Sorry that it has been a couple of weeks since I have posted anything, but it is summer and I took some time off to go fishing with my son. Taking time to “play,” or recreate, is important to your overall health. Since I have a hard-driving work ethic, that’s not easy for me, but I am getting better at it.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I had to go on blood pressure medicine about six months ago. It has done wonders for my blood pressure, but unfortunately, I am experiencing a dry cough as a side-effect. My doctor warned me that could happen. Not everyone experiences that side-effect; I am one of the lucky ones. It has been annoying and embarrassing because it seems to flame up at the worst times, like when I am in a meeting or on the phone. My doctor offered to try a different medication, but I have decided I am going to try to get off of the medicine altogether, if possible, through adjusting my diet. I have his support as long as I monitor my BP daily since high blood pressure runs in my family.
I love experimenting with things, so last week I did a tremendous amount of research to find the optimal diet for blood pressure control. I already eat healthy. I follow recommended dietary guidelines and have coached many others to do the same. I control my weight. So what changes could I make that would have an impact?
My research led me to what is considered a Paleo or Primal diet, so the experiment begins. It is all about getting back-to-the-basics and eating primarily “real” food like our ancestors did. Just so you are clear, real food is food that has only one ingredient. The processed foods we eat do not qualify as real food. Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, beef, chicken, fish, etc. This is real food.
One of the most notable advocates for a Primal diet and lifestyle is Mark Sisson. (Click here to learn more about Mark.) He encourages us to, “Focus on quality sources of protein (all forms of meat, fowl, fish), lots of colorful vegetables, some select fruits (mostly berries), and healthy fats (nuts, avocados, olive oil). Observe portion control (calorie distribution) week to week more than meal to meal. Eliminate grains, sugars, trans- and hydrogenated fats from your diet.” Definitely real, one-ingredient food. It sounds easy enough.
There are three main differences between the Primal diet and other diets that are considered healthy. The first is the emphasis on getting your protein from meat. Many other diets today recommend a plant slant and include little meat. The second is eliminating grains, even whole grains. This will be an entire post of its own soon. The third is the amount of fat you can and should eat. You learn that fat can be healthy and doesn’t make you fat.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but let me give you a refresher on macronutrients. As you eat, you are putting raw material into your body. This is what it needs to function. All foods fall into one, or more, of these three main macronutrient categories: carbohydrates, fats, or proteins.
Carbohydrates are found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and most processed foods. They break down into glucose in the bloodstream. Glucose, also known as blood sugar, provides energy to your cells. Your body must release insulin into your bloodstream to get the glucose from your bloodstream into your cells. It is important to note that the minute insulin spikes, fat storage begins. Taking in too many carbohydrates means too much fat storage. This is a problem with many people today.
Fat is the most misunderstood macronutrient. The fat in your diet does not make you produce body fat. It provides a secondary energy source, protects your cells, helps your brain function, and alerts your body when you are full. There are good fats and bad fats. The good fats come from avocados, some nuts, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and natural meats including beef, chicken, pork, fish, and dairy.
Proteins are essential to your diet because they are the building blocks of muscle. Protein is a priority. Proteins should be lean, low in fat and free of the toxins that plague so many of our modern foods.
So the bottom line of a Paleo or Primal diet is:
Eat real food;
Avoid sugar, grains, unhealthy fats, beans/legumes; and
Align your carb intake with your weight goals and activity levels.
Here are some guidelines:
Carbohydrates – 50-100 grams/day or less for accelerated weight loss. 100-150 grams/day for effortless weight maintenance. (Heavy exercisers may increase carb intake if needed.)
Fats – Enjoy freely but sensibly for balance of caloric needs and dietary satisfaction levels.
Protein – Average .7 – 1 gram per pound of lean body mass per day.
So this is what I have found to be the best diet for lowering your blood pressure, losing weight, maintaining a healthy weight, and for many other health benefits. The big challenge for me will be limiting the carbs because I like bread among other things. However, I’m going to give it a try and monitor my blood pressure closely as requested by my physician.
That was a lot of information shared very quickly. I’ll expand on it in the weeks to come and report on my progress. Cheers. Live healthy!! ?