Today I help a reader understand some common misconceptions about carbohydrates and how you can get all the fiber you need when eating Paleo, by answering the following question…
Q. Hi Cynthia, I have just changed my diet to nearly that of the Caveman diet you speak of, but inadvertently, as I did not know this was a known way of eating. I, like you, just ‘felt’ this was better for me and devised it myself. My question is what about carbs? We are told we need carbs for certain bodily functions and at the moment I only eat whole grain carbs at breakfast and lunch and none after that. Do you eat something that replaces this food group? Thank you, Tanya
A. Hi Tanya,
Well, the first and most important fact to become aware of is that carbohydrates are not needed for any body functions. Carbohydrates are not an essential component of the human diet at all. Yes, I know you are told otherwise everywhere you turn, but this lie is promoted by the food industry and a lack of understanding about our true biochemistry within the medical community. When we look at the science-based facts in regard to the biochemistry of the human body and mind, we learn that the only macro-nutrients that are essential for human beings are protein and fat.
The human body should run on protein and fat, not carbohydrates. It is true that we need glucose to survive; however, the body and brain will acquire all the glucose it needs through gluconeogenesis, which is the conversion of protein and fat into glucose. On the Paleo diet, we eat low-starch vegetables and low-sugar fruit for their antioxidants and their rich vitamin and mineral content, not really their carbohydrate content.
If you feed the body carbohydrates, then it will stop running on protein and fat and switch over to carbohydrates, and it will then become dependent on carbohydrates to function, because its fat burning abilities become downregulated, but that is not the way we are designed and it results in degradation of mental and physical health.
Many of the psychiatric and medical health conditions we see in society today like, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, depression, anxiety, addiction, violent behavior, eating disorders, acidosis, yeast overgrowth, adrenal fatigue, low blood sugar, hyperinsulinism, chronic fatigue, and much more are the direct result of eating carbohydrates and avoiding animal protein and fat.
One becomes deceived into thinking they need carbohydrates after they are consumed for a period of time, because they are addictive by nature and then one can’t function without them; but if they remove carbohydrates and keep them out, then the body will return to its normal and preferred fat burning mode within a few weeks and the need for carbohydrates will diminish.
You should read the following pages on food addiction, vegetarianism and whole grains, even if that doesn’t apply to you, because it goes into more detail about the how’s and why’s of carbohydrates.
Again, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t fiber that is the most important issue in regard to gastrointestinal health and elimination, it is the bacteria in your large intestine. Bacteria in your bowel is what increases bulk, regulates water content and softens stool so that elimination will happen with ease.
In other words, it is not the lack of fiber or roughage that causes constipation and other GI conditions; it is the lack of healthy bacteria and/or the presence of unfriendly organisms in the intestines. Adequate water intake and regular exercise are important for elimination as well and so is fat intake. (not artificial trans fats or vegetable oils)
Yes, it is true, fiber from whole grains can help you have a bowel movement, because it moves your stool more quickly through the digestive tract, but this is an artificial means of achieving the goal, and wouldn’t be necessary if the bacteria levels are healthy. Soluble fiber in vegetables and fruit will feed the healthy bacteria in the gut.
Ironically, the consumption of whole grains, and too much fiber from any source, will actually make the bad bacteria and other bugs in your bowel proliferate, and thus will perpetuate the very problem it is supposed to help in the long run.
It isn’t fiber that is needed the most to lower your cholesterol, prevent cancer or type 2 diabetes either. It is the avoidance of sugar and carbohydrates that will lower your cholesterol, decrease risk of cancer and prevent type 2 diabetes. And you really don’t want your cholesterol to be too low anyhow, because cholesterol is needed for many vital functions like producing all your steroid hormones.
Having said all that, it doesn’t mean that fiber has no role in health or that you don’t want any fiber in your diet, but you can get all the fiber you need in your low-starch vegetables, (all leafy greens, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, etc.) nuts, seeds, and low-sugar fruit (pears, berries, apples, peaches). Most of your fiber content should come from your low-starch vegetables and make sure you’re consuming adequate fat, from animal meats, egg yolks, nuts, avocados, olives, coconuts, palm, lard and fish. If you are not dairy intolerant, then butter or ghee are also good sources of fat, although they are not truly Paleo.
On a sidenote, if you are still eating whole grains twice a day, then you are not on a caveman diet. The caveman diet does not contain any grains. Two servings of whole grains a day amounts to a lot of antinutrients and sugar, since all carbohydrates are broken down into sugar. An occasional cheat on a grain is not too detrimental, but daily consumption will lead to things like insulin resistance, carb and sugar cravings, type 2 diabetes, weight gain and obesity, autoimmune disorders, leaky gut, irritable bowel, addiction, depression, anxiety, heart disease, eating disorders and much more.
Whole grains = Sugar
Sugar = Degradation of physical and emotional health
You should take a look at the following page to see what you should be eating for breakfast.
So to answer your question, what do I eat to replace that food group – fiber when eating Paleo?
I eat lots of animal protein, fat and low-starch vegetables.