Cardiology, Paleo & Paranoia

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One thing that struck me about paleo eating is that there is a huge amount of fat in it and the principle is that “there is no such thing as bad fat”, I found this hard to digest initially. With a background in medicine and science I still remember the lectures on heart disease saying that “high fat diets are one of the causes of atherosclerosis which can lead to heart attacks”. So I asked a cardiologist about this.

Their theory was that the paleolithic man wouldn’t have had fats all the time they would have binged on it when they could, additionally they would have had a lot of vegetables and also nuts/berries, possibly because meat wasn’t as available all the time. Additionally if you eat a lot of animal fats it will put your cholesterol up (whether this was good or bad cholesterol, I forgot to ask, sorry); this fact however I can believe.

The main points I got from this were:

1. Vegetables should be the main focus of the meal with protein on the side (this I sort of gathered already).
2. Try to minimise consumption of red meat (this is what I think they meant by animal fats putting up cholesterol).
3. Aim for white meats and fish/seafood which don’t have as much saturated fat in them.

A big thing, for me personally, was worrying about developing heart disease/chest pains from trying to be healthy and eat right (because paleo is a high fat diet). Getting called out to help a person with ‘chest pains’ is an almost daily occurrence and I worry I would dismiss or exaggerate my own ‘symptoms’ because of the frequency of dealing with chest pains when there is no discernible cardiac cause. I truly think this is more out of paranoia than anything else, again asking the cardiologist about this they seemed to agree it was down to paranoia. Not sure if any other HCPs have had similar problems in their related fields.

I definitely need to prove, for myself, that eating a paleo diet is not going to increase my risk of heart disease or other health problems when combined with exercise i.e. CrossFit. It is very hard to shake the persistent sound of lecturers saying “too much fat is bad for you”. Further scientific investigation by me is needed, more posts on this subject to follow but for now back to thinking about food!

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8 responses to “Cardiology, Paleo & Paranoia

  1. on my first week of “paleo” ie trying to be reasonably cheap and healthy with fish and veg I have lost 1kg and brought my body fat down 1% – it will be interesting to see if the body fat keeps coming down?! I too struggle with the concept and continually try to explain to colleagues that its not atkins……ie don’t go overboard with the fat.

    • Thanks for the comment. Those are some pretty good results after just a week, awesome! When I initially started eating strict I wasn’t weighing myself but I noticed an improvement to my cardio stamina without extra training or going for runs etc, which is what amazed me since it was high fat. Part of me feels we’ve been lied to by so many people about fats and now it’s so hard to break the stigma, even in our own heads.

      • I’m actually surprised I havent lost more weight because I feel like I have- the chat about it giving your intestine time to heal etc I feel is true- I’m sleeping much better as well. When I ate the potato wedges the other night i felt a bit bloated. It’s a very interesting science project!

      • For any low carbohydrate diet your body will drop weight dramatically within the first 1-2 weeks depending, however after that your body plateaus and weight loss is non existent in fact people can gain a bit after losing it despite eating the same. Sadly this is a normal initially in low card diets. Also with a paleo diet you may lose fat but gain muscle if exercising so you may gain weight (as muscle weights more than fat).

        I know what you mean about the eating non-paleo foods, it’s becoming an almost instant gastric repulsion, thankfully internal. I’m also sleeping much better, which is good news for a shift worker!

      • I am about 14 pounds overweight so I am really hoping that the weight does keep coming off but at a slow speed an regularly because I get the feelin that this being a lifestyle choice will force me to stop eating crap and then my weight will stop fluctuating. I’m doing exercise for the first time in my life- although I’m getting stronger I think I’m kidding myself that I have any muscle yet 😉

      • Muscle lies under fat so if trying to lose weight and gain muscle you won’t see both at the same time sadly ;). Definitely keep going, sounds like you’re doing all the right things, your weight will fluctuate as your body changes how it burns food to get energy (glucose). I know it can be very frustrating when you do all the right things and you get great results one day and nothing for a while afterwards, and everyone around you is getting thinner and stronger by the second it seems. I’m definitely feeling the better sleep effects too, which is great news for a shift worker :)!

  2. As a fellow paramedic, I think I would have to say that it is common for us to dismiss any symptoms we have. One of the guys I work with is also Paleo, and prides himself in having bacon every day. His wife, being a nurse, told him he shouldn’t do so because his cholesterol would be through the roof. After six months of his daily bacon routine, he went and had a blood panel drawn and his cholesterol was the lowest it has ever been. I think we all need to get this done and see how our body reacts to the diet change. We all store different things in varying amounts. It’s hard to say that everyone will have a bad reaction to eating lots of meat, such as an MI, because everyone is different.

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