Going Gluten-Free: How Does a Paleo Diet Impact Your Health?

January 04, 2016 | 960 views

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By Dr. Mercola

If you want to know how to optimize your health and address any health condition, here's the simplest strategy you can implement: go back to the basics of healthy eating, and switch to consuming fresh, wholesome unprocessed foods. This can be as simple as adapting the diet strategy that our ancestors ate.

Remember, during the Paleolithic period, people mostly ate vegetables, roots, fruits, and meat. They did not have access to food 24/7, and instead went through regular cycles of feast and famine – the same concept that intermittent fasting is based on.

I believe that this is the type of eating schedule that the human body is designed for and not the 24/7 eating pattern that most people are accustomed to nowadays.

Another important aspect of optimizing your health is by removing all grains from your diet. I've always stressed this strategy and have even published a New York Times Best Selling book on it, "The No-Grain Diet."

I've firmly believed that eliminating gluten, found in grain products, is a significant first line intervention in fine-tuning a patient's diet, and eventually, improving their overall well-being.

Eating a High-Gluten Diet Severely Impairs Your Health

In my experience, at least 75 to 80 percent of ALL people could benefit from avoiding grains, even whole sprouted grains, whether they suffer from gluten intolerance and celiac disease or not. In fact, the only carbohydrates your body really needs are vegetable carbs – all sugar/fructose and grains, including so-called "healthful" ones, can be problematic, as they tend to wreak havoc on your insulin levels.

The truth is that there are other autoimmune disorders, aside from celiac disease, that can be improved by avoiding grains. For example, those who suffer from Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune thyroid disorder, can also benefit from avoiding gluten.

Compelling evidence has also linked high-grain diets to Alzheimer's disease, as well as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, or even cancer. This is because grains and sugars are inherently pro-inflammatory – they can worsen any condition that has chronic inflammation at its root.

It's great news that the gluten-free, low-carb Paleo (GFLCP) diet, the same kind of diet I've been promoting, is now going mainstream, as people are now recognizing the drawbacks of consuming gluten. Even athletic superstars like LeBron James and Ray Allen have switched to a low-carb diet, with great results. Ironman triathlete Nell Stephenson, ultra-marathoner Timothy Olson, and pro cyclists Dave Zabriskie have also adapted this healthy eating strategy.

Follow My Nutrition Plan and Start Eliminating Gluten from Your Diet

I advise you to start molding your food choices around the principles of Paleo eating, and the first place to start would be to follow my Nutrition Plan. Ideally, this involves eating a diet that:

  • Has unrestricted amounts of ideally organic, fresh raw vegetables.
  • Is abundant in healthy fats. Ideally, 50 to 85 percent of your diet should come from healthy fats from avocados, pastured egg yolks, coconut oil, and raw nuts like pecans, macadamia, and pine nuts.
  • Contains moderate amounts of high-quality protein. Contrary to popular belief, loading up on protein is not healthy, and may actually increase your risk of cancer. Most people will benefit from 40 to 70 grams of protein per day, ideally from organically raised, grass-fed or pastured animals.

By following this eating habit, you can successfully switch your body from burning carbs and sugar to burning fat as its primary fuel. You'll also feel your carb cravings disappear, as if by magic.

This is the same benefit that you can get from intermittent fasting, which is one of the most efficient ways to normalize your insulin and leptin sensitivity, shed excess weight, and even improve your brain function. So, in addition to consuming a Paleo diet, try to implement this eating strategy in your routine as well.

For more about the benefits of avoiding gluten, read my article "Good News: Gluten-Free, Low-Carb Paleo Diet Hits the Mainstream."