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I no longer have to worry about blood sugar, insulin problems or the threat of diabetes despite eating as much as I want at all my meals and never counting calories.
Yes, I exercise daily, but I include weight-training to prevent sarcopenia, or muscle loss with age. For better blood sugar, I keep an eye on what I eat, not how much.
And since changing over from the standard American, or Western diet, I have lower blood pressure, fewer skin problems, and less frequent digestive issues. Plus think clearly, have more energy and am never moody.
But none of this is unique to me. It’s what anyone can achieve simply by eating the way our ancestors ate.
Consider a study performed at the Steno Diabetes Center in Gentofte, Denmark.
The Danish researchers investigated the effects of eating fast food from McDonald’s to see how it influenced metabolic events inside the body after a meal.
The results were unsettling.
The scientists compared the foods’ effects on genetically identical twins. In each case, one twin was overweight and the other twin was slender. But after consuming fast food, the metabolites (chemicals the body makes from food) circulating in the blood of the twins showed that both were having physiological difficulties that made them more susceptible to type 2 diabetes.
So even if you keep your weight down by restricting calories, eating processed foods and grains can cause physiological harm.
A calorie is not just a calorie
In their analyses of metabolites in the blood, the researchers found that in each pair of twins, the heavier twin had more circulating branched chain amino acids (risk factors for diabetes) in between meals. But right after eating a fast food meal, both twins had the same amount. And when the scientists analyzed the bacteria in the gut, they found evidence that the friendly bacteria living in the intestines may have been harmed by processed food.
“When someone is overweight and at risk for diabetes, the conventional wisdom is to say ‘lose weight,’” says Gerald Weissmann, M.D., the editor-in-chief of The FASEB (Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology) Journal, where the study was published. “This report, however, shows that a calorie is not just a calorie as some would contend. Exactly what we eat and drink, and not just the number of calories, may be the most important factor in our health.”
On the paleo diet, most people give up grains, soy, dairy, legumes (beans) and processed foods and limit sugar intake. Even if you don’t want to go full-fledged paleo, avoiding grains like wheat, corn, barley and rye can make a huge difference in your wellbeing.
Unfortunately, if you look at the primary foods Americans are eating, you find that the top 10 are almost all items that paleo forbids:
- Grain-based desserts (things like cookies, cakes, and donuts).
- Yeast breads.
- Chicken and chicken-mixed dishes (fried chicken or wings).
- Soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Pasta and pasta dishes.
- Tex-Mex dishes (true Mexican dishes are mostly vegetables and meat!).
- Beef and beef-mixed dishes.
- Dairy desserts (ice cream, etc.).
If those foods are the major part of your diet, limiting and counting calories won’t save you. You’re missing the vital nutrients from fruits and vegetables, and eating too many foods that build blood sugar to ever avoid becoming diabetic or pre-diabetic. So even if you have a will of iron and can limit your meals to tiny amounts, you will only be benefiting your health a tiny amount if at all.
Here is what you need to know today: Most of your success will be what and how you eat, not how much.
Why? Because when you eat paleo, you are reprogramming your metabolism by affecting how your genes are expressed.
Did you know that you can reprogram your genes? They are not just immutable strands of DNA. You can decide how these genes “express” themselves through what you eat. You can turn on and turn off different risk factors, like those for diabetes, through the foods you choose, and what you choose to do.
Give your body the right signals be avoiding grains and sugars and other processed foods, and you’ll prevent any propensity toward diabetes from ever expressing itself in your body.
So stick with foods that have lots of healthy fats. They burn for longer, and burn more evenly, than carbohydrates, and don’t cause spikes in blood sugar. It will only take a couple of weeks to reprogram your body to get used to the change.
If you want to eat carbs, eat fruits and tubers. We human beings did pretty well for ourselves when that was what we ate, and before we started farming grains. We programmed our bodies for diseases like type 2 diabetes when we started basing our meals on “daily bread.”