Tag Archives: Food

Aside

I read the awesome article Bariatric Medicine: Seven Exciting Developments” by Sean Bourke MD on a flight from NYC to San Francisco last weekend. I identified with it enough feel compelled to summarize my favorite points for you all. Dr. … Continue reading

‘duck liver mousse?’ ‘omg so much vitamin A!’

It is almost Wednesday and that means I get to go home to Texas for a week! I’ve been looking forward to seeing family, high school friends, and eating Tex-Mex and BBQ for months now.

Today, though, was wonderful as well. I started the day off with the usual coffee and greek yogurt bowl and then headed to Crunch to workout.

This workout killed my glutes. If you want to build a booty, do this workout 2x a week and get at least a gram of protein per pound of goal weight per day.

  • Barbell squats, 5 sets 0f 15, 95#
  • Barbell lunges, 5 sets of 15 per leg, 65#
  • 100 incline situps
  • Barbell thrusts (where you do a bridge with a barbell laying over your hips), 4 sets of 15, 115#

For lunch, I made a quick, easy and paleo…

bacon butternut squash soup

IMG_1731

Recipe: serves 1

  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 tbsp grass fed butter
  • 1 slice bacon, crispy
  • 1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth (or more if desired)
  • 1 tbsp yellow onion
  • 1 tsp garlic, crushed
  • shake of salt
  • shake of freshly ground pepper
  • optional: for protein, once the soup is prepared, feel free to throw in grass fed beef, chicken, turkey, or even eggs!
  • optional: 1-2 tbsp almond or peanut butter to top (I loved the soup with almond butter)

Directions – Combine the squash, butter, bacon, broth, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Heat and add your protein and/or nut butter topping and enjoy!

After lunch, two my my closest friends from UC Davis came to visit and we went for a walk along the coast.

IMG_1736

nutrition biochemistry nerdz 4 lyfe.

IMG_1739

golden gate bridge

Afterwards, we went to State Bird Provisions for dinner. It is New American fusion served dim sum style, so you order lots of smaller plates. Very cool! I didn’t take any photos of dinner, but it was insanely delicious. We got

  • almond biscuits with duck liver mousse
  • hamachi spring rolls with persimmon
  • garlic bread with burrata
  • seafood salsa with avocado cream
  • glazed pork ribs with chard and togarashi (my fave!)
  • red trout with hazel and mandarin brown butter

Gah, I am salivating just rehashing the details. I should go pack. Have a wonderful  Wednesday!

killer bacon broccoli salad.

Hello everyone!

I seem to have a penchant for obnoxiously long domain names, as I have purchased TheInformedHealthNut.com as the new home for this blog!

So much has happened in the last month, I can’t even fathom it. I have now been working in the doctor office for almost two months and have really been enjoying it. Although, I definitely need to go work attire shopping. But with what time?!

Those work flats are not happening anymore, though. I was beginning to experience some foot pain (eek!), so I went to see a new orthopedic doctor here in the city. We determined that it was walking around the city in my work flats and lugging my laptop that was causing the pain. Thus, tennis shoes are now being worn with my work outfits when in public. So fashionable..

Speaking of work clothes, I now get to get paid to wear spandex and knee socks to work! Last night was my first shift at Crunch Fitness on New Montgomery. I will be working there part time as a personal trainer. The vibe is awesome. It is not too frou frou like some gyms in the city, but it is still a nice facility and very high energy. People go there to work out and make changes, not merely see and be seen. I am excited to fill up my schedule with clients and work with them on their fitness and nutrition! If you live in the Bay Area, come see me for a free hour evaluation and work out! One of the trainers asked me to give him a CrossFit style workout for him last night between clients, so I put him through this wretched little number:

5 Rounds For Time

  • 22 wall balls, 20# ball
  • 30 dumbbell snatches (15 per hand), 50# DB
  • 22 box jumps, 24 inches

As far as San Fran living, I have been doing as much as possible. My logic is that if I am going to pay enough in rent to sustain a family of 4 in the Midwest, than I better live the life of four people each month. Activities have included:

attending my first Giant’s game (going to the World Series!!!!) and watching the Blue Angels fly overhead

 Hardly Strictly bluegrass festival

hiking to the beach + exploring the Mission and most of the other ‘hoods

going to the flea market with Natalie + exploring several food and cultural festivals

I have surely bored you all to tears with all my talk of stress fractures, so I am going to sum this up as quickly as possible. At the beginning of October, I got the OK to lifting weights again. Have been loving it. Started to get a bit of foot pain, but not during workouts. Saw a doc and figured it out. Am currently lifting and being cautious. Get to add in some running in November. Get to add in CrossFit style workouts/ lifts in December. Done.

Endurance Focused Lifting Workout

5 sets of:

  • 20 backsquats, 95#
  • 12 military presses, 45#

4 sets of: 

  • 20 deadlifts, 115#
  • 15 lateral DB raises, 10#

Between my two jobs, I now work from 10:3o am to 9 pm with a break to work out in there. Thus, I have to bring both my lunch and dinner with me each day. This is going to make recipe posts more difficult, but hopefully it will be a great way to learn how to make portable meals that are suitable for work  that are actually tasty and healthy. Expect that in the near future! A recent fave…

Addictive Bacon Broccoli Salad

Recipe: Serves 2 as a side

  • 3 cups raw broccoli, chopped
  • 2-3 slices of bacon
  • 3 tbsp sweet onion, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp light mayo
  • 1 tbsp greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • salt, to taste

Directions – Cook the bacon in the microwave for 2 or 3 minutes, until very crispy. Lay on a paper towel to drain. Once cooled, crumble into bits. Combine the broccoli, bacon bits, diced onion, mayo, Greek yogurt, honey, apple cider vinegar, raisins, and salt in a bowl. Mix well. Taste and adjust to personal preference. Enjoy!

[gluten free] zucchini banana walnut chocolate chip bread

Good news! I found an apartment that I adore in San Francisco. It is located near the upper heart of the city, in exactly the area that I was hoping for. It’s an easy bus ride to my internship, and right in the middle of all the various hoods for good shopping, food, and going out. And the best part? My new room mates seem like the kind of girls I can really be friends with! I have heard (and experienced) a million Craigslist nightmare stories, but I don’t think this will be one. Fingers crossed! I move Thursday, so until then I will be cleaning and seeing as many people as I can. The food that will be consumed is sure to be bizarre – everyone just loves the task of finishing up all the random items in the freezer and cabinets. Should make for an awesome What I Ate Wednesday ;). If I have internet that is…  my previous roommate shut off the internet without warning, so I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop at the moment. I used to go nuts for their banana nut bread. My obsession progressed to the point that I would call to find out e x a c t l y when it would be out of the oven and I would plan my coffee shop studying around that time. That is, until I finally mastered making it myself. Except my version is gluten free and healthier, but just as delicious and comforting – promise!

[gluten free] zucchini banana walnut chocolate chip bread

Recipe: Makes 10 servings – Gluten free, sugar free (optional)

Wet ingredients

  • 1 cup zuchinni, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar or NuNaturals Baking Blend
  • 1 tbsp molasses

Dry ingredients

  • 1   cups oat flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup ground flax
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup chocolate chips (depends on your taste)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup walnuts (depends on your taste)

Directions – Preheat the oven to 350. Grate the zucchini and lay on a clean dish towel. Place another dish towel on top and press the water from the zucchini. Add all of the wet ingredients to a bowl and mix well. In another bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour the wet overt the dry and lightly mix with a spatula until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and it passes the tooth pick test.

 

Benefits

Flax * high in B vitamins, magnesium, and f-f-f-fiber! It has more omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants than any grain!

Walnuts * a good source of 0mega 3 fatty acids. Walnuts have been found to decrease LDL cholesterol, decrease inflammation, improve endothelial cell function, and decrease risk of excessive blood clotting, all of which decrease heart disease risk. They may also help reduce metabolic syndrome symptoms and decrease tummy fat. They are rich in antioxidants and may help protect against some cancers.

Bananas * High in potassium which helps the body eliminate excess salt and water (good for bloating)! Also help prevent muscular cramps and improve blood circulation. Bananas are high in zinc, which is key for healthy hair. They have also been linked to the prevention of stomach ulcers because they protect the stomach mucous layer. They are high in vitamins C and A, and phosphorus (which helps improve memory).

Cinnamon * High in antioxidants and also aids in controlling blood sugar levels. Why does blood sugar matter? Spikes in blood sugar are bad for your health because they cause your body to increase insulin production. Insulin, among many other things, tells your body to store fat. Therefore, eating a sugary/high-in-simple-carbohydrate meal = blood sugar spike = insulin spike = store fat. Even worse, years of insulin spikes can lead to insulin resistance, which can then lead to diabetes.

Also!

I still have 5 more weeks before I can get back into lifting and Crossfit, but I did go to UCD Crossfit yesterday for a goodbye workout. Jonji and the guys changed up the workout so I could participate and it was hard. It felt good to get my heart rate up like that again!

Foot Injury-Friendly Crossfit WOD

  • 2000m rowing warmup

4 Minute Tabatas: 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, 8x. Do 4 minutes of the tabata pushups, take a 1 minute rest, then 4 minutes of the tabata situps, 1 minute rest, etc.. 

  • Pushups
  • GHD situps
  • Ring rows
  • Back/hip extensions

Injury or not, I think you should give this one a try. Have a lovely Monday!! 

healthy low carb pizza!

Happy Friday!! My visit with my parents is almost over, I will be heading back to California tomorrow. Then, it will be crunch time to find a place to live in San Francisco. The goal is to move in the first week of September – eek! I am so excited though. I can’t wait to explore, begin my internship, and work out again! I have a sports medicine doc appointment on Monday, I am hoping that I get the okay to start lifting soon. It hasn’t felt short at all, but six weeks has finally passed. Fingers crossed!

I made this pizza recipe for lunch and it was very easy and made a huge portion. Those pizzas were both the size of my hand and made 1 serving!

Portobello Pizzas

Recipe: Serves 1 – low carb, high protein, gluten free

  • 5 oz lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • salt
  • paprika
  • TJ’s African smoked pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 cup organic tomato sauce
  • basil
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • salt
  • rosemary
  • garlic
  • toppings: cheese, vegan cheese sauce, caramelized onions, veggies, bacon, etc

Directions – Mix the ground turkey with the salt, paprika, pepper, garlic, and onion. . Stir fry on the stove until just cooked through. With a hand held or conventional blender, blend the cooked turkey with an egg for just a second or two. Scrape the frilly filling out of the portabello mushroom caps. Fill the caps with the turkey mixture. 

 

In a deep pan on the stove, combine the tomato sauce, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, rosemary, and garlic. Bring to a simmer and let cook until reduced to a thick pizza sauce texture. Pour the sauce over the turkey and cook in the oven at 375 for 7-10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and top with cheese or toppings of choice, broil for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned.

 

Benefits:

Portobello * a great source of niacin, potassium, and selenium!

Onion * Contains quercitin, an antioxidant that halts the growth of tumors! Also, studies have linked regular onion consumption with lower cholesterol and reduced risk of colon cancer. A prime source of chromium.

Basil * Has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids protect your cells from damage (and thus, in the long run, cancer).

Tomatoes * also contain a LOT of vitamin A and C. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that has been shown in studies to reduce the effects of smoking. This does not mean it is okay to smoke, but if you do, it is a VERY good idea to make sure are getting lots of vitamin A daily. Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, which has been proven to halt the growth of cancer cells!

recipes you must try!

Hi!

With all the running hobbling around I’ve been doing, I haven’t been getting creative in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean I haven’ been cooking up a storm! I have made many recipes from blogs and the internet lately – some have been bland, some have been decent, and some have been superb. Here are my favorites, all of which I recommend that you try!

creamy cucumber walnut salad

this was ser i ous ly awesome! my favorite of all. 

recipe: serves 1

adapted from the healthy foodie

  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp black walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (or walnut oil!)
  • 1 tbsp za’atar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups mache or other leafy greens

Directions – Dice the cucumber into bite size pieces and add to a large bowl. Add the greek yogurt and mix. Add the walnuts, za’atar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and mix. Add the mache or greens and mix. Enjoy! Serve with additional protein source, like chicken or hard boiled eggs.

If you like walnuts, you must try this salad. Up next is a paleo recipe that I made for dinner one night. The caramelized mushrooms and onions were incredible, I wish I had tripled that part of the recipe!

Paleo Mushroom Chicken Fricasse

Recipe: Serves 1 – Paleo, Low Carb, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

adapted from tgipaleo

  • 1 slice bacon, nitrate free
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a shake of basil, oregano, and thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp tamari sauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp spicy mustard
  • 2 skin on chicken thighs

Directions – Add a pat of butter to a pan and place on the stove on medium high heat. Add the slice of bacon and cook until extremely crispy, then remove the bacon and set aside. Add the onions and let cook for a minute before adding the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have softened, lay the chicken thighs in the pan. After 3-4 minutes, flip the chicken on the other side. Let cook for a couple minutes. Add the coconut milk, tamari, mustard, spices, and stir. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and let everything simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the lid and once the sauce has thickened to your liking, serve and enjoy.

 

My most hardcore paleo-eating friend taught me that you can eat the ends of chicken bones, since they are the softest. They are loaded with calcium and important proteins for healing. I think eating the soft portions of bones and making bone broths is speeding my fracture recovery! That red stuff you see in the photo above is bone marrow.

This next recipe is originally from the magazine Clean Eating, but I found it via the blog The Candid RD. I didnt make the spinach portion of the recipe. Instead, I opted to use my abundance of zucchini and simply sauteed it in a pan with a bit of butter, dijon mustard, and maple syrup.

Maple Dijon Cod

 

Call me cray but I think this photo is so pretty. Look at how the sun reflects of the mustard seeds!

I hadn’ t eaten white fish in so long. This hit the spot.

And finally, a gluten free cookie recipe for dessert!

Honey-Vanilla Tahini Cookies

Recipe: Makes 12 cookies – Gluten Free

adapted from everybody likes sandwiches

  • 1 1/4 cup oat flour (you can just grind gluten free, rolled oats in a blender)
  • 1 tbsp flax
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup well stirred tahini
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla

Directions – Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, flax, and baking powder. In another large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, tahini, vanilla, and honey. Slowly add and mix in the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Refrigerate the dough until cool. Spoon dough into 12 cookie balls on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake for ~15 minutes. 

Anyone who appreciates tahini, will definitely love these cookies!

 

Success!

 

 

 

The Paleo Diet.

What is paleo?

The Paleolithic diet is not a “diet” in the count-every-calorie-I-hate-my-life sense. It is a lifestyle that encourages us to eat and live the way that our ancestors did for hundreds of thousands of years. The first homo sapiens appeared on earth 200,000 years ago. They hunted and gathered, slept, made shelter, and occasionally ran for their lives. They were strong and healthy and didn’t suffer from the diseases that we do now. The agricultural revolution changed the way we modern homo sapiens eat 10,000 years ago. Meaning, we have only been eating wheat and other grains and domesticated animal products for 10,000 years out of our 200,000 year existence. The paleo diet is the avoidance of all grains (even whole grains), refined sugar, legumes, and dairy products. It is eating vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and fruit. The paleo lifestyle is to exercise the way we used to: lots of movement, like walking, some heavy lifting, and some sprinting. Our ancestors did not read magazines for two hours on the elliptical or run marathons.

What to eat

Fruit and veg: Go crazy for veggies. Make them the base of your diet and you can’t go wrong. For people trying to lose weight, reduce fruit and starchy vegetables like potatoes, beets, winter squash, and root veggies. For maintaining weight, gaining weight, and sustaining heavy exercise, use starchy vegetables and fruit as your carbohydrate source.

Nuts and oils: Any nut is fair game except for peanuts, which are technically legumes. Monounsaturated fat is good for us, while polyunsaturated fat is more complicated. Polyunsaturated fat is divided between omega 3s and omega 6s. While we do need omega 6s, the ratio of omega 3 to 6 should be 1:1. Modern diets are 1:10, which increases our risk of heart disease. We should emphasize omega 3s and reduce omega 6s. 

  • Monounsaturated oils include: nuts, avocados, olives and olive oil, fish, cod liver oil, grass fed meats, and plants (which obviously don’t have that much fat)
  • Polyunsaturated omega 6 sources include: corn, soy, cottonseed, grapeseed, sunflower, safflower and other vegetable oils, and grains
  • Polyunsaturated omega 3 sources include: salmon, sardines, fish, walnuts, flax, hemp, nuts, grass fed meat, pasture raised chicken & eggs

Meat: meat should ideally be grass fed and organic. Grass fed meat is naturally leaner and contains increased levels of omega 3 fats and decreased levels of omega 6 fats compared to grain fed animals. This is good because omega 3s are anti-inflammatory where as omega 6 fats are pro-inflammatory (bad!). Post-agricultural revolution, cattle began being grain-fed because it is cheaper and they get fatter. If you can’t afford grass fed meat, go for the leanest cuts of conventional meat and supplement with other forms of healthy fat, like avocados, nuts, olive oil and coconut oil. Avoid vegetable oils, as they are high in omega 6.

Poultry and fish: Poultry and eggs should ideally be free-range and not fed a “vegetarian” diet, which really just means corn and soy. Again, this is so that the fat content of the meat and eggs is higher in the fats that reduce CVD. Fish should ideally be wild caught because farm-raised fish are fed (surprise!) corn and grain feed. Remember, the reason that corn and grain fed animals and fish are less healthy than their naturally grazing counterparts is their fat content. Naturally grazing species will have a more anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats and less inflammatory (and thus CVD inducing) omega 6 fats.

About red meat and saturated fat

Paleo or no paleo, the consumption of red meat believed by many to be unhealthy. This is based on studies that link high consumption of red meat to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer, and it is usually explained as the increased level of saturated fat in the diet. This is not the whole story. The studies that claim this are flawed in their methods and/or reporting. They are usually population studies that take large groups of people and have them fill out food frequency questionaires (which are sketchy in their own right since they are based on memory and estimation). The results look at the frequency of cancer and CVD in the population tested. Those who ate more red meat had higher rates of cancer and CVD. What the study doesn’t mention, is that these people were also more likely to smoke, be overweight, obese, diabetic, inactive, or combinations of all of these characteristics.

In this cross over study (which is the most trustworthy type of study), two groups were divided among heavy red meat consumption versus fish and chicken consumption. The red meat group ate far more cholesterol and saturated fat, however, their HDL and cholesterol levels were the same as the fish and chicken group. Interestingly, in women only, red meat actually lowered blood triacylglycerol (=fat, TAG)  levels and the fish and chicken increased the blood TAG levels. This is important because blood TAG levels are now thought to be more indicative of heart disease risk. Another interesting thing about this study was the carb intake, which usually regulates serum TAGs, was similar in both groups. This suggests that red meat has a TAG-lowering effect independent from simply replacing carbs from the diet with protein.  Also worth noting is that the red meat group ate ~200 calories more than the chicken and fish group per day, but did not gain any weight. This is a great blog post that summarizes more studies on this topic.

Two other interesting studies were analyses of other studies. Looking at all the studies that met their standards and criteria, they determined factors that increase and decrease risk of heart disease.

  • Increased risk factors: trans fats and high glycemic loads (AKA sugar, simple carbohydrates, and excessive carbs REGARDLESS of carb type).
  • Decreased risk factors: fiber, fish, beta carotene, omega 3s, fruit, veg, nuts, monounsaturated fats, vitamins C and E, Meditteranean style eating, and whole grains. [I will get to grains a bit later.]

They noted the lack of evidence supporting the notion that reducing saturated fat intake will lower the risk of CVD. Furthermore, according to this study, there is no study yet that reduces saturated fat intake with no other changes to the diet. Meaning, if reductions in CVD were seen with reduced saturated fat intake, it could be due to the other changes made in the study, like reduced carb intake, increased omega 3 intake, etc. Also, note that polyunsaturated fats were not part of the decreased risk factor list, which is what we have increased in out diets by feeding our animals and ourselves lots of corn and vegetable oils.

Main point: Current research seems to indicate that it is not saturated fat that is responsible for our current state of heart disease, but rather the increased ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats in our diet. This doesn’t mean you can drown yourself in french fries and steaks. It means that grass-fed meats or extra lean conventional meats do have a healthy place in our diet, along with fish, healthy oils, nuts, and plants.

About grains and legumes

Grains and legumes (beans + peanuts) are out because they contain lectins and anti-nutrients. Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) is one type of lectin, which is a molecule that can bind to other molecules in our body. Lectins are not broken down during digestion and can bind to receptors on the gut lining. This binding can lead to decreased digestion and absorption of other dietary proteins as well as transportation of the lectins through the gut and into the blood circulation. While they are transported, lectins can damage (in rough terms: “poke holes”) in our intestinal lining. These circulating lectins are then recognized by our immune systems as foreign invaders, and we will launch an immune response against them. Unfortunately, lectins can often resemble normal cells in our body, so these immune responses can essentially become immune attacks on our own tissues. Read: inflammation and auto-immune diseases. Because there is now perforations in the gut lining, other microscopic proteins from our diet can cross the lining, and immune responses can be raised against those proteins as well. Read: food allergies.

The strongest evidence against grains is definitely for those whom have autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, lupus,  Sjogrens, MS, T1 diabetes, and ulcerative colitis. This, this, this, and many more studies indicate that dietary gluten and grains do negatively impact those with decreased immune systems. However, not everyone has an overt immune disease. Like most things in this world, we are on a sliding scale. This study showed that those with celiac disease and people with increased genetic susceptibility to autoimmune disease had increased gut permeability when consuming a diet high in gluten. And as for completely healthy individuals with great immune systems? There is hardly any research. This study, ironically done by a student under the original Paleo-pusher, Dr. Cordaine, showed that healthy individuals did not see an increase in plasma levels of lectins after consuming 50 grams of gluten (although several explanations were offered for these results). However, this study did show that peanut lectins made their way through the intestinal lining and into circulation. This study showed the same with wheat germ agglutinin, but it was done on rats. This study showed that anti-bodies to WGA can be found in human circulation.  Also, this research article is all about using lectins as a way to get pharmaceutical drugs absorbed more efficiently through the intestines, and cites studies that were done on human tissue. Therefore, it does appear likely that lectins are able to enter circulation and possibly cause damage. 

Main point: Anyone with imperfect immune function (which you wouldn’t necessarily know if you were included in that group), and possibly everyone, can benefit from removing grains and legumes from their diet due to their lectin content. Even completely healthy individuals may benefit from lectin avoidance because lectins may at the very least be causing a constant low-grade inflammation in the body. Just try it for a few weeks and see how you feel. 

The anti-nutrients in grains that I mentioned are protease inhibitors and phytates. Protease inhibitors are molecules that inhibit our enzymes from breaking down some of our dietary protein and lectins (which are proteins). I think that this is a bit exaggerated in The Paleo Solution because it is not as if your burger isnt going to get digested just because you ate it with a bun. That would require a LOT of protease inhibitors. Phytates are found in grains and seeds and can bind to important minerals, like magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and copper. Thus, when you eat phytates (which are mostly in the bran of the grains) they bind to those nutrients so that you cannot absorb them. While this is bad, I think it is also slightly exaggerated. Phytates will bind those nutrients, but not all of them! Then again, the typical American diet is grain heavy and lacking in fruits and veg, so I guess it could actually make quite a difference in a person’s nutritional status!

About dairy

The case against dairy seems to be mostly based its effect of raising insulin levels. Insulin increases fat storage, and chronically elevated insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance. Clearly, for diabetics and people whom are overweight, this is  bad. I also read that some studies correlate milk intake with auto-immune diseases. However, I am happy to report that some people actually can consume dairy given that they do not have any auto-immune issues, have a healthy gut and weight, and are not lactose intolerant. While strict paleo does say no dairy, even the some of the most hardcore paleo-pushers admit that grass fed, whole fat, organic dairy has its benefits. If it is grass fed and organic, it won’t contain any harmful pesticides or hormones, and will have a healthy fat profile. Additionally, if the dairy is raw, than the naturally occurring enzymes will help with the digestion and absorption processes. Proper dairy can be a great source of calories, protein, fat, calcium, and probiotics, however it can be difficult (or impossible) to get your hands on.

Main point: Try giving up dairy products for a couple weeks, see how you feel, and then re-introduce it. If you feel bloated and ill…. well now you know. If not, stick with grass fed, organic, whole milk dairy products. Those with auto-immune disorders or genetic susceptibility would also likely do well to avoid dairy.

About fiber

When I first heard about how paleo excludes grains, even my beloved whole grains, I was disturbed. Almost mad! Here I was, with a blog all about eating healthfully and including whole grains into our diet, and this community was telling me that that was bad. I fought it. Whole grains have so many nutrients, like B vitamins and minerals! Whole grains have so much fiber! From my studies, I knew that the human body needs two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber absorbs water, and thus slows digestion and makes us feel fuller, longer. It also helps feces transit.

Insoluble fiber is not digested by the body and adds bulk to the stool. This is important for maintaining bathroom regularity, which may be helpful with preventing colon cancer. Insoluble fiber is also a key source of food for gut flora (bacteria), which give us all sorts of immune and digestion benefits.

My first instinct was that without whole grains, I would only be getting soluble fiber from fruits and veggies. I feared that without my precious whole grain insoluble fiber sources, I would become a constipated, and thus grumpy, beezy. Turns out one can get both kinds of fiber very easily from a paleo diet.

  • Soluble fiber is found in: fruits like apples, oranges, pears, and berries. Veggies like cucumbers, celery, and carrots. And nuts and seeds like flax, almonds, and psyllium.
  • Insoluble fiber is found in: corn, seeds, nuts, zucchini, celery, broc, cabbage, root veggie skins, dark leafy veggies, onions, grapes, and other fruits.

Other considerations

While I have now made the agricultural revolution sound like the most terrible thing to ever have occurred, I must remind myself and others that it was this revolution that enabled us to feed more people and expand our population. In some ways, this is beautiful. More people, more innovation, peace, love, happiness. On the other hand, we have more people, but they are also fatter and sicker than ever before. So while the agriculture revolution certainly made food cheaper, it has also increased our medical care costs.

Another thing to think about is the environmental-friendliness of the paleo diet. Obviously, a lot of meat and animal products are consumed. While ideally the animals should be sustainably raised and grass fed, this sadly makes up only a tiny portion of our current agricultural system. Furthermore, it has been said that vegetarian diets are far more environmentally friendly than traditional diets. I have hardly done any reading on this, but it is something I have heard over and over again. I think the most important thing to keep in mind at the grocery store (or better yet, farmer’s market!) is that every dollar you spend on food is a vote. Hopefully with enough votes towards healthy, sustainable food items, they will become more affordable and we will slowly transition to a better agricultural system.

I encourage everyone to join me in giving full-on Paleo a shot for a few weeks!