A few years back, I was having digestive issues. When I couldn’t seem to figure out the cause myself, I went to see a gastroenterologist who happened to be just about nine months pregnant. After discussing my digestive problems, examining my health and reviewing my diet, she just plain out told me to stop eating processed food.
“No processed food?” I had instantly thought to myself. “No more pumpkin pancakes, chocolate cake or oatmeal raisin cookies?”
I could understand possibly see why she would suggest such a thing, but how? At the time, I ate 85% “healthy,” but to go 100%? Ouch! I loved having a treat now and then as a reformed sweet and bread eater. It seemed like the impossible and unlikely.
Instead, I began eating a gluten-free diet. After doing further research myself, to me that seemed like a better answer and route. I created a list of all the foods I could eat along with all those I needed to avoid and carried the list around with me to restaurants and grocery stores. I was determined to beat my digestive issue and finding foods that were a gluten-free seemed like a challenging fun game to me.
To quicken my story here, eating gluten-free did not solve my issues; in certain respects, it made it worse. By then, my gastroenterologist was well into her maternity leave, so I continued fiddle around with my diet on my own. In the end, I discovered on my own what worked best for me was a diet of lean poultry, fresh water fish, seafood, garden vegetables, fresh fruit, omega-3 eggs, nuts, seeds, and fresh water. That’s it. By the time I reached this point with my eating, I was complete off processed foods and dairy and on my own terms – except for an occasional frozen yogurt as a special treat. And this time, it was easily achievable – and all of my digestive issues were gone.
Fast forward my diet quest further, and it wasn’t until I saw a chef on TV making banana ice cream, and I Googling the recipe afterward, that I connected the dots and realized that my eating habits were actually Paleo. A diet rich in the foods that can be fished and hunted as listed above plus grass-fed red meat and healthful oils – olive, flaxseed and nut – and all free of any food additives. An avid Paleolithic practitioner may also break down their diet and consume 56–65% of their foods from animals and 36–45% from plants. Foods not Paleo are dairy, grains and grain-like seeds, legumes, refined vegetable oils, salt, starchy vegetables, refined sugar, and processed food. Bingo! I my diet had a name and a following!
The Paleo diet (also known as the Paleolithic, Caveman, Stone Age, or Hunter-Gatherer Diet) may be one of the most talked about nutritional plans of today, but it actually first became popular back in the 1970’s when gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin, MD self-published “The Stone Age Diet: Based on In-depth Studies of Human Ecology and the Diet of Man.” In his writings, he claimed humans are carnivorous animals and should feast on a diet a Paleolithic diet of our ancestors – mainly fats, protein, and small amounts of carbs. Dr. Voegtlin came to this conclusion after treating various digestive problems, including colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion. In the subsequent years, Stanley Boyd Eaton, MD; Melvin Konner, MD, PhD; anthropologist Marjorie Shostak; Staffan Lindeberg, MD, PhD and others followed and supported Dr. Voegtlin’s findings with their own published articles and books.
Today, physicians around the globe often recommend the Paleo diet to their patients suffering from serious illnesses or diseases and digestive issues, like myself. Studies also show that eating a Paleo diet benefits “healthy” individuals by helping to reduce their risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and most chronic degenerative diseases. It is known to slow down or reverse progression of autoimmune diseases, improve or eliminate acne; better mental outlook and clarity, aide in losing weight if one is overweight, and increase energy levels, athletic performances and libido.
For me, I’ve never felt better since following a Paleo diet; eating a “truly healthy” and process-free diet without any man-made foods and additives. So my question to you is why wait until you are sickly or possibly facing a life threatening illness to change what you are digesting in your body? Eating man-made foods, which misleadingly looks more appealing and may taste more appetizing, is simply not what your body needs or was originally intended to digest and breakdown. Just a thought to ponder. You have one body and one life. Treat it like the lifelong investment is truly is and watch what you digest. Can’t do like I had once thought? Sure you can! What it really comes down to simply mind over matter, wellness over weakness.
Be Fit. Be Strong. Be Well.