5 Ways eating whole foods can change your life - by Andrea Nordling, NTP & Amie Tollefsrud, NTP
When you think of the term “Paleo”, what comes to mind?
A bunch of ripped, grunting dudes in a Crossfit gym talking about protein and PRs while guzzling raw eggs?
Ok good, so we’re not alone. When we talk "Paleo" here, we are using the sexy term for "nutrient-dense whole foods."
Despite what popular media may have you thinking, eating Paleo is more than just cutting carbs in order to achieve quick weight loss - in fact, this way of eating is actually used as a therapeutic approach to a number of common health concerns. We are here to tell you how we have been able to help our clients turn eating real food into a manageable (...and dare we say...fun?!) way to reach lifelong health.
1. Weight gain
Did you know that weight gain is actually a symptom of a greater issue, rather than just a problem to be addressed in and of itself? Often times, our weight will fluctuate based on what our hormones are doing (hormones run the show.) For example, sluggish liver function and estrogen levels that are too high in relation to progesterone (due to certain foods, alcohol consumption, or environmental toxins) actually encourage amounts of fat storage, particularly around the butt and thighs. Weight gain can also be indicative of the body's impaired ability to detoxify. When all avenues of detoxification are not working to expel toxins properly (the digestive tract, skin, etc) these toxins must be stored in fat cells, causing weight gain. Luckily, eating a Paleo diet has not only been proven as an effective method of balancing hormones, it also provides the adequate nutrients such as choline, antioxidants, and amino acids for proper liver detoxification.
Think of a “healthy” Standard American Diet (SAD): Whole grain cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner. You eat a diet similar to this, day in and day out, and wonder why you can’t seem to function in the morning until a verrry large coffee hits your lips. So what’s going on? Every time we consume a meal high in refined carbohydrates, blood sugar (glucose) levels increase rapidly (think sugar rush). Then the pancreas responds by releasing insulin to bring blood sugar levels back into balance. Without energy-sustaining nutrients like fat and protein, this level of balance does not last long, and soon enough, the liver becomes involved by releasing glucagon in attempts to bring blood sugar back up. Additionally, our adrenal glands often have to step in to combat these insulin surges with an output of cortisol. (Have you heard of a cortisol belly? We bet you have!)
Ok enough science - but simply put: A SAD diet puts you on a blood sugar rollercoaster that quickly throws adrenal hormones and cortisol rhythm out of balance...and it ain't pretty. This looks like hormonal acne, infertility and thyroid disfunction, but most commonly, the result is crippling fatigue, aka all-I-wanna-do-is-watch-Netflix.
Luckily, eating a Paleo-style diet full of healthy fats, proteins, and nutrient dense carbohydrates will take you off of this blood sugar rollercoaster for good, allowing your adrenals to heal, your hormonal balance to become regulated, and best of all - your energy to return!
3. Poop problems
If you’ve ever gone to doctor and been diagnosed with IBS, you know the frustration of having a weird combination of constipation, bloating, and diarrhea. Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for IBS, besides figuring out which foods are triggering unwanted digestive reactions. In both of our Nutritional Therapy practices, one of the the first digestive protocols is a simple elimination diet that gets rid of gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol, and added sugars. If this sounds intimidating - don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! These foods don't always need to be avoided long-term, and we teach a method of re-introduction that will tell you exactly which of those foods causes an inflammatory reaction in your body right now. Yes, we said right now, because your body is amazing at healing itself, and nothing is permanent.
Our skin cells regenerate every 27 days, which means that the foods we eat become the raw material necessary for creating beautiful skin. When we continue to consume inflammatory foods like refined oils, or processed food and added sugars, the result is lackluster skin with an excess or absence of proper levels of skin sebum, often leading to painful acne. Incorporating a wide variety of Paleo foods is the best way to get the appropriate amount of skin healing nutrients like zinc, vitamin A, Vitamin K2, selenium, collagen and essential fatty acids. Your skin can tell you a lot about what is going on in internally, so listen to it!
One of best kept-secrets of the Paleo diet is that it actually can be used as a therapeutic approach to heal anxiety and depression.
How is that possible?! Neurotransmitters such as GABA, Serotonin, Norepinephrine, Endorphin and Dopamine are directly responsible for our personal brain chemistry - meaning lack or imbalance can lead to things like anger, depression, hyperactivity, memory loss, drug/alcohol cravings and bad moods.
The levels of these neurotransmitters are directly affected by our nutritional choices; including intake of amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. This is where intake and absorption of high quality protein is essential. Sources like pasture raised eggs, grass-fed beef and wild caught fish are all great options.
If our diet is lacking in these things, OR we are not digesting the nutrients in our food properly, we are unable to produce the neurotransmitters and amino acids necessary for optimal mental health. Optimizing digestion is one of the most important steps to focus on when beginning a Paleo diet - and is the key to healthy digestion, blood sugar balance, skin health, weight maintenance and more.
Each of these symptoms could mean the difference between jumping out of bed in the morning with excitement and wanting to hide at home all day, feeling like you've been hit by a truck.
If any of the 5 scenarios above sound familiar, then you're just like us (and our one-on-one clients.) Struggling with our own uncertainty about what to actually eat is what led us both to pursue further education in nutrition, and ultimately to become the nourished Nutritional Therapy Practitioners that we are today.
We have implemented a systematic approach that anyone can follow, no matter what your struggles. (We turned this entire process into a step-by-step 6-week online course, check it out here!)
Our 6-week course helps you determine YOUR personalized Paleo diet + takes you through designated modules for fixing your *shitty* digestion, blood sugar regulation and hormones FIRST (with weight-loss as a bonus side effect.)
CLICK HERE to learn more !