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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1,289 comments on “How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days)

  1. I very well written article without being too ‘demanding’. QUICK suggestion would be to put some kind of indication of the sample diet of a calorie/weight classification that could fit into. The difference between a 150lbs and 300lbs man switching over to such a diet is the difference between annoyance and homicide.

    Also, just a weird personal note. I gave up breads, pastas, dairy, soda, and alcoholic last year. Combined with some decent diet and supplements, lost 40lbs over 4 months. Odd thing…while my health got better, my allergies got WORSE. I think I ‘cleaned out’ my system to good…now my body absorption is better then it was, both for good and bad :). Tis life… Later!

    Like

    • I have heard of people’s allergies getting worse after losing weight…a possible reason I’ve heard is that some of those harmful chemicals are stored in your body fat, and as you begin to use up that fat for energy it causes those chemicals and toxins to be released. I wonder if they would fully resolve once your BMI was totally normal and your weight stabilized?

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      • I like what I have been reading but I see no reference to potatoes in your daily eating plan. You don;t mention them in the text.

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    • The best thing you could do for yourself if you’re overweight is get over the idea that calorie intake has anything to do with it. If you’re already eating healthy–and I mean really healthy, not USDA- or PETA-healthy–then there might be a few pounds’ worth of difference with variations in caloric intake, but you’re not going to balloon up to 500 pounds on a 3000-calorie diet consisting of meat, eggs, cream, cheese, butter, a handful of nuts and a couple salads a day. Sorry.

      Eat for hormones and to avoid toxins and the rest should fall into place.

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  2. So hard to go without oatmeal for me. It’s the only grain I really consume on a regular basis these days, otherwise I couldn’t agree more with this. Great guest-esque blog and thanks to both Robb and Tim.

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      • Bobs Mill Steel Cut Oats are Gluten Free.
        Expensive but Gluten Free
        I guess they work with dedicated farms and test regularly.

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      • Oats are still carbs which we could do without, ideally. (although heaps better than a large plate of chips followed by ice cream).

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      • if you read the article, it is clear that gluten is not the only gut irritant in grains. oats no more want you to eat them than wheat does, and they fight back. any oats are gluten-free. doesn’t make them good for you (according the article).

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      • The problem with Oat meal or using Steel Cut Oats is that we’ve become used to the “instant” microwaveable way of creating breakfast.

        However, if you look in the history of oat preparation, porridge was created by soaking oats in water or any other liquid overnight before consumption. What this does is it breaks down the oats so that it is more easily digested in the intestinal tract. The whole idea behind the Paleo diet is that wheat and many other grains inhibit the absorption of nutrients in the gut because of our inability to digest the enzymes that accompany them.

        I suggest, that if you can’t quite “oat meal,” yes go to “steel cut oats” and then begin to soak your oats in water overnight before cooking them the next morning.

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    • You could try a grain called Amaranth. It’s the highest protein grain there is and I believe it’s closely related to millet (?). In any case I eat it as a hot cereal in the morning – takes less time to cook than steal cut oats and has a nice nutty flavor. Key to these to to avoid the sugars is putting in cinnamon and nutmeg instead of syrups. Happy eating.

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    • Would be very difficult on a vegan diet, and just monotonous on a vegetarian diet but possible – eat lots of coconut oil for extra fats/cooking oil. Avoid soy & tofu as in addition to being a legume seed long term tofu consumption has been known to cause brain shrinkage and cognitive decline (at least in the middle-aged population that was studied by Honolulu researchers)

      For protein, eggs are your friend and so is cheese/dairy if you aren’t lactose intolerant or allergic to the proteins (Wolf is against dairy but some paleo people think it’s fine as long as you can handle the lactose & proteins)

      If you’re a vegan you’ll have to eat foods that are too inflammatory in regards to omega 3:6 ratio profile / have too many anti-nutrients.
      As long as you don’t have any disease that’s related to or worsened by chronic inflammation (i.e. heart disease, cancer, alzheimer’s, allergies), and as long as you have a ton of money to spend on Omega-3 krill oil supplementation you might have a chance at being vegan & paleo.

      You could also just eat tofu, hope it doesn’t mess up your thyroid too much, ignore the lowered sex steroid hormones in your blood caused by weaker, non-steroidal (non-cholestrol based) phytoestrogens forcing your body to lower concentrations of all sex hormones to keep equilibrium. Even then, you’d have that neurological degeneration problem but hey whatever as long as you’re doing it for the cause.

      I was a vegan for a very short time (before health issues made it clear I couldn’t do it long-term). I later realized the three main arguments for veganism are flawed. If you read enough about paleo you’ll know why the “plant-based diets are healthier” argument is false. As for the “good for the environment” argument, that’s only true when compared to industrial feedlot farming where cattle are feed subsidized (but toxic and soil-depleting) grains. Even the ehtical argument is flawed, since it’s impossible to use both a individual rights model and collective rights/harm reduction model when looking at animals* but that’s what vegans do which is hypocritical (even more so than “ethical” vegetarians who eat industrial animal by-products). If you want more info, read:
      Meat: A Benign Extravagance
      and Lierre Keith’s Vegetarian Myth (not very well written but has some good points)

      *for example: individual rights model is what is used to say Meat Is Murder, but if society followed this to the letter there would be homicide investigations every time someone saw roadkill, and a veggie farmer could be charged with negligent homicide if she accidently killed a rat when harvesting her crops. Ants invading homes could not be killed despite tresspassing since it would be the equivalent of killing a toddle who wandered into your yard. And what about situations like deer overpopulations that can threaten entire forests from starving deers eating all the baby sapling trees in desperation? (This has already happened before on some forested islands – the deer turned them into deserts).
      The other model that makes more sense is a collective rights/harm reduction model. Under this model you not only could kill and eat the over-populated deer, but doing so would be more ethical than not doing so. Unfortunately that goes against the Meat Is Murder vegan/vegetarian credo so veg*ns will pick and choose which ethical model is more convenient for them – this makes them hypocrites, though most don’t do this consciously, they just haven’t given this much thought

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      • Cardiologist William Davis has empirically confirmed much of the research presented in the above article, as documented in his book “Wheat Belly”. Admittedly, even Davis is not quite as “radical” as Robb Wolf and the Paleos. What I find most stunning about all this (the elephant in the kitchen still waiting to be recognized) is its implications for global agribusiness (Cargill, W.R. Grace, Monsanto), industrial agriculture as we have known it and even civilization itself. The implications of this science are not just a matter of diet, personal health or lifestyle. It will topple cornerstones and pillars of our entire way of life.

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      • not true Cargil, Monsanto and the like would thrive in this new system since they are heavily involved in plant grain development which is used to feed animals. Sure he says that you should eat meat that was range fed but the fact of the matter is you couldn’t produce enough meat to meet demand through range feeding and while it may be slightly better for you to eat range fed beef its still a heck of a lot better for you to eat grain fed beef (tastier too) than eat a high carbohydrate diet.

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      • I assume you kill all the animals you eat for meat, gather all the dairy and whatever else you eat from deer eating saplings and other animals that need to be “culled” for the greater good, since you couldn’t possibly be a hypocrite… And those people in Japan who have the longest & healthiest life spans eating rice and soy products, as their ancestors have for thousands of years, are not actually alive but zombies with shrunken brains?

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    • That’s my question too. I cannot eat meat and fish. It’s not so much an ethical thing, it’s that animal flesh has the same appeal as eating my own arm. Fleisch ist Fleisch. But who wants to eat beans all the time?

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    • If you are a vegetarian, you should not attempt Paleo. Paleo is for people that care about their bodies and understand that meat is a neccessity.

      Vegetarianism/veganism, unless prescribed by a legitimate doctor, is an unhealthy and idiotic societal fad.

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      • Ha ha ha. Where is your evidence for that? Meat is definitely not a necessity for our bodies, and was not the primary source of food for our ancient ancestors. They could eat meat, but it was very difficult to come by. It is highly likely that our ancestors were more like scavengers. We would eat the leftovers of other animal kills and then eat plants and fruits that could be easily found. Meat was most likely a luxury, not the primary part of ancient human diet. I agree that a Vegan diet is extreme, but there is nothing wrong with it. Both being vegetarian and/or vegan is perfectly healthy. Your ignorance of this topic is painful to see.

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      • Really? Where is YOUR evidence for what our ancient ancestors ate, and what time frame is “ancient” referring to? The Homo genus, in forms very similar to ours, has been around for at least 100,000 years, so your generalization is covering a very long time span to be so certain about what they ate.

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      • It is a peculiar phenomena that many meat-eaters have to justify their dietary choice by attacking those who do not eat meat. Why not just let your choice stand on its own merit? Being on what appears to the offensive (when it probably is the defensive deep down) shows a lack of confidence and credibility.

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  3. “At least 3 million Americans, or about 1 in 133 people have celiac disease, but only 1-in-4,700 is ever diagnosed.” In other words, these people just accept “feeling horrible” as the norm. If you’re running to the bathroom before you finish that slice of pizza, you might have a gluten issue.

    Eliminating gluten (and with it, almost all) honestly changed my life and health. There’s this quote (from Anthony Robbins, I think): “Nothing tastes as good, as fit and healthy feels.” Amen brother.

    Glad to see you taking this on Tim/Robb. Smart post, and the world needs to hear more of it.

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  4. Great example of an earlier post you did about writing great headlines to get attention. “How to keep feces out of your bloodstream” has to be right up there. Got my attention, thats for sure.

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  5. Great post Tim. I think you throwing your hat into the ring of the Paleo community is going to see the Paleo lifestyle go stratospheric. Looking forward to seeing how this pans out and what else your going to include in the new book.

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  6. I am thankful to have a General Practitioner as my Primary Physician who was about to spot these issues and fully support me in improving my diet.

    It is a difficult change sometimes, but at least now I’m able to consider my trade offs with full and accurate knowledge. i.e. “Do I want to eat pizza with my friends and not feel so good for a few days or do I want to just have a salad and feel great?”

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    • If you’re vegetarian, get your starches from tubers, not from grains. If you’re starch-intolerant, though, it’s time to reconsider animal foods. You should not be vegan at all. Human beings are poor converters of beta carotene, vitamin D2 and vitamin K1; quite aside from the protein question, shortages of A, D3, and K2 are causing serious health problems in our population. You can only get A and D3 from animal sources. You can get K2 from natto, but that gets into the issue of soy consumption. You’re a guy, do you really want all that estrogen?

      (I’ve heard it said that soy doesn’t contain enough estrogen to make any difference in the body. Bullhockey. I used to drink Silk soymilk to relieve menstrual cramps.)

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      • For the soy thing specifically, you should read this: http://zenhabits.net/soy/

        Also I repeatedly hear from vegans and raw foodists that they feel better than ever after going vegan. So far, none of them have had any health problems.

        I’m not advocating either side. I’m not sure which is correct, myself, but I plan on testing both sides to the best of my ability before I make any assertions.

        /<3

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      • I’m totally interested in reading about your findings, Karanime. Do you have a blog you’ll be writing during this experiment? I’ve tried Vegetarianism and Veganism before, neither were positive experiences at all.

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      • Phytoestrogens work by making your body think you have too much sex hormones in you (despite the phytoestrogens being weaker forms of estrogen than human-made, cholestrol/steroid-based estrogen). Your body reacts by increasing the amount of SHBG – Sex Hormone Binding Globulin. Unfortunately this protein doesn’t discriminate between estrogen, phytoestrogen, testosterone or progesterone and grabs all of them to go to the liver for destruction. This causes hormonal imbalances and infertility (too much estrogen kills sperm cells and messes with the ovulation cycle). End result: You don’t breed. You don’t pass whatever genes allowed you to eat that soy plant’s offspring without gagging from the bitterness and toxic pesticides (YOU being a pest to the plant).

        Natural selection at work, baby!

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  7. And also, meat is bad for you too, so then what does one eat if everything is bad for you? Oh wait…what we do do is not live forever like we’re supposed to. Everything has a give and take…EVERYTHING. This book is not new information and sounds like a pointless read.

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    • Hey Jimmy,

      From the research and reading I’ve been doing meat and animal fats are not bad for you, nor is cholesterol. The mainline nutritional stance that meat is bad comes out of a lot of very bad science that has been held on too since the early 60s.

      I know that people who take up a vegetarian and vegan life style do so for very personal reasons, but they are both very dangerous if you are not carefully monitoring your food and nutritional intake. In fact I would go as far as saying that vegan lifestyles are as dangerous as eating high sugar and refined food diets.

      Here are some books that changed my mind on eating and the research around nutrition:

      Good Calories, Bad Calories by Garry Taubes
      The Great Cholesterol Con by Dr. Malcom Kendrick
      The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith

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      • There is a really good book “the Healing Power of Minerals, Special Nutrients, and Trace Elements” by Paul Berger that is a fascinating and very informative read. It will change what you thought you knew about nutrition more specifically the recent introduction of Vegetarianism. Chapter 27 provides an insightful and more appropriate classification for this type of diet “Therapeutic Diets”. Yes they can be beneficial for certain individuals on a short term basis but are not “sustainable diets”. Vegetarianism although can create beneficial healing in the beginning will eventually causes multiple deficiencies. I used to be in this situation, suffered from anemia, depression, anxiety, fatigue. It really opened my eyes to the importance of meat in my diet and made a substantial impact on my health. I now eat only organic, free range grass-fed animal products and feel so much better. It is well worth the read if you have the time.

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      • Marcus Riedner,
        Regarding your comment on Nov 4, 2010: While I agree that meat is not bad for you, I have to say that too much protein is bad for your kidneys. I am a kidney transplant recipient and I was warned against having a lot of protein in a day. Although I don’t know all the science behind it, I know that too much protein puts a strain on the kidneys. For example, the menu listed on this site has a meal of 1-2 burger patties. Two patties of meat is too much protein and is dangerous for your kidneys.

        While I think the idea of eliminating grains/gluten is interesting and worth considering, it can’t be substituted with a diet that hurts other systems.

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      • I have kidney issues myself. I have found though that changing to the paleo diet hasn’t been a problem. I have had issues in the past with protein shakes etc when exercising. Everyone would tell me to make sure to drink a protein shake after working out. It would never fail that I’d do this for a few weeks and end up in the ER with a kidney infection. It took me several times of this happening to make the connection–but haven’t had problems in the 3 months I’ve been doing the Paleo/primal eating. I think part of it is because I’m not eating the fast burning carbs in the grains that I don’t feel as hungry so I end up eating even less protein than I was before. It’s a strange science this paleo world–but I can tell you without a doubt that I am fuller longer on less food when I don’t eat the grains with the meal–and I don’t have the sugar drops in mid-morning and mid-afternoon. As a matter of fact, 2-3 eggs in the morning will often keep me full until well into the afternoon.
        If you have kidney disease, you will need to monitor your body very closely as you transition into the lifestyle, but ultimately, it has improved my health over all and I haven’t had any problem with the high protein diet and my kidneys.

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  8. Oh, and not to get verbose, but I think it is also very important to note that having Candida can make changing over to this sort of eating much more unpleasant than normal. Most people do have some level of Candida, don’t know it, and could possibly be turned off by the “do this and you will feel better challenge,” if they spend days 5-14 feeling even worse because there body is suddenly processing the backlash and subsequent death of a massive fungal infection.

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    • @Riley Cabot Tell me about it!! My goal was to go from semi-paleo to full blown – cutting out sugars and cheese (my last hang ups). My husband decided to make beer that night and the effect was overwhelming! I was so on edge I felt as if I had to be in a room by myself. I didn’t sleep for two nights.
      I did a little research. Although I am in no way in any position to be giving out advice I will tell you what I did that seemed to work. I made a tea out of golden seal, licorice root and cinnamon (would have added kudzu root if I had had it) and I drank aloe juice every day and this seemed to treat the problem. My intense cravings for dairy and sugar are no more than the knowledge that that stuff tastes good.
      Remember when in Good Calories Bad Calories they mention the Assyrian Kings fattening their wives up with the sorghum and milk mixture? Just like a milkshake. No more!

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  9. Alas, but my flatmate has the ritual of making Venezuelan Arepas every saturday and sharing them so I am unable to follow this diet as strictly as it requires.

    Nobody said being an omnivore was going to be plain sailing!

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    • So funny, I was also thinking about how to fit my weekly, Sunday arepa breakfast into this diet :). Reduce the damage, ask for a very thing arepa, and enjoy mostly the crust. Good luck!

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  10. I’m always averse to the over-the top language in a lot of these type of pieces (yes, it gets attention, but it also makes the writer look less reasonable and more fanatical), and this is no exception: “killing you,” “digestive disaster,” and the concept of this reaction as intended by nature all divert from the good stuff here. Even the title kind of misrepresents things (you’ll lose weight just about any time you cut out a significant group of foods, whether they were good or bad for you).

    Also, there’s the danger that much of this is reverse-engineered from the initial premise of eating only what our Paleolithic ancestors ate. This can create false hypotheses and incorrect assumptions/diagnoses.

    That said, everyone should at least try living without grains for a reasonable length of time (give it 30-60 days) and see if they don’t feel better. I’m in total agreement that often we don’t know we’re doing something our body isn’t tolerating – and many of us just accept that we’ll feel bad – and in that spirit we should be open to making changes just like this.

    Don’t consider it a sacrifice, consider it a choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • IMHO the “over the top” language makes the articles more entertaining to read. When it’s done in a humorous way it makes the writer come off as more down to earth and normal, not a fanatic.

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      • Only if you agree with the author. This type of language is a turn-off to some “on the fence” people who are already wary of listening to polarized fanatics.

        /<3

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    • You said it…

      I felt uncomfortable reading this article-
      I realized that it was because of the tactics it uses- it wants me to be paranoid about what I eat… that is not the way to go about it!

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      • I agree with Kelly’s comment. For the record, I am gluten free and I always try to suggest going gluten/grain free to others who are having digestive health issues. However, I am not pushy about it, because that turns people off.
        There is a lot of good information in this article if one sifts through the “over the top” scare tactics. Unfortunately, this is one article I will not forward to friends or family due to the disgusting and misleading title.

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    • I hate to tell you, but a lot of plants really are trying to kill you when you eat them or their offspring. Plants can’t run away but they are highly skilled at chemical warfare.* Most of them just suck at it. But some are better at it than others (especially if you’re eating neolithic plants you’ve never had a chance to adapt to).

      *Plants are just good at biochemistry, period. Trees can organize four glucose molecules in so many ways to release as pheromones for communication they have more combinations than there are words in the English language…

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    • Yes, I’m with you.

      This is a great article, with lots of useful science, and I’d like to forward it to my sceptic mother who has Rheumatoid Arthritis but doesn’t believe going gluten-free can help her because her doctor didn’t say so.

      But I can’t, because I know she’d be put off by the title and the ‘killing you’ hype and stop reading before she even got to the useful stuff.

      Less emotive language would really be more helpful for converting sceptics.

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  11. FAST: 2–4 poached eggs = SALMONELLA AND ANTIBIOTICS
    LUNCH: Chicken fajita salad = MORE ANTIBIOTICS AND SALMONELLA
    SNACK: 2 oz chicken = JUST IN CASE YOU DIDN’T GET ENOUGH ANTIBIOTICS TODAY
    DINNER: Grilled salmon = AND A NICE HELPING OF MERCURY AND EVERY OTHER POLLUTANT WE DUMP INTO THE OCEAN.

    I’ll take the gluten thank you.

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    • I think Jimmy (the vegetarian) has some good points about the dangers of meat. Not to mention the ethical issues surrounding the abuse of animals for corporate gain and human gluttony. I think gluten poses some real dangers but meat should certainly be a more serious topic on health. Humans are now so advanced in agriculture that we really do not “need” meat. We only think we do because that’s what the “meat industry” wants you to believe. I stopped eating meat when the swine flu virus got in full swing. I have lost 20 pounds of fat and gained a lot more muscle mass. As a vegetarian I now watch my protein intake a lot closer resulting in more intake of good protein. I feel better and I haven’t been sick once. Besides, as a vegetarian, I know I am not contributing to animal abuse which I believe manifests into human disease.

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      • Its funny how people will take the time to read this whole blog and then just dismiss it over a perceived roadblock.

        You can buy meat/poultry that are “free-range” so hormones, antibiotics etc. are not an issue. Salmonella results from undercooking.

        http://www.grasslandbeef.com/StoreFront.bok

        As far as veganism, unless you’re shopping completely organic, there will always be some pesticide/gmo in your diet.

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    • Jimmy-poached eggs-not if they are from my chickens
      chicken-pesticides…not if they are my chickens
      salmon-wild caught from Alaska not farm raised…not high levels of Mercury

      point is you all have a choice and while I agree with your ability to voice your personal opinion…you sound like one of the whiny ones that is negative and not willing to look for a way to make life or nutrition work for you or one of those people that drives a really nice car but eats crappy processed food because its convenient…give me a break

      Mary, the dangers of meat exist if you aren’t willing to take the time to educate yourself and find a credible place to get the “good stuff” from…grass fed beef that is not from a “industrial supplier” for ex…the comment that humans are “now so advanced that we don’t need meat” is ludicrous…advanced not in terms of evolution…we are and will always be omnivores…by design

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      • We really still know very little about nutrition, and every day new evidence seems to come and contradict previous “discoveries”. There are strong arguments to both the Paleo and the vegetarian diets, and the raw food diets as well, if you bother to read enough about all of them and keep an open mind. What I’m seeing in all these posts is like debating the existence of God. We have to accept that a lot is still unknown, but while it’s all very well and good to recommend to eat free-range chicken and ethically raised cattle, these are hard to find, and everyone around the world wants meat, and won’t go to the trouble of finding this elusive ethically-raised meat. Not to mention that raising cattle produces more CO2 pollution than plains, trains and automobiles combined. So, if people want to be vegetarian to feel like they are doing the right thing, let them. I, for one, am happy they are. And if we were all vegetarians, there would be enough space to grow enough food to feed the world (cattle consume more food than people and use up tons of agricultural land that could be used to feed people, and when you don’t have enough to eat, what you should eat isn’t even on your radar). So until we review our policy about how many people can be on the planet at once, eating meat, as good as it might be for us (I personally love the taste), is not sustainable for a planet that will total 9 billion people by 2050. Healthy or not. So please, try to be respectful of people who are trying to eat in a way they find will solve some of the planet’s problems. The Paleo diet isn’t it, as good as it might be for us. But a bit of skepticism and open-mindedness, and acceptance that we don’t know everything might be a good thing, in many other realms than just nutrition, which is certainly one of the sciences that most constantly contradicts itself.

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      • Actually , that is incorrect. Only commercial/industrial/big Ag cattle raising produces all that CO2 and is not good for the environment.. grazing cattle on grass is proven to drastically improve soil health – if you keep growing grains and plants on the same soil year after year the soil will become depleted and useless and then you will REALLY be in trouble- this has already happened in much of the American midwest, which is why everyone dumps on the artificial fertilizer to make up for the nutrients that would be in the soil if they weren’t depleting it. See the book “Cows Save the Planet”- you cannot feed the world indefinitely only by growing plants and grains.. it disrupts the health of the environment at large and is not sustainable in any way.

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      • Yeah, I’ll just go ahead and tend my chickens from my tiny 5th floor apartment downtown…

        Not sure if you thought about this, but not everyone can afford to eat organic free-range grass-fed beef (you might be appalled as to what can qualify for that labeling, btw) as a main dietary staple. That business about being whiny and not putting forth the effort is totally insulting to those of us who legitimately can not afford to eat high-quality meat regularly.

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    • If you stick to organic, farm-raised meat that isn’t fed antibiotics, and COOK things well enough you won’t have any problems with anitibiotics or salmonella…

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    • Mercury in fish is neutralized by their own bodies if they have more selenium than mercury – most fish do, including all salmon and tuna.

      Antibiotics (and artificial hormones) in grainfed beef were found under vigorous scientific analysis to not carry over onto their meat, probably because they were detoxified. I read this from the website of a grassfed cattle rancher trying to dispell some myths, so the source is damn well credible. That being said, it costs nutrients to detox all that so CAFO meat = less nutritious, in addition to having a messed up Omega 3:6 profile from grains.

      Salmonella is already rare, but in properly raised animals (i.e. organic) is pretty much non-existant…

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  12. That meal plan looks delicious! I’m curious how great the difference between gluten and non-gluten (plus non-dairy and etc) has felt for those that have done it.

    Did you have a crazy amount of energy after or did you feel more alive…?

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  13. Great info, but between all the different nutrition guides out there, I think I’m now only allowed to drink water and chew on some celery… but I’m not allowed to swallow the celery, I have to spit it out. haha.

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  14. How well would this work for someone who’s hitting the gym pretty hard? Seems pretty light on carbs and I think that low carb consumption without (cyclical) ketosis sounds like a bad idea for active lifters. It’s not like you’d be knee-deep into ketosis judging from the menu examples. I guess bumping up fruits intake would help?

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    • Increase fat intake. Ideally a low-carb, higher fat paleo diet will take you from “sugar burner” to “fat burner”. Much more efficient.

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    • Endurance athletes can wait out the 2-4 week adjustment period and burn fat for fuel as well as they would sugar. But high-intensity weightlifters do need more carbs on heavy lifting days as Type IIb muscle fibers can only ferment sugar. I recommend starchy carbs as that gets turned into glucose (fructose from fruits can’t get into the muscles) you can eat potatoes or sweet potatoes (yams) while these are technically nightshades as long as they aren’t sprouting/turning green they won’t have many natural toxins at all. One person on paleo even found them to be better than white rice (white rice is another option, unless you’re unlucky enough to be allergic or to get a bad reaction)

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  15. So glad Robb is getting this exposure. The Paleo Solution is already blowing up the Amazon charts, this should really put it over the edge.

    @Jimmy:
    Antibiotic+hormone-free chicken, and even free-range organic chicken, as well as eggs from such chickens is widely available at grocery stores these days. Salmonella is generally only a problem with CAFO’s that produce 100s of millions of eggs, not smaller organic farms. If you wanna be really badass, you should check out the chicken/eggs at farmer’s markets if there are any in your area. With respect to the mercury in fish, Wikipedia has a good article for you to check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_in_fish — although you are right in being concerned about catastrophic degradation/pollution of the world’s oceans, wild caught salmon still definitely worth eating.

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  16. Tim, you remember my dad? The one who had the inset on the cover of Powerlifting USA (I had emailed you about an issue w/ your website at that same time) who was the first 65 year old on record to have benched over 550 pounds drug-free? He died of pancreatic cancer on May 30th this year–I believe it was due to grains. I begged him repeatedly to get tested for gluten intolerance, and he never had the chance. I am addressing this issue in my own life–this is just more validation. Thanks for posting.

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  17. Eliminating all breads and pasts IS good for you, those are not nutrionally dense foods. But the meat and protein in this diet will screw you up in other ways. Raises IGF-1, and if you lookup the AGE levels in animal protein it’s unbelievably high compared to other sources.

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  18. Good, it seems there’s a general consensus that grains are to be avoided. Humans didn’t evolve eating grains, so it makes perfect sense that there would be health consequences from any newly introduced substances to our diet.

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  19. Great article Tim. The headline and wording are terrific ;) I really appreciate your writing style.
    I will work to cut out grains although oatmeal will be really difficult. The bummer is that I’m becoming vegetarian and now having to cut out grains will be a lot to work on all at once. C’est la vie.
    Anyway, nice piece.

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  20. Hey folks, Tim asked me to triage a few questions:

    Larry-
    Depends on goals but in general people need to simply “steer the boat” with protein and round things out with plenty of veggies and good fats. Eating this way lights up satiety signaling so worry about amounts (is generally) unnecessary. If people do not know the difference between a mouth and vacuum cleaner…then we need to tinker!

    Marcel-
    Get as close to this as you can. There are a few camps of veganism that are not fans of grains/legumes. you might look to them for collaborative info. At the least I’d avoid gluten like the plague.

    Jimmy-
    sorry amigo, but meat is NOT the problem:

    http://discovermagazine.com/2004/oct/inuit-paradox

    to each their own but we have also thoroughly addressed the China Study:
    http://www.cathletics.com/articles/proteinDebate.pdf

    So, If you’d like to get blood work done, do paleo as I prescribe for 30-60 days I’ll pay for that blood work and you can then speak from a place of experience instead of opinion. Let me know.

    Michael-
    Spot on. Evolution should be used to formulate questions and access data. We need clinical research to validate or refute these hypotheses. What is continually fascinating however is folks have no problem applying evolutionary biology to everything except humans. Somehow we are a unique snowflake in all of biology.

    Like

    • Hi there, interesting post. Last year I battled with shortness of breath, yawing and terrible sinus headached, eventually (after 2 months) I hyperventilated. Turned out the problem was acidity. I cut out dairy and gluten and the problem disappeared.
      My question is regarding pork, are you sure its safe? Forgive me if I am being ignorant but eating an animal that will eat anything (feces included) doesn’t seem like a good idea?
      Would be interested to know your thoughts…

      Like

      • @Karanime Speaking anecdotally as a Canadian student who has briefly studied the state of First Nations communities in Canada, I believe it is worth noting that many First Nations communities face devastating social issues. Rates of poverty and substance abuse are significantly higher in First Nations’ communities than in other areas of Canada.

        While I am without empirical evidence to back up my suspicion, it is my opinion that a healthy traditional diet may be one step forward in this case, while the debilitating social issues are two steps back.

        Like

    • The Inuit Paradox doesn’t seem to be a paradox at all. According to these studies – Iburg KM ; Br?nnum-Hansen H ; Bjerregaard P. Health expectancy in Greenland.
      Scand J Public Health. 2001; 29(1):5-12. Choini?re R. Mortality among the Baffin Inuit in the mid-80s.Arctic Med Res. 1992; 51(2):87-93 – the Inuit Greenlanders have pretty much always had the worst longevity statistics in North America.

      Studies on http://www.kenya.za.net/maasai-cycles-of-life.html and http://www.who.int/countries/Ken/en/ show that Maasai warriors of 20 years ago rarely lived past 60 and their current average life expectancy is 45 for women and 42 for men.

      Most of the “science” behind the claims that meat and saturated fats are good for us seems to come from the Weston A. Price Foundation which has done no peer-reviewed studies of its own. If you take WAPF (whose major sponsors are meat and dairy farmers) out of the picture, and all the articles that use them as a source, what actual peer-reviewed studies support your claims?

      Like

  21. THANK YOU for this post, Tim (and Robb)! What an amazingly thorough breakdown of a pernicious problem. My wife experienced many health issues due to gluten. These experiences – plus inspiration from Four Hour Workweek prompted us to launch a web-based gluten-free recipe service this past May. (URL omitted to respect comment rules)

    The theory behind the business is simple: the easiest way to avoid gluten is to cook at home – and too few people are doing this today!

    We make it simple to cook at home by focusing on easy-to-prepare recipes featuring easy-to-find ingredients. (Nothing exotic…very in-line with many of the Paleo principles). The universe of foods that have never had gluten in them is VAST.

    We assume that plenty of our subscribers have children, so the recipes do not require a lot of prep or cook time, and are kid-friendly. (We have a 10- and a 7-year old who always eat out of the “test kitchen.”)

    THANKS AGAIN, Tim – your work continues to inform and inspire.

    All the best,

    Neal

    Like

  22. I just slid a pesto lasagna into the oven just moments before reading this but the info is real as I’ve confirmed it before in my own studies. The one-two punch of sugar & bread is really my last known enemy. Thanks for the curveball post and reminder of a goal I abandoned years ago. I expect for some, this will be like quitting smoking or heroin.

    Like

  23. Hi Tim,

    I’m defiantly waiting for Robb’s book to hit the kindle bookstore. But living 100% gluten free is tricky stuff.

    I also like lentils.. Soaking in water is common. Do you have any references for soaking in baking soda? is vinegar or any other acid enough?

    Like

  24. I’m not a Fonzie and I don’t think I am cool but I am very grateful for sharing your diet or way of life with us. You have helped us in many ways, keep up that great work.

    Like

  25. I’m sorry, but your background in nutrition is what? There is a ton of inaccurate nutritional information out there, and you can make any diet plan sound convincing if you try. I’d just caution people to talk to their doctor before taking this at face value, and to greet any nutritional advice with a lot of skepticism.

    (Plus, hello, there’s an enormous body of science showing that going meatless gets the best health results.)

    Like

    • Yes there is some good evidence that initially going meatless can have some beneficial results but proven over and over again after 5-10 years most vegetarians begin to have health problems that can become serious because it isn’t a sustainable diet it is a therapeutic diet. I think there are positives to it and some negatives. Each person has to judge data and information and listen to his or her own body.

      Like

      • Yes, most vegetarians become deficient in some nutrients after 5-10 years.

        It’s okay. Humans invented supplements.

        Another option I’ve heard of is eating minuscule amounts of meat (just enough to cover the deficiency) once every week or two weeks or month.

        Again, I am repeatedly told by vegans and vegetarians that they feel much, much better after kicking meat and animal products.

        /<3

        Like

      • Karanime: Your assertion about the reports from Vegans and vegetarians might be true, but they are likely self selected. That is, you aren’t hearing about those who gave it up, they don’t feel like they had anything to crow about, or they thought they were doing it wrong, and so don’t want to talk about it.

        Like

      • @Karanime In response to the supplements comment, many of the nutrients that long-term vegetarians become deficient in can only be derived from animals. This means that even though it has been extracted and conveniently packaged into an easy-to-swallow pill form, it was still derived from an animal and is technically an animal by-product.

        It doesn’t take a genius to know that the typical meat-intake of people today is excessive, but cutting it completely may not be the answer either. I only eat meat occasionally (every couple of weeks or so), but I still eat it. However, it is important to go for humanely raised and hormone free meat.

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  26. This is stuff that I know that I should do, but I don’t want to because I like the stuff that’s bad for me too much…how sad is that?! Each year for Lent I do the Daniel Fast which is basically a vegan diet and no white (flour, rice, bread, potatoes) anything. I always feel better, but I always go back to my old ways…and feel worse for it! Maybe I’ll do better this time.

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  27. Vegans and vegetarians should skip the bread/pasta. I don’t see what you get in those foods that you can’t get elsewhere, like in a salad. If you really need your starch fix, eat sweet potatoes.

    Like

    • Regarding bread/pasta, I agree with you, but it’s really difficult as a vegan (not so much as a vegetarian) to increase protein without consuming grains and/or legumes. And even if you do, it’s nearly impossible to do so without a really high carb:protein ratio–so even if you did eat enough veggies to get enough protein in absolute terms (like, enough grams), you’d still be consuming a relatively low percentage of protein in your diet and a high percentage of carbs. Most vegan athletes I know settle for relatively low protein in their diets for this reason; others supplement with vegan protein powders. Many seem to do okay like this (anecdotally, endurance athletes seem to fare a bit better than strength athletes, which makes sense to me) but others struggle with it.

      (I should note that I’m talking about getting enough protein for optimum performance, strength, and possibly body composition, not just the amount needed to stay alive–it’s pretty easy to get the minimal amount of protein needed to not die as a vegan, though obviously there are more complex health issues and deficiencies that have to be dealt with on a case by case basis.)

      Like

  28. Wow. Interesting Stuff.

    To clarify, if you cut gluten out completely, but still eat legumes and dairy, will that effect anything? Or do we have to cut those out to be 100% compliant?

    Thanks for the info!

    Like

  29. @Jimmy

    So you would rather destroy your gut and immune system? Try going to your local farmers market and getting pastured, free-range, antibiotic and hormone-free eggs, pastured 100% grass-fed beef, wild alaskan salmon(very low in heavy metals). These are among some of the healthiest foods you can eat. While you’re there, get some salad greens and some fresh vegetables and fruits. They’ll be the best you ever tasted!

    As Michael Pollan said, “Eat real food.”

    Grains are poison!

    Like

  30. Tim,

    Thank you for this post. As a cross-fitter, paleo is a huge component of the workout and so far I have resisted incorporating it because #1. I’m a vegetarian/pescatarian and #2. I found your previous post on fat loss so effective.

    How do you reconcile your previous recommendation on “slow-gi” diet that advocates legumes, beans with the paleo diet that basically states that legumes and beans are killing you? Beans/legumes, et. al are a major source of “evil” on every paleo/x-fit diet I have read on and thus, a non-starter for me because there will be very little that I can actually eat.

    As a corollary, how does this paleo research fit in with Asian and Indian diets that are very high in rice/legumes and have a very low percentage of the health ailments that are indicative of high protein western diets?

    As a point of reference, see the recent WSJ.com article on Tony Gonzales and how his longevity in the NFL is directly attributable to his vegan diet.

    Thanks in advance.

    Like

    • Hi Vik,

      Thanks for the comment. Please see my note on legumes/beans, which I inserted in the post itself. There are some decent work-arounds, though I also avoid almost all grains, as you know from my previous posts.

      I’ll have two chapters on vegetarian options in the new book (coming soon, I promise), but one thing: those close to Tony Gonzalez actually say he eats chicken on occasion. Eating meat even rarely is very different from no meat at all, but you can get most of what you need from well-sourced eggs and fish.

      Good luck!

      Tim

      Like

      • I appreciate your open mindedness, forward thinking, creative approaches, myth busting and that you prefer: facts over rumors, research over hearsay, science over magical thinking…

        This seems like a great policy… “Cite sources and be constructive when possible.” Tim Ferriss

        I’m curious about your vague citing “on occasion” and even more vague and undefined response “even rarely is very different”.

        Without verifiable sources could this be considered gossip and uncontructive?

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      • Re; Tony Gonzalez – right there in the magazine he says he drinks protein shakes with Whey. I was flabbergasted that the editors would posit him as a vegan ideal.

        That said, anyone interested in a vegan diet and strength should check out Jon Hinds and Mike Mahler. 2 of the best athletes I’ve even laid eyes on and both longtime vegans. Mahler doesn’t like to describe his diet in great detail but I’ve heard him state on several occasions that he can’t tolerate grains very well.

        Spend the money on wild caught, free range and GRASS FED animal products. Every penny spent today will save you money in healthcare later in life.

        Lastly, factory farms churning out wheat are much less “green” than a pasture filled with goats eating grass. As a society we should try to reduce factory meat in our diet but replacing it with factory grain isn’t any better for the environment and it’s obviously (well, too me anyways) worse for our health.

        Like

      • Hey Tim,
        How does this post reconcile to the cheat day in the SCD? Wouldn’t feel much like a cheat day without eating some of the bad stuff … including grains …

        Like

    • I have to agree. The high protein western diet is killing us and don’t see how eating real whole foods (like beans, legumes and grains) is harmful when they have stood the test of time in human history. It’s only recently, when we are trying to find the magic diet, (ie low fat in the 80s and 90s, low carb today, etc) that we are having so many more health issues than in past cultures and in history. All these “diets” have produced is non-foods that are edible but so harmful to our bodies.

      Really thinking about what you put into your body is important and that the “slow carb” diet is good as it promotes mostly real whole foods (mainly green, leafy foods), but the danger I fear in it is that you get away from the pleasure of food. I will try it, with a few tweeks, as I am a believer in the traditional foods of my culture (which apparently fit into the “slow carb diet” quite nicely, with the exception of just a few things) and want to also go back to really enjoy cooking and to the pleasure of eating REAL WHOLE food.

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  31. Great post! I have worked with Robb multiple times in Crossfit. I’m good friends with him, and thankfully so. This guy knows SO MUCH.

    One thing I have learned is there are no g’dam excuses. I know people reading this will say “Oh, i see… but I cant cut pasta!”. Well… then youll die early and never perform or feel like you want to.. case closed. People need to decide whats more important.. life or the “thrill” of pasta……

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    • Eating just the veggies is fine but not how we evolved. It’s a choice and I respect that personal option. We used to have to eat meat to survive- now we don’t, we don’t have to run after and hunt, kill an animalmto survive ( a better option than eating grass back then I’m sure)
      Now, we just go to the whole foods and eat veggies. Incisors are still good for ripping apart tofu.

      Like

    • You can’t tell the difference between a slice of hot toasted stoneground bread spread with butter (ok, and marmalade) and a lettuce leaf? Help!

      Like

  32. @Jimmy: You clearly haven’t read the book or done any research on Robb or the paleo diet. Maybe you should try actually reading something before you start spouting off ignorant comments?

    Like

    • Easy, guys! Ah, diet posts. Never fails to stir up the dust. Jimmy, I do agree that your “nonsense” attack is a bit too strong, though.

      Insulting and snide comments will henceforth get deleted if I catch them. Them’s the rules. Cite sources and be constructive when possible.

      Tim

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  33. Jeez, it seems that if you eat too much of anything it will cause cancer or some other problem…

    Interesting post, but it really targets the negative effects of eating these grains. What about the benefits?! Fiber? Energy storage?

    Tim, also, what about the effects of chewing your food for a longer period of time? I know that digestion starts in your mouth and the majority of people swallow their food too soon. Might this have any impact on the defensive effects of grains?

    You’re the man.

    Best,
    Chase

    Like

  34. I tried this diet for a while and while I lost weight on it, I found that it wasn’t for me and had some logical flaws:
    1. I’m vegetarian, and if you eliminate legumes and grain, my only source of complete protein is eggs. I can’t see how it’s healthy to eat 8-9 eggs a day.
    2. I think the key to this diet is limiting “bad” foods that would be eliminated anyway (cake, snacks etc…) when I was on this, I found that I ate less not because it’s such a super diet, just because it was very restrictive as to what i could eat. I also found that when I ate too much, I gained weight, just like with every other diet.
    3. The logical flaw I found here was the elimination of things like beans and corn and eating foods like pork and beef.
    Cavemen didn’t have beef or pork, those are modern domesticated animals.
    Also, native people all over the world (including the Tarahumara) live off beans and corn and live long healthy and energetic lives (e.g. running ultra marathons at the age of 80). It’s hard for me to believe they are all diseased and are missing out on a healthier life.

    I did discover some great recipes while on this diet and I also added some foods to my regular diet, but this seems to me like a new fad. I’d be interested to hear if there is any real research showing the positive effects of this or if this is just anecdotal evidence used to sell books/product.

    Like

    • Actually, I’ve heard you can eat ONLY eggs and turn out just fine.

      I’ve heard the same thing of raisins and bananas, oddly.

      /<3

      Like

    • Weston A Price looked at many indigenous people’s health and diets and found that the healthiest people were coastal, pastoral tribes with access to seafood and milk products from their cattle… he couldn’t find one healthy tribe that ate only plant foods.

      The Tarahumara may be healthy by our own pitiful standards but they might not be that healthy compared to other tribes…

      Like

  35. Fantastic post, Tim and Robb. I had suspicions but never realised the rabbit-hole went so deep!

    Due to low IgA issues, slow growth, rashes, eczema, irritability and poor dental development I’ve been testing both my kids. My wife and I took our family off gluten for a month. We, each, were so much better! The boys’ thrived, their behaviour was amazing and they slept like babies! We reintroduced gluten in order for blood tests to be taken and both boys developed constipation issues, eczema, mood swings and rashes. Interestingly enough, neither of my sons showed signs of being coeliac, though one test came back showing allergy to wheat. As far as skin prick tests go, I’m not going to wait for the results. They’re going back off gluten.

    My wife and I lost weight quickly and effortlessly (even though we’ve been Body for Life-ing it for years). We had always suspected gluten was an issue in ourselves, even though we are apparently fit and healthy. For one, bran and wheat cereals always gave me a hell of a gut ache!

    Thanks for all the info Robb. As an ice cream addict I’m just a bit gutted that dairy presents issues! What’s the story with dairy in this context? Does it mean that I should lay off whey powder for protein supplementation?

    p.s. Tim, lay off the vino and hurry up with the new book.

    Like

  36. Great post! I can’t wait to read the whole book when it comes out. The information here will definitely help in addition to your “How to Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days… Without Doing Any Exercise” article.

    Glad to see I can clip it in Evernote too.

    Like

  37. What a great article. The way Robb writes can really wake a person up.
    While reading it, I was thinking about how I would still have a 6in Subway sandwich 1-2 times a week, but then he said the bit about a bit of gluten every 10-15 days is all it takes to keep your intestines in terrible shape. Hmm… I may have to give this a try for 30 days and see what happens. It will be difficult, but I should be able to manage. I’ve already cut most carbs and dairy out of my diet. It’s the occasional Sub and hot chocolate that throws me off.
    Cheers!

    Like

  38. Tim,

    The cynic in me says that, yes of course you will lose weight if you follow this diet for a month – there is barely a carb in it. I’m not sure this is good evidence that grains are toxic to humans though.

    Yur awesome…but this post felt a little less scientific, and a little more get-rich-quick than your usual excellent content.

    Brian

    Like

  39. Wow, my wife has been trying to tell me about this and I honestly could not believe it. But after reading this it TOTALLY made sense and explained a ton of issues to me. Thank you so much what a life changer indeed!

    Abe

    Like

  40. My wife and I tried the Paleo diet, but had difficulties staying on it for a couple of reasons: it is expensive! As college students, we can’t afford fresh vegetables, fruit, and meat without cheap foods like pasta, bread, and rice to help fill out meals. We had a hard time finding recipes that were easy to fix on our tight schedules.

    We need help with these two problems, as we would love to test out the diet for 30 days.

    Like

  41. Robb and I were recently on the Wylde on Health show here in Canada – discussing paleo nutrition and primal fitness (a la MovNat). Great to see such recognition for his book, which is going gangbusters! I encourage everybody to order a copy…

    Like

  42. Aiii….this all makes a lot of sense, but once again I don’t know how to reconcile this with other very well made cases that contradict the Paleo diet, e.g. the China Study saying meat is killing us and that grains are just fine.

    The only foods that nobody seems to take issue with on any front are fruits and vegetables. Any downside to eating only fruits and vegetables?

    Like

  43. I can’t help but notice that this excerpt doesn’t cite any studies, research or paper. Are there such things in the book? Just the sheer amount of anecdotal evidence in the opening section of this excerpt raises some flags for me, so I’d like to know more before I can come to any conclusions.

    Like

  44. Great article, thank you for posting Tim. I am very keen to try it out as i’ve had problems with digestion and i think this makes a whole lotta sense given my experience eating gluten rich foods.

    But I also want to second the voices against eating mass quantities of meat. The major downsides of which include but are not limited to: environmental devastation; meat production is one of the sole causes of the destruction of the amazon, destroying virgin forests for soybean crops that feed cattle, mostly for europe. Along with the huge amount of energy and resources it takes to raise, kill and transport meat, making it the worst food by far in terms of carbon emissions. The totally unethical way in which factory farmed animals are raised and slaughtered (esp chicken and pork). The fact that about 5kg’s of wild fish have to be caught in order to feed 1kg of farmed salmon (not to mention the wild salmon populations which are being rapidly decimated). There is also a fair amount of research that is making strong claims for the harmful effects of eating dead animal flesh ( btw the chemical that gives meat it’s ‘meaty’ taste is uric acid, the waste fluid of the muscle cells before it is sent off to the bladder, surely we don’t replace faeces in our bloodstream with urine? :P )

    SO yea man, are there any vegetarian options in this book or is it just eat lot of meat and greens?

    Muchos Gracias compadre

    Like

  45. @Tim:

    First, can you provide citations backing up this post? Any studies?

    Second: “[G]rains are not a sound decision for health or longevity. For the purposes of our discussion, consider dairy … in the same category.”

    But yogurt has been shown in numerous studies to be extremely beneficial for the immune system. Please see those listed throughout and at the bottom of the following page:

    http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=124

    Comments?

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    • Yogurt is beneficial to the immune system because of the cultured bacteria (probiotics) that it contains, not because of the dairy itself. Being lactose intolerant, I know that the alternatives are scarce, but kombucha tea and non-dairy yogurt contain the same probiotic cultures and can be extremely beneficial. It does cost more, but I suppose it is a personal choice whether you would rather your money go to buying good food or paying doctor bills. I’ve also found Acidophilus in tablet form which is a little less costly than eating non-dairy yogurt every day :)

      Like

  46. OK looks like there was some lag time between me reading the comments and me posting my comment, most of the questions i just asked are answered. d’oh…

    Like

  47. @Jimmy, I don’t agree with your reply, the eggs and chicken are cooked so that pretty much eliminates the chances of getting salmonella. In addition, salmonella is something that a lot of people are scared of but it is actually pretty rare (my dad has been eating raw eggs his whole life and has never gotten salmonella). If you are worried about antibiotics in your food, give organic food a try where a chicken is raised on a farm without antibiotics or steroids. Out of all the fish, salmon is the one of the lowest in mercury and make sure you buy wild, not farmed. I know it is easy to put up a random reply, but getting your facts straight is a different story.

    Thanks for a great post Tim.

    Like

    • Salmonella poisoning is rare but is only found in modern eggs where the chickens are given antibiotics and live in horrible conditions. It is not a concern in organic eggs and there is even a large body of evidence that it is safe and very healthy to even eat raw organic eggs from cage free, free range chickens. I am sure this will raise some eyebrows because it goes against the modern approach to never eat raw eggs. But there is a lot of good information out there if this is a concern of the benefits of going organic especially with eggs.

      Like

  48. Tim,

    Have a look at dadamo.com, the Eat Right 4 Your Type site. They go into great depth about lectins, and provide a huge chunk of research into how come eating foodstuffs that are nutritious for others can undermine your health.
    I was first put onto it by a naturopath with twenty years experience, and my health flipped! Constant colds, sinus problems (supposedly due to lactose), all kinds of things just went away.
    Have a read there, it’s fascinating and sound stuff.

    Like

  49. TIm, just curious, do you not eat grains or any gluten products on Saturday’s (your dietary “off” day) ?

    How about after workouts? No carbohydrates after workouts may be an issue for me.

    Like

    • Hi Steve,

      Personally, I do eat whatever I want on “off” day, once per week. Robb would disagree with me on this, and I’m sure some of my health (GI, probably) would be better off without it. That said — simple enough — I *like* cheat day, and it keeps me sane. As long as my blood values aren’t out of whack, and as long as I feel great, I’ll probably continue doing this.

      Keep in mind, though, that 6 out of every 7 days are strictly no gluten and no grains for me.

      Cheers,

      Tim

      Like

      • Robb includes legumes into the GI problems. however 4HB promotes regular use of bean/legumes? i dont soak my own beans, canned only.

        Like

  50. Much love for Robb Wolf. I’ve been Paleo for about 9 months and it has been the single biggest improvement of my life. Anyone who doesn’t give it a shot for at least 30 days is robbing themselves of something that some people spend their entire lives looking for.

    The biggest caveat is having to do so much cooking, but you definitely find quick and easy meals that work for your schedule. My go-to meal is a handful of carrots, brocolli, yellow squash, and .75lbs of grass-fed ground beef in a skillet with coconut oil. This “paleo stir-fry” is amazing and takes less than ten minutes to make.

    Aside from Robb’s book, Mark Sisson’s “The Primal Blueprint” is another holy grail of the lifestyle.

    Like

  51. I think this diet would be extremely difficult to undertake if one is a strict vegetarian or vegan. Does the book include recipes for them as well?

    I’m personally a pescatarian (I eat seafood and vegetables) so it will be easier for me to give this diet a try, though I find it hard to understand how grains are so bad for us, yet meat is supposedly fine.

    In disagreement with Dan’s comment, I don’t think human teeth were designed to devour meat, because my teeth look nothing like my dog’s or my cat’s extremely sharp teeth, or a bear’s, or a lion’s, or a vampire’s (and vampire’s don’t eat meat, they only suck blood).

    And isn’t it possible that poison ivy just has a more evolved defense mechanism for survival, and cows just failed? (Survival of the fittest theory? Anyone?)

    Either way, this article is very well written and I’m almost convinced (I’m at about 90%, so a few more points and I’m throwing all my grains out the window since they’re still compost-pile worthy).

    I will definitely read the book and the evidence/research/studies, and see what happens.

    (But deep down I hope you’re wrong because I love pasta too much!)

    Like

  52. Thank you for the info – I always appreciate new perspectives. There are lots of great facts in the information. I would like to question the large amount of meat in the diet recommended. I agree that gluten needs to be eliminated however I also believe that meat also needs to be eliminated from the diet. Meat is highly acidic and is a dead animal you put in your body – which most of the meat products people have access to have antibiotics and chemicals also. I was wondering if you have any suggestions for readers who want more variety in their daily diet but do not want to eat gluten, meat or dairy?? I find it difficult to find meal ideas so often I eat gluten or fish – and always eliminate meat and dairy – but I would love to find more options to not do that and still feel like I am giving my body enough fuel. Any thoughts???

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  53. What happens if you strictly cut out all grains, and then suddenly 2 months later you begin eating them again. Wouldn’t you bloat back to the weight you had burned off?

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  54. Thanks for the insight.

    I wish it were so easy.

    As a number of comments here reflect, the food supply is broken and badly. The complex chemistry of plant growth has been severely tampered with in mass-produced crops, and many resemble nothing like their relatives of even 50 years ago. Many strains of GMO crop seed are designed to produce pesticides inside the plant that wind up in your gut.

    The grains are passed on to livestock, which are also genetically modified and loaded with artificial stumulants, suppressants, antibiotics, hormones, and post-industrial waste products (DDGS, etc) for feed. The combinatory effects of all these chemical tweaks is unknown. Science has fallen far short here, and the vested interests of agribusiness is probably going to keep it that way for awhile.

    Having spent the last 3 years patiently researching the subject while surgeons reconstructed my digestive tract, I am fairly certain it is no one thing. Gluten and a hundred other susbstances are problematic. The damage being done is not directly the inability to process foods like gluten, but the massive derailment of enzyme processes within the body that ordinarily would be able to handle (protease inhibitors mentioned but- emphasize that). Naturally occuring and volatile substances like hydrogen sulfide (especially hydrogen sulfide) are mxing with the chemical base in the food chain, enzymes are flipping on and off in response to the chemical cocktails of global frankenfarming, and causing a huge range of health/digestive problems.

    Reduction of ingredients, simplification of your diet will go a long way to staying healthy, gluten or not. You list chicken as a viable alternative- what did your chicken eat? You don’t want to know.

    http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/index.htm

    Some good info there. Eat local, grow your own if you can. Trust no food source. Sucks, but…otherwise you are just a lab rat in the grand experiment.

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  55. This post is genius! Robb is a wealth of information and no words can really describe his contribution to the nutrition and fitness world.

    For the haters, you could be vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian or whatever else there is. Why wouldn’t you stay the same but drop the grains? What bad can come from eating vegetables, nuts, fruit, seafood and meat (remove what isn’t applicable to you). All Robb (and bunch of us others) are fighting for is to remove grains from your diet. Its funny all the haters seem to say Robb’s information is not accurate but no one seems to prove that eating grains has any benefit whatsoever!

    99% of the people don’t want to even try this because they are too lazy to do the work. Sure it’s hard to give up grains… but what you get in return is WAY more precious than the pasta you eat 3 times a week.

    I did the work. I made the change. Result? 18 years of asthma cured in 3 months. HDL from 43 to 75. LDL from 165 to 115.

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  56. I have Celiac disease.

    I don’t think “most people” know about Celiac (at least I’m pretty sure most don’t, from the confused looks and hundreds of emails I get about it.)

    Gluten is insidious. It’s found in soy sauce, for instance. And there are very few restaurants that understand how to avoid cross-contamination (if you eat food that has been fried in a fryer that has oil that was used to fry wheat, you’ve just eaten gluten.) Most restaurant owners don’t have a clue. The few restaurants that do are often the big chains.

    Wheat free does not mean gluten free–I speak from experience…

    Gluten free foods are expensive.

    And gluten pops up in the weirdest things, too. I got sick from a chocolate mint candy once, and also from vitamins I was taking (some vitamin companies use gluten to make the vitamins stick together.)

    Gluten free is not an easy path, but it’s worth it if you’re sick all the time, or unreasonably exhausted after you eat.

    I wrote about my own diagnosis with Celiac disease here: http://www.erica.biz/2009/diagnosis-celiac-disease/

    -Erica

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  57. Thanks for the sobering post Tim, I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and my husband passed 6 years ago due to complications of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I am taking my daughter and me off the grains today. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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  58. Thanks Tim for posting such a long excerpt. I’ve been seeing quotes about Rob’s book popping up recently, and have been learning more about the paleo diet since starting Cross Fit in August.

    The best part is that their are so many paleo sites these days that have recipes that are healthy and actually taste good too.

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  59. Thank you so much for this post.

    I had my gallbladder removed in my early ’20s (all the physicians were completely baffled by my sudden and acute onset of massive numbers of gallstones), so this information is particularly eye-opening for me!

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  60. It’s great to see the word of Paleo spread to new communities!!! I was first turned onto this lifestyle through my Crossfit gym. I’ve eaten mostly Paleo for about 2 years now and feel absolutely excellent. I’m such a advocate that I started a food blog of delicious Paleo recipes, simple enough for the average joe. Please do check us out at http://www.sweetcheekshq.com. Great post Tim, happy to see you supporting!

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  61. Perfect timing! I’ve been making drastic adjustments to my diet and observing the results.

    A good friend of mine told me how bad grains were, but it’s another thing to have somebody EXPLAIN why and prove it. This post did a bit of that, and now I can have some good solid reasons to go grainless for 30 days.

    For me, I know that after doing it for 30 days, it will be easy and sensible to stay off.

    Thanks again, Tim & Robb. Tim, your subject matter is all over the place in a good way :-D

    Jeff

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  62. Tim – So happy you brought this topic to light. I, myself, discovered being (extremely) gluten intolerant about 5 years ago and it completely changed my life.

    A short list of benefits from my going gluten-free include: the elimination of crushing migrane headaches I had my entire life once every week or two (huge), general lack of energy (that I didn’t even know I had until going gluten-free), foggy-headedness, canker sores, unrestful sleep and a ton of other seemingly disrelated medical symptoms (similar to the case studies above).

    But, alas, I have always been “that guy” at restaurants, harassing waiters, asking to see packaging, etc. Fortunately, in last few years I have seen an upsurge in gluten-awareness. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for example carry numerous products that are clearly labeled as gluten free. Hopefully with this (awesome) article, this subject will get more mainstream.

    As for the nay-sayers – I do know that some people are apparently unaffected by gluten, but for those that truly have a sensitivity, the results night-and-day. I don’t care what any “authority” has to say to the contrary – it totally f’ing works. Enough said.

    btw, if you are in the south sf bay area, the place I worked with (allergy tests, etc) is called HealthNOW Medical (http://www.healthnowmedical.com). I was super happy with them. Just google “Gluten Doctor” and you’ll find them on the first page. They also hold forums on gluten-sensitivity, offer other advice, etc.

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  63. Wow, I had no idea grains and legumes were that bad!

    I am constantly suffering from allergies, gut problems, and autoimmune issues including severe and painful IBS attacks which are pretty debilitating. I developed unexplained severe allergies to stuff I was not allergic before (such as hair bleach) I got my hair bleached countless times without any issues, but the last two times I almost died from anaphlectic shock.

    I also developed a severe allergy against cat dander, which causes terrible asthma attacks and lung infections (to the point of needing steroid shots and breathing machine) I used to be fine with cats, never had any such problems until the recent years. No good reason or logical explanation for developing such severe allergies and terrible, debilitating IBS attacks.

    Doctors were not able to help much, all they do is prescribe painkillers and immunosuppressants.

    After reading this great article, I will remove all grains from my diet and try a fruit-veggie-egg-fish diet for 30 days and see if that helps. I hope cutting out the grains, legumes etc resolves this, cause I’m sick and tired of having poor health and being miserable with horrible IBS attacks!

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  64. Ummm Is nobody else concerned that this diet is based on the Paleolithic Man that had an average life span of only 30 years? Oh don’t tell me, it had nothing to do with his diet. In fact he was in excellent health when he died. I get the diet, it’s the typical smoke and mirrors marketing angle that makes this another fad for people who don’t want to do the work.

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    • Consider that the average lifespan of paleolithic humans was decreased by (i) infant mortality (ii) death at the paws of wild animals

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      • Tell me were you living in the palaeolithic time? I would suggest a more in debt research on how they came to this 30 year life span. That is what I distrust, same goes for the infant mortality rates

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  65. “gluten consumption is on par with a pack-a-day smoking habit.”
    You have got to be kidding me.
    There are so many major inconsistencies and erroneous ‘facts’ in this article. Some parts of this article are highly debatable and make connections between two things that in reality are highly unlikely to be temporally related. Just because things are presented as fact by one man and his ‘expert opinion’ does not make them true. I would love to see references to the research Robb claims backs this information up.
    Don’t get me wrong I agree with trying anything that may work, but I believe it is wrong to make such sweeping and simplified comments blaming grain as the cause of so many conditions.

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  66. After he got a nod from Erwan Le Corre, I started listening to Robb’s podcasts and they are top notch.

    I attended a Robb Wolf seminar in the LA area last month (Team Crossfit in Monrovia). Awesome, awesome, awesome presentation. I’ve never had a weight problem and I’ve always been fit, but after making the adjustments Robb recommends, my body just started getting massively stronger. I put on 10 lbs of lean mass under intermittent fasting, doing little more than sitting on my ass.

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  67. Thanks for this post–going to have to read the book now.

    @Robb
    Quick question: I’m an ectomorph and have a largely vegetarian diet (with some meat mixed in) and whey protein powder seems to be the only way i can get enough protein to put on muscle weight. Is whey considered a no-no, does it depend on the type, or is it OK? If it’s a no go, what non-meat substitute would you suggest?

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  68. Hi Tim,

    I am so glad to see you finally embrace the paleo trend. I am one of those “amazing health turnaround stories.” I suffered from crippling IBS-D, chronic fatigue in cyclical waves, and emotional numbness.

    However, my story comes with an important twist. Paleo alone wasn’t enough to fix me. Neither was an all meat diet. Only when I moved to a fresh fish diet was I cured.

    I’ve been on an all meat diet for a long time. Still having problems, I eventually narrowed down my diet to just frozen fish fillets. For a good while I tried to optimize fat ratios in the fillets, thinking that was the last problem.

    Just in these last few days, I switched to live-bought fish which I boil and eat the same day. I got this idea from the Stefansson Eskimo diet article. My energy and mood and physical activity all immediately shot up. Whereas before my energy was fluctuating between 3/5 (if lucky) and 2/5 (more commonly) and 1/5 (on too-frequent bad days), now I was at 4/5. For example, I started working out hard in the mornings, no problem. Before I’d be lucky if I worked out once per week. And I actually enjoyed situps for the first time in my life.

    My food consumption dropped by half even as my activity skyrocketed. And my food costs dropped by 2/3s. The live fish I was eating are just a little longer than the span of my hand, but they pack huge nutritional punch and flavor.

    I can only theorize that I was eating so much before because I was chasing micronutrients that had been destroyed by the frozen fish fillet’s age, processing and freezing process. Now I eat much less frequently yet don’t feel hungry. From 5+ meals per day down to 3-1.

    Remarkably, I’m finding that this new level of energy requires a complete redesign of my life. I’m suddenly bored by my previous low-energy, low-stimulation, low-variety lifestyle. I’m no longer content to sit in front of a computer all day and “work.” And I’m much more interested in social stimulation.

    Keep up the good work,
    JD

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  69. In the excerpt, it is mentioned that eating gluten is connected to Huntington’s Disease. I am just wondering how that is possible. Does it simply lead to symptoms appearing earlier? Huntington’s is an autosomal dominant disease that affects and eventually kills everyone who possesses even one copy of the gene, correct? (i.e. it is impossible to simply be a carrier for the disease or to have any predisposition to it)

    Interesting article, though I think I’d be hard pressed to live a life without pasta…

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  70. I know Robb has some good points and yes Gluten can be problematic to some. One big thing to remember though is that Low Carb dieting is NOT the solution, Robb you tend to go too low in carbohydrates with your “Paleo” recommendations. This will ultimately lead to a host of problems – Adrenal, Thyroid, and therefore psychological and physical problems all around.

    You just need to read some of Matt Stone’s work at 180 Degree Health http://thurly.net/023p or Stephan at Whole Health Source http://thurly.net/023o

    I understand you have good intentions and think Paleo is the ultimate diet, but after trying it myself and it nearly killing me after 2 years of stubbornly following it (yes properly I listened to your podcasts and read a wide range of paleo blogs) plus seeing that it has had the same effect on many others we can safely assume it is far from the optimal human diet, especially once we get over the initial low carb honeymoon fuelled by catecholamines.

    Gluten is not the best thing in the world but it is also not the demon this post and the paleo community makes it out to be. Low carb is also not the way to go especially for those of us who partake in sports, unless you want to slug down your metabolism and demolish your glucose tolerance and end up getting OCD about food.

    Anyway I am sorry about the rant and don’t mean to offend anyone, just feel that these kind of articles are misleading and will send many people who are doing the right thing already down the wrong path.

    Eat real food including plenty of whole food starch.

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  71. @Robb
    Quick question: I’m an ectomorph and have a largely vegetarian diet (with some meat mixed in) and whey protein powder seems to be the only way i can get enough protein to put on muscle weight. Is whey considered a no-no, does it depend on the type, or is it OK? If it’s a no go, what non-meat substitute would you suggest?

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  72. One colossal problem with the Paleo Diet: It’s based on flawed archeology. Since the Paleo diet was invented in the 1970s, archeologists have proved that grains were a major part of the Paleolithic diet:

    http://thespartandiet.blogspot.com/2009/06/new-finding-shows-barley-in-diet-before.html

    The bad health of neolithic farmers are clearly the result of inadequate fruits and vegetables in the diet, not the presence of grains. And our current health crisis is caused by processed industrial foods and processed, adulterated grains.

    Whole grains have been a part of the human diet for *at least* 100 millenia, and are vital for optimum health.

    The Paleo diet means well, but it’s now conspicuously out of date.

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    • I wouldn’t be so quick to jump on the “humans ate bread 100k years ago” bandwagon. Here’s a link to the response to this find by Loren Cordain, who has done much of the research on the deleterious effects of grains

      http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2009/12/loren-cordains-responds-to-mercader.html

      Again, I think it’s increasingly accepted that the human diet was aggressively carnivorous for most of our history, and that this increased intake of fat, protein, and calories, allowed us to grow larger brains, and is associated with greater health, as seen by stronger and longer bones, healthier teeth, and much less evidence of malnutrition. Also, carbon profiling of bones indicate a high consumption of animal flesh, not to mention the cave paintings of animals being hunted tens of thousands of years ago. Humans followed large animals through ice age Europe and into the Americas, subsisting on meat. Eskimos, Plains Indians and the Masai are a few cultures that come to mind which exhibited primarily meat intake and good health. Certainly better health than grain consuming Mayans, Europeans, or Asian populations, which struggled with vitamin deficiencies and poor bone and dental health.

      I am a believer in the paleo way of eating, but I can certainly appreciate some here who are skeptical. I can also appreciate the vegetarians here as well- I was one myself for 2 years. All I can say is you’re all obviously smart people who care about health and what you eat. So start doing your own research, and see what you think. Or just try being a meat eating paleo for a month. Would it kill you? If you read through this entire long article, you know you’re curious, right? I tried the vegetarian thing for two years- you can give this a whirl for 30 days, right? There are some studies out directly on the paleo (grain free) diet. Here’s one to get you started…

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19209185?dopt=Abstract

      Even short-term consumption of a paleolithic type diet improves BP and glucose tolerance, decreases insulin secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and improves lipid profiles without weight loss in healthy sedentary humans.

      I would also add that you should go into things with an open mind. I think the neo-religious zealotry about how wonderful fruits and vegetables are, and how terrible meat is, really doesn’t match the scientific data. Again, make up your own mind, but look for actual scientific, randomized, double blind studies, NOT epidemiological (observational) studies, and not just a rant on a vegan blog somewhere. I think you may be surprised to find the emperor has no clothes. Besides, admit it, meat is yummy! :)

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      • Frank,
        Eskimos ate fish and lots of seals, seal fat is high in omega-3. Eskimos live for a long time on this diet.
        Brains grow larger if the proceeding generation eats fish (not meat in general), I think fish is the only source of some chemical that does this for us.
        Fish does not effect your brain size but it alters your future babies brain sizes.
        Extra brain goodies…
        -Stuff in Blueberries acts as an anti-oxidant to the brain
        -Stuff in Almonds increases IQ

        The longest lived people in the world (they live on some island in Asia) eat mostly green vegetables and fish and work slowly in fields making there greens. True story.

        To live super long you probably need to eat the right combo of nutrients and probably less than you would like (to keep your body cells in a defensive state). You also have to minimize exercise to stop your body wearing out. By minimize exercise I don’t mean sitting on the couch, I mean low impact non-body building. People these days seem to do either do nothing or too much.

        p.s. (not to frank, just my take)
        I don’t follow any diet.. but I do have some quirks…

        -I minimize white bread, sugar, milk and beef
        -I avoid table salt (table salt makes you crave more because your body actually wants the sea salt trace elements). I use sea salt
        -I get the iodine (I miss from table salt) from seaweed
        -I believe researched trick to being healthy with meat is to make sure your omega-3 exceeds your omega-6
        -Nuts contain unsaturated omega-6 (and other omegas, fibre and other good stuff)
        -I believe the research that has associated eating more the 300-500g of red meat per week to bowel cancer (and some others)
        -I like (grain fed) eggs.
        -I keep my meals small.
        -I eat lots of fish from good areas.
        -I eat lots of nuts and greens and whatever.
        -I often read about whatever food I am eating for fun.

        When I replaced most beef with nuts and fish a while back and reduced my meal sizes and I became super healthy. Dropped from 96kg to 68kg over a year, all my boring little health problems disappeared in the first few weeks. I had always walked 2km 6 days a week, but still reached 96kg, cutting meat down did it for me.

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  73. I’d like to know what you think of the book “Eating right 4 your blood type” which states most of this diet for o type blood but mostly carbs for A types.

    I’d like to know if important nutrients are being lost from more beneficial grains such as Quinea and Ezekiel Bread.

    I did the body-for-life program for 3 months and lost more than half my body fat %, felt great, but still mixed carbs with proteins and veggies.

    Who really knows anymore. Seems all the diets work if done right.

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