The Paleo Diet – Is it just another fad?
As we become more empowered in our personal knowledge about health, nutrition and disease management, following yet another diet on the latest television morning show is just not going to cut it. In fact research is showing that although most of us still have health issues or chronic diseases that could be improved with healthy eating, less and less of us are choosing to ‘diet’ as such. This is because the evidence is emerging more and more clearly that ‘quick fix’ diets not only don’t work, but they can cause more harm to our bodies than benefit. It’s now common knowledge that whether the diet is designed to reduce weight or help manage a chronic disease, most people fail their diets, or better said most diets fail people, because it’s impossible for people to make unrealistic lifestyle changes and maintain them over the long term.
The ‘D’ word
Because of the way these words have been thrown around in the last 30 years, ‘diet’ and ‘dieting’ have become dirty words, synonymous with restrictive eating, tasteless foods and ultimately failure. The reality is, amongst nutritionists and dietitians the word diet is simply used to refer to a style of eating or a general way you can choose foods. It’s completely plausible to have an ‘all McDonalds’ diet’ – although we wouldn’t recommend it! It’s simply a word used to refer to the way someone chooses to eat, whatever those foods might be.
The Paleo ‘Diet’
The Paleo ‘diet’ should be understood not as a diet in terms of a quick fix, weight loss regime, but should be seen as a long term, total lifestyle change that doesn’t necessarily focus on weight, but on eating the right foods that nourish your body, promote correct body function and help to relieve and completely manage disease. It should not be used as a short term ‘quick fix’ or as a detox, but it should be implemented as a complete lifestyle turnaround to focus on more sustainable changes involving healthy, real foods and nourishing natural produce. The paleo lifestyle focuses on a ‘back to basics’ style of eating and health management, designed to be more in tune with how humans have evolved to eat, not just the simplified, pre-packaged and convenient style of eating popular in our modern age.
Paleo and Auto-Immune Disease
Many people are confused as to what the benefits of a paleo diet might be. The paleo lifestyle need not be about changing weight or body fat levels at all, unlike with other so called ‘diets’. The paleo lifestyle is more about a natural and authentic way of eating that not only nourishes the body providing more energy and vitality for daily tasks, but also to help manage a variety of crippling auto-immune diseases, reducing or even eliminating painful and debilitating symptoms. This effect was discovered when followers of the paleo lifestyle found that many symptoms caused by their auto-immune disease began to resolve once following a paleo diet. Skin rashes cleared up, digestive problems ceased, out of control blood sugars and cravings became more manageable, breathing became easier, even arthritis responds to a balanced and beneficial paleo diet.
The reason for this is that the paleo eating style eliminates certain foods and products from the diet that produce sensitivities and dysfunction within the different organ systems of some people’s bodies. Gluten is a well known (although also often misunderstood) factor behind these effects as well as a variety of other problematic proteins found in grains and seeds known as lectins. These proteins can wreak havoc in the digestive systems of sensitive people, setting off a chain reaction that starts with a condition known as leaky gut and can end with worsening a variety of auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, lichen planus and chronic fatigues syndrome. The paleo lifestyle replaces these problematic foods with nourishing natural foods like organic vegetables, grass fed meats, healthy fats and probiotic foods to repopulate the damaged gut and heal damaged and inflamed tissue.
A total lifestyle change… For the better
Paleo eating is not just about changing your food intake for a week, or even until your symptoms resolve and then ‘going back to normal’. Paleo eating is a normal, healthy and safe way to eat, and with the right program and support you can change your life and your health without feeling like you’re struggling to ‘keep up with a regime’ every day. As symptoms and quality of life improves, paleo eating doesn’t just get easier, it becomes a joy, with fabulous support networks, thousands of delicious recipes to try, and best of all having your best health and function back to enjoy life.