I must respond to your comment as it is so spot-on. I am starting to think the core paleo conceit of our health being ruined by eating particular things, and we can all be fixed by avoiding them, is simply wrong. Dangerously, misleadingly, wrong.
I've long ago tossed the idea that a particular macro ratio is poison, and am now starting to think that the EM2 (or EEA) is defined less by novel NADS as particular substances, and more by the gut microbiome and environmental pseudocommensals and their critical effects on our health.
I believe loss of tolerance for eating just about anything (except obvious NADS like excess LA and huge amounts of fructose) is a sign of immune dysregulation in MOST cases. It definitely is a sign of immune dysregulation to have an allergy to beef, or shellfish, or rice (very common in Japan). I disagree with Dr. Ayer's on that point. Even IBS has been recently shown to be characterized by abnormal mast cell populations in the gut- the same cells mediating airway and skin allergies.
Take the case of Wolf. Robb Wolf was not poisoned by wheat and saved by paleo. He was rather a victim of a particular disease of immune dysregulation- celiac disease - which was and is ameliorated BUT NOT CURED by a wheat free paleo diet. He must stay off gluten to stay in remission. He is not "cured". If he were he could eat wheat with impunity like I can (Yes, my tests for celiac were negative).
In the same way, someone with Crohn's disease or AS is not being poisoned by starch feeding particular bacteria in the gut, they are victims of an abnormal immune response to gut bacteria macromolecules that we are supposed to be able to - are actually evolved to - tolerate. The GAPS diet or similar, if it works for IBD, is palliative and not curative. The idea that starch or even gluten are per se NADS is wrong.
As you have discovered, one may eat any of a variety of PERFECT paleo diets and still not really be emulating the EM2, and therefore may still be or become seriously sick.
In your own case, you've palliated your Crohn's disease with diet, but still have a haywire immune system, which now has given you the disease of Lupus.
Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that any paleo diet or guru with do anything for your Lupus, because what particular foods you eat is not the most important part of the EM2 that you are missing.
If you want to, you can email me off blog.
The auto-immune paleo diet didn't do me much good, except for the first month or 2. Since adopting some of Ray Peat's ideas, who focuses more on eating things than not eating things, I'm a lot better (I do have a long history of hypo-thyroid-like symptoms).
His fructose hate bothers me a lot though.
What are your thoughts on this? Is gluten the new safe starch? Does food avoidance equal stupidity?
Patrik gets it. Most of the rest here are simply illustrating the beliefs I find so disturbing.
Does everyone here think that you can be normal and not be able to eat beef, rice, peanuts, tomatoes, apricots, fish, crustaceans, gluten, or starch?
Does everyone think that the cause of allergies to a thing is the thing? The very definition of an allergy is that the reaction is to something that should be and usually is innocuous.
Those who think I am "bashing" the GAPS diet are totally missing the point. GAPS can be profoundly effective, like an asthmatic can stay out of the ER by avoiding cats.
Would I advocate that an asthmatic allergic to Fel d 1 antigen sleep with a cat in his bed?
Of course not. Does that mean that cats are the cause of cat allergies?
Did you know the most common food allergy in Japan is to rice? The most commonly eaten food is the one most often causing allergy.
On a pacific island some well-meaning doctors showed up a few decades ago and de-wormed the population. The rate of environmental and food allergies and asthma skyrocketed. Guess what the most common food allergy was. It was octopus, because they all ate a lot of Octopus.It was not rice or beef or pork. Octopus.
Think carefully about this. Is there a pop book on Japanese amazon that focuses on healing your gut by avoiding rice? If there were, what would that tell you?
When thinking about what is wrong with modern health and whether DOCs are caused by deviation from the EM2 (evolutionary metabolic milieu, otherwise called the environment of evolutionary adaptedness) we need to consider many things. Diet is only one.
I used to think, like Eaton and Cordain and Lindeberg and my friend Robb Wolf, that most of our deviation from the EM2 was diet. Eating the wrong things or not eating enough of the right things, sites like this one are all based on this premise. Even if it takes tweaking or hacking, or adding in IF or cold therapy or vitamins or supplements, the basic premise has been that if you keep at it you can come up with a diet that will make you optimally healthy.
I used to think so too. But now I don't.
Is this some kind of disavowal of the Archevore diet? No, I think the diet is pretty great for me and most everyone who has used it.
I still think diet matters, but I no longer see the most important NADs as likely to be particular foods to avoid.
A state where everyone needs to eat a customized, idiosyncratic paleo diet to not be sick, where there are legions of people continuously altering their diets in an attempt to get healthy, and there are many many people who eat PERFECTLY in every way that still have serious DOCs is telling us something.
It is telling us to look at other things.
My bias is now that avoiding totally novel amounts of unnatural foods like excess LA and excess fructose is important, but there are some factors that are likely to be more important.
These factors relate to the history and state of your microbiome environment throughout your life, and this in turn is the major determinant of food intolerances, allergies and the epidemic of serious diseases of immune dysregulation in western society. These are likely the major cause of many of the DOCs, more than failing to eat an idiosyncratic diet you need to learn from a book or website.
Allergies and intolerances are not caused by allergens. They are caused by an unruly, undisciplined, uneducated immune system that if often well armed but blind and operating with a hair trigger.
Anyone who is really interested should pubmed Dr. Graham Rook and read whatever he has written or edited very carefully, especially if you are sick.
And don't take any action in a half-assed fashion. Very powerful ideas are like a double rifle in .470 nitro express. Effective but very dangerous. You can hurt yourself or others if you have no idea what you are doing.
Bruno, I did paleo because of IBS and pancreatitis. I could not handle dairy, grains, lots of vegetables, beans etc. Now I can eat whatever I like (but I don't eat crappy processed food because it tastes like ass compared to real food and it's simply not nutritious). I also got better through Ray Peat's work. All that easily digested food gave me a chance to get better, also frequent eating and more food than before overall. At first I was strict about keep starch low, now I do really well on a more starchy diet (potatoes, rice, even bread gives me no bother and I can get back to my old love affair with homemade sourdough). I think Kurt Harris is a humble crusader in the search of health. I really admire people who have the balls to keep it moving forward. It finally hit me that good nutrition shouldn't be restrictive and difficult to follow. It saddens me to see all the paleohack questions about lapses, binges cycled with pureness and strictness. That's a rollercoaster of stress and it's not good for you, physically or emotionally. Been there. Now I eat what I like, enjoy it, don't feel guilty and don't get sick. I am just looking at a thread named 'do you avoid looking at food picture while IFing'. That kind of sums paleo up for me. I understand that not everyone can get to the stage of eating pretty much anything, certainly not quickly. Btw, Ray Peat is the most interesting scientist discussing nutrition I have read. But I'm no cultist. Feel like I have to say that because I tend to get accused of following a 'guru'.
In my explorations, I discovered a blog called "Cheeseslave". I've been following it for a while, and recently, through the author's exploration of traditionally-prepared seeds and grains. In a way, it brings me "full circle" in my own health explorations, because it brings me back around to something close to WAPS.
I figured out about half a year ago that for me, the issue of food is more heavily related to how close to 'real' food what I'm eating is. Is it naturally fermented? Great. Is it eaten with respect to my body's own clock and sensory commentary? Great. Does it avoid over-emphasis on "replacement" foods that delve into heavy use of "alternatives" while not changing the paradigm from which I eat? Not so good.
For me, I find that anything in excess exacerbates my less-than-functional self. Staying healthy has become a conversation revolving around things I knew way back when I was a midwife (like how to feed a pregnant woman in a way that provides the best health for her and the baby, even through nausea and late-pregnancy stomach compression); through my naturopathic training (eliminating whole groups of foods just to replace them with OTHER 'imitation' foods is -not- improving health -- it's just pushing the issues off until they show up somewhere else); and through my progression into "paleo" and "primal" eating.
What does eating "primal" mean to me? It means choosing the BEST foods of the season, and eating them according to my appetite. It means learning to trust my BODY again to tell me when it's doing well, and when I need to make changes. It's about -challenging- myself to move more, do more, and avoid "societally programmed thinking" that makes me lazy about how I nourish and sustain myself and those I love. It means remembering where my food comes from, and taking pains to assure that the food that I eat is given as much chance as possible to be at peak performance itself.
I love this community, but I am pretty sure I stopped being "paleo" a year ago by the strictest standards, and I think I may have dropped off the "primal" radar recently as well, with the introduction of a few sprouted and fermented seeds that I've been experimenting with (in particular millet, which my body seems to -really- like). The point, for me, though, is that listening first to my body was a gift of the Paleo culture--it wasn't until I found this community that I found other people who had some of the same experiences that I did, and who found a real problem with the apparent solutions out there.
I'm a VERY large lady -- but I'm an ENTIRE PERSON smaller than I was when I started out on this. I didn't come on board looking for miracles -- but in a way, I found one, because, out of all of this, I found my own voice, not just where my body is concerned, but where my apparent persistence of Shamanic behaviors (which our culture now, mostly, consider to be good reasons to go get medicated), and my general approach to society were concerned. I found myself among people who, for the most part, were comfortable with someone returning to a simpler, less technologically-repressed way of interacting with our world. THAT, I think, is the gift of paleo/primal for me -- that I stopped seeing all of the technology as a filter through which my world had to pass in order to be "acceptable"... and started seeing the technology and the opinions that garner from a technological world as TOOLS -- I could use them if they worked for me, or set them aside where they massively -failed- in MY LIFE... and now I understood that I had a choice.
Whether paleo/primal is a solution for some people, I think we've developed this idea that there is some "magic" way of living that is going to solve all of our problems. No diet can do that. The best we can hope for from our food is that it nourishes us and gives us the strength and energy to use OTHER tools to become capable of everything that we want to do in our lives... and isn't that enough
I find very interesting that different people, with different ideas and backgrounds, are converging towards what seems to be the most important and (until now) overlooked health component. The Human Microbiome Project is the new Human Genome Project. This is how big is seen in the area.
However, I disagree with Dr. Harris regarding the importance of diet. As I have written in some posts (and will be writing more thoroughly in following posts), nutrition is able to modulate the response, differentiation and maturation of immune cell types. Differentiation towards T-regulatory cells or T-effector cells is controlled by intracellular proteins that play a central role in metabolism. It is true that an abnormal gut microbiota since childhood in most cases is impossible to cure, but diet can make a great contribution towards partial recovery or remission of the broad range of possible symptoms. This would be mediated both directly (on immune cells) or indirectly (via adipose tissue composition, energy balance and gut bacteria composition). I think that any measure with basis on the Old Friends Hypothesis should take into account the effect of diet and use other measures (antibiotics, fecal transplants, biofilm disruptors, etc.) as tools, not as central components.
Forgot to mention that the genotype seems to be very important for the immune response to a given microorganism, being an Old Friend or not. Not only the given combination of MHC alleles, but also, there are specific SNPs in interleukin related genes which influence the inflammatory status. Interleukin genes have been selected depending on the pathogen load of the individual as well as the specific exposure. So the immune response of an individual is also shaped by pathogen history from its geographical area and ancestors. In a more global-related manner, this co-evolution with microorganisms shaped the expression of interleukin related genes. It seems that in the case of helminths and some other parasites, we have "trusted" some part of the inflammatory balance (ie. the production of some molecules with anti-inflammatory actions, like IL-10) to these organisms, upregulating some inflammatory genes. If you take out of the equation the presence of these organisms (as produced by modern hygiene practices) you are skewed towards a basal pro-inflammatory environment.
I think Dr. Harris has nailed it again.
An old friend once used the phrase, "Her pathology has become her theology." I think this sums up what Dr. Harris is saying.
Going Primal has given me the opportunity to experience real health for the first time in my life--so the avoidance of certain foods (esp. gluten & FODMAPS) has been very beneficial to me.
From my new perspective, I am pursuing further healing of my gut so that I can eat more freely when socializing. Needing to avoid guacamole (while living in New Mexico) because of the FODMAPS in avocados and onions has been great incentive to do this! And thanks to Melissa & others who have posted here, I feel more confident of my body's ability to heal fully, given the time and space it needs.
In my work in the birth world, I have learned how much our U.S. medicalised pregnancy & birth practices are setting up a large percentage of the population to have impacted gut health.
Babies have a sterile gut, so it is essential that it is populated by beneficial gut bacteria if they are to enjoy good health. With over 30% of births being caesarians, many babies aren't getting exposed to the flora of their mom right away because they are missing the journey through the vagina.
Prophylactic antibiotics are killing off beneficial gut flora in many moms before they even have a chance to inoculate their baby. Even if they have a vaginal birth, many moms are suffering from gut flora imbalance that they pass on to their babies.
And the poor rates of exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months (WHO recommendations) means that many, many babies are being exposed to gluten, soy & other foods that their bodies are not yet ready to digest, further disturbing their gut environment.
I am a fine example of this. When I was born (vaginally) in the hospital in 1963, my mom was given antibiotics at the end of her pregnancy because she was fighting an infection. Also, I was not breastfed--in fact, she couldn't afford formula, so as soon as we were home, I was fed condensed milk (probably sweetened!)
There is a growing awareness of this issue among birth professionals, but really, it is up to the parents to defend the gut health of their children, if they want to truly support our population's future health.
Yes, paleo is a band-aid. No, paleo is not a cure-all. No, calling paleo a band-aid does not in any way detract from it, or from those who have successfully used it to achieve their health goals.
But for every person who has achieved vibrant health and six pack abs through eating a nutrient dense paleo diet, there are others who have failed. Go take a look at a handful of paleohacks questions for evidence of this. Most of the advice for these people who are "failing" is to "Go more paleo!" or some other version of this. It's eerily reminiscent of the vegan crowd, where people who aren't thriving must not be doing it right, or need to go even more vegan. "Try a 30 day juice fast raw protocol, yo!"
The paleo community is better than that, and even if you're already on board with Dr. Harris's skepticism about over-reaching health claims, I still think it's always good to hear another wake-up call. My first was with Mat Lalonde's AHS seminar, which basically told me to study actual science or STFU. This was another wake-up call I definitely needed, because part of me still believed that if everyone went paleo from birth, the diseases of civilization would go away. Today, I'm realizing that is most likely not true.
My question is... Did anyone actually ever think Paleo cured anything? To me it seemed clear that the diet was a long term lifestyle treatment. I hardly see anyone doing Paleo/PHD/Peat/Primal etc for the 3 months, calling themselves cured only to happily return to the SAD. What makes paleo better than a drug treatment is all around more beneficial than whatever that specific drug is targeting.
Seriously, if there was a cure for these ailments, don't you think people would be eating whatever the hell they wanted? I love eating whole foods, but if someone told me I could eat pizza and cookies everyday and not get acne, fat, etc etc then by all means I'd be having them for breakfast.
Whatever the reason you go "Paleo" or diet that fits under the "WAP, WHOLE FOODS" umbrella, they are all focused on whole foods and cutting out the junk. Of course that's a treatment and not a cure... because you have to be regular and consistent about it.
I don't think what Kurt is saying is sensational or a revelation at all. How was this not obvious from the start?
It is true though that the people going ultra restrictive are not doing themselves any good... Perhaps the remark is good for that. But who cares if he eats wheat ad lib?
Kurt Harris has, with his brief comment, delivered what may prove to be very deep insight into the nature of health & diet. (It may also disturb some of you too. C'est la vie.)
His observation that Paleo might be palliative rather than curative is non-trivial, and deserves further exploration and meaningful discussion.
Things just got very interesting again, and cheers to that!
This is like saying Robb Wolf had an intolerance for cyanide, and paleo didn't cure that intolerance, only abstinence to cyanide prevented him from a quick death. So, therefore a cyanide free diet is not curative, it's only a band-aid. (Who knows, maybe there exists a human that can tolerate cyanide, or will in the future, maybe with the same adaptation that golden bamboo lemurs have). Genetics is a funny thing.
But Seriously? It's come to this sort of nit picking semantics?
Yes, of course, there is a difference between saying someone is allergic, or intolerant to a particular food, but let's not argue about semantics so closely when in both cases they are suffering from damage caused by that food. Removing that food might not reverse the damage immediately, and maybe never fully reverse it, but continuing to ingest it is more likely to continue causing more damage and prevent the healing process.
On the other hand, people who have no reaction to wheat toxins, will happily go on eating toxins that inflame their guts and cause all sorts of problems, such as autoimmune issues, poor nutrient absorption, etc. and they'll have no idea that it's actually happening until very late in the process.
Paleo is never going to fix you so you can eat neolithic agents of disease without them causing damage. To call it a bandaid is just trying to be sensationalist, in the same way I used cyanide in the counter.
"...there are many many people who eat PERFECTLY in every way that still have serious DOCs is telling us something.
It is telling us to look at other things."
Perhaps HORMONES that have an interaction with the thymus has something to do with it.
Paleo Gurus and their advice? 4 Answers