Month: November 2016

Paleo and Diabetes: How Eating Paleo Can Lower Your Blood Sugar and Alleviate Symptoms 

The curiosity surrounding the paleo diet has been luring many people into making a lifestyle switch; but it still leaves many people questioning whether or not going paleo is the right choice for them and how beneficial it can be. For people who are living with diabetes, making sudden dietary changes can be risky. The benefits of a paleo diet can also be beneficial to those with diabetes but for some, not having the right balance when switching to a new diet can also be dangerous.

In a study published by, Bio Med Central, marked improvements in glycemic control and several cardiovascular risk factors were shown in patients with type 2 diabetes who were advised to follow a paleo diet, in comparison to other diabetic diet plans. The study consisted of 13 patients with type 2 diabetes, that were instructed to eat a paleo diet based on lean meats, fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, eggs, and nuts; as well as diabetic aimed diet designed on accordance with recommended dietary guidelines. The study was monitored for 2 consecutive 3-month periods, along with, a four-day weighed food record. The participants of the study recorded their subjective rating of satiety. The satiety quotients were calculated as the intra-meal quotient of change in satiety during a meal and the amount of consumed energy or weight of food and drink consumed for that specific meal. All of the participants in the study answered the same group of question in a survey following each diet.

The results concluded that participants were equally satiated on both diets. The paleo diet resulted in a greater feeling of fullness from energy per meal, energy density per meal, and glycemic load per meal. The conclusion was that the paleo diet resulted to be more satiating per calorie in comparison to a specific diabetic diet in patients with type 2 diabetes. The paleo diet was found to be instrumental in weight loss, though the test subjects did find that it was hard to adhere to.

It has always been believed that sticking to a well-balanced diet and weight loss can be a favorable treatment for type 2 diabetes. This being said, the paleo diet may not be an effective treatment plan for everyone with type-2 diabetes and it may not eliminate or alleviate symptoms for everyone. If you are considering switching to a paleo lifestyle to manage your type 2 diabetes, you should consult your physician and consider meeting with a nutritionist for the best results.

Thyroid Issues and Gluten: Why Gluten Accelerates Thyroid Conditions

Thyroid Issues photo
Photo by Internet Archive Book Images

If you had asked most people what gluten was 10 years ago, there is a good chance you wouldn’t have even known what it was; I didn’t. But, in recent years, gluten has gone from being an unknown to a pesky culprit that a great deal of people are trying to eliminate from their lives. So what exactly is gluten and why is it so often associated with thyroid conditions?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a form of protein that is found in wheat and other grains, such as, grains and barley. Gluten is responsible for the elasticity of dough, as well as, its ability to rise and delectable chewy texture. That being said, many studies have cited the negative effects that gluten has on the body. Many people are sensitive to gluten. One of the most popular reasons that people switch to a gluten free diet is related to thyroid disease.

The Relationship Between Gluten and the Thyroid

Gluten contains a protein called gliadin, which is foreign to the human body. The foreign substance can lead to an immune response, which is often amplified for people with celiac disease. It’s not just people with celiac disease that experience negative effects from gluten. When consumed, the human body reacts to gluten like an enzyme needed to form chemical bonds within the human body. These enzymes are very much present throughout many organs, however, the thyroid possesses a higher concentration of this particular enzyme. When our body’s immune system begins to attack gliadin, it also causes an attack on the thyroid. As the immune response continues, the thyroid begins to suffer damage that can last for as long as 6 months after gluten consumption.

Over time, the overall health of your thyroid begins to degrade. Once your thyroid has begun to be affected, it can interfere with proper hormone synthesis, metabolism, weight, and energy. It has been determined that those with an autoimmune thyroid disease (ATD) should be regularly screened for celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

In such reactions, a chemical imbalance can affect the entire body. Because, organs such as the thyroid, have no control over hormone production. An imbalance in these hormones can cause issues with metabolism, fertility, mood, and even cardiovascular health. In these common circumstances, gluten can be the cause of many everyday ailments. For those who have an autoimmune disorder or sensitivity to gluten, should do their best to avoid gluten entirely. Avoiding gluten all together, is the best way to keep your thyroid functioning properly in these situations.

Grass Fed Butter Vs. Ghee 

Butter photoBoth grass fed butter and ghee have been the highlight of many paleo controversies. There have been so many questions revolving around the two; which one is better, which one is healthier, or even, which one is more paleo? I may not have the answers to all of the questions; but I do have the facts on grass fed butter vs. ghee. This topic can easily become a bit confusing considering they are both technically dairy and very much not on the list of paleo recommended foods.

What is Ghee?

You may have heard ghee called by many different names, such as, clarified butter. Though many people believe that they are the exact thing, that only holds a slight bit of truth. Clarified butter is more of a stage in the processes of making ghee. Ghee, however, has to be cooked past the point of clarification. This not only helps it reach the point of becoming ghee, it also imparts a nutty flavor, similar to that of browned butter. Ghee is made by heating butter at a low temperature until all of the water cooks off and all of the proteins coagulate at the bottom of the pan. The ghee is then poured off and strained; once it has cooled it will begin to solidify.

While ghee can be a slight bit time consuming to make; but if you aren’t up for the task, you can easily purchase it in most any grocery store. However, if you do decide to make it on your own, be sure to use butter from grass fed cows.

What is Grass Fed Butter?

Grass fed butter is much simpler than ghee; the title pretty much says it all. Grass fed butter is made from dairy from, you guessed it, grass fed cows. That being said, butter from grass fed cows is a huge source of heart-healthy nutrients. Butter is made up of approximately 400 different fatty acids and soluble vitamins. Of the hundreds of different fatty acids found in butter, many of them have potent biological activity. Grass fed butter contains five times more conjugated linoleic acid than butter that is made from grain fed cows. Overall, Grass fed butter is believed to be much healthier; which is why many people on the paleo lifestyle choose it as their fat of choice.

Which one is better?

While there really is no clear winner, it really comes down to a matter of personal choice. As with everything, there are pro’s and con’s to both choices. Ghee, to many people, is the more paleo options because the dairy and fat protein has been removed. On the other hand, grass fed butter has been shown to have many health benefits. If you choose to keep butter in your Paleo diet, both of these options are at the top of the list of recommended choices and are both packed with health benefits and flavor.

Is Olive Oil Paleo?

Olive Oil photo

If you’ve been keeping an eye on food trends over the last few years, you may have noticed that the world of oils has been going through quite the roller coaster in the press. We’ve seen the rise of canola oil as “the world’s healthiest oil,” followed by an outpouring (no pun intended) of studies demolishing canola’s fame by illuminating all of its fake, toxic compounds. Soy oil, safflower and sunflower oils, and peanut oil have seen a similar downfall. But one oil you never hear too much about one way or the other is olive oil. This sneaky little bottle seems to get shoved to the side in the health food debate, but with options for a good Paleo drizzle fading fast, might olive oil be our answer? Or should we be pushing olive oil away with canola and safflower in one great big no-thank-you?

Is Olive Oil Healthy?

The concern around olive oil is related to its potential for oxidation – i.e., the oil’s structure begins to deteriorate, especially when exposed to high heat, left in bright light, or kept warm for long periods of time. Oxidation is a process that leads to the production of toxins within the oil, and if we’re eating that oil, we’re ingesting the toxins.

That doesn’t sound too great!

On the other hand, olive oil is full of beneficial nutrients and is one of the best sources of antioxidants you can find. Some of these antioxidants, like oleocanthal, have been shown to act like nature’s own ibuprofen in reducing inflammation, while some other compounds in olive oil help our bodies to combat disease. This is mostly true of real, extra-virgin olive oil, as other types of olive oil (lite or refined, for example) are often mixed with canola or other oils that reduce these benefits and add toxins to the mix. If you’ve been able to snag a real bottle of extra virgin, you can also expect a good dose of vitamins E and K – you’ll get about 75% of your daily value of each in a single serving. Olive oil definitely sounds like it has some benefits too, so how can we decide whether these benefits outweigh the dangers of oxidation?

Thankfully, olive oil has also been a hot topic among Paleo experts, so they’ve looked deep into the subject to find an answer.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Kelsey Marksteiner says: “Extra-virgin olive oil is perfectly safe to cook with. It’s a great oil to eat both in taste and health and shouldn’t be avoided. However, it’s not the only healthy fat out there! You should always consume a variety of healthy foods, fats included.”

Mark Sisson says: “Let’s put it to rest – olive oil, especially good quality virgin olive oil with all the phenolics intact, is decently resistant to heat-incurred oxidative damage and a great addition to your diet.”

Is Olive Oil Paleo?

Yes!

While olive oil is Paleo and does stand up fairly well to heat, it is still best and most nutritious when cooked at low to medium temperatures, or when not cooked at all. So grab that bottle of goodness and drizzle some on your next salad – it’ll do your body good.

Issue No. 45

Is Wine Paleo?

Wine photoYou can drink all the wine that you want…

But if you’re going to drink wine (and I occasionally do), then let’s at least be clear about why we’re doing it.

This is a drink about which there has been a lot of debate in the health world. But I think much of that debate stems from the fact that wine and alcohol are such a big part of our social lives, even many “health experts” don’t want to risk angering people.

For better or worse, I don’t have that qualm…

What is Wine?

You probably already know what wine is.

Wine is a drink that’s made by squeezing the juice from grapes and then fermenting that juice. The process is actually slightly more complicated than that, but in general, it’s grape juice where the sugar has been changed to alcohol.

For the purposes of this article, I won’t differentiate between red wine, white wine, sparkling wine, port, or any other type of wine. They all differ a lot in terms of taste, but the health differences are really quite small in general.

Is Wine Healthy?

Countless “Health Experts” claim that a glass or two of red wine every day is great for your health. And there are lots of studies they point to in order to make this point.

However, not one of those claims is supported at all. Moderate wine consumption is sometimes correlated with decreased heart disease, but there’s no proof of causation, and the more likely explanation is that heart disease is decreased by a more active social life and other factors.

In addition, wine is still an alcohol. It still leads to bad decision-making, it increases the likelihood of leaky gut, it increases inflammation, it disrupts sleep, and it inhibits the growth and re-growth of brain cells.

In other words, wine, like any alcohol, is quite toxic for your body in very small doses. So a glass of wine certainly won’t kill you, but it’s definitely making you at least fractionally less healthy.

If you want a refresher, be sure to check out this article for seven huge reasons alcohol is bad for you.

The point is, wine is not good for your body (particularly your gut and your brain). It’s fun, tastes great, and leads to a lot of awesome social experiences, but those are separate considerations.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Melissa and Dallas Hartwig: “It’s difficult for us to make a case that any alcohol – even red wine, gluten-free beer, or 100% agave tequila – makes you more healthy. But while we exclude alcohol in all forms for your Whole30 program, we aren’t saying you should never have a drink ever again. All we are saying is that if you do choose to drink, don’t try to justify it with ‘heart health’ or ‘gluten-free.’ (The fact that it’s just plain delicious and you really enjoy it is reason enough!) Just understand that the less you drink, and the less often you choose to imbibe, the healthier you’ll be.”

Mark Sisson: “I’d never recommend that people take up drinking or continue drinking, but I also don’t see it as a great evil in and of itself. The dose and frequency make the poison; it’s just that depending on a number of factors, the dose that makes alcohol a poison might be lower or higher for you than for me. If your sleep is affected or you are the least bit ‘off’ the next day, you probably surpassed your ability to effectively process it and you should factor that in to your choice and approach to drinking again.”

Is Wine Paleo?

No.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can never drink wine. Obviously, that’s a choice for you to make. For instance, I sometimes eat corn, processed sugar, and vegetable oils when I’m eating out. I make case-by-case decisions and decide that although they’re not healthy for me, it’s alright to do sometimes.

You can make the same choice with wine. But please don’t fall for believing that it’s a healthy thing to do. Acknowledge that wine is delicious and fun, and enjoy it even more for those reasons.

Issue No. 43

Is Honey Paleo?

 

Most of us probably grew up with at least some exposure to honey—maybe you watched a certain bear in a red shirt take a scoop out of his “hunny pot,” or perhaps parents and grandparents gave you a spoonful of the liquid gold when you were sick and your throat hurt. Ooey-gooey honey has become a widespread symbol of the pure deliciousness of nature, but with something so delectably sweet, we might want to slow down and learn a little more. Can something so sugary really be part of a Paleo diet?

Is Honey Healthy?

If you’ve been tracking honey in the news over the last few years, you’ll have noticed a big controversy bubbling over about the pollen content of most honey we buy. It turns out that a large portion of honey available to us has had the pollen removed; without pollen, the source of the honey is untraceable. That’s not good news, because some parts of the world (China being just one example) often produce honey that is laced with antibiotics, heavy metals, and other toxins. That’s definitely not a good thing!And on top of that, in order to get that pollen out and make their honey clearer, manufacturers will heat and press it, neutralizing and removing the trace vitamins and minerals that it started out with. Sounds like you might as well be eating table sugar!

But what about honey that does still have the pollen? Well, it will be darker in color, for one thing. For another, because it still has the pollen, it hasn’t had all of its trace nutrients removed either. Some of the vitamins and minerals you can find in this kind of honey, which is often called “raw honey,” are all of the B vitamins (that’s right, all of them!), vitamin K, phosphorus, and manganese, to name just a few. Honey has been shown to reduce inflammation, and it improves healthy cholesterol ratios as compared to other types of sugars. Interestingly, it’s also been shown that putting honey on meat that you cook reduces the oxidative toxins that come from the fat of the meat. Who knew?

So it looks like we’ve got some conflicting data—honey can be both good and bad! Honey has nice nutrients, but what about the chance of taking in some toxins with it? Paleo experts agree that honey can be a little tricky, but they tend to come to the same conclusion.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Chris Kresser says: “Raw honey may have some therapeutic properties for digestion despite having a high fructose content, and it’s definitely the most Paleo sweetener out there, so it’s a good option if you tolerate it well.”

Mark Sisson says: “Darker honeys are typically higher in bioactive compounds and show greater antioxidant activity. They also taste better, if you ask me. When in doubt, choose the darker honey.It’s clearly superior to refined sugar, and the extent of the damage we normally see from sugar intake doesn’t seem to occur with honey.”

Is Honey Paleo?

Yes! If it’s raw honey, preferably local to the region that you reside in.

Also, use a sweetener for the little “sweeter” dishes in the Paleo diet. In other words, use sparingly, since honey still has a high sugar content. If you need a sweet fix, raw honey maybe the way to go!

Remember that what you’re buying is raw, untreated honey. That means that most brands you find in stores are out. Be careful of honey that comes from China and Egypt; consider brands like Really Raw Honey or Stakich. As always, though, going down to your local farmer’s market is your best bet!

A note, as well—honey might be a great source of lots of trace minerals, but avoid giving it to your youngsters. Because we want the kind that’s got pollen in it, honey may cause an allergic reaction in children young enough to have an immature immune system. In addition, honey contains some bacteria spores that can germinate in the digestive system of a young child, causing botulism, a potentially fatal illness. You should definitely wait until your child is more than a year old, but some other sources recommend waiting until three years old, just to be safe.

Issue No. 44

Is Salt Paleo? 

There are very few foods that have been as demonized as salt has been over the past 40 years.

It’s claimed that salt increases blood pressure, raises your risk of heart disease, and makes a stroke more likely. And those claims are made by the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

I’ll talk about these claims below, but with as much as has been said about salt, it’s no wonder that we’re generally scared of eating too much of it.

What is Salt?

The vast majority of salt that Americans eat is in processed food, since salt is one of three components (along with fat and sugar) that make a food hyper-palatable. The amount of salt that we add to our food – either while cooking or while eating – is very small by comparison.

And for much of human history, salt was one of the most prized and expensive spices. It was even included in many religious ceremonies over the past 10,000 years.

Salt is, of course, a fairly simple compound composed of sodium and chloride. It can be found in seawater or in salt mines, where it’s often mixed with other trace elements.

Is Salt Healthy?

Let’s put it this way. According to the Institute of Medicine, if you don’t sweat at all, the average adult would still need to consume about 180 mg of salt per day to avoid dying. The more realistic recommendation is that adults consume about 3.8 grams of salt per day.

Without salt, the human body can’t maintain fluids like blood properly, and things like energy and nutrients then don’t flow in and out of cells properly. Also, the human brain functions partially through use of sodium.

So it’s clear that we need salt and sodium. But you’re likely wondering still if getting too much is a problem.

In general, the kidneys are excellent at removing excess sodium from the body, which prevents things like high blood pressure as a result of too much sodium.

And recent studies show that blood pressure is not correlated with salt intake, and that the lowest risk of heart disease tends to be with people eating between 4-6 grams of salt per day.

Now…none of those studies imply that eating 15 grams of salt per day is ideal. It’s not, and like anything you put in your body, there is certainly a toxic point (an amount that will cause your body harm). But these studies do point to the fact that restricting salt over the long term is also a problem.

In general, if you’re eating a Paleo diet or a diet composed primarily of whole foods, then there’s very little reason to limit salt intake, because none of the foods you’ll be eating will contain very much salt.

So is salt healthy? Yes, and in amounts that you’re unlikely to surpass if you’re not eating processed foods. If you’re still eating a lot of processed foods, however, then there is a chance that you’ll get a bit too much.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Melissa and Dallas Hartwig: “First, salt makes your food delicious. Second, when you cut out processed and packaged foods, you remove the vast majority of sodium from your diet. Adding salt to your Whole30 plate won’t push you over reasonable sodium limits, and if you avoid salt altogether, you run the risk of an electrolyte imbalance (not to mention serious food boredom). We encourage a mix of iodized table salt and sea salt.”

Mark Sisson: “You could drop your salt intake to half a teaspoon and get a three or four point drop in your blood pressure. Of course, you might not enjoy your food anymore, your performance in the gym or on the trail would likely suffer, your stress hormones might be elevated, you might start feeling overtrained without doing any actual training, you could become insulin resistant, and you may have trouble clearing (the elevated) cortisol from your blood. But, hey: your blood pressure readings will likely improve by a few points! Or, you could keep your salt intake up around two teaspoons, give or take, simply by salting your food to taste, and avoid all that other stuff.”

Is Salt Paleo?

Yes.

Humans crave salt for a good reason. It’s possible to get enough salt from meats and seafood without adding salt to any foods, but that’s likely not an ideal amount of salt.

If you’re avoiding all processed foods, it’s incredibly hard to get too much salt, which is why I personally add a LOT of salt to almost everything I eat.

Issue No. 43

Other Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar  

There is a good chance that the only familiarity you have with apple cider vinegar is that it is a pantry staple used in many dishes. But the many uses for apple cider vinegar date back hundreds of years. Apple cider vinegar has been used for everything, from a flavoring agent to heartburn relief and is an easy addition to any medicine cabinet. When purchasing apple cider vinegar for its medicinal values, you should always look for natural unfiltered apple cider vinegar. The majority of apple cider vinegar found in the supermarket has been put through a purification process causing it to lose its nutritional value.

1  Heartburn 

While adding more acid to heartburn may sound purely painful, it is suggested that the apple cider vinegar work to neutralize the stomach acid and bring quick relief to heartburn and indigestion. A few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar should be mixed into a cup of water for this application, drinking straight apple cider vinegar is likely to make you feel far worse than you did with just heartburn.

2  Removal of Skin Tags 

If you have pesky little skin tags, that often appear in the fold of skin on your neck and underarm, you don’t need an expensive cream or dermatologist. To remove skin tags, soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and apply it to the skin tag daily. Leave it on the skin tag for as long as you can or until it is dry. Doing so every day will slowly cause the skin tag to fall off! No expensive treatment needed.

3  Kidney Stones 

Consuming apple cider vinegar often may help prevent the formation of painful kidney stones. Apple cider vinegar has an alkalinizing effect on blood and urine, reducing the acid that forms in your body and preventing kidney stones from forming. It may also help to dissolve pre-existing kidney stones over time.

4  Cure A Sore Throat  

Gargling apple cider vinegar may seem counterproductive to easing an already irritated throat, however, it is believed that it can relieve a sore throat and cough. According to, Home Remedies for Life, gargling 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water will fight infection and decrease the level of PH causing irritation in the tissue.

5  Weight Loss 

According to, Healthy Food House, apple cider vinegar speeds up your metabolism and helps you burn more fat. People have started using apple cider vinegar as an addition to morning smoothies, workout water bottles, and in detox drinks to increase their daily energy and to burn more fat.

Are Mushrooms Paleo?

Did you know that mushrooms aren’t plants? In fact, mushrooms and humans are kind of related—we belong to the same genetic kingdom, albeit distantly. I’ve always wondered why people were so eager to eat mushrooms, since undoubtedly quite a number of people met their ends after sampling a dangerous variety of mushrooms. Thankfully, they’ve done the hard work for us, and now we’ve got a checklist of shrooms that regularly appear on the dinner menu. But if these fungi have such a history of being dangerous, should we really be including them in the Paleo lifestyle?

Are mushrooms healthy?

Well, it turns out we don’t really have anything bad to say about mushrooms! They’re not the greatest source of many of your typical vitamins and minerals, but they do include some of the rarer nutrients that can be difficult to work into your diet, like selenium and copper.

Mushrooms have been linked with a reduction in mood disorders, especially depression and anxiety, because they promote healthy nerve function and encourage active brain processing. They’re also associated with nutrient intake, because mushrooms seem to help us absorb the nutrients in the foods we eat. Their chemical compounds help to make the vitamins and minerals in our food more bioavailable so that our body can use them.

Truth be told, it doesn’t really seem like there’s too much wrong with mushrooms, right? Well, we’ve got just a little bad news. While mushrooms seem to be a great food, it’s important to know that they lose many of their antioxidants just days after being picked. That means that the natural sugars have been destroyed by ripening, and we lose a lot of the health benefits of mushrooms.
However, the Paleo experts still agree that mushrooms are a great choice for your diet.

What do other Paleo experts say?

Mark Sisson says: “Humans have probably always eaten mushrooms, since mushrooms grow wild everywhere….they’re good sources of relatively rare nutrients like selenium, copper, and pantothenic acid.”

Chris Kresser says: “The [foods] that are most highly recommended for health…are asparagus and broccoli and kale and spinach, mushrooms, arugula, lettuce, [but]they respire so rapidly that within two or three days of harvest they might have half or even less of the antioxidants.”

Are mushrooms Paleo?

Yes!

Mushrooms are a great addition to a Paleo diet, but do your best to eat them when fresh in order to get the most out of them. Try checking out local mushroom hunting groups or mycological societies to learn how to mushroom hunt for yourself and find the mushrooms you can eat (and the mushrooms you definitely can’t).

Issue No. 46

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