I'm new to Paleo and in a steep learning curve right now so apologies for my incessant questions. Here's what I'm wondering about now:
The 30-day challenge says that once we eliminate all the potential problem foods for 30 days, it'll then be easy for us to figure out what we can tolerate, since as soon as we re-introduce it, we'll notice if we feel worse which tells us to avoid or limit that food. I just listened to Robb's podcast with Kurt Harris and he talks about this as well - that's he's not "anti-dairy", he just thinks not everyone can handle it, so give it a break for a while, then bring it back in and see how you feel
The thing is, my understanding was that the body produces digestive enzymes according to the type of diet it's being tasked with digesting. I've actually seen research papers on this. So if that's true, then it seems like OF COURSE everyone is going to feel GI distress once they reintroduce wheat or dairy or legumes, because the body won't have had it for 30 days and so will have decreased production of the enzymes needed to break it down.
In short, is it possible that the 30-day challenge gives people "false negatives", i.e. bad reactions to foods that, prior to doing the challenge, their bodies might have actually tolerated perfectly well?
And apologies if this is hugely ignorant. I am not a scientist, just a lowly person with IBS trying to figure this out.
I ended nearly three years of a vegetarian diet with a gyro. The only effect I suffered was not pooping the next day. I felt like myself the day after that.
I intentionally ate some cookies the other day, after avoiding gluten for nearly three months, to see just how I'd feel. I definitely felt bad for the next few days, and I recognized that it was how I had always felt being going paleo. I thought that constant mild-to-moderate cramping and heavy feeling was normal for me.
I've definitely gone more than 30 days repeatedly without having any kind of shellfish, and they never cause me trouble when I do eat them.
I don't think I react negatively to all foods I may exclude for a given amount of time.
30 days is certainly long enough to change the composition of your gut flora so that you may or may not be able to digest something you did before. It seems to me that might be a valid explanation why folks who go paleo seem to develop intolerances to foods that consumed regularly before going paleo (foods that had no prior ill effect, mind you.)
Placebo and nocebo effects probably run rampant through the paleo community as well.
I do not eat wheat, dairy or legumes and have not for years but 'once in a blue moon' I may have some if I am dining out (which is ultra rare for me) and I do not suffer any GI distress. Same with starchy carbs, I am LC-VLC but if I do decide to feast on roasted sweet potatoes I suffer no ill effects. Just my personal experience.
My experience has been that I don't necessarily have a reaction immediately. However, it takes a few exposures to the food (wheat/gluten) and my old symptoms come back.
They're not always necessarily gastric reactions either.
For me at least, it seems that dosage matters too.
Robb's addressed this topic several times, however I do think that some stuff you may have some sort of reaction that eventually goes away and other times you'll eat it and not react until some time later. N=1 experimenting isn't always the best because it all depends on the person being able to interpret their own results. Interpretation (especially when you are the scientist and the experiment) can be greatly influenced by personal bias. For a long time I've had an issue with dry itchy skin on my nose and thought it was related to dairy or bell peppers as these things seemed to make it worse. Luckily for you we have this great website that lets you compare notes. I have since discovered that dairy was not an issue and that mint in my toothpaste seems to trigger the dry itchy skin on my face. Robb's method isn't perfect but it can be effect and is cheap and easy. Think about the resistance you get just trying to get people to try paleo and then add to that additional resistance you would get by telling people they got to pay for a bunch of expensive labs and then find someone that will be able to correctly interpret them for you. We'd have very few people on paleo. You would be fine to go out and get a ton of blood work done to find out for sure what foods may be a problem but in the end may or may not tell you any more than just trying stuff and listening to you intuition and your body.
After doing it myself, there is a distinct difference between problems due to unfamiliarity and due to some other issue. When I added beans back in, I had a problem for a few hours, with wheat, it is a few days.
I don't have an answer for you but I have definitely noticed what others have: If I go wheat-free for about a week or more, re-introducing high amounts of wheat wreaks havoc on my body. I feel like crap!!!
I don't think this is a wheat-intolerance, since I am fine unless I cut out wheat completely and then try to re-introduce it. Tiny amounts are fine but having something heavy like a bagel is definitely out of the question.
Now, the REAL question is this: would the same thing happen if I went "meat-free" for a month and re-introduced meat? I don't think it would. So do I have a wheat intolerance?
My parents argue that going wheat-free is actually bad for me and I should instead go "low -wheat". This way, I won't suffer so much on the days that I do decide to increase my wheat consumption.
There's no account for the role of expectancy in these kinds of input-output questions, and yet almost certainly expectancy is a huge factor. "If I consume X for a long time, and and I feel certain effects, and then I stop consuming X for 30 days, I don't feel those effects in the same way. Lo and behold, when I begin consuming X again, I feel effects that seem consistent with the hypothesis that..."
I continue to enjoy hearing really intelligent types — experts, they assure us they are — utter this phrase with amused nonchalance that doesn't even come close to masking their hubris: "Well, you see, it was only the placebo effect. Now, let's move on to the important factor."
Whoa, wait, stop. I keep wanting to know more about that easily dismissed belief-related effect, which so often shows up in very tangible, physical forms, correlated with "mere" belief.
That one's tummy hurts 30 days later, is a given. To what extent is the hurt related to the expectation that a return to dairy will indeed cause distress? How much of the distress is explicitly a physical phenomenon.
Not easy to tease this stuff out categorically.
I think a lot of people who know they're at least a little lactose intolerant would definitely agree that it's something that varies dramatically with exposure. If I don't eat dairy for a long time, eating some definitely gives me very classic lactose-intolerance symptoms (I'm Asian, so presumably I'm predisposed). But if I eat some regularly, then I can pretty much eat as much cheese as I want to, no problem, and I find milk gross, but it won't kill me.
Also, lot of people I know who spent time living in countries where there was no dairy suddenly developed temporary lactose intolerance when they got back and re-introduced it into their diet.
I don't know the science of it, and I can't answer with relation to other food, but I definitely think it's something to consider.
If these foods are really good for you, you should be able to get right back into them within a few days. I have gone months without pretty much every food. Vegetables, meat, and fruit are all fine even after months, no problems reintroducing them. Dairy takes a few days of mild belly grumbling, and if I eat wheat I feel like I'm dying even after many days. So clearly I have some gluten issues, but probably not dairy or paleo food issues. Maybe if I had kept eating wheat every day eventually I wouldn't have had the response to it, but food that I could truly handle would have been faster.
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