How is the Ketogenic Diet Going to Heal Your Body?

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Welcome to part 2 of my three part series on the most talked about new trend in nutrition and healthy eating, the Ketogenic Diet. In part one of the series we discussed what the Keto diet actually is. In part 2 we discuss why is it going to heal your body.

Here we go…

The amount of nutrients you receive from eating a low carb-high fat-moderate protein diet comprised of real, whole, unprocessed foods is possibly greater than any other lifestyle or diet plan. Making this lifestyle change will give you incredible benefits. As I described in Part 1, the reason why I switched my diet was to reduce the inflammation in my body to counter the effects of the vertigo-like dizziness that plagued me at night caused by Micro-vascular Compression Syndrome. That change had many added benefits that I wasn’t expecting.

These are a few of the other benefits I have personally experienced:

  • no more 3 oclock-itis or afternoon fatigue.
  • reduce hunger cravings and no cravings for sugar
  • reduced inflammation in joints- especially my lower back
  • fat loss
  • better sleep

The Keto diet started out as a way to prevent epileptic seizures and there are tons of scientific studies and research to say that it can help with most “catastrophic neurodegenerative conditions” including autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, narcolepsy, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and stroke. Additionally, evidence is beginning to mount up about type 2 diabetes, cardio vascular diseases, PCOS, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), heartburn and leaky gut.

Jimmy Moore suggests that the Keto Diet is “indeed the real deal and worth giving a second look as a means for optimizing your overall health” and that is what living primally is all about.

But most importantly, the Keto diet helps you control two key aspects of life, blood glucose and inflammation. Blood glucose or blood sugar is one of the most important biomarkers there is. Type 2 diabetes develops from years upon years of uncontrolled high blood sugar levels, from, you guessed, it too much sugar and carbohydrate consumption. The reason this happens is the pancreas releases insulin to push the glucose out of the blood stream and into the cells for energy. However, over time eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates puts strain on the pancreas to keep up with the demands for insulin. This right here is the start of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, as the mechanism for dealing with insulin or dealing with excess carbs and blood glucose, is broken due to years of misuse. Wouldn’t you think that the Ketogenic Diet is perfect solution for fixing this problem? Using fat as fuel rather than carbohydrates. People with insulin resistance are at a greater risk of heart disease, fatty liver disease, infertility, hormone disruption and more!

The second marker is inflammation. Inflammation is caused by poor nutrition, stress, lack of sleep, poor lifestyle choices (smoking, drinking alcohol) and, like high blood glucose, it too slowly over time causes damage to your body. Inflammation is believed to be a greater risk for heart disease and other health issues that cholesterol and saturated fats. Some inflammation is good like helping you fight off bacteria, illnesses or toxins as well as acute inflammation like when you twist you ankle and its swells up-these are all part of the natural healing process. When left unchecked, however, inflammation can be a problem. The two biggest foods that raise inflammation in the body- carbohydrates and vegetable oils! Just about any processed food contains the big three of bad- grains, refined sugars and some type of processed industrial oil. Check out this you tube link of how so called healthy vegetable oils are made. A real foods, ketogenic diet removes these highly inflammatory and insulin spiking foods.

Lastly one of the biggest reasons for a Keto diet is weight loss as you are not locked into a carbohydrate fat storage cycle, as I have described in several blog posts, Why We Should Avoid Grains and Why Sugars are Bad, you are free to be fat adapted and use the abundance of fats stores on your body. Being fat adapted means you always have energy stores that are a cleaner burning, healthier and more efficient metabolic tool for health.

In the next blog post I will discuss why Keto and Living Primal go hand in hand…

The Ketogenic Diet

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Welcome to my three part series on one of the most talked about diets in fitness, nutrition and healthy living; the Ketogenic Diet…

One of the biggest “trends” in nutrition at the moment is the ketogenic diet or as you may have heard to referred, Keto. I say trends in inverted commas because this is one diet that I believe should be here to stay.

The term ketogenic comes from the term ketones, which are the molecules that fuel your body when you are in ketosis, or when you are eating following a low carb high fat protocol. Ketones are a by-product of when your body burns fat and they are what your cells use for energy.

There are numerous peer reviewed research papers that suggest the ketogenic diet fixes a number of metabolic syndrome conditions like poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes as well as weight issues and there is even evidence it helps autism, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and a host of other neurodegenerative disorders

The reason why I like it is for weight loss, lifestyle and long term control of weight.

There is currently a ketogenic diet revolution underway and its only going to gain strength. I believe it should be the way of the future for helping the obesity epidemic currently facing the world.

 For decades we have been told that the healthy diet is smaller portions, fewer calories, lower our fat intake, eat whole grains and limit meat consumption. There is a disturbing lack of evidence that this is true, in fact it could be the opposite.

But what is the Ketogenic diet?

At the most basic level the keto diet is one that relies on fat as the main source of energy. That may not sound like a big deal but most people are burning glucose or sugar for fuel and consuming large amounts of carbohydrates, sometimes as often as 300-500g per day, to meet those needs.

Burning fat as a fuel source is a much healthier and more efficient metabolic tool for improving health. Dr Steve Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek, experts in the field of exercise and low carb high fat (LCHF) eating, note that sugar burners have approximately 2000 calories of available in their body whereas fat burners have about 40,000 calories worth of fuel.

To get your body to prefer fat as its fuel source it requires you to restrict carbohydrates (to somewhere below 50 grams per day), eat moderate amounts of protein and eat as much fat as it takes to feel satiated or full. It take a few weeks to become fat adapted, possibly up to about two months according to Jimmy Moore, podcaster for livin’ the vida low carb and author of several excellent books on keto and keto cooking. To me it makes sense that if you want to burn fat, you need to feed your body fat and become fat adapted. Calorie counting and exercise do not work for long term weight loss. The keto diet, where you are changing you bodies fuel pathway sources to prefer fat over carbohydrates, means you will burn fat as your primary energy source and therefore, lose weight and keep it off.

Part 2 in the series looks at how the ketogenic will heal your body…

Wired to Sleep

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I recently read to book Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf. An absolutely fantastic read for those who are wanting to reset their eating, determine what foods are best for them and optimise their genetics. There was so much good information in this book, and his other book the Paleo Solution, but one of the best pieces I read was about sleep. I have included Robb’s tips for getting a better night sleep below. The reason why I felt this was so compelling is that I have had clients who have worked to the eating plan but still could not lose weight, and one of the big reasons is due to irregular sleeping patterns.

Anyways, Robb’s tips are in italics with a little bit of something from me:

How to get Awesome Sleep:

  1. Get more daytime sun on your person and in your eyes to establish a normal circadian rhythm. If possible get outside the first thing in the morning, as close to when you wake up as possible, for a few minutes. Walk or eat lunch outside.
  2. Our evenings need to be darker, cooler and not the equivalent to a rock concert if we want to get the best sleep possible. Dim your lights in the evening. Get yourself a pair of blue blocker sunglasses- not very trendy but they remove the blue light from screen before it reaches your eyeballs.
  3. Limit evening tech. If you watch TV use your blue blockers. If you need to use your phone, tablet, TV use the dim screen or nighttime facility (Night Shift on the iphone) built into many phones.
  4. Sleep in a cool room. Optimal sleeping temperature according to studies is 17-19 degrees centigrade. Might be a bit cold but grab a blanket and snuggle up!
  5. Sleep in a dark room. Strive to have it as dark as a broom closet in the centre of the Great Pyramid. Get some blackout curtains if need be, turn off any devices that have lights, no phone chargers, alarm clock lights etc.
  6. Keep a Journal. Jot down the things you need to do the next day so they are not bouncing around in your head!
  7. Get a good mattress. Invest in a decent mattress Robb Wolf recommends a Sleep Number Mattress where you can change the firmness depending on how you feel.
  8. Alternating Hot and Cold Shower. Robb recommends a 10 second hot/20 second cold shower. I personally like to do 1-minute hot 1 minute cold for 3 cycles. finishing with 30 secs of hot. This process appears to reset the circadian rhythm to some degree, helps us unwind and go to bed. It also facilitates reducing our body temperature, which is a key feature of sleep. I haven’t seen any studies on this technique but for me personally the alternating hot cold shower seems seriously fatigue me and I feel refreshed, revitalized and drained all t the same time! It is amazing and I highly recommend this protocol.
  9. Make a consistent schedule and stick to it. Set a bedtime routine, you know kids sleep better when they have a set bedtime routine.
  10. Stable Blood Sugar- Good food and good sleep work in a virtuous cycle that keeps you strong, healthy and lean. I do not recommend eating immediately before bed as this can make it hard for our body temp to drop. Some people find that a little carbs with dinner can help them sleep better, as sometimes too much of a drop in blood glucose over night can cause a release of the stress hormone cortisol and possibly wake us up. Some people (myself included) tend to sleep better with a meal that was mainly protein and fat.

There you go, an extensive list, but as studies are indicating sleep is almost as critical to losing weight as diet and exercise. Often people who struggle to lose weight find that once they reset the sleep cycle and get the required amount of sleep at night weight starts to fall off, hormones start to regulate and they feel better and perform better.

 

Primal versus Paleo

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Primal vs. Paleo

People often ask me, what’s the difference between Paleo and Primal. To be honest, there aren’t too many differences. Both have theory based on ancestral health and how our hunter gather ancestors lived. Both are based on eating plants and animals (from ethical, grass feed sources) and avoiding the processed foods and industrial oils that were not present in the days of early man’s evolution. Both camps agree that what we ate, how we moved and how we lived shaped our evolution to become the dominant species on the planet.

I have probably been guilty of answering the question, what’s primal eating or what’s primal living with it’s the same as paleo. At that point people are often extremely interested or especially in Perth or Australia are put off due to one of the celebrity chefs heavily promoting it on television and in the media. It is my mistake, or it has been in the past, to lump primal eating and lifestyles in with paleo.

The paleo diet and the Primal Blueprint both recommend limiting carb intake, especially grains. They both advocate the eating of more fat and protein with lots of vegetables. They are both based on evolutionary science.

They are similar but they are also different is several ways and here’s how:

Initially the difference was the way both camps viewed saturated fats. Early on the Paleo side believe that saturated fats are the “bogey that raises cholesterol”. Paleo supporters recommended lean meats and limiting butter and coconut oil. The Primal side did not. Primal advocate Mark Sisson was quick to realise that good healthy saturated fats are important for “energy, neurological function, hormone manufacture and cellular structure”. The paleo stance has changed since the earlier days and they have now softened their stance, so there is no real difference these days.

The most significant difference is how each side treats dairy. Paleo restricts dairy, often touting that it is toxic and not for human consumption as no other species drinks the milk of any other animals. Mark Sisson, the creator of the Primal Blueprint and marksdailyapple.com states: “While we grant that dairy can be problematic for people, we maintain that full-fat dairy, preferably raw, fermented, and/or from pastured-raised animals, is a fantastic source of healthy fat, immune-boosting and muscle-building protein, and bioavailability calcium.”

A huge difference…Paleo is against coffee, Primal is not! Enough said!

Another difference is how each side approaches the nightshade family of vegetables. Nightshades are potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. Potatoes are one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. I try not to eat them all the time but with there are no sweet potatoes available for my small amount of carbs at night, I’ll have a potato. “Paleo takes a more cautious stance on nightshades, fingering them as a potential initiator of leaky gut and low-grade inflammation. They’re especially hostile to the white potato.”- Mark Sisson- marksadilyapple.com

The other differences are that:

“Primal folks are not primitive literalists. We are pragmatists. If it works, it works even if it’s modern.

For example, the Primal Blueprint recommends wise supplementation appropriate to counter the stressors and toxins unique to our life today. Grok dealt with acute stressors like an intense hunt, an encounter with a venomous snake or big cat, or a battle over resources (or mates). Grok didn’t deal with the kind of chronic stress that modern folks must contend with the long commutes, the bills piling up, the mortgage, the stress of a sensationalist 24-hour news cycle. Grok’s world was relatively pure, free of industrial contaminants, pollution, heavy metals, and xenoestrogens. Ours is rife with it. Supplementation can help mitigate some of these unavoidable, modern stressors.

Grok didn’t eat whey protein powder, but it sure is helpful and convenient if you want to increase muscle protein synthesis after a workout or boost glutathione status. Additionally, own experience with collagen supplementation has resulted in noticeable improvements in mobility and tendon strength, suggesting that, unless I start doing bone broth or copious amounts of offal almost daily, I’m probably better served taking a collagen supplement.

Primal folks recognize the danger of spending too much time in the digital realm to the exclusion of the physical one. But they’re going to use modern technology to enhance health, not hamper it. These technologies are all just tools, and you are a tool-making ape reading this on a device connected to a global network.

I designed The Primal Blueprint for the purpose of offering a guide for all elements of healthy living, and with the help and input of the Primal community over the last decade; it accomplishes that better than ever. Let’s face it; some days life makes it particularly difficult to have the perfect diet. Some people might not even want to worry about their food at all. We like to think of the Primal Blueprint design as a comprehensive cover, so to speak. The knowledge and efforts you exert in each area (diet, fitness, supplementation, stress management, sleep, etc.) can make a difference when the realities of day to day life keep you from doing a 100% in a given area.

Paleo is a good prescription for how to eat. It works. Don’t get me wrong.

It’s just not enough.

Primal is on one level a guideline for how to eat, live, and move in congruence with your physiology. On another level, it’s an operating system for asking questions about health, making good choices, and discovering best practices for enriching one’s existence.

I know which one I prefer.”

Mark Sisson- marksdailyapple.com

There is a lot of information out there, regardless of what side of the fence you sit on following either protocol will help you be happier, healthier and feel great. The one thing that we all agree on is that eating good real food, all the time is the best way to go!

 

Helping kids behave better, concentrate harder and become Primal.

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Kids are naturally inquisitive, engage in imaginative play and regularly exercise. This means they are, without knowing it, on their way to becoming a Primal human being. They naturally want to explore, play in the dirt and run around barefoot. But what happens when our kids when they get in a habit of too much technology, computers and  screen time. What can you do as a parent to break the cycle of dependence on screens? I know my kids become staring zombies, grumpy, irritable and less efficient when looking at a screen for even 10 minutes. They get focused on the screen and cannot communicate, let alone be distracted enough to listen to a simple request. There are several things you can do to help you kids become primal like diet and exercise but the big one is reducing screen time. These things, and more, will help improve multiple facets of your little one life’s including concentration, behaviour and even mood.

  1. Diet- Improving your child’s diet is the number one factor in your child’s health. If you can change their eating to more of a primal aligned diet they will have an increase in cognitive function, mood and behaviour. Things you can do to improve diet
  • Eat more plants and animals including lots of veges and a piece of fruit a day.
  • Avoid processed foods high in sugar and vegetable oils.
  • Limit intake of all sugars including juices, sweets and lollies.
  • Set consistent meals times and eat as a family at a dinner table, not in front of the TV.
  • No junk food the large amounts of vegetable oil and hidden sugars are inflammatory and equate to doses of radiation according to Dr. Kate Shanahan author of Deep Nutrition.
  • Control the portion sizes, especially with snacks.
  • Get your child involved in the making of a meal and the setting of the dinner table.
  1. Regular exercise- having your kids involved in regular exercise helps break the addiction of screen time. We all know that regular exercise has physical benefits and helps prevent childhood obesity but it can also help with concentration, sleep and behaviour. It increases blood flow, which helps with the transporting of oxygen to the muscles with helps nutrients to reach organs and tissues around the including the brain. It has also been proven to promote better brain function, memory, concentration. It has also been reported that anxiety and depression levels decrease in correlation to increased amounts of exercise which improves mood, confidence and self-esteem.
  1. Sleep Habits– Poor sleeping habits are linked to poor cognitive performance, mood, short term memory loss and an increase in food consumption due to disruption of the circadian rhythm and the hormones effecting hunger. Things you can do to improve sleep:
  • No technology before bed time and if you can try avoid TV or any blue light screen 30 minutes to an hour before bed.
  • Set a routine- same time every night, read a book, sing a song.
  • Make the room as dark as possible (tough with young ones who are scared of the dark).
  • No snacking before bed.
  • Have anything electrical with artificial light (clock radios, night lights) away from your child, the skin has receptors that detect light and this messes with our bodies sleep rhythms.
  1. Limit the use of technology- It is believed by many psychologists that a child’s poor mood and behaviour often results from excessive use of electronic devices. This causes hyper-arousal or “tired and wired”, where the child is agitated and exhausted. Excessive use of technology can also lead to poor social interactions as well as affecting sleep, circadian rhythm and hormones. It is recommended by the Health department that kids between the ages of 2-5 years have less than an hour a day. Getting children out into nature, getting sunshine and engaging in imaginative or structured play is primal in its nature and has many flow on effects including cognitive function, mood, fitness and behaviour.
  1. Social Interactions– Helping kids develop healthy social interactions teaches them the values, knowledge and skills that help them relate to others effectively and make positive contributions to family and the community, much like it would have been in primal times as hunter gathers. Team sports and joining community groups can help with positive social interactions. Other ways you can help you child in a “tribe” setting:
  • Teach them to solve day to day problems they encounter.
  • Help them to think through solutions to those problems.
  • Ask questions.
  • Encourage them to empathise with others- “how would you feel if…”
  • Encourage them to state their opinions and thoughts and discuss moral issues with them.
  1. Be consistent with expectations, routines and rules- be consistent gives children a known predicted outcome any given situation. If they know that there is consistency they will know where they stand, the expected values, knowledge and outcomes from their behaviour. Inconsistency can cause anxiety.

These simple and easy steps can help you child function better, concentrate harder and will improve their mood and behaviour. They are by no means hard things to implement and will help them Live Primal, which is in fact how we should live. If we can model good behaviours, like following the Going Primal blog post from a few weeks ago, our kids will inevitably want to do the same.