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What Everyone Should Know About the Paleo Diet

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The Paleolithic diet is trending, hard. Many lose weight, build muscle, gain mental clarity, and reduce or eliminate extreme food intolerances. Others, unfortunately, use it as an excuse to eat way too much animal protein and tell everyone they’ve gone gluten free.

While most have heard of this diet, many people don’t know what it is or why it works. The core values of the paleo diet are noteworthy and there are some powerful elements to it that are worth taking on board, whether or not you are interesting in going for it fully.

What is it

The Paleolithic diet mimics the diet of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors. The core values of the diet are as follows:

  • Highly alkaline
  • Higher intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals through plants
  • No processed foods
  • No gluten (which, btw, is the protein found in wheat and other grains)
  • No sugars, natural or refined
  • No starch
  • Balanced omega-3 to omega-6 fats ratio from animal sources

Why it works

People who commit to this diet and do it the properly see exceptional results. This is because the principals are highly evolved while the practices are very clean cut.

The overall health of our nation is atrocious, the critical underpinning of this being our high consumption of processed foods. All things being equal, cutting out processed foods, sugar, and gluten are some of the best things you can do for yourself. This results in the disappearance of all kinds of daily ailments, reduces toxin intake, improves nutrient content and absorption, and contributes to a glowing complexion. It also means you’re eliminating a lot of potential or actual allergens, those of which are massively exhausting on your system and cause anything from brain fog to IBS to acne. This is huge for your vitality and vibrance.

Our country also has an obsession with low-fat and fat-free foods, but the truth is that we critically need healthy fat for all of the functions of our body to work efficiently, not the least of which is our brains, which are made 60% of fat. The paleo diet’s emphasis on high fat consumption is one of the core reasons it’s so successful in effective weight loss and muscle growth. Healthy fats improve your metabolism, support organ function, enhance mental clarity, and burn slowly to give you sustained energy.

Limitations

Let me first say that I have a lot of respect for those who commit to this diet and live their life in a healthy and mindful way. For the highly committed, this is one of the very few diets out there that actually works. That being said, there are some points I’d like to make about animal protein consumption that are worth considering by those adopting this lifestyle.

1. Environmental impact

The butchering, processing, and shipping of animals consumes more than 1/3 of fossil fuels used in the United States. The natural resources that are used to raise and maintain our animal agriculture is exorbitant and is creating a huge environmental impact on our country. Not only does raising animals for human consumption take up a huge percentage of arable land, but so does growing and watering the food that we use to feed them. Additionally, factory farms generate almost 2 billion tons of waste per year, which ends up in our groundwater and a lot of the food that we eat. Eating a diet high in animal protein contributes to these staggering figures.

2. Actual alkalinity

The Paleolithic diet puts a high emphasis on alkalinity, which is great, but animal products aren’t actually all that alkaline. Animal protein is one of the most metabolically acidic foods humans eat, which can cause the body to pull critical minerals from the bones and cells to return the body to an alkaline state.

3. Antibiotic resistance

80% of antibiotics in the United States are fed to animals raised for human consumption. While the paleo diet emphasizes the importance of eating grass fed, ethically raised meat, not everyone on this diet follows this rule, especially when a fast food burger sans bun fits the bill.

Because the demand for animal protein is so high, factory farms are forced to cram more and more animals into farms with little space to themselves. Because the animals are in such close quarters, they’re fed antibiotics to reduce the likelihood they’ll get sick. When we eat animals that have been fed with antibiotics, we indirectly ingest the antibiotics. This has come to a turning point and antibiotic resistance is a massive issue facing our world. Because bacteria evolve in response to the use of antibiotics both in animals and humans, they have started to become resistant to the life saving antibiotics that have been developed over the past 100 years. This is an extremely serious issue and is compromising the future of our healthcare.

So, how to do paleo right? Follow all the basic rules – cut out processed foods, reduce sugar and gluten, and eat highly alkaline veggies. When it comes to meat, be mindful. Eat pasture raised, grass fed meat, and limit it daily. For those who are disciplined and commit, this is one of the healthiest lifestyle choices you can make.

Photo by Jonas Nilsson Lee


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The Golden Rules of Healthy Living  

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There are tons of theories out there when it comes to being healthy. While everyone is different and certain lifestyles work better for some than others, the following tips are important for everyone to incorporate.

1. Cut out sugar

…or at least work towards it. Studies have shown that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Sugar is the underpinning of so much illness, both physical and mental, and is in almost everything. The one best thing you can do for your health is to reduce and cut out sugar. This includes sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, aspratame, and sucralose. Read your labels, opt for natural, raw sweeteners, and look forward to a vibrant and dis-ease free existence.

2. Be present when you eat

Ever wolf down a meal without even tasting it? Breathe. Chew. Relax. The way you eat says a lot about the way you live your life. Are you slowing down to enjoy it, or rushing through it to get to your next task? 

3. Drink lots of water

As simple as it is, most people aren’t adequately hydrated. Drinking water is the basis for a clear mind, healthy organ functioning, and beautiful skin. Do the best you can to drink water throughout the day, and brighten it up with lemon, orange, cucumber, or strawberries.

4. Eat the colors of the rainbow

The most amazing thing you can do to honor your body is to nourish it with vibrant foods from the earth. Eating lots of bright fruits and vegetables will provide you with all the minerals and nutrients you need for glowing skin, great sleep, tons of energy, and a strong immune system.

5. Live every moment with gratitude and love in your heart

Don’t hold grudges. Recognize your blessings. Release relationships that don’t serve your higher purpose. Our lives are the blink of an eye, work towards making your life an expression of love and you’ll align with your personal joy and true nature.

Photo By SCHICKA


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Nutrition for a Glowing Complexion

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The skincare industry is a multi-billion dollar giant. The research into ingredients intended to make you way more attractive than nature did is a full time job for thousands of people every day.

There are two sides to the coin that make this industry so lucrative. One involves the factors that create the need for these products, and the other is what people are willing to spend in order to look better. What’s interesting to note is that the same thing that creates the symptoms of poor and unsightly skin is the same thing that can heal it. This, my friends, is food.

You can slather on thousand dollar products made on the tiniest islands with the finest minerals from the Black Sea, or you can simply eat clean, whole foods. Poor diet is a huge factor when it comes to the condition of your skin. The biggest crater-creating culprits are dairy, gluten, sugar, trans fats, and salt. Eating a diet high in high-glycemic and processed foods undoubtedly results in unsightly skin and expedites the aging process.

The good news is that there are hundreds of options in nature that will without question greatly create and maintain a glowing complexion. By incorporating foods with the right nutrients into your diet, your skin will be clear and bright, and wrinkles and signs of aging will diminish. Look for foods with the following nutrients and your skin will transform beautifully.

1. Beta-Carotene

Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that gives the yellow-orange pigment to certain foods making them so rich in color. The human body converts it into Vitamin A, or retinol, crucial for skin health. Beta-carotene helps stimulate cell regeneration, which reduces wrinkles and improves skin color and texture. It also minimizes the effects of environmental damage from the sun and external pollution.

Sources in nature:

Carrots

Sweet potatoes

Squash

Kale

Spinach

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omegas are extremely important in hydrating your skin and regulating oil production. If you’re feeling dry and flaky (especially in winter months), incorporating quality sources of omega-3s into your diet can really help. Omega-3s are extremely anti-inflammatory and can soothe skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema. They can prevent the destruction of collagen and increase resilience to internal and external threats.

Sources in nature:

Coconut Oil

Avocados

Olive Oil

Hemp seeds

Flax seeds

Fish oil

Walnuts

Leafy greens

3. Vitamins C and E

These vitamins are imperative for a bright and glowing complexion. They increase collagen growth which gives skin its elasticity and protects against wrinkles. They can actually prevent your skin from harmful effects of the sun, and have the potential to reverse sun damage including age spots. Incorporating them into your diet will help you restore and maintain youthful skin.

Sources in nature:

Lemons

Grapefruits

Strawberries

Almonds

Spinach

Asparagus


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Why Fat Isn’t the Enemy

Over the last few years, fat has been demonized. It’s been named the source of our health problems as a society and is associated with all kinds illnesses. As a solution, a large majority of the population now seeks out non-fat or low-fat foods in order to help them keep their calorie count down for the day.

The most critical point to note about making food choices based around fat content is that so many crucial nutrients are missed in this process. Foods that are meant to have fat, things like yogurt, meats, nuts, milk, and oils, have fat for a reason. Yes, eating too much unhealthy fat will lead you to gain weight, but what many cautious consumers tend to misunderstand is the important function fat plays in our bodies’ overall health, and that eating foods injected with artificial additives actually encourages your body to gain weight.

Not all fat is created equal

By now most of us have heard about essential fatty acids (EFAs), omega-3s, omega-6s, saturated fat and trans fats.

In brief:

            Enjoy Omega-3s plentifully

            Eat in moderation: Saturated fats from animals and omega-6s

            Avoid like the plague: Trans fats (partially or fully hydrogenated ANYTHING)

The reason certain fats are called ‘essential’ is because we don’t make them naturally in our bodies, so we must get them from out diet.

EFAs are extremely important for a number of things ranging from healthy hair and skin, to metabolism regulation, to brain health.

The last point is especially important to note, as our brains are 80% fat. Researchers believe that 60% of Americans are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids, and that inadequate amounts of EFAs can lead to various health issues including anxiety, depression, ADD and even Alzheimer’s disease. 

Eat fat to lose weight

Healthy fats that come from nuts, avocados, flax and hemp seeds should be included in every meal. Omega-3 fats will not make you gain weight and can actually aid in weight loss. This is possible due to the fact that they help you feel more satisfied after a meal, and more importantly, studies shows that they improve insulin sensitivity.

Insulin sensitivity means that your body responds quickly to insulin, and thus doesn’t require a lot of it to store carbohydrates. When you have high insulin levels, you have high fat storage. Having a high sensitivity to insulin keeps your levels low and allows your body to release fat more easily.

EFAs are extremely good at reducing inflammation, something that precedes obesity and also causes the body to become resistant to a hormone that tells us when we’re full. 

Eat food that grows on a plant, don’t eat foods made in a plant

I harp on this all the time, but eating chemically injected foods that are ‘generally regarded as safe’ by the USDA just don’t cut it for a healthy lifestyle. They mess with your hormones, your brain, and your skin, and certainly won’t help you feel or look good.  

If you’re looking for a healthy diet, it’s simple. I suggest eating things that are naturally low in calories – fruits and vegetables- and things that are naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids– nuts, avocadoes, olive oil, hemp seeds, flax and coconut oil. Feel free to enjoy wine, chocolate and coffee, but maintain whole foods high in fiber and nutrients as the core of your diet.