What to Reduce
We avoid all grains such as wheat, oats, barley, rye, couscous, etc. and anything made from them such as bread, pasta, rice, breakfast cereals. The reason we do this is that as well as being high in carbohydrates (they are eventually treated by the body as sugar, causing surges in blood glucose and elevated insulin levels), proteins in grains (such as gluten) can cause inflammation in the body and interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Grains contain gut-irritating lectins that may cause a host of problems such as leaky gut. Gluten sensitivity is much more widespread than we think.
For the definitive word on grains, check out the following:
- Chapter 6 of The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf (you may never eat grains again after reading this)
- The Definitive Guide to Grains by Mark Sisson
- Grain Brain by Dr David Perlmutter
A strict Paleo eating regime would avoid peas, beans, peanuts or any product made with these. For many people, they induce digestive discomfort and may antagonise gut issues, even when they have been prepared with extensive soaking/cooking. As Chris Kresser explains in the following article, they are not particularly nutrient-dense and they ‘contain no nutrients that we can’t get from other foods—often with less trouble (i.e. no need to go through extensive preparation methods to make the nutrients more bioavailable)’
- ‘Are Legumes Paleo and does it really matter?’ by Chris Kresser
There is a wealth of information out there regarding the dangers of sugar, but probably the most well-known is Robert Lustig’s talk Sugar: the Bitter Truth
The increasing industrialisation and processing of foods has led to a huge increase in the amount of sugar added to food items. Avoiding sugar (simple carbohydrates) as much as possible is preferable. This includes things like syrups, jams, etc. Honey is often used to sweeten recipes. Fruit (also a simple carbohydrate) should be not be eaten in large quantities. Fruit juices contain the concentrated sugar of many, many fruits in just one glass.
Starchy root vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, etc. (complex carbohydrates) and indeed all starchy foods such as bread, rice etc. are still eventually recognised and treated as sugar by the body, so reduce them if you have any insulin issues or are trying to lose weight. Of course starchy vegetables and fruit contain other nutrients (although sweet potatoes are particularly nutrient-dense in comparison to white potatoes) but just be aware of how many you are eating and limit them if weight loss is your goal.
For the definitive guide to the damaged induced by a high carbohydrate diet, read Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories, published in the UK as The Diet Delusion. This ground-breaking book blows apart the theory that ‘a calorie is a calorie’ and the mistaken assumption that we can exercise our way to losing weight. Taubes also released Why We Get Fat, which condenses the information in GCBC into a shorter, more concise format. Both of these books are essential reading.
MARGARINES, SUNFLOWER AND OTHER VEGETABLE OR SEED OILS
They are very high in pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fats and contain a host of chemicals from the extraction process. Choose butter instead.
Check out Marks Daily Apple Definitive Guide to Oils