Paleo diets have been popping up everywhere. Based on the idea that human beings could not have evolved in the 10,000 years since we were hunter-gatherers, the paleo diet (also known as the Primal or Caveman diet) advocates an eating style sans grains, dairy, and sugar. The thinking behind this diet is to eat the way humans ate before the dawn of agriculture, which advocates say was mankinds’ downturn. Crossfit gyms, athletes, and many others are finding out what this eating style can mean for their health. I believe there may be a reason for its success for some individuals, but a one-size-fits all approach might be taking it a bit too far. In my opinion, there are two flaws with the caveman diet: 1) It assumes that all human beings on earth evolved the same way, which is simply not true. And 2) Modern day hunter-gatherer societies do not eat this way. So why does the diet work?
Many claim that the Paleo diet enables a life free from inflammatory and digestive conditions as well as eliminates pain and/or more serious conditions such as cancer and heat disease. However, this may be attributed to a simple problem faced by up to 12 million Americans: Food allergies. The caveman diet eliminates two of the most common food allegens: Dairy and Gluten which could explain its success. That leaves an important question: Why do we have food allergies? Is it because we have not evolved to be able to tolerate the agricultural advancements that milking cows and milling wheat has provided to us? On the contrary, I think it is because America enabled people of every ethnicity to mingle. The famous melting-pot of America meant that people from all of the world, who were evolutionary predisposed to eat they way their ancestors had eaten for generations, were suddenly combining forces and creating a culture full of foreign foods no one had eaten before.
Until fairly recently different cultures ate one way, passed down from ancestor to ancestor. You can bet that in 1900 you wouldn’t have caught a Spaniard eating raw fish for breakfast- yet that is what those native to Japan did daily. Different customs and rituals surrounding food were largely separate for the majority of human history. Now we live in a culture of cultures. I can eat a European breakfast of radishes with butter and a baguette for breakfast, sushi for lunch, and have a Mexican feast for dinner full of corn tortillas, peppers, and tomatoes. No wonder our health has suffered!! 90% of African and Asian people are lactose-intolerant. 70% of the population in Finland are gluten-intolerant. Introducing new foods to a belly that doesn’t know how to handle them can create a digestive system that is constantly on the defense. This could be the primary reason behind food allergies and intolerances, not to mention a host of horrible diseases.
In addition, the Tarahumara people who live in cliff dwellings in Copper Canyon Mexico are modern-day hunter-gatherers and eat a diet of mostly vegan foods rich in corn and local spices. Not only are the Tarahumara healthy and thriving, they can run 60 miles a day without any problems! Maybe the one-diet-fits-all approach isn’t the right plan of attack.
Food intolerance is hereditary, which makes sense considering that you are of the same genetic makeup as your parents who evolved to be able to digest the foods common to their ancestral heritage. Knowing your genetic background could mean major differences in your health. The book “The Jungle Effect” while not specific to food allergies, gives insight to eating like your ancestors for better overall health. My heritage is mostly Northern European so I’ve been working to get more fish into my diet as well as other traditional delicacies (which explains why I can’t tolerate dairy, gluten, and eggs!). After three years of a lot of pain and suffering, I finally found answers by doing an ELISA blood panel (more info here). The blood panel can give you insight into which foods your body is rebelling against. Abstaining from those foods can bring you a whole new world of health! (It has for me!).
I don’t follow the Paleo diet, but I do abstain from eating gluten, eggs, and dairy after I received my panel results which is pretty similar. Find out what works for you, not whatever diet trend is the new thing. My motto for health remains the same: Lots of plants and water, a sprinkle of sunshine, and avoidance of your allergies!!
Talk to you soon! Good Health!!Read More
I hit a wall. But that is what lead me here, to a place where I finally have answers that will hopefully shed light on problems I’ve seen faced by sooooo many people! And there ARE answers! People with IBS, Crohn’s, Celiac, or the perpetually undiagnosed CAN find out what is ailing them and make positive changes with their life! All it takes is a little bit of info and some positive life changes!
I have struggled with digestive issues on and off for the past couple of years. When “on”, I could easily slide myself into a stress funk (which makes it even worse)! I would think, I have appendicitis! A tumor! Something had to be seriously wrong judging by the intense stomach pain I felt. Only cuddling up in bed could provide me any relief. Over time I have researched and researched and researched to try to get to the bottom of what is causing my pain. After a three year struggle to get to the bottom of it, I finally found good news. In other words, we aren’t all doomed.
What the Experts Say (and can we believe them??)
After dealing with bouts of colon pain I decided I wanted to get to the bottom of it and try to rid it once and for all. I started with a few doc visits. After a lot of money and time, here’s what they had to tell me: Doctor number 1 tested me for Celiac (negative) and said I might be lactose or gluten intolerant. Doctor number 2 laughed it off as IBS (no cure, you’ll have it till you are 50-sorry!). I went to an Ayurveda Practitioner who chalked it up to stress as well as diet factors such as not enough fiber, and too much cheese and bread (common in the west). Lastly, I saw a Clairvoyant who told me that she could see that I was holding long-term trauma in my stomach. Alrighty, soooo stress, food intolerances, diet, and a doomed future…. I’m going to need more information.
Thus began my research online. On the web, there are thousands of conflicting sites that all claim to know how to solve digestive ailments. Google IBS and you will find advocates who say a Paleo diet is the true solution, or that the Mediterranean Diet is the cure. Some say low-fat, some say high-fiber; some say good fats, high-omega 3′s, low-carb or no carb. There are “experts” who say avoid fried foods, sugar, wheat, milk, and pretty much every other food under the sun. Exercise, take supplements, probiotics, enzymes, laxatives! Drink raw milk, no milk, no dairy. No gluten or no grains period! What advice are we supposed to follow? It seems that these “experts” aren’t any more knowledgeable than the general public! If we are to follow all of the advice that’s out there we would be on a water and vegetable only diet and a heavy load of supplements that will contradict each other! (Trust me, that is not the answer).
The Good News
After 3 years of complete agony, and the millionth google search about what my symptoms could possibly mean, I stumbled upon an excellent article in Natural Health Magazine. The article talks about food sensitivities, and although I have tried to eliminate items from my diet before without success, it gave an excellent piece of advice: get tested. After the author tested his mother for food sensitivities and discovered she reacted strongly to egg, removing that element from her diet gave her a whole new life.
I started looking up different means of testing, when I found a true gem. The IBS Treatment Center in Seattle. I read every testimonial on the site and found a ton of people EXACTLY like me, with the same symptoms, the same “life threatening” feeling that I was constantly feeling!!!! Empowered, I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Wangen and flew up to Seattle to see him. After a blood and stool/DNA test, I received my results this week. Like many before me I found some answers! Food intolerances.
I cannot even describe to you the relief! Gluten, Dairy, & Eggs (“The Big Three” as they are called) are my culprit. I eat all three of these things daily! Two days ago I revamped my kitchen, planned menus and am on my way to a new life! A life where I will be able to run, do yoga, go for hikes! I can’t wait to see the results from my new diet and hope to be pain-free in no time! I will let you know my results as I hit the 1 and 2 month marks. (about how long it takes for your digestion system to repair itself after the poison’s are removed). There will be some recovery ahead, but at least there are finally answers! I hope that my answers can be of some help to others going through the pain of discovering what ails them. It is a hard process, but there ARE ANSWERS! I promise!
I would be happy to talk with anyone that finds themselves in the same scenario! Email me at email@example.com
Good Luck! and Good Health!Read More
The season of lent begins this week. I always love this season because its the perfect time for spring-cleaning of the mind and body (and home)! After my new years resolutions are starting to take effect, I start to think about what positive changes I can make in my life. After going through an ugly bout of the flu, I’m ready to jump back into my health routine. I’ve upped my classes at CrossFit- now taking my full three classes/week membership. I now shower at the gym on my way to work (much quicker so I get to come home from work quicker). I’ve been taking relaxing yoga classes and I have also stopped stressing about food.
This has been a recent thing for me, since although I do not need to loose weight, I have dealt with stomach pain (sometimes pretty severe) on and off since college. I’ve talked with a fun range of people about this trouble, all of whom had different prognosis. I’ve seen a doctor (try skipping wheat or dairy!), another doctor (IBS- no cure), an Ayurveda practitioner (stress, stress, stress- need Panchakarma), a CrossFit Coach (eat Paleo- lots of meat, no wheat, dairy, or sugar), and a psychic (You’re holding long term stress in your stomach).
Sooooo, after some serious confusion here’s what I did: stopped minding what I was eating, or trying to restrict foods to find out which I was sensitive to, and ate what I was craving each day. Sometimes it was delicious salad, but sometimes I ate a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup, and you know what? I enjoyed every minute of it. I continued with my usual workout routine of course, which usually consists of a weekly regimen of CrossFit at TJ’s gym 3x/week, 1 yoga class, and then outdoor activities on the weekends (rock climbing, hiking, something Marin-y). But when I enjoyed what I was eating, and didn’t feel guilty about any of it, my stomach pain subsided. Looks like stress could be a large factor after all!
So to continue in this vein, I want to devote my lent to meditation. It is something I have done on and off for the past few years, but have never allowed myself the “extra time” it takes up. For forty days, I’m going to enjoy daily meditation. Sometimes this might be five minutes in the morning that I spend picturing myself as a great oak (roots deep into the ground, but branches reaching for the sky), or it might mean turning off the ipod and letting my thoughts roam for my 30 minute commute.
I’m excited about this period of cleansing, and am excited that right in the midst, I get to simplify my life during the process of moving to my new home. Spring always feels like a fresh start, and practicing lent makes it even more so. So whether you are a practicing Buddhist, Christian, Jew, or something in between. Take time this week to just believe in miracles and the powerful effects of positive life change.
Have a good week!Read More