Eating the Paleo way!

    About 6 months ago, my family and I began following the Paleo diet.  I was first introduced to this way of eating a few years ago, I happened to glance through the Paleo diet book at the local bookstore and found it very intriguing.  Over the years, more books on the topic followed and they also caught my interest, but I wasn’t willing to give up grains and dairy at that time.  My wife and I had tried many different ways of eating, which included vegetarian, vegan, raw foods, and allergen free.  Even though these are touted as healthy diets, I never truly felt healthy. 

    During the time we followed the vegetarian, vegan and raw food diets, I was sick quite often.  I had people tell me that I was just going through the cleansing process caused by the poor nutrition intake from my past which included a lot of processed foods.  If these diets were so healthy then why was I getting sick so much?  I just didn’t buy the cleansing theory and decided to add animal protein back into my diet.  I immediately noticed a difference in the form of increased energy and better immunity.
Things became a little more complicated when my daughter was born because she suffered from several food allergies which included wheat, dairy and soy.  We switched to an allergen free diet and had to make sure everything we ate was gluten, soy, and dairy free.  A lot of the gluten free products are highly processed and loaded with lot’s of unhealthy ingredients.  Around this time, two more paleo diet books came out, the Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf and Everday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso.  Due to my daughters allergies and our interest in this way of eating, we finally decided to make the switch.
    Our meals are centered around animal protein, vegetables, and healthy fats.  We also eat a modest amount of fruits and nuts.  I have dairy from time to time, but a true Paleo diet doesn’t include it.  It’s interesting, because two other books I have read this year, Wheat Belly and Why We Get Fat, also point people in the direction of a Paleo type diet.  I have been happy with the results so far!  My energy has been more solid and my immune system has been stronger.  I recently had blood work done which I was able to compare to a blood test that I had done just before I started eating Paleo.  I thought it would be interesting to share the results. My cholesterol has increased from 112 to 158, still in a healthy range but the good part is that my HDL rose 15 points.  HDL cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol and they appear to act as scrubbers in our arteries and veins, bringing fats back to the liver for processing.  My HDL cholesterol has been low for most of my life and I could never get it to increase much even though I was always very active.  This was a breakthrough to get a jump in my HDL.   Some may look at that rise in overall cholesterol as a bad thing, but 112 was at the very bottom of the normal range and some research appears to say that while it’s not healthy to be too high, it’s also bad to be too low.  My triglycerides and LDL cholesterol have both risen slightly but they are well within healthy ranges.  Besides the improvement in my HDL number, I have felt significant improvement in my digestion which has been a problem in recent years.  I have gained about 10 pounds in weight without any significant increase in body fat.  I must admit though, some of the increase in muscle mass can be attributed to a decrease in my running mileage and an increase in strength training.  I plan on getting my blood work checked in a few months to see where the numbers are going.  My wife has yet to have blood work done to see where she is at and it will be interesting to find out.  For now, I am liking the results of this eating experiment and I am going to continue with this lifestyle.

Michael Sotos