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Is Paleo Diet Good Or Bad, Things To Consider Before Trying

The Paleo Diet also named Stone Age diet,  is hugely popular these days. The paleo diet runs on the same foods our hunter-gather ancestors supposedly ate: fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and nuts. Anything that comes in a box, jar, or bag should be avoided, as should anything that just wasn’t consumed back then. That means no grains, dairy, added salt, or legumes (including peanuts, beans, lentils).
Is Paleo Diet Good Or Bad, Things To Consider Before Trying

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I would say the idea is really good, it is certainly better than what we are trained to eat by food advertisers. These days we have so many food choices that is almost impossible to not get tempted by something not so beneficial for our health. One single type of product can occupy an entire shelf in the store and more than 70% is not even the quality we would want to have. But before you dive in head first, there are some things worth noting about paleo diet, and then decide if it’s good or bad for you.

I tried this type of diet myself for a while and I can say that it has many positive sides, it’s simple and easy to follow, probably that’s why it is so successful. Since I’m not a heavy meat eater sometimes I struggled reducing meat consumption while trying to keep my stomach fuller longer. I found that when consuming meat everyday I would fell heavy and less energy comparing to no-meat days. For each person the experience will be different according to their health condition, genetics and needs.

food choice

 

The author of Paleo diet  Loren Cordain says our ancestors ate this way and didn’t have many of the chronic diseases we do, but that doesn’t mean the food they ate is the reason why; we live three times longer than our Paleolithic ancestors and not because of the diet either. So with so many influencing factors, is paleo diet good or bad? Considering all of the above I put together some things to consider before trying it.

 

Avoiding processed foods and GMO

 

I totally agree that boxed food, artificial sugars, some dairy and heavily processed foods including GMO shouldn’t be part of our food. Today people are consuming more artificially flavored foods with less nutritional value which may be addictive. Daily consumption of of processed foods was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
 
gmo foods

Less consumption of dairy

 

About 75% of the world’s population is unable to break down lactose as adults, a phenomenon called lactose intolerance.  Some are just allergic to milk protein, usually kids. Consuming it can cause inflammation and thus more serious health problems. However lactose intolerant people can sometimes consume fermented dairy.  Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk, it’s linked to prostate cancer and heart disease.

Try to eliminate milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream for two weeks and see if you feel better. If you notice improvements with your sinuses, post-nasal drip, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, energy, and weight, it’s probably the dairy’s fault. Then start eating dairy again and see how you feel. If you feel worse, you should try to give it up for life.

 

It’s not the same meat

 

Meat quality depends on many factors including: animal’s nutrition, hygiene and toxicological aspects such as bacterial contamination and residues of toxic and pharmaceutical compounds and of course meat processing aspects.

Our ancestors most likely hunted antelopes, buffalo, and probably some animals we’ve never heard of that are long extinct. Their meat was generally quite lean, and provided more healthy omega 3s than meats from modern day animals. The vast majority of meat purchased at supermarkets now comes from livestock that has been raised on what are called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), also known as “factory farms. Any animal that lives in such cramped, confined conditions isn’t going to be especially healthy, so they’re given antibiotics, hormones, de-worming medication, growth-promoting drugs, and other medicines that help them reach their slaughter weight quickly and without getting too sick. They’re also fed primarily grain (corn and soy), and most of it is GMO because is cheaper.

Even the grass-fed animals are heavily contaminated as the environment is highly polluted. Herbicides like Grazon P&D and Redeem R&P are sprayed on the hay field or on the pasture itself. Herbicides are also used to control broad-leaf weeds that crowd out the grasses. The toxins will eventually travel up into the flesh of the cattle as they eat and also down into the groundwater and eventually into our wells, streams, lakes, rivers and oceans.

Still, if it is certified organic, they are only required to have the animals out on pasture about 30% of the time, and they can supplement the animals’ diets with corn and soy (non-GMO). Grass-fed beef may have been “mostly grass-fed” but finished on grain to get fat quickly for slaughter. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than most. The best source is directly from a farm, where you can talk to the person who raised the animal and ask questions.

 

meat processing

You can eat too much protein

 

Many people tend to eat too much meat because it tastes way better than what our ancestors ate. During Paleolithic times, at certain times of the year and in particular climates, meat consumption would have increased, as vegetation became less available. And people that lived in more temperate / tropical regions would have had a very large plant portion of their diet. So not all of them consumed meat all the time.

What is concerning is that the excess protein in many studies [1] has been linked with osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract, and even some cancers. And this is mostly related to the problem that a large amount of this excess meat that is consumed, is poor quality. Usually originating in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where the animals are fed an unnatural diet of genetically engineered grains instead of fresh grass. Today with so many food options, we do have the choice to eat less meat especially that we don’t have rely on hunting.

 

We are not really that adapted to meat eating

 

Our primate ancestors were meat eaters, sure, but somewhere along the line we started to move to a more vegetarian diet and our jaws became much smaller and fragile. Humans are not wired to eat meat like carnivores. Humans don’t smell live animals or blood and go crazy and their hunting instincts kick in. I think eating meat would have been done only in extreme conditions and started most probably with fish in ponds by watching other animals hunt. All this happened due to the lack of food in some areas.

 

teeth carnivore omnivore

 

A carnivores stomach secretes powerful digestive enzymes with about 10 times the amount of hydrochloric acid than a human or herbivore. The pH is less than or equal to “1”, for humans or other herbivores, the pH ranges from 4 to 5 with food in the stomach. Hence, man must prepare his meats with laborious cooking or frying methods. E. Coli bacteria, salmonella, worms, parasites or other pathogens would not survive in the stomach of a carnivore.
 
Also a carnivores liver is a tool designed with the capacity to eliminate ten times as much uric acid as the liver of man or other plant eater. We can be herbivorous, carnivorous, or omnivorous depending on our personal dietary choices, and accessibility of food. Take a look at the panda for instance; their physiological makeup is that of a carnivore but they follow a very herbivorous diet. Apes are generally omnivores, but depending on the species and what food is available to them, some are insectivorous, some herbivorous, or frugivorous.

 

 

Many of paleo’s banned foods are good for you

 

Recently, some studies have popped up on various ancient cultures that show that some humans in certain civilizations consumed certain types of grains as far back as 100,000 years ago, so we’ve adapted. It’s true that phytates in the whole grains are preventing our bodies from absorbing nutrients, and lectins from legumes can cause inflammation. However, they also have important health benefits (if consumed in moderate properties in their natural state), providing fiber along with other nutrients.

 

Assuming that there are no other toxic substances running through your body which might hinder your natural inflammation responses, their potentially inflammatory properties are insignificant. So if you can tolerate beans, grains and legumes you should consider reintroducing them into your diet, if not, avoid them until you solve the real cause of your inflammation.

Digestive issues to wheat and other grains is becoming a growing problem worldwide, and this is probably why so many people see a health improvement while avoiding them. But it just doesn’t make sense that this is the reason why so many people are suddenly having problems with wheat and gluten in general in the past 10 years. I moved to US 7 years ago and until then I never experienced any food sensitivities. It became clear to me that since my health problems started soon after coming here there must be something else done to the american food supply that make people sick. I started researching the issue for myself, and was, quite frankly, concerned of what I learned.

The problem lies with the manner in which wheat is grown and harvested by conventional wheat farmers. And specifically – the application of the herbicide Roundup (or other herbicides containing the active ingredient glyphosate) to wheat and other dozens of crops including nuts and fruits. Here is a complete list of crops desiccated with glyphosate prior to harvest.

The side effects are hard to prove as it doesn’t kill you immediately, the effects are actually slow and indirect over months and years. Roundup significantly disrupts the functioning of beneficial bacteria in the gut and contributes to permeability of the intestinal wall and consequent expression of autoimmune disease symptoms [2].

So the problem is not the product itself, it’s the exposure to the glyphosate residue through ingestion of food crops treated with it. For now is best to stick to organically produced food as much as possible which is less likely to be contaminated with herbicides and pesticides.

Buckwheat Salad

 

They’re also full of antioxidants, which protect the body against inflammation and are thought to ward off cancer and aging. As with grains, you can soak legumes before cooking to reduce their phytate content.  I don’t see a problem with gluten free grains and pseudograins like oats, millet, quinoa, buckwheat. And of course if you observe that you don’t feel good after consuming them, you’ll avoid them. Adopting a diet that limits grain and legume, consuming them in moderation I think is the best.
 

Our modern foods are not the same as years ago

 

What we eat today is completely different from anything we have ever had access to before because we have genetically modified our crops and hybridized our foods. So there is no way we can equate this to any real paleo diet. Fruits we eat today bear little resemblance to their wild ancestors. Domesticated fruits are almost always larger, sweeter, and contain less fiber than their wild counterparts.
​We need to be focusing on eating unprocessed, real food. Not “no grains no matter what ever!” – but rather a common sense approach to cutting out processed foods and including more natural whole foods.
 

 

 

Environmental Concerns

 

Our meat consumption habits have a serious bad impact on the environment. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the production, processing and distribution of meat requires huge outlays of pesticides, fertilizer, fuel, feed and water while releasing greenhouse gases, manure and a range of toxic chemicals into our air and water. A life-cycle analysis found that red meat such as beef and lamb is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as common vegetables and grains.

 

Livestock are typically fed corn, soybean meal and other grains which have to first be grown using large amounts of fertilizer, fuel, pesticides, water and land. EWG estimates that growing livestock feed in the U.S. alone requires 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer each year. If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million.
The water pollution from factory farms can produce as much sewage waste as a small city, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Further, the widespread use of antibiotics to keep livestock “healthy” has led to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that threaten human health and the environment [3]. Approximately 70% percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used in meat and poultry production.
animal confinement
Final thoughts
I’m not trying to say that we should all become vegetarians or vegans, there are junk food vegans who eat french fries and heavily processed soy burgers on white buns, they’re probably some of the most unhealthy eaters ever. There really isn’t an optimal diet or a best diet that everyone should follow, because everyone lives in different environments and have different physiologies. We all have intolerances to certain things or proclivities to others. People should do what works for them, choose their food wisely, real uncontaminated food whenever possible.