Articles & Recipes

Eating and Cooking Paleo (& gluten-free)

September 21, 2018

According to Judith Finlayson, author of 163 Best Paleo Slow Cooker Recipes, the basic premise behind the Paleo approach is that we should follow a diet very similar to that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, eating food that is as close to its natural state as possible. Proponents cite anthropological evidence, noting that while our genes haven’t changed in the past 10,000 years, our eating habits did with the advent of agriculture. At that point, our health apparently took a turn for the worse: the origins of problems such as dental cavities and bone malformations, and indications of protein and mineral deficiencies, among other symptoms.

In the modern era, when refining and processing food is the order of the day, the link between the foods we eat today and the so-called diseases of civilization that afflict our society, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, became increasingly obvious. In the Paleolithic era, people ate only whole nutrient-dense foods. Nothing was processed and there were no potentially harmful additives, all of which proponents point to as the reason for the excellent health our hunter-gatherer ancestors enjoyed.

Eating Paleo is defined as much by what is off-limits as it is by what you are allowed to consume: no grains (even whole grains) or legumes, both of which are very irritating to the digestive system; and no refined sugars and oils or other processed foods. For various reasons, all these foods promote inflammation, which sets the stage for the development of chronic disease.

            People who choose to eat Paleo do so for a number of reasons. These include:

     losing weight, which is based on the premise that (contrary to conventional wisdom) all calories are not created equal. (The most thorough documentation of this premise I’ve come across is contained in Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.) By emphasizing the consumption of protein, the Paleo diet boosts metabolism and promotes weight loss.

     regulating blood sugar levels, which helps to manage illnesses such as hypoglycemia and type-2 diabetes. Virtually all acceptable Paleo foods are low on the glycemic index.

     improving digestive health, which may control illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome. Carbohydrates such as grains and legumes are extremely hard to digest. Poorly digested carbohydrates may lead to more serious problems, such as nutrient malabsorption and various intestinal disorders.

     healing intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut syndrome, which has been linked to a wide variety of conditions from Crohn’s disease to rheumatoid arthritis. When carbohydrates are not properly digested, they can bypass the later stages of digestion, entering the bloodstream only partially digested. Your body sees these food particles as invaders and attacks them in what is effectively an autoimmune response.

 

 

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