What if? Paleo Effects

What if everyone followed my path? Many of the athletes at my gym were doing the Whole 30 challenge. They were practicing the Paleo Diet and Zone Diet concepts. But it took me a while before I came around to accepting these ideas.

It probably didn’t help that I could eat about anything I wanted in my 20’s and still have 6-pack abs and sculpted muscles. For me, diet didn’t seem like an issue for me since my metabolism and activities were through the roof. If I only knew then what I know now.

Advance forward about 20 years. My wife just had her gall bladder removed. And after a very festive Thanksgiving holiday, I started to have problems myself. Not long after, I ended up in the ER with what felt like a heart attack; only it was on the wrong side. It felt like someone stabbed me with an ice pick right under my right shoulder blade. It dropped me to my knees and took my breath away.

So first, I was misdiagnosed in the ER. They look at my chart and saw a history of back pain, so their years of doctoring education never had to be used. Instead, they gave me muscle relaxants and shoved me out the door.

My primary physician had an inkling of what happened right away. So he ordered a panel of blood tests and found fatty liver acids, blood sugar, blah-blah-blah was totally out of whack. It all came down to my gall bladder. So after visiting the endocrinologist and going through the imaging and testing of my gall bladder, it was ruled that my gall bladder was functioning at 24%. The next question was "when should we schedule to take it out?" But I’m like, "hold on there one minute!" I delayed their pulling out that organ that I wanted to keep.

I’m a scientist by training. So what I did was science. I started studying the research literature. No, that doesn’t mean going to Men’s Health and Huffington Post. That means real scientific literature. And I actually studied their statistics to make sure their methods were up to snuff. What I linked everything to was a diet developed in the mid-1900’s by a gastroenterologist. Some called it the diabetes diet, the Parkinson’s diet, and the Alzheimer’s diet. And 50 years later, it became known as the Paleo Diet, roughly Sugar Busters, Wheat Belly, and all the other iterations of Atkins. But it all traced back to that other ground breaking work that happened before.

So I went cold Turkey (pun intended). I jumped on the Paleo bandwagon harrrrddd! And guess what. Within 2 weeks, I no longer had pain or symptoms. That’s the power of pain. I was able to keep the pain at bay just as long as I stayed strict to the diet. But then an event would happen where I’d splurge. Maybe it was a birthday or another holiday where I’d fall off the wagon. And a day or two later, I would totally pay for it. Sometimes it was subtle, like a heavy, gassy feeling. Other times, I was laid out having to stay home from work with nausea and pain. But for the most part, that feeling was rare. I was pretty good with Paleo and it helps my working out and other areas of my life too. So it wasn’t punishment to be on it at all.

Fast forward about 10 years to today. I still try to be mostly Paleo. I have a treat now and then. But I keep evolving. For nearly a decade, we haven’t had many sugary things in the house, we stopped buying pasta and bread, and we make pancakes with Pamela’s (no wheat or corn flour). And my intermittent fasting has changed things even further. I no longer eat extra treats at night, not even healthy fruit or yogurt. I don’t (usually) eat breakfast, especially made of bad things. I still enjoy an occasional donut or pastry when my fast is up. But that is becoming even more rare. And now, I don’t buy a half a case of Diet Dr. Pepper anymore. I only drink tea and coffee and water. Sure, I’ll still have a soft drink now and then when I eat out. But its much less often.

So back to my original thought, what happens if everyone starts to eat like me. You hear how corn and soybean farmers are struggling right now. I feel bad about that. But guess what, I don’t eat as much of corn and soybeans. I used to be in corn research, so I know what I’m talking about. When I say corn, I don’t speak of it like a vegetable. I’m talking about dent corn. I still eat some sweet corn on occasion. But that’s different. We don’t eat dent corn without a lot of processing, which is a majority of corn acreage. What does dent corn make? High starch flour, corn oils, & high fructose corn syrup. And where do these products go? Into processed foods and vegetable oils—all the things that I avoid. The same with soybeans. I don’t eat soybeans in general because of the phytoestrogens. That goes for tofu and soybean oils as well. I do eat a little soy sauce now and then but that’s it. When they say you eat healthy, you have to eat around the edges of the store; not the center of the store where the processed foods reside. And that’s where corn and soybean products end up. So I guess I shouldn’t be super sad about the corn and soybean farmers.

The Paleo Effect, if adopted by a larger part of our population, will crush the center of grocery stores and large acreage farms. I’m not super sad about that. The grass roots swell that we have from many, including quite a few vegetarians who don’t eat breads, will cause a further collapse. So maybe we can figure out how to grow more vegetables on that acreage instead. Maybe we’ll have more Farmer’s Markets and fresh food stands. Maybe more of us will learn to can and preserve veggies to last through winter. I think all of that would be good for society as a whole.

You can keep your gall bladder if you eat right. I still have mine and I don’t even have flare-ups anymore. Its all good as gravy. I still have a cheat reward now and then. But I keep to my healthy diet and intermittent fasting. Its the best way to live.

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