How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days)

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Ruh-roh. (Photo: Toby Otter)

Following our Paleolithic ancestors, our Neolithic ancestors lost an average of six inches in height. Most people now have those last 5-10 pounds that seem impossible lose. The causes for both, surprisingly, may be the same.

Robb Wolf can explain. Robb, a former research biochemist, has functioned as a review editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism and is co-owner of NorCal Strength & Conditioning, one of the Men’s Health “top 30 gyms in America.” He’s also a former California State Powerlifting Champion with a competition 565 lb. squat, 345 lb. bench, 565 lb. deadlift…

I have known of Robb for several years, but I only met him through a friend a week ago. Several weeks earlier, that same friend had sent me a copy of Robb’s book, The Paleo Solution, which I ended up devouring in a few sittings. The chapters on digestion and improving digestion where particularly fascinating to me, and, for that reason, this post is a book excerpt. It details a particular problem and specific solutions. Enjoy.

Enter Robb Wolf.

A Common Problem

Below I describe several people who at first glance appear different, but in fact they all share a common problem. They had significant health issues with no apparent cause or solution and assumed they had no treatment options, as their doctors were stumped and could offer few solutions.

For you, this chapter may represent the “missing link” in your quest for improved performance and health.

Alex, Age Five

I first learned of Alex from my friend Kelly. She related a story of a little boy who was very sick, underweight, and suffering from constant digestive problems. If you like kids and other small, scurrying critters, Alex’s features and symptoms were literally heartbreaking. He had painfully skinny arms and legs, attached seemingly at random to a torso dominated by a prominently distended belly. At night Alex thrashed and turned in his bed, wracked by diffuse pain in his arms, legs and, especially, his belly. Alex had severe lethargy and a “failure to thrive.” His doctors ran extensive tests but found nothing conclusive. They recommended a bland diet of toast, rice puddings, and yogurt, but with no benefit to the little guy.

Kelly contacted me on behalf of the family and asked if I had any ideas that might help Alex. I made a few specific recommendations, which the parents enacted immediately. Within ten days, Alex’s perpetually distended belly was flat and normal. He gained six pounds in a little over two weeks and was noticeably more muscular in the arms and legs. His sleep shifted from the thrashing, restless bouts that left him listless and tired, to the sleep all kids should have: restful, unbroken, and filled with dreams. Alex’s energy improved to such a degree that the other kids and parents could hardly imagine he was the same kid. He was healthy and happy, all because of a simple adjustment he and his family made to his eating.

Sally, Age Sixty-One

Sally was referred to us by her family physician. Sally’s doctor had worked with her on a variety of issues: low thyroid, osteoporosis, gall bladder problems, depression, and high blood pressure. It was an impressive and ever-growing list of ailments that both Sally and her doctor attributed to “normal” aging. Her doc was pretty forward thinking, however, in that she recommended that Sally perform “weight bearing exercise” to help slow the progression of the osteoporosis and muscle wasting that been accelerating in the past four to five years.

When this recommendation brought Sally to us, she was a bit reluctant to get started with a strength-training program and was very reluctant to modify or change her nutrition. We were gentle but persistent.

Our recommendations focused on specific changes to her nutrition and lifestyle. Within two months Sally was off her thyroid medications, her gall bladder issues were gone, she was four pants sizes smaller, while her symptoms of depression had disappeared. After six months of training with us and following our nutrition recommendations, it was discovered that she was no longer osteoporotic.

Of all the improvements, Sally’s doctor was most impressed with the increased bone density. She asked Sally what she had modified to affect this change. When Sally told her doctor how she had changed her nutrition, her doctor pondered things for a moment, then said, “Well, it must be something else! Food can’t do all that.”

Jorge, Age Forty

Jorge started working with us primarily to lose weight. At five feet nine inches and 325 pounds, Jorge was heading down a path of significant illness stemming from type 2 diabetes and obesity. Compounding Jorge’s situation was a condition neither he nor his doctors could figure out. Nearly every time Jorge ate, he would break out in a rash and his tongue would swell. Like really swell. Jorge had to keep an epi-pen on his person at all times, similar to someone who has a severe allergy to bee stings or peanuts.

Jorge is a practicing attorney and several times a week he would dash out of the courtroom on a mad trip to the emergency room, where he would receive antihistamines to bring his tongue swelling under control. His doctors were (again) stumped. His blood work did not show a specific allergy, nor did he appear to have a full-blown autoimmune disease. Certain immune cells were obviously overactive, but in an atypical fashion that left the allergists and rheumatologists scratching their heads.

We recommended a nutritional change for Jorge, which he fought tooth and nail. God has never made a person more appropriate to be an argumentative lawyer! Part begging, part threatening, we finally won Jorge over and told him, “Just do this for a month. If it does not work, what have you lost? If it does work, what will you have gained?”

Jorge gave things a shot and his tongue swelling disappeared. Now a year later, Jorge is down to 255 pounds and making headway toward his goal of a lean, strong 225 pounds. Thankfully, Jorge now argues for us instead of against us! Not to beat up on the physicians too much, but when Jorge told his docs what he changed, they too did not believe the cause and effect staring them straight in the face.

So, What Did We Do?

It will come as a surprise for most people that the underlying cause of all the issues described above, in these very different people, was the same thing—a common component in nearly everyone’s diet. Gluten.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye oats, and barley. Other grains such as corn and rice have similar, but less problematic proteins (we will talk about that later).

OK, calm down, I get it. Bread, pasta, and cookies are yummy. They are also likely killing you. The other sections of this book I’m willing to give you a “pass” on understanding the technical points. Most people kinda get the insulin/high-carb issue. People are slowly realizing there are “good fats.” So, I’ll not hold you responsible for that material. However, I insist you read this grain issue, ponder it, and then do what I recommend.

We are going to learn the whole story about gluten, grains, and their roles in disease. I’ll then give you quantifiable measures for determining how much healthier you are without them. Then it’s all up to you. If you want to be healthy, you will find some level of compliance that works for you.

We have all seen pictures or videos of smokers dying from lung cancer yet still smoking through tracheotomy holes in their throats. Amazing, right? How can people do that? Well, gluten consumption is on par with a pack-a-day smoking habit.

Like most things, we need to start at the beginning.

Grains Anatomy

When I say “grain,” I am talking about one of many domesticated grasses in the gramineae family. This includes staples such as wheat, rye, oats, barley, millet, rice, and sorghum. These plants are derivatives or descendants from wild grasses that have been managed and bred for 2,000–5,000 years. All grains have the following anatomy:

Bran:

The bran is the outer covering of a whole, unprocessed grain. It contains vitamins, minerals, and a host of proteins and antinutrients designed to prevent the predation, or eating, of the grain. When you see brown rice, the bran is the flakey outer covering of the rice.

Endosperm:

The endosperm is mainly starch with a bit of protein. This is the energy supply of a growing grain embryo. When you see white rice, this is the endosperm with bran and germ removed.

Germ:

The germ is the actual reproductive portion of the grain. This is where the embryo resides.

In the wild, the cereal grain is distributed by the wind, and when conditions are right, the germ (embryo) begins the process of growth using the endosperm for energy. It may come as a surprise, but plants are not benign, altruistic organisms just waiting to send their next generation of young into our mouths in the form of sushi rice or French bread. Grains, like all critters on this planet, face the challenge of surviving long enough to reproduce. This is particularly problematic for grains in that their most nutrient-dense portion (the part we eat) happens to be the reproductive structure.

Sidebar: Oats, Quinoa, and False Friends

Hey Robb, I appreciate your concern, but my dietician told me Oats are gluten-free, so no need to worry about my morning bowl of oatmeal? Yep, I love oatmeal too, but it contains similar proteins to gluten. Cereal grains tend to have proteins that are high in the amino acid proline. These prolamines (proline rich proteins) are tough to digest, and thus remain intact despite the best efforts of the digestive process to break them down. The result is gut irritation, increased systemic inflammation, and the potential for autoimmune disease.

Corn has a similar prolamine called zein. Now you can heed or disregard this information as you please, but grains are a significant problem for most people. Upon removal of these grains, you will notice that you feel better. With reintroduction of grains…well, you feel worse. Keep in mind this inflammation is also a factor in losing weight and looking good, so don’t dismiss this if your primary goal is a tight tush. What I’m asking you to do is take 30 days and eat more fruits and veggies instead of the grains. See how you do. Not so hard, right? And just to head you off at the pass, let’s tackle two other grain related topics: “Whole grains” and Quinoa.

When we factor in their anti-nutrient properties, and potential to wreck havoc on our GI tract, grains are not a sound decision for health or longevity. For the purposes of our discussion, consider dairy and legumes in the same category.

[Note from Tim: Many of you know that I consume some legumes and beans. Normal cooking will reduce anti-nutrients in both, but, when possible, I also soak them overnight beforehand in water with a tablespoon of baking soda. Soaking for 24 hours at room temperature has been shown to remove 66% of the trypsin (protease) inhibitor activity in mung bean, 93% in lentil (this is what I eat most often), 59% in chickpea, and 100% in broad bean. Remember also to distinguish "in vitro" (e.g. red blood cells in a petri dish) vs. "in vivo" (e.g. after normal digestion) studies.]

Quinoa pops up frequently and the refrain goes like this, “Robb! Have you tried this stuff Quinoa (the pronunciation varies depending on how big a hippy you are). It’s NOT a grain! It’s fine, right?”

Well, you’ve likely heard the expression, “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…” Quinoa is botanically not a grain, but because it has evolved in a similar biological niche, Quinoa has similar properties to grains, including chemical defense systems that irritate the gut. In the case of Quinoa, it contains soap-like molecules called saponins. Unlike gluten, which attaches to a carrier molecule in the intestines, saponins simply punch holes in the membranes of the microvilli cells. Yes, that’s bad. Saponins are so irritating to the immune system that they are used in vaccine research to help the body mount a powerful immune response. The bottom line is if you think grains or grain-like items like Quinoa are healthy or benign, you are not considering the full picture.

One for Me and One for You

Some plants, like blueberries or similar fruits, have evolved a strategy of “give a little to get a little.” Critters (us included) eat these fruits, then pass the seeds in a convenient, warm fertilized package that all but guarantees the next generation. Sewage systems aside, this is a reasonable trade off. The critter that eats the blueberries gets a little nutrition in exchange for spreading the blueberry seeds for subsequent generations of blueberries.

Other plants take a different approach and try to dissuade all predation by shrouding themselves in nasty substances that are either irritants or outright poisons. Consider poison oak or poison ivy. These plants have developed chemical warfare capabilities and use oils that have a tendency to work their way through the skin of animals that come in contact with the leaves. This oil sets off an alarm that irritates the immune system. Lymphocytes and other white blood cells attack the oil and in the process release pro-inflammatory chemicals that lead to a rash. Keep this idea in mind as we talk about grains, as it will help you to wrap your mind around what is happening when we eat this “staple” food.

If we compare grains to the strategies listed above, “give a little, get a little,” like the blueberry, or “bugger off,” like the poison oak, we see that grains are much more like poison oak. If a critter eats a grain, that’s it for the grain. That does not mean that the grain goes down without a fight! Grains are remarkably well equipped for chemical warfare.

Lectins:

Grains contain a variety of proteins, some of which are called lectins (not to be confused with the hormone leptin). In simple terms, lectins stick to specific molecules and thus play “recognition” roles in biological systems.

For our purposes, we will look at wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), which is one of the nastier lectins, but also one of the better studied. Keep in mind, WGA (or similar molecules) are found in all grains, but it’s my opinion (and that of many other researchers) that wheat, rye, and barley, which are the gluten-containing grains, are likely the worst of the bunch with regard to health. Millet is similar to oats, in that it contains a protein only a few amino acids different from gliadin (the main problem in gluten), and it is therefore problematic for digestion. Be careful with “gluten-free” snack foods that seem too good to be true, millet-based or otherwise. Corn and rice can also be problematic, but they are safer if consumed infrequently (we will look at this later). WGA and similar lectins are problematic for several reasons:

1. Lectins are not broken down in the normal digestive process. This leaves large, intact proteins in the gut. If you recall, most proteins are broken down in the digestive process, but the structure of some grain proteins makes them very difficult to digest (for the geeks: these proteins are high in the amino acid proline). Grains also contain protease inhibitors (dairy and some other foods also contain these), which further block the digestion of dangerous lectins. This lack of adequate protein digestion leads to serious problems, as you will see.

2. The lectins attach to receptors in the intestinal lumen and are transported intact through the intestinal lining. Remember how amino acids and sugars are transported out of the intestines during digestion? Certain lectins “fool” transport molecules in an effort to gain entry into our bodies intact.

3. These large, intact protein molecules are easily mistaken by the body as foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, or parasites. It’s perhaps unpleasant to think about, but the intestines are not the nicest place to hang out. This area is a major source of infection by bacteria and viruses, and the immune system lies primed, waiting to pounce on any invading pathogen. Not only does WGA enter the system intact, it damages the intestinal lining, allowing other proteins to enter the system. Why is this a problem? Our immune system mounts an attack on these foreign proteins and makes antibodies against them. These antibodies are very specific to the shapes of these foreign proteins. Unfortunately, these proteins also tend to look like proteins in our body.

Brother from a Different Mother—Molecular Mimicry

Proteins are made of molecules called amino acids (AA). Let’s imagine for a minute these amino acids are represented by Legos, with different shapes and colors denoting different amino acids. Imagine a string of Legos with a specific sequence; let’s say its five to ten Legos long. Now imagine another, identical set of Legos attached on top of many more Legos. The top five to ten of the long piece is identical to the short piece.

Let’s assume the short piece is WGA and the long piece is a protein in the beta cells of your pancreas where insulin is made. If the WGA is attacked by the immune system and an antibody is made against it (because the body thinks WGA is a bacteria or virus), that antibody will not only attach to WGA, it can also attach to the protein in your pancreas. When that WGA antibody attaches to your pancreas, it precipitates a wholesale immune response—attacking that tissue. Your pancreas is damaged, or destroyed, and you become type 1 diabetic. If that protein happened to be in the myelin sheath of your brain, you would develop multiple sclerosis.

Celiac:

Most people are familiar with a condition called celiac, which is an autoimmune disease caused by gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and millet. It is clearly understood that celiac is an autoimmune disease caused by lectins. It is also clear that other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjögren’s, multiple sclerosis, and a host of other autoimmune conditions occur at much higher rates in celiac patients. However, this association, for whatever reason, was largely dismissed as an anomaly until researchers recently made the connection between the development of celiac and other autoimmune diseases.

We now understood that WGA and other lectins have a significant effect on the enzyme transglutaminase (TG). Transglutaminase is an enzyme that modifies every protein we make in our body. How many proteins does TG modify folks? That’s right, all of them. Heart, brain, kidney, reproductive organs—all of them. So, if lectins can cause problems with TG, and if TG modifies every protein in our body, how many things can lectins cause problems with? I hope this is obvious—lectins can and do affect every organ system. Reproductive issues, vitiligo (a skin condition where the individual loses pigmentation in the skin) Huntington’s, narcolepsy—we have found literally hundreds of conditions in which lectins appear to be the causative factor. Not only do we have science to support this, we have observed clinical resolution of these conditions upon the removal of grains, legumes, and dairy. I hate to do this to you, but we have to go back into the intestines.

Really? Digestion? Again?

When food is emptied from the stomach into the small intestines, it is mixed with bile salts that are produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder. Remember, bile salts are much like soap and are critical for our digestion and absorption of fats. In addition to bile from the gall bladder, the pancreas releases digestive enzymes that are critical to digestion. And lest you forget, much of the digestive process happens at the tiny structures in our intestines—the villi and microvilli. Now let’s see how lectins interact with the intestinal lining to produce autoimmunity.

Lectins such as WGA bind to a receptor in the microvilli, allowing WGA to be transported into the body. This is the mechanism of the autoimmune cascade I described above. If the gut wall (microvilli) becomes damaged, the entire contents of the intestines can now make its way into your system. Yes, that’s as bad as it sounds. You are not only in a position to create antibodies against WGA, which leads to autoimmunity, but you now have the potential to develop multiple allergies due to a permeable gut lining and inadequately digested food. This is how you can develop allergies to chicken, beef, apples, or other normally benign foods.

Additionally, if your gut is damaged, you expose yourself to a host of chemicals that would normally remain in the intestines. This can lead to conditions such as multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, which is regarded more as a psychiatric problem than legitimate medical condition.

Let me be crystal clear about this: Anything that damages the gut lining (including bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections, as well as alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy) can predispose one to autoimmunity, multiple chemical sensitivities, and allergies to otherwise benign foods.

As my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach says, “This no opinion is, this fact is.”

“If the gut wall (microvilli) becomes damaged, the entire contents of the intestines can now make its way into your system.” [Note from Tim: this is where the "feces in the bloodstream" post title comes from]

Full of Bile

While this digestive disaster is taking place, there are several other problems brewing. As you recall, the function of the gall bladder is to release bile salts into a meal as it is emptied into the duodenum from the stomach. When the intestinal wall is damaged, the chemical messenger, cholecystokinin (CCK), is not released. CCK usually sends the “on” switch to the gall bladder and the secretion of pancreatic digestive enzymes. When this signal is blocked, we do not properly digest our foods, particularly fat and protein. The lack of bile release allows cholesterol crystals to form in the gall bladder, which leads to gall stones. The standard medical practice of removing the gall bladder is effectively killing the “canary in the coal mine.” Gall stones are a symptom of a problem, an alarm. Instead of treating the cause (remove grains) we cut out the gall bladder. People who have had gall bladder removal are almost certainly undiagnosed celiacs and likely have a number of other progressive diseases. In my experience, these individuals are plagued with digestive problems, culminating in dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing.

Achtung!
The disruption of CCK and related hormones (PYY, adiponectin) in the signaling cascade of digestion is a really big deal. Not only is the digestive process severely damaged, much of our satiety signaling is taken offline as well. We cannot properly digest our food, we are always “hungry,” and the very food we crave, refined grains and sugary junk, happens to be the cause of the problem.

It Gets Better
Another piece of the chemical defense system used against us by grains is a group of enzymes called protease inhibitors. Protease inhibitors prevent the breakdown of proteins. This means that when you consume grains you do not effectively digest the protein in your meal. Protease inhibitors also stymie the digestion of lectins such as WGA, making these already difficult-to-digest items virtually indestructible. This leaves more large proteins in the intestinal contents, which increases our likelihood of developing autoimmunity, allergies, or chemical sensitivities.

Osteoporotic Much?
If you do not have a bellyache thinking about grains by now, let’s look at one more player: antinutrients such as phytates. Phytates are important for seeds and grains because they tightly bind to metal ions (like magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and copper), which are crucial for the growth and development of the grain. If the metal ions are not tightly bound by the phytates, the process of germination can happen prematurely and this can spell disaster for the grain.

When we consume grains, the phytates are still active and powerfully bind to calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. This means the calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron are unavailable for absorption. Because of the action of antinutrients such as phytates combined with the gut damaging characteristics of lectins and protease inhibitors, our Neolithic ancestors lost an average of six inches in height vs. our Paleolithic ancestors due to the Neolithic diet of grains and legumes. Are you concerned about osteoporosis or iron deficiency anemia? Do you suffer from fatigue or heart problems that might be caused by magnesium deficiency? Have you diligently consumed a “smart” diet of whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy as per the recommendations of your dietician and doctor? Do you see how ridiculous that suggestion is in light of what you now know about grains, legumes, and dairy?

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another!

Here is a recap of how grains cause malabsorption issues and how that affects our health and well-being:

1. Damage to the gut lining. If the gut is damaged, you do not absorb nutrients. We need healthy villi and microvilli to absorb our nutrients, be they protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, or minerals.

2. Damage to the gall bladder and bile production. If you do not absorb fats and fat soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, K, and other nutrients, you will have problems utilizing any minerals you do absorb, to say nothing of the nutrient deficiencies from inadequate essential fats.

3. Phytates tightly bind to metal ions and make them unavailable for absorption. Analytical chemists actually use purified phytates in experiments where it is necessary to quantify the amounts of metal ions like calcium, zinc, or iron in a sample because the phytates bind to these metals tighter than just about any other molecule. The same thing happens when you eat phytates, and this is not a good thing for bone health or iron status.

4. Open door for autoimmunity and cancer. Once the gut lining is damaged, we are at exceptionally high risk of autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and several types of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The pancreas is assailed by grain-induced inflammation due to CCK problems and elevated insulin levels. This inflammation is a potential cause of pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Why does all this happen? Because grains are pissed that you want to eat them and they are willing, and able, to fight back.
Here is a short list of the problems associated with leaky gut and the autoimmune response:
• Infertility
• Type 1 diabetes
• Multiple sclerosis
• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Lupus
• Vitiligo
• Narcolepsy
• Schizophrenia
• Autism
• Depression
• Huntington’s
• Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
• Hypothyroidism
• Porphyria

But I’m Not Sick

Some of you, however, may think you have no issues here. You have eaten grains, legumes, and dairy your whole life and are “fine.” Well, maybe. But I suspect that is not the case. I’ll bet that if you completely remove these Neolithic foods from your diet for one month, you will notice a dramatic improvement in how you feel and perform. Why? Because if you are consuming these foods, I’ll wager you have gut irritation and other systemic inflammation issues.

A recent study looking at children with type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune condition) found that a significant number of them had overt gut pathology, i.e., celiac. Some had a positive antibody test for celiac, but a number of kids were negative on both the WGA antibody test (a common blood test for celiac) and on an intestinal biopsy. So doctors would think there was no gluten influence in their condition. Interestingly, however, nearly all the kids showed antibodies in the deep tissues of the microvilli to . . . transglutaminase.

The study authors suspected most of the kids would at some point develop what is commonly described as celiac. What this tells us is gut damage can be fairly benign (few symptoms) but still lead to autoimmunity. Once initiated, autoimmunity can and does progress to other problems. Your doctor or dietician will likely dismiss this information, especially if you are “negative” for any of the standard blood work or lab tests for celiac. They are foolish in this regard, but hey, it’s only your health.

Trust your medical professionals, they always know best. Or, try a simple experiment: Follow a Paleo diet, and assess how you feel and perform. I know, I can hear the MDs now, that it’s “just anecdotal.” If you are going to save your ass you are not likely to get much support in this matter unless you have a forward-thinking and aggressive primary physician.

What is the ultimate gold standard in all this? How do you know for sure you do or do not have an issue with these foods? The answer seems obvious: remove the potentially offending foods! Reintroduce them after thirty to sixty days. See what happens. Now there is a caveat to this. You only need to be exposed to things like gluten once every ten to fifteen days to keep the gut damaged. This can bedevil people as they “cut back on gluten” but do not notice an improvement in their overall health. I’m sorry but there is not a pink “participant” ribbon given out for doing this “almost correctly.” You need to be 100 percent compliant for thirty days, then see how you do with reintroduction.

Now, I’ll be honest, the reintroduction is for you, not me. If I did a phone consult with you, I’d ask, “How did you do when you had that piece of bread?” I know exactly how you did—I’ve seen this scenario thousands of times, but you are the one who needs convincing. When you reintroduce gluten you will not feel good. Sorry kiddo, it’s just the way it works. Now it’s up to you to decide if health and a long life are worth forgoing some of these foods more often than not.

Does all this seem hard to believe? Well, remember how I described the effects of poison oak on your skin? It’s a similar deal here with gut irritation and lectin exposure. If you want to get the full power of this program, you need to actually give it a shot. Worst-case scenario: You spend a month without some foods you like. Best-case scenario: You discover you are able to live healthier and better than you ever thought possible.

But I Like Bread and Pasta!

Yes, I like that stuff too, but they make me sick. I suspect it makes you sick, as well. Not only do grains make you sick by raising insulin levels, messing up your fatty acid ratios (n-3/n-6), and irritating your gut, but they are also addictive. Grains, particularly the gluten-containing grains, contain molecules that fit into the opiate receptors in our brain. You know, the same receptors that work with heroin, morphine, and Vicodin? Most people can take or leave stuff like corn tortillas and rice. Suggest that people should perhaps forgo bread and pasta for their health and they will bury a butter knife in your forehead before you can say “whole wheat!” Sorry folks, I don’t make these rules, I just have the lovely task of educating you about them.

Why I had to focus on gluten-free living, exercise, and trying to get you healthy, I will never know. I should have just peddled hookers, cocaine, and pastries! So much easier.

Instead, here’s a one week food plan. There are hundreds of great options, but this is a simple menu to get you started:

Week 1

Monday
BREAKFAST: 2–4 poached eggs, almonds, small piece fruit or berries
LUNCH: Chicken fajita salad
SNACK: 2 oz chicken, apple, few avocado slices
DINNER: Grilled salmon, roasted green beans, side salad

Tuesday
BREAKFAST: Leftover salmon, walnuts
LUNCH: Lettuce, tomato, onion, and condiments of your choice over 1–2 burger patties, orange, almonds
SNACK: Jerky, macadamia nuts
DINNER: Rotisserie chicken, steamed broccoli, side salad

Wednesday
BREAKFAST: Leftover chicken w/salsa, ½ avocado
LUNCH: Tuna and cabbage salad
SNACK: Remainder of tuna and cabbage salad
DINNER: Crock-Pot pork loin, tomato sauce, zucchini, chopped cauliflower, basil. Make a large portion, leftovers will be used for several meals!

Thursday
BREAKFAST: Slice of ham, 2–3 scrambled eggs, fruit
LUNCH: Leftover pork loin
SNACK: 2 hard-boiled eggs, almonds
DINNER: Stir-fry beef salad. Serve over bed of greens with balsamic vinegar

Friday
BREAKFAST: Sausage stir-fry breakfast
LUNCH: Easy ceviche
SNACK: 2 oz chicken, apple
DINNER: Spaghetti squash (Note from Tim: this is delicious) or kelp-noodle spaghetti: cook either choice with marinara sauce, ground meat, olive oil

Saturday
BREAKFAST: Chicken apple hash
LUNCH: 5–6 oz deli turkey, ½ lb steamed broccoli, drizzle with olive oil
SNACK: 2–3 oz turkey, carrot sticks, almonds
DINNER: Indian-style coleslaw, leftover pork loin, side salad with olive oil

Sunday
BREAKFAST: Western omelet, sweet potato hash
LUNCH: Lamb patties, tomato, lettuce, strawberries
SNACK: Turkey, avocado
DINNER: Halibut, roasted asparagus, berries with balsamic vinegar

For full 30-day meal plans, recipes, and more, this is the resource.

###

Afterword: Holy religious war, Batman! Hundreds of strong comments below, including a few very smart contributions from MDs, nurses, etc.. Robb has also answered some of the most common questions in the comments.

Posted on: September 19, 2010.

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1,270 comments on “How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days)

  1. Whoa! I came here to look at recipes and there are certainly much divided opinions. When I was vegetarian, I became anemic. When I tried vegan, I had the worst candida reaction. I also made Seitan practically ALL gluten and under an hour felt like I had the worst hay fever.
    I was also diagnosed with a genetically inherited neuro disorder and with this get headaches and balance issues. Out of desperation, as I wasn’t a big meat eater, I decided to try GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), which has very similar elements to paleo as it is grain free. Two months in and I have had improvements and hardly any headaches. However, I can’t go into ketosis as this make me very ill.
    I think the message here is that we need to go with what works with our bodies. I sometimes struggle with eating meat, but feeling better and starting to function outweighs this. I try and buy organic but if I can’t I don’t, but I’d much rather follow a food system that works, rather than raise my hand up and quite because I can’t afford organic all the time.
    As the saying goes “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”.

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  2. What do you think about Einkorn grain. I read that it is an ancient grain that has not gone through the hybridization of other grains. The US government has tested this on people who have celiac disease and their intestinal lining showed no ill effects.

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  3. I get that I’m waaaay behind the 8 ball here, but I’ve been GF for 10+ years. Best decision I’ve ever made. I eat some grains sometimes but for the most part, I avoid them. I lost 10 lbs. (I never been overweight really) in the first 2 months after just cutting out gluten. Better than losing weight is feeling good and not having horrible digestive problems. It’s a win win.

    People react very poorly to hearing this but if they’d just try it . . .

    Also, I just got a juicer so now I juice cleanse once weekly & that is really treating me well.

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  4. I’ve been told by numerous doctors that I need to have my gallbladder removed because my gallstones are causing complications. The surgeon should be calling me tomorrow to book the consult. No one ever mentioned to me how gallstones form. I’ve been trying to save my gallbladder for almost a year, but with these past few attacks the doctors convinced me to get it removed. Now I’m doubting it again! But they’ll just fight me on it and I’m not educated enough to debate them. Oh dear….

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    • Kristen, gallstones, dozens, liver stones, hundreds, can be flushed out by an easy and fun process using nothing more than olive oil, lemon juice, epsom salts, and apple juice. Hulda Clark has the best recipe, and she recommends a parasite cleanse first, which is also easy and can be done two hours before the liver flush begins. Search on “clarkia” will locate an inexpensive kit for parasite cleanse. Search on “regehr gallstone cleanse” should locate Hulda Clark’s recipe which is better than several in books I’ve read. Basically all I take from Clark is her recipes for parasite cleanse, liver and gall bladder flush, and her kidney tea recipe is great but for that I usually just use capsules of Indian or Ojibwe or Essiac(Rene Caisse) Tea, 3 burdock, one turkey rhubarb, one slipper elm.

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    • Watch Andreas Moritz on liver and gall bladder cleanse on youtube. I did 18 so far. No more stones at #15 and 16 and a few months later the biggest stones ever came out. If you have a gall bladder attack, take 1 heaped tbsp Epsom salt in 3/4 cup of water on an empty stomach. Just watch Moritz :-) ! Research and get well!!!

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    • I hope u find alternatives. I was on anti anxiety meds when the pain started, the dr said not possible as a side affect. I went and found out gallstones as the cause and surgery needed. Well couldn’t afford the copay so planned it for a few months out. In meantime an ins issue caused me to go off meds for a bit and the pain left. Never got the surgery and rarely have pain now. Not paleo but have been limiting processed foods eating more natural foods. Do believe food affects well being drastically as well as chemucals in foods and meds.

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  5. So following your logic we are not aloud to eat any seeds at all (incl. grains, seeds, nuts and legumes) because they are all embrios of the actual plant? That limits the options. :(

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  6. Tim – I have been a long time follower of your work from your first book. I appreciate all your insight and forward thinking when it comes to better living. I have been researching topics to become even better then I am currently and I have been introduced to the Paleo diet from several friends. This blog post sealed the deal for me, I’m throwing out all my bread, pasta, and whatever garbage I have in my fridge and reinventing the way I eat. I hope someday, Sir, that I get to meet you and have some wine and talk about all the cool stuff in life! Cheers, Mate!

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    • just some side points – the food we buy today has very little to do with palaeolithic food, in terms of nutrition etc.
      we’ve also had a body long time to adjust to grains, as a species.

      other v than that, it certainly sounds like concepts to , and an adventurous diet, why not.

      I’d say find out what works for you, put the hours in. Were all human mammals on planet Earth , but not every gut is the same. Sound like too much work? That’s how you get results im afraid. that’s how Tim does it too BTW.

      (I’ve been hearing about paleo for years and was expecting it to fade already. so maybe there s some time proof there…)

      PS: I find it entertaining how half of the comments assume the grain info was written by Tim…

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  7. What do you think about soft boiled eggs instead? I watched a podcast of dave asprey where the guy said that hard boiled or fried eggs become acidic.

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  8. Hey Tim, great article (as usual). As someone who is starting to learn about this, there are lots of statements like ‘it is clear that X’ but lack any reference to the actual studies. I know in a previous post about cancer as a metabolic disease, you posted links to actual references. Any chance to do that on articles like these in the future? Or is there a reference list you used to base this on? I know it adds a bit of time on your, but would be awesome for further reading (especially since some of these claims are not clear by just reading your article). Thank you!

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  9. This might be tmi, but I’d never had a regular menstrual cycle since I first started at 13, I’d probably have it at most 4 times a year, went to multiple doctors, they examined me and I seemed fine, no cysts or anything like that, said it just happens sometimes. One put me on BC pills (I’ve since stopped taking them). Last December I decided to go paleo, and I’ve been having regular monthly periods since then, it’s a bit shocking that it made such an immediate difference. I’ve also lost about 25 pounds as well (but I did do a juice fast for 10 days in April and didn’t really gain much of the weight back either). SInce May I’ve been in italy though and it’s a bit difficult to eat paleo when you’re staying at someone’s home. I haven’t gained any weight back, but since I’ve started eating a gluten rich diet, I have more bloating, constipation and I’m on allergy meds (but that may just be pollen from spring/summer since i’m in the countryside)..

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  10. Wow! I’m 48 and have vitiligo (autoimmune disorder) since the age of 6. Up to this point, I’ve enjoyed stellar health despite the predisposition to an assortment of ailments. 3 months ago, I go for an annual physical and, as usual, all blood work comes back normal except for one showing renal insufficiency. The doctor thinks maybe I was dehydrated. Fast forward 3 months, we recheck and find the same result. 2 weeks ago, I arise from bed and nearly pass out as if blood flow restricted to brain. Symptoms continue and persist for 6 straight days with accompanying nausea. No vertigo symptoms, just feeling extremely lightheaded and mild to moderate nausea. On 6th day, I go to hospital and numerous imaging studies (all done w/out contrast because of renal insufficiency) done of carotid and vertebral arteries, brain, head, etc and everything comes back negative. Followed up with primary a few days ago (more blood and urine tests). We are checking to see if autoimmune response (among other things) is the culprit for renal and inner ear issues. I’m a big fan of rice and bread but, experimentation is now in order. Thanks for the info!

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    • The term paleo is a rather misleading one. It really depends which actual period we are talking about. Most recent studies show that primitive humans had a largely varied diet similar to our ancestors, in common with apes and monkeys. Meat would be a rare treat to which our guts are not particularly suited. Modern medical studies show that people who eat a mainly vegetarian diet, particularly with low levels of red and processed meat, and who include whole grains in their diets, fare better in terms of heart disease and bowel cancer.

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  11. So is it really the glutens that are a problem or the other stuff described in the post? The author references gluten at a very high level throughout, but the detailed explanation only relates gluten to Celiac (which most of us do not have). The rest of the detailed explanation discusses stuff like lectin, saponins, phytates and protease inhibitors as what is bad for us. My understanding is that these things are highly correlated with gluten, but that they aren’t the same. I think the post should make this distinction more clear. For example, are there gluten free foods that contain WGA and thus should still be avoided? Or are there gluten containing foods that are free of lectins, etc that don’t necessarily need to be given up?

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  12. I was diagnosed last in September 2013 with the auto immune vitiligo as mentioned in the post. This is where my body loses pigment in my skin. The Dermatologist said it was permanent.

    I started removing gluten from my diet and now, with the help of the summer sun my Skin is starting to repigment.

    I know it will take time for my gut to heal and since skin is the least vital of organs it’s usually the last to heal. But i’m confident in the kicking of grains i’ll gain my pigment back.

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  13. Wow! I feel enlightened. This wasn’t easy to follow as I’m from Germany, the land of bread and beer – and had to read some sentences twice, as there were a lot of the medical terms. But, holy smokes. Might this be the answer I was looking for?

    I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons and am struggling with the nutritional side of a gluten-free diet. I would really like to try it and find the cure to the many added problems in my body. But, would it even be smart? Or do I have to give up my values to survive this mess and start eating dead cow again?? :/

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  14. What’s missing from this discussion? The other creatures that live in our gut that break down some of these “bad” substances into necessary nutrients.

    Any diet that doesn’t consider effects of these other critters, that outnumber our own cells by 10 to 1, is simplistic and potentially misleading.

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  15. I’m curious…. You slam grains as the devil…
    But your menu consists of several meals with “beef”. Are we not concerned with high levels of saturated fat, clogged arteries, and heart desease; which red meat causes. I also see salmon listed several times. But most salmon sold is “farmed raised”.. Overcrowding ponds full of fatty salmon, which destroys it’s nutritional value. Also, you have tuna listed in back to back days. A 150lb person should eat chick light tuna once every three days or albacore once every nine days due to the high level of mercury. If missed you warm people about these killers… I apologize. If I didn’t miss it, let’s really educate people on how the food industry really uses people to make money. And is destroying us with crap like this.

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  16. Sounds great. Unfortunately that menu would double my food bill, and vastly increase the amount of cooking at breakfast time. I can’t digest potatoes at all, and onions give me heartburn. Some of those things I never even heard of. Fish and real meat are far too expensive to eat every day let alone at every meal. As usual with these diets, only rich people with cooks can follow them.

    Breakfast needs to be fast and microwavable. Lunch needs to be portable and require no more than 5mins preparation yet be the largest meal. Evening meal must be light and again no more than 5 mins preparation so it has time to go down before exercise classes.
    No potatoes, no onions, no balsamic vinegar (it’s vile), no crock pot, no weird veg that’s not available except at a premium. No expensive nuts and what the heck is ceviche? No rotissery, no kelp pasta.
    Can you try a menu for normal people on a small budget without all the expensive meat and fish, and without shops stocked with weird imported veg?

    please?

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  17. Hi Tim and Robb, Excellent post!

    I have a question about grain’s evolved mechanisms. Grain, as you say, goes down with a fight but it goes down nonetheless. How is this defense mechanism actually working out for grain if we, humans at least, do in fact, however poorly, digest the grain? Is grain adapted to cause diarrea in other animals than humans? Is it a tale of competing evolutionary tracks where humans have only evolved part-way to deal with grain’s toxic load?

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  18. Enjoying your work Tim, which I’ve just discovered, loving The 4 hour Body. Where do children fit into all of this? Having been raised on a ‘hippy’ whole food diet all my life, my tendency is to give my daughter brown rice and oats as part of her diet. Am I harming her? Best, Emma

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