One of the big benefits of following the paleo diet resides in the nutrient-dense foods that fill its meal plans. Nevertheless, when deciding on what to eat, you have to be discerning about what advice to follow.
For example, last week I pointed out that an article reprinted on the Yahoo website gave the misguided tip that tuna should be a frequent dish in a paleo diet. But tuna, in general, is too high in mercury to be safely eaten very frequently. And there’s plenty of research to back my rebuttal.
Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of wrong-headed advice on the internet so you should always be wary of anything you read that can affect your health. I want to discuss another such article in just a minute, but before I do I want to clarify something.
You’re probably asking yourself why you should trust my advice. After all, I’m putting it out there on the web, just like the person who wrote the tuna story, and the hot weather one I’ll get to in just a minute.
Firstly, all I can say is trust your gut instinct. If you read something and it just doesn’t sound quite right, maybe it isn’t and you should research it further. A good writer will back up what he’s saying and put the research right there for you.
Secondly, whether the information you are getting is on the web or in print, you should always ask questions: What is the writer’s field of expertise? Where is the research? Is the writer writing from experience? Is he telling me to do something he’s actually done? Before I provide any diet advice, you can rest assured I’ve researched it, followed it, and experienced the effects of it.
And that’s what I’ll share. The rest is up to you. Because – thirdly — you can take all the advice I or anyone else can give, but in the end it’s your choice to do what’s best for you.
Now let’s get to this article on staying hydrated during hot weather exercise that contradicts the research I’ve read…
Choose water over salty O.J. every time — no matter what anyone says
I came across a well-known site, where a fitness expert suggested that drinking orange juice with some salt added to it would help you stay hydrated while exercising in the summer heat. But a recent study shows that when you’re out in the sun, natural chemicals in citrus fruit called furocoumarins can up your risk for melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
And as for adding salt to drinks to help restore electrolytes — minerals your heart needs to behave properly — that’s an old myth that’s been disproven many times. Advice from the Texas Heart Institute points out that salt can make you dehydrated when you sweat on a hot afternoon. All you need to drink is plain water.
And when you work out, just use your own thirst as an indicator for how much water you require to rehydrate. Don’t overdo your water intake: Research shows that over-hydrating can cause more serious health issues than slight dehydration.
Advice you can feel good about
In the world wide web where anyone with a computer and WordPress can put all kinds of advice out there, one thing to consider is where they get their information from.
Even so-called experts need sources. Just because someone knows enough about nutrition to write about it doesn’t mean they’re familiar with all the research or have a team of researchers ready to back up what they say. That’s why once you find a health writer or writers, or a site you trust, it’s a good idea to keep them in mind to validate other information you come across.
Now that I’ve got all that off my chest, I’d like to discuss some basic paleo guidelines I would feel good about sharing with you. And one reason I do is because of the source.
If you’re looking for reliable information on eating a healthy paleo diet, “8 Tips,” based on advice from Mark Hyman, the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, is a fairly good place to start.
The tips include:
- Limit sugar. This is essential advice for anyone trying to eat a healthy diet even if you are not going to eat paleo style. The list of health concerns linked to sugar is practically endless.
- Eat mostly vegetables. Unless your meals and snacks mostly consist of vegetables, you are doing your health a disservice. Focusing on vegetables keeps your weight down, can reduce your risk for illnesses like cancer and heart disease, and improves your digestion.
- Consume good fats like coconut oil, olive oil and avocados. These fats are crucial for better health. However, to get the best omega-3 fats, fatty acids that limit inflammation, you need to consume fish and fish oil.
- Include eggs in your meals. Eggs contain a wealth of important nutrients and I eat at least one a day — though the Cleveland Center Clinic suggests eating as much as you can. Eating a variety of foods daily provides a better supply of nutrients than over-relying on one food, I believe.
- Eat beans every once in a while. Technically, beans, which are classified as legumes are excluded on the paleo diet. But eating them occasionally is OK. Before cooking them, you should soak them overnight and then cook them thoroughly for several hours.
- Avoid grains. Although some people consider gluten-free grains OK to consume (the “8 Tips” article lists a few), I have generally not had good experiences eating any grains. They can disrupt digestion and may make it harder to control your blood sugar. They may also be linked to leaky gut syndrome.
- Eat plenty of nuts and seeds. The nutrients and fiber in nuts and seeds support better heart health and bone health.
Despite the fact that many commentators on the Internet continue to derogate the paleo diet, researchers are starting to catch up with what we paleo eaters know – it improves health drastically. A recent example: A study at the University of California San Francisco that put more than two dozen people with type 2 diabetes on the paleo diet found that it improved blood sugar control and heart disease parameters very quickly.
Can the paleo diet improve your health? There’s no way to discover what this diet can do for you until you try it.