Paleo Diet Exceeds Common Childhood Nutrition Recommendations
Is the Paleo Diet the right diet for babies and children? I would argue that the Paleo Diet is not only the right diet for humans regardless of age, but that it is the most optimal eating pattern period. While some may argue this point, it is important to recall what the Paleo Diet is. It is a diet of real food that has not been processed and that provides unparalleled nourishment for our bodies. In short, the Paleo Diet is a commonsense approach to eating. Is it counterintuitive to mainstream recommendations of diet for infants and children? Yes it is. However, when you look at the basic dietary needs of the infant and developing child, one can quickly conclude that the Paleo Diet meets those needs. In contrast, what do not meet those needs are the mainstream recommendations commonly given. Childhood nutrition is about more than giving adequate calories.
Good Childhood Nutrition Begins with the Mother
The natural aging process tells us that babies need their mother’s milk for at a minimum the first year of life. So is mother’s milk considered Paleo? Whether or not the milk is Paleo and devoid of immune stimulating properties is dependent on the mother. Infant nutrition is directly tied to the mother’s nutrition. Therefore, if mom is not Paleo, neither is the baby. So from the outset, mom sets the stage for her child’s immune function by her food choices. Mothers have an opportunity to provide babies with many of the nutrients and immune system regulating substances needed through breast milk. But this is a fairly logical argument. A healthy mother generally equals a healthier baby. Vice Versa, if the mother is not consuming an optimal diet, she is not providing the fetus or infant, depending on the stage of development, with the nutrients that they need. It is the next stage of development and feeding that can become more controversial and which I often find myself debunking commonly held myths.
The Most Common Childhood Diet Myth
One of the most common myths presented at the time of weaning off of breast milk, or formula, centers around the introduction of solid foods. The myth revolves around the consumption of grains. Contrary to popular belief, grains are not an essential food category. While they may be a staple of some populations in the world, they are not critical to the diet to maintain good health. In fact, for many, they are a detriment to good health. A closer look at what grains provide shows that other food categories offer the same thing, but without some of the health related concerns. After examining grains, they are predominantly carbohydrates, which when offered to children can have a significant impact on the secretion of insulin. Granted, there is a need to secrete insulin to promote growth on some level, but excessive secretion is problematic and has led us to the public health crisis of childhood obesity.
The Food Choice that Is Most Optimal for Kids
A far better option is starchy vegetables and fruits. These provide the same necessary carbohydrates, promote enough of an insulin response to encourage normal growth and weight increase, all without the risk of exposing the developing child to potentially allergenic grains. Additionally, these foods are nutrient dense, having significant quantities of the vital nutrients needed to fuel the growth process. By evolving into solid foods with vegetables and fruits, the stage is set for the food category that should make up the majority of the diet as an adult.
The Ideal Diet for Kids
Are they ever too young to eat Paleo? Not when you are following the natural progression of development and introduction of food substances. Childhood nutrition is fundamental to growth and achieving developmental milestones. While the application of the Paleo Diet may be controversial with the young, it should not be. It is a diet of unrefined, whole foods packed full of nutrients. What mother would not want her child afforded the best opportunities, especially for good health. This begins with the Paleo Diet, both for mother and child.
Associated delayed reactions & food allergies, have become increasingly common. In my practice, I am seeing more patients enter my clinic with reactions to foods that they commonly eat. I often see diverse reactions among my patients. The one question I seem to hear most often is, “Why am I just now reacting to these foods?” “My parents ate this food and they were fine”. This can often be a source of frustration and it’s no wonder, you are reacting to foods that you have been told for years are good for you.
There are many reasons for food allergies, especially to corn. The first is the misconception that corn is a vegetable. We have all been told to eat our vegetables for years. In fact, I still tell my patients that the majority of their diet should be derived from plants. However, when it comes to corn, we are more accurately talking about a grain. We may think about it as being part of our garden, but the corn you are likely to grow in your garden is much different than what is grown in fields and mass produced.
Different types of corn
There are many varieties of corn. Corn grown and eaten a century ago is of the variety of sweet or flint. Another species of corn also exists, known as dent. Dent corn is more commonly referred to as “field corn”. This is for good reason as it is the most common form of corn you see growing in fields. If you have ever seen pictures of large corn fields throughout the Midwest, this is “field corn”. Why do I take the time to differentiate between the two? Isn’t all corn same? Not at all. And the difference is at least in part, why we are seeing more reactions to corn and now considering it a common food allergen.
Corn produces it’s own pesticide.
Field corn as a species is genetically modified. Corn was originally hybridized to make it sweeter and decades later genetically modified to produce it’s own insecticide. Additionally the genetic makeup of corn has been manipulated to allow production of the BT toxin, a bacterial toxin. This toxin is often found in the soil. Are you starting to get the picture? You are eating a substance that in no way resembles what your forefathers ate. On top of that it is producing its own toxins. From this point, it is a slippery slope right into food allergies, and the more common sensitivities. Corn is no longer a food substance, but rather a science experiment perpetrated on the American public to determine the conclusion. The data is coming out, and it doesn’t look good for us.
The Paleo Diet
In general, I recommend that you take no chances with consuming problematic strains of corn. All corn that is refined, feed to animals at feed lots and used in the production of corn based products is genetically modified. If you wish to avoid the ill effects of this food, you will need to move to a Paleo diet. The Paleo Diet is known to aid the reduction of allergies, not just to corn, but to all common food allergies. If you must absolutely consume corn, make sure it is of the sweet or flint varieties, preferably organic. As it stands, organic foods are not genetically modified. While most of the non-field corn is not genetically modified, the agricultural conglomerate Monsanto, has started working their way into these species as well. Buyers beware and do your due diligence.
Unfortunately allergies are common, and with the manipulation of our food supply, they will continue to become even more prevalent. If you wish to protect yourself and your family’s immune systems, avoiding the common food allergens like corn, wheat or soy should be a strong consideration. While I have highlighted the implications surrounding genetic modification, this is only one aspect of corn, and other grains, that contribute to its high allergenicity. If you are serious about getting rid of your allergies and all the associated side effects, making a dietary, lifestyle change is a must and there is no better place to start than the Paleo Diet.
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.
Being an Athlete
Athletes are a unique subset of the population. The demands placed on their bodies can sometimes be staggering, especially when compared to the average person. Athletes tend to have higher requirements than most. The need to support higher metabolic rates and intense training schedules can present a challenge when trying to match the appropriate diet to the athlete.
In general, athletes strive to be healthy individuals on many levels, including their food selection. Dietary myths for the athlete such as carbohydrate loading and excessively high protein diets have seemingly permeated the culture. Yet, in this present day, we realize that better options are available. One such option is the Paleo Diet. The Paleo Diet provides a diversity of nutrients, is inherently anti-inflammatory, and provides the necessary components to support recovery. These are all crucial for enhanced athletic performance.
Understanding that the diet of the athlete is highly critical for success, a closer look is required for the athletic population. Add to this that not all athletes are the same in their requirements. Some athletes, such as endurance athletes, have to be able to derive energy over a long time frame. On the opposite end of the spectrum, strength athletes often go for only a very short duration of time, but need a diet that can support muscle development to move large amounts of weight quickly. For most however, somewhere in the middle is ideal. But is the Paleo Diet flexible, but yet useful enough to support both extremes and those in the middle.
The advantages of the Paleo Diet are many, especially for the athlete. However, one of the limitations that has been presented against the Paleo Diet is that it does not supply enough calories to support the metabolic needs of the athlete. There are many confounding problems with this viewpoint, the first of which is the assumption that calories are the primary concern where the athletic diet stands. This is a fallacy. Yes different athletes will require different amounts of calories, but the true importance of the Paleo Diet as it relates to the athlete is the hormonal stage that it sets. The diet of the athlete must be such that it promotes an anabolic state. This is regardless of the type of athletic activity.
What is an anabolic state?
An anabolic state is required for healing and recovery. It is necessary to prevent excess muscle breakdown. When the diet is low in inflammatory foods such as refined foods and grains, the ability to repair tissue is enhanced. The time needed to recover from a high intensity workout is decreased. Ultimately, a quicker recovery time and an improved recovery make for enhanced athletic performance.
The Paleo Diet has more than adequate amounts of carbohydrates to fuel the average athlete. For those that are working out longer periods, this just means that some of the less attractive foods like potatoes may need to be brought into the diet. By doing so, you continue to maintain the tenets of the Paleo Diet, eating real foods that are not processed. Accompanying the intake of carbohydrates will certainly be adequate protein and fat, for which the Paleo Diet has not been accused of under-delivering.
If you are an athlete, look deeper into the Paleo Diet and the idea of eating real, unprocessed foods. Like others, you might be surprised how your performance actually increases when properly applied.
We find microorganisms everywhere in our environment. If you leave a piece of produce out on the counter, in just a few days it will have bacteria or fungus on it. This just emphasizes that these “micro-bugs” are a part of our world. We don’t think of bacteria being a good thing, often considering it a forerunner to becoming sick. However, bacteria are an essential part of our environment, especially the microenvironment of the gut. They work to keep us healthy and support the immune system. Their effect is so strong that they are able to alter our body composition, influencing whether or not we are able to stay lean, or if we put on a few extra pounds.
The composition of the bacteria in the gut creates a state that either helps maintain lean body mass or promotes fat deposition. Originating from studies on mice, it was noticed that the makeup of the bacteria in lean mice was different from that of obese mice. Interestingly enough, to drive home the impact of these microorganisms, when the gut bacteria between lean and obese mice populations was interchanged, lean mice became obese and obese mice became lean. From this research, we can clearly see the impact of having different strains of bacteria in the gut.
The idea of having an altered bacterial profile as part of the metabolic syndrome presentation gave rise to the adiposity index, a measure of the different categories of bacteria in relation to each other. Compromised of two groups of bacteria, this ratio is highly influenced by the forms of foods that one consumes. The diet is not only an energy source for the microorganisms of the gut, but also has the ability to shift the balance of bacteria, possibly leading to fat loss.
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Diet has a significant influence over shifting the bacterial colonies more towards those that promote fat loss and a leaner body composition. At this point, you may be asking yourself how food can have such a significant impact over bacteria. It is not just any food, but the food that makes up the Paleo Diet. A key point to consider is that the Paleo Diet focuses on real, unrefined foods that have the potential to rot or spoil due to their living nature. The part of the Paleo Diet that offers the most direct impact are the colorful constituents of the diet, particularly those from produce. The compounds that provide color are known as polyphenols and they are potent antioxidants and antimicrobials. Fortunately for the person eating a Paleo Diet that concentrates on adequate intake of vibrant colored vegetables and fruits, their balance of bacteria will favor fat and weight loss.
The gastrointestinal tract is the foundational system of the body. It holds influence over every other bodily system. Therefore, why would we expect that it would not have an impact on our body composition? Creating an intestinal environment that makes weight and fat loss easier is all about making the right food selections. A balanced diet like the Paleo Diet centered on the intake of colorful plant based foods is the foundation to not only improving your body composition, but overall good health.
If you know you have a gluten intolerance, the best thing you can do for yourself is to simply stay away from it. The reason why gluten free is the way to go is because, when you do have an intolerance and you consume foods with wheat, you will stress your body out and that’s how you receive all the symptoms. Another important reason why gluten free is the way to be, is because if you keep consuming it when you’re not supposed to, you can cause worse conditions to come along. Many people find themselves getting a cold more than the average person when it comes time for the winter season. Not to mention, any minor sickness that goes around, they catch it. This is because when consuming gluten, it can cause your immune system to be significantly affected.
The Paleo Lifestyle
The best and foremost way that many people are able to succeed on a gluten free diet is a Paleo lifestyle. In my practice, I recommend this diet to all of my patients. A Paleo diet consists of having no wheat, dairy, or refined foods. It can be quite simple to follow as you are still eating normal food. The Paleo diet doesn’t consist any gluten; that’s why many gluten intolerant sufferers choose to go with this lifestyle. The Paleo diet in itself, can help you to build up your immune system and protect you against health conditions, even life-threatening ones. With the lean meat, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables, you will be able to eat healthy, while not restricting yourself and feeling the need to indulge. There are many Paleo recipes to get you through this lifestyle.
It’s an allergy
The reason why gluten affects the body so much is because it’s allergic to it. You’re bound to never let your immune system recover if you keep consuming it. If you don’t already know you have a gluten intolerance, the best way to find out, is to try the elimination diet; this means taking gluten out for 30 days and following the Paleo diet.
I’m sure if you don’t know you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, you have been to your doctors telling him/her how much you’ve been sick lately; they will write it off as the season it is and prescribe you some medication. They will tell you to get a lot of rest and make sure to take vitamins and drink a lot of water. Yes, water and vitamins help but when you are allergic to gluten and are still consuming it, the vitamins and water don’t matter anymore. Cutting it out entirely will help you feel better. Now that you know why gluten free helps common sickness, you can eliminate it if you want to feel better. When it comes to trying this lifestyle, you have absolutely nothing to lose; except maybe that constant sickness. The energy and the healthy way of living will be worth every single day that you’re gluten free and on the Paleo way of living.
Are you always feeling the undeafeatable feeling of bloating? It can become such a nuisance; you may not understand what’s going on. I suppose you may be like everyone else and decide to go to the doctor’s and you feel that no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get rid of this feeling. You get frustrated when you leave because you feel they didn’t listen to a word you said and send you off without an explanation. Maybe they prescribed you something that didn’t even work. Am I right?
Unfortunately, bloating is a common symptom among millions of people. A lot of times gluten can be the culprit. Of course, I’m not saying everyone has this problem; but it’s more common than you think. Even if someone doesn’t have Celiac Disease, they can still have an intolerance to gluten. When you ingest the gluten, your body is going to react and it’s only natural that your stomach will bloat; you just put something in it that it’s allergic to.
I know what you may be thinking now; how do you know if you have a gluten allergy, right? You can go to the doctor and request a test for it. However, most of the time the test gives a false negative. If you want to save yourself from the hassle, you can try eating a strict Paleo diet for 30 days to see if that benefits you; it usually does benefit many people.
On this Paleo diet, you will need to cut out grains, dairy, and refined foods. Those types of food aren’t the best on your digestive system anyway, regardless of a gluten intolerance. So, you may ask yourself, “Why gluten free? Why with the Paleo diet?” The answer is simple really; gluten is found in almost everything, unfortunately. The best way to cut it out completely is a Paleo lifestyle. Many Celiac sufferers actually turn to this way of dieting and they love it. You’re still getting all of your nutrients and much more. If you are having any kind of intolerance to gluten, it’s not a definite, but you might have an allergy to milk, corn, among other things. The best way to be on the road to feeling better is strictly eating fresh fruits, veggies, meats, and healthy fats. If you keep consuming gluten, chances are you’re going to remain bloated and have other symptoms as well.
Many people wonder why gluten free is the best option. Regardless of an intolerance or not, cutting out gluten can help you with preventing illnesses and provide you with so many health benefits. Some people claim that they haven’t got sick in months or even years after being gluten free and on the Paleo lifestyle. I suggest if you want to feel better, give this a try. Don’t think of it as a diet, think of it as a lifestyle change; you will succeed with that way of thinking.
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