It takes GUTS!

On a physical level, eating Paleo has a lot to do with your guts, your innards, your digestive system. For a good guide to what you digestive system is and how it works, look here. You can also check out  this cool interactive introduction to the Digestive System courtesy of  The Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in England. You might be wondering why exactly Paleo nutrition starts off by eliminating grains; well, it’s due to glutens, the effect that eating glutens has on the human digestive system, and the resulting illnesses and diseases that stem from that simple source. If you can read past the plethora of ads in the middle of this article, this is a very good description of how gluten sensitivity affects the body and the immune system in particular. But I’m not gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant, you say… many people don’t think they are yet! Gluten Sensitivity – Real or Imagined? is a great article about that subject.

In essence, the human body is not designed to process grains and their associated gluten, and the immune system treats such things as foreign invaders which must be attacked. That immune response damages the digestive tract, which can leave you more vulnerable to such lovely things as parasites, fungus and bacteria, and can result in particles leaking out of your intestines into your bloodstream. But that’s not all!! Thanks to the damage, the body doesn’t absorb nutrients properly (but then who needs those vitamins and minerals anyway, eh?), and can inhibit the production of enzymes that allow you to digest other foods (such as dairy). The good bacteria (more than 400 species that line the gut) get killed and bad bacteria (candida-based) grow like wildfire – and they crave, guess what? SUGAR! Wait, Wait, there’s more! to top it off, the reaction of gluten proteins in the gut actually creates a substance that causes you to be physically addicted to gluten! How about that.

If none of that makes you want to give up glutens, I don’t know what will. Well, actually I do, but I’m saving my picture of irepparably damaged intestinal villi for another day.

One more thing on GUTS. We’re beginning week 2 today WOOOHOOOOOO!!!! Week One was mostly focused in figuring how how to shop, finding ways to eat, and trying new foods and methods. Week Two is not as much fun, I’m sorry to say. Remember that gluten-addiction I just mentioned? Well, as with any other physical addiction, this one takes time to break and it doesn’t go easily. The theme of this week is Resisting Temptation! It only takes 2 days for your body to start healing the damage that has been done to the digestive system, but ONE INGESTION of a “banned substance” (sorry, I’m missing the Olympics) can restart the whole gut-damaging thing all over again. So hang in there! Don’t give in or give up 🙂

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Cynthia on March 9, 2010 at 5:08 am

    Here’s a great story from Pokey, one of the fellas who did last summer’s FRAT Paleo Challenge with me. Quite an inspiration.


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