A Healthy Low-Carb Diet - Foods To Include, Foods to Avoid

A healthy low-carb diet for you may differ from my ideal diet, however there are some general guidelines that apply to most of us, with few outlier exceptions.  

Although many people believe we are all different, and therefore what works for some may not work for others, this needs to be clarified.  We are all humans.  No other animal nor primitive human was ever concerned about eating for their blood type, body type, or whether they were better adapted to eating this or that type of food group.  They ate what was available, when available.  For Europeans, and others from cold climates, animal foods were the primary staple. 

Hunter-Gatherer (HG) around the world tend to consume a higher protein diet (average of 30% of calories from protein) versus an average of 13-15% of calories as protein among Americans, Europeans, and other urban populations world wide.  Several HG tribes conduct rituals to honor the animal foods they hunted, as they were considered sacred foods, known to provide strength, endurance, and strong immune systems, critical for survival. Plant foods were supplemental and seasonal.

Beef roasts that are slow-roasted come out perfectly cooked and tender every time. Beef is an excellent nutrient-rich staple food on a healthy low-carb diet.

We promote learning to trust your true nature when determining the specifics of a  healthy low-carb diet for you as an individual, choosing from among those foods that best support human health ~ whole, nutrient-dense foods that our human physiology is best designed to utilize for immunity from  disease, and optimal physical, mental, and emotional health.  

During the 1930s, Weston A. Price, DDS, traveled to live among several remote populations to observe their dental health.  He and his wife obtained detailed records and compared dental health, physical health, strength, stature, and  immunity from disease of those that continued to consume their native diet, and those of similar ancestry who began to consume so-called modern foods.  Although the precise foods varied from tribe to tribe, clear patterns emerged.  

The primary staples foods considered most sacred were all of animal origin.   The specific types of animal foods consumed varied  depending on what was native to their region.   Consumption of native foods helped local populations maintain good health, strength, healthy dental carries, and immunity from diseases.  Consumption of 'modern' foods led to a deterioration of dental health,  physical decline, greater rates of infertility, and less immunity from polio and other diseases.

All animals including humans are capable of consuming an omnivorous diet, however, the physiology of each species  ~  gut size, stomach acid content, and much more ~ determine the types of foods  ~ animals, fish, birds and insects versus plant matter ~ that each species specializes in eating, that is, what each species is designed to eat for optimal health. Herbivores will eat small animals when given the opportunity, and carnivores will eat vegetation ~ grasses, berries, and more.

What a healthy low-carb diet looks like for you will be determined by which foods best support your health goals, and can best restore and maintain health  based on your constitution, current condition, past dietary history, the region you live, and even your ancestry.  

There are many ways to customize your individual diet ~  within the scope of available foods that the human physiology is designed to eat for production of energy, maintenance of a healthy weight, and immunity from disease and premature degeneration.  In other words, a healthy low-carb diet that centers around animal foods, with the right plant foods added as tolerated and desired.

Don's video explains this further ~ showing the contrasting gut size and structure, stomach acid content, and other variables of herbivores versus carnivores, including our primate 'cousins.'  While many are labeled 'omnivorous' ~ Don points out that all animals and humans consume both plants and other animals.  What is important to understand is what our physiology is designed to preferentially specialize in for the most optimal physical health and development.

The first principle of creating a healthy low-carb diet according to your true nature is to understand some nutritional basics, including knowing which foods are considered  the least healthy by pretty much everyone in the field of nutrition and health.

Here is a list of foods that pretty much everyone should
avoid, most if not all of the time ~ whether following a healthy low-carb diet or not!

Foods that are not part of a healthy low-carb diet:

  • Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats - These fats have a hydrogen atom added chemically to allow a vegetable oil that is naturally liquid at room temperature to become solid, and therefore more shelf stable.  You can often read this on the label as "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" palm, cottonseed, or corn oil.  These fats are a synthetic alteration that the body is not designed to utilize, and can cause a host of problems.  Anything that is synthetically altered should be strictly avoided, and is not part of a healthy diet.

  • Highly synthetic sweeteners and refined sugars, including high fructose corn syrup, and synthetic or 'fake' sugars, such as saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame, neotame, and sucralose.  

    Some of these sweeteners go by the brand name of 'Equal' or 'Sweet and Low.'  Synthetic modified food substances are lower in calories, but they are intensely sweet.  They are used in diet sodas, gum, mints, and many other products.  

    Holly Strawbridge, former editor of Harvard Health interviews Dr. David Ludwig to see if he agreed with the claims made by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) that the use of artificial sweeteners may help people consume fewer calories leading to less weight gain.  Less weight gain means lower risk for heart disease and diabetes.  Ludwig has a few concerns about this logic.  First, he is concerned that people will replace the lost calories from consuming no or low-calorie diet sodas containing artificial sweeteners with other sources, in as he says an "I'm drinking diet soda so it is okay to have cake" kind of rationale.

    He believes the intensity of the sweetness may cause people to lose their taste for natural foods like fruits and vegetables.  He also points out that the San Antonio Heart Study found that those who drank 21 diet sodas per week were twice as likely to become overweight to obese as those who didn't drink any.  This can be due to several factors, however, many people play the deny and rationalize game, deluding themselves about their actual intake of food.  The synthetic sweeteners have also been linked to headaches or migraines, and other health issues.  Artificial foods that have been created in a lab are simply not part of a healthy diet.

  • Junky snack foods that are dry, and contain unhealthful fats, refined carbs. and other chemicals and flavoring agents, and food dyes. 

    A craving for these foods can indicate that you need to increase your intake of sodium. Read The Salt Fix, Why The Experts Got It All Wrong––and How Eating More Might Save Your Life, by Dr. James DiNicolantonio,  for more information about this important nutrient!

Sodas with artificial flavoring, and lots of sugar, along with dry crunchy processed snacks are not recommended to be consumed regularly as part of a healthy low-carb diet, nor in general.  

An occasional treat can be enjoyed by those in decent health, although best to totally avoid them.  They are harmful, expensive, and not worth the brief satisfaction they may provide.  

Photos courtesy of Pexels.com
  • Foods with food colorings, and anything written on the label that you can not identify as a real food are definitely not part of any healthy diet, especially a healthy low-carb diet as these are sources of excess unwanted refined carbs!

  • Essentially, most foods that come in a can or box  are  overly processed (with few exceptions), and are not considered staple foods in a healthy low-carb diet, unless fresh alternatives are not available.  That being said, some are far worse than others, but in general, eating a healthy diet involves reducing reliance on packaged and processed foods.  Sardines, mackerel, canned tomatoes, and olives are among the exceptions.
  • Sodas with food coloring, and artificial sweeteners or refined sugars are avoided in healthy low-carb diets, as explained in the second recommendation above.  Substitute healthier alternatives, including plain mineral water (our favorite is Gerolsteiner), or sparkling water with natural fruit flavor added, such as those made by Sprouts or Trader Joe's. Otherwise, purified water, and various teas, coffee, or coffee alternatives are recommended as your main beverages.  Tea contains small amounts of manganese.

  • Refined grains and sugars, including products made with 'wheat flour', 'enriched flour' or any processed and milled grain, and refined sugar.  

  • Many people may also need to avoid whole and refined wheat, products made from wheat, or other gluten-containing grains, such as barley, rye, and possibly oats, kamut, spelt or other whole grains.  Those with Chron's disease or irritable bowel may want to experiment with avoiding beans and legumes, and products made from them as well.

  • Genetically modified foods should be avoided to the best of ones' ability given the lack of food labeling laws.  Corn, wheat and soy are at the top of the list.

What foods can be included in a balanced, healthy low-carb diet?

Keta (Chum) Salmon is milder and less fatty than Pacific wild salmon. Served w/ a red pepper & red onion sautéed relish. Many people feel quite satisfied having healthy proteins and some well seasoned vegetables as part of a healthy, low-carb diet plan.

How do we define a 'balanced diet'?

In the Churchill Livingston book, Chinese Dietary Therapy, with Liu Jilin as the main editor, and Gordon Peck as the subject editor, a balanced diet is defined as follows:

"A balanced diet means that the kinds of foods we consume and the nutrients these foods contain should be comprehensive, adequate in amount and proportion, so that the nutrients supplied by our diet will meet the needs of the body....the types and amounts of foods should be present in appropriate proportions."

Protein and fat is required by our body as sources of essential amino acids and fatty acids.  There is no actual requirement for dietary carbohydrates.  The body can convert the small amount of glucose required by the brain from protein and fat in a process called gluconeogenesis.   

Fats, and especially cholesterol are primary components essential for healthy brain functioning, healthy nerves, fertility and reproduction, and  many other important functions.

Therefore, a 'balanced' and healthy low-carb diet will provide the right balance of protein and fats, along with adequate sodium to sustain you throughout your day.  When you become accustomed to eating a low-carb diet with enough protein and fat, you will find yourself able to go longer between meals, with more sustained and focused energy.  Add enough of the right low-carbohydrate fruits and vegetables, and even some starchy vegetables that you know you can tolerate, if  that adds to your enjoyment of life!

The second principle of eating a healthy low-carb diet is getting clear about which foods are most appropriate for human health.  

The most nutritious foods are those foods which provide the greatest, and most easy to assimilate nourishment.  These foods may vary a bit depending on your ancestry, as you are more genetically adapted to the foods that your pre-agricultural ancestors consumed.  

The best foods for optimal health are whole, natural foods, as close to their original form as possible.

The most nutrient-dense foods are animal foods of all varieties ~ especially organ meats, and eggs. 

Primitive and tribal cultures ate 'the head to the toe' ~ or all parts of the animals, including the highly prized bone marrow.

Organ meats were most revered (above the muscle flesh) as they contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C found in adrenal glands.(1), (2)

Wild cod with sautéed vegetable relish.

"While Price was a pioneer, other scientists have studied traditional cultures and concluded that food is almost certainly responsible for the nearly complete protection that hunter-fisher-gatherers enjoy from dental and chronic disease."

~Ron Schmid, ND, Primal Nutrition, Paleolithic and Ancestral Diets for Optimal Health

Native populations world wide ~ including our Neanderthal ancestors ~ consumed whatever types of fish or animal flesh foods, wild fruits (which were smaller, higher in protein, and less sweet),  fresh wild greens and  plants, underground storage tubers, nuts, and seeds that were seasonally available in their local region. They did not eat imported foods.

Some populations also supplemented their diets with whole grains, such as millet or quinoa, wild corn, or beans.  Weston Price observed that these foods supported health to a much lesser extent as the animal food portions of diets, however refined versions of these foods quickly led to decay, disease, and degeneration.

Dairy foods were included in many early Nordic, Germanic, and French diets as well.  

The Tibetans, the Maasai and other primitive cultures have also consumed high protein and fat diets and the milk from various animals for generations free of our modern diseases commonly (and erroneously) associated with high-fat diets.

Locally raised grass-fed ground beef which has been frozen at packaging is safe to enjoy like a steak tartar (typically with an egg yolk on top) for the adventurous, or seared on the grill for the more squeamish

Scientists from MIT and the University of Laguna in Spain examined human fecal remains found in El Salt in Southern Spain, an area known to have been inhabited by Neanderthals dating back 50,000 years.  

According to the article, Did Neanderthals eat their vegetables?  published in MIT News, upon examination of both the fecal samples and the soils, the scientists concluded that, "while Neanderthals had a most(ly) meat-based diet, they may also have consumed a fairly regular portion of plants, such as tubers, berries, and nuts."   According to Ainira Sistiaga, a graduate student of the University of Laguna who led the analysis, "We believe Neanderthals probably ate what was available in different situations, seasons, and climates."  

For many people ~ especially those of European descent ~ a healthy diet will best proximate the Neanderthal diet.  Proteins, fats, and some plants.

Those of European and Asian descent share in DNA with Neanderthals, hence what is appropriate for these populations may differ than those of African descent, who do not share ancestry with Neanderthals.  Eating animal foods meant survival during cold winters. 

A mix of hard cooked eggs, bacon, grass-fed white cheddar cheese, and a little (now over cooked) steak can be enjoyed as part of a balanced and healthy low-carb diet.

Once you learn how to trust your true nature, your tastes will spontaneously guide you to the best choices for optimal health.  

But before you can really trust your mind to help you determine the healthiest low-carb diet plan for you, you may have to unlearn some nutritional myths we have been indoctrinated into accepting as health gospel. 

Sometimes we have to unlearn, or cleanse our minds and our bodies  to come to peace with our food choices, and finally have a healthy relationship with food. 

When you think of it, a blood test is  a mere snapshot in time that may provide you with your cholesterol score, but tells you little about how you are actually feeling, and what symptoms you are experiencing.  

(Read Don's great article about high cholesterol and building muscle, here.)

The TYTN Low-Carb Lifestyle is a flexible, healthy low-carb diet plan that offers plenty of  wiggle room to be modified to suit individual needs, and personal priorities and preferences.  

In summary, a healthy low-carb diet will vary from person to person, contingent upon one's condition, the season, geographic location, and ancestry.

For any healthy diet, the choices should focus on the best quality available, that you can comfortably afford.  

Always do your best, without guilt.  It's a process; the first step is to improve your health ~ eating what you can afford.  

Eat 'appropriate amounts' of  fresh vegetables, greens, and fruits as per your condition and tolerance.  Favor foods from your local or similar bioregion.  

It's best to eat those foods that grow in your own, or a similar bioregion.  They will have cultivated the energy to withstand the very climate you live in that will be transferred to you when you consume these foods.

Blackberries, almonds & honey

Need help learning how to trust your true nature when crafting your ideal healthy low-carb diet?

Would you like extra support  with weight loss, and restoring overall mind-body health?

 TYTN Health Coaching specifically focuses on helping you achieve your health and fitness goals.

Learning to trust your self builds confidence.  Eating the best diet for you is also a liberating and rewarding experience.

You may enjoy the first two videos in the series on how to lose weight with our healthy low-carb diet plan.  First and foremost ~ Have A Vision!

Our Trust Your True Nature (TYTN) Low-Carb / Keto-Hypercarnivore Diet Health Coaching and Strong Spirit Self-Empowerment Coaching Services are available remotely from the comfort of your own home, or at our Scottsdale, Arizona  acupuncture clinic.

Contact our office at 602-954-8016, or contact me at tracy@strongspiritwoman.com with your questions.

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