What is a Paleo diet and how it can help you

Paleo diet

Many specific diets have come and gone in popularity over the years.  We have had the Atkins, Nutrisystem, Bernstein, Zone, Weight Watchers, Mediterranean, South Beach, Raw Foods diets and more.  Some are long gone, others still around.  The Paleo diet, short for Paleolithic, (think cave man era) is based on what our ancestors supposedly foraged for and lived on centuries ago.  I say supposedly because which one of us was around to confirm the info?

It is not that difficult to realize that all the additives, preservatives and other highly processed and or hydrogenated ingredients were not around back then.  The Paleo diet urges people to eliminate such items from their meal plans.  That includes salt sugar and artificial sweeteners, iodized (table) salt,  omega six oils (unrefined, organic coconut, olive, flaxseed, and avocado are allowed because they are omega 3s), dairy (except butter and ghee which are allowed.)

Beans and legumes (with the exception of green beans and snow peas) are not allowed on a Paleo diet either because they are (for most people) hard to digest.  The same applies to starchy vegetables like white potatoes (sweet ones are allowed in moderation) corn and squash, as well as all (even gluten-free) grains. Grains are taboo because of the lectins they contain that trigger allergic and autoimmune responses as well as leaky gut syndrome.

Paleo diet

Meats allowed on the Paleo diet are grass fed, pasture raised and organic. Fish choices should be wild or farmed under responsible conditions.  Eggs should be free range. Most nuts (except peanuts because they are legumes not nuts) and seeds are allowed too.

This diet is supposed to prevent and eliminate immune responses and many disease states, including cancer.  I must admit, other than eliminating dairy (cheese is a personal weakness) beans and gluten free grains like brown rice and quinoa (actually not a grain, but included in that category) my current choice of diet follows these Paleo choices very closely.  These choices came from figuring out (over many years) what works (and doesn’t work) for my body.  Go figure, here I thought I was unique!

 

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The end of Alzheimer’s

The book I read recently, called The End of Alzheimer’s, is the inspiration for this post.  It is written by Dr Dale Bredesen and can be purchased here.

Seven years ago I was struggling with various health issues including a terrible short term memory.  As I worked through the process of finding out what my problem was, I discovered that many common dietary habits are linked to poor short term memory and the general fatigue I was experiencing.

More recently I heard about this book that claims to contain the solutions to preventing and even reversing the cognitive decline of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.  I was intrigued since the causes of cognitive decline outlined in this book are eerily similar to what I discovered were the causes of my earlier health issues.  That is my excuse for why there are so many internal links to my previous posts.

I will attempt to summarize these causes and their solutions, but read the book for full details if you are seriously concerned about yourself or someone you care about.  What I took away from reading this book is that the main cause of cognitive decline (dementia including Alzheimer’s) is an overproduction of sticky amyloid plaque that destroys the synapses of the brain.

Alzheimer's
synapse: Wikipedia

 

This amyloid is produced naturally as a defence mechanism when our immune systems detect irritants or pathogens in our bodies.  The problem becomes when our immune systems face a chronic (consistent) bombardment of irritants to fight and never shut off.

According to this book, the three culprits that cause our immune systems to be overworked resulting in the overproduction of amyloid are:

  • inflammation including infections (viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic) poor hygiene (gum disease) and poor food choices (trans fats, omega 6 fats vs omega 3s, sugar, dairy, gluten)
  • the shortage and decline of nutrients, hormones and molecules that are necessary to support our brains
  • toxins (metals, chemicals, antibiotics, medication, alcohol) and biotoxins (mold)

So, how do we prevent or reverse the onset of cognitive decline and yes, even Alzheimer’s?  The author uses the analogy of terrorists on an airplane.  If you prevent the terrorists from getting on the plane, they cannot blow it up mid air.   Likewise, we can thwart these neuroterrorists (listed irritants) that are wreaking havoc on our immune systems by not ingesting them.

Note that the first two irritants on the list are diet related, meaning they should be easier to control.  Removing the toxins in your home and life may be more complicated, but can be done.  Note too that this neglect or abuse of your immune system has (most likely) gone on for years.  That means fixing it won’t happen over night!

From my own personal experience I can say that eliminating gluten, reducing sugar and trans fats, choosing omega 3s over 6s, and reducing my exposure to toxins for the past seven years has made an incredible difference in my overall health.

 
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Please be sure to visit my other blogs:
Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at Your Daily Chuckle
and
Be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW
My gardening website can be viewed at gardens4u.ca

 

Omega 3 vs omega 6 fatty acids

When researching a previous post about healing fats, I learned that the balance between omega 3 fats and omega 6 fats is another health concern.

First of all, you have to know the difference between the two. Both are important for maintaining a healthy body and neither are manufactured by our bodies, so must be obtained from our diets. While 6s are found in the foods within a common modern daily diet, 3s are usually supplemented.

omega 3s:

  • cold water fish (sardines, salmon, herring etc) and fish oil
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • garlic, flax seeds,  walnuts
  • extra virgin olive oil

pictures from Pixabay and Pexels

 

omega 6s

  • wheat, whole-grain bread, and cereals
  • grain fed chicken and their eggs
  • refined vegetable (soy, corn, sunflower, safflower) and grape seed oils
  • nuts
  • meat from grain fed animals
  • processed and fast foods

 

pictures from Pexels and Pixabay

 

Both omega 3s and omega 6s have health benefits and drawbacks.  While 6s are helpful in treating the symptoms of arthritis, diabetic nerve pain, menopause,  high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, eczema, and even allergies, too many 6s can cause depression, dyslexia, obesity, hyperactivity, and other health problems.

Omega 3s are crucial for our brain, hormone, and immune function,  good vision and hair, skin, cell and tissue growth.  They are helpful in treating symptoms of lupus, asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, breast and colon cancers and irritable bowel disease.  A deficiency in 3s can result in conditions such as depression and mood swings, poor memory, fatigue, poor circulation, dry skin and more.

The problem comes when too many 6s, especially from vegetable oils and grain fed (as opposed to grass-fed) meat, outweigh and overtake the benefits of the 3s.  This happens because the 3s and 6s compete for the same enzymes to aid in their metabolism.  Although a ratio of 1:1 between 6s and 3s is the ideal balance to strive for, studies have shown modern diets to be as high as 16:1   This higher proportion of omega 6s is leading to the increase of many disease states within our modern societies including arthritis, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and other inflammatory processes, as well as numerous types of cancer.

Start paying attention to the ratio of omega fatty acids in your diet and make some changes before your health takes a turn for the worse!

Sugar, Sugar

 

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In the diet or health and wellness world, sugar is a bad word these days.  Apparently, processed foods, even the fat-free, fat-reduced or light products are not the way to go as they are making us fatter and fatter.  Why?  Because of the large amounts of sugar they contain.

Sugar comes in many forms and names.  Packaged, processed or prepared foods may be convenient and tasty, but are loaded with various forms of sugar:

  • sucrose, maltose, fructose, dextrose, glucose (anything ending in ‘ose’)
  • honey, syrup, nectar, sweetener, cane crystal, molasses, cane juice, malt

Sugar in any form causes our blood sugar (glucose) levels to rise and fluctuate, causing weight gain and more.  When the sugar is metabolized in our bodies, it is stored as fat.  A level, controlled blood sugar level is the best way to maintain a healthy weight and ward off diseases such as:

  • diabetes
  • breast, endometrial and colon cancers
  • heart disease and high blood pressure
  • infertility
  • sleep apnea
  • osteoarthritis
  • liver and gallbladder disease
  • stroke

 

Starting your new weight loss program does not have to be difficult.  Aim to eat more fresh, non-processed foods. If you are tempted to buy convenient, processed foods, beware of the hidden sugars; read the labels!

Cut out sugar from your diet for a healthier, slimmer 2017.

Get real results by eliminating wheat from your diet

For several years, I suffered from various symptoms for which my doctor could find no solution.  Although my low ferritin or iron stores level explained my chronic fatigue and low energy, the supplements prescribed did not help boost the level, but it did make me constipated.  I was beginning to feel like a hypochondriac since none of my symptoms could be reasonably explained or alleviated.

This chart summarizes the blood work and various tests before and after eliminating wheat from my diet…

 

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The primary change, at least for me since I first went to the doctor because I was tired all of the time, is the ferritin or iron stores results.  The normal range is between 80 and 300.  In 2007 my ferritin level was 9, extremely low.  By adding more iron to my diet I was able to get it up to a whopping 18.  I then discovered a wheat allergy that was preventing my body from absorbing iron from my diet or supplements.  Two months after eliminating wheat from my diet, my ferritin or iron stores result was up to 42, one year later up to 63 and four years later to a normal level of 100.

A second  major change was the disappearance of my asthma symptoms.  At my last visit to my respirologist he was amazed at how my pulmonary function tests were completely normal.  I didn’t tell him about the wheat-free diet until after he expressed his surprise at my results.  He was skeptical of the fact that a naturopath figured out my problem, but agreed I should continue avoid wheat.

Another healthy change is the difference between my before and after cholesterol results that went from slightly high at 545 to a mid normal range of 315.  My weight had also been creeping up over the years hitting 140 pounds before the wheat elimination.  I dropped 5 pounds within 6 weeks of eliminating the wheat and currently weigh in at 130 pounds four years later.  At five feet and five inches in height, I am satisfied with my current weight.  The biggest bonus to the weight loss has been the loss of flab and excess fat around my middle.

I have experienced similar positive results with arthritis symptoms which were getting worse every year until I eliminated wheat.  I currently suffer from very minimal arthritis symptoms. Although I have not have repeat ultrasounds or chest x-rays to see if the ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids and lung hyperventilation are no longer present, the symptoms associated with those three conditions have disappeared.

My white blood cell and platelet counts still remain low, results I have been aware of for many years.  Having worked in the field of laboratory medicine for thirty years, I had many opportunities to test my blood.  I have always suspected some form of autoimmune action within my body; someday I may investigate this suspicion.

 

Bring in 2016 with an elimination diet

 

Happy New Year to all of you writers and readers out there in the blogging world.  Instead of a new year’s resolution for a typical diet, I think this suggestion for an elimination diet is a much healthier way to bring in 2016…..

new years diet

Give it a try and make 2016 a wonderful, healthy and happy year!

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW

 

Another Success Story: Wheat Free and Reduced Sugar Diet

Just before Christmas a friend confided that she has been struggling with weight gain, sluggishness, and low energy for a while now and since a car accident a few years ago has added concussion-like symptoms, body aches and brain fog to her list of ailments. She was in a no win cycle where she knew she needed to exercise more, but exercise worsened her symptoms…

I told her how my wheat-free diet has eliminated many of my health issues and loaned her my copy of “Wheat Belly” by William Davis. She read the book from cover to cover, gaining motivation along the way, and by the end she was hooked!

Three weeks ago she began to eliminate wheat and sugar from her diet, noticing an improvement almost immediately. To date she has lost 12 pounds, and 2 pant sizes. More importantly, she feels more energetic and is able to exercise more frequently and for longer periods of time…fantastic!!

Take the Wheat-Free Challenge Today!

Happy New Year! If you have been thinking of eliminating wheat from your diet, why not start today?  Make my wheat-free challenge a New Year’s resolution.  I gave up wheat 18 months ago and have noticed a significant decrease in my cholesterol level, increase in my iron stores, and decrease in my asthma symptoms since then.  I have also shed 10 pounds of weight, most noticeable around my middle.

The good news is you don’t have to have an allergy or sensitivity to wheat to reap the numerous health benefits when you eliminate wheat from your diet.  You will be amazed at how fast you notice a change in your body!

Many of my friends and family members have shown interest in my wheat-free diet, so I thought I would start a blog on the subject…

Start your wheat-free challenge today!  Please send me your comments, questions, suggestions, and success stories; we can all motivate each other for a healthier 2013…

wheat-free challenge