Six Reasons Why You Should Go Paleo - Guest Post by Zyana Morris
Hey Friends! Sometimes I forget that not everyone follows the Paleo diet. I assume that the reasons for going Paleo are obvious and would be embraced by anyone who hears about them. Then I go to the store, see what people have in their shopping carts, and realize there is still more work to be done! Today's post is by Zyana Morris does just that by reminding us of all the amazing benefits of going Paleo. Zyana is passionate about health, and in addition to writing, works at Centra Care Kids, a Florida-based pediatric urgent care provider.
A paleo diet is based on the type of foods considered to be consumed by the early humans. This diet is all about eating food which we’re designed to eat. People in the Paleolithic period were only able to eat what they could "hunt and gather", so their diet consisted of roots, meat, vegetables, nuts, and a wide variety of fruits and berries. Scientific study of the bones of these early Paleo people suggest that in many ways they were stronger and healthier than people who were born after the agricultural revolution and it's thought that their diet played a large part in that. Unfortunately, we have replaced our ancestral diet with pizza, fast food, high-fructose corn syrup, refined sugars, pasteurized milks, and processed foods, with a very limited quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Today we consider ourselves to be at the pinnacle of human development, but the truth is that for all of our technology and innovation, more of us are sick, unhealthy, or just "surviving" rather than "thriving." Fortunately, there is a solution and it involves getting back to our roots, literally and figuratively, and returning to the diet and health enjoyed by our ancestors.
Once you "go Paleo", you will likely feel the benefits within a few days (sometimes the first day or two isn't so fun as the body can experience a type of "withdrawals" from processed foods and sugar) but if you're wondering why you're feeling so awesome, here are six reasons why Paleo works:
1) Healthy Cells
According to a Harvard University study, human body cells are made from both saturated and unsaturated fats. The cells in our body depend on healthy balance of the two in order to properly send messages in and out. The Standard American Diet (SAD) of processed foods provides too much of a certain type of unsaturated fat called Omega-6. To make matters worse, this Omega-6 fat is typically exposed to high heat and pressure (watch this video of a cheese puff being made to see what I mean) which breaks down (oxidizes) the fat and makes it even unhealthier than it would be in it's raw, unprocessed form.
Paleo on the other hand features an optimal mix of fats, both saturated and unsaturated, and limits intake of unhealthy, oxidized omega-6 by limiting the foods that are most likely to contain them (processed junk foods like cheese puffs). By giving your body the building blocks it needs, you get healthier right down to a cellular level!
2) Healthy Brain
Ever wonder what that grey blob between your ears is made of? The answer is fat! Just as the SAD diet is too high in unhealthy Omega-6, it's also too low in the essential Omega-3 fats that your brain needs in order to function. Omega-3's are found in grass-fed meat, dairy, fresh greens, some seeds (chia, hemp, etc.), pasture raised eggs, and cold water fish.
Vegans and vegetarian diets are often touted as being healthier than the SAD because they include more plant-source Omega-3 in their diet, but our body is unable to convert these fatty acids into their bio-available forms very efficiently. This makes animal-sourced Omega-3, and Paleo, superior for getting these nutrients back into our diet.
Supplementing Omega-3's is also popular, but rather than going with the more common fish oil, krill-oil, derived from shrimp like marine animals, has been proven to be more effective at supporting brain function.
3) Better Body Composition
Paleo diets include plenty of high-quality protein sources which, along with regular exercise, create the environment needed for muscles to grow. This state is called "anabolic" and is the opposite of a "catabolic", a state defined by tissue breakdown.
As you increase your muscle mass, you also increase your metabolism, which means that more energy is burned than stored. Over time, this can help you to shed body fat which reduces inflammation, stress on the bones and joints, and helps balance hormones.
4) Better Connection
Eating pasture-raised meats and eggs, organic fruits and vegetables, and local everything, is one of the major principles of the Paleo diet. These foods have been produced in such a way that honors the natural behaviour and processes of animals and plants and helps reduce the need for agricultural inputs like pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and other chemicals.
By supporting methods of food production that honor nature, you also benefit from better nutrition and a sense of connection to where your food comes from. If you have the ability to grow your own food, that's even better!
5) More Energy
Have you ever wondered why energy drinks have become so popular in the last decade? This is because the SAD diet and lifestyle creates chronic stress that taxes our body's natural "fight or flight" system. Over time, this system gets depleted, creating a state called "adrenal fatigue." As the adrenals get depleted, we begin to feel tired, unmotivated, and fatigued as well, so we reach for sugar and caffeine rich energy drinks as a solution. Unfortunately, this only makes the problem worse as the stimulant properties of caffeine only exacerbate adrenal issues.
By following a the Paleo diet and lifestyle however, you will begin to heal your adrenals and gain more natural energy. Paleo foods are typically low on the glycemic index, meaning that they won't spike blood sugar, another contributor to adrenal fatigue. The Paleo lifestyle also gets to the source of the problem by encouraging natural movement, meditation, and other stress reducing activities that reduce chronic stress and the need for stimulants and sugar.
6) Gets the Kids Involved
Numerous studies have proven that children are more likely to be interested in a lifestyle change if they are involved. Have your kids help plan, shop for, and prepare Paleo-friendly recipes. If they’re young, kids can help by washing and sorting fruits and vegetables, and if they're older, and more capable of handling a knife, they can chop, peel, and help clean up. Eventually, you could even take the night off and let your kids be in charge of the family’s dinner for a night.
Having your kids help with meal prep is a great way for them to not only eat well, but to gain important skills that they'll eventually need when they move out. They will be empowered to feed themselves well, one of the most important, and most neglected, skills of our modern age.