Paleo and Vegans: More In Common Than You Think

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My journey into nutrition and a healthier lifestyle began with veganism. I saw the documentary “Forks Over Knives” and it opened my eyes to the poor foods I was eating on a daily basis.

I felt much better as a vegan than I had in the past, but I experienced some drawbacks too. This was a vast improvement from how I had eaten my entire life, but knew that I could feel better.

As I learned more about nutrition and wanted to improve how I felt. I decided to switch to vegetarianism with a lot more fish and eggs in my diet. This was another improvement and I felt much better than when I was vegan, but knew that I was not done tweaking.

I heard about the paleo/primal lifestyle from a few different people who had great success. After learning more about the paleo principles I decided to give it a try.

When I removed grains and processed carbohydrates from my diet and ate more vegetables and healthy fats, it was the best I ever felt. I no longer required that afternoon coffee and was able to finally drop the excess body fat I struggled with since an early age.

Even within the ancestral template I am still tweaking how I eat on a daily basis these days. I have experimented with a very low carb ketogenic diet, and a higher carbohydrate with white rice and white potatoes. I continue to make switches in my nutrition and lifestyle on the quest to improve how I look, feel and perform.  

Everyone has their own journey into a healthier lifestyle and it requires tweaking and experimenting to see what works for them.

Many different factors including goals and genetics, climate and stress dictate how a person can optimally fuel themselves.  What could be perfect for one person is a disaster for another, nutrition is highly individualized.

Paleo, Vegan, Primal, Weston A Price, Vegetarianism - everyone has a dog in the fight for diet supremacy. Anybody who is dedicated to a diet is looking for dramatic changes in the food industry.

For the whole foods movement to gain steam the diet dogmatic folks will need to put aside the differences, and focus on what we can all agree on. Only by banding together can we actually make a difference in our broken food system.

Whether Paleo or Vegan the only way we are going to make a ripple in the food industry is if we realize together we are much stronger  than we are separated. We are going to need every comrade possible to go against the food industry and elicit any change.

We all have a roadmap to optimal health, and similar goals at the very end of the path. How we get there may differ, but we’re all going to the same place and face the same struggles along the way. This blog post is going discuss what vegans and paleo folks have in common.

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Let Hunger Guide You, Not Calories

To get rid of the obsessive nature around food, we need to get back in touch with our innate hunger signal.  People worry too much about counting calories and grams of fat.

When people are are eating a healthy diet with adequate protein, fat and lots of vegetables chances are pretty good you will naturally be in a caloric deficit.

In both the vegan and paleo camps there is a an emphasis on eating when you are hungry and not eating when you are not, pretty simple. 

We have built in mechanisms that regulate our food intake.  This way of using hunger allows us to eat until we are full and not overeat.

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Excessive Sugar Intake Is Unhealthy

There is no debate that excessive consumption of added sugar is bad for us all. Sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane sugar and agave are very harmful and are widely used in packaged foods. Sugars are empty calories, and a metabolic toxin.

Most people are not going out of their way to consume excessive amounts of sugar, but because it is a staple in processed foods, people are consuming more than they think.

The best way to ensure you are avoiding sugar is to eat foods that come from nature, no package or label necessary. Also make sure to read labels and become learn the different names for sugar there are over 56 names!

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Fermented Foods and Gut Health Are Important

The importance of having a healthy gut is really on the home front of health these days. Having a healthy gut biome is crucial to the overall health of everyone!

One of the best ways to support the healthy bacteria in our stomach is to consume probiotic rich fermented foods such as kraut, kimchi, beet kvass, fermented vegetables and kombucha. There has been some interesting information about eating prebiotic rich foods.

Prebiotics give your body the necessary terrain to grow these beneficial bacteria. These prebiotic foods are rich in resistant starch which is resistant to digestion in the gut and passes through to the colon undigested to feed the healthy bacteria.

The microorganisms in our gut have far reaching impacts on the body from our moods, energy and cravings to immune system health.

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Processed Carbohydrates Should Be Reduced

There are plenty of healthy cultures from around the world that consume a  diet consisting mostly of carbohydrates, however those carbohydrates are from natural sources, not a factory.

Carbohydrates are a hot button topic in nutrition, but even the low carb evangelists can agree that unprocessed sources are less detrimental to health than processed carbs.

There is a lot of debate about carbohydrates all over the internet, but no one can argue that processed carbohydrates are calorically rich, but nutrient poor.

On the other side vegetables and natural starches are nutrient dense and do not have a ton of calories. If you are interested in a more extensive discussion of carbohydrates check out my blog post:

http://www.evolvenutritionaltherapy.com/eat-to-evolve-blog/2015/1/7/are-carbohydrates-bad-for-you-

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We All Need Healthy Fats

Fats play pivotal roles in cellular membrane composition, energy, neurological and blood sugar health - we can all agree these are very important. Whatever way you choose to eat, healthy fats are a basic requirement  for health.

Some of the largest sources of fat in the paleo and vegan communities are the same: coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds avocado oil and coconut products.

Obviously a vegan would opt to not consume some of the fats in the paleo community such as butter and grass fed beef, yet both  choose to avoid the highly processed man made oils such as: corn, soybean, canola, margarine and hydrogenated oils.

We can all agree the we need these natural fats that come from nature to make us healthy, and that the man made fats deteriorate our health.

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Health Expands Beyond Just Nutrition

When it comes to looking, feeling and performing at your best certain aspects of life  are just as important, if not more so than nutrition.

Nutrition is a vital component of optimal health, but a healthy lifestyle goes beyond just food. To be truly healthy you have to have a healthy lifestyle, not just three nutritious meals.

We are designed to move frequently and at varying intensities. Exercise means different things to different people, but we all require and benefit from it metabolically and psychologically.

Sleep and stress management are other components that play a huge role in our health and are frequently looked over. I feel that sleep is the most overlooked aspect of health and the benefits of quality sleep are astounding when you read the research.

Another area that has been widely discussed in the health and wellness realm for the past few years is stress management.

You can have the best diet in the world, but if you are a stress ball your health will suffer. Too much stress can cause poor digestion, blood sugar problems, adrenal stress and sleep problems. Taking 20 minutes day to go for a walk outside, meditate or engage in some stress reduction will work wonders for your health.  

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Coconut Is Back On The Menu

For a period of time everyone was avoiding coconut products because of the saturated fat content that supposedly caused cardiovascular disease.

We have since learned coconuts are among the healthiest foods on the planet, and do not damage our health or cause cardiovascular disease.

The medium chain triglycerides (MCT) and lauric acid from coconut have a wide variety of benefits  such as neurological health, joint health, energy, weight loss, heart health and also heart health.

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Supplements Can Not Take The Place Of An Healthy Diet

With the current state of our soil and the way animals are raised there are certain nutrient deficiencies that we are going to have despite our best efforts.

Other nutrients are very hard to obtain in adequate amounts from whole foods. The smart use of supplements can be a good insurance policy for the hard to get nutrients.

When it comes to vitamins, minerals and other nutrients whole foods are the best option. Whole foods are very complex, and there are many enzymes and certain vitamins that play a crucial role in the effectiveness of nutrients.

Far too often the focus  is on an isolated nutrient while ignoring the other reactions in whole foods that make a nutrient useful. Supplements should be used to help with an already healthy diet, not in place of it.

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Dairy Is A Grey Area Food

Dairy is one of the grey area foods that some people do fine with, but others react negatively.There are sects of vegetarianism and paleo/primal communities that have adopted dairy.

Those who are adhering to a more traditional paleo and vegan lifestyle will avoid dairy products. With the  widespread avoidance of dairy, many great dairy free alternatives have come to surface that meet the needs of paleo and vegans alike.  

Coconut milk, almond, cashew and rice milks have all come to be popularized

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Vegetables Are Important For Optimal Health

Vegetables are universally accepted as a health food by everyone Paleo to Vegan. When it comes to nutrient density eggs and organ meats are two of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, but not everyone will eat grass fed liver.

People from every style of eating are far more willing across the board to consume vegetables to improve their health.

Vegetables are calorie for calorie some of the  highest foods in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The high nutrient content combined with fiber and being lower in calories makes them a perfect weight loss food and good for overall health.

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Whole Foods Are More Nutritious Than Processed Foods

We have evolved over the ages eating real nutrient dense foods that come from nature. These foods are very rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and enzymes. these natural foods are alive.

A large portion of our diet in this day and age is not real food. Chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavorings, food dyes, processed oils, artificial sugars are not a food.Yet we eat an astounding amount of these "non foods" daily.

These foods are very nutrient poor, but calorically rich. Our body has a brilliant communication system between the brain and  gut that allows us to eat enough to be nourished, and turn off hunger afterwards.

The signal from the gut tells the brain that nutrient needs are met, and to turn the hunger signal in the brain off. But when we eat these “dead” foods our gut does not receive the nutrients it needs and keeps the hunger signal in the brain turned on.

This hijacking of the hunger signal makes overconsumption a regular part of the day. Over time this repeated over consumption of these high calorie low nutrient foods leads to obesity and metabolic problems.

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There Are A Wide Variety Of Diets That Are Healthy

In nutrition dogma runs rampant and people become so entrenched in their personal  beliefs that they end up giving the one size fits all “magic bullet diet".

We all have different genetics, needs, goals  and stresses that should shape our nutrition. There is a lot of  debate about which diet is “the right” diet, but more importantly it needs to be asked what is “the right” diet for you.

When it comes to leading a healthy life it needs to be viewed as a  marathon not a sprint. The style of eating that you can do consistently, that makes you look, feel and perform your best is what works for you.

There are certain things that we all know are bad for health and should be avoided such as excessive sugar, hydrogenated oils and processed foods.

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Hydrogenated and Man Made Trans Fats Are Harmful

Trans fats do occur in nature, but for our purposes I’m talking about processed man made trans fats. They are unnatural polyunsaturated fats that are chemically altered to resemble saturated fats, but without the benefits of saturated fats.

These polyunsaturated fats are chemically altered to become hydrogenated fats by exposing them to excessively high heats (damaging), pressure (damaging) and hydrogen gas with nickel.

By making these unnatural hydrogenated fats they resemble saturated fats in texture, and can last much longer on a shelf. Sounds like a healthy thing to consume right ? Rhetorical question folks.

These foods are highly inflammatory due to the unnatural omega 6 fatty acid content. The overconsumption of these fats has been linked to higher small dense LDL particles which are damaging, and lower fluffy HDL cholesterol particles which are healthy.

There have also been links to metabolic damage and adipose tissue around the abdomen. Avoid these oils at all costs.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

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