Natalie’s Paleo Journey

I’ve had a really great experience with Paleo and it has impacted just about every aspect of my life, both personally and professionally. I studied Naturopathy in the early 90’s including 4 years of nutrition. Although there was an emphasis on organics and wholefoods we were still essentially taught through the model of the grain dominant food pyramid.

For the next 15 years or so I practiced naturopathy as well as working as a Registered Nurse at the Royal Women’s Hospital. Much of my time there was spent in IVF nursing so my practice tends to have an emphasis on fertility and reproductive health (as well as sports nutrition but we’ll get to that….)

Then, in 2010 I happened to read a very short article in a Metagenics journal touching on Paleo. It intrigued me so I ordered Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Diet and discovered a wealth of information at Mark Sisson’s Physiologically, it just made perfect sense. I adopted the diet immediately and just couldn’t believe the difference it made to my health. I woke up on the 3rd day and literally had energy to burn. Up until this time fatigue was a daily companion. I put it down to having a busy life with 2 gorgeous daughters who were 5 and 2 at the time and, along with my husband, running our own practice at Resonance Complementary Therapies. Nevertheless, despite taking herbs and having B vitamin injections I just couldn’t seem to shake it. So, to wake up feeling like an entirely different person was incredible.

Over the next few months I just felt better and better. I had never considered myself to be sick but niggling health issues disappeared. My skin cleared up, dermatitis went away, no more bloating and no more blood sugar fluctuations. I wasn’t overweight but I lost a few kilos effortlessly and eventually hit a point where I was ready to really commit to exercise.

Enter CrossFit. At that time any Paleo blog or website (there weren’t that many then!) would talk about CrossFit when the subject of fitness came up. So, I bit the bullet and joined Schwartz’s CrossFit Melbourne. CrossFit is now a regular part of my life and I absolutely love it. In fact, nutrition and CrossFit are the two passions in my life and I am fortunate enough that they now intersect on a professional level.

Many CrossFit gyms run 30 day Paleo Challenges. Over the past couple of years I have worked with many of them by giving a talk on Paleo nutrition then testing each person’s body composition. This gives a reading of fat mass, muscle mass and some other cellular health markers. The members then follow Paleo for 30 days then I go back and retest their body composition. It gives me a buzz every time because the changes that people make are brilliant. The vast majority of people lose fat without sacrificing muscle and just feel so much better.
I’ve also had patients in clinic achieve remarkable health improvements. People have been able to normalise their blood pressure and come off their anti-hypertensives entirely. We’ve had people come off all oral medications for type II diabetes and completely normalise their blood sugar levels. One of my patients was suffering repeated miscarriages and was able to have a healthy girl as soon as she adopted Paleo (we actually discovered that she was undiagnosed coeliac). I’ve had patients with alopecia have their hair regrow and people with auto-immune conditions get their immunity back in check.

I have prescribed various supplement in all these cases but he biggest lesson for me has been that unless a person is able to get their nutrition dialled in then no amount of medications or supplements will over-ride poor diet. There may be some degree of symptom control but never a true resolution.

It breaks my heart that many people are suffering unnecessarily by making, often inadvertently, poor food choices. The more that people can access solid, evidence based nutritional information, the better.