Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Paleo Diet: A Clean Approach To Eating

By Cliff Walsh

The Paleo Diet is the newest diet craze out there. It consists of eating whole foods like organic fruit, vegetables, and meat while avoiding grains, beans, and dairy. Is it just a flash in the pan? I don't think so. Once I learned more about the Paleo Diet, I realized I had been eating it for quite some time. It is the healthiest, most rational diet I have ever come across.

The Paleo Diet intends to return its followers to the diet of the hunter/gatherer. This means avoiding grains, legumes, chemical food additives, trans fats, sugar, pesticides, and GMOs. The avoidance of chemicals is self-explanatory, but grains and legumes are not. Most people, whether they feel it or not, have difficulty digesting gluten and it is believed our bodies do not fully absorb the nutrients.

The Paleo Diet eliminates all refined and processed foods due to the chemical additives and often poor nutritional content. It is a whole foods diet. The significant rise in use of processed foods, which are loaded with fat, salt, and sugar, are a huge reason behind the rise in obesity and disease in this country. Eliminating processed foods will have a huge impact on your diet. However, there are other areas to consider as well.

This diet also eliminates grains and beans/legumes. This may be surprising to some people. The reason is that both have what's called phytic acid, which keeps your body from digesting and utilizing all of the nutrients in the food. They, along with dairy, also contain dangerous lectins, which are often responsible for additional digestion issues. While convenient, the human digestive system is not designed for grains and legumes, and is not efficient in using nutrients from these sources.

Dairy is to be avoided, although not all Paleo followers adhere to this. I don't eat dairy, because it is not natural for a human being to drink the milk of another animal, particularly into adulthood. No animal species on earth drinks milk past infancy. If you are going to drink milk, I suggest raw milk or low-pasteurized and non-homogonized varieties, if you can find them.

The main staples in the Paleo diet are organic fruits and vegetables, including sweet potatoes along with wild-caught fish, pasture-raised eggs, and organic meats and poultry. Vegetables are extremely low in calories, so to avoid low energy, I suggest getting a significant amount of your carbohydrate needs from fruit.

Paleo follows can sometimes get into trouble if they restrict carbohydrates. Some people don't like to eat too much fruit because they think it will make them fat (not true) and vegetables are inherently low in calories, so the combination creates a diet filled with protein and fat. This is why some people wrong compare the Paleo Diet to Atkins. If followed properly, these two diets are very different. I suggest eating fruit as your main carbohydrate source and shoot for carbs to make up about 40% of your calories. Protein should be at a similar level if you are looking to lose weight, but you could eat a larger amount of carbs if you aren't. Fats should come from healthy sources and top out at about 20%.

The Paleo Diet is clean and healthy. Many have experienced improvements in health, energy, and weight loss as a result of adopting the Paleo Diet. It is energizing and given the considerable amount of chemicals and dangerous food additives in our food supply, it is worth trying.

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