Paleo Food – The Myths and Legends

I know only too well from my own experiences that the information available to inform you about the relative merits and demerits of the Paleo lifestyle can be quite conflicting. I tend to call this the myths and legends dilemma

The Basics `

In a previous post I talked about how Nell Stephenson in her book Pocket Paleo Workout talked about the Paleo meal blueprint where you constructed a Paleo meal by first of all taking a base of fresh green leaves and vegetables, add a good quality portion of fresh (grass fed) protein, like fish, pork, beef or chicken and then topped it off with a modest garnish of nuts and seeds to taste.

But what about some of those much talked about issues, like grains, fat, grass fed meat, saturated fats and dairy. Well I am really glad you asked because I am going to help you with some understanding and hopefully answer your questions on those issues in the rest of this post.

Grains – Maybe The Most Controversial Omission From Paleo

In other diets we are entreated to eat grains and more than just grains but whole grains. We are told that they are an essential to ensure that we achieve the Required levels of dietary fiber to keep us healthy.

In pother posts on these pages, I have talked about compounds known as antinutrients, which are present in all oats and grains. These have the effect of preventing our bodies from properly absorbing vitamins and minerals and they contribute to a condition popularly known as leaky gut syndrome

In case you have not read that post yet I go on to explain that perhaps this can be easier to understand if we just imagine the walls of the intestines as representing a mesh barrier. Easily digestible foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, pasture raised natural proteins and healthy fats keep the barrier intact and healthy. But as soon as food is eaten that cannot be broken down (namely oats and grains) the barrier becomes prone to snags, tears and holes, which cause it to leak.

Large particles then get passed into the gut, along with bacteria, viruses and undigested rotting waste. Hence leaky gut syndrome; bringing with it local inflammation, which can eventually spread to other parts of the body and even lead to harmful infection.

This, in turn, can often lead to skin conditions and exacerbate autoimmune disease, cause migraine, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic joint inflammation, leading to chronic pain, heart disease and high, non beneficial cholesterol levels.

You can find an excellent explanation and much greater detail along with other great information on this in Rob Wolf’s book The Paleo Solution which is available from Amazon.com.

Dairy – The Good News and The Bad News

The Bad News First

Nature intended cows milk for calves not humans! Milk can be quite problematic for children in particular (I know UK not what you have been told for years) My three oldest children were lactose intolerant for the first 3-4 years of their lives. This led us when they were being weaned off breast milk (which is designed for babies!) to go to soy formula which was actually prescribed through our UK national Health system. So how wrong did I get that? Soy is a bean, and a bean is a legume therefore not Paleo. They contain nutrient blockers which prevent absorption of nutrients in the body. They also have high levels of phytates s which lockup minerals and prevent those from being absorbed into the body.

Dairy has been shown to increase insulin levels leading to insulin resistance, which increases the risks of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes obesity and recent research has included Alzheimer’s.

Contrary to what mass advertising would have you believe (and I live in a country with a monolith is dairy industry NZ) it is of little beneficial health advantage to adults or children.

The Qualified Good News

Butter and heavy cream are considered relatively benign because just about everything else other than the fat has been removed. But you need to guard against these products when they come from grain fed cows. In her book EveryDay Paleo Sarah Fragoso advises us to stay away from all dairy for the first thirty days of your Paleo journey and then if you really can’t live without butter and good quality hard cheeses then introduce them slowly testing your tolerance. Check to see or ensure yourself that you can access a good grass fed source though.

Meat and Vegetable Oil

The Lipid Hypothesis
This is where we address the big corporation inspired saturated fat myth also known as the lipid hypothesis. The basis of this hypothesis is that saturated fats increase harmful cholesterol levels (did you know there are good and bad Cholesterol; one for a later post). This in turn is said to cause heart disease.
Unfortunately for those that would have you believe otherwise, to date no compelling evidence has been brought forward from anyone or anywhere that suggests that meat derived from grass fed sources.

Why Grass Fed Meat

It is estimated that about 70% of the cord gown in the US is fed to cattle. Cattle if led to their own devices will eat grass, it is what their bovine double stomach and digestive system has evolved to do! When cattle eat corn it alters the balance of the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) profile. This increases the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ration in the fat produced in farmed corn fed cattle. This in our food chain when consumed by us puts us in the path of increased body inflammation a vector of or infection a disease. Incidentally this is the reason you should always buy fresh rather than farmed fish because the balance in Omega 6 to Omega 3 is altered by the artificial diet which these fish are subjected to.

Vegetable Oils

Having read the above this is a simple one to address quite simply vegetable and seed oils are predominant in linoleum acid. This is an Omega 6 fatty acid. The dangers of high levels of Omega 6 Fats in your food supply have been well articulated above and in previous articles.

Comments And A Look Forward

I hope that this has been helpful and has focused in on some things to provide better and more detailed explanations of things I may be a mentioned in other posts but not gone into great detail. If you have any questions or you want to start a discussion on any information I have shared here please do leave comments below. I will promise to respond to all comments as soon as I can.

In my next post I will to be reviewing. Sarah Fragoso’s book Everyday Paleo

In the meantime if you want to access the Paleo Food List for Beginners you will find it here.here.

Thanks for visiting

Hamish

 

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4 Comments

  1. Hello! Very good to see here since I just made the decision to join in the usage of the paleo diet but then, this is really great to see and thank you. Of a truth, I see this to be a blessing as it has enriched my knowledge more but then, I did want to ask a question concerning the paleo diet if butter really passes because I had quit taking butter some few weeks back. Thanks

  2. I grew up on a farm where we were given fresh cow’s milk every day and we had to drink it. I didn’t like milk at all especially for the fact that there was always this very thick layer of cream on top. After several years, as an adult, I hardly paid attention to milk but then I added it back to my diet on a few occasions. When I discovered my tendency to have eczema flair ups, I cut it out entirely. I don’t have soy either and don’t miss them. I enjoy a piece of hard cheese now and then but I think I am obeying my body signals. Thanks for this article and the explanations.

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