Starches in GAPS

by (267) Updated December 19, 2012 at 1:02 AM Created December 18, 2012 at 8:52 PM

I was reading this post recently, and it seemed to make everything fall in place. Put as simply as possible, there's a subset of traditional food that people with digestive systems unhealthy in the way it seems to happen given modern conditions cannot deal with properly, and thus must avoid until healed. This subset is basically just WAPF minus what paleo tells you to also not eat--most obviously grains.

This is a bit of a simplification though, as there are a lot of different versions of paleo, and a lot of things being thrown around such as LC, VLC, FODMAPS, etc. But the basic idea I believe works, in that each variation is simply a correction to WAPF in accordance with a specific disease. Gut dybiosis including fructose intolerance may suggest LC paleo with FODMAP avoidance. Makes perfect sense. WAPF is optimized for healthy people; the different forms of paleo are for dealing with different prevalent disease conditions. It doesn't matter whether anyone mentions this; it's simply the optimization process behind how the ideas form and transmit between people.

Now for the practical point. I seem to have had, or still have some form of gut dysbiosis, or leaky gut, or whatever you want to call it. After seeing that post and reading GAPS (the book) along with reading a bunch of random blog posts etc., I came to the conclusion that I should be eating WAPF minus starches. I've been eating roughly 3 meals a day which have each had 4 components: (1) bone broth with veggies that taste good cooked, such as swiss chard, mushrooms, and carrots; (2) some kind of lightly cooked fatty fish such as salmon; (3) a large salad with lettuce, a variety of other salad veggies, olives, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, chicken breast, etc., and (4) some sort of fermented veggie dish such as kimchi. Between meals I drink plenty of water and occasionally eat fruit, though recently it's been no more than an apple a day or something. Very little fruit, though I have nothing against increasing it a bit (within obvious limits).

This is essentially some sort of traditional eating routine, except for the glaring non-inclusion of any sort of starch. Normally there would be a fifth component of white rice, or sweet potato, or something. Instead I just have soup, raw salad, fermented veggies, and some meat and fish. No starches. This is what I've been under the impression as being a good idea to deal with gut dysbiosis/leaky gut. Just eat traditional minus the starches (at least as far as meals are concerned--things like probiotics may also be indicated). Nothing I'm doing seems paleo incompatible, or crazy or extreme in any way. Maybe.

But now I'm reading this post, and it says this as a quote toward the beginning:

Several places in the book and on Jaminet's blog (http://perfecthealthdiet.com) he specifically warns against the danger of a very low-carb diet (defined as less than about 300-400 calories per day (~100 grams) from so-called "safe starches"--taro, plantains, yams, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, white rice and berries) because less than this leads to the risks, including: 1) "insufficient production of mucus in the digestive tract" leading to dysbiosis

Now I'm a bit worried. VLC may cause dysbiosis? I guess now I need to admit that I have no idea how low carb my diet is. How low carb am I eating a large raw salad with every meal, along with a bunch of other veggies in the soup and as the kimchi/sauerkraut? Is this low carb enough to be something extreme I may pay for later? There's too much information it seems; I can't consolidate. I'd appreciate some clarity here. I'm pretty lost. I have plenty more research to do for sure, but I'd appreciate anyone pointing me in the right direction.

Bottom line: Should I be eating 'safe starches'? In GAPS she says to avoid all starches until your gut is healed, but I'm worried this may be too extreme. Is there anything to look for as far as problems that could come up with my eating routine? I've been doing this for about a month. Nothing bad has happened. Before that I was doing the same thing except there'd be a fifth component of e.g. white rice.

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4 Replies

1643 · December 19, 2012 at 1:02 AM

I have a problem with GAPS/VLC and gut issues from a soluble vs insoluble fiber standpoint.

Chris Kresser advises that if you have gut issues, don't go crazy on leafy greens, broccoli, etc that are chock full of insoluble fiber. It's like rubbing a wire brush on an open wound. Stick to easy-to-digest starches that have soluble fiber. Chris has also noted that months, or even years on GAPS didn't do some of his patients any good. They were depressed, moody and irritable. It wasn't that they were doing GAPS wrong, or that it wasn't long enough: they needed STARCH!

See where this gets confusing?

When I went very, very low carb, I turned into a total VULCAN. I completely FLATLINED emotionally. I couldn't tell if I liked it or not; I didn't stick with it long enough to see. I didn't like my heart racing at night (ketosis most likely) when I was VLC however. I gave it up.

I gave up starches for months on end thinking it was doing me good. In retrospect, I feel better eating starch, gut dysbiosis be damned.

Am I the only one who thinks super-strict eating is detrimental to quality of life? This summer I found out I had a shit ton of food intolerances. Oh, look. MORE RESTRICTIONS. I mean, COME ON. Where does it stop?

So I said fuck it, and started eating starch again. I eat sweet potatoes maybe 2x a week, a little rice here and there if I go out for Greek, and white potatoes occasionally.

But GAPS and Chris Kresser's opinions don't jive, and I'm stumped myself.

259 · December 19, 2012 at 12:36 AM

I always thought that I had fructose malabsorbtion and lactose intolerance. Tryied low carb, PHD, still had symptoms of SIBO (bloating etc.)

Got a bunch of natural poisons to get rid of the bugs - womrwood, black walnut etc. Lucky for me stumbled onto Ray Peat web site at the same time.

When I was drinking a glass of orange juice I was prepared to die in horrible pains a couple hours later. Couple hours later.. I feel good! Same with goat milk. Drank a glass in the evening prepared to spend the night in the closet. Was I surprised when it didn't happen..

Reduced fiber, eliminated nuts, fish oil (all PUFAs, even those that are supposedly good)

Ate a couple of buckwheat cookies - diarrhea the next day. Ate large salad at lunch - got pain and gas.

So no starches, no seeds, as little fiber as possible. Sugar, juice ad libitum - they help thyroid. According to Ray Peat - low carb - low thyroid activity - low immunity - bacterial overgrowth.

15380 · December 18, 2012 at 9:54 PM

I think that first and foremost you have to trust your body. You need to figure out what is better for you.

For some people, low carb is NOT an ANSWER (this is coming from a person on an all-meat diet). Some people will do better on low carb.

I was very worried about my thyroids going 0 carb, but so far I am doing really really well. I am very surprised myself - I did not expect to do so well on 0 carb. I have a few problems, but my energy is finally back, so I am happy.

But you are different. You might need more carbs. So try different approaches - your body will let you know what works for you.

1284 · December 18, 2012 at 9:27 PM

If you are not eating any potatoes, rice, bread, pasta, flour or other sugars you are almost certainly eating very low carb.

I think it's unlikely that if you eat this way for up to a few months you'll do yourself any lasting damage. For many people it's not sustainable for much longer. Either their body heals or they get bored or the social pressures get to them or they reach their target and at least to some extent they fall off the wagon or simply adjust the diet to whatever they need at that point.

There are also people out there who have the determination to stay low carb for a very long time and the jury is still out on whether that's a good thing.

If you feel good & continue to feel better, keep going, if not try a variation on the theme. There are lots to choose from. good luck.

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