Saturday, 21 April 2018

Should we eat like cavemen?

IN caveman times our ancestors ate a variety of wild-fed animals and fish, and lots of cruciferous vegetables, nuts, seeds

IN caveman times our ancestors ate a variety of wild-fed animals and fish, and lots of cruciferous vegetables, nuts, seeds and seasonal fruits which were mainly berries. Today we have replaced these with lots of products containing refined sugars, including cereals, cakes and flour-based products as well as pasteurised dairy products and a much narrower selection of fruits and vegetables.

The current state of national health is generally poor. We are suffering from chronic and debilitating diseases more than ever before — and research is showing that the food we are eating is the major cause.

Dr Lynda Frassetto at the University of California in San Francisco conducted a scientific study on the Paleo — or caveman — diet herself.

“You can eat anything that would be able to be eaten without being processed,” she said. That means no grains, no bread, and no pasteurised dairy but does include lots of fruits and vegetables, some nuts and oils and lots of fish, poultry and lean meats.

Dr Frassetto tested this Paleo-diet on clinically overweight and obese volunteers. Everybody’s blood pressure went down and everybody’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels improved. The average drop was 30 points, which was pretty amazing. “It’s the type of drop you get by taking statins for six months,” said Dr Frassetto.

Paleo foods work by keeping your body’s chemistry in better balance. The goal of the caveman diet is to reduce excess body fat, normalise blood sugar levels and reduce toxins present in the body.

Dr Loren Cordian conducted a similar study at the University of San Diego in 2000, and was able to reverse diabetics’ high blood sugar. Other subjects reduced their LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).

So what is it that causes your fat tissue to accumulate and hold on to fat?

When you consume too many sugars and carbohydrates you set off a cascade of chemical reactions that makes you hungry and crave sweet things.

1. First, fructose is metabolized differently from glucose, with the majority being turned directly into fat because fructose stimulates a powerful “fat switch”.

2. This rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity (“beer belly”), an increase in cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure — classic metabolic syndrome.

3. Dietary carbohydrates, especially fructose, are also the primary source of a substance called glycerol-3-phosphate which causes fat to become fixed in tissue.

4. At the same time, high carbohydrates intake raises insulin levels, which prevents fat being released.

5. Fructose further tricks your body into gaining weight by turning off your body’s appetite-control system. Fructose does not suppress ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and doesn’t stimulate leptin (the “satiety hormone”), which together result in feeling hungry all the time, even though you’ve eaten. As a result, you overeat and develop insulin resistance, which is not only an underlying factor of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also many cancers.

The resulting equation is simple — fructose and dietary carbohydrates lead to excess body fat, obesity and related health issues. No amount of exercise can compensate for this damage because if you eat excessive fructose and grains — the primary ingredients NOT found in the Paleo diet — it will activate programming to cause your body to become, and remain, fat.

Next month, I will explain how the Paleo diet can improve your health.

* Richard Hawkins is a personal trainer at Expert Fitness Studio on Bell Street. Contact (01491) 413416 or go to www.expertfitness.com

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