Health & Wellness

Nutritionally Speaking: The paleo solution

A popular and requested class these days is Keto 101, a presentation that I offer to introduce folks to the ketogenic diet – a low-carb, high-fat eating plan that encourages the use of ketones instead of (tissue-aging) glucose to fuel our brains, and fat to fuel our muscles.
Transitioning to this type of diet from a Standard American Diet (SAD) can be a daunting task, but easier if you have first shifted to an ancestral or paleo diet. A favorite guidebook to the popular paleo diet is ”The Paleo Solution,” by Robb Wolf.
The ”paleo” diet is modeled after what our ancestors ate during the Paleolithic Age, which began about 750,000 to 500,000 years BCE and lasted until the end of the last ice age about 10,500 years ago.
During this time, human diets consisted of high-quality animal protein and fats, wild plants, insects, seafood and seeds, nuts and wild tart fruits in season.
Because there were no feedlots, fats from wild animals were of good quality and in the correct balance. Paleolithic diets supported our species’ survival because available fat-soluble nutrients promoted our ancestors’ physical and mental health and longevity.
During the late stage of the Paleolithic, humans learned to use fire to cook, making it safe to eat more vegetable foods, as their ingestion before cooking would have frequently led to illness and often death from toxins present that were destroyed by cooking.
Present-day edible plant life has, over time, been genetically modified to remove most toxic compounds.
Wolf describes himself as both an athlete and a scientist and his life path was profoundly affected by his experience growing up in a family with many of our common ailments including gallbladder issues, emphysema and arthritis. As a child, he once asked his mother if she would live to be 100 years old and she answered, ”If you were that old, you would hurt so much and you would not be able to get around. It would be miserable.”
Longing for better health, he moved towards a vegetarian diet – partly, he states, because of the bonus of ”the hippie girls who tended to be both vegetarian and pretty hot.”
With pots of rice, beans and abundant tofu he found he was enjoying the food he cooked, but was always hungry and he developed a ”monstrous sweet tooth.” Many of his random health problems worsened: his blood pressure elevated and his cholesterol and triglyceride levels soared. This high-carbohydrate diet was not working for him.
He stayed on this diet for a few years, thinking it was still the best choice, until years later his mother experienced autoimmune issues. Her body’s immune system was ”attacking” her as a reaction to the high grain/carbohydrate diet she was eating. Realizing he had some of the same symptoms as his mother, he started to look for a better way to eat.
He describes finding the paleo diet, the diet of our ancestral hunter-gatherers, described positively on the internet. His sources described human and pre-human ancestors that thrived for three million years ”with a remarkably high level of health, eating only lean meats (no feedlots yet!), seafood, nuts, seeds, and seasonal fruits and vegetables.”
He contacted Professor Cordain at Colorado State University, who was to become his mentor as he studied Paleolithic nutrition. His health improved, and he has been sharing what he has learned about the paleo diet and fitness with his clients and readers.
In this user-friendly book, the author draws the reader in with catchy titles for the book’s various chapters. His chapter describing how digestion works is called ”Digestion: Where the Rubber Meets the Road.” As he describes at length – and I often write in my columns – proper digestion is the key to optimal health.
In his chapter titled ”Grains and Leaky Gut or Keep Your Poop Where it Belongs,” he discusses the negative effects on our health from gluten and other problematic components of most grains.
Wolf emphatically states that ”Anything that damages the gut lining (including bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, as well as alcohol, grains, legumes and dairy) can predispose one to autoimmunity, multiple chemical sensitivities and allergies to otherwise benign foods.” He describes in detail the chronic disruption and subsequent damage to our digestive tract resulting from our diets that focus on these grains.
Wolf includes chapters on implementing a paleo diet program along with exercise tips he has learned from his many years as a fitness trainer. Wolf offers a comprehensive chapter on tracking your progress on this diet, and includes a 30-day meal plan with plenty of tasty recipes.
In the book’s epilogue he says, ”Wow! So, that was a lot. How ya doing? Need a hug?”
He asks the reader to give this eating plan a try, at least for 30 days, and he promises you will see and feel positive results.
When I choose a book to review it is usually one that I have enjoyed and feel is a worthwhile addition to our toolbox for building better health. I hope this review has piqued your interest in finding a better way to eat/live to support your goal of improved health and vitality.
A paleo diet can support your goals of optimal health and vitality, and by making adjustments to lower carbs and increase fats, you can more easily shift into the very popular Ketogenic diet.
I will be next presenting Keto 101 on Wednesday, July 11 at 2 p.m. at Natural Grocers on Coburg Road in Eugene.
At Natural Grocers in Eugene, where I am the store’s Nutritional Health Coach, we offer free classes that include plenty of information about healthy eating choices, and free one-on-one health coaching sessions (call 541-345-3300). Please ”like” our Natural Grocers-Eugene Facebook page. Find our store’s schedule of free classes at:



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