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Zone vs. Paleo Diets

Paleo Diet

This refers to the diet of the Paleolithic or cave man before the beginning of civilization, modern agriculture and technology.

It is believed to have been largely made of lean red meat and vegetation. The cave man was a hunter and gatherer and his adherents today imitate him by complementing the diet with vigorous physical activity, which he engaged in. They actually hunt their own food in its natural environment. The caveman typically used chipped stone tools as far back as 2.5 million years ago. He ate a lot of animal meat and offal, which provided 45-65% of his energy for heavy physical activities. He inhabited Australia, Africa and South America. With this diet and way of life, he survived to the 20th century without developing disease conditions common after the century. These include cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, and hypertension. The change to modern diets occurred about 10,000 years ago with the discovery of ways to making formerly inedible plants edible for human consumption by cooking. Grains, beans, potatoes, sugar, milk and milk products were introduced into the human diet.

Some nutritionists and scientists hold that the diet and lifestyle of the Paleolithic or cave man will effectively protect human beings from the common diseases and disorders of this current age.

They and other advocates of the diet believe that such is the diet nature designed for human beings. They also maintain that milk, other than breast milk, and grains were never designed by nature to be consumed by human beings. The Paleolithic diet varies according to what is available in the region and season. In general, it includes lean red meat from game, eggs, fish, fruit, nuts and vegetables. It excludes breads, pasta, cereals, milk, refined sugars, beans, soy beans and lentils. Modern Paleolithic dieters also avoid potatoes and peanuts. The diet's focus on vigorous exercise, the large consumption of fruits and vegetables and avoidance of saturated fats certainly contributes to good health. No specific or formal training and certification are required for the practice or use of this diet. However, a large number of scientists, physicians, and nutritionists are interested in its benefits and can be consulted on these.

Research says it is effective in reducing waist size and in lowering blood sugar levels and other cardiovascular risks in as short a time as 10 days.

It consists mainly of animal protein and vegetables eaten by the aboriginal hunter-gatherer. Animal protein is unprocessed, such as lean, organic, grass-fed meat, wild fish and omega-3-enriched eggs. Vegetables are the non-starchy variety, such as salad greens, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, and zucchini. It eliminates grain and gluten and legumes, like beans and peas. It excludes staples like oats, corn, millet, rice, sorghum, wild rice, amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa. It includes fruits, nuts and seeds and fresh and unsweetened frozen fruits. It excludes processed fruits and fruit juices. It does away with peanuts, dairy foods and sweeteners. It replaces cow's milk or cream with unsweetened coconut milk; butter with coconut butter or olive oil. Sugar and other refined and artificial sweeteners, including hidden sources like pop drinks, are forbidden in the Paleo diet. Almond nuts, hazelnut or coconut flour can be used to bake pancakes, muffins and crackers, combined with eggs, coconut butter, and fruit.

Overabundance of Carbohydrates and Disease

The benefits of Paleo diet have been recognized as far back as the 5th century during the time of Herodotus.

It persisted through the 19th century with supporters like Savarin and Banting and into the 20th century with familiar advocates like Staffanso, Price, Atkins, Crawford, Boyd, Mann, Pinckney, Ravnskov, and Taubs. Current-day experts, such as Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard, expressed apprehension over the excessive carbohydrate content of the American diet. This, they said, has been encouraged by the prevailing food pyramid, food processors, and restaurants. The glycemic index bares the large amounts of utilizable carbohydrates in the American diet and the health problems resulting from the overabundance of carbohydrates in it.

The book, "Life without Bread," discusses these health problems developing from the over-consumption of carbohydrates.

These health problems include hormone imbalances, heart disease, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, insulin resistance, gastrointestinal disorders, dental caries and cancer. Orthodox medicine links heart disease with cholesterol according to an old experiment with rabbits. These lab animals were fed with large amounts of cholesterol and later developed atherosclerosis. But unlike rabbits, human beings possess a mechanism, which stops the body's production of cholesterol, when it is consumed from the diet. A research team, led by Dr. Ancel Keys, recently conducted 7 country studies on heart disease. But his team studied only dietary fat intakes and excluded carbohydrates and protein. Follow-up studies, which included carbohydrates and proteins, showed reduced disease with higher fat and lower carbohydrate intake.

The medical community has always linked heart disease primarily with fat.

The Framingham heart study, which was begun in 1948, however, found that those who had more cholesterol and saturated fats in their diet, weighed less and had reduced risk of heart disease. A recent nurses' health study bolstered this finding. It revealed that frequent consumption of nuts decreased risks of total coronary heart disease and non-fatal myocardial infarction. Nuts are composed mainly of fat and protein. At a seminar at the National Institutes of Health in 1999, Dr. Willett said that the 7 counties' results did not support the theory that fats are bad for health. He instead presented data, which showed that the higher the glycemic index of a diet, the greater the risk of health disease.

Animal fat is not a culprit in heart disease and must be included in a balanced diet of high-protein and low-carbohydrate mix.

Faulty sugar metabolism should instead be blamed for cancer. Excess insulin and glucose in the blood can induce cells to dedifferentiate and develop into dietary-related cancer. Eating a low-carbohydrate or paleo diet, however, should be construed as magical or a cure-all. Obese persons, especially women, should not expect to suddenly lose weight on a low-carbohydrate diet. Neither will it reverse the condition of elderly chronic diabetics. Foods should be eaten according to their carbohydrate values. A reliable list of acceptably low carbohydrate levels should be consulted.

Zone Diet

The term "zone" evolved from a concept of a sense of alertness, energy and being refreshed.

It was introduced by Barry Sears, a former researcher in bio technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of the book, "Enter the Zone." The Zone is about wellness. It is more than simply losing weight. It aims at raising metabolism levels with a diet of 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrates. Users can expect to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes as well as raise athletic performance. He has the testimonials of those who have used and benefited from it. It opposes current and popular belief that a diet high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat is not good nutrition. Rather, it increases the risk of life-threatening diseases and disorders, such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. His new book, "The Anti-Inflammation Zone," explores the diet-related factor behind serious illness and weight gain. The zone diet is the ideal metabolic state in which the body works most effectively. This is achieved by eating the proper proportion of carbohydrates, protein and fats.

Unlike restrictive diets, the zone diet does not advocate fewer calories than currently ingested but different ones.

It recommends a palm-sized protein at every meal and every snack; carbohydrates twice the size of protein, such as vegetables, lentils, beans, whole grains and most fruits; and smaller amounts of carbohydrates, such as brown rice, pasta, papaya, mango, banana, dry breakfast cereal, bread, bagel, tortilla, carrots and fruit juices. Sears does not forbid dairy products but cautions users about the speed at which these products release glucose. He recommends egg white and substitutes for whole eggs and low-fat or no-fat cheeses and milk. The Zone diet combines a small amount of low-fat protein each meal, fats and carbohydrates, consisting of fiber-rich vegetables and fruits. It draws from what Sears believes is the genetically programmed constitution of the human body at the 40-30-30 proportion.

Sears says this diet is the product of his 15 years of research on bio nutrition .

He says he has a collection of success stories from known athletes, although no scientific evidence has been presented to validate this claim. He uses diet to control the body's production of insulin, specifically its function of regulating the storage of excess energy as fat. The purpose of the diet is to balance fat-storing insulin and the hormone glucagon. Glucagon is insulin's antagonist, which releases insulin from the liver when needed. That balance is achieved by monitoring the size and content of a meal. Sears suggests that food be viewed, not as a source of energy but as a control system for hormones.

The Zone diet restricts saturated fats and unfavorable carbohydrates to a minimum.

It allows the…[continue]

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