What is Paleo?
The Paleo way
After a lifetime of eating highly glutenous refined grains, pasteurized dairy, toxic seed oils and tons of sugar, a lot of people have compromised guts and immune systems.
The main food source of carbohydrates in our diet are grains (wheat, corn, rye, oats, barley, rice…). Breads and pastas are mostly made of wheat. Bread, cookies, cakes, crackers, rice, pasta, pastries and breakfast cereals are all staples and consumed at almost every meal by almost everybody.
Here is a breakdown of the chemicals in commonly eaten carbohydrates, the reason why they are a poor food choice and the effects they have on your body.
Gluten is, arguably, the worst offender. You can find gluten in wheat, rye and barley. Don’t forget that wheat is absolutely everywhere today. You probably already know that those who have Celiac disease can’t have even a tiny bit of it or else they’re in for big trouble.
What you might not know though is that 30% of the population have noticeable amounts of antigiadin in their stools. Antigiadin are antibodies secreted when the body sees giadin, one of gluten’s constituent, as an intruder. Having the antibody in your stools means that your body is actively fighting an intruder and that you already have a low level of chronic inflammation, the source of all modern diseases.
Gluten also has this weird ability to mimic certain proteins, allowing it to make its way into your cells, where it then wreaks havoc on your internal symptoms by causing you to develop autoimmune diseases where the body attacks itself (Chron’s disease is an example).
Lectins are other toxins present in all grains that cause their own load of problems. First, they damage the gut lining and a damaged gut lining is an inflamed gut lining, which will have difficulty absorbing nutrients. This also leads the way to colon cancer. Lectins also causes leptin resistance, which means that your hunger signal is suppressed and that you’ll be hungry even when your body has had more than enough calories.
This other set of toxins, also found in lesser quantities in nuts and seeds, bind to nutrients and robs them from your body. You can then think twice when you think that eating grains will feed you loads of nutrients. Phytates do a good job of making nutrients less bio-available. The listed nutrients on a bag of sliced bread is only a small proportion of what your body will really be able to get.
Saponins, like the name implies, has soap like properties that can cause leaky gut by breaking down intestinal cell membranes. It is believed that leaky gut causes chronic inflammation and is mostly likely, a step in the development of autoimmune diseases.
High carbohydrate intake and elevated insulin
Chronically elevated insulin levels is indeed the number one health problem we now face as a society. In a few words, blood sugar has to stay between a very narrow range, otherwise you would die. Insulin’s main job is to lower blood sugar levels after you consume any form of sugar or carbohydrate (they’re converted to sugar anyway). When insulin has to deal with so much sugar that it doesn’t know what to do with it anymore, it stores it as fat. Also, when insulin is always high, inflammation begins and cells become resistant to insulin, so your pancreas has to produce even more of it. When your cells have become resistant to insulin, you’ve become diabetic. This is the new epidemic of westernized countries that we also call the metabolic syndrome.
Guess what, as mentioned earlier, the main food source of carbohydrates in our diet are grains (wheat, corn, rye, oats, barley, rice…). Breads and pastas are mostly made of wheat. Without grains, people wouldn’t get fat and wouldn’t have high insulin levels. Try to get 300g, US’s recommended daily intake of carbs, with vegetables and fruits. You’ll have to eat buckets of them.
Bread, cookies, cakes, crackers, rice, pasta, pastries and breakfast cereals are all staples and consumed at almost every meal by almost everybody. This leads to a high carbohydrate load at every meal and this is why people get hungry all the time and have so much fluctuation in their energy levels (blood sugar levels are unstable).
Your grand-mother knew that potatoes and pastas are fattening, maybe we should listen to her wise words.
Don’t worry, replacing carbs with fat sources will not kill you or make you fat. For all human evolution, we’ve been eating animal meat and fat with some vegetables, fruits and nuts in the mix and yet observations demonstrate that caveman were lean, strong and healthy.
Gluten, lectins and phytates: three poisons you can live without.
Living organisms all develop ways to protect themselves against prey and invaders. It’s the basis of our survival mechanisms. Animals can usually run or attack, but plants have to find another way. In fact, most plants contain some form of toxins so animals can’t eat too much of them before getting sick.
The only part of a plant that wants to be eaten are fruits, and this is not without a purpose. Fruits contain seeds that we and other animals can’t digest so we evacuate them elsewhere and help propagate the plant to new horizons. It’s a fair partnership after all. It’s not by accident that plants produce fruits, it takes up most of its resources to do so.
Grains are no different from most plants and in certain regards they’re much worse. Grains are the offsprings of soon to become grasses so they need even more protection in the beginning to ensure other species stay far away. Other then that, they also contain toxins that inhibit their own growth until they have what they need to grow (soil and water).
Quinoa contains some anti-nutrients that other grains contain, such as phytic acid, lectins and saponin. Also like other grains, even if quinoa is properly prepared, meaning it’s soaked and cooked for an adequate amount of time, some of those substances will still remain.
Couscous is a grain and contains gluten, there are some gluten free couscous varieties out there, but are still a grain and non paleo.
With most people having compromised gut health and therefore sensitive immune systems, quinoa may not be ok. They may have digestive symptoms or skin irritation or asthma or fatigue after eating it, just like they would with other grains.
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