Nutrition

Why Alcohol Is Paleo?

Why is alcohol Paleo? The basic premise of leading a Paleo lifestyle is to remove all processed foods and eliminate toxins from your body. This being said, alcohol is technically not paleo; it is both heavily processed and a toxin. A lot of people who have made the switch to a paleo lifestyle, do so more in a new aged way. The first thing that they alter the original paleo diet is the allowance of alcohol consumption. But under what premise do they convince themselves that alcohol should be considered Paleo or at least a part of their paleo lifestyle despite the toxins in it?

Socialization

Typically speaking, the hardest part of eliminating alcohol from your life completely, is your social life. Going out to have a drink with friends or having a bottle of wine when you are gathering with family for the holidays, is about so much more than consuming alcohol. It has become a part of our natural bonding process. Many people find that when they switch to a paleo lifestyle, it can have an adverse effect on their social life. Going out to eat or to dinners with friends becomes a challenge. Choosing to leave the alcohol in their diet gives them their means of socialization and relaxation with the ones they cherish most.

Choosing the most “Paleo” Alcohol

While choosing to continue to consume alcohol, even after making the switch to a paleo lifestyle, may seem like you are throwing caution to the wind and ignoring the toxins going into your body; people still tend to search for the lesser of the evils.  Beer is easily at the very bottom of the list of items that could ever be considered paleo. It is made from barley, hops, and wheat; a big paleo don’t.  While wine makes a more compelling argument for its paleo qualities. After all, it is made from fruit. Wine is considered to be the closest thing to paleo alcohol but similar to beer, it is fermented with sugar and starch, typically found in fruits. Spirits like vodka and whiskey, are also put through a fermentation process involving grains and are then distilled. The biggest issue with spirits is the amount of gluten found in them. While the distilling process removes a great deal of the gluten, this would still be a major issue for someone who switched to a paleo lifestyle for the purpose of being gluten-free.

Possibly the most popular alcohol option for paleo lifestyle is hard cider. It is fermented and typically made from pears and apples; it is also available gluten-free. Hard cider is the one alcohol that is considered to be paleo, though some hard ciders are not. You should always read the label and check for added sugar of the brand on hard cider before purchasing it. Hard cider is also available in organic options and sugar-free option. While hard cider is made from paleo-friendly ingredients, it is still a toxin. Alcohol is not only bad for your liver, it is addictive, can cause your body to prioritize detoxification over nutrients, can affect your blood sugar, and it is dehydrating.

Is Alcohol Really Paleo Friendly?

The bottom line is that; alcohol is not paleo in any form. Though some forms are far better for you than others, it is still toxic to your body. Choosing to consume alcohol even though it doesn’t meet paleo guidelines is completely a personal choice. But if you are focused on healing your body from the inside out and only putting what’s good for you into it, it’s a toxin and toxic for your body and health just like processed snack foods that you have probably been dreaming about for some time. The question is, Is it worth it to you for the sake of socialization?

Foods High in Omega-3 

Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids have long been discovered to be an essential part of our diets. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to have a role in fighting off many illnesses and diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, inflammation, developmental disabilities, and atopic diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids are most commonly known for being found in fish and fish oil supplements but are also present in many other natural food sources. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of your daily diet that the human body does not produce on its own. Below is a list of foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Flax Seeds and Flax Seed Oil 

Flax seeds contain 7483mg of omega-3 fatty acid per tablespoon. Though flax seeds are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than other foods, the omega-3 fatty acids in flax seeds are not as easily converted by the human body. While flax seeds are still a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, your body will not absorb the full 7483 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Salmon 

Fish is, overall, the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. Some fish, such as salmon, contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than others. Salmon is also an easily accessible fish that can be cooked with ease. Many other types of fish also contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, such as mackerel, sardines, white fish, anchovies, and herring. Fish remains the most popular source of omega-3 fatty acids, both when consumed from fish or fish oil supplements.

  • Walnuts 

Walnuts are the only nuts that are considered a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts contain approximately 2,664 mg of omega-3 per ¼ of a cup. While walnuts may not be your favorite snack, it is important to remember how versatile of an ingredient they are. Walnuts are easy to include in your daily diet, sometimes without you really even noticing. Some great ways to sneak in this healthy little nut is by adding them to homemade granola, use them in pesto, or even ground up for a pie crust.

  • Chia Seeds 

If you haven’t heard of chia seeds, you should check out my previous post on their benefits! Chia seeds are an up and coming superfood that contain 2,457 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in one tiny tablespoon. Chia seeds also contain a great deal of protein and other essential nutrients. Chia seeds are extremely easy to fit into your daily diet; they are most commonly added to smoothies for an extra protein punch.

  • Leafy Greens 

While leafy greens don’t contain as much omega-3 as the other mentioned foods, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth pointing out. Leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, watercress, Brussel sprouts, etc. are not only a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids but also an ideal source of fiber!

Noticing that all of these foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids allows us to consider just what we are putting in our bodies and the benefits to reap from them.

Is Oatmeal Paleo? 

Oatmeal photo

Don’t take away all of my breakfast foods!

Most of us have sampled some sort of oatmeal creation in our lifetime, whether it’s cookies, oatmeal in the morning, or a family recipe for baked oatmeal squares.

In fact, many people tout oats as one of the best breakfast foods for you. Should we follow along and grab a bowl of oats every day, or should we be a bit more cautious about adding oatmeal to our daily Paleo lifestyle?

What Is Oatmeal?

When you think of oats, you probably don’t think of true oats. You likely envision something called “rolled oats,” which are the most common variety.

In their original form, the cereal grain oat is called a groat, and you’re most likely to find it in horse feed (though sometimes people still eat it for breakfast). It’s still got the bran—that husk part of the plant—and it’s largely untouched between harvest and consumption.

Rolled oats, on the other hand, are groats that have been steamed and rolled out, with the bran removed.
This is the kind you’d eat in oatmeal; they look like little ovals with a straight line down the middle.

Is Oatmeal Healthy?

Oatmeal definitely has some desirable qualities. Rolled oats are high in manganese, which helps the blood to clot and regulates metabolism, and you can also find a good helping of phosphorus, which plays a part in keeping our bones strong and healthy.

Because of the fiber levels, many folks also encourage consumption of oatmeal because they say it reduces serum cholesterol levels.

However, in the end, oatmeal still isn’t very nutritious in the grand scheme. When compared to most classes of Paleo foods (seafood, meats, veggies, nuts, etc.), grains fare very poorly, just like all other grains. That’s not a reason never to eat a food, but it’s a good reason not to make it a staple of the diet that you eat every day.

In addition, like most other grains, if you have any sort of gut issues (leaky gut, dysbiosis of microorganisms, IBS, bloating, etc.), then oats tend to exacerbate those problems and prevent full healing. There are a variety of possible reasons for this. Among other things, oatmeal is also being studied as a dietary contributor to inflammation.

In addition, the phytates contained in oats partially inhibit the absorption of minerals through the intestinal tract. What that means for you is that your body can’t absorb many of the nutrients in oats because they’re bound to phytic acid.

In the end, oats are not the worst thing you can eat by any means, and if you’re quite healthy, then you may tolerate oatmeal perfectly well. But it’s not an ideal food.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Amy Kubal says: “If you are asking [if a food is Paleo] because the food is something that you ‘want’ someone to tell you is okay to have even when in your mind you know it’s not paleo – don’t ask. This often applies to…oatmeal.”

Mark Sisson says: “Oatmeal is a perfect example of the essentially tasteless, but oddly comforting food that’s difficult to give up (judging from all the emails I get). It’s tough to explain, because it’s not like oatmeal is particularly delicious. It’s bland, unless you really dress it up. Better than wheat, worse (and more work to improve) than rice. There are numerous other food options that are superior to oats.”

Is Oatmeal Paleo?

No.

However, oats are not as bad as wheat, and eating them every once in a while isn’t going to cause much harm for most people.

But why bother? There are a lot of other, better options you could be eating instead of oatmeal (try sweet potatoes if you want starch!).

Issue No. 40

Is Ghee Paleo?

More specifically, why is this edible amazing?

I didn’t grow up exposed to a lot of foods that you might consider to be traditionally non-American. (Whatever that means, but you get the idea.)

Ghee is certainly such a food.

In fact, when I first read about it, I didn’t even know how to pronounce it. Gee? Jee?

I had no idea, except the vague understanding that people seem to spread it on things.

What Is Ghee?

Turns out that this ingredient is, in some sense, butter. But it’s not butter in the way most Americans are used to it.

Ghee is a type of clarified butter. That means that this soft solid is what you get when you take butter, evaporate the water out of it, and then filter (or “clarify”) it to remove the milk solids. (For ghee—as opposed to other clarified butter—the milk solids are also simmered with the fat to create a caramel and nutty flavor.)

The result is a nuttier, clearer-looking version of butter that is very stable at room temperature. Yes, this food has been around for a long time—in India, it’s commonly used for cooking and also medicinally, and it has been used for thousands of years.

Is Ghee Healthy?

Recent studies into ghee are still few in number, but they’re growing by the day. What scientists have discovered so far is that it does decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease; antioxidants present in the ghee are a big part of this healing effect, as they help protect the body against oxidative stresses. In fact, scientists are beginning to discover an inverse correlation between this type of butter and heart disease—those who eat more of this type of butter tend to be less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease. On top of that, consumption of it does not alter your body’s serum levels. Because of this, researchers have claimed that this butter is a beneficial addition to the diet.

However, many people are worried about the saturated fat content present in this food, and they say it should only be consumed in moderation because it does not contain many of the nutrients present in actual butter. Paleo experts can sometimes be torn on whether or not to use ghee, but there does seem to be an overall consensus.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

The Whole9 Team says: “The only way we can recommend eating butter is if it comes from a humanely raised, grass-fed, organic source, and you take the time to clarify it. There are no major downsides to butter produced in such a manner, and we can happily recommend you use your clarified butter or ghee as one of your (varied) added fat sources. (Just so you know, ghee and clarified butter are similar but not identical; ghee is heated longer, until the milk solids brown. That imparts a richer, smokier flavor into the butterfat.)”

Mark Sisson says: “Animal fat has been unjustly demonized and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Make sure the ghee you buy comes from pure butter, and butter alone; some brands combine vegetable oil with butter to make their ghee.”

So Is Ghee Paleo?

Yes!

This is a great thing to add to a Paleo lifestyle. Try tossing your veggies in it! As Paleo experts have warned, though, be careful to get your ghee from a reputable source to ensure that it isn’t mixed with vegetable oil. You want nothing but pure butter in there! Making ghee at home is a great way to save some money, too.

Issue No. 40

Is Corn Paleo? 

Corn photo

If there’s one near-irresistible temptation when watching a movie, it’s to go and grab some popcorn. In the warm months of summer, who can resist the call of corn on the cob at the barbecue? Or perhaps your Thanksgiving meal just can’t go on without a big scoop of creamed corn. Regardless of how it’s eaten, there’s no doubt that corn is a big part of the standard American diet. If there’s so many different ways that people eat corn, there’s got to be some sort of health benefit in the little yellow kernels, right? Or should we be trying to push corn off the Paleo plate?

I remember that when I was growing up, my life was dictated by corn. In fact, our household timeline revolved around corn, because I was raised in a largely Amish community. Early in the year, “Is the corn planted?” and later, “How’s the corn going?” That was our timeline in that tiny town. Biking down the street took me past acres and acres of cornfields, and this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise—corn has been a staple in American society since the colonial days.

Is Corn Healthy?

Some of the most well known health benefits of corn include its fiber and its levels of phosphorus and vitamin B3, which assists in the DNA repair process. As a water-soluble vitamin, B3 (also called niacin) is a valuable ingredient for our bodies, and we use it to convert food into energy. That’s important, right?

But on the other hand, corn’s also sporting some not-so-good features. Many people don’t realize it, but corn is NOT a veggie! Somewhere along the line it started being called such, but we need to acknowledge it for what it is—a grain. Paleo has had a history of rejecting grain-based food, and corn has many of the same toxic properties that prompted this reaction from the Paleo standpoint. A single ear of corn could have upwards of 15 grams of sugar, and corn contains a storage of phytates worth noting.

Phytates are toxins that affect how bioavailable nutrients are after you eat them. In other words, when you eat, you’ve got lots of nutrients hanging around in your intestines waiting to get absorbed so they can do their awesome things. But if you consume phytates like those present in corn, the phytates will bind to those nutrients, keeping them from being absorbed. That’s no fun for anybody.

Are the health benefits of corn enough to outweigh the grain-based toxins?

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Mark Sisson says: “We’ve told you countless times but we’ll tell you again. CORN IS NOT A VEGETABLE IT’S A GRAIN!! Our advice? Treat this GRAIN like any other GRAIN in your diet and bump it to the bottom of your shopping list!”

The Whole9 Team says: “Based on the science as we understand it today, and our vast clinical experience with the tens of thousands of people who have completed our Whole30 program, we make some general recommendations as to which food groups may make you less healthy—including grains….Don’t include grains of any kind. This includes…corn.”

So IS Corn Paleo?

No!

There are no health benefits in corn great enough to exceed the damage to your body by consuming this grain, and any nutrients remaining are in danger of binding to the phytates, preventing them from being absorbed. There are lots of great places to get nutrients in the Paleo lifestyle, so choose something else and leave no space on your plate for corn!

Issue No. 41

Is Dark Chocolate Paleo? 

Dark Chocolate photo

For years, people have touted the benefits of dark chocolate as a great reason to indulge one’s sweet tooth. And who doesn’t love an excuse to take a few extra squares of the sweet treat? With chocolate being such a pervasive (and delicious) part of modern society, it would be great if it was good for us too! Does dark chocolate have some worthwhile health benefits, or does it sport enough toxins to convince us to keep it out of our Paleo lifestyle?

What Is Dark Chocolate?

It’s important to make a distinction between dark chocolate and its close relative, milk chocolate. What makes dark chocolate “dark” isn’t that it’s a different color, and it’s not that it somehow has more chocolate in it. Dark chocolate is dark because it contains more cocoa solids than other chocolates and also has no added milk. Oftentimes little to no sugar is added to dark chocolate (depending on what kind you get), as compared to a lot of sugars found in standard milk chocolate.

Is Dark Chocolate Healthy?

What does all that mean for you? Well, it means that paying attention to what’s inside the cocoa solids in dark chocolate is going to tell you a lot about whether or not this sweet is a Paleo player or a no-go. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that dark chocolate causes migraines, and scientists tend to link that to the caffeine content of the solids. However, studies looking into this have shown no correlation between dark chocolate and headaches. On top of that, cocoa content varies between pieces of chocolate, regardless of what the label says—this is a natural consequence of more natural foods.
On the other hand, dark chocolate has quite a few nutrients we should be paying attention to, like:

  • Flavanols, which have been shown in multiple studies to reduce oxidative stress caused by glucose. In other words, flavanols (and especially epicatechin, found in dark chocolate) keep your cells functioning the way they should, stopping deterioration and significantly lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Soluble fiber, or fiber that slows digestion by turning to a gel-like substance, is abundant in dark chocolate. Studies show that cocoa’s soluble fiber, in particular, is a powerful tool for reducing blood pressure.
  • Cocoa polyphenols, which have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, this study showed an inverse association—that is, chocolate consumption goes up, heart disease risk goes down.

It seems like dark chocolate could do a lot of great things for us, but there’s also concern regarding the reports of chocolate-induced migraines. So how do we come down on this delectable treat?

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Mark Sisson says: “Dark chocolate’s great, the perfect storm of flavor, flavonoids, and fat. It tastes really good, comes loaded with polyphenols, and cocoa butter is a great source of saturated and monounsaturated fat. And the truth is that you should probably be eating dark chocolate on a semi-regular basis because the stuff is pretty dang good for you.”

Chris Kresser says: “There’s nothing wrong with dark chocolate (with greater than 75% cacao content); in fact, it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods available.”

So Is Dark Chocolate Paleo?

Yes!

Dark chocolate is a great addition to the Paleo lifestyle, but be sure you know what you’re buying. Aim for at least 75% cacao content, but get as close to 100% as you can tolerate. You can actually get 100% cacao, which is called chocolate liquor, though it’s (obviously) not very sweet. Organic is a great way to go when considering your dark chocolate as well.

Issue No. 41

Is Juice Paleo?

Juice photo

Juice was a staple of my childhood. Now, with bills and loans and life in general, I long for the time when my toughest choice during the day was whether to take a purple juice box or an orange one. As I grew older, I switched from juice boxes to bottled juice like V-8, trying to read the labels and see if juice was a good choice for me. It can all be kind of confusing—this one says it has no added sugar! So then maybe it’s good for me, right? Should I omit juice altogether, or can I encourage everyone to incorporate it into a healthy, even Paleo, lifestyle?

The first thing to realize is that the word “juice” is a rather vague term. It can be the liquid from a squashed-up orange, or it could be a liquid in a box that we don’t really know where it came from. You’ve got grape juice in cartons, vegetable juice in bottles, and juice you can squeeze yourself at home. So already, we’re seeing lots of variety that we’ve got to take into consideration.

Is Juice Healthy?

You can probably guess that heavily packaged juice, like the kind that comes in little boxes, isn’t going to be the best for us—it’s got lots of toxic ingredients, including corn syrup. But what about juices you make yourself?

Let’s take a look at an apple. We’ve got a great source of vitamin C here, and of course fiber is another good benefit. Then we’ve also got an antioxidant called quercetin, which has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory and cancer preventing agent. These are some nice, healthy nutrients that apples can provide, so bottom’s up with the apple juice!

But hold on a second. It turns out that most of these nutrients have vanished somewhere between the apple and the juice. Why? They’re in the skin. When you juice, you’re often extracting the sugariest, least nutrient-dense part of the fruit for consumption. The fiber is gone, because you don’t have the actual fibers of fruit any more, and anything in the skin doesn’t make it into your drink. And if you’re not getting that fiber, all the sugar (fructose) from the fruit isn’t being slowed down as it goes through digestion.

Looks like you haven’t really escaped the curse of too-sugary juices after all. But still, there are all these great health benefits in these fruits! So do you drink juice to get some of the nutrients, or do you avoid juice even though it’s made from real fruit?

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Chris Kresser says: “Fructose-sweetened beverages like…juice cause metabolic problems when calories are in excess, and studies have shown that people are not likely to compensate for the additional calories they get from such beverages. [However] I don’t think there’s any basis for avoiding whole fruit simply because it contains fructose.”

Mark Sisson says: “Juice is ultimately a higher sugar, lower nutrient version of its produce sources. Calorie for calorie, for example, you’ll take in more sugar drinking apple juice than you would eating the apple itself. Juice…is just not an adequate substitute for the real/whole source.”

So Is Juice Paleo?

No.

Juice may seem like a great source of nutrients, but because of the high sugar content and because many of the nutrients remain in parts of the fruit that don’t make it into juice, you’re better off just eating whatever product you were going to make juice out of. Beats cleaning the juicer anyway, right?

Issue No. 42

Are Eggs Paleo?

Eggs photo
Photo by Jorge_Brasil

Strangely enough, I grew up in a farming community without eating eggs very much. They were always around, but I saw them as a “grown-up food.” My dad would make beautiful-looking over-medium eggs, and I’d think wow, I can’t wait to graduate to the one, the only—eggs with an unbroken yolk. Eggs have been a hugely important part of the human diet for thousands and thousands of years; we don’t have the luxury of snatching up dinosaur eggs any more, so we’re left to chow down on other popular options—quail eggs in Asia, ostrich eggs in Africa, and chicken eggs in lots of places around the world. If they’re such a popular option, there must be some nutrients in there worth having, right? Can we fit these into a healthy Paleo diet?

Are Eggs Healthy?

It does seem that nutrients are something that eggs have in spades—the yellow color of the yolk comes from beta-carotene. This nutrient is an antioxidant that helps you maintain a healthy weight, and it also helps to prevent cancer (especially skin cancer). Omega-3 fatty acids, another great nutrient in eggs, help your body to deal with inflammation; this means you’re less likely to have allergies, and your risk for heart disease goes down. Some studies also indicate that you can reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s by ensuring that you have enough omega-3s. And we can’t forget the vitamin E in eggs! Vitamin E keeps your cell membranes healthy, and since your whole body is made up of cells, that’s kind of a big deal.

Of course, there’s always the negative side of the coin too. We’ve probably all heard someone’s mom shout, “Don’t eat that raw cookie dough!” Why? Because eggs carry the risk of salmonella. And you may also have heard that the cholesterol and choline naturally occurring in eggs aren’t the best for your arteries. These studies are still being hotly debated, so for now, let’s check and see how eggs fit in according to the experts.

What Do Other Paleo Experts Say?

Mark Sisson says: “In recent years, eggs have come under considerable fire for their high cholesterol content, with many suggesting that they could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, a…study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association determined no such link and even went as far to say that regular egg consumption may actually prevent blood clots, stroke and heart attack. So, there you have it. Eggs really are egg-ceptional. Some might even consider them egg-cellent and still others would even go as far to call them eggs-quisite (ok, we promise we’ll stop now!).”

Chris Kresser says: “There’s absolutely no reason to limit your consumption of eggs to three to four per week, as recommended by ‘heart-healthy’ nutritional guidelines. In fact, consuming two to three eggs per day would provide a better boost to your health and protection against disease than a multivitamin supplement. Eggs truly are one of nature’s superfoods. It’s important, however, to make sure that you buy organic, pasture-raised eggs. Studies show that commercially-raised eggs are up to 19 times higher in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.”

So Are Eggs Paleo?

Yes!

Eggs are a great way to get many of the nutrients you need every day. Be careful when buying eggs, though, because whatever antibiotics or toxins the bird has received will pass through the egg to you. Check out your product and make sure you’re aiming for pasture-raised.

Issue No. 42

The Benefits of Hemp Protein Powder 

Hemp Protein Powder  photo
Photo by beckstei

Hemp protein powder is derived from the ground up seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp seeds contain fats and proteins that are essential to your body’s overall health and wellbeing. Hemp protein powder is meant to be used in the traditional ways of any other protein powder. Feel free to add it to your morning smoothie or shake for a healthy boost. You should always consider purchasing organic hemp protein powder to avoid any chemical additive that may have been used to extract the protein from the seeds in processing.

Due to the illegal nature of growing hemp seeds inside of the US, hemp protein powder is imported from other areas of the world, such as, Canada, China, and other countries where hemp is not considered illegal or to have negative dietary effects. While hemp protein powder does contain minimal amounts THC, it is still closely related to marijuana, which remains illegal in the majority of states.

The Benefits

Hemp protein powder is believed to be full of all the essential proteins your body needs. A one-ounce serving of hemp protein powder contains a whopping 14-grams of protein. Hemp protein powder contains complete protein, full of every amino acid. Without the required amino acids your body would fail to complete a necessary task, such as repairing damaged muscle tissue. The fact that hemp protein powder contains all of the essential amino acids makes it extremely popular, no other plant protein contains all amino acids.

Though hemp protein powder doesn’t contain as much protein as other available sources, such as soybeans, it is easily digested. It doesn’t contain any oligosaccharide or trypsin inhibitors, which tend to reduce the amount of protein absorbed and cause bloating. It also contains globulin edestrin, a plant protein that allows it to be better digested. Hemp protein powder is extremely versatile and can be easily accommodated into anyone’s diet without much thought. It is high in zinc, iron, copper, phosphorus, B vitamins, and magnesium; making it an extremely beneficial dietary supplement to add into your routine.

Hemp seeds are not genetically modified and are a great way to promote a healthy living environment; it requires no pesticides or herbicides to cultivate. Many feel that hemp can meet a global need for a locally-grown renewable food source, that can be grown in even some of the harshest conditions. Hemp protein powder is likely to be seen rising in popularity as more and more health benefits come to light.

Photo by Brian Tomlinson

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 in 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 questions 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.

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 pros and cons to both choices. Ghee, too 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 diseases. 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 lets 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 alcoholic. 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 recommended 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 into 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

1 2 3 4 8