Is Paleo the New Gluten Free – and How is it Healthy?

Within the last decade, gluten-free diets have become wildly popular. With this diet, adherents avoid gluten, which is a type of protein that is found in some grass-based grains such as wheat, rye and barley.

Making the Case for Gluten-Free

Some individuals are not able to properly digest gluten, which can lead to painful symptoms such as gas, malabsorption and diarrhea. This is because the inability to digest gluten leads to inflammation in the small intestine. This condition is known as coeliac disease, and a gluten-free diet is one of the few treatment options.

Gluten sensitivity is another condition where sufferers have found that eliminating foods which contain gluten from their diet can help them feel less tired and bloated. Others report they have less trouble with symptoms caused by various autoimmune disorders, have skin that is clearer and less prone to breakouts, and can maintain their weight more easily.

Grains to Avoid in Gluten-Free

While followers of the diet avoid wheat and other products that contain gluten, other types of grain, such as corn and buckwheat, do not contain gluten and so can they be eaten and enjoyed on a gluten-free diet.

Many processed, pre-packaged foods contain wheat and other grains, so most commercially manufactured sauces, cereals, gravies, potato chips, pastas, soups and even food colourings must be avoided to prevent the accidental consumption of gluten.

Controversy Surrounding Gluten-Free

One of the main controversies surrounding the gluten-free diet is that both coeliac disease and true gluten sensitivity are relatively rare conditions, which means that many adherents of the diet have neither disorder. As with any other major dietary change, consult your doctor before choosing a paleo diet.

 Healthy brownies in a jarWhat is the Paleo Diet?

The new paleo diet is sometimes referred to as the “caveman” diet because it seeks to replicate the diet that humans originally followed thousands of years ago when they lived as hunter-gatherers in small tribal communities. While the paleo diet does share some of the same dietary guidelines as the gluten-free diet, it is more restrictive overall.

What Paleo Followers Can and Cannot Eat

Paleo followers avoid wheat, rye and barley just like followers of the gluten- free diet. They also avoid other processed grains, as well as highly refined sugars and salt. Some followers of the paleo diet allow natural sources of sugar to be consumed, such as honey or molasses, while others avoid all sugars both natural and man-made.

With paleo, the focus is on eating fresh fruits and vegetables that have a low-glycaemic index, as well as consuming large amounts of protein in the form of meats, fish, and nuts. The diet also emphasises the importance of drinking water and being physically active every single day.

While potatoes, dried beans, peas and peanuts are all vegetables, they are still avoided because they were not introduced into the human diet until after the advent of farming. They can also cause a rapid rise in blood sugar as they are digested. Milk and other dairy products are avoided for the same reason. Artificially sweetened, flavoured and coloured items are avoided in paleo, as are coffee, tea, carbonated beverages and more.

The Benefits of the Paleo Diet                                                        

Fresh fruits and vegetables are one of the best sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients that support good health. Lean meats and nuts are high in protein and other nutrients as well, so from a dietary standpoint, the paleo diet is a healthy and nutritious one.

Many followers of the paleo diet report that they could lose more weight, more quickly, because the high levels of lean protein in the diet help support the development of lean muscle mass, which supports weight loss.

The diet may also make it easier to keep blood sugar levels at a steady rate throughout the day, which may make it easier to control diseases like diabetes. Folks with high blood pressure have also found that cutting back on salt and losing weight from following paleo makes it easier to control their blood pressure.

Is Paleo the new gluten-free? What are your thoughts about it?

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