Are you considering the Paleo diet? Making the switch is not as difficult as you may imagine, but it’s important to know what types of food to avoid. Most of the the items listed here are common sense, however there are a few tricky items to look out for as you seek healthy paleo foods.

The items to avoid are generally products that contribute to weight gain and disease, and removing these from your diet will help you to achieve optimal health.

Vegetable Oils

Vegetable Oils
Image Credit: Mike Mozart

Vegetable oils are common elements in almost any modern diet. Contained in virtually all processed foods, these toxic creations are one of the primary causes of many modern ailments. Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are all blamed on saturated fats in the diet, but animal fat consumption has decreased dramatically over the past 40 years. On the other hand, dietary polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) found in vegetable oils have taken their place.

For the past century, vegetable oils have been promoted as healthy by food manufacturers. Consumers are encouraged to replace animal fats in their favorite recipes with things like canola, corn, or safflower oils. In doing so, they add mutated molecules that wreak havoc in the body.

In order to create vegetable oils, plant seeds are pressed and undergo high temperatures that oxidize their delicate polyunsaturated fats. This creates a dangerous concoction that quickly spreads free-radical activity after they are eaten, causing damage to healthy cells that leads to disease.

Sugar

Sugar
Image Credit: Moyan Brenn

In some cases, knowing what foods to avoid means choosing only those that are still in their natural packaging. If it’s not found in nature without some tweaking from machinery or chemicals, chances are you shouldn’t be eating it.

Refined sugar–whether it’s high fructose corn syrup, organic evaporated cane juice, table sugar, or agave nectar–is a disease-promoting substance. If the sugar you’re eating isn’t contained in a stick of sugar cane or a piece of fruit, you’re not getting it in the way nature intended.

Fructose consumption is associated with elevated triglycerides, a risk factor for heart disease. Molecular vehicles are created specifically to transport fructose into your body tissues, and your body creates more when you eat more sugar. These transporters are found in high concentrations in cancer tissue. Since the average person eats about 150 pounds of sugar each year, it’s no wonder heart disease and cancer are on the rise.

Sodas

Sodas
Image Credit: John

Sodas have become a major part of the daily diet for many. Today’s sodas have no nutritional value and are filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup and other artificial ingredients. While eating Paleo means cutting processed sugars from your diet, many people forget or disregard the high sugar content that these carbonated drinks bring.  Additionally, scientific research is continuing to link sodas to poor health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and even cancer. Adopting the Paleo way means avoiding sodas, but the long term weight loss (due to reduced sugar intake) and health benefits will offset your feelings of loss and deprivation once you get past the withdrawal period.

Grains and Legumes

Grains and Legumes
Image Credit: Didi

Consumers eat more wheat today than any other time in history. Wheat or gluten is contained in most processed foods, including things like sauces, canned goods, and convenience items. Researchers believe this overconsumption of wheat proteins is one of the main reasons why food allergies have become so common.

Grains aren’t included in the Paleo diet for several reasons. First, grains weren’t included in the human diet until the dawn of the agricultural age 10,000 years ago. Certain nutritional deficiencies and their effects became prevalent with grains in the diet. For example, tooth decay and bone loss are experienced more by cultures who include more of these nutrient-absorbing foods.

Grains contain phytic acid, which absorbs minerals that the plant needs in order to germinate. This lowers the nutritional value of your grain-containing meals and depletes your body of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron.

Eating meals and snacks made up of real, whole foods is the main focus of the Paleo diet. Follow these guidelines and stay away from foods to avoid, like industrialized vegetable oils, refined sugars, and nutrient-absorbing grains and legumes that contribute to disease and weight gain.

 

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