How a Paleo Diet Can Heal Your Gut, Calm Your Mind and Change Your Relationship With Food
A paleo diet mimics they way early humans ate. It stresses nutrient-dense foods such as pasture-raised meats (and their organs), fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. In its strictest version, it eliminates dairy, grains (including gluten-containing grains), legumes and refined sugar.
And while no one can argue that our earliest ancestors didn’t live nearly as long as us, we know that environmental issues such as lack of proper shelter, basic medical care, food shortage and exposure to the wilds of the earth were crucial factors in their shorter life-spans.
But we do know that history paints a picture of early humans who were not subject to the same degenerative, chronic illnesses that we’re faced with in modern times. And a host of researchers are looking to paleolithic diets as one of the crucial factors of their robust health.
A Paleo Diet Can Heal Your Gut
The paleo diet sees the removal of gluten, all other grains, legumes, dairy and refined sugar, so we are essentially removing the allergens that most commonly trigger reactions in people. While we now know that gluten is a massive trigger for many people, even without celiac disease (those that have an allergy to gluten), what we’ve underestimated is the effect of all grains on our digestion.
Grains, legumes and dairy contain a protein called lectin. Lectin is a protein that does not break down in the digestive tract of human beings and is not touched by stomach acid. This tells a crucial tale about lectins: That perhaps we weren’t designed to eat them. When we lack mechanisms for breaking down certain substances, I would think that the body is trying to tell us something.
Our bodies are so smart. They are unabashed truth-tellers. They let us know (sometimes immediately, sometimes later on) when something feels good and when something feels wrong. There’s really no grey area.
When you remove the allergens and the foods that we were not built for eating, we heal the gut (which heals SO much within the body/mind) and we can thrive.
A Paleo Diet Can Calm Your Mind
If a diet can heal our gut, by association, it has the ability to heal our minds. Our minds and our guts are connected by a nerve called the Vagus Nerve. You know when you get a gut feeling about something? You know when anxiety can make your belly feel funny? That’s the relationship we call the Gut-Brain relationship.
When your gut gets better, brain fog, hyperactivity, agitation, irritation (or brain excitability) calms down. We think better, we feel better and our brains can heal.
A Paleo Diet Can Change Your Relationship With Food
When we go on diets that restrict calories, make us weigh our food, or have us adhere to some extreme way of eating, we stop trusting our relationship with food and our bodies.
We weren’t meant to have an emotional relationship with food. But that’s what food has become for us. We eat to fill our needs, like boredom, sadness, loneliness and frustration.
In contrast, when food is eaten for pleasure and nourishment…when it’s eaten as an ally to our mental health…when it’s eaten to keep illness at bay…when this is what our relationship with food is, everything changes.
Food begins to taste different. The way we shop for it, prepare it and cook it can shift. It’s no longer satisfactory to just shove something in the oven and then wolf it down 30 minutes later. We pay attention to the little details of preparing, tasting, assembling, and eating. We eat with gusto and we eat with gratitude. We sit in a relaxed environment with candles or music or whatever chills you out and makes you happy.
We eat when we’re hungry. Always. We stop when we’re full. Always. And it’s easy. You know why? Because we’re no longer depriving ourselves those deeply needed nutrients such as fat, protein, ripe, sweet fruits and veggies. We’re putting butter on our veggies and olive oil on the salmon.
When grains and refined carbohydrates are the mainstay of the diet (which is how most North Americans eat), you’re never really sated. Blood sugar runs amok and we tend to be hungry all the time. This hunger comes from a wise body telling us, I’m still needing those nutrient-dense foods, and so we keep eating and eating, without ever really satisfying the body properly.
When you return to a primal, wholistic way of eating, your body heals, your mind sharpens, your immune system gathers incredible steam and your weight stabilizes. Our genetics still expect this kind of food. And it really doesn’t know what to make of all the other stuff.
If you don’t believe me, try a Paleo Diet for 30 days. See how you feel after this experiment. You’ll likely surprise yourself at how well your body and mind will work for you when you give it all the right tools.
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