There’s nothing like spending a rainy Sunday afternoon sitting on the couch and watching the NFL. The only thing that might make it better would be a big plate of chicken wings. That’s how I spent this past Sunday. I had been in the mood for chicken wings for the last four weeks and last Sunday seemed like a good day to treat myself. I haven’t had wings for a few months and I was really looking forward to them. Unfortunately, these tasty morsels made my stomach upset and gave me gut rot like I haven’t had for a long time.
I noticed that this wasn’t the first time this has happened to me. Whenever I eat poorly now, I tend to feel bad and have an upset stomach, but when I follow Paleo Diet principles I always feel good. After doing some research in Mark Kane’s book Boosting Your Digestive Health, I read about what foods to avoid to improve digestion. Kane states people need to avoid fat and cholesterol, salt, sugar, carbonated drinks, alcohol and tobacco for optimal digestive health.
Sound familiar? Paleo Diet principles preach the same food avoidance. Fat and cholesterol are avoided because Paleo followers only eat protein from lean animal sources and when cooking oil is used, only oils rich in high density lipo-proteins such as olive oil is used. You certainly don’t eat processed sugar in the Paleo Diet, and carbonated drinks weren’t around in the Palaeolithic era. Alcohol too didn’t exist during the Palaeolithic. Alcohol production developed as a result of agriculture.
In his 2007 New York Times article Unhappy Meals, Michael Pollan discusses the elephant in the room that is preventing people from feeling better and having healthy digestion; the typical Western diet. He describes the Western diet as high fatty meat consumption, high consumption of salt, sugar and processed foods and low consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The typical Western diet is essentially what Kane too said we need to avoid for optimal digestion. Maybe it’s just me but I’m starting to see a trend here.
So how does the Paleo Diet improve digestion? By following Paleo Diet principles, you avoid eating a typical Western diet and the effects that come with them. You eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and you avoid fatty meats. Sugar and salt is greatly reduced simply by eliminating processed foods. When you only eat fresh food, your body notices. Your digestion improves, you process more nutrients from your food and you begin to have an overall greater sense of wellbeing. I just wish I would have remembered my own lesson before I ate those chicken wings!