Why is the Paleo diet linked to fibro? Review the following details of the Paleo nutrition plan. See why it’s recommended to build the immune system and minimize the symptoms of fibromyalgia, arthritis, CFS, and autoimmune diseases such as inflammation/pain, GERD/Reflux, IBS, and more.
Has your doctor or trusted health professional mentioned the Paleo diet and you wonder why?
So far, we’ve discussed how I started on my own nutritional healing journey, what “plan” I followed (hint: there was no plan), how I began to heal and more. You can find links below to each of the previous 3 posts in this series.
Today, we’re focusing on details of the Paleo/AIP diet. These details are shared to help YOU create the nutritional plan that suits you best. And, be sure to read my summary – Notes, Updates, and Interpretations – at the end.
Common Paleo Plan Questions
Can vegetarians or vegans follow a Paleo nutrition plan?
Yes, absolutely. Plant-based proteins can be found in a variety of foods including nuts and seeds. Dr. Mark Hyman calls his particular hybrid nutrition plan – a Pegan (a Paleo Vegan).
Won’t a Paleo protocol elevate my cholesterol levels?
Understanding what cholesterol is, how it’s made in the body, and what purpose it serves is a topic for greater study. Viewing your cholesterol levels based on your diet only shows part of the picture. In fact, dietary cholesterol accounts for about 25% of the cholesterol in your body. The rest (75%) is produced by your liver as a result of stress, inflammation, and functional challenges, etc.
Therefore, knowing what your cholesterol levels mean is far more important than the numbers themselves. It’s also important to know your personal health risks for heart disease. For more information, check the footnote indicated above.
Won’t the fat included in most Paleo recipes make me fat?
It’s a definite myth that dietary fat makes us fat. Becoming fat is related to the overconsumption of sugar (much of it in the form of grains), stress, and poor sleep as well as other unhealthy habits.
Isn’t Paleo just a low-carb and low-calorie diet?
While it’s true that a typical Paleo nutrition plan focuses heavily on veggies – and veggies are naturally low in carbohydrates – the Paleo plan, in general, is not a low-carb diet. Veggies make up the majority of a well-rounded Paleo meal and are not limited. Additionally, the healthy fats included in foods such as avocado, coconut, healthy oils, nuts, and seeds definitely do not make the Paleo plan a low-calorie diet.
Paleo is just another word for gluten-free, right?
It’s important to understand that there are many other benefits to the Paleo nutrition plan. Assurance that it’s gluten-free is but one.
There are two very simple ways for a specific food or ingredient to qualify as gluten-free:
- A food that’s artificially manipulated or altered to remove its gluten properties (often done by adding equally inflammatory ingredients)
- Foods that – by nature – do not contain gluten in the first place
The Paleo nutrition plan is naturally gluten-free based on the 2nd principle noted above which is ideal.
Why is Paleo often referred to as a remedy for GERD, acid reflux, and heartburn?
Looking back to my experience early on, I can now see why I achieved a significant improvement in my reflux/GERD symptoms. I removed the very foods that are linked to causing intestinal distress and whole body inflammation – sugar, caffeine, dairy, grains, processed and packaged foods, etc.
Going Paleo to treat GERD is now a common practice and is often an introductory way to become more familiar with this eating plan.
Tweaking the Paleo Plan
Since the Paleo plan can provide a great platform to build upon, you can easily adjust it to work for your needs. Experiment with new veggies. Add new ways to prepare them including tasty herbs and spices, and look for enticing recipes to help you get creative in the kitchen.
When it comes to making shifts for your personal dietary needs, take a look at your specific food intolerances or sensitivities. For example, are eggs a problem for you? What about nightshades?
Autoimmune conditions are often linked to a Paleo nutrition plan because of its inherent capacity to lower or eliminate inflammation and reduce autoimmune symptoms and flares.
Have you tried any of these nutritional plans — GAPS, Low FODMAP, Low Oxalate, SCD, Candia/Yeast, Ketogenic, etc.? Again, we’re all different, so modifying and adapting what works best for you is all part of the learning process.
Where to Begin?
Obviously, there’s much more to discuss, but starting in the right place can give you the most traction. A well-rounded Paleo plan provides a vital combination of healthy veggies, healthy fats, and healthy proteins (your essential macronutrients). Additionally, make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) in your diet by consuming a wide variety of plant-based foods – especially leafy greens. You may also need to supplement your micronutrient needs.
To begin, here are a few websites you may wish to visit:
The Paleo Mom
The Paleo Leap
Nom Nom Paleo
And for the best all-around resource, pick up a copy of any of these fine books – The Paleo Approach | The Paleo Approach Cookbook | Practical Paleo | The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook. These can be found on Amazon (hyperlinks to Amazon from this page include Affiliate Links), and possibly Target, and/or Costco stores.
Now that I’ve dished out information on why Paleo/AIP is often linked to Fibro, it’s time to start experimenting on your own. Getting creative in the kitchen is more than just fun – it’s transformative!
*This article is my original work and first appeared at ProHealth.com. It is reprinted with kind permission and may be viewed HERE.
Get caught up! Here are the links to the previous articles in this Fibro Diet series:
Part 1 of this article, The Start Up HERE.
Part 2 of this article, Newbie Food Plan HERE.
Part 3 of this article, Name That Diet HERE.
Sue’s Diet Notes, Updates, and Interpretations:
- In my early years of writing on my own healing, I was passionate about not using the term “diet” in any of my writings. A diet by definition is temporary. That is NOT what I wanted to imply in any way. I wanted readers to understand the connection between nutrition and healing. After a few years, I learned a thing or two about writing, marketing, and search terms. It turns out that fibro peeps Google the term “diet” when they’re trying to figure out what to eat. They don’t search “nutrition.” So, I acquiesced and now use the term “diet” even though, in my heart, I wish I didn’t have to.
- The term “Paleo,” or “Paleo/AIP” isn’t the be-all and end-all for me. It simply represents the closest collection of dietary guidelines that serve the purpose of sharing nutrition plans that are free from inflammatory foods. When I think of Paleo, I think of an abundant assortment of veggies. Think antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients, and more! The bottom line is that this way of eating reduces foods and ingredients that are known to cause potential problems for the fibro/autoimmune population. We’re already sensitive to so many things, and removing dietary triggers can give the body the break it needs to start healing. This builds a stronger immune system, improved digestive health, and so much more. Once the body has a chance to stop over-reacting, you then have an opportunity to test and potentially re-introduce foods to find what truly works for you.
- I hope I’ve drilled the point home that we’re each unique. What I’ve included here are generalizations. Most fibro/autoimmune people have some sort of negative reaction to wheat/gluten, dairy, and processed foods. Most also react in some way to nightshades. Some react to all grains. Again, we’re each different. Your personal food discovery journey allows you to find what foods fuel you best. Discovering is thriving, and thriving is healing.
- There are many names of diets that are similar to or even offshoots of the Paleo/AIP diet. This isn’t the time or place for definitions of all of them, and I look forward to writing more at a later time.
- Keto is one diet that does deserve a bit of attention here. Many consider it an extension of Paleo/AIP as it simply leans toward a different balance of macronutrients. The Keto diet leans toward a ratio of higher fat than proteins and carbs. The ratio percentages are in that order. Fat is highest (representing the vast majority), protein, and finally carbs. In a Keto macronutrient ratio, carbohydrates represent a small fraction of the combined total of fats and proteins.
- The topic of fasting (not necessarily a specific diet itself) is also commonly discussed in both the Paleo/AIP and Keto communities. There’s intermittent, water, broth, mimicry, and more categories in this fascinating field of study. Fasting (under specific, healthy guidelines) can be very helpful for people looking to drive down inflammation and balance their inflammatory response. Weight loss, if applicable, can also result. But, this is far from a simple topic. To be sure the body feels supported by consistent and healthy nutrition, it’s a good idea to work with a trusted healthcare practitioner with this or any other specific diet plan.
- Dietary changes can provide the most profound and fundamental support for a body in crisis. While there are many epigenetic factors that affect the body, eating is what we do most often. My fibromyalgia body thrived with the diet changes I made ages ago and I’m so grateful for the journey I’ve had so far. That’s not to say, there’s a finish line. I continue to experiment, tweak, and modify my diet. Not in the interest of necessarily proving anything right or wrong. But rather to enhance what I’m already doing and make it even better.
What are your greatest health desires when it comes to your personalized nutrition plans? What will you implement first? When it comes to your diet and meal plans, what would you like to learn the most?