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why paleo is the best diet for chronic pain, chronic illness, autoimmunity and weight loss


I remember the gut-wrenching feeling I had nearly two decades ago when I realized I had been lied to about HIGH CARB / FAT FREE DIETS.  You see; even though nutrition was half of the dual degree program I was enrolled in while attending Kansas State University back in the mid 1980’s, I WAS ERRONEOUSLY TAUGHT that dietary fat is the culprit behind almost all physical ailment.   After seeing and experiencing the power of LOW CARB first hand, I was hooked.  That is, until Paleo came along.



About six or seven years ago I began recommending PALEO DIETS for my patients.  Why?  Because this method of eating strictly controls blood sugar and cuts out the most reactive food groups (grains and dairy), it is a Godsend for the tens of millions of Americans struggling with AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES (click link for a short list).  It’s also what I suggest to those struggling with Chronic Pain (HERE).  On top of that it helps tone down virtually all of the CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES.  And because OBESITY is considered to be “Inflammatory” in origin, I have not found anything better for WEIGHT LOSS.  If you want to see a picture of a Paleo Diet solving all four of these issues in a patient simultaneously (in shockingly awesome fashion), HERE it is.

In an era when doctors, researchers, and professors were promoting FAT FREE DIETS, Dr. Robert Atkins — a practicing cardiologist — was a voice crying out from the wilderness.  His method worked.  The first time I saw this up close and personal was in a 65 year old male who was about 150 lbs overweight.  He not only lost the weight in a relatively short amount of time, but got his blood work in order —- by eating forbidden foods like red meat, cheese, fried eggs & bacon, etc, etc.  Atkin’s principle was simple; control blood sugar by limiting carbs, and you control your insulin levels.  CONTROL YOUR INSULIN LEVELS and you can solve any number of problems.  Sort of. 

The problem is, Low Carb Diets only take care of half the equation — the BLOOD SUGAR portion.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s powerful evidence that virtually all chronic health issues have their roots in Blood Sugar Dysregulation.  However, this is only one side of the coin.  On the other side of the coin we have INFLAMMATION driven by food sensitivities — the two most common of these being WHEAT and DAIRY

First, let me say that you might not have a problem with either of these food groups.  Secondly, let me say that if you do, you probably don’t realize it.  Let me give you an example.  I saw a patient earlier this week (a 35 year old female) whom no one would accuse of being overweight.  She is active, fit, and appears — at least on the surface — to be quite healthy.  She was, however, having trouble holding adjustments (chronic mid-back pain) despite having done some TISSUE REMODELING.   A few months ago I suggested that she look at my website concerning the benefits of Paleo and its effects on Inflammation.  She did.

When I saw her the other day, I could not tell any visible difference.  She looked the same to me.  However, she began telling me that she had gone Paleo right after her last visit to see me.  She said that the difference in her life had been profound.  For her, the biggies were that she had much more energy, and way less pain (that chronic SUBLUXATION between her shoulders went away).  And interestingly enough, her unintentional ELIMINATION DIET sealed it for her.  Although she did not do her Elimination Diet by the book, when she started cheating over the holidays, she started feeling crappy again. 


  • MEAT:  Most Low Carbers and all of those doing Paleo eat meat — THERE’S NOTHING INHERENTLY WRONG WITH THIS.  However, there is a huge difference between animals raised on ANTIBIOTICS and ESTROGEN-BASED HORMONES, and those that are not.  Let me show you just one example here.  The ratio of Omega 3 fatty acids to Omega 6 fatty acids is a big deal.  Why?  Because the 3’s tend to be anti-inflammatory, while the 6’s tend to promote inflammation.  Grass fed beef has about a 1 to 5 ratio of 3’s to 6’s, while feedlot-raised beef (or even “Grain Finished” beef) has a ratio closer to 1 to 45.  That, folks, is a nine-fold difference.  This doesn’t even touch on the chemicals (see previous two links) being used for the sole purpose of weight gain in the form of fat.  It’s one of the reasons we love VENISON so much.  Bottom line: there really is a difference in the way your meat (and poultry and eggs) is raised, as well as a difference in the quality of the fats you consume.
  • GRAINS:  Grains are what we feed farm animals to fatten them up for slaughter.   Grains — especially CORN — accomplish this by jacking blood sugar in a similar fashion to table sugar (HERE).   For many, Gluten (wheat protein) is huge driver of Inflammation.  Not only is it heavily related to Autoimmunity (HERE), but the fact that you didn’t test positive for Celiac Disease in no ways means you’re out of the woods (HERE).   As far as grains go; I have figured out that I can eat some quinoa without having problems — that’s about it.  All I can tell you is that for me, the small step from Low Carb to Paleo paid huge dividends in every area of my health.  Beans are one of those gray areas.  Yes, they contain lectins that can adversely affect some people.  I find, however, that many people tend to tolerate them quite well — particularly in moderation.  Also, for those of you thinking about going Paleo; it is absolutely critical that you understand GLUTEN CROSS-REACTORS.
  • DAIRY:  Again, I don’t feel that dairy is necessarily bad.  The problem is that heavily commercialized cow’s milk not only contains antibiotics, and hormones, but is pasteurized (this kills all the GOOD BACTERIA) and homogenized.  On top of all this, milk’s purpose is to put big-time weight on an animal that grows up to be many times our size.  If you are going to drink milk, consider finding someone you can get raw goat’s milk from.  Easy to do in our area, but not so easy in most urban areas.  Oh; and for those of you who believe that strong bones can only be had from milk, you might want to READ THIS.  Because of the Elimination Diet, I have figured out that as long as I don’t get too crazy with it, I can handle cheese just fine — even though liquid milk or ice cream cause me issues.
  • VEGETATION:  This is a good time to talk about the difference between organic and not, as well as GMO’s vs non-GMO’s.  In our neck of the woods, it’s pretty easy to eat organic / non-GMO in season — especially if you GARDEN (we do).  However, it can be both difficult and expensive to follow this in the winter time.  I tend to be one of those pick-your-battles types, and this is not a battle that I am personally not as invested in AS OTHERS.  When it comes down to brass tacks, I am more interested in having food that is herbicide and pesticide free than worrying about whether or not something was GMO (I realize I will catch flak for this position — I’m OK with that). 
  • SNACKS:  The difference between Low Carb and Paleo snacks can be huge.  I recommend sticking to essentially the same sorts of snacks you might eat for a meal.   This is because many of the “Low Carb” snacks are loaded with MSG, ASPARTAME, or other fun chemicals that actually cause both health problems and weight gain.  On top of that, I find most “Gluten Free” snacks to be just as bad as their gluten-containing brethren — excepting the fact they don’t contain gluten (HERE).

The truth is, labels are often detrimental.  Technically speaking, I can’t really call myself “Low Carb” because I eat so many sweet potatoes and apples.  On the other hand, I can’t technically refer to myself as “Paleo” since I eat beans, butter, and cheese, as well as GMO’s (not to mention, some of our meat comes from the butcher shop).   I can say, however, that for some of you reading this —- especially those of you who could be considered nothing short of extremely sick — you may need to be stricter than I am.   For instance, LESLEY controls her Lyme’s by being all-in and virtually never cheating.

As long as you are eating a diet based on WHOLE FOODS with a negligible amount of THIS SORT OF JUNK CARBS (and feeding your GUT BACTERIA), it is likely to be a huge improvement over what you are currently doing.  As for those of you who are struggling with funky neurological issues or certain chronic health conditions (PCOS, TYPE II DIABETES, TBI, ALZHEIMER’S, PARKINSON’S, SEIZURE DISORDERS, etc), it might behoove you to at least do some research into the very Low Carb Diets known as KETOGENIC DIETS.  If the research resonates with you, think about a short (30 to 90 day) trial run.

For those who are chronically ill, you may want to see some of the other factors that could be adversely affecting your health (HERE).  And if you’re enjoying our site, why not share it with others.  Besides just forwarding it on to those you love or care about, one of the best ways to reach those same people is to like us or share on FACEBOOK.


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