Author | DIAKADI Trainer Nate Miyaki
DIAKADI trainer, Nate Miyaki discusses the key lessons we can all learn from the Paleo Nutrition Plan getting increased attention internationally. In Part I of this two part article, Nate discusses the main nutritional concepts of the Paleo Diet. In Part II, Nate reviews the benefits of the Paleo Diet, but also reminds us why no one diet or nutritional plan fits everyone or holds all the answers. Most nutritional plans have elements to educate us and tips to consider. But ultimately any successful plan for individuals must be individualized to each person’s person goals, needs and their actual fitness state.
Part IB: Paleo Topics in a Nutshell
4. Improve your Omega-6:Omega-3 Balance
Optimum ratios for health are generally in the range of 1:1 to 4:1. Before modern food processing, this is the ratio likely achieved in caveman times where the bulk of dietary fats came from wild animal meats and fish.
With the addition of highly processed vegetable oils as a dietary staple, the average American dietary profile has skyrocketed to a ratio of 10/15:1, with numbers as high as 40:1. This unnaturally high ratio can lead to whole body inflammation (does your shoulder and knee always hurt?), can aggravate autoimmune diseases, and can increase your risk for heart disease and certain forms of cancer.
At the same time that vegetable oils and processed foods have been increased, average omega-3 intake has decreased. Wild meats and fish are naturally high in Omega-3's, but have been replaced in most people's modern diets by domesticated, corn and grain-fed versions (higher in Omega-6).
Omega-3's have anti-inflammatory properties (does your shoulder and knee never hurt?), improve insulin sensitivity, reduce blood triglycerides, dilate blood vessels, and reduce overall disease risk factors.
I know this takes a lot of faith, but it’s not the natural saturated or monounsaturated fats in lean animal meats that are killing us, it’s the abnormally high Omega-6 fatty acids from vegetables oils (including the trans fat mutation varieties) that are.
Beyond marketing hype or nutritional propaganda, think about it logically for a second: natural fats that we evolved on vs. modern fats that we process.
If I'm in Vegas, I'm putting money down on the natural fats, even with the poor odds influenced by the dominant-yet-archaic, so-called health authorities.
But, medical advice and modern nutrition curriculum are highly influenced by the food processing industries: thus what you normally hear is that animal foods are bad and polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils are good. What a jiggedy-joke?
Eat animals not oils.
5. Eliminate gluten-containing foods, cereal grains, and legumes.
Most of the problems associated with cereal grains have nothing to do with the actual starch content of the grain. Glucose is one of our oldest evolutionary fuels. Unless you've made yourself insulin resistant by: being overweight, eating too much fructose, eating too many Omega 6 fatty acids, being overweight, not eating enough Omega 3 fatty acids, not strength training on a consistent basis, and being overweight, your body can handle glucose polymers from starch.
In a properly functioning active and athletic body, and unless you go drastically overboard with the carbs in general, your body stores glucose as muscle glycogen.
The main problem with modern cereal grains is the compounds that come along with the actual starch -- things like gluten, phytic acid and lectins.
Gluten is not a carbohydrate, it’s a protein found in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. And it’s a highly problematic food for many people. Now, we all might not have full-blown gluten allergies where we are toppled over with Celiac's disease -- a debilitating disease linked to wheat/gluten consumption where the immune system attacks and destroys cells in the intestine, leading to intense digestive and bowel disorders. But many of us may have gluten sensitivity. One new study even questions whether it is safe for anyone to eat wheat:
Old timers paper link: Bernardo D et al, Is gliadin really safe for non‐coeliac individuals? Production of interleukin 15 in biopsy culture from non‐coeliac individuals challenged with gliadin peptides. Gut 56 (6): 889-90.
Unfortunately, gluten-free has now become a marketing tool associated with the holier-than-thou holistic crowds (I know, I know), and health food manufacturers.
Let me explain something to you right now, and I hope if you take nothing else from my post it is this:
- A gluten-free muffin is still a damn muffin (which will add to your muffin top).
- Organic sugar is still SUGAR.
- In other words, organic and gluten free marketing is still unhealthy CRAP.
BUT removing gluten can actually be a beneficial step for overall digestive health, physical performance (reduced symptoms of lethargy), and appearance (reduced abdominal bloating).
I suggest you cut out the gluten for a few weeks and see how you respond. It may do wonders for you, it may do nothing, but you never know until you try.
Other detrimental compounds in modern cereal grains are what are collectively referred to in Paleo nutrition as "anti-nutrients".
Phytic acid is the storage form of phosphorous in plants, and is typically located in the bran or seeds. Humans can't digest phytic acid because we lack the necessary digestive enzyme phytase.
- Strike one is that it can cause digestive abnormalities.
- Strike two is that it acts as a chelator of minerals, which impairs proper absorption of those minerals such as zinc and iron.
- Strike three is that the foods generally containing phytic acid have the consistency and taste of cardboard. As Loren Cordain said, "cereal grains are literally best left for the birds."
Legumes and cereal grains also contain a compound called lectin. Lectins are sugar-binding proteins that plants have evolved to ward off insect predators. I'd say that's a pretty good clue that their not meant to be consumed in large quantities by humans.
What are some problems associated with lectins? How about irritation and damage to intestines, over-secretion of mucus in the intestines, reduced absorption of nutrients, diarrhea, nausea, and bloating?
Old-timers paper link: Miyake K et al, Lectin-Based Food Poisoning: A New Mechanism of Protein Toxicity. PLoS ONE 2 (1): e687.
Now I know a lot of you have been waiting to blast me and call B.S. because rice is a mainstay in my dietary recommendations. Rice is technically a cereal grain -- I get it. But here's the deal. Rice has always been gluten-free, although it is not annoyingly marketed as such. And as one of the astute members of my forum pointed out, phytic acid and lectin are removed in the rice milling and cooking processes.
What you are left with is a mixture of pure amylopectin and amylose starches -- compounds your body can handle just fine if you are not insulin resistant.
So first what you must do is assess whether you should be eating starch at all. If you are obese and sedentary, the answer is probably not, "No starch for you" (think the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld). It is whole fruit and veggies only.
But if you are not overweight, and exercise regularly, the answer is probably yes. At that point, I believe white rice is a decent option, along with potatoes and yams.
Being of Japanese heritage, I'll add that in pre-1991 Japan, diabetes and obesity rates were always less than 3% of the population.
Next week we will post Part II of Nate’s “Paleo Nutrition: Do Cavemen have the Diet Solution?” Nate will suggest what great lessons the Cavemen have passed on to us, but go over the reasons why we should not be listening only to the suggestions of one diet plan but instead do an honest self-evaluation and best understand ourselves, develop realistic, achievable goals, and commit to seek and practice the best nutritional and fitness plan for ourselves. Ultimately it is about success and living the best life; not pretending we can rely on an outside source for all the answers.