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What Exactly Is The Paleo Diet?

If you don’t know what the Paleo diet is or you’ve never heard of it before, no worries – within this first chapter, we’re going to explore exactly what this way of eating is all about. At its core, Paleo is a lot more lifestyle than it is a diet. A Paleo lifestyle is about eating real, whole, natural foods, and avoiding all processed foods. You see, the modern diet is exactly that, it’s modern. Humans ate in a Paleo-style since the beginning of time before starting the agricultural revolution where we started to eat grain and sugar-based foods, as well as processed foods. The idea behind Paleo is to eliminate those processed foods, chemicals, vegetable oils, and other new additions to the modern diet that can be detrimental to our lifestyle, from how we move to our energy levels to how we feel on a daily basis.

For all those years that we ate Paleo, humans were hunters and gathers. They ate meat and they ate fruits such as berries when they were in season. Which also meant they moved a lot and were very active. They needed to be strong and fit in order to survive. Their bodies were conditioned to efficiently use fat as fuel and energy, not carbohydrates. Eventually, agriculture came into being and the human diet changed dramatically. The Agricultural Revolution occurred about 10,000 years ago and introduced grains, such as wheat, and bread into our diet. Today’s modern diet contains things like significant quantities of gluten. Gluten was non-existent in Paleolithic times. Things like wheat, rye, many bowls of cereal and barley, contain gluten. Gluten has been recognized to cause inflammation in the gut and has been given widespread attention through celebrities like Kelly Ripa, who have famously gone gluten-free.

It’s also been theorized (not proven) that gluten could play a role in an increased risk of some cancers as well as heart disease. Another ingredient in the modern-day diet that is linked to possible health problems is that of lectins. Lectins are present in grains. They cause wear and tear on our gastrointestinal tract, making it very difficult to heal. Let’s not forget the sugar. Sugar is everywhere and in everything nowadays. Sugar needs to be burned but another aspect of modern times is how sedentary people have become. Everyone sits. They sit at work, sit on the couch watching television, they sit at their computers, they sit checking out social media and texts on their smartphones. People do not move the way they used to and so they don’t burn calories the way they used to. This becomes a big problem when talking about sugar consumption. In the Paleolithic period, humans were lean, strong, and fit. They moved, pretty much all day every day. They didn’t farm or grow crops. As I mentioned above, they hunted and gathered. They followed the food. They didn’t sit around playing on their Tablet. If they did, they’d starve!

So all that sugar being consumed in the modern diet, which is bad enough, isn’t even burned off because of sedentary lifestyles. Which means energy spikes and crashes, and related health problems such as diabetes and blood pressure issues. One of the big myths that the Paleo diet has helped to dispel is the outdated notion of eating fat makes you fat. This was a big deal when the high carbohydrate craze started in the eighties and you had everyone obsessed with the number of fat calories they were eating. Almost every food in existence ended up with a low-fat or no-fat version. But most of that fat got replaced with sugar! Fat is a crucial nutrient when it comes to our health. Dietary fat is needed for an optimal, well-functioning, and healthy body. It’s all the chemicals, preservatives, and added sugar in our diets that lead to weight gain, health issues, energy problems, and more.

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Pitfalls To Avoid When Going Gluten-Free

Now we’ll be looking at a few common beginner mistakes to avoid when you decide to go gluten-free. Going gluten-free is a lot harder and more complex than most people realize. To help ensure your gluten-free journey runs as smoothly as possible, check out these beginner mistakes to avoid.

Not Reading Food Labels

First and foremost, one of the most common mistakes that people make when following a gluten-free diet, is failing to read the list of ingredients on the food labels and packing.
Sausages, for example, are generally thought of as being meat-based products. Therefore, a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that they are all suitable for a gluten-free diet. Some brands, however, contain cereals, grains, seasonings, or flours that actually do contain gluten.
There are, of course, 100% meat sausages, but some brands out there do add other things to their recipes. This is just one of many different examples. Basically, to avoid any potential complications, always take the time to read the ingredients.

Assuming That All Gluten-Free Foods Are Safe

Oats, as we mentioned earlier, do not contain gluten. Despite this, you still need to be extremely careful when eating oats, as they are often processed and packaged in environments where gluten is present.
Cross-contamination is therefore a very real possibility. The best advice we can give you here is to do as much research as possible and to not take any chances.

Not Getting Enough Nutrients

Many people suffering from gluten sensitivity issues, or celiac disease, often wind up becoming malnourished. Their bodies struggle to absorb adequate amounts of the right nutrients, along with the fact that sometimes they just don’t eat healthily enough. Going gluten-free does not guarantee that you’ll be getting enough of the right nutrients on a daily basis. We all have our most and least favorite foods, so be sure to prioritize healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, that are high in vitamins and minerals.

Quitting Too Early

Okay, time to get real here. When you transition over to a gluten-free diet, this is a big step, and your body will not like it as first. For the first two or three days, you will feel awful. You’ll feel tired, you’ll be hungry, you’ll have a headache, and you’ll be craving the foods that you know you shouldn’t be eating. You’ll basically want to go away and hibernate for a few months. If you stick with it, however, things will get better. Once your body accepts the fact that gluten is gone, you’ll actually begin to feel better than ever. If you can make it past the first few days, you should be perfectly fine.

Overlooking Sauces, Seasonings, And Condiments

After preparing your delicious gluten-free meal, out of habit, you may reach for the nearest seasoning, sauce, or condiments in general, and wonder why you’re bloated and in agony shortly afterward.
Though a little squeeze of sauce here, or a sprinkling of seasoning there, may not seem like much, in reality even the tiniest trace of gluten can potentially lead to some nasty side effects. Many sauces, seasonings, spices, and condiments contain gluten, or could potentially contain gluten, so just be careful and again, always read the packaging

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History Of Gluten & How It’s Affecting Our Health

Wheat and other similar grains are considered by many to be godsends. Ever since we became self-sufficient, and discovered farming and agriculture, we have utilized wheat and grains in a wide variety of different ways. From bread and pasta to beer and wine, what is seemingly the gift that keeps on giving. There is, however, a downside to being self-sufficient. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so, you’ll have noticed how more and more people seem to be adopting a gluten-free diet.
Initially, people thought it was just a fad, or a trend set by Hipsters looking to standout and rebel against society. It turns out, however, that gluten-free diets were not just fads at all, and that, in actual fact, they are able to provide a wide range of health and wellness benefits to those that follow them.

But why do people feel the need to adopt a gluten-free diet and lifestyle in the first place? Well, in order to obtain an answer to that, we need to go back in time more than a million years.
The Caveman Diet
Back in the Paleolithic era, back when our caveman ancestors roamed the earth, we had no farms, no convenience stores, and no pizza delivery services. In fact, the food we used to eat back then had to be found, foraged, or killed. Cavemen would hunt wild animals, they’d snag fish if they could, they’d eat nuts, seeds, berries, and anything else deemed edible that grew in the wild. Nowadays, paleo diets are hugely popular. The common misconception about these diets is that they are for weight loss. They aren’t. They’re primarily to help people avoid common food allergies and intolerances, and the nasty side effects that go with them. You see, back then, cavemen were not obese, they didn’t suffer from food allergies, and they didn’t need to use prescription medications to control and regulate a wide range of different health issues based primarily on the modern Westernized diet. Granted, life expectancies back then were very low, but causes of death were deemed to primarily be natural back then. Though wheat and similar grains did grow in the wild, back then we had no idea that they were edible, so we stayed well clear.

Farming, Agriculture, And Gluten

Around 10,000 years ago, give or take a few decades, something changed. We went from hunting and foraging our food to being self-sustainable. Yes, we discovered farming and agriculture, and we discovered that grains could be grown in the ground, harvested, and processed to make edible items like primitive types of bread. That means that evolutionarily speaking, we have only been eating gluten for around 10,000 years. That seems like a long time, but considering the other foods like those followed on paleo-based diets, have been consumed for more than ten times that amount of time, you can see that our digestive systems may not have actually had time to catch up.

It is believed that we first began harvesting wheat around 8800 BCE. Primarily it was harvested in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Assyria. Around 5000 BCE however, many other parts of the world were also harvesting wheat. During the Bronze Age, spelled became a staple ingredient in diets all over the globe.
By the 15th Century, the New World was regularly harvesting and processing wheat and similar grains to make all kinds of delicious creations. By the 19th century, brewing and bread-making techniques really improved, and things continued to grow and expand from there.

How Is Gluten Affecting Our Health?

Gluten comes from the Latin word for glue. This is because it is able to hold grains such as wheat together and bind them. This protein is responsible for giving grain-based products such as bread and pasta, their soft and chewy texture. Now, a lot of people can quite happily eat gluten to their heart’s content, so surely, it’s harmless enough? Well, not exactly. Some people suffer from some form of gluten intolerance. As more and more research is being conducted on gluten and the potential health risks it presents, scientists are finding more and more evidence to suggest that to some individuals, gluten does appear to be more harmful than others. Experts believe that, if we were to go back to how we initially farmed and processed grains, we’d be much healthier than we are now. They believe that most grains consumed today have been so heavily processed, altered, and modified, that they are very different to the ones we ate thousands of years ago.

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Living Gluten-Free

Hello and welcome to our short, beginners guide on living a gluten-free life
As you may or may not be aware, we are currently in the midst of an obesity epidemic that has reached epic proportions. Life expectancies are on the decline, weight-related illnesses are on the up, and our health, in general at least, is deteriorating by the year. But why is this? With all of the advancements in modern technology, science, and medicine, surely we should be fitter and healthier than ever?
Well, we should be, but we aren’t. We aren’t, because we are obviously doing something very wrong. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where we’re doing wrong either. We’re slipping up because we’re leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles, we aren’t getting enough exercise, and we’re eating the wrong foods.

The modern Westernized diet is far from ideal. In fact, it’s downright awful as far as a lot of people are concerned. You see, nowadays, food and drink is produced, not with health and wellness in mind, but rather, with speed, profit margins, and convenience in mind. Foods are heavily processed to within an inch of their lives and as a result, by the time they reach store shelves, they contain a mere fraction of the nutrients that they held before the processing took place. When foods are processed, they lose much of their nutrient content.

As well as that, they are also then often combined with artificial chemical ingredients to help promote taste, color, and shelf life. Bread is a fine example of this. As you probably know, wholemeal bread is considered to be a far healthier bread than white bread. This is because it undergoes far less processing.
One ingredient hiding in bread, however, that we’d like to talk about today, is gluten. You may have heard people talking about gluten allergies and intolerances but what precisely is gluten and is it really as bad as some people claim?

Gluten is a type of protein that is found within grains such as barley, rye, and wheat. That means that gluten is found in any products which contain these ingredients. Bread is a prime example, though there are, of course, many other foods made from these products and containing these products.
Now, the thing to remember here is that gluten intolerances and allergies are not the same as celiac disease. Celiac disease is a form of the immune disease which results in irritation and damage to the small intestine after gluten has been consumed. In actual fact, gluten is such a troublesome little critter, that there are 5 different problems people can face when it comes to consuming gluten. These are:
• Celiac disease
• Non-celiac gluten sensitivity
• Gluten intolerance
• Gluten ataxia
• Dermatitis herpetiformis

Many people also claim to have a gluten allergy. In reality, there is no such thing as a gluten allergy. What there is, however, is a wheat allergy, and that is what many people confuse with a gluten allergy. So, basically, it is impossible to be allergic to gluten, but it is not impossible to be allergic to wheat.
Those dealing with any of the aforementioned gluten-related conditions will often suffer from a wide range of symptoms – all of which happen to be very similar. These include:
• Bloating
• Distended stomach
• Stomach cramps
• Stomach pains
• Headaches
• Dizzy spells
• Tiredness
• Nausea
• Mood swings
• Weight loss
• Skin rashes and problems
• And more…

Well that’s a brief intro how gluten affects your body and into what we’ll be covering in this guide. In the following chapters, we’re going to focus on the different aspects of Gluten-Free Living and help you develop a plan to get the most out of everyday life.
Are you ready to begin?… Let’s dive in!