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GAPS Healthy Fats Real Food

Why a High-Protein Diet Won’t Make You Healthier

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Due to the insistence of conventional health communities that fats and cholesterol should be avoided, high-protein diets have been all the rage for a number of years.

The Atkins Diet was popular for many years and received much press and attention since it came out in the late 1950s. Many people claimed to lose a lot of weight on this diet. Depending on who you asked, this diet was heralded by some as a low-fat diet, high-protein diet and by others as a high fat diet.

This quote by Dr. Atkins himself describes the diet:

“Those of you who read my first book, Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, know what diet to follow — there was only one. Millions of dieters simply called it the Atkins Diet. It was a very low carbohydrate reducing diet (not a high-fat diet, as many of my nonreading critics asserted).”

The South Beach Diet came out during the 2000s and it affected more dieters than just about any diet during that decade. The major flaw with most of these types of diets was they didn’t emphasize something of great importance: healthy fats – which are so critical for health. As a result, many people who followed the Atkins Diet gained the weight back after losing it.

It may seem counter-intuitive that eating fat and cholesterol can be good for health, but this myth about fat and cholesterol being bad for us has no grounded science behind it.

You can see clear evidence of bad science being used everywhere. A good example is the USDA Dietary Guideline recommendations such as MyPlate, featuring a diagram of 5 food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. But fat is nowhere to be found.

And yet, fat is one of the most critical foods we could eat for health since it’s one of our best sources of Vitamins A, D, E, and K2 – essential fat soluble vitamins, Omega 3s, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and other important nutrients like folate, B12, iron, and zinc.

Fat and cholesterol are essential for a wide range of bodily functions:

  • Necessary for the production of hormones in the body.
  • Brain and nervous system function (a majority of our brains are composed of fat)
  • The foundation of cell integrity
  • Digestion and normalization of blood sugar levels
  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Protecting internal organs from damage
  • Providing energy
  • Maintaining proper weight and metabolism levels

Dr. Weston A. Price learned in his world travels by visiting 14 various countries that all healthy populations who were free of disease consumed much more of these nutrients from animal foods – sometimes up to TEN times the amount we currently consume in our modern culture.

Truth be told, avoiding fat and cholesterol is disastrous for health.  A number of medical doctors are now admitting this openly to the public.

When you stop and think about our modern health guidelines which recommend avoiding fat – have these really helped our population become healthier or lose weight? Not at all. According to recent reports, in fact, we are continuing to get fatter and sicker with each passing year.

What’s wrong with lean meats?

Lean meats are very hard-to-digest. Since they lack fat-soluble vitamins such as A and D, they end up becoming putrified in our digestive systems and cause chronic pathogenic bacteria in our guts which spreads to all parts of our bodies. This leads to many other health issues including weight problems, auto-immune disease, food allergies, bone and joint issues, and others.

Even a lot of grassfed meats tend to be short on fat.  If you are coming off a low-fat diet you will probably need some help getting your digestion back in order to be able to handle fats. Starting out slowly with well-cooked meats, poultry, fish, and other animal fats in broths and soups, with vegetables and plenty of healthy fats like butter or ghee, lard, or tallow. These are very healing and can help you to be able to to properly digest your food.

So eat your meats with plenty of fat:

  • olive oil
  • butter
  • ghee
  • coconut oil
  • fat drippings from lard (pork fat), schmaltz (chicken fat) or tallow (beef fat or suet)

and also with gelatin-rich broths or cooked in broth made from the bones of animals and birds on pasture.

The GAPS protocol by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride may be a good healing and detox if you have digestive issues and want to heal so you can properly digest foods again. You may also need digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid. The best brand of enzymes I’ve found is Enzyme Formulations, and you need a practitioner to obtain them. Houston Enzymes are also a quality product that I’ve heard many good things about from clients and others. They have customer support to help you determine which are right for you.

What’s wrong with protein powders?

Protein powders are a popular food product that many people buy because they don’t have time to prepare something real. Slick marketing and labeling has convinced consumers these are healthy products to consume. But, these powders are processed through high heat temperatures which denatures the protein. Processing actually turns those substances into something harmful – a free-glutamate (think MSG).

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Plus, protein powders almost always contain a bunch of synthetic nutrients, stabilizers, preservatives, and other things you can’t even pronounce or comprehend what they are. Even the supposedly high-quality whey protein powders that are healthy, containing organic grassfed whey from healthy cows, like this one – Whole Whey Natural from Metaorganics

  • Whey protein concentrate from grassfed cows’ raw milk (pesticide free, no added hormones)
  • Fibersol (what?)
  • Arabinogalactin extract (what?)
  • Nonfat milk powder (no thanks, I’ll take real full fats that aren’t oxidized)
  • Lecithin (soy, no thanks)
  • Medium chain triglycerides (which you can get from real coconut oil)
  • Natural flavors (MSG)
  • Guar gum (MSG)
  • Lohan (what the heck is that?)

Okay, whole whey protein from grass fed cows’ milk, that’s the only thing I’d even consider consuming on this list.    But I could get that from having a smoothie with yogurt and kefir in it, or drinking a glass of milk, or eating some cheese.

Even if you knew what the other ingredients were, do you need to be consuming them? Probably not. So everything else? I’d avoid like the plague and just eat real food.

This product is a great example of how just because something is labeled organic or even grassfed, does not make it healthy to consume.

But aren’t plant protein powders better?

There are other protein powder products not sourced from animals using proteins from plants, grains, and seeds. No matter how the labels might describe them as being low-temperature processed or non-denatured, these products are still as unnatural as can be, and we should not rely on grains or plants in those amounts as a good source of protein. Our ancestors never did this. Again, there is no fat present in these products as the proteins are isolated and compounded many times above what would occur in nature.

Vegetables, grains, seeds, and legumes contain phytic acid – an anti-nutrient that can leach minerals from the stores in your body – usually the bones. To neutralize these components, sprouting/soaking, fermentation, cooking, and serving with healthy fats is required. When those techniques are applied, your body can use the nutrients in those foods. But eating in raw form, or in the case of grains simply cooked, or highly processed and compounded many times as protein powders is not a smart way to consume these foods.

You’re better off eating a nice pile of chopped up broccoli and carrots, cooked in a pan with butter, salt, garlic, and some seasoning than you are to consume plant protein powders. You’ll absorb the nutrients in the plants better since you’ll be eating it with a wonderful, healthy fat with fat-soluble vitamins (A&D), and it will actually taste good.

Protein and fat work together

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with protein – provided it’s a natural source of protein and it’s also accompanied by some type of natural fat such as in meats or animal products. Even some other foods such as grains, vegetables, legumes, and nuts contain a small amount of protein (although not much except for in the case of nuts). But the point is, those foods with small amounts of protein don’t have much naturally-occurring fat.

That’s why it’s important to traditionally prepare grains, seeds, legumes, and vegetables – either through fermentation or soaking/sprouting and/or cooking to neutralize phytic acid, and eat with healthy animal fats. Those fat-soluble nutrients help us to absorb the nutrients in those foods.

The lack of fat in high-protein foods like industrially-produced lean meats and processed foods like protein powders is a problem because they lack vital, fat-soluble nutrients. In this case, Vitamin A.  The body stores Vitamin A in the liver. If you keep eating high-protein foods with no fat, you will soon deplete Vitamin A stores in the body.  This leads to many chronic issues including:

  • bone issues and osteoporosis from loss of calcium
  • Heart or kidney disease
  • Thyroid and hormonal imbalances
  • Auto-immune disease such as fibroymyalgia (chronic fatigue) or more serious issues including diabetes

All of these issues sum up much of what is wrong with our population’s modern health profile – some of the most common diseases people have, and they are on the increase. As a coincidence, many people avoid fat, count calories, and cling to nutrient-deficient diets.  Quite an interesting connection, isn’t it?

What’s wrong with modern diets?

The Standard American Diet is sorely depleted of nutrient-dense foods. Besides chemicals and toxins in our diets from processed foods that make up so much of what we eat, three ingredients that have remained a constant in our everyday eating habits are white flour, sugar, and vegetable oils.

Dr. Weston A. Price discovered that fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2 were present in the diets of healthy populations he studied all over the world. Modern diets are lacking in these nutrients, including Vitamin A, a nutrient we can get from foods such as cod liver oil, liver, butter, cream, fish, and fish eggs.

We have an abundance of lean protein foods in our diets because conventional medical information tells us to eliminate fat and cholesterol. Lean meats are NOT natural in any sense of the word, and the majority of them are produced on CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) where animals do not receive a natural diet nor live in a natural environment. This makes the meat and fat content of these foods off-balance and not healthy for our bodies. For example, due to the way they are produced, CAFO meats are too high in Omega 6s, and the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3s is about 15:1 or wider. Grassfed meats are the correct balance at approximately 3:1.

For thousands and thousands of years, healthy meat and poultry was eaten by people around the world with fat, skin, bones, and everything else that goes with animal foods. Those were not separated out, they were considered essential and necessary for maintaining good health.

Instead of processed foods or protein powders that have isolated, high amounts of denatured protein and lack other important co-factors and nutrients, eat healthy foods with saturated fats and real nutrients like egg yolks from pastured hens, raw yogurt, milk, or other dairy food, coconut oil, mashed up avocadoes to soups, broths, stews, and or smoothies. Eat fatty cuts of grassfed meats, pork, lamb, poultry and game meats with plenty of butter, olive oil, or other animal fat and with or cooked in bone broths. Cook your vegetables and braise your meats in butter, lard, tallow, or ghee. For desert, have a big bowl of home-made full-fat raw yogurt with fruit, nuts, and cinnamon.

Here’s a recipe for home-made whey on the Radiant Life site, which is an excellent natural source of real protein. You can also easily make a home-made protein powder such as the recipe featured in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

These foods are delicious and good for you, and will bring back flavor to the bland, boring processed foods you’ve been eating that aren’t healthy. Instead of high-protein and low-fat, make your meals high-protein and high fat too.

Want more information?

The importance of dietary fats

What’s the real scoop on red meat and higher mortality rates?

Which is better for your health – polyunsaturated or saturated fats?

Dr. Sinatra and others speaking out – cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease

Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

The Truth About Wheat and Grains – Are They Good for Your Health?

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Huge debates are raging in health and food communities, on blogs, books, medical and health journals, other publications, and on message boards about whether grains are healthy or unhealthy to consume. Nutritional experts devote seminars, e-courses, and workshops, to this controversial topic.

For years, our government (FDA and USDA) and many other health sources have recommended not only consumption of grains, but that we increase our intake of grains, vegetables and fruits, and avoid eating saturated fat and cholesterol (that’s another topic entirely). And yet in spite of this “healthy” low-fat diet that we are told to consume, our disease and obesity rates continue to rise.

So what’s the truth? Are grains are okay to consume or not?  Unfortunately, the answer is not a simple yes or no. In this post I’ll explain the reasons grains are harmful to consume, and the conditions under which you can more safely consume them.

Why grains make people sick

A lot of people talk about how their bodies are made irritated or diseased by grains. For many years, I was one of these people. I used to consume a lot of grains (wheat in particular), but didn’t understand the connection between just how much these substances caused many of my health issues. When I found out that wheat could be a problem, I eliminated it and immediately started experiencing better health. As time went on, I heard more stories about how others experienced the same issues.

From my research, I discovered that various issues in our food supply are causing these problems: farming methods, pesticides and other chemicals, GMOs, hybridization of grains, and industrial processing by food companies. When I realized I had issues with wheat, I tried substituting properly prepared gluten-free grains to see if I had any improvement. Sometimes I could eat these foods, and sometimes not.  My conclusion was that I largely needed to avoid gluten-containing AND gluten-free grains as well.

Then I heard that if I detoxed my digestive tract, I could eat grains again. Over the last 7 years, I’ve done various protocols such as a lengthy candida cleanse, detoxes such as liver/gallbladder cleanses, homeopathic detox, and healing strategies like GAPS (which I started in May of 2011 and am still doing) to heal my gut and allow my body able to normally digest food again. For the most part, I’ve avoided “offending” foods: wheat, corn and other grains, soy, refined sugar and carbohydrates. I only occasionally consume fermented soy, real sourdough bread, alcoholic beverages, caffeine, and starches like rice or potatoes.

I keep reading that once I finish GAPS, I’ll be able to consume grains again. Dr. McBride’s book Gut and Psychology Syndrome tells us that the healing period of GAPS can take anywhere from 1-3 years due to the extent of digestive and health damage most people have in their bodies. The reality is, because of our processed diets, most people in the world today living in developed countries have GAPS syndrome. It’s just a fact of modern life.

When you come off GAPS, it is not advised to eat the foods you ate once before since, doing so would inevitably put you back where we were before starting the protocol. This is where foods like whole, sprouted/soaked and fermented grains come in.

Grains, nuts, legumes, and other foods should be properly prepared and dairy should be raw. We should eat as many live foods with real enzymes and bacteria as possible including naturally cultured and fermented foods, and all foods should be unprocessed, just how our ancestors used to eat them.

Grains contain nutrients like B vitamins and magnesium – important nutrients many people in this country are deficient in due to the over-processing of foods, poor gut health, and also because grains are usually not properly prepared. Like most nutrients, they don’t work in isolation. Taking supplements doesn’t often work well, and to absorb Vitamin D we need magnesium AND calcium (these work together in synergy), and also members of the Vitamin B family. Magnesium and B Vitamins are both found in grains as well as other foods.

Will I eat grains again someday? That all depends on my body. For years I have done better on a low or no-grain diet. But I’ve also been told by my naturopath that if I heal my digestion with healthy foods, mineral supplements, and digestive enzymes, I can then eat clean grains from a non-GMO source that are properly prepared.

Another problem she mentioned is that if a person has weak adrenals and/or blood sugar issues (which I’ve had for years), eating a high-carb diet can cause a great deal of problems. And ironically enough, weak adrenals and blood sugar issues are caused by years of eating processed foods with no nutritional value – including processed grains that come from GMO sources.  So when I resolve these issues, I may be able to eat grains again, in moderation. I can tell you one thing…if I do, it won’t be the way I used to eat them.

Now I’d like to set the record straight about why grains have gotten such a bad reputation and have wreaked so much havoc on our health. Grains are not necessarily “the bad guys” across the board, but here are some significant reasons/conditions which make them harmful to consume.

5 reasons grains are unhealthy to consume:

  • People have never, in the history of the world consumed the volume of grains they do now. Up until recently, the FDA Food Pyramid recommended we eat 6-11 servings a day. Consuming that many grains daily led me to a variety of health problems: insulin-resistance, thyroid problems, irregular menstrual cycles, depression, and panic disorder.

I ate plenty of commercial breads, bagels, crackers, English Muffins, pancakes, pita bread, muffins, croissants, pasta, rice, and other similar foods.  Although I ate other things, most of the animal products were commercial, lean, or low-fat, and my vegetable intake wasn’t very high.

The Food Pyramid has now become My Plate, but the emphasis continues to be eating more vegetables, fruits, and grains. My Plate entirely omits fats as a category, and uses the term “protein” which can include a variety of unhealthy, processed products which aren’t real, nourishing proteins; two grave nutritional mistakes. The foods recommended to us by the FDA and USDA are not natural, healthy foods. They are commercially processed, full of toxins, pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, preservatives, fillers, MSG, and other undesirable substances, not soaked, sprouted, nor fermented, and largely devoid of nutrition, including grains.

If you follow these recommendations, roughly half of your diet amounts to grains. The result is blood sugar highs and lows, which will negatively impact your weight, energy levels, and cause auto-immune disorders like thyroid and/or low adrenal function.  It’s no wonder the markers of metabolic disorder are so common in our popluation: heart disease, diabetes, hypoglycemia, high blood pressure, obesity, and others are so common.

  • The way we process and consume grains is totally changed from how they were traditionally prepared and eaten.  It’s no secret that grains are a cheap, convenient food source.  However, since the Industrial Revolution, food companies and merchants have found ways to mass produce grain products, using the cheapest ingredients and most convenient processing. Grains are ground, extruded (subjected to high temperatures and pushed through holes in machinery which molds the grains into shape, rendering the nutrients in grains damaged and altered), and otherwise highly processed to make most foods found on the consumer market.

Many people don’t realize that throughout time, people have prepared grains properly by soaking, sprouting, and fermenting them to neutralize naturally-occurring phytic acid. Phytic acid is a nutrient inhibitor and not only prevents uptake of minerals zinc, magnesium, calcium, and others in the body, but also leeches many of these same elements from the stores your body keeps.

  • Due to hybridization or selective-trait breeding in wheat, there is nearly 75 percent more gluten in wheat today than in the historical past. Although gluten is desirable because of its elasticity for baking, it is also highly indigestible and is responsible for contributing to many health issues in humans including food allergies, celiac, IBS, Crohn’s Disease, diverticulitis and colitis, among others.

Like other foods, wheat has been engineered to increase crop yields, “improve” wheat quality, require less pesticides and herbicides (with other issues cropping up such as the creation of pathogenic bacteria in the soil which encourages the growth of disease and pesticide resistant super-weed).  The result has contributed to many health and environmental issues. Last week I talked to a naturopathic doctor who said she didn’t think it was the fact that people were eating grains, she thinks it’s due to the fact that many of these grains are from GMOs (genetically modified substances).  Even though GMO wheat has not been approved by the USDA in the U.S., Monsanto and other seed companies have test plots in various locations. Contamination is eminent, and if you eat wheat, you are likely consuming GMOs.

  • Over-consumption of grains and gluten in particular, due to the reasons I described above, has caused many people to have compromised digestive tracts.  A person with a sick digestive tract cannot properly digest grains – even properly prepared ones that are soaked and sprouted, and/or fermented – or any other food for that matter. People with compromised digestion often experience a variety of symptoms such as:  gas, bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, or chronic problems like IBS, Crohn’s Disease, colitis, food allergies, asthma, eczema, physiological disorders, auto-immune problems, and more. The intestinal tract becomes permeable and undigested foods pass through, entering the blood stream causing distress on the whole body.
  • If you have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease, it is now possible to buy the same things you once ate in just about every gluten-free variety you can imagine on the consumer market. It’s a big mistake to trade your gluten-consuming habits of 3-4 times a day into gluten-free consuming habits of the same frequency. Most of those products are just as highly processed and cause the same type of gut damage, nutrient loss in the body, weight problems, metabolic syndrome, and auto-immune disorders. Read here about the big gluten-free lie.

So, if:

  • Grains were still traditionally prepared with soaking/sprouting and/or fermentation
  • We weren’t consuming them in their processed forms in such large quantities and with such frequency
  • People’s digestive tracts were healthy and functional
  • Grains were not altered or hybridized away from how they appeared in nature in their heirloom states, and we NOT contaminated by GMO test plot sites
  • Gluten-free foods were not consumed at such alarming rates
grains would be healthier to consume.

Since most of the time, most of these things are not true, most people who consume grains are causing damage to their health.  However, due to changes in our soil, water, air, farming methods, chemicals, pollution, and other factors, it’s also true that no foods we eat today are the same as what our ancestors ate. Therefore, consuming any food should be done with careful consideration about its source, how it is grown or raised, how processed it is, and whether it is sustainable or not.

So, does that mean you shouldn’t consume grains, and that if you do, your health will suffer?

Currently, a large number of the population don’t pay attention to where their food comes from, aren’t properly preparing grains before eating, eat grains more than is advisable for good health, and don’t have healthy digestive tracts. If you follow a mindful approach to consuming grains, as I’ve discussed above, you could maintain your health and possibly even benefit from nutrients in the grains you eat. Since consuming grains in any other way besides what I’ve mentioned here is not advisable for health, my conclusion is that grains:

  • Should be eaten in moderation
  • Should be properly prepared when consumed
  • Should come from an organic or truly sustainable source
  • Should be freshly ground and little processed as possible, and
  • Should be consumed by someone who has a healthy digestive tract to enable the best digestion and absorption of any nutrients in properly prepared grains, and also minimal damage done to the body

Ultimately, you have to decide whether you need a grain-free diet, a low-grain diet, or your body does fine with grains. But, if you are having health issues, whether you think they are connected to grains or not, it’s very important to at least consider whether you are affected by any of the factors discussed here.

More information on grains:

Go grain-free and still eat delicious, healthy meals


The big gluten-free lie