The Paleo Diet: Changing Lives?

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My sister, Allison Niebauer, with some of her SCD delicacies

We have all heard it before, whether from a friend after a dramatic weight loss, or within the pages of a glossy magazine with accompanying before-and-after photos that leave our mouths agape: THIS DIET CHANGED MY LIFE. While trend diets tend to promise just that – a drastic change in feeling and appearance – the brevity of the results received and the toll which they take on one’s body are usually just as extreme.

Growing in popularity over the last 5 years, a new- or rather old, considering its origins date back to the Stone Age- diet trend has emerged: the Paleolithic diet, or “paleo” for short. Promising not only weight loss, but also increased health benefits for people suffering from a slew of maladies, including osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease and even cancer, this pre-historic diet is coming back into fashion- and people are taking to it like cavemen to fire.

The Paleo Diet, which was developed through research done by Dr. Loren Cordain, has become a popular health trend, not only for those trying to fit into their bikinis or beat the winter bulge, but also for those who suffer from chronic illness or disease. Paleo relies on dieters going back to basics- unprocessed foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, and fresh meats and nuts, just like our earliest ancestors would have hunted and gathered for so long ago.

Personally, I know about Paleo because my sister, Allison Niebauer, follows a diet very similar to it, the “Specific Carbohydrates Diet,” as a means of controlling her Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune disease that she was diagnosed with three years ago. Whereas the Paleo diet requires its adherents to abstain from cereal grains, refined sugar, dairy, salt, refined vegetable oils and processed foods, the SCD diet allows its constituents to consume specific types of dairy and legumes.

Although my sister remains my personal “face” for the Paleo/SCD diet trend, another young woman, Danielle Walker, has published a New York Times bestselling cookbook and has a popular website a blog due to her success with managing her Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune disease, through following the Paleo diet. Walker has gained success through sharing her story and publishing Paleo-friendly recipes on her website “Against All Grain” and in her cookbook of the same name.

Walker has been able to manage the symptoms of her disease and go without a flare-up since she has committed to strictly adhering to the Paleo diet. “I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune disease, when I was 22 years old,” said Walker on her website. “After a few years of suffering, multiple hospitalizations, and doctors telling me that what I ate wasn’t a factor in my disease, I decided to take matters into my own hands and drastically change my diet.”

Walker’s story is not unique, either. Hundreds of people with similar stories to her own post on her blog, on various health forums and on Paleo websites to speak of the transformation that they have undergone since committing to the Paleo or SCD diet. Doctors in support of the diet say that the typical Western diet is responsible for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and more. However, the diet is not without controversy.

According to an article published by Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on WebMD’s journal, “Some nutrition experts assert that humans have adapted to a broader diet including whole grains, dairy, and legumes. Others question the evidence for the diet’s evolutionary logic.”

While I can personally attest to the transformative impact that it has had on my sister, who has had significantly improved health since strictly adhering to the SCD diet, I can also acknowledge questioning the impact that abstracting multiple food groups from our diet that have been previously deemed as “good for you” (dairy? whole grains?). Skeptics wonder, what problems may arise from a lack of nutrients provided from a “well-balanced” diet?

By adhering to the Paleo or SCD diet, dieters are still consuming a wide-variety of foods and eating a balanced diet, but are avoiding foods that are hard for the body to digest, and that can cause heart problems later on. This isn’t the Atkins diet, which encourages dieters to cut out an entire food group in order to lose weight – this diet is, for many people, about better health; a form of medicinal therapy for serious ailments and disease that is more a lifestyle change than even a diet.

Cordain argues that even foods like grains and dairy, which seem to be good for us, come with a price. “Our genome has not really adapted to these foods, which can cause inflammation at the cellular level and promote disease,” she said in a statement to WebMD.

While I can’t imagine giving up grains and sugar, which seem to sneak their way into everything I consume, I have been floored by the power of our diet on our health and well being, as evidenced by my sister and many others who have found relief to ailments that were otherwise unsolvable with prescription medication.

As science evolves and we get more information on what is best for our bodies, we learn that the foods we once thought were most important for our health may now be our greatest demise. Trend or not, the findings of the Paleolithic diet are hard to ignore, and the testimonies of its followers speak for themselves on the power of this new-old diet.

 

INTERESTED?

Check out Allison Niebauer’s blog at: livingfullywithout.com

Check out Danielle Walker’s blog at: againstallgrains.com

Why Malala Matters: This sixteen-year old is changing the world

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Photo couresy of vitalvoices.org

Malala Yousafzai is a target. A native Pakistani who was shot by the Pakistani Taliban after advocating for girls’ education in her home country, she was nominated this year for a Nobel Peace Prize for her continued work in empowering young women through education. Last week, she met with President Obama and his family and was recognized by the United Nations Security Council. She has appeared on numerous talk shows and has met with the Queen of England. She has achieved international notoriety for her resilience and bravery, as well as for her peaceful response to the Taliban, who continue to try to kill her. Yousafzai is just sixteen.

Yousafzai has become an icon of resilience against injustice for girls in Pakistan and has used her notoriety to continue to promote her platform: that girls need education and that it is the lack of education available for girls keeping young girls in oppressive situations

Recently appearing on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Yousafzai blew Stewart away with her answer when he questioned how she would respond if attacked by the Taliban again (she was formerly shot in the head and neck and made a miraculous recovery in England).

Yousafzai responded by saying, “I would tell him how important education is and that I would even want education for your children as well,” the Pakistani girl said. “That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.”

Yousafzai is talking about peace and change when other girls her age are talking about Miley Cyrus and The Kardashians. Although she is disliked by many people in her country for her stance on education and disowned by others who don’t want to be targeted for agreeing with her ideals, she remains loving towards her country and hopes to one day serve as Prime Minister.

“Even if its people hate me,” she said in one interview, “I will still love it [Pakistan].”Speaking towards becoming Prime Minister, she told CNN,“I can spend much of the budget on education,”

Yousafzai continues to bravely press forward with her promotion of her new book, I am Malala, which not only describes her harrowing ordeal of being shot and her recovery after the fact, but also reiterates her hope for a brighter future for girls in Pakistan. She continues to be a target for the Taliban in Pakistan, and after she was not chosen as the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the Taliban expressed their sentiments.

“We are delighted that she did not get it. She did nothing big so it’s good that she didn’t get it,” spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told the Agence France-Presse. “She is not a brave girl and has no courage. We will target her again and we will strike whenever we have a chance,” Shahid previously told AFP.

In a culture obsessed with pop culture and tragedy, Yousafzai’s story is not the norm in the typical news line- up. Yousafzai’s story of courage and resilience has taken the nation by storm, and many people have spread Yousafzai’s story over social media. President Obama, Mrs. Obama, and their daughter Malia met with Yousafzai to commend her for her “inspiring” work for girls’ education in terrorism. In characteristic honesty, Yousafzai also had a few words for the president.

“I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees,” Yousafzai said in a statement published by the Associated Press. “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”

Yousafzai told Stewart that she could not believe that the Taliban would want to kill her for her beliefs. She became a target for the Taliban after posting her thoughts on girls’ education on her blog. She also elaborated on how she would respond to an attack by the Taliban if it were to happen again, because as it stands, Yousafzai lives in England because of the danger that returning to Pakistan would pose to her.

“If you hit a Talib, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib,” she said. “You must not treat others with cruelty. … You must fight others through peace and through dialogue and through education.”

Yousafzai continues to inspire through her peaceful response to violence and her steadfast dedication to her belief that girls have the power, when educated, to use their knowledge for good and to enact change.

“If a terrorist can change someone’s mind and convince them to become a suicide bomber, we can also change their minds and tell them education is the only way to bring humanity and peace,” she said at the World Bank Fund annual meeting, after insisting, “I am proud to be a girl, and I know that girls can change the world.”

On a personal note, I will add that I think girls like Malala give hope and promise to an often dark world. The realities of oppression and sexism are real, and although we are blessed to live in a country where, as women, we have made great strides towards equality, many of our sisters continue to struggle. I read in the NY Times that, recently, pastors in Pakistan have started preaching a message called “My daughter is a blessing, not a curse” following Malala’s work for female empowerment. How awful is it that a pastor would need to remind their congregation that their daughter is not a CURSE. What kind of effect does that kind of dialogue have on a young woman’s confidence, ability to thrive, vitality, or even will to live? My heart breaks for these women, but this also motivates me to continue to push for education and empowerment for women. I applaud Malala’s bravery and fierce loyalty to peace and to her cause, and I pray that I will have the ability and the drive to follow in her efforts to give women a fair chance to live well, to be loved, to be empowered, and to thrive. Oh, and all you women reading this? You are SUCH a blessing to this world.

Rand Paul on the Rise?

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Is this junior senator running for the White House?

An article written for Vogue magazine by journalist Jason Horowitz explores the rise of Rand Paul, the junior Senator of Kentucky. The article aims to provide background for the reader on who Paul is through giving details about his family life, upbringing, education, and notable political achievements. Paul has caused considerable buzz within the Republic Party, particularly after a filibuster this summer over President Obama’s use of drones, in which Paul argued his opinion for 13 hours straight. Giving the Senator a profile for which readers can get to know the quiet Paul and his family (the author argues that his wife, Kelly Ashby, is his “secret weapon”), the author aims to ask the million dollar question: Could Republican Senator Rand Paul Win The White House?

HERE ARE THE BASICS:

WHO: Rand Paul, Junior Senator of Kentucky, Republican

WHAT: Paul’s rise to success within the Republic Party, the possibility of him running for president in 2016

WHERE: America, baby

WHEN: Now and, more specifically, in 2016.

WHY: Paul has had several substantial accomplishments while serving as junior Senator, could lead to a possible campaign for President (His dad is RON Paul… he tends to run for President, too…)

This article is not the first, nor the last, that we will see on Rand Paul. The Senator, though widely criticized even within the Republic Party for his Tea-Party ideas and constitutionalist stance on many issues, is beloved by many on the right (and particularly the far right). Paul has been praised for his hard-stance against many policies proposed and supported by Democrats, and has, thus far, upheld a clean private life. This article is particularly interesting, because instead of taking the style of the New York Times, Politico, Horowitz’s “home” publication, The Washington Post, or the like, it is written in typical colloquial Vogue style…. lots of background research, cheeky anecdotes, probing questions looking for a scandalous answer, and imagery that makes the reader feel as if they are part of the subject’s life. I chose this article, because it takes a more personal look at a public figure and discusses not only his past and private life, but also looks at the accomplishments he has had in his position as junior senator and the feathers he has rustled- both outside of the Republican party and within.

Articles like this one will only get more prevalent during 2014 and certainly during 2015 as possible candidates for president emerge before the 2016 election. Even in this article, which merely muses on the idea of Paul running as President (and doesn’t truly answer the question of if he could win, instead leaving it to readers to decide), Hillary Clinton is mentioned as a possible “opponent” of Paul’s, as well as Vice President Joe Biden and, on the Republican side, Ted Cruz. Readers can use this article to begin to understand the possible candidates for the 2016 presidency or, if nothing else, see a decidedly different view to that of our current president, Barack Obama.

Information is power, and knowing about possible candidates before the race has even begun is one more way for Vogue readers (though they may just be looking for the newest Marc Jacobs collection) to be in the know and ahead of the trend.

Original Article HERE: http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/republican-senator-rand-paul-for-president/#3