I’m Dave, one of the owners of Primal Roots Organic Cafe. I have been into the healthy lifestyle, exercise, and nutrition for over 30 years. I religiously followed the suggested so-called heart-healthy diet of no refined sugar, no white flour, all low fat, lean proteins and tons of complex carbohydrates. For decades I never ate dairy, red meat, pork, egg yolks etc. and I consumed soy substitutes for milk and meat. I filled my plates with foods like quinoa pasta, tofu stir-fried in seed oils, gluten-free whole grain pancakes with unrefined pure maple syrup and piles of fruit. I ate breakfast like a king as soon as I woke up every day despite not being hungry because that was being advised by most all health and fitness professionals. I also feared the dreaded blood sugar crash before lunch. I had one or maybe 2 bowls of organic kamut flakes cereal or Quaker oats with dried fruits, bananas and added plenty of sweetened soy milk. Sometimes sweetened low-fat blueberry soy yogurt when I was in a pinch. Weekends it was a stack of whole grain waffles and globs of honey or maybe an egg white turkey omelet with alpine lace low-fat cheese. Yolks went in the trash.
I only shopped at specialty health food markets, usually baked my own desserts and I juiced organic carrots, beets and apples regularly and even drank nasty wheatgrass shots.
I read fitness magazines and nutrition books that said to eat all day long, every few hours so that my blood sugar never went low. So around 10:30 AM, almost every single day, I ate a packaged snack bar (the really healthy spirutein dark chocolate covered green bars) with a mere 27 grams of sugar and 40 grams of carbohydrates! For lunch I ate at health food and vegan cafes; usually a plate of the lean chicken breast, a pile of brown rice and some veggies. Other days a kale salad with candied nuts, low-fat sesame ginger dressing, and tropical fruits, but no ‘dangerous’ fat or meat. My coworkers at the office knew that I had to be out for lunch by noon or I risked getting lightheaded and cranky for lack of food. Around 3 PM, I always hammered down a snack of some kind of healthy whole grain, cane juice sweetened cake, pie, brownie or organic muffin that I purchased at the health food store so I could have the energy for my 5 PM workout, bike ride or run. I exercised consistently and religiously and yet I never looked muscular or fit. I would not even embark on any cardio without a packet or two of black cherry glucose gels in my bag for when I bonked. I also always carried some fruit or a processed Nutri-grain ‘healthy’ food snack in my pocket or car with me at all times in case I got a twang of hunger. I was hungry every few hours and weak and shaky if I missed a feeding. I was even still hungry right after meals.
For dinner, I usually cooked some kind of lean white fish or grilled chicken breast with generous portions of whole grain pasta, white potatoes and steamed vegetables (no butter – I never dared eat the stuff), all swimming in sweet but ‘healthy’ bottled sauces like organic teriyaki or bone sucking bbq sauce. I slathered it all with ‘soy garden’ spread a hydrogenated blob of soybean oil to keep my heart healthy. I typically ate rice dream immediately after dinner or some other healthy vegan dessert. Just before bed every single night I downed a smoothie blender concoction of sweetened egg white protein powder, roasted organic peanut butter, frozen bananas, a glob of agave syrup and sweetened soy milk. (I estimate about 100 grams of “healthy sugar and carbs” to refill my muscle depleted glycogen stores from training.
I didn’t smoke, drink or take any medications.
By age 49, despite my healthy diet and regular strenuous exercise regime, I morphed into the healthiest sick guy around. See my “before paleo’ photo of August 2014 above. I was also just as sick on the inside. A doctor visit in 2014 showed I was hypertensive, was having Heart PVCs, I was pre-diabetic with A1-C levels at 5.7 and my good HDL cholesterol was low and my so-called bad LDL was high, and my triglycerides were skyrocketing at over 200. I suffered from severe acid reflux, awful anxiety, mood swings and always had a distended swollen abdomen just to name a few. My right knee was always in pain when running and my right hip was so inflamed you could not even touch it without searing chronic pain. Same for my lower back, both elbows and shoulders. I had bad seasonal allergies and was frequently sick. (Can anyone say systemic inflammation)
I was told by medical professionals that since my diet is so ‘healthy’ it’s just bad genetics and the pain was due to ‘overuse’
I knew at that moment something was seriously wrong with my diet and it was not bad genes, but I could not figure out what I was missing. I was following what I learned in school, what I read in books and what I was told by health experts. I even moved to plant-based veganism for short spurts but my blood work numbers did not change. I also tried a superfoods diet, macrobiotic and raw food diet for brief spells. All of them of course were nutrient dense, high complex carb, low-fat diets.
Frustrated and sick, I began immersing myself in studying the science behind the paleo or primal way of eating. It made so much sense to me that humans evolved on fat and very little carbs but I dreaded the thought of no sugar, no bread, no muffins, no cereal, no pancakes, no smoothies and the no fruit lifestyle. I also feared and the suggested saturated fat intake for heart health. I took the plunge anyway and stayed the primal eating course for a year and I had many setbacks. I did not really change my exercise routine at all.
See the second ‘after paleo’ photo below which is one year later at age 50 in 2015, which I still maintain today.
The blood-work changes were even more telling that primal eating was what my body responded to best. My HDL good cholesterol increased, my blood pressure went down 10 points, my LDL increased, but a VAP test showed that 70% of my LDL was comprised of the good fluffy particles and only 30% dense LDL. I was no longer pre-diabetic as the A1-C went down to 5.2. Most significantly my triglycerides went way down to 65. The pain, swollen abdomen and allergies all vanished in 3 or 4 weeks when the systemic inflammation healed. The reflux eventually went away, though this took some time.
I now feel a burning desire to share the benefits of this primal lifestyle with others and I have set out to change lives through this unique and delicious Primal Roots primal food restaurant and by primal health coaching.
See Picture Below