by Dr Minkoff
Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States (and Australia¹) with approximately 805,000 Americans experiencing a heart attack every year and roughly 655,000 Americans dying from heart disease a year². These numbers are staggering! The important thing to note is that diet and exercise affects our heart and with some small changes, you can prevent heart disease and reduce the risk of ever having a heart attack.
Known as “the caveman diet”, the theory of the Paleo Diet centers around the idea that our health will improve if we eat similar to our ancestors of 2 million years ago. During the days of evolution, hunter-gatherers survived on plants grown straight from the ground, fresh lean meats without the addition of preservatives, chemicals and pesticides, fresh fish and finally natural fruits, vegetables and nuts. As a whole, the entire diet is described as a “high-protein, high fiber, eating plan that promises losing weight without cutting calories”³.
When you look at how our ancestors ate and lived, you can see how things have changed and not all for the better. They had to hunt for their food, so they got plenty of exercise, compared to now when we can go to a grocery store and just lift it off a shelf. The animals that they hunted and the fruit/vegetables that they ate were not poisoned by any pesticides or chemicals, so their diet was clean. Today, our food has been contaminated with various chemicals and are genetically modified which are poisoning our bodies. People may say that our ancestors didn’t live long, and we do now but you must look at how they lived in caves or self-made huts. We live in a home with four walls and a roof, and a doctor/hospital that we can go to if we get sick, they didn’t have this type of security.
The Paleo Diet is a major component to developing better health. This has been proven to show significant health improvements such as weight loss, strengthening the immune system, and decreasing the risk of cardiac arrest. For patients suffering with heart related issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, the Paleo Diet is one of the best dietary options to begin for various reasons.
Decreases the Chances of a Heart Attack
Heart problems typically have an underlying cause. Sometimes the cause of heart attacks can stem from poor diet, smoking, intoxication or drugs, however other underlying causes can stem from the invisible chemicals in our environment. Pesticides are one of the most common chemicals that are consumed daily because farmers try to preserve their crops and produce by spraying them with herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, including Glyphosate (Round-Up). While this ensures their crops are protected from insects, these chemicals have proven to increase heart issues and cause many other illnesses like cancer. If you think about what these pesticides are doing to insects, when we consume these fruits and vegetables, the same thing is happening to us!
Since the Paleo Diet encourages natural organic foods, fresh fish, lean meats and an abundance of fruits, vegetables and nuts, this should lessen the amount of pesticides that are ingested into our bodies. With no chemicals contaminating our heart muscles, they will be able to function normally and be less likely to develop any kind of disease that could lead to a heart attack.
Freedom to Eat Without Clogging your Arteries
Modern foods of the Western Civilization are saturated with sugars, fats and processed chemicals that are known for being high in cholesterol and have tendencies to build up plaque in our arteries. Plaque buildup forms due to an individual’s poor lifestyle choices (such as smoking and bad eating habits) over a long period of time. Once the arteries become clogged, this reduces the blood flow both to and from the heart, which can eventually lead to a heart attack. However, with the Paleo Diet, individuals will no longer have to worry about high cholesterol consumption. What makes the Paleo Diet unique is that there is no calorie count. People on this diet can eat as much as they want as long as they subtract specific food groups (dairy, starch, grains, legumes, sugars, etc.) from their everyday meals. Examples of Paleo options for some meals are spaghetti squash instead of pasta, cauliflower rice instead of long-grain rice and lettuce leaves instead of taco shells or burger buns. This gives people the freedom to fill their appetites without having to worry about their cholesterol intake or the possibility of clogging their arteries due to the foods they choose to eat.
Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is caused due to a lack of insulin produced by your pancreas which impairs the regulation of glucose within the blood. If someone consumes too much processed sugar over time, the pancreas becomes overworked and shuts down to the point where it can no longer regulate the proper sugars in the blood, leading to the individual having to regulate it themselves. This is why diabetics have to check their blood sugar levels daily to make sure it isn’t too high or low. Since the Paleo Diet encourages low-sugar foods, this will reduce the chances of overworking the pancreas. But in order to make sure your body consumes some type of sugar to prevent low-blood sugar, the Paleo Diet encourages foods that contain more natural sugars like fruits. A lot of people who start a Paleo Diet lose weight and this can be a huge benefit to those who have Type 2 Diabetes. The Jönsson study that was published in November 2009, reported that those with Type 2 Diabetes who followed a Paleo Diet had been able to significantly lower their weight, BMI (body mass index), diastolic blood pressure, hemoglobin A1c and triglycerides level³. These are amazing results and some people have been able to reverse their Type 2 Diabetes with weight loss.