Tag Archives: holidays

Tips to Jumpstart Paleo New Year

Did you find yourself eating differently during the holiday season and have resolved to make drastic changes at the beginning of the year?  Forget about juicing, cleansing and detoxing for a quick fix to jump-start your resolution to trim your waistline and purify your body. There is little scientific evidence to support temporary measures have an impact on your overall wellness long term.

The truth is our bodies are continuously processing toxins (both environmental and dietary), chemicals, and waste products.1 It is a day-to-day undertaking involving the liver, kidneys, and spleen, rather than something you can undertake for an intense period.2 If you are looking to recover from the lifestyle implications of your holiday choices, return to the basic principles of the Paleo lifestyle, which focus on a consistent, long-term approach to optimizing metabolic and physiological health.3

Negative side effects are routinely experienced on calorie and fat/protein restricted programs, including low energy, low blood sugar, muscle aches, fatigue, lightheadedness, and nausea. Specifically, some programs allow for only fruit and vegetable juices to be consumed for up to a week at a time. The negative effects from consuming significant amounts of fructose, especially without fiber, fat, and protein, include rapid stimulation of lipogenesis and triglyceride accumulation, which in turn contributes to reduced insulin sensitivity and hepatic insulin resistance/glucose intolerance.4

Although purification naturally occurs on a daily basis, we can support the body’s pathways to function most efficiently. Focus on the following guidelines, as a part of your Paleo Diet, to feel energized and strong at the start of the year.

1. DRINK BONE BROTH REGULARLY

Broth a great way to stay hydrated, which keeps the circulatory and lymphatic system functioning optimally.5 Bone broth is rich in minerals6 and has been linked to healing the digestive tract and is rich in collagen, glucosamine, and gelatin. You can add a small amount of coconut oil, to aid in blood sugar regulation and minimize the risk of insulin resistance.7

2. INCREASE GLUTATHIONE-RICH FOODS INTAKE

Glutathione is an essential antioxidant naturally produced by the body8 to facilitate cell reactions,9 is quickly depleted by a poor diet, stress, illness, pollutants, and even aging. Sulfur-rich foods like garlic, onions and the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, etc.) are especially high in glutathione.10

3. SUPPORT LIVER AND KIDNEY FUNCTION WITH ADEQUATE BETAINE

Betaine protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress and participates in the methionine cycle.11 Betaine can be obtained in the highest concentrations from both spinach and beets.12 Raw beets can be sliced thinly or grated over a raw spinach salad for a betaine-rich combination and a vibrant addition to your Paleo dishes.

Stephanie Vuolo
@primarilypaleo
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Stephanie Vuolo | The Paleo Diet Team

Stephanie Vuolo is a Certified Nutritional Therapist, an American College of Sports Medicine Personal Trainer, and a Certified CrossFit Level 1 Coach. She has a B.A. in Communications from Villanova University. She is a former contributor to Discovery Communications/TLC Blog, Parentables.

Stephanie lives in Seattle, WA, where she is a passionate and enthusiastic advocate for how diet and lifestyle can contribute to overall wellness and longevity. She has been raising her young daughter on the Paleo Diet since birth. You can visit her website at www.primarilypaleo.com.

REFERENCES

[1] Available at: //www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/. Accessed December 16, 2014.

[2] Dorfman, Kelly. “Improving Detoxification Pathways.” New Developments 2.3 (1997): 4.

[3] Frassetto, Lynda A., et al. “Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet.” European journal of clinical nutrition 63.8 (2009): 947-955.

[4] Basciano, Heather, Lisa Federico, and Khosrow Adeli. “Fructose, insulin resistance, and metabolic dyslipidemia.” Nutrition & metabolism 2.1 (2005): 5.

[5] Jones, JUDY M., L. A. Wentzell, and DANIEL P. Toews. “Posterior lymph heart pressure and rate and lymph flow in the toad Bufo marinus in response to hydrated and dehydrated conditions.” Journal of experimental biology 169.1 (1992): 207-220.

[6] Roberts, Sam J., et al. “The taphonomy of cooked bone: characterizing boiling and its physico–chemical effects.” Archaeometry 44.3 (2002): 485-494.

[7] Kochikuzhyil BM, Devi K, Fattepur SR. “Effect of saturated fatty acid-rich dietary vegetable oils on lipid profile, antioxidant enzymes and glucose tolerance in diabetic rats.” Indian J Pharmacol. 2010 Jun;42(3):142-5.

[8] Wu, Guoyao, et al. “Glutathione metabolism and its implications for health.” The Journal of nutrition 134.3 (2004): 489-492.

[9] Available at: //www.readisorb.com/science/methionine_cycle_and_glutathio.html. Accessed on December 16, 2014.

[10] Nuttall, S. L., et al. “Glutathione: in sickness and in health.” The lancet351.9103 (1998): 645-646.

[11] Craig, Stuart AS. “Betaine in human nutrition.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 80.3 (2004): 539-549.

[12] Available at: //nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000145000000000000000-1w.html. Accessed on December 16, 2014.

Sleep | The Paleo Diet
As we move into the colder, darker and shorter days of fall and winter it becomes more difficult to maintain your energy levels, productivity and fight off nasty colds and flu. These common complaints become the norm as the seasons change and people are constantly looking for that “magic bullet” supplement or medication to keep them running on all cylinders. Interestingly, a new study on the daily patterns of modern hunter-gatherer tribes across the globe might hold a few clues in how we can keep ourselves healthy, fit and productive through the winter season.

How Much Sleep Did Our Paleo Ancestors Really Get?

There is a romantic notion that our “hunter-gatherer” ancestors rested their heads with the setting sun in the evening, slept blissfully through the night for 8-10 hours and woke up with the rising sun. They certainly didn’t have cellphones, laptops or external light sources to keep them up. Was it partly down to this that they were so fit, strong, and free of chronic degenerative diseases? Not quite.

An interesting new study on modern day hunter-gatherer tribes – the San of southern Africa, the Tsimane in Bolivia, and the Hadza in Tanzania – found they only sleep an average of 5.7-7.1 hours per night.1 This is very surprising because sleep research today suggests most westerners are sleep deprived, averaging about 6.5 hours of sleep per night, which is approximately 1.0-1.5 hours less sleep than our grandparents got two generations ago. Experts believe we should be aiming for 7.5-8.0 hours per night for better health.

This new research suggests there is much more at play than simply the amount of hours of sleep you get (although, I believe this is also important). Let’s take a closer look at some key factors that could help you improve your sleep and upgrade your energy levels this winter and help fight off colds and flu.

The Tribes Go To Bed Earlier in the Winter

As the year comes to an end, most people are busier than ever at work and home as the holidays approach, rather than winding down to recharge their batteries. If we look to our ancestral roots to find answers to the “best” sleep practices, we find the tribes in the aforementioned study went to bed earlier during the darker days of winter/rainy season and later in the summer/dry season. Their average bedtime was just after 9:00 pm in the winter months, compared to 10:45 pm in the summer (still, not exactly “night owls” by today’s modern standard).
A lot people struggle to get bed before midnight (laptops, cellphones and TVs don’t help) and usually don’t get to bed earlier in the colder, darker, winter months. As we approach the darkest days of the year, we should be getting more sleep (not less), but holiday parties, travel, and work commitments usually ramp up at this time of year. This lack of sleep is shown in the research to suppress your immune system function, putting you at significantly increased risk of catching a cold or flu.2

The Tribes Wake Up Consistently With Morning Light

Hitting snooze is a morning ritual for a lot of people, as they struggle to find the energy to get out of bed and start their day. While I am sure we can all agree that sleeping in feels pretty good, is it what your body really needs? The tribal groups in this study woke up at virtually the same time throughout the entire year with the morning sun (not surprising if you’re an avid camper!).

Many of your key hormones are produced on a natural daily pattern or circadian rhythm that new research shows gets disrupted if you constantly change your sleeping and waking time. Disrupted circadian patterns have been shown to leave you more prone to fatigue (sound familiar?), inflammation, and even change the balance of “good” to “bad” bacteria in your gut.3

If you struggle with fatigue, insomnia or frequent colds and flus, aim to have a consistent bedtime and waking time this winter. Go to bed earlier (don’t sleep in longer in the mornings) to help kick your snooze button habit in the morning. If you really struggle to wake up, try some gentle stretching/mobility/yoga on the floor to ease your way into the day. (Not only that, research shows the later you get to bed the greater your likelihood for weight gain.4 If weight loss is also a goal, get ahead of your new year’s resolution by tucking in earlier at night).

The Tribes Are Exposed To Lots of Morning Light

It’s difficult to wake in the morning and get outside during the cold days of winter. Fatigue, lack of time and general desire to stay warm keep you huddled up in your house, car, and office. However, not exposing yourself to natural light may be having a significant negative impact on your health.

Modern hunter-gatherer communities get up daily with the morning sun and engage in the vast majority of their physical labor in the morning hours exposed to natural light. In contrast, most people are indoors all morning throughout the winter – commuting in cars and working in buildings – not getting nearly enough exposure to natural light. Even on a cloudy day, the natural light outside provides a whopping 100,000-lux (a measure of light intensity), compared to only 5,000-lux in your office or home.

New research shows that this light exposure is crucial for circadian hormone production and thus your energy levels, health and resiliency.5 It’s easy to find yourself stuck in your car, office or house all winter. Instead, get outside to grab your morning coffee, walk a few blocks to your next meeting, or go outdoors in the morning for a light run/jog to start your day. You’ll feel much better for it!

Often we’re drawn to the “shiny new toy” or exotic and complex solutions to our problems, however the real lasting solutions are typically always found in how you eat, move and lifestyle factors. While a Paleo diet will go a long way to keeping you energized and fighting off colds and flu this winter (check out my article on how to Paleo boost your immunity this fall), looking at your daily patterns of sleeping and waking from an ancestral perspective will likely help you dramatically upgrade your energy and vitality this winter.

 

References

  1. Yetish G et al. Natural Sleep and Its Seasonal Variations in Three Pre-industrial Societies. Current Biology. Vol 25, Iss. 21, 2 November 2015, Pages 2862–2868.
  2. Prather A et al. Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Sleep Journal. Vol. 38, Issue 09.
  3. Voigt R et al. Circadian disorganization alters intestinal microbiota. Plos One. 2014 May 21;9(5):e97500.
  4. Asarnow L et al. Possible link between bedtime and change in body mass index. Sleep Journal. Vol. 38, Issue 10.
  5. Czeisler C, Klerman E. Circadian and sleep-dependent regulation of hormone release in humans. Recent Prog Horm Res. 1999;54:97-130; discussion 130-2.

Sweet Sugar Coconut Fat | The Paleo Diet
If you’ve popped into your local Starbucks lately, you’ve already seen it. The Christmas red cups are here!  As someone who is admittedly an absolute Christmas fanatic, I must say that the hint of the season’s festivities in the air brings a smile to my face and that happy, and coaxes the warm holiday aura.

But one thing that doesn’t sit quite right is thinking about the sizeable number of syrupy sweet holiday drinks we’re consuming as a whole, let alone the sheer size of each individual drink has gone from 12 oz to 16 oz to… a 31 oz!1

A ‘Grande,’ 2% milk, peppermint latte is a whopping 54g of sugar from Starbucks.2 Thinking about supersizing to the mega 31 oz? That’s a whole heck of a lot of sugar (nearly double)!

But what if we want to enjoy a taste of the season? Is there a way to do so without wreaking havoc to our blood sugar, our mood, and our guts? Yes.

And it’s not about finding a ‘more Paleo’ sweetener. Instead of focusing on sweet, do yourself a favor and instead focus on fat. Without sugar, you can forget about the blood sugar spike, ensuing crash, and craving pangs for another.

Long before we ever knew about putting butter in coffee, in the lofty Himalayan mountains a few cups of yak butter tea, or po cha, was a welcome respite from the cold, thin air.[3] Since neither butter nor coffee are part of a strict Paleo diet, why not put a spin on the Tibetan model and brew a hot cup with a healthy, Paleo approved fat?

Can you say let’s go nuts with coconuts? Tasty, warming, and a with a fantastic creamy texture to boot, the Paleo recipe below will satisfy your palate and leave you feeling energized and ready to face the hectic holiday season… without ever feeling like you’ve had to deprive yourself!

Paleoista’s Holiday Coconut Tea

(Serves 2)

Ingredients

  • Herbal tea, your preference; try peppermint, cinnamon or ginger to create the holiday flavor profile
  • ¼ cup coconut butter, at room temperature
  • Ground cinnamon, to taste

Instructions

  1. Brew tea and let steep 3- 5 minutes.
  2. Remove tea leaves or bag and let cool slightly.
  3. Combine tea with coconut butter in blender and whiz to combine.
  4. Top with cinnamon and enjoy!

References

1. “Starbucks to Roll Out Biggest Drink Size Yet | Fox News.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 16 Jan. 2011. Web. 04 Nov. 2015.

2. “Peppermint Mocha.” Starbucks Coffee Company. Starbucks Coffee Company, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2015.

3. “Tea Tuesdays: Butter Up That Tea, Tibetan-Style.” NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2015.

Sidestep Temptation: A Healthy, Paleo End to 2014

The New Year is almost here and as 2014 comes to a close, it becomes increasingly more difficult for many to stay on track with their healthy eating style, especially if they’re habits you’ve only recently begun to integrate.

And, if you’ve let these healthy food choices dwindle a bit more over the last month or two, having been perhaps a bit too caught up with the festivities of the holidays, you’re certainly not the only one.

The first and second weeks in January aren’t the busiest time in health and fitness for no reason, after all!

But rather than shrug your shoulders and opt to making how you feel as a result of what you’re eating, anything less than top priority, could ultimately lead to sluggish digestion, poor sleep, mental fog, and a couple extra pounds by the time 2015 rolls in.

Sure, those eggnogs, side dishes, cookies, and cakes might sound good at first, but if we’re prepared ahead of time with a strategy to sidestep temptation, it can turn into a win-win situation as far as enjoying the holiday festivities without feeling deprived and enjoying yourself simultaneously!

Here are my Top 5 Tips to make surviving this last few days leading up to the New Year healthy, while still being enjoyable:

EAT PROTEIN EARLY IN THE DAY

Certainly, this applies year round, but even more so now when stress may be at an all time high. By starting the day with high quality protein along with a good dose of fat and veggies, we hedge our bets for steady, focused energy all day long to get us through a tough work day and then brave the holiday shopping crowd at the mall!  In my book, Pocket Paleo, Breakfast (HarperCollins, 2015) share ideas from basics, like a veggie omelet to uber creative such as wild game for breakfast. Why not?

SNACK OFTEN

Rather than thinking of snacks as ‘100 calorie packaged items’, if we revisit that concept and think of a snack just as any other meal, consisting of veggies plus natural proteins and some healthy fat, we create the perfect meal to enjoy mid-morning or mid-afternoon.  Grab 50 recipe ideas from healthy snacks in Pocket Paleo (HarperCollins, 2015).

CHOOSE SPLURGES WISELY

That last minute office party your coworker is throwing together where nachos and boxed wine are the centerpiece, are not worth the migraine and a belly-ache the next morning. However, when you’re hosting a cocktail party, and serving your own Paleo perfect appetizers and want something special, perhaps my truffles would fit into your splurge-appropriate occasion. If you plan in advance and select the best choices, you can enjoy a treat without the emotional baggage many might feel if they partook without planning, and then decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater and eat anything and everything in sight.

CREATE NEW TRADITIONS

Rather than spend the day baking cookies with the kids, why not make edible gifts that are Paleo friendly and still fun to make? Anything homemade is always a wonderful, heartfelt option and the whole family can be involved. Spiced nuts in mason jars, your own selection of your favorite dried herbs and spices tied into a lovely bouquet garnis or a fruit basket created out of local, in-season produce are just a few ideas to get the wheels spinning. It’s the time spent together creating, and the concept of giving that makes it special, not what you’re actually cooking or baking, so why not go healthy?

GET MOVING

Yes, it’s harder to wake early when it’s dark outside and your bed is cozy and warm, but the more often you get in even a 30 minute walk or cardio session at the gym, the more likely you are to choose wisely when you eat throughout the day. In Pocket Paleo, Workout, I give 50 ideas for what to eat before and after a training session.

Just like you’d put a plan in place for a big project you’re undertaking at work, a study schedule for school or a master plan for a career change, having a big plan for your health is key and so, too, are the small steps that make each day a success in and of itself.

Enjoy, Keep Healthy, and Happy Holidays!

Paleoista’s Signature, Decadent Raw Paleo Truffles

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup raw cacao nibs, ground, plus a little extra for dusting
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup coconut butter
  • 1 cup creamy roasted almond butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp finely shredded natural coconut

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Combine cacao, coconut oil, coconut butter, almond butter & honey.
2. Stir ingredients until well combined.
3. Place bowl in freezer for 10′.
4. Roll into 1 inch balls.
5. Roll in the extra ground nibs and the shredded coconut.
6. Place in tiny foil candy cups and then into a box for presentation.

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