Tag Archives: liver

Healthy From the Inside Out: The Paleo Diet and Internal Organs | The Paleo Diet

It’s no surprise that by eating balanced meals of natural proteins, local veggies and high quality fats, we’ll reach a healthy, lean body weight and feel great, too. But did you know that eating properly can also keep us on track from our inner most selves, too?

We tend to focus a lot on autoimmune conditions which have, unfortunately, become very common these days, right up there with obesity. But we may overlook some other equally important health concerns that are also impacted significantly by what we put in our bodies. That’s right, I’m referring to our organs!

Gall Bladder

The gall bladder holds bile produced in the liver until it is needed for digesting fatty foods in the duodenum of the small intestine.  When the gall bladder becomes diseased, painful gallstones can develop and it can become infected with bacteria causing even more pain and inflammation. Why not be proactive and prevent this disastrous event from happening in the first place?

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease illustrate the factors that affect a person’s risk of gallstones include diet.1 “Research suggests diets high in calories and refined carbohydrates and low in fiber increase the risk of gallstones. Refined carbohydrates are grains processed to remove bran and germ, which contain nutrients and fiber, such as white bread and white rice.”

Liver

We’re all somewhat familiar with what the liver does; it serves to produce bile which helps to remove waste, break down fat in the small intestine, and helps to produce proteins for blood plasma.

In addition to avoiding some obvious culprits, such as excessive alcohol consumption, if we eat properly, we can ensure a lifetime of healthy hepatic function.

In fact, Huffington Post’s Top 10 Foods for a Healthy Liver all happen to be Paleo:2

  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Beets
  • Leafy Greens
  • Green Tea
  • Avocados
  • Cruciferous Veggies
  • Lemons
  • Turmeric
  • Walnuts

Pancreas

Many of us have become aware of what the pancreas does as we learn more about type II diabetes which is seemingly affecting every other person we meet. The endocrine function of this organ is to regulate two important hormones, insulin, which acts to lower blood sugar and glucagon, which raises it.

The Center for Disease Control stated last year that “More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, up from the previous estimate of 26 million in 2010, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in four people with diabetes doesn’t know he or she has it. Another 86 million adults – more than one in three U.S. adults – have pre-diabetes, where their blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type II diabetes.  Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15 percent to 30 percent of people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.”3

By adhering to the naturally low in sugar, high quality foods inherent in a true Paleo regime, the chance of developing pancreas disease and type II diabetes compared to the Standard American Diet (SAD) is lowered as we’re not taxing our bodies with the constant job of trying to lower high blood sugar levels resulting from a reliance of processed carbohydrates.

Once again, another example of the quote from the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

The simplicity of a diet based on eating real, fresh foods and avoiding manufactured “food by-products” is the most straightforward path to optimal health we can take!

REFERENCES

[1] “Gallstones.” Gallstones. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.

[2] “10 Foods For A Healthy Liver.” The Huffington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.

[3] “Diabetes Latest.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 June 2014. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.

Offal – Not So Awful: Organ Meats and The Paleo Diet

When we think of eating organs, the first thought that comes to mind is gray, stinky liver and onions served in a diner. The thought is far from the delicious aromas that get the salivary juices flowing.1 Whether it’s the unappetizing idea or sheer intimidation, organ meats, or offal, carry a unique flavor profile that might take some time to perfect and for your taste buds to appreciate.2

It isn’t surprising Western cultures prefer muscle meat (steaks, thighs, ribs, loins) of animals.3 Yet, our hunter-gatherers ancestors consumed the entire animal from nose to tail and recognized the wealth of nutrients obtained from the brains, liver, kidney, heart, blood, lungs, and all other visceral organs. From their fatty acid profiles, and high micronutrient (vitamins and mineral) contents, the inclusion of offal on your Paleo menu is a no brainer. 4 Organ meats are more nutrient dense than muscle meats, containing higher levels of vitamin B1, B2, B6, folate, B12 and A, D, E and K. They are also packed with minerals like phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, iodine, calcium, potassium, sodium, selenium, zinc and manganese. Organ meats also contain high amounts of essential fatty acids, including arachidonic acid and the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA.5, 6

But how to beat the struggle to incorporate organ meats into your Paleo Diet when that grilled steak is calling your name? Overcome the initial fear and apprehension and start experimenting. For the foods that have the initial “ick” factor, hide them in something else. As you become more adventurous and accustomed to the different texture and flavors of the organ meats, there is no limit to the number of delicious and nutrient dense recipes that you can attempt to make with them, as you diversify your diet from just eating common cuts of meat. The most widely available offal at your local grocery store, and perhaps the simplest to begin with, are liver, kidney, tongue and heart.

Liver is one of the most popular organ meats and it is also one of the most concentrated food sources of vitamin A.7 Raw liver can be frozen for 14 days to kill any parasites or pathogens and then grated into mashed vegetables, such as cauliflower, or into scrambled eggs, soups and stews.8 It can also be ground in a food processor, and cooked into meatloaf, burger patties, or into a dairy-free pate served on cucumber slices.

Kidney is particularly high in Vitamin B12, selenium, iron, copper, phosphorus and zinc.9 They are meaty in texture, have a tender flavor, and are best slow cooked at a low temperature. The easiest way to get started is to braise them with vegetables using a rich homemade bone and marrow broth.

Heart is a technically a muscle, so it can be an easier organ to palate as it resembles a steak or a roast. Many consider beef heart a superfood given its high CoQ10, B vitamins, folate, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, and amino acids. 10 Beef heart can be marinated in vinegar overnight, then sliced into 1” thick slabs, and seared on the outside before serving. Thinly sliced heart can also be dried into flavorful jerky using a dehydrator or placed in the oven on the lowest setting.

As you branch out into your offal exploration, visit an ethnic grocer or a butcher for more exotic organs (at least for a Western Diet), such as brain, tripe (the edible parts of the stomach), sweetbreads (the thymus gland or pancreas), and “oysters” (the testicles). You might be surprised to discover for yourself why our ancestors prized organs and preferred to eat them instead of skinless, boneless chicken breasts.

1. Pedersen A, Bardow A, Jensen, S.B, Nauntofte, B. Saliva and gastrointestinal functions of taste, mastication, swallowing and digestion. Oral Diseases, 2002, 8: 117–129.

2. Drewnowski A. Taste preferences and food intake. Annual Review of Nutrition, 1997 July, Vol. 17: 237-253.

3. Cordain L, Brand Miller J, Eaton SB, Mann N, Holt SHA, Speth JD. Plant to animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in world-wide hunter-gatherer diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000, 71:682-92.

4. Cordain L, Eaton SB, Brand Miller J, Mann N, Hill K. The paradoxical nature of hunter-gatherer diets: Meat based, yet non-atherogenic. Eur J Clin Nutr 2002;56 (suppl 1):S42-S52.

5. Park, Y. W. and Washington, A. C., Fatty Acid Composition of Goat Organ and Muscle Meat of Alpine and Nubian Breeds. Journal of Food Science, 1993, 58: 245–248.

6. Nicklas TA, Drewnowski A, O’Neil CE. The nutrient density approach to healthy eating: challenges and opportunities. Public Health Nutr. 2014 Aug 28:1-11.

7. Available at: The United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27. Accessed on September 29th, 2014.

8. Available at: //www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/the-liver-files/. Accessed on September 29th, 2014.

9. Available at: //www.eatthismuch.com/food/view/beef-kidneys,3447/. Accessed on September 29th. 2014.

10. Available at : The United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27. Accessed on September 29th, 2014.

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