Paleo or PaleNo? The Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet

Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet

The Paleolithic diet, commonly known as “paleo,” is the latest hot trend in nutrition. It’s not only a new way of eating, but a new type of lifestyle that turns our conventional notion of a healthy diet completely upside down.

The composition of the diet is spelled out in the name itself. Paleolithic diet: The diet of a caveman. “What is the diet of the caveman?” you ask. Think of what humans ate 2.5 million to 10 thousand years ago. Now, that’s wayyy back! That’s before the agricultural and industrial revolutions. Before these two major time periods, many types of food had not yet been developed or weren’t consumed. Legumes, grains, dairy, refined sugar, processed foods, potatoes, salt, and refined vegetable oils were nonexistent during the Paleolithic era.

According to Loren Cordain, founder of the paleo diet, the human body has evolved up to the point to best function under the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors. All subsequently added foods are toxic to the human body and are responsible for the high incidence of obesity and weight related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers.

Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet
Oh, the way we’ve come.

Scaling back our diets to exclude the aforementioned foods will purify our dietary intake to the “real” food that our bodies are meant to consume, thus making us healthier in every way imaginable. Cordain promises that following paleo will result in weight loss, increased energy, athletic performance, mental clarity, and libido, slowed or reversed progression of autoimmune diseases, and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Those are some hefty promises to fulfill. Does paleo measure up? Time to take a deeper look…

Since we’ve established what you can’t eat on paleo, what can you eat? Grass fed meats, seafood, fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables, eggs, nuts/ seeds (no peanuts since it’s a legume), and healthful oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, and coconut) are allowed. The diet’s nutrient breakdown is 39% fat, 38% protein, and 23% carbohydrate- Slightly exceeding the recommended daily allowance of fat/protein and half the minimum amount of carbohydrates recommended.

Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet
Paleolithic Food Pyramid

The proposed mechanism behind paleo’s weight loss benefit lies in its high protein and fiber content. Firstly, protein has a thermic effect on your body. It revs up your metabolism, therefore accelerating weight loss. Furthermore, fiber and protein satiate hunger the most. With that in mind, if your meals are concentrated in protein and fiber, then you will be able to get satiated (full) by eating less, resulting in weight loss. Carbohydrates are the least efficient at fulfilling hunger, and paleo’s low carbohydrate content saves you from wasting calories on carbs that won’t fill you up, thereby promoting weight loss.

Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet
“Mama always said carbohydrates are the devil”

Lastly, since paleo cuts out grains, processed food, and refined sugars, nutrient-free caloric bombs are made obsolete. Fast food, sugary sweets, and snack foods (chips, soda, etc) are no longer a part of your world. You won’t have to worry about succumbing to a late night pizza, cheeseburger, potato chip, candy, or ice cream craving as these foods are nowhere in your house. Besides, your increased satiety will make junk food irrelevant to you. When you reach for an edible vice, it’s mostly due to zapped energy or a nutritionally deficient meal eaten beforehand. When on paleo, with a tummy full of sustainable energy, you will run at all four cylinders and won’t look twice at that Twinkie. If you really want a sweet treat, you’ll have an apple with almond butter- sweet but nutritious and satiating.

Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet
Fred Flintstone, the OG of Paleo.
So Full of Energy, this Guy.

As for disease prevention, the low glycemic index of the carbohydrates in paleo (since they are all complex carbohydrates, not refined) slows the rise in blood sugar levels- which explains how it manages and prevents type 2 diabetes.

The high amount of fiber, omega-3’s, and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in paleo will boost the body’s concentration of HDL, improving heart health and reducing risk of heart disease.

Paleo promises to rejuvenate the soul as well as the body. Since it encourages people to cook at home instead of going with the ready made meals that are a staple of the American diet, it creates an outlet for creativity. Cordain states that this is a new activity that distracts one from less healthy activities such as television or even dangerous habits such as drugs or violence. Furthermore, preparing meals at home can also save money.

At this point, it seems like paleo is a G-d send. You will feel fantastic, have a ton of energy, look great, save money, learn how to cook, and lose weight. “Sign me up!” Hold your horses, my friends. Never sign up without reading the fine print.

true bite The Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet
Careful what you’re signing off on…

First off, there are problems in the name itself. It’s a pretty wide sweeping claim to state that this is the typical diet of all Paleolithic humans. How does Cordain know that? He has a PhD in exercise science, not archaeology. Even archaeologists are not 100% sure of what cavemen ate. It’s not like Trogmog the caveman instagrammed his meals. Some ancient shattered pottery, fossils, and bones can only tell us so much. Cordain’s lack of archaeological background is highlighted when considering that paleolithic human teeth have been found with remains of grains stuck in them. Wonder how they got there? Oh…because they were eaten! Now that we know grains were indeed consumed during the Paleolithic era, the concept of the paleo diet is rather shaken up.

true bite The Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet
Caveman Instagram

What were the exact proportions of meat to produce in the Paleolithic era diet? We’re not sure. It’s important to realize that there was not one solid Paleolithic diet. It varied by geography. Looking at the modern hunter gatherer groups, their diets are quite diverse. For example, the Inuit diet is 80% meat/ fish and 20% fruit/ vegetables while the !Kung diet is 50% seeds/ nuts, 20% fruit/ vegetables, and 10% meat/ fish. Thus, if we are not sure what the exact diet of the real paleo people was, how can we be so confident to prescribe one as a magical cure all?

Even if we assume that there was a standard Paleolithic diet, was it actually beneficial to health? The paleo diet romanticizes ancient times: No industry, agriculture, or other complications of modern day, just pick berries, hunt, run around, and make sweet love to your wife Grogtok in a cave. Ahh, the good old days! You seem to be forgetting the fact that humans in the Paleolithic era weren’t lean bodied because of their dietary composition, but because of no diet at all! Food was difficult to come by and people went on for weeks without eating.

Going back to a Paleolithic diet’s meat component, how simple do you think it was to get meat in those days? Well, on the 20% chance the animal didn’t eat you (remember, humans were part of the food chain then), you’d have some meat to feast on, but this wasn’t often. Paleolithic humans were seriously malnourished! Most of them did not live past 40 and they were often dead before hitting puberty- so much for the sweet cave action.

true bite The Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet
The Good Old Days!

Cordain states that the introduction of foods resultant from the industrial/ agricultural revolution are responsible for heart disease. If this is so, then heart disease should be nonexistent in the Paleolithic era. An examination of 137 Paleolithic “mummies” from around the world revealed that 47 of them had atherosclerosis. Well, wouldn’t you know?

Paleo’s main foundation is the assertion that humans have only evolved to best function under the diet typical of the Paleolithic era. Our bodies supposedly haven’t evolved at all since then, so we should make no changes to our diet. Oh really?! Nooo evolution, they say? How does Cordain explain the development of lactose tolerance in humans within 7,000 years ago? How about the genetic resistance to malaria that came about 5,000-10,000 years ago? Or the difference in intestinal bacteria from the present and Paleolithic eras? Cordain has little grasp on evolution and genetic expression, yet he uses them as a strong selling point for his diet, amazing.

true bite The Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet

Now that we’ve scratched the surface of this diet, let’s get down to the dirty nuts and bolts. Does it really work? Is it really beneficial?

Cutting out grains, dairy, and legumes is not wise. Doing so excludes viable and affordable sources of protein, fiber, calcium, and vitamins. These foods are helpful for maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Yes, you can do so without, but that will require careful planning by a registered dietitian (RD), not to mention ample supplementation of Vitamin D and calcium since paleo dieters are usually deficient from a lack of dietary sources.

Moreover, the concentration on meat makes paleo dieters susceptible to high cholesterol, putting them at risk for heart disease. Too bad paleo doesn’t allow whole grains, which are proven to lower cholesterol.

“Wahhh, but Michelle! Studies have shown that paleo reduces blood pressure, LDL [bad cholesterol], and triglycerides!” Don’t get your paleo panties in a bunch. A lot of people think they can just yell “studies have shown…!” and there’s no comeback to that. Haha, you clearly don’t know who you’re talking to. Please, SHOW ME THOSE STUDIES. I’ve examined this mere handful of studies myself, and I have a lot to say. None of them are long term, clinical studies- the type that would actually yield substantial evidence. They were all short term studies with a limited number of participants. A short term study does not divulge whether a diet has long lasting, beneficial effects. If a study has a small number of participants, it is subject to sampling bias, creating false results. Again, these unsubstantiated studies are few in number and have only popped up recently. Compare this to the THOUSANDS of clinical, long term studies for the past century proving the importance of legumes, grains, and dairy in a balanced diet and in disease prevention/ treatment.

If you don’t care for studies, look at the Inuits, one of the modern day hunter gatherers whose diets focuses largely on meat. Inuits suffer from a high incidence of cardiovascular diseases, from all the animal fat, and osteoporosis, from the lack of dietary calcium. Know what lowers your risk for osteoporosis and heart disease? Whole grains. Nope, can’t have any, you’re on paleo. Sorry.

true bite The Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet

Cordain advises his subscribers that “protein is a paleo dieters best friend.” That’s quite interesting considering the ceiling on safe protein intake is 30-40% of daily intake and paleo’s nutrient composition is 38% protein. This is severely dangerous as it is very easy to consume more protein by accident. Excessive intake of protein can cause protein toxicity, which is characterized as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and eventually death. Furthermore, high protein low carbohydrate diets have been linked to heart disease, cancer, and kidney damage.

Despite all of this compelling information, you still want to forge on with paleo. Why? The prospect of a lean, muscular physique is an enticing carrot to a very hungry mule. Will you lose weight on paleo? No doubt about it. It’s very easy to lose weight when depriving yourself of entire food groups. What is doubtful, however, is paleo’s weight loss sustainability. Completely abstaining from a type of food makes it even more tempting. No matter how many times you tell everyone (and yourself) how much you love salmon and mashed celery root, the mere sight of a cheese burger and fries will make you salivate. Relapse is inevitable, just like any other extremely restrictive diet. Eventually, you’ll cheat on paleo. Then you’ll do it again, and again, until the next thing you know, you wake up in a pile of empty pizza boxes and candy wrappers. Most, if not all, of the weight will be back. You will tell yourself that you’ll be good again, and you may start back up, but let’s be honest, you’re just going to fall off the paleo wagon once more. Don’t feel bad, it’s the typical Greek tragedy of any restrictive diet. Remember Atkins?

true bite The Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet

Regardless of the fallacies in paleo itself, what irks me even more are the members of this cult paleo dieters themselves. They have what I like to call “Born Again Syndrome.” Paleo dieters resemble the born again religion fanatics, believing that they have transcended the rest of man kind into a holier than though state of healthiness. They look back at the error of their ways, regret their dietary sins, and try to spread the gospel to others. “Excuse me friend, I notice you’re eating a peanut butter sandwich. Do you have a minute to talk about the teachings of the paleo diet?”

Sorry to break it to you, but driving your Prius to Whole Foods/ farmers market to pick up grass fed meats, organic produce, and nuts does not make you the second coming of Christ.

true bite The Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet
Because I know you’re dying to tell me

You’re not doing anyone a favor. In fact, you may be harming us all. Adopting paleo on a global scale would be environmentally destructive. The diet is largely meat based and animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to global warming and deforestation- Mo’ paleo, mo’ meat’, mo’ problems.

Not only is paleo restrictive to dietary intake, but it also restricts who can follow it. Who do you think has the means to afford grass fed meats and organic produce? Who has the time to avoid processed foods and cook everything instead? Who can afford alternatives to grains, dairy, and refined sugar? Upper middle class/ rich White people, that’s who. Go ahead, tell the average American they can’t have grains, processed food, legumes, dairy, or refined sugars. I dare you. I’m positive that you will be met with a resounding “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Paleo is quite financially and time consuming. Unfortunately, most people cannot afford it.

true bite The Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet

My favorite part about the paleo diet is how polarizing it is among dietitians. I have seen my colleagues get into literal screaming matches that ended up in third grade-esque “you’re stupid!” “no, you’re stupid!” It’s always quite fun to watch.

true bite The Complete Scoop on the Paleolithic Diet
RDs on Paleo

Where do I stand? I’m in the middle. I see the benefits, and I also see the risks. I believe that we should take certain elements from paleo: cutting out refined grains/ sugars and processed foods. An emphasis on cooking at home is also fantastic. However, I don’t agree with abolishing all grains, dairy, and legumes- they are viable parts of a healthy diet and losing them would be harmful to your health, not to mention your sense of pleasure. Come on, no pizza, potatoes, or ice cream ever?! This is not a world I care to live in.

Honestly though, if paleo is working out and you truly believe that it’s the best for you, then I won’t stop you. While I do not advocate extreme restrictive diets, I also believe that one glove does not fit every hand. For you, this could be the best option. Just regularly check your Vitamin D/ calcium levels and lipid profiles to make sure there are no adverse effects. I have an open mind to anything in the field of nutrition as the human body is incredibly diverse and adaptive to a spectrum of conditions. In short, different strokes for different folks.

As for all those cracks about “born again syndrome” and paleo available only for rich White people, that’s just me being a smart ass. What’s True Bite without me being a smart ass? There’s no fun in that. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

Until Next Week Friends,

Wine Not? The Low Down on Red Wine’s Health Benefits

The Low Down on Red Wine’s Health Benefits the true bite

Red red wiiinnnnnnne, you make me feel so…healthy? One of the hottest topics in nutrition today is red wine. It’s hyped up as a heart healthy, life expectancy boosting, metabolism pumping magical elixir. Guzzle down the red stuff and you’ll be fit as a fiddle, all while getting a nice buzz on! Say no more *Glug glug glug*

You may want to slow down on that next glass, my friends. I want to get my “drank” on and be healthy too, but there’s a lot more to this picture.

The Low Down on Red Wine’s Health Benefits the true bite

Proponents of this latest health buzz rely on red wine’s antioxidant content, particularly resveratrol, which is found in grape skins. Resveratrol’s super power is explained by how it increases the concentration of HDL, which is the “good” fat that protects the heart by acting as a dumpster for LDL, the “bad” fat that deposits plaque on arterial walls. By altering your lipid profile, resveratrol protects you from heart disease. Antioxidants in general are our bodies’ infantry that fight off free radicals, the damaging agents that cause cancer. Resveratrol also keeps you looking fine by maintaining collagen and elastin, the connective tissue proteins we need for youthful skin.

The Low Down on Red Wine’s Health Benefits the true bite

Red Wine for Heart Health

Seems like magic, doesn’t it? When I first found out about this, I wanted to take a bath in red wine. Then I remembered that behind all magic is smoke and mirrors. So like always, I investigated further.

The Low Down on Red Wine’s Health Benefits the true bite

Get Ready For Some Cracks in this Story

Resveratrol is the key for red wine’s power. Do you know how much resveratrol there actually is in a glass of wine? 1 mg. Do you know how much wine has enough resveratrol to activate its effects? 60 LITERS. Even if you could hypothetically drink 60 liters of wine, all the health benefits will be drowned in 60 liters of alcohol, not to mention massive amounts of sugar and calories.

This brings me to my next point. We all have different definitions of what constitutes “a glass” of wine. For some it’s a few sips, and for others it’s a whole bottle. The actual amount is 5 oz.

The Low Down on Red Wine’s Health Benefits the true bite

NOT 60 Liters

It is recommended to drink wine in moderation. Again, we all have different concepts of “moderation.” To drink in moderation, women can have no more than 1 glass per day and men can have no more than 2. Many people overdo it and drink 3-4 glasses a night thinking that they are boosting their health.

The Low Down on Red Wine’s Health Benefits the true bite

NOT Moderation

Besides the fact that there clearly isn’t enough reservatrol in 1-2 glasses of red wine, this isn’t a healthy addition to your diet. There’s an average of 105 calories in each glass of wine. That’s about 100-200 extra calories every day. The same amount calorie wise if you added a cookie to your daily diet. This will surely pack on the pounds.

The Low Down on Red Wine’s Health Benefits the true bite

“No pants! Too much wine and now they don’t fit.”

Let’s not forget wine’s main ingredient: ALCOHOL. Drinking too much alcohol has serious health consequences: liver damage, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, obesity, certain cancers, and cardiomyopathy (weakened heart muscles) to name a few. Furthermore, many conditions can be worsened by regular alcohol consumption, such as depression, high triglycerides, pancreatitis, liver disease, and congestive heart failure.

Resveratrol doesn’t solely reside in red wine. It’s also found in peanuts, blueberries, cranberries, and actual grapes that haven’t been fermented into alcohol. So, you can obtain it through a healthier avenue. It’s also available in a supplement form, but your body does not absorb most of the resveratrol in supplements, so it’s of questionable benefit.

Furthermore, the studies that these big health claims are based on are quite dubious evidence. These studies show associations between wine consumption and health, they don’t explain how any health parameters are improved. An association does not imply causation. There are a multitude of other factors that could have caused these results, such as the lifestyle of wine drinkers. It’s unknown whether it is a component of the wine itself.

What’s even more unconvincing about these studies is that most of them used animals as subjects, not humans. Our bodies are not the same as those of lab rats. We respond differently to substances. The few studies that involved human subjects consisted of metabolically abnormal people (conditions such as diabetes or obesity). What works for them may not work for those of normal health.

I am in no way speaking poorly of wine. I am definitely a fan of wine – sometimes a little too much, but that’s a different story…

Compared to other alcoholic beverages, it’s more healthy considering its antioxidant content. No other alcoholic beverage has antioxidants. There could be benefits to drinking wine, but it’s not a license to binge drink in the name of health. By all means, enjoy wine for the sake of catching a buzz, but don’t chug it down to improve your lipid profile and heart health. Achieve these health benefits the right way: more fiber in the diet, fruits and vegetables, and increased physical activity.

If you’re out on the town, go ahead and have a glass or two. Like I said, alcohol is fine in moderation. Just don’t drink a bottle of wine and think you’re being healthy- consuming a great amount of alcohol, sugar, and calories is never healthy.

The Low Down on Red Wine’s Health Benefits the true bite

Being a lush is never healthy

To go along with the theme of this post, I’ll leave you with this,  the music video of UB40’s “Red Red Wine”.

**Side note, this song came out years before I was born, so I never actually saw the video. I’m not sure what shocked me more, finding out how flimsy red wine’s health claims are or the fact that this song is by a bunch of White boys from Britain? Wtf? I always imagined a Jamaican, Bob Marley look alike behind this. Hah!

UB40 red, red wine

NOT Bob Marley


Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

A Sweet Lie. Don’t Be Deceived.

Aspartame, does that name sound familiar? How about its commercial names, Nutrasweet and Equal? Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in 6,000 diet food products, including one you’re probably enjoying right now: diet soda. It seems like the healthier choice, choosing diet soda over regular. Why not swap out 160 calories for a can of sweet, caffeinated, bubbly goodness? Eat less calories, lose weight, and still get your sugar fix. What could go wrong? Read on my friend, read on.

Consuming aspartame containing diet products is making a deal with Monsanto the devil. Zero calories comes with hundreds of serious health consequences. Put down your Diet Coke, and look at what you’re really eating.

Aspartame is composed of three compounds: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol, all of which are extremely toxic to your body.

Let’s start with aspartic acid, 40% of aspartame. It is HIGHLY dangerous when in excess because it’s a potent excitotoxin that overstimulates the neurons (brain cells) to death. It’s especially harmful since it can pass the blood brain barrier straight into your noggin. An excess of aspartic acid can cause adverse reactions such as headaches/ migraines, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. This explains A LOT. Every time I drink Diet Coke, I get a headache after. When I drink it while studying, I feel anxious and have difficulty concentrating. I thought this was just because of test nerves, but I never feel these effects when I choose coffee or water instead. I would tell you to think about what you just read, but if you’re drinking a diet soda now, that’s probably going to be hard.

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

Phenylalanine, which makes up 50% of aspartame, is found in dangerously high blood levels immediately after ingestion. This occurrence is extremely concerning since an overflow of phenylalanine has crazy effects…literally. Too much of this compound decreases serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is what’s known as your “happy” neurotransmitter. A balance of it ensures that you are emotionally stable. When serotonin levels drop after aspartame consumption, users can fall into depressed moods or even raging mood swings.

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

Amanda Bynes Drinks Diet Coke…

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

Look How That Turned Out

The last, and perhaps the worst, component of aspartame is methanol. It is only 10% of aspartame, which may seem like a negligible amount, but it’s excreted very slowly from the body so it easily accumulates to toxic levels. Monsanto, the manufacturer of aspartame, asserts that methanol poisoning is not an issue since free methanol is only released when aspartame is heated to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. What Monsanto forgot to mention is that human body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. As soon as aspartame is consumed, its weak chemical bonds are broken by body heat and methanol deposits into your tissues.

The EPA states that no more than 7.8 mg of aspartame should be consumed per day. 1 liter of diet soda, which is much less than the average person’s daily intake, contains 56 mg. It is incredibly easy to get methanol poisoning from aspartame sweetened products. The symptoms of methanol poisoning include headaches, dizziness, vertigo, memory lapses, blurry vision, body numbness, neuritis, and behavioral disturbances. During Desert Storm, the US troops were “gifted” diet drinks. These drinks sat in the 120 degree Saudi Arabian sun. The results were disastrous as many of the troops suffered these symptoms in epidemic proportions. This outbreak was coined “Desert Storm Syndrome.”

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

Methanol degrades into an even worse substance in the human body: formaldehyde. That’s right, FORMALDEHYDE! The same chemical that was used to preserve the dissected frogs in 7th grade science lab is now inside of you. Remember how your middle school science teacher forbade you from touching the frogs without surgical gloves since formaldehyde is a known carcinogen? I don’t think he/she would be pleased to hear that you’re drinking it either. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen that interferes with DNA replication and can even cause birth defects – which is why I get very sad when I see pregnant women drinking diet soda.

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

Formaldehyde can even cause temporary or permanent blindness since it gets oxidized to formic acid, which is highly toxic to the ocular nerves.

In defense, Monsanto argues that methanol is in citric fruits. This is true, yet fruits also contain ethanol which halts methanol’s toxic actions by competitively inhibiting it from turning into formaldehyde. Aspartame has no such antidote. Monsanto also argues that the fact that aspartame breaks up into the three components so easily is no cause for alarm since all of them are found naturally in food. Again, true, but when aspartic acid and phenylanine occur naturally in food, they are bound to proteins so they’re released slowly and safely into digestion and metabolism. There are no protective proteins in aspartame. Methanol, phenylalanine, and aspartic acid are unbound, free, and ready to mess you up. You might as well be shooting them up.

Now, that you know aspartame can make you dumb, crazy, blind, and even give you cancer, do you still think it’s worth it to drink diet soda? You probably will. Why? Because you think it’s going to help you stay skinny. We all willingly ignore potential dangers if we think that we’re going to look hot- this explains why the tanning bed business is still thriving. What can I say? We’re all shallow. It’s a fact of life.

Here’s another fact: aspartame makes you GAIN WEIGHT. Upon ingestion, aspartame is absorbed by the liver and broken down into its 3 components. This metabolic breakdown requires a great deal of energy, so there’s less energy left in the liver cells for fat burning and metabolism, causing fat storage. This fat deposition can occur to an extent that results in fatty liver, a condition in which the liver is damaged and it’s incredibly hard to lose weight.

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

What you think you’ll look like…

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

…What you’ll actually look like. Womp womp.

Furthermore, aspartame inhibits synthesis of serotonin, which is needed to blunt carbohydrate cravings, ensuring that you eat an appropriate level of them. Drops in serotonin causes you to overeat carbohydrates, inevitably resulting in weight gain.

Aspartame destabilizes your blood sugar levels, which increases your appetite and causes intense food cravings. I always wondered why I ate much more during meals that were paired with Diet Coke.

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

Aspartame also causes fluid retention, which makes your body look bloated and increases cellulite. All of a sudden, diet soda seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?

With all of this information, you will probably still reach for a diet soda during your next meal. It’s inevitable. Why? It’s extremely ADDICTIVE. Methanol acts on the dopamine center of your brain, the same area that hard core drugs act on.

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

“Oh come on Michelle, if aspartame is really this dangerous how come it’s allowed to be sold?” Fine, that’s a fair argument. Let’s look at the sordid history of aspartame’s FDA approval.

It was discovered in 1965 by accident while a chemist was trying to make an anti-ulcer drug. Its manufacturing company, G.D. Searle (which was later acquired by Monsanto in ’85), conducted many studies to prove its safety for FDA approval. In 1976, the FDA found that Searle’s studies on aspartame’s safety were “poorly conceived, carelessly executed, and inaccurately analyzed or reported”- verbatim from an FDA report. Samuel K. Skinner, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, was appointed the head of a grand jury to investigate whether Searle’s studies were falsified to conceal aspartame’s toxicity. This investigation never took place as Skinner dropped the case. Shortly after doing so, Skinner left the Justice Department for a very high paying job at Sidley & Austin, the same law firm that represented Searle. Oh my, what a coincidence. I wonder how that happened?

The controversy did not stop there. In 1981, Searle was desperately trying to get FDA approval. Searle’s then chairman, Donald H. Rumsfeld (who went on to become Bush’s secretary of defense), decided to call in his markers to get it approved. That marker being Ronald Reagan. Shortly after Reagan appointed Arthur Hull Hayes as FDA commissioner, Hayes granted approval for aspartame. Barely a year later, Hayes left the FDA for a big consulting job at Searle’s PR agency. See the pattern?

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

Health Advice from Donald Rumsfeld

When big money is involved, nothing is sacred. Not even the public’s safety. Today, aspartame accounts for over 75% of adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA, yet there are curiously no measures taken to investigate its safety.

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

Yes, there are studies that show aspartame is safe, but guess who funds all of those studies? Monsanto. In this case, science does not decide the results of a study, the source of funding does. An analysis of the 166 most recent studies found that the 74 funded by Monsanto all “proved” aspartame’s non-toxicity, while 84 of the 92 independent studies found it to be unsafe for consumption.

Aspartame is a liquid poison. Monsanto is marketing an addictive, neurotoxic, fat depositing, carcinogen to the public as a sugar-free diet product. After reading this, I hope that you will re-think your drink. I would honestly rather you drink a regular soda. It tastes better and it won’t kill you. I’m not giving you free license to drink soda every day, but one can of pop every now and then is much better than diet soda every day.

true bite Diet Soda: A Sweet Lie

Until Next Week,

Juice Cleanses: A Fad that Needs to be Flushed

It’s another Monday morning in Los Angeles. I scroll through Instagram while waiting for my coffee to brew and see the usual pics: the selfies, the no filter, the food porn, etc. My friends complain that Instagram pics are always obnoxious and irritating. These pics never irritated me… until one day, a certain trend erupted: juice cleanses. All of a sudden, everyone started instagramming about their juice cleanse diet.

juice cleanse
#Juicing #Cleanse #Detox #FreshStart #HealthyLiving #Diet
#NoPainNoGain #ReFresh #ByeByeToxins #IHaveNoIdeaWhatI’mDoing

Why am I so vehemently against juice cleanses? They’re complete and utter nonsense. That’s why.

People go through with these cleanses to lose weight, detox their bodies, and absorb nutrients that they don’t obtain from their normal diets. These seem like sound reasons to go through with a diet. Now let me ask you, can you tell me how a juice cleanse actually delivers all that it promises? I’ve posed this question to numerous people when they’re on a cleanse and their answers are always something along the lines of “Umm, the company that makes it told me it works and my friends are doing it…I think it’s a good idea.”

So, your reasoning is that someone told you to and a bunch of other people are doing it too? Do you remember what happened the last time a bunch of people drank something because someone else told them to? It was the Jonestown cult massacre of 1978 when 900 people drank cyanide laced Kool Aid and died. Hope that puts it into perspective.

juice cleanse

The makers of juice cleanses tout lofty claims: weight loss, detoxifying the body, mental clarity, improved digestion, the list goes on. I must admit, it’s a seductive and appealing concept. All you do is drink juice numbered 1-6 each day. They took all the hard work out of dieting. No cooking, no food prep, nothing. Just pop open the fridge, drink your meal, and lose weight. Who wouldn’t want to reach for a miracle button like this?

During the cleanse, your caloric intake is at a mere 1,000-1,200 calories per day, consisting of fruit and vegetable juice. There is also an occasional nut milk thrown in for a small dose of fat and protein, but besides that it’s just fruit and veggie juice. It’s essentially a starvation diet.

“But Michelle, all diets are hard” you say. I agree, weight loss is certainly not easy, but it should be done through a healthy method that actually leads to results. Juice cleanses deliver zero results and are dangerous to your health.

juice cleanse

You’re probably still sipping the Kool Aid at this point. Let’s go through the claimed benefits of cleanses and I’ll explain how none of it adds up.

The first and foremost defense of juicing is that ingesting fruits and vegetables in juice form allows the body to obtain the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals possible. FALSE. In order for your body to obtain vitamins and minerals from produce, you need the fiber, which was eliminated in juicing, to absorb them. Produce are meant to be consumed in whole form: skin, pulp, flesh, roughage, and all. This is where most of the “good stuff” lies. For example, the white pulp in oranges holds massive amounts of flavanoids, which have great antioxidant power, but that was all thrown out to get the juice, oops.

Juicing essentially strips produce of fiber, nutrients, and most vitamins and minerals, leaving you with sugar water. Yes, it’s fructose, a natural fruit sugar, but it’s still sugar and a lot of sugar at that. When you drink a bottle of juice, there is not as much plant fiber as there should be when consuming this amount of fructose, so your body absorbs the sugar much more easily, causing your blood sugar to sky rocket and then crash abruptly. This is especially dangerous considering that many of those who undertake a cleanse are overweight or obese and may be pre-diabetic. Frequent shifts in blood sugar can shove a pre-diabetic into full on diabetes.

blood sugar and cleansing

This violent fluctuation in blood sugar causes you to feel fatigued and dizzy. That’s not quite the “mental clarity” you were promised. In fact, the components of a juice diet hinder normal brain functioning. Since you are eating at most 1,200 calories, while an adult should consume an average of 2,000, your body is in starvation mode. Without a suitable intake of calories and nutrients, your body breaks down its fat into ketones, a form of low grade energy that fails to fuel your brain, making it difficult to focus on even the simplest daily tasks.
Your blood sugar isn’t the only thing subject to fluctuations. Without protein, you are deprived of amino acids, which are required by neurotransmitters to uphold your emotional balance, launching you into the throws of mood swings.

Not only will you be cranky, but you’ll also be hungry- VERY HUNGRY. Forget the fact that you’re taking in barely over half the amount of calories you require, you’re also missing out on the two biggest hunger satiating factors: fiber and protein. You need ample fiber and protein in your diet to feel full.

You on a juice cleanse.

The fatigue, dizziness, and hunger will make you feel drained, but the osmotic diarrhea you will be pounded with will LITERALLY drain you, and I mean DRAIN. Juice is chocked full of carbohydrates, which absorb water in your body, so you will need to be near a bathroom at all times. This does not sound comfortable. You went on this diet to lose weight and make yourself look more appealing. Please, tell me how appealing you are now that you’ve turned yourself into an upside down volcano. I’m just going to let that mental image sit with you.

juice cleanse

The laxative effect of a juice cleanse is harmful to your digestive functioning. After your digestive system receives an added “push” from the juice, your body figures that it no longer needs to expend energy on digestion and concentrates on other areas, which causes you to feel constipated after the cleanse is over. Sometimes, irreversibly.

The proponents of cleanses state that putting your gut at “rest” from breaking down solid food revitalizes it. NEGATIVE. Our intestines actually work optimally with a constant flow of nutrient and fiber dense food. For example, the intestine requires glutamine, a breakdown product of protein, for nourishment. The bacteria lining the intestine need plant fiber to reinforce and replenish the intestinal cells in order to prevent foreign bacteria, chemicals, or food from leaking into the blood stream. A gut “rest” does anything but revitalize, it can even lead to irreparable nerve and muscle damage of gut tissue.

The website of a particular juicery advises customers that any dizziness, fatigue, hunger, and diarrhea are all signs that the cleanse is working. The worse you feel, the more toxins you had in your body to clean out. All this pain is just your body fighting to purify you. Last time I checked, this is supposed to be a diet, not an exorcism. No weight loss method should put the body in such a volatile state.

The power of juice compels you!

Speaking of “cleansing,” there is no scientific evidence that juicing can detoxify your body. In fact, the human body’s organ systems have evolved over the past 2.3 million years to expel toxic substances. Your liver, kidney, and intestine have detox covered and do not need any help from juice. If anything, a cleanse is toxic. In starvation mode, your body breaks up your muscle mass for energy into ammonia and uric acid, two toxic compounds, and flushes them into the blood stream. In addition, the previously discussed blood sugar fluctuations can damage the kidney’s ability to filter blood. Thank goodness your organs are there to detox you from the effects of your “detox.”

After reading all of this, I know what last shred of hope you’re holding onto. You just want to lose weight. If you can drop ten pounds, you’ll unabashedly take the risks. You will drop ten pound or so, there’s no denying that. Of course you’re going to lose weight when depriving yourself of fat/protein and eating only 1,000 calories. Oh, and guess what? You’re going to gain back fifteen. A juice cleanse wreaks havoc on your metabolism. In starvation mode, your body is preparing itself to be more thrifty with food that will be ingested later so that calories will not be burnt up as easily as before. Like I said, the human body has evolved a system of checks and balances to keep everything in order. That includes slowing down your metabolism when an extreme caloric reduction occurs to prevent starvation. As soon as you start eating normal food, your body will hold onto those calories. You’ll gain all that weight back and then some. Repeated cycling through weights can permanently slow the metabolism, making it even more difficult to achieve and maintain weight loss.

yo yo dieting

Many people notice that their body feels more “flabby”, for lack of a better word, after a juice cleanse. The new flab is explained by how your body has depleted all of its primary energy stores during this extreme low calorie diet and has turned to breaking down muscle mass for fuel. The ratio of fat to lean body mass increases, causing one to see “pooch” in areas they did not see it before. Also, lean body mass is needed to help fuel the metabolism. Losing muscle mass slows your metabolism and stunts future weight loss attempts.

There you have it: no detox, no improved digestion, no increased absorption of vitamins/minerals, no mental clarity, and certainly no weight loss.

juice cleanse

Sorry to burst your bubble, but now you see that juice cleanses are useless as well as dangerous. There’s nothing magical about juicing, which teaches us all a valuable lesson: there’s no magic in healthy eating. A balanced diet packed with whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables is the way to look your best. Let me clarify that it is okay to drink juice as part of a meal, just not your entire meal.

Now that you have the scoop on juice cleanses, do yourself a favor: stop it. If you’re on a cleanse now, chuck that bottle (preferably at the head of the juicery’s creator) and eat a decent meal. How about some salmon, grilled veggies, and brown rice? At the very least, please stop posting pictures of your juice bottles to look cool. There’s nothing cool about giving yourself diarrhea, none of us need or want to know that.

Thanks so much for reading, friends. With this knowledge, I hope that you “flush” the juice cleanse and opt for a balanced diet and exercise instead.

Until next week,

Healthy Fast Food…Really?

Healthy fast food, a concept as realistic as Barbie working at McDonald’s. It’s great in theory. Millions of Americans rely on fast food as the staple of their diet, and obviously suffer the consequences as two thirds of the country is overweight/ obese. They could become more healthy without making major changes to their diet or lifestyle. How nice would that be?

Let’s take a minute to think what they’re really shoving down our throats. How healthy, if at all, is it?

First off, let’s take a look at why fast food eateries, places that pride themselves in their quadruple bacon cheeseburgers, would even want to serve “healthy” food. When you think of McDonald’s and Burger King, classic all American burger places don’t come to mind as it did in the past. Instead, we think of sad, obese adults and sluggish, diabetic children. They’re viewed as more of an evil force than a place to eat. The fast food companies realize this and want to re-brand. They want to make it seem “ok” to go there. “McDonald’s cant be that bad, they sell salad” you tell yourself as you look at the new menu.

Obesity is at an all time high and we place a lot of the blame on fast food. The fast food corporations have scrambled together their new healthy menus as a way to save face, shirk off some of the blame, and if anything, profit off of a national epidemic. They figure, people want to lose weight, but don’t want to change the way they eat? Fine, let’s give them the same menu items, in a different wrapper, with a different name, and tell them it’s healthy.

Recently, an internal memo between McDonald’s execs was leaked. It discussed how Subway is beating them and that they need their new McWrap sandwich line to appeal to the millennial generation, the market that Subway has stolen from them. The millennial generation, those ages 18 through 34, is very different than its predecessors. We grew up with Oprah, Captain Planet, and DARE. We were taught that it’s ok to be different, to talk about our feelings, to be socially/ environmentally conscious, and to care about our health. Subway appeals to millennials, offering “fresh” sandwiches and featuring famous athletes in ads.

The less millennial-friendly fast food joints are attempting to “health wash” their image with manipulative and deceptive semantics. Take for example, McDonald’s new line of healthy menu items. All of the dishes have green wrappers and logos. Why green instead of the traditional yellow and red? Green evokes a sense of health and eco-friendliness. The whole go green movement is considered to be very progressive and McDonald’s wants to play off of it to re-brand the chain as place that is also progressive and health conscious.

Even the tortillas used to make the McWrap sandwiches are green. Just the green tortilla itself is very deceptive. The green color fools the customer into thinking it’s made of vegetables and other healthy ingredients…even though it’s only green food coloring. The fact that it’s a flat bread leads consumers into believing that there are fewer calories in it- Newsflash, there aren’t. It has the same calories, if not more than regular bread. It’s just more dense without the air bubbles to give it volume. The public’s perception of health is being played on to lure us through the golden arches.

As I’ve said before, the whole point of offering a healthier menu is for re-branding, to make it seem ok to visit a McDonald’s. There was no mention of actually selling healthy items. A recent study revealed that while 47% of consumers want healthier options at fast food restaurants, only 23% actually order them. The fast food chains could care less if you actually buy their new “healthy” lines. They just want to increase the chances of you walking in, because while you might have gone to McDonald’s intending to buy a salad, you got the Big Mac instead. I mean, really…did you seriously think you went to McDonald’s for a salad?…You must think you went to that hooker for just a hug.

Would you like fries with that?

It’s important to realize that there’s a difference between healthy and healthier. These new menu items aren’t healthy meals at all, they’re just slightly better, if at all, than the original options. Let’s take a look.

McDonald’s oatmeal seems like a safe bet. It’s oatmeal. There should only be a handful of ingredients: oats, fruit, nuts, and maybe some cream and sugar. Oh, how I wish it were that simple. This “handful” translates into 21 ingredients, most of which are chemical preservatives that I can’t even pronounce. It’s not healthy by any means. Forget all the chemical preservatives, it also has twice the sugar in a snickers bar and only 10 calories less than a cheeseburger. It’s also important to note that oatmeal is something that should be quick, easy, and cheap. A complete buffoon could make it at home in ten minutes and it would cost them barely over a dollar. It takes an average of a half hour to make the trip to McDonald’s and wait in line before you receive it, only to pay double whatit would cost to make yourself. The purest, simplest, healthiest breakfast has been mutated into overpriced junk food.

McDonald’s also offers the bacon chicken McWrap. It looks like a healthy option, just a sandwich with chicken breast, a strip of bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes. Again, not healthy. It has the caloric content of two burgers, but that’s not even the scariest part. Think that’s real chicken breast? Sorry, it’s actually reconstituted rib meat with seasonings and additives shaped into chicken breast. It’s on the same level as the play dough you ate in preschool.

Shocked? It gets worse. Our beloved millennial friendly Subway is also at fault. I always thought there was something amiss about their wheat bread. It didn’t taste as hearty or have the same bulk as all the other wheat breads I’ve eaten. There’s a reason why: it’s NOT REAL whole wheat bread. It’s “enriched” wheat, which is wheat that has had its stalk removed and processed, stripping it of all the fiber and most nutrients. You’re basically left with brown colored white bread. Yes, their wheat bread has some fiber in it, but that’s only because it’s been injected with inulin, a fiber that our bodies don’t process like the natural fibers we’re supposed to have. Lost your appetite? Sorry, but it gets worse again. Ever wonder why their bread tastes so sweet? It’s loaded with high fructose corn syrup. You heard me, high fructose corn syrup…hope you didn’t pair your foot long with a coke.

Recently, the CEO of Carl’s Jr publicly stated that healthy food is not a part of the chain’s “personality.” Many were appalled by this declaration, but I actually applauded him for it. At least he’s being honest and not trying to deceive us.

I don’t think fast food chains are evil. They offer a product and people have a choice whether to buy it or not. However, I don’t appreciate the deception involved in marketing. Then again, what’s marketing without deception? That’s why it is important for us to know more about what goes into our bodies so we can make informed choices when eating. Hopefully, as you read this post and the ones to follow, I can help you look at food and nutrition differently.

Thanks for reading my first post, everyone. There’s more to come and I’m open to any suggestions you have about future topics.