Which health diet is better – paleo, or raw food vegan?
Both are lifestyle diets that offer positive benefits and both are inspired by the diets of our ancestors.
The paleo diet harks back to humans’ early years as hunter-gatherers – when meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts were common fare.
The raw food vegan diet harks back to humans’ agricultural era, when we also began to create strains of vegetables and grains that were more edible than what had been found in the wild.
Of course, pre-agriculture humans still ate plants, but agriculture made more plant food choices possible; ancient wild broccoli, for instance, was much different – and less edible – than the broccoli we eat today.
The raw food vegan is more closely related to the paleo diet than you might think at first glance.
What these two diets have in common is that they’re both not eating the same things.
Though paleo allows for meat and cooking – and raw food vegan does not – both diets avoid processed foods, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil.
In other words, the primary reason people get positive results from these eating regimens is that they both avoid the worst foods from the standard modern diet.
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Which Diet is Best for My Body?
All disease is – essentially – created by inflammation in the body.
This means that, in order to remain healthy, the best diet for your body is the one that most effectively reduces inflammation.
In truth, no one can tell us what the absolute perfect diet is, as it largely depends on our unique body chemistry:
- some people have higher cholesterol, some lower
- some people have higher blood pressure, some lower
- some people have sensitivity to grains, others thrive on grains
- some people have sensitivity to meat, others thrive on meat
- many people are trying to lose weight, but some people are trying to gain weight
It’s up to each person to determine what type of daily food regimen will help them to reduce inflammation, to thrive and enjoy perfect health.
Nutritional expert David Rainoshek asserts that each of us is on a nutritional journey and at various times in our lives we find ourselves in different places on the diet spectrum.
There’s a full spectrum of cuisine available to the modern Westerner.
In fact, there are more food choices available to us now than there have ever been before.
While it’s nice to have variety, so many food choices can also add to the confusion.
…wherever we happen to be on the diet-spectrum is fine, as long as we understand that we’re on a journey and that we keep moving toward increased health and vibrancy”
Rainoshek explains that traveling bravely along a diet-spectrum is, in fact, a journey of today’s hero.
Each of us is called upon to find creative ways to improve our health and find the particular diet that is best for our bodies – and many people are enjoying positive results from following an anti-inflammatory style of eating.
Currently, some nutritional experts are taking the best aspects and intentions of the raw food vegan and paleo diets, then upgrading and combining them.
Why Do I Eat So Much of the Wrong Foods? (The 3 Reasons We Overeat)
There are many reasons that we eat so many of the wrong foods today. Here are three of the primary ones.
1. We Choose Foods that are Addictive
Processed foods (and many drinks) within the standard modern diet are addictive.
Sugar, salt, flavorings, trans-fats – since childhood, our taste palates have been trained to enjoy textures and flavors that are mostly unnatural (meaning, they don’t occur in those particular concentrations in the natural real world).
Most snack foods are high in simple carbohydrates which are extremely addictive. Their energy is not sustaining, therefore you have to keep getting a “fix” to enjoy the buzz.
Fortunately, there are also delicious menu items containing complex carbohydrates that will sustain your energy without creating as many blood sugar spikes.raw food vegan and paleo – 2 lifestyle diets more closely related than previously thoughtClick To Tweet
2. We Choose Foods that Help Us to Fall Asleep
When at last you stop eating snacky foods, you’re left with a warm, sleepy feeling that, at night, can help you to fall asleep.
However, though these foods may help you to fall asleep, they don’t help you have a full night of quality sleep, because your body has to spend its valuable sleep time trying to digest the muck and create fat cells for storage – when it could be concentrating instead on healing and cell repair.
Fortunately, there are also foods that help us to sleep better and are good for our bodies.
3. We Choose Foods that Make Us Tune Out
Often what we’re really doing is using sweet snacks to medicate our daily feelings of low-level anxiety. Many sugary foods make our brains stop thinking so much as we’re knocked into a sort of relaxed stupor.
Fortunately, we have other food choices for managing daily anxiety that are much healthier. Freshly made green smoothies can help us to stay lean and strong. They raise our energy, relax our central nervous system, and satisfy our tastebuds with a pleasing taste and texture.
“How Can I Eat Better?”
Currently, two of the most popular health diets are Paleo and Raw Food Vegan.
Interestingly, the primary objective of these diets is not weight loss, but rather, improved health and longevity.
I know many people following each diet, and I can see that they each have advantages.
Raw food vegan is not only good for the person following the diet – it emphasizes organic, living foods – but it’s good for the planet, too.
On the other hand, Paleo is great in its simplicity, and athletes in particular seem to do very well on it.
I’ve been following a diet that is a combination of the two. I lost almost 20 pounds of body fat on it.
My Paleo-Influenced Eating Regimen
I generally have green smoothies (the ingredients of which are entirely raw and vegan) and giant “super salads.” As needed, I also have small portions of free range turkey and organic chicken.
On weeks when my workouts are extra intense, I might also have small portions of grass-fed bison.
I also eat a higher-than-average amount of healthy fats – including coconut butter, MCT oil, olive oil, macadamia nuts, and avocados.
TIP #1: I have found, personally, that if I’m going to eat less carbs, I must therefore increase my intake of healthy fats. Otherwise, things get very bleak.
TIP #2: If you decrease carbs and increase fats, your body might (depending on your age and genetics) need a little time to become keto-adapted (skilled at getting energy calories from fat ketones instead of glucose). Also, if you’ve been eating low-fat for decades, your body may have temporarily lost some of its ability to produce the correct digestive enzymes in the correct amounts for higher fat. Ask your doctor, naturopath and/or nutritionist for suggestions.
In some ways, the Paleo and Raw Food Vegan regimens are extremely similar, in that they both avoid cooked grains and both diets are anti-inflammatory when compared to the standard modern diet.
But in other ways, they are vastly different – namely, in that one allows for meat and the other doesn’t.
Meanwhile, Rainoshek puts the daily intention to eat better into a broader cultural context: that each of us in on the hero’s journey, and that wherever we happen to be on the diet-spectrum is fine, as long as we understand that we’re on a journey and that we keep moving toward improved health and vibrancy.
The truth is, no one really eats exactly like our most primitive ancestors, who in all likelihood subsisted on insects and grasses.
The reality we are faced with today, is that many modern foods are irritants to the human body.
The positive microorganisms that live within our body – and evolved with us over tens of thousands of years in a mutually beneficial relationship – have only recently been exposed to industrialized foods and synthetic ingredients and have not yet had a chance to adapt.
Irritating foods can contribute to intestinal permeability (see sources below) – a common condition that many believe begins an eventual downward spiral of health challenges.
The good new is that removing irritants from your daily diet – even for just four months – can go a long way toward healing a leaky gut. Ask your medical doctor, nutritionist and/or naturopath what particular diet might serve you uniquely best.
You may find that after four months of eating cleanly, your addictive urges have lessened significantly and you feel so fantastic that you no longer want to return to your previous eating habits. That’s actually quite common for people who adopt an anti-inflammatory protocol.
40 Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients to Stock in Your Paleo Kitchen
One of the tricks to keeping a healthy paleo kitchen is to stock it ahead of time with anti-inflammatory ingredients. That way, you’re always poised to make a quick and delicious meal – and you’ll be less tempted to snack on cheat foods.
When used impulsively, foods can erode your health and appearance.
The good news is that – used strategically – foods can restore your health and appearance.
My daily paleo diet is inspired by medical doctor and lecturer Terry Wahls, whose anti-inflammatory, autoimmune protocol (AIP) is designed to restore cellular function and reverse negative health symptoms within the human body.
Actually, all of the ingredients stocked in my refrigerator – with the exception of farm eggs, free range turkey, grass-fed bison, and ghee – work beautifully in a raw food vegan diet as well.
To help myself adhere to the protocol, I try to meal-plan out the week ahead (and, especially, the following day) as carefully as I can. I keep my kitchen stocked with these 40 anti-inflammatory ingredients:
- organic leafy green vegetables (kale, chard, spinach, parsley, cilantro, lettuces)
- other vegetables (broccoli, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, carrots, avocado, organic tomatoes, organic yellow bell pepper)
- cultured coconut milk (unsweetened non-dairy yogurt)
- full-fat coconut milk (unsweetened)
- kombucha tea
- free-range turkey and pastured chicken eggs
- oils (MCT, cold-pressed olive, cold-pressed avocado)
- free-range bison
- other teas (ginger, nettle leaf, green)
- organic lemons, limes, and berries
- almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, chia, flax
- organic clarified butter
- sweet potato
- spices: sea salt and Himalayan pink rock salt, turmeric
- blue green algae
By the way, some people are more sensitive to lectins in foods than others. Those sensitive to lectins might do well do lessen (or avoid) their daily amounts of nightshades – such as tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant.
Inside our refrigerator at the moment (pictured) are ghee (clarified butter), grapeseed oil Vegenaise, raw brazil nuts (for food-sourced selenium), and chia seeds.
The idea behind healthy fats is to nourish the skin, prevent unnecessary blood-sugar spikes, and to provide the body with an energy source other than glucose. Healthy dietary fats have not been proven to feed cancer cells (carbohydrates and excess protein, on the other hand, have been proven to feed cancer cells.)
The second shelf shows organic salad greens, homemade kombucha tea, raw pecans, and a large bottle of swiss water decaffeinated coffee with full-fat coconut milk (for when I run errands tomorrow) and a bottle of homemade thirst quencher with electrolytes and trace minerals (to hydrate during tomorrow’s workout).
The third shelf reveals puréed organic berries (to flavor the kombucha), ground flax seed meal, Daiya vegan cheese, vegan mushroom gravy (for adding to vegetable sautés), and unsweetened cultured coconut milk (non-dairy yogurt, which we buy by the case because we consume 16 ounces each morning).
In the back are packages of natural (cage-free/sugar-free/nitrate-free) sliced turkey breast – to which I add vegenaise for a mid-day snack.
Soaking in water in ramekins are chia seeds, brazil nuts, and pecans for tomorrow morning’s green smoothie. The idea with pre-soaking and rinsing is to remove some of the irritants from the nuts and seeds and to make them more digestible.
In storage containers are radishes for salads, and leftover bison-and-vegetables (bison tastes even better when it has aged a day or two in the refrigerator) for lunches.
In the back is puréed sweet potato, which I prepare myself then store in containers in order to get my starch-resistant fiber. I have small amounts of this throughout the week, especially on heavy workout days when the complex carbohydrates will be beneficial.
On the final shelf rests a pound of ground free-range turkey defrosting for tonight’s dinner.When used strategically, foods can help restore appearance.Click To Tweet
Within the bottom bins are fresh bunches of parsley and cilantro (for green smoothies), cucumbers, zucchini, organic yellow bell pepper and carrots (for raw salads), organic celery stalks, garlic cloves, organic apples, lemons and limes, and tomatoes.
In the pantry are boxes of ginger tea, nettle leaf tea, avocados, unsweetened hemp milk, Hawaiian Sun full-fat coconut milk (I mention the brand specifically, because it’s my favorite), jars of almond butter, bags of raw, sprouted “chips,” and boxes of No Cow plant protein bars (for emergencies).
Also, I confess I keep plenty of dark chocolate on hand for those “cheat” moments.
I do keep stocked jars of organic marinara and vegan mushroom gravy – which I use sparingly when preparing sautéd meat and vegetables.
My spice shelf include grinders of sea salt and Himalayan pink rock salt, turmeric, and blue green algae.An anti-inflammatory diet is more about what you DON'T eat.Click To Tweet
The freezer contains many bags of organic frozen vegetables – chard, kale, spinach, broccoli, and zucchini (all green smoothie ingredients) – and frozen organic chicken, turkey, and bison.
4 Daily Foods that Can Lift Your Health Up to the Next Level
What I try to consume each day is:
- 6 cups of vegetables (2 cups green, 2 cups sulfer, 2 cups color)
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 4 to 6 ounces of free range, organic meats
- 2 small glasses Kombucha (after lunch and after dinner)
Anti-Inflammatory Diet to Improve Cellular Function and Overall Health
The way I am eating is mostly anti-inflammatory, paleo, and strategic. I eat healthy fats intentionally and relatively few simple carbohydrates.
Since most disease is created by inflammation and glycation within the body, the idea with this style of eating is to minimize inflammation and restore health at the cellular level.
My goal is to be within trace ketosis much of the time (the zone in which my body effectively utilizes fat for energy instead of glucose).
If I find that I can’t get into (and remain within) the trace-ketosis zone for long periods, then I make adjustments – essentially, eating less carbs and more fat.
What I like about the Wahls Protocol is that it outlines three levels of anti-inflammatory eating.
I started at Level 1, then began flirting with Level 2, and one day hope to implement Level 3 – the most advanced nutritional protocol.
Basically, I eat a lot of freshly made green smoothies and salads.
What figures most importantly in the Wahls Protocol is what you don’t eat.
Essentially, I have gradually weaned myself off of caffeine, sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes. I do still eat nightshades (tomatoes and yellow bell pepper), fruits, nuts (soaked and sprouted, when possible), and seeds – but half the amount that I used to consume.
We do have “cheats,” such as Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise, Daiya vegan cheese (for the spouse), and dark chocolate.
I’m human and have not followed this anti-inflammatory program 100% perfectly (at least, not yet).
Even following it 70% accurately, I have experienced positive results (washboard abs at age 50) and feel better today than I did at age 30.
Just as the best way to prevent clutter is not to fill your home with too many possessions and junk in the first place, I have similarly found the best way to prevent poor eating is not to fill our kitchen with snacky foods typically found within the standard modern diet.
My reasoning is, that I can’t cheat as easily if the cheat foods aren’t nearby.
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“Published research on health benefits of paleo” http://paleoleap.com/published-research-health-benefits-of-paleo/
“Does paleo work? 5 studies say yes” https://authoritynutrition.com/5-studies-on-the-paleo-diet/
“Research study reveals impact of diet and lifestyle choices on quality of life, function, and fatigue levels for any autoimmune condition” http://terrywahls.com/research-update-full-edition/
“The Cornell-Oxford China Study: the importance of diets rich in whole plant foods for cancer prevention” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048091/
“Intestinal Permeability Research: increased intestinal permeability plays pathogenic role in various autoimmune diseases; loss of intestinal barrier function is necessary to develop autoimmunity” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2886850/
Research Reveals Which Macros Feed Cancer – https://youtu.be/5x8I-ruwdm8
Goodbye Wheelchair: Doctor Heals Herself through Nutrition – http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2014/12/06/episode-07-the-wahls-protocol-with-dr-terry-wahls/