The word Paleo is becoming more and more common as people following a Paleo lifestyle continue to share their successes. Paleo, or Paleolithic, can also be called “Grain-Free,” “Primal,” Whole Food,” or “Ancestral”, but the name is less important than the principles for leading a healthy lifestyle. The most basic idea is that we eat what our ancestors ate. You may say, “didn’t people die when they were 30 or 40 though?” The answer is yes. When you take into consideration the threats to their lives, such as the absence of modern medicine (needed in times of emergency), infectious disease (without the aid of modern knowledge and medicine), predatory animals, and elements of nature combined with inadequate shelter, it’s easy to see how the life span of our ancestors was shorter. What’s important to note is that they were not experiencing all of the chronic lifestyle diseases millions suffer from today.
These 4 simple steps will help form a solid foundation for a healthy lifestyle!
1. Eat Whole Foods That Are Nutrient Dense
If food is not in the state that it was when pulled from the ground, chances are it’s been refined and is less than optimal. By choosing food straight from nature, it provides our bodies with the nutrients needed to heal ourselves.
2. Avoid Processed, Refined, Nutrient-Poor Foods That Have Been Made In A Factory
This means grains, pasteurized dairy, seed oils (cottonseed, soybean, corn, canola), artificial sweeteners, and refined sugar (high fructose corn syrup). Many of these foods actually rob nutrients from your body in order to be digested, which negates the purpose of eating – which should be to fuel your body with nutrients to grow and repair itself.
Yes, it will take time to adapt to this lifestyle. There may be confusion at first while you work to alter your grocery shopping habits, meal preparation, and choices of eating out, so it is definitely important to change at a pace that suits you best. Also know that most “non-Paleo” recipes have be re-worked to fit a more Paleo lifestyle. I have not talked to anyone who is disappointed in the taste of real, whole food.
3. Eat For Good Digestive Health
Your gut health is extremely important to your overall health. In order to be successful, you must pay attention to the signs your body is giving you. If you notice that eating dairy causes digestive upset, it is your body’s way of telling you to avoid such products! Keeping a food log and journal can help you to spot trends in food consumption and symptoms. Dr. Schulte can also use Nutrition Response Testing as a quicker way to help find what your body needs. Digestive health is far more important than most people realize. Did you know that 60-80% of your immune system starts in your gut? If you are constantly stressing your digestion with irritating foods, your immune system will be suppressed and your overall health will suffer.
4. Eat To Sustain Steady Blood Sugar
Ever feel shaky or weak between meals? Do you have swings in energy? Chances are, your blood sugar is spiking and dropping in relation to your meals. When you eat white flour and sugar, your blood sugar spikes up and you feel a rush of energy. When the sugar has been managed by your body, your blood sugar drops and you begin to feel lethargic and hungry. Eating whole foods, however, will offer your body with good carbohydrates, ample proteins, and adequate amounts of fat. This combination will allow your blood sugar to rise more slowly after meals and stay elevated between meals.
Since Paleo is most importantly about eating whole foods, it can be right for everyone. The important thing to realize is that it can be customized to fit anyone. As I previously mentioned, keeping a journal on how you feel throughout your day can make the entire process work very smoothly.
Ask yourself questions about how you feel. These are a good starting point:
- What are your moods like?
- When does your energy fluctuate?
- Are you craving specific foods?
- Do you have 2-3 bowel movements each day?
If not, then you will benefit from a more Paleo way of living. Dr. Schulte can also help you understand what each of these things mean, and the ability your body has to repair itself simply by changing what you put in your body.
Many people are joining the bandwagon; I’m certain you won’t want to be left behind! Use the above and below guidelines to help you get started. Take it a pace that is best for you. Perhaps you add more vegetables to your current diet, then replace refined grain with whole grain. The success you feel while making these changes is sure to be encouraging to continue. Before long, you will have eliminated nutrient-robbing foods and be filling up with delicious whole food!
Eat Whole Foods
Most people have false assumptions about the truth of a Paleo lifestyle. In reality, it comes down to eating whole food. Here are a few examples:
- Meat, seafood, and eggs – ideally grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic-fed animals
- Vegetables and fruits – ideally local grown organic
Other general tips include:
- Be sure to try vegetables at different times during your transition into Paleo, as you will find your taste buds change when your diet changes. Even people who don’t like veggies may find they appreciate their natural sweetness or salty taste when their palate adapts to real food.
- Be careful not to over-consume fruit as it can be hard on your blood sugar. Attempt to eat twice as many veggies as fruit.
- Eat nuts and seeds – These are great snacks as you transition into Paleo living. Be conscious of your portion sizes as large amounts can be hard on your gut.
- Fats and oils – Fats are used for many critical body functions. Do yourself a favor and buy healthy fats; they are well worth the extra money!
Eliminate Refined Foods
While Paleo principles encourage eating whole foods, another large aspect is the elimination of refined foods. It is strongly suggested to eliminate:
- Refined grains – Including cereals, oatmeal, muffins, breads, pastas – basically, anything made with white flour.
- Whole grains – wheat, rye, corn, rice, quinoa, and other whole grains have been played up as healthy. In reality, they rob your body of nutrients in order to be digested, and also cause spikes in blood sugar.
- Packaged snacks – contain refined grains, sugars, and processed fats that will wreck havoc on your health.
- Dairy – most importantly processed, pasteurized milk, cheese, and yogurt. Raw dairy is acceptable for some.
- Some beverages – eliminate all artificial sweeteners and drinks made with sugar. Also, minimize caffeine and alcohol consumption.
- Sweeteners – not all sweeteners are created equally. Natural sugars should be consumed in small amounts while manufactured sweeteners should be completely avoided.
Practical Paleo is an incredible resource for beginning a Paleo lifestyle and has the Schulte Chiropractic Stamp of Approval!
Remember, making all of these changes at once can be quite difficult. If you have any questions, please contact us and we will help you with your transition to a healthier, more natural lifestyle!