Why Go Paleo? A Guest Post by Brendan Brunner
Brendan Brunner researched and wrote this piece about the Paleo Diet because he was curious about trying it out and wanted to know more.
Why Go Paleo?
In this day and age, many Americans are looking to make a positive health change. We live in an era where “more than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9%) are obese.”1 Related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers have become more common. Digestive diseases like Crohn’s, Celiac, and Irritable or Inflammatory Bowel Syndromes are regular medical diagnoses. In response, people are searching for ways to regain their health. One path would be to use the Paleo diet.
The Paleo diet plan is more than just another fad diet. Rather than a temporary program to be abandoned as soon as results have been met, it is a lifestyle change. Anthropologically, it is based upon the eating habits of our ancient ancestors. To put the concept simply, “tens of thousands of years ago, before Nike, Cap’n Crunch, and Healthy Choice meals, our ancient ancestors thrived as hunter-gatherers. Although it’s been a really long time, our genetics haven’t changed that much since then.”2 Paleo therefore focuses primarily upon natural, whole foods. A Paleo diet will consist of naturally raised meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds. Absent are processed foods, including sugars, dairy, legumes and grains/cereals.
Looking at the restrictions, one may understandably feel a bit overwhelmed. Most diet plans are restrictive though, and fortunately, you don’t need to worry about counting or tracking, or when, how often or even how much to eat! With the prevalence of both specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods and Natural Grocers, plus local supermarkets now starting to more heavily feature organic, natural and specialty items, finding your ingredients is easier than ever. Cost is always a concern, but simply removing the junk from your diet will cut out a large expense. Beyond that, saving money is all about preparation. Checking sales at the store, getting recipes and getting creative with your ingredients to prevent waste will turn you into a culinary artist who doesn’t need to spend big bucks at the store. It may not be quick or easy, but remember, this is a lifestyle change!
What About the Restrictions on Paleo
So, the restrictions are not as bad as some may think, but does it work? It is a fairly recent trend, but some preliminary studies have already been performed. As Robb Wolf, a former research biochemist and the New York Times Best Selling author of The Paleo Solution – The Original Human Diet, mentions there have been “four [studies] since 2007, [that] have experimentally tested contemporary versions of ancestral human diets and have found them to be superior to Mediterranean diets, diabetic diets and typical western diets in regards to weight loss, cardiovascular disease risk factors and risk factors for type 2 diabetes.”3 Robb’s website, as well as Steve Kamb’s previously quoted Nerdfitness.com site are among many that boast testimonials toward success. Any dietary plan can find success and slap it on a website though. I recommend searching in your own life for people that have adapted the Paleo lifestyle. Doing this, I have found numerous folks who have been able to personally confirm that Paleo is transformative for weight and overall general health.
What Are The Benefits of Paleo
The benefits of Paleo extend well beyond weight loss. Several of the people surveyed specifically pointed out that previously existing digestive tract issues vanished. “The Paleo diet is a good place to start with IBS and anecdotal evidence shows that it has helped hundreds of people feel better than they have in years by removing the most common dietary culprits: gluten, grains, legumes, soy and dairy.”4 While not everyone is the same, and may not experience similar results, for anyone suffering from digestive issues, clearly Paleo is a fantastic starting point. Cholesterol and diabetes were also mentioned by several people as benefitting from a conversion to Paleo. Melissa Joy Dobbins, RD, LDN, CDE, a registered dietitian, diabetes educator, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says that “People with type 2 diabetes who follow a paleo diet may find that it helps them better control their blood sugar.”5
While anyone suffering from real health problems should always work in conjunction with medical professionals, it is clear that for people looking to make a positive change in their health, Paleo is a solid way to go. As a lifelong commitment, people report that within a month or less, results are obvious, cravings for “junk food” and snacks significantly decrease and foods that we once thought impossible to give up are forgotten as we learn to appreciate a new set of natural foods. And of course, if one just cannot help but sneak in a bit of non Paleo food from time to time, who will know?
2Steve Kamb, http://www.nerdfitness.com
Images: Copyright (c) Dollen cc