food label ingredients such as wheat and corn are the stimulus for allergies to develop. When the dog’s immune system recognizes a food as unnatural its inherent response is to develop a response. This is what we witness when a dog scratches or chews on its feet. Since these worst dog food label ingredients are the primary cause, avoidance of these allergens is the first step to helping your furry friend.
Worst Dog Food Label Reveals Artificial Ingredients
Worst dog food labels will often reveal ingredients that are manipulative to our animals. Our pets use their instincts to eat. They are not like humans. We use logic. However, God designed dogs to use their senses to guide their dietary choices. Dog food manufacturers understand the instinctual intelligence of animals and realize that without adding artificial flavor enhancers, sometimes called palatizers, dogs would not eat grains and other natural ingredients easily found on the worst dog food label. I don’t know about you, but this just torques my chain. After all, let’s just call it what it is. They are putting something in the dog food to fool the animal’s senses so that they can make higher profits on unhealthy, non-nutritive ingredients. This affect can be so strong that some dogs have trouble switching back to the diet their instincts tell them to eat.
Options to Avoiding the Worst Dog Food Label Ingredients
Many of my patients find that when transitioning to a Paleo Diet they are shopping at different locations. The same is true when trying to avoid the ingredients seen on the worse dog food label. The pet supply chains are not going to carry the food you are looking for. Many of the worst dog food label ingredients mentioned above can be found in these stores. You have to think outside of the box. This is where specialty vendors like Paleo Pet Goods with conscientious owners like Christine come in.
Start with the first ingredient. As we mentioned, the first ingredient on the worst dog food label is often grain. Rather than grain, this should be a human grade meat source. Our dogs need sufficient amounts of protein. Meat meets these criteria, not items like wheat and corn. And if you are looking for a safe palatizer to entice your dog to eat, adding meat to a quality kibble is a great stimulant. Or better yet, there is always the option of feeding wild and domesticated meats in its raw form. This is a real treat for your dog. Just ask my yellow lab collie mix who will eat just about anything when you add pheasant to it. It puts them back in touch with their primal instincts. After all, nothing says Paleo like raw.
If you are looking for additional information to stay away from the ingredients on the worst dog food label, a great resource is Dog Food Advisor.
Corn is one of the staple crops of the United States. Wait! That’s not actually correct. Genetically modified corn controlled by Monsanto is one of the staple crops of the United States. In fact, it is only second to wheat in total worldwide production. While the original corn plant was a viable food source, the genetically modified corn of today is a completely different substance and should not be eaten. However its use as bio-diesel fuel may not be so bad (note the sarcasm).
From a native plant in Mexico to Genetically Modified Corn
If someone can say something better than you can, then sometimes you just have to step aside and let them say it. Here is a quote directly off of Monsanto’s website about corn. If you think you are eating the same thing that you ancestors ate, Monsanto would like to tell you otherwise.
“And humans are responsible for how corn came to be. Corn’s ancient relative is teosinte, which was a grass found in Mexico. Thousands of years ago, teosinte produced a very small ear—about the size of a pinky finger—with very small kernels. Through human intervention, teosinte was bred to produce larger ears and larger kernels. Today, we have a corn plant that produces an ear about the length of a forearm with more than 700 kernels.”
There you have it straight from the horse’s mouth that you are not eating the same things that your ancestors ate. So why should you be concerned about eating genetically modified corn?
Roundup Ready Genetically Modified Corn
Genetically modified corn has been altered at the level of the genes to make it able to withstand direct application of Roundup. Many might recognize roundup from your local home improvement store as something that you spray on your lawn to control grass in areas you don’t want it to grow. This is the same thought process for genetically modified corn. If you can spray the corn with Roundup, yet not kill it, but at the same time kill the underlying grasses and weeds around the corn, then the corn has a better chance of surviving and yielding higher production. This is all good in theory.
The problem and what you have not been told about genetically modified corn is that when Roundup is applied to it, the nutritional value of the corn is negatively affected. In short, Roundup binds up many of the minerals in corn while also changing the interaction of the plant with the beneficial microorganisms in the ground around it. These organisms have a beneficial relationship with plants. Not only is Roundup good as an herbicide at killing weeds and grass, it also has pesticide properties that killing bugs, and not just the bad ones. These genetic changes that influence the nutritional composition of food are likely part of the reason nutritional deficiencies are rampant.
Genetically Modified Corn – Cross-Breeding Bacteria with Corn
This may sound like science fiction and something that should be on the SciFi channel, but you just cannot make this kind of stuff up. Part of the genetic modification process blended the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis with corn to produce what is known as Bt corn, or simply genetically modified corn. This bacteria is known to act as a natural pesticide. However, when the genetic modification process took place, there were unintended consequences. Not only does the bacteria genes allow the corn to have negative effects on the pests by producing its own inherent pesticide, it also destroys red blood cells. While the studies are not there to support this in humans, animal studies clearly show this. (Toxicon. 1988;26(12):1177-85.) As mammals with red blood cells, there is little reason to think that it does not do the same thing to us when we consume it. Thank goodness some nutritional factors that support our cells appear to be able to offset some of these changes.
The effects are not just limited to red blood cells. They have also been seen in white blood cells, or our immune system cells. The effects in this population are on the lymphocytes that account for our specific, rather than generic immune response. Additionally, bone marrow is also affected (Environ Toxicol. 2015 Apr 21.). Admittedly this happens at higher dosages, but with prevalent use of Bacillus thuringiensis coupled with other applied toxins to crops such as Roundup, the synergistic effects of the toxicity increase the potential harm to unsuspecting humans consuming the crops.
Another critical point to realize is that much of the safety data is based off of short term observation of the consumption of these crops. Long term studies are limited. The consumption of a small amount of poison over a long time is where problems begin to arise. Short term studies do not show this and falsely make the consumption of Roundup and genetically modified corn appear safe. A testimony to this statement occurred in 2012 when a team of scientists at the University of Caen published findings that long term Roundup and genetically modified corn caused cancer, hormone and kidney problems in rats, which like humans are mammals. However, due to great criticism this articles was retracted by the publisher. The irony is that nearly all of the criticism was from the GMO industry and Monsanto. Even more questionable is that the original article did not meet any of the criteria for being retracted, suggesting that the publisher gave it to the pressure of Monsanto. Even in the face of professional assault, the researchers held their position and stood by their results. While Monsanto may be able to minimize the results from a credible study, not all of the populace is as uninformed as they would like.
Genetically Modified Corn is not Gluten Free
If all of the aforementioned problems were not bad enough, corn is being used as a gluten free alternative. This is not technically true. As you will likely recognize, the major crop that brought forth concerns about gluten was wheat. Wheat has been correlated to Celiac Disease, but not all those that react to wheat have Celiac Disease. Regardless, the stimulus for the reaction is gluten, or a prolamine more specifically. Herein lies the confusion. Wheat is not the only grain that contains prolamines. Prolamines are common to grain. In fact, the one in genetically modified corn is zein. Therefore, since corn has zein, a prolamine, it is not gluten free. If you are eating genetically modified corn, you are eating gluten and have the potential for a reaction similar to that found with wheat gluten.
Now, you may say to yourself. No problem. I will avoid the genetically modified corn and just eat the original forms of corn. While not easy to find, the problem is that these forms of corn also contain zein. If your immune system has developed a reaction to zein, the source is irrelevant. Each time you consume it, your immune system is triggered. This makes corn of all sources a likely environmental trigger for an autoimmune response, regardless of whether it is genetically modified corn or not.
Follow the Money Trail
In combing around through different articles I came across one on the Evolution of Corn from the University of Utah Health Science. They state that the evolution of corn to the form that we know it today involved many of the genes in the genome. The change of these genes have resulted in five significant changes.
- Changes to the type and quantity of starch
- The ability to grow corn in different regions and climates. (Remember, it is the second most produced crop worldwide)
- Increased number of kernels per ear of corn
- Change to the kernel size, shape, and color
- Less susceptible to the effects of pests
Ironically, each of these five could also be argued as ways to increase the monetary yield per bushel of corn produced. This is money that is not going to the farmer, but to the industry and entities that control the crops. Some may call this conspiracy. I prefer to simply call it the truth. Genetically modified corn should be questioned as an option for human consumption. It is likely better stated as a science experiment for which we don’t know the outcome. Until we know more, I would advise following the principles of the Paleo Diet that avoids the consumption of grains.
The Paleo diet for athletes is a great eating plan, which is high in nutrient dense foods and generally lower in carbohydrates, but not necessarily a low carb diet. This is great for nourishing the body and keeping it healthy, which is important to an athlete in training. The question is, can the Paleo diet for athletes provide the carbohydrates an athlete’s body demands, before and after high intensity training? Let’s take a closer look at exercise, and how athletes can follow the Paleo diet, while still getting the carbs they need.
How Exercise Works
Exercise triggers a release of stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline which raises blood sugars to supply energy during the activity. If the body is moving at a slow pace, it has time to use fat as an energy source. However, when training hard, the body will burn the glycogen stores in the body. Athletes commonly have low body fat percentages to begin with, so maintaining proper glycogen stores from carbohydrate foods is critical to fueling workouts.
The Problem with Low Glycogen Stores
If starting a work out with low glycogen levels, performance and work capacity will suffer as an outcome. If following an intense training or work out, and eating a diet low in carbs, the body will eventually show signs of overtraining and exhaustion. Overtraining is a result of training too long and too hard without the appropriate rest times worked into training. It is alright to push the body to the edge, but it is important not to push it over the edge.
Symptoms of short term low levels of glycogen repletion may include a decreased ability during training, tiredness / fatigue, longer recovery and DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness – the tender feeling in your muscles after a workout). Longer term results of inadequate glycogen repletion include fatigue, decreased strength levels and an increase in muscular weakness.
In order to ensure glycogen levels are adequate before a work out, and replenished afterwards, those on the Paleo diet for athletes should look to the following high glycemic foods. It is recommended to consume high-glycemic index carbs because they enter the bloodstream fast and allow the body to quickly replenish glycogen stores in the first 30 minutes to an hour after training.
Foods to Replenish Glycogen Stores on the Paleo Diet for Athletes
- Starchy High Glycemic Index Carbs – Adding artichokes, pumpkins, all types of peas and/or all types of squash in your diet can help replenish glycogen.
- Root Vegetables- Root vegetables are a great carb choice after a workout, if you bake them the glycemic index naturally rises in foods, like yams, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, yucca, plantains, beets, rutabaga, turnips and potatoes. Yes, even potatoes are a good option while on the Paleo Diet for athletes.
- Dried Fruit- Dried fruit can increase glycogen stores quickly; it is a great option to snack on after an extreme work out. Try snacking on medjool dates which can give you about 36-72 grams of carbs, or enjoy some dried mangos. The key with these foods is not to overdo them as they can lead to lack of fructose sensitivity, which can inhibit the production of energy. Moderation is crucial with this category.
(A list of Paleo Diet for Athletes approved Starchy vegetables can be found at the bottom of this page)
How much do you need?
The amount of carbs that should be consumed after a workout depends on a few different factors, such as genetics, body-fat percentage, training stage, etc. The goal should be one gram of carbs per kilogram of bodyweight- within an hour after a workout (divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to find out your weight in kilograms.) This can be repeated about every two hours, for up to six hours after training if you are endurance athlete. It is best to only do it right after working out if you are power and strength athlete.
As you can see, the Paleo diet for athletes is beneficial, but carb intake must be carefully considered. Incorporating more high GI carbs into your Paleo eating plan is commonly what athletes need to do to advance their performance, and ensure the diet is supplementing them properly.
If you want to push your body and increase performance levels, you need a diet that supports you. You need foods which fuel you to achieve your goals and put forth your best effort, no matter what the sport or activity. One such diet is known as the Paleo diet for athletes, and here are the reasons why it is a good choice.
High in Protein
Athletes need protein in order to build lean, useful muscles that will be able to support the body in fitness activities. The Paleo diet for athletes is rich in protein from both meat and vegetable sources. While the amount of protein needed may vary depending on the sport, athletes can adjust their intake with no shortage of protein options. When combining the Paleo diet with moderate strength training, you are able to achieve increased muscle tone.
Healthy Carbohydrates: A Must When on the Paleo Diet for Athletes
The Paleo diet for athletes does not allow refined carbohydrates such as pastas and bread, but instead allows healthy whole carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. The carbs obtained can provide the glycogen (stored sugar needed for energy) athletes need, while also supplying them with vitamins, minerals and fiber. These carbohydrates are recommended before and after workouts, in order to maintain glycogen stores.
Next up is the fat component. The Paleo diet for athletes includes healthy fats which promote a balanced weight and sustainable energy. They can also help clear brain fog, allowing athletes to be more attentive for their activities. The fats which can be eaten on the Paleo diet include polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats from natural sources. Examples of mono and polyunsaturated foods include options like almonds, avocados, macadamia nuts and olive oil, while saturated fat can be supplied from coconut oil. By incorporating these into the diet before a workout or tournament, athletes can get the power they need to endure for longer periods of time.
Good Amount of Fiber
The fruits and vegetables which are part of the Paleo diet for athletes, provide plenty of dietary fiber so the body’s digestive system can work regularly. This is important so that the body can extract nutrients, remove toxins and to avoid any irritation due to digestion issues. When fiber is insufficient, the digestive system is slowed and immune system function weakens. A weakened immune system can be a problem for some athletes, especially those involved in endurance activities. As long as athletes maintain a balance between meats, fruits and vegetables, they will have the appropriate amount of fiber. Additionally, the diversity of carbohydrate based foods on the Paleo diet for athletes allows for the selection of fibers such that not too much fiber is consumed prior to an activity, yet the carbohydrate needs are met.
Better Long Term Recovery
Joe Friel, a U.S. Olympic triatholon coach and author said, “[Paleo offers] better long-term recovery, due to greater micronutrient content [than a standard high-starch and sugar diet], allowing the athlete to train with a greater stress load.” This is helpful for athletes as they can train hard and rest assured their diet will help to replenish their bodies afterwards.
Slight Exceptions May be Needed
The main goal is to divide an athlete’s diet into stages. Most of the athlete’s meal should follow the basic Paleo diet, but before, during and right after a workout adjustments may be needed. Almost two hours before a long workout or game, an athlete should eat a meal with a high glycemic index and low fiber matter. Post activity, adequate protein is needed to initiate adequate recovery.
In conclusion, the Paleo diet for athletes is a great way to eat if you are very active. The components support the body during and after exercise, helping athletes can perform to their full potential.
The idea of the Paleo diet is simple in theory, but it can be complicated for people who are just getting started. The Paleo diet is a way of eating based on the way our prehistoric ancestors ate– before the advent of processed foods (things such as refined sugars, grains, and trans fats). This means that people who follow this diet eat real, unprocessed foods. Meat, vegetables, seasonal fruits, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats form the basis of the Paleo diet.
So why is eating such a basic diet so complicated? Unfortunately, most food today is overly processed and eating it can lead to a wide range of health problems. When we walk into a grocery store, we are confronted with aisles full of boxed, packaged foods, most of which is not good for your health. Eating whole foods requires a shift in mindset and, while access to these kinds of foods is becoming easier, getting started with a Paleo diet does require some imagination and more time in the kitchen planning and preparing your meals, but not an excessive amount.
A challenge many transitioning to Paleo face is finding Paleo diet snacks that curb cravings and hold you over until your next meal. Often people plan their Paleo meals ahead of time, but often they neglect to think about what they’re going to do when 3:00pm rolls around and your stomach starts growling and demanding that afternoon candy bar or bag of chips your body is used to eating. This is where Paleo Diet snacks can be helpful.
Planning Paleo Diet Snacks
When planning out Paleo diet snacks for your week, the first thing to remember is Paleo friendly foods are whole foods. Once you get started, it will become easier to pass through the aisles of packaged junk food and go straight for the good stuff: Fresh vegetables, nuts, and whole snacks that will give you the energy boost you need to make it through your day. And you will quickly realize that these snacks are abundant and simple.
Paleo Diet Snack Options
If you’re new to the Paleo diet, planning your meals can be overwhelming enough, let alone planning snacks to fill the time between meals. These simple Paleo diet snack ideas require little to no preparation and are great for people who are new to the diet, or the seasoned Paleo eater who is looking for an easy snack option. With Paleo Diet snacks you will feel confidence that you are giving your body what it needs, not what is available.
- A handful of raw nuts: While nuts should not be consumed in excess on a Paleo diet, a handful of nuts is filling and will boost your energy. Raw nuts are best; you can also buy a simple trail mix, but be sure to check the ingredient list for hidden sugars or processed components.
- Fresh vegetables: A medley of raw vegetables can make great Paleo diet snacks. Cut up some carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and do some guilt-free snacking.
- Beef jerky: Beef jerky makes a filling Paleo diet snack and will give your body a protein boost. When buying beef jerky, be sure to read through the ingredient list to make sure it is Paleo friendly. Better yet, you can easily make your own with a dehydrator.
- A piece of dark chocolate: Sugar lovers rejoice! Dark chocolate is Paleo approved. Eating a small piece will cut sugar cravings and the antioxidants in dark chocolate will detox your body and give you a nice energy boost. But remember, not all chocolate is equal. You are looking for the highest percentage of dark chocolate available, which is usually greater than 80%.
- Nut butter plain or with fruit: Nut butter is satisfying and filling. You can eat nut butters plain, or eat them with sliced apples, on a banana, or with celery sticks.
Many people on the Paleo diet try to plan their meals so that they are delicious and filling, requiring little snacking throughout the day, but when hunger strikes, it is always smart to have some Paleo diet snacks ready. The Paleo diet is a ‘back to basics’ diet, which revolves around eating healthy, unrefined, non-GMO food that is in its natural state. More and more people are choosing to live this lifestyle as the benefits of a Paleo diet become more widely known.
Why are Paleo diet snacks important?
- Paleo diet snacks are healthy! Think of snack time as an additional way to get your body more whole, healthy foods. At snack time you can incorporate things into your diet you may be lacking in meals. For example, if you ate a vegetable-rich salad for lunch, perhaps you will use your afternoon snack as a way to get more protein. Incorporating Paleo diet snacks into your day is also a great way to ensure that you do not overeat at mealtime. If you let yourself get to hungry leading up to lunch or dinner, you will find yourself eating quickly and eating larger portions then you need to. Get more nutrients and eat healthier by incorporating Paleo diet snacks into your day.
- You have a better chance of succeeding: People who do not succeed in diets often do so because they do not plan properly. When you are trying to follow the Paleo lifestyle, you have to be constantly prepared. Having Paleo diet snacks on hand will ensure that you are never caught in a situation where you have nothing to eat. This can happen if you end up at a restaurant or a social gathering where there are no Paleo options. Maybe you are on the road traveling often. This can make it difficult to find Paleo approved food. These are examples of situations where people simply eat the food that is available to them. Avoid this situation by always having healthy Paleo diet snacks on hand.
- Control cravings: Changing your diet is essentially changing habits. You are changing the way you eat, which is a habit-forming activity. Your body becomes addicted to processed grains and sugars, and when you give those things up, you will experience cravings. The best way to control these cravings is by substituting unhealthy foods for whole, healthy snacks. If you used to eat a candy bar every evening before bed, go for a spoonful of nut butter or coconut oil instead. If you used to eat a bag of chips with lunch, eat crunchy vegetables. You will quickly notice your body craving these healthy alternatives that make you feel great.
Planning out Paleo snacks:
- Prepare ahead: An important part of a Paleo diet is planning out meals. This involves extra preparation and ultimately more time in the kitchen. Many Paleo diet snacks can be made ahead of time so set aside some time on your days off to prepare some healthy, whole snacks for your week.
- Keep it simple: Paleo diet snacks do not need to be complex; the Paleo lifestyle can be a simple, basic way of eating. Grab a piece of fruit; keep some Paleo-approved granola bars in the glove compartment of your car or your desk at work; grab a smoothie instead of a soda. There are many simple ways to incorporate easy Paleo diet snacks into your day that take little thought or preparation.
It is frequently asked is coffee bad for you? Coffee has both negative and positive aspects. Negative aspects are usually related to over-consumption and poor sources of coffee while positive points are much more than the negative. Coffee appears to affect multiple aspects of human health, but the most important thing to consider with coffee is the amount and frequency of consumption.
Reduction of Health Risks Associated with Coffee
Concerning the question, is coffee bad for you, the answer is no but precautions are required. Coffee has many health benefits for the body. Coffee reduces the risk of many diseases. Studies show that coffee decrease the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. In a study published in the Journal Diabetes Care, researchers show that six cups of coffee in a day decreased risk of Type 2 Diabetes up to 30 percent. Coffee can be either caffeinated or decaffeinated. Now granted, 6 cups of coffee per day is probably more than is advised to be consumed, but when you consider that a cup is only 5 ounces, 30 ounces of coffee is not out of the realm of consumption for some.
The other major disease where coffee has shown benefit is cancer. Coffee helps to protect the body against many cancers like skin cancer, liver cancer, a kind of breast cancer called estrogen receptor –negative breast cancer and aggressive prostate cancer. Researches show that proper use of the coffee can reduce the risk of such cancers.
Drinking coffee might also help to reduce depression and cognitive loss during Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Because of its neuro-stimulatory effects, coffee may also help with depression to a mild degree. Yet the benefits do not end here as coffee may also reduce fatigue and enhance some of the positive effects of exercise, including fat burning. Quality sources of coffee will also contain antioxidants, the compounds that keep inflammation to a minimum.
Coffee ironically reasonably decreases the risk of depression. A study at Harvard University published in 2011, shows that women drinking 4 cups of coffee a day had 20 % less risk of depression and lived healthier lives. Another study shows that persons drinking three to four cups of coffee in a day were 53% less likely to commit suicide. While this information is correlational and not suggestive of direct cause and effect, it does draw some interesting, and unexpected, conclusions.
More Facts to Determine if Coffee is Good for You
It is a general concept that drinking coffee can cause dehydration, but some studies have shown that there is only a small difference in the hydration status between those that consume higher amounts of coffee and those who don’t consume coffee. A study published in the journal PLoS One shows no evidence of dehydration is observed with coffee intake when the total amount of caffeine does not exceed that found in 3-6 cups of coffee. This study was conduct to compare the effects of coffee consumption against water ingestion (No evidence of dehydration with moderate daily coffee intake).
Another study shows the same results comparing caffeine and fluid balance. Caffeine has methylxanthine compounds which are diuretics and in persons where fluid balanced is compromised are advised to avoid these beverages. Although when coffee totals more than six cups per day, this can cause dehydration in some cases, especially those individuals that are not routine coffee consumers.
Liver is among the most important organs in the body performing a number of functions. Several diseases and symptoms may be attributable to liver dysfunction. Research show that persons drinking up to four cups a day decrease the risk of liver dysfunction up to 80 %, including in those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
However, nature seems to persist on the concept of moderation. Coffee is no exception. Research shows that coffee has some effects that may make routine consumption less than ideal. A woman drinking more than five cups of coffee can have problems during the pregnancy as caffeine present in coffee crosses the placental barrier and reaches the fetus. While the effects are not clearly defined, routine exposure of such a compound to a fetus in the developing state still has unanswered questions. Due to the nature of the research that is needed to answer such a question, we are likely to have an answer anytime soon.
Important Facts to Consider
The major component of coffee that interests most people is caffeine which is known for its effects on the central nervous system. It can charge the brain and help promote work efficiency while also short term reduction of anxiety and tension for some.
The answer to the question, is coffee bad for you, does not have a universal answer. However, it does seem to matter how much you consume. Drinking more than 6 cups a day can have negative effects on physical as well as mental health. The common possible effects on health include:
- Stomach issues
- Heart beat rapidness
- Muscle tremors
An important finding to note is studies show that for those who metabolism caffeine slowly, drinking coffee can increase the nonfatal heart attack. A study published by the American Medical Association found that risk of nonfatal heart attack increases in slow metabolizers of caffeine.
One of the more benign, but relevant, facts of coffee, and more specifically caffeine, are the possible effects we associated with withdrawal. Foremost, if you are having withdrawal symptoms, it probably is a safe bet that you are consuming too much coffee. It is not an easy for most to decrease of even stop drinking coffee suddenly. The withdrawal symptoms if caffeine can be long lasting and are includes headache, irritability, depression, mood disturbance, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.
In summary, coffee consumption in moderation appears to have some long lasting health benefits, including improved glucose regulation. However, there are two important points to remember with regards to coffee consumption. Foremost, coffee contains caffeine, but not all of the health benefits related to coffee are attributable to caffeine. Some are related to chlorogenic acid, trigonelline and antioxidants. Second, more is not always better. The general consensus at this time appears to be that while coffee consumption does appear to offer some benefits, over-consumption may swing the pendulum in the wrong direction and begin to rob you of some of the acquired benefits. And as with all foods and liquids that you ingest, coffee should be as free of toxins as possible. So when you buy it, buy organic from trusted sources.
There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind that absolutely love breakfast and the kind that can live without it. A Paleo diet breakfast can make both kinds happy. There is not hard line rules for what constitutes the ideal Paleo diet breakfast.
Of course you want to avoid the:
Once you review the list above it sort of leaves you scratching your head wondering if you have to avoid all of that stuff what is left to eat. There is plenty left to eat! You may have to get creative but there are plenty of things left to eat.
If you are not a big breakfast person and don’t feel the need to break your fast right away then its fine to grab a black coffee (or with a little added coconut / almond milk and stevia if you prefer) and head out the door. However keep in mind that this is not a fit for those that have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or wake up with headaches and is probably a better option for those applying intermittent fasting. It is highly recommended to eat breakfast, but if you just do not like breakfast and prefer to eat later on then it is okay to grab a coffee and head out, but it is better to grab a coffee and maybe a half avocado and spoon or some high quality protein as can often be found in some bars.
If You Are Not Big On Breakfast
If you are not big on sitting down to a meal in the morning, there are some Paleo diet breakfast ideas that may work perfectly for you. You can make a quick smoothie with kale, carrots and some fresh squeezed juice of your choice and a little added protein powder. It will give you the energy boost you want but since you are technically drinking breakfast it may suit you better.
Grab a handful of almonds and seeds (if you are cutting fat this is not for you).
If You Are a Breakfast Lover, Mix things up with a Paleo Diet Breakfast
When you think Paleo diet breakfast think outside the box. A lot of Paleo diet recipes for breakfast mimic traditional breakfast foods in an attempt to make the food more appealing to people that are making the transition from “foods that are bad for you” to “foods that will really feed your body”.
If you are big lover of breakfast then using recipes that mimic traditional breakfast foods are going to help you to make the transition to healthier eating. Pure unrefined foods are your best choice. Plant based foods that are organic or home grown are excellent options as ingredients in your breakfast meals.
If you are a committed to a bowl of cereal in the mornings that is fine as long as you are using Paleo ingredients to make your own cereal and opting for unsweetened Almond milk or Coconut milk to splash on top. You can create cereals like Honey Bunches of No Oats. You may have to put a little extra work into it but if you make a large enough batch it can carry you over for the week.
Eggs are NOT dairy. That is surprising to some people because eggs are always sold in the dairy section of the supermarket, but they obviously do not come from a cow, so therefore they are not a dairy product. However if you are on an autoimmune Paleo diet then eggs are not always a Paleo diet breakfast option for you. Eggs may also not be great for anyone that is struggling with gluten allergies / sensitivities because they may also be reactive to the protein in eggs. You can use eggs technically on a Paleo diet but that is really up to personal preference and diet goals.
Get creative with your morning meal. It will be worth the effort.
Coming up with a Paleo diet breakfast menu can seem a bit daunting. If you are new to the idea of the Paleo diet and you are struggling with what to grab in the mornings it is understandable. It can seem like the Paleo diet limits options for breakfast foods but that is only because you have yet to rearrange how you think about what breakfast food is.
Breakfast foods do not have to be rooted in grains and dairy. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so doing it “right” really pays off.
The Benefits of Paleo Diet Breakfast Foods
When you start your day out the Paleo way you are going to experience more energy, you will be more alert and you will not experience that mid-morning crash that you do with other breakfast foods because you will not be getting those empty carbs and temporary highs from the grains that are found in traditional breakfast foods.
The Paleo diet breakfast can include things like:
- Anything green
- Coconut flour (great for making wraps)
- Oat free oatmeal (made with seeds and nuts)
- Berries, nuts, seeds (by the handful or as a muesli type cereal served with almond milk)
- Coconut/Almond milk
- Almond meal (instead of grain flour)
Personal taste will guide which foods become your favorites. Some people like to have something sweet in the morning. Many people that are new to the Paleo diet are simply floored when they find out that sweet can come from a lot more places that refined sugar.
Honey, Molasses, fruits all contain natural sugars that can be worked into many different recipes that are friendly Paleo Diet breakfast foods. Whipped coconut cream is a nice replacement for whipped cream and goes nicely with berries.
Make it Ahead of Time
If you are like most of us, morning time is go time. It can be tempting to grab something at the drive thru when you are running late and super hungry. So to ward off any potential slip ups make your Paleo diet breakfast ahead of time. It does not have to be elaborate. You can make a nice breakfast salad (yes salad remember you are working on changing how you look at breakfast foods).
Your breakfast salad could have kale, spinach, nuts, berries and some good quality olive oil drizzled over it. Pop it in the fridge and grab it on the go in the morning. How about a trail mix that you prepare over the weekend and put into individual bags so you can grab the bag as you head out the door.
Need something a little more substantial in the morning? A can of tuna with some cut up veggies is a great breakfast rich in protein. You do not have to go the egg, dairy, cereal, grain route to have a healthy balanced breakfast, you just have to change the way you look at food.
Drink Your Breakfast
Smoothies are a great breakfast option. They are fast and easy to take with you. Keep some kale, carrots and berries on hand so you can throw them in the blender as you are walking out the door. You can experiment with your smoothie recipes by adding in other fruits and plant based foods.
For The Times That You Have Time
Paleo diet breakfast food is not relegated to raw uncooked veggies (but doesn’t that sound nice) banana bread made with bananas and almond meal is a great weekend breakfast food. Sweet potato pancakes is Paleo friendly and super easy to make. Waffles made with coconut meal and a berry sauce are delicious.
Once you have tried out some of the breakfast food recipes and become more familiar with the Paleo Diet and all its benefits breakfast will become easier and easier to prepare.