So much good information in this book, backed up by research. Personally, I always had an issue with the Paleo diehards that would use the reasoning to support the Paleo diet of “this is what our ancestors did, therefore it’s the best approach”. Let’s remember, our ancestors did a lot of unhealthy things, like drink from led cups. Consequently, using their knowledge base as the supporting proof point for a nutrition plan didn’t sit well with me.
Kresser is fantastic, and he addressed all the questions and issues I had with Paleo head on. He also uses sound research to explain why you should, or should not, eat (or do) certain things. I highly recommend this read. The potential impact you can have on the quality of your daily life and healthy is enormous.
Rules to follow (the summary before the summary):
Eat Real Food, which is:
Whole, unprocessed, and unrefined: A good general rule is “If it comes in a bag or a box, don’t eat it.”
Local, seasonal, and organic: Organic and local plant foods contain, on average, 25 percent higher concentrations of micronutrients than their conventional counterparts. Food starts to change as soon as it’s harvested, and its nutrient content begins to deteriorate.
Pasture-raised (for animal products) and wild-caught (for fish): Pasture-raised-animal products are superior to CAFO products in two primary respects: (1) they have a better fatty acid profile, and (2) they have higher levels of vitamins and other micronutrients. Also, the fatty acid profile of beef and lamb is superior to chicken.
Three toxins that contribute significantly to modern disease are:
1. Gluten (grains aren’t superfoods)
2. Industrial seed oils (anything but heart-healthy)
These should be minimized in the diet for three reasons: They contain high amounts of linoleic acid (LA), which some research suggests is harmful when consumed in excess; They are easily oxidized (damaged), and oxidative damage is associated with numerous modern inflammatory diseases; and There’s no strong evidence that they protect against heart disease in humans, and there is some evidence that they may increase the risk. industrial seed oil has almost no nutritional value: it is a calorie-dense but nutrient-poor substance.
3. Refined sugar (in a word, toxic)
Maximizing nutrients: Build your diet around foods that are highest on the nutrient-density scale, like organ meats, meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruits, and herbs and spices.
Probiotics have been shown to improve intestinal-barrier function, reduce inflammation, and improve skin conditions.
Do not consumer reduced-fat milk products for any reason—this goes for yogurts, cheeses, and other dairy products as well. If you must have dairy, go for whole fat whenever possible!
What about rice milk and almond milk? If you can find varieties without carrageenan and with no added sweeteners, they’re fine in moderation.
If you are generally healthy, sleeping well, and have stable energy levels throughout the day, one to two cups of coffee (brewed at home, not a Starbucks grande!) or tea each day is probably not going to harm you. However, if you’re dealing with insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, or low energy, I’d recommend eliminating or dramatically reducing caffeine until you overcome these problems
Move your body more, like our ancestors did.
Prioritize a holistic lifestyle, not just your diet. This includes physical activity, sleep, play, stress levels, and social interaction.
Don't worry, you won't feel like this!
The way we live has changed at the fastest pace in evolutionary history. It’s changed faster than evolutionary changes in humans can keep up, which means we need to modify the way we live and eat for optimal health and happiness.
We were never meant to eat the sugar, refined flour, and industrial seed oils that are the mainstay of the standard American diet. We were never meant to work around the clock under the glare of artificial lights. Or spend half our lives sitting and staring at computer screens. Or live in relative isolation, with Facebook and Twitter standing in for genuine human contact.
The food we eat is perhaps the single most important influence on health. But the ways we sleep, exercise, spend time outdoors, have fun, manage our stress, and connect with others really matter;
False “conventional wisdom” on nutrition: Admitting we don’t have all the answers is the key to progress in science and medicine. I would invite you to keep an open mind, especially when you encounter sections that challenge your beliefs.
Perhaps one of the best examples of dogma in medicine is the idea that eating foods that contain cholesterol raises cholesterol levels in the blood. Early studies suggested this was true, but more recent and better-designed trials have shown that dietary cholesterol doesn’t increase blood cholesterol in the majority of people. Today, few researchers working in the field believe that eating eggs has a significant effect on cholesterol levels in the blood. Yet the public and much of the conventional medical establishment still think there’s a connection.
We’ve been raised to believe that healthy whole grains are nutritional marvels, but cereal grains like corn, wheat, and rice don’t deserve the label healthy.
Contrary to popular belief, celiac disease is not simply a digestive disorder. One in two new patients diagnosed with CD does not have gut symptoms. For every diagnosed case of CD, there are 6.4 cases that remain undiagnosed—the majority of which are atypical or silent forms with no damage to the gut. This silent form of CD is far from harmless, however; it is associated with a nearly fourfold increase in the risk of death from all causes. These findings surprised many researchers and physicians, because it was long believed that the damage done by CD was limited to the gastrointestinal tract. But research over the past few decades has revealed that gluten intolerance can affect almost every other tissue and system in the body, including (but not limited to) the brain, endocrine system, stomach, liver, blood vessels, smooth muscle, and even the nuclei of cells.
It’s commonly believed that white rice is less nutritious than brown rice, but scientific research suggests otherwise. Studies that have compared the amount of nutrients absorbed from each type of rice have shown that humans absorb more nutrients from white rice. Why? Because the antinutrients in brown rice, like phytic acid, interfere with the absorption of the nutrients it contains. Brown rice also reduces dietary protein and fat digestibility. White rice doesn’t have those problems.
DIET – GENERAL NOTES:
Like it or not, we humans are animals. And like all animals, we have a species-appropriate diet and way of life. When animals eat and live in accordance with the environment to which they’ve adapted, they thrive.
Our biology and genes evolved in a particular environment. Then that environment changed far faster than humans could adapt. The result? The modern epidemic of chronic disease.
Whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds contain compounds called phytates that bind to minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, and manganese, making them more difficult to absorb. If a food contains nutrients that you can’t absorb, you’re not going to reap their benefits.
The evidence suggests that when we eat grains at the expense of more nutritious foods—especially when those grains are not properly prepared to reduce phytates and toxins—our health suffers.
Eating meat and cooking food is quite literally what made us human. The transition from a raw, exclusively plant-based diet to one that included meat and cooked food (as well as starchy tubers) is what enabled the brains of our pre-human ancestors to grow so rapidly. Meat provides an ideal mix of amino acids, fats, and vitamins and minerals for brain growth and maintenance. Vitamin B12—available only in animal foods—is particularly important for developing brains.
The food introduced on a large scale by the Industrial Revolution (and grown with newly invented pesticides containing toxins) may be cheaper for us, but it isn’t better. Grains are far less nutrient dense than meats, fish, and vegetables: A hundred grams of sweet potato (about half a potato) contains only about 90 calories, and a hundred grams (one small serving) of wild-game meat contains about 150 calories, but both of these foods contain a wide spectrum of beneficial micronutrients. By contrast, a hundred grams (less than a cup) of refined wheat flour contains 361 calories, the same amount of sugar contains 387 calories, and both have virtually no beneficial nutrients. A hundred grams of corn oil (about seven tablespoons), a staple of modern diets, contains a whopping 881 calories and has essentially no nutritional value.
Naturally occurring sugars in fruits and vegetables are beneficial to health and do not promote weight gain.
(CLA): Eat pastured-animal meat and dairy products (if you tolerate them) to obtain CLA.
Artificial trans fats: Avoid like the plague.
Avoid large amounts of flax oil and flax seed, which unnecessarily increase total polyunsaturated fat intake without significantly increasing EPA and DHA
There are several lines of modern, clinical evidence supporting the health benefits of a Paleo-template diet and lifestyle. These include:
The high nutrient density of Paleo foods
The minimal presence of toxins and antinutrients in Paleo foods
The superior balance of fats in a Paleo diet
The beneficial effects of the Paleo diet on gut bacteria
The benefits of integrating physical activity throughout the day and minimizing sedentary time, the way our Paleo ancestors did
The benefits of sleeping at least seven to eight hours a night and minimizing exposure to artificial light (although the latter was something our Paleo ancestors never had to contend with)
The benefits of sun exposure (which go beyond vitamin D) and spending time outdoors
The importance of pleasure, play, and social connection
STEP 1 – 30 DAY DIET RESET:
Why thirty days? Because that’s how long, on average, it takes my patients to experience the full benefits of the reset. It’s absolutely essential that you commit to making these changes for at least thirty days—without cheating. Later on in the program, you’ll have more leeway, and you’ll be able to go off the rails every now and then.
Meat and poultry. Organic and free-range meat is always preferable. Emphasize beef, lamb, and mutton, as well as pork, chicken, turkey, duck, goat, and wild game (like venison and ostrich).
Organ meats (especially liver). Liver is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, rich in vitamin A, iron, and all the essential amino acids.
Bone-broth soups. It’s essential to balance your intake of muscle meats and organ meats with homemade bone broths. Bone broths differ from stocks in that they’re simmered for a long time—up to forty-eight hours—to get the maximum nutrition from the bones. The broths are not only delicious but rich in glycine, an amino acid found in collagen, which is a protein important in maintaining a healthy gut lining.
Fish. Especially fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and herring. Wild is preferable. Eat three six-ounce servings of fatty fish per week to get enough of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA,
Eggs. Preferably free-range
Starchy plants. Yams, sweet potatoes, tapioca, yuca (also sold as cassava or manioc), taro, lotus root, plantains (ripe and unripe), and breadfruit. (Boil the yuca first for thirty minutes, then roast or mash it before eating to remove toxic goitrogens, compounds that can impair thyroid)
Fermented vegetables and fruits. Sauerkraut, kimchi, curtido, etc.
Traditional fats. Coconut oil, ghee, red palm oil, palm kernel oil, macadamia oil, lard (rendered from free-range pigs if possible), duck fat, beef tallow (from free-range cows)
Olives, avocados, and coconuts
EAT IN MODERATION:
Processed meat. Sausage, bacon (both cured and uncured), salami, pepperoni, and jerky. Make sure they’re gluten-, sugar-, and soy-free, and organic and/or free-range
Whole fruit. Up to four servings per day, depending on your blood-sugar balance and the type of fruit. Choose a wide variety of colors: green, red, orange, and yellow. All fruit is permitted, but favor low-sugar fruits, like berries, grapefruit, oranges, and peaches, over tropical fruits, apples, grapes, and pears
Nuts and seeds. Allowed nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts (filberts), macadamias, pecans, pinenuts. Favor nuts lower in omega-6, like hazelnuts and macadamias, and minimize nuts high in omega-6, like Brazil nuts and almonds. Allowed seeds include chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower. It is easy to overeat so be careful in this category.
Green beans, sugar peas, and snap peas. Though technically legumes, they are usually well tolerated. You may eat four servings a week
Coffee and black tea. All teas and coffee are permitted; you can drink them black or with coconut milk. Limit these caffeinated beverages to one eight-ounce cup a day (not one triple espresso—one shot only)
Vinegar. Apple cider, balsamic, red wine, and other varieties. Apple cider vinegar is especially well tolerated. Vinegar may be used in small amounts
Restaurant food. Restaurants cook with industrial seed and vegetable oils (on the Avoid Completely list, below), which can wreak havoc on your health. Also, it’s hard to escape grains (hidden in various dishes) and some of the other foods on the Avoid Completely list. For these reasons, limit restaurant food as much as possible.
Dairy. Including butter, cheese, yogurt, milk, cream, and any dairy product that comes from a cow, goat, sheep, or other mammal. Ghee (aka “butter oil”) is permitted because it contains only trace amounts of dairy proteins (e.g., casein).
Grains. Including wheat, rice, cereal, oats, pseudograins, and nongluten grains like sorghum, teff, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, spelt, rye, barley, couscous, malt, graham flour.
Legumes. Including beans of all kinds (soy, black, kidney, pinto), peas, lentils, peanuts, etc.
Sweeteners, real and artificial. Including sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, coconut sugar, molasses, maple syrup, honey, agave, brown-rice syrup, Splenda,
Chocolate. Milk chocolate contains both dairy and sugar and therefore should be avoided. There’s nothing wrong with sugar free dark chocolate (with greater than 75 percent cacao content); in fact, it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. However, for the reset avoid all chocolate, since many people have an intolerance to caffeine in chocolate.
Processed or refined foods. As a rule, if it comes in a bag or a box, don’t eat it. This also includes highly processed “health foods” like protein powders.
Industrial seed and vegetable oils. Soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower, rapeseed, peanut oil, etc.
Sodas, including diet sodas, and fruit juice. All forms
STEP 2: REINTRODUCING GREY AREA FOODS
Negative reactions to food can happen in three different ways:
Immediate: You eat a food and almost immediately you notice a reaction. This isn’t very common, but it can happen in the case of dairy products when someone is lactose- or casein- (the protein in dairy) intolerant, or when he or she has a true allergy to a food
Delayed (two to eight hours): You eat something for breakfast, and by lunchtime you notice you’re not feeling so hot. This is probably the most common food-intolerance reaction.
Extended (eight to twenty-four hours): You eat something for lunch, feel fine at dinner, but begin to feel bad the next morning. This tends to be more common in people with slow digestion and constipation, though it can happen in anyone.
Guideline #1: Reintroduce only one food per three-day period: It’s essential that you reintroduce only one food in a three-day period. This gives time for the immediate, delayed, and extended food reactions to happen. If you don’t wait this long before introducing the next food, and you have a reaction, you’ll never know which food caused it. When I say one food, I’m not referring to an entire category of foods (like dairy products), but a single food. For example, you could introduce butter, wait three days, then try cream, wait another three days, then yogurt, and so on. This may seem overly cautious, but it’s necessary. I suggest eating one normal-size serving per day of the food you’re reintroducing. Make a note in your food diary (see below) of exactly when you eat it, so it’s easier for you to track any reaction.
Guideline #2: Keep a food diary: As you’ve gathered by now, it can be tricky to determine how foods are affecting you as you add them back in. This is where the food diary really shines. Sometimes it’s clear how a food affected you only in retrospect, when you look back at your diary to determine a pattern. You’ll be recording what you ate, what time you ate it, how you felt before you ate it, and how you feel at various times throughout the day afterward. If you’re a little unclear on how you’re doing with a new food you’ve reintroduced, you can just take out your diary and study the previous two to three days. Has there been any change in your energy level, mood, or digestion compared to the days prior to when you introduced the food? If so, that’s probably a sign you’re not tolerating the new food very well.
Guideline #3: Low and slow wins the game: If you reintroduce a food and have a reaction to it, it’s best to remove that food and wait until your body settles back to where it was before. This usually takes somewhere from one to three days, but if the reaction was severe, it may take longer. If you reintroduce a food and you’re not sure how you’re reacting to it, remove it, wait three days, and reintroduce it again. Most of my patients need to do this only twice or, at most, three times to determine whether the food is safe for them to eat. The key is not to rush it. I know it can be frustrating, and you’re excited to start eating some of those foods you missed during the Reset phase, but if you move too… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.
Guideline #4: Context matters: You might find that you’re able to tolerate certain foods well at some times but not others. For example, perhaps when you’re feeling well rested and healthy overall, you can eat some yogurt and feel fine afterward. However, if you haven’t slept well for a few nights or if you have a cold or the flu or if your typical symptoms are flaring up, even a small amount of yogurt might make you break out or hurt your gut. This is why context matters. If you’re systemically inflamed due to sleep deprivation, an infection, or an autoimmune-disorder flare-up, your body won’t respond in the same way to food as it does when you’re feeling relatively healthy. Avoid reintroducing new foods if you’re sick
STEP 2 SUMMARY: REINTRODUCE GRAY-AREA FOODS:
Reintroducing the foods in this chapter is optional. If you feel great without them and don’t miss them, there’s no need to add them back into your diet
Reintroduce no more than one food every three days.
Keep a food diary to make it easier to isolate adverse reactions to foods.
Go slowly! If there’s any doubt about how you’re reacting to a food, remove it from your diet, wait a few days, and then try again.
Don’t reintroduce new foods if you’re experiencing unusual stress, sleep deprivation, a flare-up of a chronic health condition, or inflammation, as these things will affect your response to the new food.
MACRO NUTRIENT MIX: CALORIES BY FAT, PROTEIN AND CARBOHYDRATES
1 gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories. • 1 gram of protein has 4 calories. • 1 gram of fat has 9 calories.
Starchy plants, along with fruits, should be the foundation of your carbohydrate intake.
Nonstarchy vegetables include cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower), lettuces, winter greens, summer squashes, onions, tomatoes, asparagus, and more. Nonstarchy vegetables are excellent sources of micronutrients and fiber, but overall they are quite low in carbohydrates. Verdict: Eat liberally I recommend consuming as many nonstarchy vegetables during the day as you like but not counting them toward your total carbohydrate intake. Your optimal intake of nonstarchy vegetables will depend on digestive function (some of them are high in insoluble fiber, which can be hard on an inflamed gut) and personal preference, but approximately one pound per day is a good target for most people.
3 to 4 servings of fruit a day is fine for most people. Those with insulin resistance, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome may see improvements by restricting fruit intake to one to two servings a day and by choosing fruits that are lower in sugar, like berries and melon.
A low-carbohydrate Paleo diet ranges between 10 and 15 percent of total calories as carbohydrates, and a very low-carbohydrate Paleo diet would be anything lower than 10 percent. On a high-carbohydrate Paleo diet, carbohydrate intake would be somewhere between 30 and 45 percent (or higher) of total calories. While many health experts include nonstarchy vegetables (such as green vegetables, carrots, peppers, and so on) when counting carbohydrates, I do not. Though these foods do contain carbohydrates (primarily glucose), they are difficult to break down, and our bodies actually expend glucose in the process of digesting these foods. Therefore, I count only carbohydrates from starchy plants (sweet potatoes, potatoes, taro, yuca, plantains, white rice, buckwheat, and so on), fruit, dairy products, and sweeteners.
Finding the right carbohydrate percentage for you: Try eating at the lower end of the range for two weeks, and then the higher end of the range for the following two weeks. Performing this experiment is valuable, because you’ll get a sense of how changing the ratio of carbs to fat affects you personally, and you can use that information to fine-tune your macronutrient intake, right down to the daily or even hourly level. For example, I’ve found that eating fewer carbohydrates helps me to focus mentally. By contrast, if I eat low-carb on a regular basis, my energy flags and I don’t sleep well. So I will often eat a relatively low-carb breakfast and lunch, to support mental clarity throughout the day, and a higher-carb dinner, to support sleep and energy levels.
Those with blood-sugar issues or who wish to lose significant amounts of weight should aim for 10 percent to 15 percent of calories from carbohydrate, which comes out to 65 to 100 grams on a 2,600-calorie diet, or 50 to 75 grams on a 2,000-calorie diet.
I’d recommend 25 percent of total calories from carbohydrates as an absolute minimum for anyone doing frequent, intense exercise. Because intense physical activity is dependent on a steady supply of glucose to replace the muscle glycogen that is depleted during glucose-fueled activity. And studies have consistently shown that low-carbohydrate diets are not capable of maintaining optimal glycogen levels during intense exercise. Lack of carbohydrate during this type of exercise causes glycogen depletion, which in turn leaves muscles unable to get the glucose they need to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the fundamental energy unit of the cell.
Carbohydrate timing: Aim for eating a larger percentage of your carbohydrates after workouts, on workout days, and in the later part of the day, you’ll get most of the benefit of carbohydrate timing. After a workout is an ideal time to eat more carbohydrates, and carbohydrate intake should be higher on workout days than on nonworkout days. This will help with recovery and preserving (or adding) muscle mass, if that’s your goal. Some recent studies suggest that eating the majority (around 60 to 80 percent) of your carbohydrates at dinner leads to hormonal changes that promote fat loss and improve metabolic function
Eat the amount of protein you crave. Most people naturally eat the right amount because the brain strongly influences the craving for it depending on how much is needed.
Studies suggest that the ability of humans to metabolize protein tops out at 35 percent of total calories.
Protein is vital to life because it is the building block of all body tissues; it can also be converted into glucose for energy. Protein molecules are composed of individual amino acids linked together in a chain. Amino acids can be divided into three categories: essential, nonessential, and conditional
Meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs should form the bulk of your protein intake during the Step 1 Reset.
Dairy products are also a source of high-quality protein and may be reintroduced during Step 2 to determine whether you tolerate them.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are good sources of micronutrients but are low in absorbable protein.
Grains and legumes are poor sources of protein compared to animal products. They also contain antinutrients that reduce the absorption of amino acids, as well as proteins that may provoke an immune response.
Fat is the preferred fuel source of the body and should constitute about 40 to 70 percent of the calories in your diet, depending on individual needs. (My only caveat is chicken fat. Although it’s delicious, it often comes from chickens that are fed grains, so the ratio of healthy omega-3 fat to not-so-healthy omega-6 fat isn’t great. If you can find chicken fat from pastured chickens, go for it.
Saturated and monounsaturated fats from meat, poultry, animal fats, nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut, olives, and dairy products should form the foundation of your fat intake.
Eat pastured-animal meat and dairy products (if you tolerate them) to obtain conjugated linolenic acid (CLA), a healthy form of trans fat.
Avoid industrial seed oils as much as possible. They are almost completely devoid of nutrients and associated with numerous health problems.
Eat between ten to twenty ounces of cold-water, fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, or sardines, each week. The higher end of the range is for those who are still eating a significant amount of industrial seed oil and/or who have cardiovascular disease or other inflammatory conditions.
Avoid high doses (greater than 3 grams a day) of fish oil, which can promote oxidative damage.
Foods and oils rich in saturated fat: Eat liberally, saturated fats should make up the bulk of your fat intake.
Coconut oil 87%
Dairy products 64%
Tallow (beef) 50%
Palm oil 49%
Beef, chuck roast 40%
Beef, brisket 39%
Beef, ground (20% fat) 38%
Duck fat 33%
Chicken fat 30%
Egg yolks 30%
Medium-chain saturated fats (and medium-chain triglycerides) are found in coconut milk and breast milk, and they have unusual properties. They’re metabolized differently than long-chain saturated fats: they don’t require bile acids for digestion and they pass directly to the liver via the portal vein. This makes medium-chain saturated fats a great source of easily digestible energy. In addition to being a good energy source, medium-chain saturated fats have therapeutic properties:
They’re high in lauric acid, a fat that has antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties.
They promote weight loss. They have a lower calorie content than other fats; they are not stored in fat deposits as much as other fats; and they enhance fat burning (by thermogenesis).
They promote the development of ketones, one of two substances (along with glucose) the brain can use as fuel. Ketones and ketone-generating diets have been shown to benefit several neurological conditions, including seizure disorders, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
For high-heat cooking, choose fats with the highest smoke points, such as ghee, extra-light (not extra-virgin) olive oil, palm oil, expeller-pressed (refined) coconut oil, macadamia oil, and beef tallow. Butter, extra-virgin olive oil, and extra-virgin coconut oil have relatively low smoke points and are best for noncooking uses (for example, putting them on previously cooked foods). FAT SMOKE POINT (°F) :
Olive oil (extra light) 468
Palm oil 455
Coconut oil (expeller pressed)* 450
Macadamia oil 413
Beef tallow 400
Duck fat 375
Coconut oil (extra virgin) 350
Olive oil (extra virgin) 320
The nutrient density of foods refers primarily to micronutrients and amino acids. Your body needs about forty different micronutrients for proper physiological function; suboptimal intake of any of them will contribute to disease and shorten life span. Simply put, nutrient deficiency threatens your body’s ability to function normally and can shorten your life span. Here are just some of the conditions triggered by nutrient deficiency. Focusing on the nutrient density of foods alone is not enough. We need to maximize the intake of foods that are high in bioavailable nutrients and substances that improve nutrient absorption, and minimize the intake of foods that are poor in nutrients and have substances that impair nutrient absorption. (included a list at the end of the CliffNotes)
Bioavailability refers to the portion of a nutrient that is absorbed by the body. The amount of bioavailable nutrients in a food is almost always lower than the absolute amount of nutrients the food contains.
Phytate is an example of an antinutrient; it binds to minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc and makes new compounds that the body can’t absorb. Most cereal grains and legumes contain significant amounts of phytates, which is one of the reasons early humans developed nutritional deficiencies after adopting agriculture.
Fiber is plant matter that is indigestible to humans. There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It is fermented by bacteria in the colon, and creates a viscous, gel-like substance in the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It is not fermented in the colon (with some exceptions), and it adds bulk to the stool. Soluble and insoluble fiber are often lumped together in discussions about the merits of fiber, but their effects on the body are quite different.
Many studies suggest that soluble fiber is important for human health. While we can’t digest it, some of the one hundred trillion bacteria that live in the human gut can. Intestinal bacteria “eat” soluble fiber by fermenting it. In the process of fermenting the fiber, the bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, propionate, and acetate. These short-chain fats are the primary energy source for intestinal cells in the colon, and butyrate in particular has been associated with several health benefits.
Insoluble fibers provide a bulking action and tend to increase regularity, but they do not generate short-chain fatty acids like butyrate and thus don’t have the same health benefits as soluble fibers. While soluble fiber has been shown to protect against heart disease, insoluble fiber has not. What’s more, excess insoluble fiber can bind to nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron, preventing their absorption.
Resistant starch is unique among starches in that it cannot be broken down in the small intestine and digested by humans. But unlike other types of insoluble fiber, resistant starch can be fermented by gut microbiota in the large intestine to produce helpful short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. Resistant starch has several other benefits, including increasing the uptake of minerals like calcium, boosting levels of Bifidobacteria (a beneficial genus of bacteria in the large intestine), reducing harmful pathogens, improving gut motility, and reducing blood-sugar and insulin levels. On a Personal Paleo Cure diet, resistant starch is found in unripe bananas, potatoes that have been cooked and cooled, potato starch, plantain flour, tapioca flour,
Fiber is like most nutrients: too little or too much can cause problems. The best approach is to obtain fiber in the context of a whole-foods diet. Though soluble fiber is probably more beneficial than insoluble fiber, many foods in the Paleo diet—such as yams and sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, carrots and other root vegetables, fruits with edible peels (like apples and pears), berries, seeds, and nuts—contain both. There’s no need to restrict insoluble fiber when it naturally occurs in these foods
THESE ARE THE FOODS THAT ARE DENSELY PACKED WITH MICRONUTRIENTS THAT FUEL OUR CELLULAR MACHINERY AND KEEP US HEALTHY AND STRONG.
Organ meats (nutrient dense)
Eggs (including the yolk and its essential micronutrients)
Cold-water, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring)
Fermented foods (vegetables, dairy, and beverages like kombucha)
Seaweed (loaded with minerals and nutrients that are difficult to obtain elsewhere in the diet)
ORGANIC VS INORGANIC FRUITS AND VEGTIBALES
The Dirty Dozen Plus: Ensure to only buy these if they are organic:
Sweet bell peppers
The Clean Fifteen: These don’t have to be organic
Sweet peas (frozen)
EAT REAL FOOD:
As a general rule, avoid food that comes in a bag or a box. Focus on fresh ingredients
Buy organic, locally grown produce as much as possible. Shop farmers’ markets or join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. Consider springing for organic varieties of the Dirty Dozen Plus; save money by buying conventional varieties of the Clean Fifteen.
Buy pasture-raised-animal meat, dairy, and eggs whenever possible. They will have more nutrients and fewer toxins, and they will be less likely to harbor antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Choose tougher, cheaper cuts (which are among the most flavorful, and can be made more tender by slow/wet cooking methods) and buy in bulk or directly from local farmers to save money. If pastured meat isn’t available locally, buy it from online vendors. See the Resources section on my website for recommendations.
Buy wild-caught fish. If fresh wild fish is not available locally, you can buy it canned from online vendors.
Consume one-half to one cup of homemade bone broth daily, in soups, sauces, stews, or as a beverage; eat tougher cuts of meat, like brisket, chuck roast, oxtail, and shanks; and don’t shy away from skin and cartilage. These are all excellent sources of glycine.
Eat one to two three-ounce servings of chicken and/or beef liver per week. Liver is rich in B vitamins, vitamin A, and several other nutrients. (which is one of the most nutrient-dense foods by weight you can eat)
Eat at least four to five egg yolks per week, preferably from eggs that come from pasture-raised chickens. You’re free to eat more if you’d like, since dietary cholesterol does not have a significant impact on blood-cholesterol levels or the risk of heart disease. Egg yolks are the highest source of choline in the diet.
Take one-half teaspoon of high-vitamin cod-liver oil per day. Cod-liver oil is the richest source of vitamin A, but it also contains vitamin D, EPA, DHA, and—in the case of fermented cod-liver oil (see the bonus chapter on supplementation on the website for more info)—vitamin K2.
Eat two servings per day of fermented foods (for example, sauerkraut, kefir, natto), cheese and butter (from pasture-raised cows), and/or eggs (from pasture-raised chickens) to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin K2.
COOKING AND EATING FROM NOSE TO TAIL:
Eat at least three ounces of organ meats per week. Liver is most nutritious, but heart, kidney, tongue, and even brain are all fair game! Those with iron overload should not consume organ meats.
Eat one-half to one cup of homemade bone broth (from chicken, turkey, beef, pork trotter, fish, or shellfish) in soups, stews, and sauces.
Enjoy tougher, more gelatinous cuts of red meat in addition to lean cuts. Brisket, short ribs, chuck roast, rib steak, and 25 percent fat ground meat are good choices. Dark-meat poultry with skin should be consumed in moderation because of its high omega-6 linoleic acid content.
Eat at least four to six egg yolks (alone or in whole eggs) per week. They are excellent sources of several nutrients, especially choline, which is hard to find elsewhere in the diet. Choose pastured-chicken eggs whenever possible.
If you eat canned salmon, find a brand that includes the bones. They’re soft and safe to eat, and they’re a great source of calcium. See my website for recommendations.
Reduce foods that may irritate an already inflamed gut: Vegetables are one of the few foods that every diet philosophy agrees are healthy. That said, vegetables (particularly nonstarchy vegetables) tend to be high in insoluble fiber, which can irritate an inflamed gut. If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or other digestive disorders, you may benefit from reducing your intake of vegetables that are high in insoluble fiber. These include:
Greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, mesclun, collards, arugula, watercress, and so on)
Whole peas, snow peas, snap peas, pea pods
Onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, garlic
Cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts
Note that I’m not suggesting you completely avoid vegetables that are high in insoluble fiber; I’m just suggesting that you limit them. Moreover, there are steps you can take to make these foods more digestible and less likely to irritate your gut:
Never eat insoluble-fiber foods on an empty stomach. Always eat them with other foods that contain soluble fiber.
Remove the stems and peels from veggies (such as broccoli, cauliflower, and winter greens) and fruits that are high in insoluble fiber.
Dice, mash, chop, grate, or blend high-insoluble-fiber foods to make them easier to break down.
Insoluble-fiber foods are best eaten well cooked: steamed thoroughly, boiled in soup, braised, and so forth.
Finally, fermenting vegetables that are high in insoluble fiber is another option for making them more digestible, since fermentation is essentially a process of predigestion. If you choose to buy fermented foods, make sure that they’re raw and that they’re in the refrigerated section. The sauerkraut you can buy in the condiments section has been pasteurized and won’t have the same beneficial effect as raw or unpasteurized sauerkraut.
However, vegetables that are higher in soluble fiber and lower in insoluble fiber tend to have a soothing effect on the gut. These include:
Summer squash (especially peeled)
Starchy tubers (yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes)
In addition to reducing your overall intake of vegetables high in insoluble fiber, you should also reduce the variety of vegetables you eat at any given meal. Instead of stir-fries with six different vegetables, for example, have a single steamed or roasted vegetable as a side dish.
Fruit Glucose to Fructose Ratio: glucose is present in equal or greater amounts than fructose in a food, as it is in bananas, berries, and cantaloupe, the fructose will be well absorbed (because glucose helps with fructose absorption). However, when there’s more fructose than glucose in a food, as is the case for apples, peaches, and papayas, that additional fructose will linger in the gut, where it is rapidly fermented by bacteria. If you have digestive issues, you may wish to limit foods with more fructose than glucose.
In addition to avoiding foods that harm the gut, it’s important to focus on foods that nourish the gut. These can be broken into three categories: bone broth, fermentable fibers, and fermented foods.
Eat fermented vegetables, like raw (unpasteurized) sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles; fermented dairy, like yogurt and kefir; and fermented beverages, like beet kvass, kombucha, and water kefir. Fermented foods contain beneficial microorganisms that have positive effects on several different aspects of gut health. I suggest consuming one to two tablespoons of sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables with each meal and eating additional fermented foods, like yogurt, dairy kefir, water kefir, or beet kvass, throughout the day. (Note that while cheese, sour cream, and alcohol are fermented, they do not have a therapeutic effect like the fermented foods I’ve listed above do.)
GUT HEALTH SUMMARY:
Understand the causes of gut dysfunction, which include leaky gut and intestinal dysbiosis.
Avoid foods that harm the gut, including refined flour, industrial seed oil, and sugar.
Eat foods that nourish the gut, including bone broths, fermentable fiber, and fermented foods.
Avoid antibiotics whenever possible.
Treat gut infections if they are present.
Practice stress management on a daily basis.
MOVE YOUR BODY MORE
Here are a few specific ways being sedentary harms us:
Sitting wrecks our metabolic functions.
Sitting decreases the activity of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which is associated with higher triglyceride levels, lower HDL levels (the good cholesterol), and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Even a single day of prolonged sitting has been shown to reduce insulin action.
Sitting weakens the bones.
Studies suggest that vigorous exercise alone isn’t enough to prevent the changes in bone metabolism caused by too much sedentary behavior.
Your fitness level (as measured by performance on a treadmill exercise test) has been shown to be a better predictor of how and when you’ll die than age, body mass index, or even cardiovascular risk factors.
And if you want a better quality of life, physical activity’s the answer too. Adults who exercise report higher quality of life, and studies have shown that physical activity improves cognitive function in the elderly. These benefits are evident from the earliest years; physically active children report greater body satisfaction and self-esteem than their sedentary peers. Finally, getting adequate exercise during the day promotes deeper and more restful sleep at night and reduces pre-sleep anxiety and insomnia.
Maybe you’re thinking, Okay, I sit a lot—but I also work out a lot, so I’m good. Here’s the shocker: too much sitting and sedentary time is harmful even if you’re getting enough exercise. This means you could be meeting the recommended government guidelines for exercise (that is, thirty minutes of moderate to vigorous activity five days a week) but still be at high risk of heart disease if you sit for long periods each day. In fact, a large study involving over one hundred thousand U.S. adults found that those who sat for more than six hours a day had up to a 40 percent greater risk of death over the next fifteen years than those who sat for less than three hours a day regardless of whether the participants exercised.
Just as we didn’t evolve to sit so much, we’re not adapted to perform excessive amounts of exercise. A large and growing body of evidence has demonstrated that excessive exercise, such as marathons, ultra-marathons, full-distance triathlons, and very long-distance bicycle rides, is associated with damage to the heart, muscles, and joints. Overtraining has been associated with increased injury, oxidative damage, inflammation, and cognitive decline, as well as with decreased immune function, fat metabolism, and cardiovascular health.
Stand to undo the harmful effects of sitting, stand up! Standing engages postural muscles that increase helpful LPL activity, among other benefits. Standing and walking slowly increases energy expenditure by two and a half times; employees who stand while they work burn up to 75 percent more calories per day than people in sedentary jobs. An analysis by Dan Pardi showed that simply standing and engaging in light activity throughout the day burns as many calories over the course of a week as one to three intense spinning classes!
studies suggest that high-intensity, intermittent strength training is even more effective at improving resting metabolic rate (which helps burn fat) than lower-intensity, traditional strength training.
I recommend following Dan Pardi’s guidelines for moderate-to-vigorous activity. The idea is for you to integrate short bursts of physical activity throughout your day. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, or 30 sets of highest-intensity activity per week, or some combination of the above. Moderate exercise, vigorous exercise, and highest-intensity exercise are defined as follows:
Moderate: 50 to 70 percent of maximum effort (like jogging, yoga, or dancing);
Vigorous: 70 to 90 percent of maximum effort (like running, Zumba, or playing sports);
Highest-intensity: greater than 90 percent of maximum effort (like sprinting, jumping rope, or resistance training)
Eat! Do not diet or restrict calories when you’re overtrained. Your body needs an adequate supply of macronutrients (especially protein) and micronutrients to repair itself.
MOVE LIKE YOUR ANCESTORS:
Stand for half of your day.
Take a standing break every thirty to forty-five minutes.
Aim for walking ten thousand steps a day.
Integrate as much light activity into your day as possible.
SLEEP MORE DEEPLY:
Make sleep a priority. Individual sleep needs vary, but as a starting place, aim for spending at least eight hours in bed per night.
Control your exposure to artificial light at night by minimizing the use of electronic devices before bed, dimming or covering anything that emits light in your bedroom, using blackout shades to darken your bedroom, and wearing orange-tinted glasses that filter out blue light.
Get plenty of exercise and physical activity during the day.
Optimize your sleep nutrition: find your optimal ratio of carbohydrates and fats, and make sure to consume bone broth and gelatinous cuts of meat in addition to lean meats.
Create an environment that is conducive to sleep: use your bedroom only for sleep and sex, keep it slightly cool, and use white-noise machines or earplugs to reduce outside noise.
If you’re having sleep difficulties, avoid caffeine, chocolate, tobacco, and other stimulants.
MANAGE YOUR STRESS:
Reduce the amount of stress you experience by learning to say no, avoiding people who stress you out (when possible), turning off the news, giving up pointless arguments, escaping the tyranny of your to-do list, and addressing physiological problems (such as blood-sugar swings, gut infections, chronic inflammation, and so on) that are taxing your adrenals.
Reduce the impact of stress you can’t avoid by reframing the situation, lowering your standards, practicing acceptance, cultivating gratitude and empathy, and managing your time.
Make stress management a priority. Give it as much attention as you give other aspects of staying healthy, such as diet, exercise, and sleep.
Commit to a regular stress-management practice. Choose a mix of techniques that suit your temperament and lifestyle, such as meditation, yoga, massage, Feldenkrais, mindfulness-based stress reduction, acupuncture, and biofeedback.
If you’re new to stress-management practices, start small and be gentle with yourself. Consider finding a skilled teacher who can help you get started and deepen your practice.
PLEASURE AND CONNECTION:
Make pleasure and connection as much a priority as eating well, managing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise.
Get plenty of physical contact and touch from hugs, massage, sex, partner dance, and partner yoga.
Cultivate intimate relationships and expand your social-support network by being open and honest, scheduling time with loved ones, joining a friendship group, and putting yourself in situations where you’re likely to meet people you’ll connect with.
Get a dog, cat, or other pet; if you already have one, set aside time to play and interact with your pet.
Listen to music that makes you feel alive, happy, relaxed, and at peace. Use software or music-exchange groups to discover new music and expand your horizons.
Volunteer for a cause you believe in, and focus on giving more to the people in your life.
Think like a child—kids are the experts at play.
Pick activities that bring you joy—repainting the bathroom may not sound like play, but if it meets the criteria (it feels good, you are fully engaged, you’re doing it voluntarily, and so on) then go for it. Remember, one person’s work can be another person’s play.
Look for opportunities to play everywhere.
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting and nonfasting. Studies suggest that intermittent fasting may be as effective (and easier to stick with) than voluntary calorie restricting for weight loss. It has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and other indicators of metabolic function, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, decrease seizures, protect brain cells, and promote healthy brain function.
If you do well with the method I’ve described above and you want to further benefit from fasting, you can add an extended (forty-hour) fast once or twice a month (or as often as once a week, if you’re highly motivated). This involves fasting for an additional twenty-four-hour period above and beyond your daily sixteen-hour fast. For example, on Tuesday you would eat between 12:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. as usual, but your next meal would come at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday rather than 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
CATEGORY AVERAGE NUTRIENT-DENSITY SCORE.
On the Lalonde scale, organ meats are the most nutrient-dense foods by far, followed by nuts and seeds. Seafood, red meat, and wild game are more nutrient dense than raw vegetables; all forms of meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables (raw and cooked) are more nutrient dense than grains and pseudograins. Unfortunately, the USDA National Nutrient Database does not have data on bioavailability, so Dr. Lalonde was not able to take it into account in his analysis. However, had bioavailability been considered, given what we know about the antinutrients in legumes and grains, these foods would have been even lower on the scale when compared to organ meats, meats, dairy products, and fruits and vegetables.
Organ meats 21.3 .
Calorie for calorie, organ meats are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet according to Lalonde’s scale. This is even more true when bioavailability is taken into account, since the amino acids, iron, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals organ meats contain are in highly absorbable forms. Even without taking that into consideration, Lalonde found that organ meats were nearly eighteen times more nutrient dense than whole grains and almost eleven times more nutrient dense than cooked vegetables.
Herbs and spices 12.3
Nuts and seeds 7.5
most nuts and seeds contain phytates, antinutrients that reduce the bioavailability of some of the minerals nuts and seeds contain. Fortunately, soaking nuts overnight and either dehydrating them (with a food dehydrator) or roasting them at low temperatures (150 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit) in an oven for four to eight hours breaks down much of this phytic acid and improves bioavailability. These methods also make nuts easier to digest
Like nuts and seeds, cacao contains high levels of phytates; however, in the process of making chocolate, cacao is fermented, which is likely to break down some of the phytates and make the nutrients more bioavailable.
Fish and seafood 6.0
the most nutrient-dense animal foods other than organ meats. Shellfish and fatty fish are indeed rich in several vitamins and minerals, but they’re also the only significant source of DHA in the diet. DHA is crucial to human health, and most Americans do not get enough.
Lamb, veal, and wild game 4.0
Vegetables (raw) 3.8
Vegetables are a good source of many of the vitamins and minerals that were measured on this scale. They’re also rich in some nutrients that weren’t included in this nutrient-density scale but that an increasing number of studies suggest are beneficial, such as bioflavonoids and polyphenols. They are an important part of the diet for this reason. Note that raw vegetables would likely have scored lower if bioavailability had been considered because a portion of their nutrients are bound to compounds that are either difficult or impossible for humans to digest.
Eggs and dairy 3.1
thirteen essential nutrients, all in the yolk
Processed meat 2.8
Vegetables (cooked or canned) 2.0
it’s important to note that many nutrients in vegetables are fat soluble, which means they require the presence of fat for optimal assimilation. Eating steamed vegetables with butter, or salad greens with olive oil and avocado, will markedly improve your absorption of the nutrients in those vegetables.