Nora Gedgaudas

Why Paleo?

Why Paleo?

The first question might be asking yourself is: Why Paleo? In a nutshell, The Paleo Way is a way of eating that is in perfect natural alignment with our prehistoric ancestral diet—the very one that basically forged both our physiological makeup and our essential nutritional requirements. The time period we are talking about spans over 100,000 generations—not years, but literally 100,000 generations — of our evolutionary history: more than 3 million years!

The first question might be asking yourself is: Why Paleo? In a nutshell, The Paleo Way is a way of eating that is in perfect natural alignment with our prehistoric ancestral […]

In case the cynic in you or in your family is wondering…the answer is NO—this is NOT a “fad” diet. If this were a fad diet, then it would be literally the oldest fat diet in all of human history!

In fact, it is more than a diet. Much more.

 

The Paleo Way is an actual lifestyle that inspires us to make conscious choices about what we eat and how this impacts not only our health, but also the health of our planet.

It is a way of life that inspires you to develop more of a direct relationship to your own body and also to where your food actually comes from. It inspires you to take personal responsibility for your own health in a positive, self-empowered way, and to become a steward to your family’s future, as well as a more conscious steward of the animals, plants and environment your food actually comes from. It is a part of restoring your relationship with the Cycle of Life of which we have always been a part but from which our species has in more recent eras become blind to. It is coming home to our roots and foundations as a species and restoring our primal birthright: Vibrant physical and mental health and a sustainable planetary future!

The idea behind The Paleo Way is simple: give your body what it is best designed to eat and drink — give it the raw materials it most needs—and support its most natural and critical foundations and the human body can better maintain it’s best state of mental and physical health.

This is basic common sense.

Paleo as we are presenting it here to you is an approach to eating that honors your body’s most natural and essential nutritional requirements and avoids those things that we were never designed as a species to eat.   It also avoids those things that serve to compromise our health in a severely compromised world in a way none of us can afford. Everything about it is wholly rational—and supportable by tens of thousands of research papers written in peer reviewed journals over the last several decades—not just about Paleo diets in particular, but related to all the myriad of subjects that surround and permeate this rich topic.

It also embraces modern paleoanthropology and human longevity science, helping us in part to better understand not only what really constituted human diets of the prehistoric past, but also what we have come to learn about what helps human beings live the absolute longest and most disease-free, so we can “tweak” these principles our ancestors followed to our BEST modern day advantage (a modern bonus not shared by our evolutionary antecedents). At the same time we need to take into account the rather perilous, and uniquely challenging world today in which we find ourselves that our ancestors never could possibly have imagined.

But of necessity, we MUST take the diet of our prehistoric ancestors into account as a first essential step. After all, they really did set some very critical examples we all need to understand and follow!

Once Upon A Time….

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as a food pyramid. There was no confusion about what did and did not constitute healthy eating. There was no such thing as government guidelines, a food industry, or a corporate agricultural monopoly and oil-based economy. Once upon a time birth defects were rare. There was also once upon a time essentially no such thing as obesity, metabolic disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue, ADD or widespread mental illness. These are modern-day inventions of our own making.

By ignoring the principles that forged the makeup of our very being, we have compromised our own genome over the last few hundred generations, and especially within the last dozen or so.

It’s a good bet that there isn’t a single person reading this who doesn’t have some form of symptom or health complaint, or who doesn’t at least know someone suffering from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmunity or some form of mental illness. My guess is that this is why you are reading this.

Welcome to the modern world.

My own personal story

I personally came to Paleo by way of a rather convoluted path. My passion for the science of nutrition has been with me for more than 30 years of my life, though I’ve come to an evolutionary perspective and approach to eating only much more recently.

Much like many of you reading this, I spent the better part of my life believing that fat was bad and that a carbohydrate-based diet was good—and even necessary for my health. For a little while I was even seduced by vegetarianism until the toll upon my health and wellbeing became too great for me to continue. During the time I was eating a supposedly very well-balanced and healthy vegetarian diet (very low in any sort of junk foods) my tendency toward depression, anxiety and panic attacks deepened and I even developed an eating disorder. It did not occur to me at the time that my diet was responsible for the way that I was feeling, but my cravings for meat and other animal source foods became more persistent and seemed to be telling me something my genes already knew. I was also quite unaware and oblivious at the time of the devastating effects that grains, legumes and soy were having upon my immune system and therefore my entire body, including my mood and cognitive function. Once I went back to eating them my symptoms subsided considerably. It all seemed counterintuitive to me at the time, but now I totally understand why it made such a difference!

Before I discovered a Paleo way of eating I had already been suffering from fairly severe depression for the better part of my early life, with little relief along the way. Later, I additionally developed anxiety and panic attacks that I began to struggle with daily. I also struggled with my weight here and there, which I assumed had mostly to do with not enough exercise at those times since I was (after all) eating a low fat diet.

I even began experiencing appendicitis, coming dangerously close to having to make that fateful trip to the emergency room for an appendectomy more than once. The pain I experienced during these periodic (but increasingly regular) bouts was quite debilitating. I barely dodged that bullet. After coming across zero information about potential causes of appendicitis after considerable research effort I was left to try to figure things out on my own. It stood to reason in my mind that because my appendix was part of my digestive system it probably had something to do with what I was eating. I was also able to determine that the one common denominator in every single meal where I experienced an appendicitis attack I had eaten potatoes. Upon eliminating white potatoes from my diet completely I have yet to experience a single attack since. It has been nearly twenty years now. I am not saying that potatoes are the cause of appendicitis for everyone, though I have since come across at least one reference in a book that drew an association between appendicitis and nightshades, specifically potatoes. Interesting, to say the least.

My Lithuanian upbringing exposed me to many common ethnically traditional foods that included things like breads/grains and potatoes pretty much every single day, and for most meals. Interestingly (and no longer surprisingly), every other member of my family also struggled with a variety of health related issues—mentally and physically—but not one of us ever made the connection along the way. Surely the fact that we had several medical doctors in the family meant that we knew best how to eat well! (Uh…or not, as it turns out.) 

Paradigm Shift

My first real paradigm shift came during the time when I spent a full summer of my life back in 1991 living less than 500 miles from the North Pole with a family of wild wolves (yes, you heard right). I was in the sole company of a world-renowned wolf biologist; Dr. L. David Mech, participating in some very exciting and unique behavioral research centered on wolves in a way that had historically never been done before. But I digress…

Prior to leaving for my High Arctic polar sojourn my diet had been extremely high in vegetables of every kind and salads, with a little lean meat and fish thrown in. I had also been doing a lot of juicing. I assumed I would be missing my garden-fresh diet while I was sitting on the frozen tundra, but when it came down to it nothing could have been further from the truth.

The last thing on my mind after arriving there at the top of the world was a salad. Almost upon arrival on Ellesmere Island I began (seemingly inexplicably) fixating on fat-rich foods. I found myself craving butter like crazy (which I indulged in with joyous abandon during the weekly stops at a nearby weather station where I was allowed to consume what I wanted in their mess hall), along with salami, cheese, red meat, nuts, nut butter and the like. Not only was I eating a lot of fat (which was entirely out of character for me at the time), but I was also hardly moving—much less exercising at all. My work there on the tundra required me to remain fairly still as I observed the family of wolves I had come to study.

I sat upon the tundra—well bundled in a soft, warm parka and mukluks and observed the wolves in their variety of activities day in and day out as I diligently noted my observations. All the while my clothing started to become increasingly loose fitting. What was going on??

Given the mainstream mantra of “low-fat eating and lots of exercise” one might have expected my body weight to have ballooned during this time. In fact, quite the opposite happened. It almost seemed as though the more fat I ate just sitting there on my fanny the more weight I lost. In the final count by the end of the summer I had lost roughly 25 pounds of body fat by basically sitting on my butt and eating fat all day. Upon my return some of my friends were concerned that I might have even lost too much weight (I might add, without even trying). Needless to say, this got my attention. I summarily filed it away in the back of my brain under: “WTF???”

During long hours of deep contemplation while I watched wolves sleep (which they did a LOT of that summer) I couldn’t help but notice the ancient and pristine appearance of the land before me. As I looked out across the vast permafrost-laden tundra and mountain ranges surrounding me that cold Arctic summer I noticed there was no sign of modern day human existence anywhere. I realized that nothing much about this environment was terribly different from what Cro-Magnon man must have encountered during his early trek across what is now northern Europe during the last Ice Age.

The other part of my paradigm shift on this trip involved my realization that humans had lived in this part of the world for more than 10,000 years without access to anything resembling fresh produce (save the occasional berries in certain parts of the Arctic—though not here— and occasional fermented vegetable matter from the stomachs of the animals the native people hunted). How is it that actual humans not only lived but thrived here in excellent health for thousands of years?

How could we ever have survived that kind of extreme climate as a species without any meaningful access to plant foods??? I found myself thinking about this a lot.

The diet of the Inuit and ancient Thule cultures was almost purely carnivorous, with roughly 80% of their caloric intake being almost pure fat. In Resolute Bay, a small High Arctic outpost in the Queen Elizabeth Archipelago where I spent several days I noticed that the local Inuit people living there were still eating a diet that it was still close to 80% based upon things like seals, whale blubber, musk ox, caribou, wild caught fish and other local and naturally occurring fare, manly procured through hunting and fishing as their ancestors had done for thousands of years (though obviously using more modern hunting and fishing implements).

Twin Otter planes would fly in once a week or so to drop off a bunch of commercially processed foods and a smattering of limp vegetables for the small (read: tiny) local market (which is how I actually got there—by hitching a ride on one of these flights), but the selection of these things was pretty limited and was also somewhat expensive, whereas wild foods were more readily and inexpensively available. The locals seemed happy and healthy to all outward appearances, as did the children who played in the cold summer climate with joyful abandon—and no one seemed obese.

I am sorry to say that in more recent years the foods of modern commerce have been increasingly encroaching upon and available to these places and have been disastrously impacting Inuit and other native populations of the Arctic and High Arctic.   Their rates of obesity and disease have literally skyrocketed, as a result. It is one of the great genocidal tragedies in human history.

All one need do in North America, New Zealand or the Australian Outback—three such populations I have been able to observe at least in-part first hand—is to look upon the general state of physical health of Native Americans/Maori/Aboriginal people to understand what it is that really destroyed these cultures. It wasn’t guns or even politics—it was their change in diet brought about by European exposure, influence and imposition. These genetically wild humans went from a diet that strove for a 90% dependence upon meat and fat for their daily caloric intake to one relying on sugars and starches for the first time in their entire history, within a mere generation or two. They literally had no defenses against this and never even had a chance once the addiction to sugar took hold. Today one only need drive through a native reservation anywhere in the US to see what the true impact of a diet based upon the USDA food pyramid really looks like; as food is brought there to feed the populations living there based on US dietary guidelines as part of the US government’s supposed “reparations” program.

This has served only to make the genocidal agenda against all First Nations groups fait accompli.

Connecting the Dots

Following my Ellesmere adventure I returned to a comparatively much warmer Minnesota at the end of my Arctic summer with a lot to think about (along with a totally different body composition). It all niggled incongruously at me for a few years until one day when I chanced across a copy of the classic and scholarly book by Weston A. Price titled “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”.   In it he chronicled the extraordinary health of native populations (including the Inuit) around the globe in the 1930’s that were still eating their traditional diets. One thing that was consistently revealed by his meticulous observations and research around the world–despite tremendous dietary and climatic variation among different people groups and what kinds of natural foods were available to them–was the critical and even sacred importance of dietary fat and fat-soluble nutrients. Every healthy native and traditional population worldwide ate as many animal source foods as were available to them—without exception. He found absolutely no vegan cultures anywhere in the world, to his own considerable disappointment–even as he fervently searched for them. He also found the Inuit to be among the healthiest “primitive” people group mentally and physically and among the most robust of the many unique populations across the world that he studied. Disease among these people was exceedingly rare, as were nutritional deficiencies of any kind. The pictures in Price’s book virtually tell the entire story. Ultimately, this publication was required reading in Harvard anthropology classes for many years after its initial release– and should be required reading for anyone cares about their health to this very day. Although a few traditional European and Celtic cultures he studied did consume some fermented grains, it was animal source foods and critical animal fats that dominated every single healthy native and traditional diet, hands down. These were invariably considered the most sacred foods of all across the board.

I finally got it. It was like being gob-smacked in the forehead with a sack of wet cement.

Upon my transition to a naturally very low sugar and starch Paleolithic diet my health and well being completely transformed. I knew I was onto something BIG. Every aspect of my physical and mental health improved. In the years that followed, as my research continued on, I found myself refining my approach to diet in ways that continued to improve my own health and the health of others I was able to influence along the way. Dietary fat became increasingly central in its obvious importance—in diametric opposition to “official” mainstream mantras offered by dieticians, licensed nutritionists and medical “experts”. I also became truly educated about the devastating health effects of gluten and its associated cross-reactivities and eradicated it once and for all from my diet and my home. Everything we were being told by the media and supposed mainstream “experts” was dead wrong—and not only that was almost literally upside down from the actual truth!!!

As time went on I recognized the need to take the unique modern world I was living in into greater account and put more focus on detoxification and increase my intake on fibrous vegetables and greens. As a longtime member of the Life Extension Foundation I also began to consider some of the core, foundational findings in human longevity research as a way of further refining Paleolithic principles. The eventual result of all this was my successful book, Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and A Longer Life. By combining essential elements from the ancestral diets that forged our genome and then applying longevity research principles to that I have been able to combine the best of both ancient and modern perspectives in a manner that is incredibly powerful AND surprisingly affordable, too!

I have since been able to influence the lives of thousands and have personally witnessed a full-spectrum array of miraculous changes in others through my own private practice in Portland, OR and through an avalanche of emails since the publication of my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind. As I recently shared with Jimmy Moore in his book, Keto Clarity, I have personally witnessed and/or received innumerable reports of mood stabilization, reduced/eliminated depression, reduced/eliminated anxiety, improved cognitive functioning, greatly enhanced and evened-out energy levels, cessation of seizures, improved overall neurological stability, cessation of migraines, improved sleep, dramatic improvement in autistic symptoms, improvements with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), improved GI functioning, healthy weight loss, cancer remissions/tumor shrinkage, much better management of underlying previous health issues, improved symptoms and quality of life in those struggling with various forms of autoimmunity (including many with type 1 and1.5 diabetes), reversal of type 2 diabetes, diminishment and/or total disappearance of arthritic symptoms, fewer colds and flus, total reversal of chronic fatigue, improved memory, sharpened cognitive functioning and significantly stabilized temperament. And there is quality research evidence to support the beneficial impact of a Paleo-oriented, fat-based ketogenic approach in every one of these types of issues. And I am only barely scratching the surface here of what is possible.

We’re not talking about “treating disease” here—but instead systematically restoring the conditions essential for optimal health. Your body is unbelievably powerful. Given the raw materials it requires in order to do what it was actually designed to do, your body’s capacity for self-healing is ENORMOUS. Even miraculous.

Together with Pete Evans and Luke Hines, our aim in The Paleo Way program is to present an alternative to the mainstream standard Western diet that every single person reading this is capable of implementing and affording. We make no medical claims in any of this with respect to curing or preventing any form or possibility of disease—but we decidedly offer you a paradigm that can help support your best possible health and well-being.

I am eager and deeply honored to be a major part of sharing so much more that can help others with true self-empowerment and unstoppable health!

By Nora Gedgaudas

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