Clinical nutritionist Stella Metsovas, a food science practitioner studying human nutrition for over 15 years, developed her Paleo Mediterranean Diet with this in mind. With eight years of research under her belt, the Laguna Beach resident tailors her system to not only treat weight issues, digestive problems and symptoms of poor eating, but also as a diet for a lifetime.
Metsovas’s Paleo Mediterranean Diet stems from research into human DNA and utilizes the body’s natural digestive processes – our Paleolithic ancestors may have had it right all along. This is not to say we must completely go caveman, but eating as our pre-agricultural ancestors did may lead to significant health benefits, says Metsovas.
Metsovas took some time from research to talk about her diet, food and wellness.
How does your Paleo Mediterranean Diet work?
Optimal health begins in the gut. There is no quick fix or pill for a healthy, functioning gut. Paleo Mediterranean is backed by medically, peer-reviewed research in the following areas of study: evolutionary biology, nutrigenomics (study of nutrients and our DNA), metabolomics, epigenetics, and the principles of the most nutrient-rich ingredients known to mankind. The way our body digests a fat-free, processed cracker is far different than how you digest and break down an olive. The source of calories is the most important law of healthy eating.
What are some common ingredients used in your meal plans?
I use a low-allergenic ingredient list based on the principles of “Paleo-Mediterranean.” Common ingredients include fermented foods, seaweed, root vegetables, and game meats (vegetarians have revised ingredient lists). I’ve been quoted as saying: “Foods that grow from the ground or make a sound are OK to consume.”
How has travel assisted your research?
Traveling to Europe, especially to remote villages in Greece, Italy and France has helped in my study of clinical genetics. I go to these remote villages and look at the people, what they consume, their hair and skin, and use that in my studies. Travel has allowed me to expand my study and incorporate medical type food into diets for my clients and enhance my career as a nutritionist.
What challenges have you faced in the world of nutrition?
So much seems to be oversaturated these days. New studies in the media go from being effective one day and ineffective the next. This creates a lot of confusion about nutrition. Many times people seek advice of nutrition and healthy eating from the wrong sources. We need to be using the right tools to move forward in 2012 and look to licensed nutritionists to enhance our knowledge of health.
Who do you treat?
In the beginning I thought the majority of my clients would be women seeking to lose weight. Now I treat men and women who have digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, micronutrient deficiencies, fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms. I create a diet format that is specific to the individual. I need to know how their body is working. Through production companies, I have been able to work with actors to get their bodies ready for certain roles. I also work with athletes and give seminars to teams throughout Orange County. Overall, I love working with people and seeing results. Every one of my clients is a learning experience for me.
Where does exercise come in?
You definitely want to vary your workouts. Fitness has been jaded these days. Don’t expect working out for a half hour to be a replacement for being sedentary all day. Circulatory movement is so important for your body. Splitting your workouts in the mornings and evenings is a great way to keep up your circulatory system. Wearing a pedometer is also a good choice. A European walking study I did showed an average of 10,000 steps per day where as the average American is closer to 2,000.
What else do you have in the works?
After almost 10 years of serving my clients in private practice, I created the Gut Detox Solution – a systematic, lifelong principle created by optimal digestion – the key factor of health. This globally published book will be able to teach people how to get your gut healthy, taking out the saturated confusion. You cannot function optimally if your gut isn’t. Everything has to do with the food you put in your mouth. I want to make people aware of this by doing what I love. There are so many beautiful things you can find in food and it has been great to discover that.