Tag Archives: leaky gut syndrome

Coconuts | The Paleo Diet

In my newest book, The Paleo Answer, I provide an in-depth discussion on coconut oil. It is extremely high in a saturated fat called lauric acid which scientifically is labeled 12:0, meaning that it is a fatty acid that contains 12 carbon atoms and no double bonds. At one time, many scientists and nutritionists thought that it was unhealthful and promoted atherosclerosis because it raised total blood cholesterol. However, more recent studies show that it actually improves the total blood lipid profile because it also raises HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol. As the total HDL ratio improves, and if it displaces refined carbohydrates, then it reduces triglycerides and small dense LDL, which also reduce the risk for CVD (cardiovascular disease). Studies of traditional societies living in Pacific islands who consume coconuts for their entire lives appear to be free of CVD, but when they begin to “westernize,” this freedom disappears. So, the best information suggests that coconut oil when consumed without western foods (refined sugars, grains, processed foods, etc.) is a healthful oil.

Lauric acid (12:0) appears to be good for gut health because it has antimicrobial activity which promotes healthy gut bacteria and may help to prevent a leaky gut. Further, since lauric acid has a medium chain length, it is relatively stable during cooking and tends not to breakdown with higher heats. Granted, it contains little polyunsaturated fats and no omega-3 fatty acids, but if the diet is balanced and contains meat and fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring), seafood, grass produced meats and free ranging eggs, the omega-3 fatty acid balance should not be adversely affected by coconut oil.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Crohn's Disease | The Paleo Diet

Hello Dr. Cordain,

My husband has had Crohn’s disease for most of his life along with many surgeries. I have been advised to check out The Paleo Diet, but have noticed that it encourages eating leafy greens. Our problem is that he cannot eat any type of leafy greens or roughage, as much as he would love to, it would go right through him and cause him severe stomach pain. I am strongly considering trying this way of life (a lot of which we have already incorporated), but do not want to if its not feasible for my husbands health. Do you have any suggestions to help me along this path? Your response is greatly appreciated!

Thank you,

Katie Jenan

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Hello Katie,

Many people have had success treating their Crohn’s disease symptoms with The Paleo Diet. Crohn’s disease is the result of autoimmune-based inflammation in the digestive system. The following foods should be avoided by those with Crohn’s disease:

  • All commonly consumed cereal grains, including wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, and rice—note that rice is probably the least damaging grain.
  • All beans and legumes.
  • Potatoes and tomatoes.
  • All pseudo grains, including amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, and chia seeds.

Almost all plant foods contain lectins, but most seem to be benign when it comes to our health, except for lectins in grains, legumes, and a few other foods that may enter our bloodstream and interact with most cells in our bodies, including those in our immune systems. I’ve written extensively about this in my book The Paleo Answer, a good place for you and your husband to start as you adopt the Paleo lifestyle.

If your husband has difficulty consuming leafy greens and other “roughage” he should completely eliminate these foods from his diet until his gut has healed completely. He will still be able to absorb all of the nutrients he needs without consuming vegetables. Many hunter-gatherer groups (Inuit, Inupiat) subsisted on diets with little to no plant matter, and their populations remained healthy and free of modern diseases. It would be beneficial to focus on consuming a diet rich in animal proteins and fats, bone broth, and fermented foods (kefir, sauerkraut, etc.) that will aid in healing the gut. If his system can handle it, fruit should also be consumed in moderation. Eventually, he could experiment with introducing thoroughly steamed or cooked veggies back into his diet if necessary. I wish you the best of luck treating his Crohn’s disease.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Leaky Gut Syndrome | The Paleo Diet

Dr. Cordain,

I have just finished watching your appearance on Dr. Oz yesterday, and am interested in following up on your comment regarding the need for study groups looking into “Leaky Gut Syndrome.” I have recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s autoimmune disorder, after many years of undiagnosed symptoms, much testing, and many life style changing debilitating symptoms. I am currently under the care of a very knowledgeable, thorough nurse practitioner who specializes in functional and integrative medicine. Throughout all of the many doctors I have seen, she is the first to ever talk about “Leaky Gut” and the multitude of symptoms it can cause.

If you know anything about study groups being formed, or have any pieces of advice you would be willing to share with me, I would love to hear!

Thank you for your research and information!

— Martha

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Hi Martha,

Many thanks for your kind words about my research.  We have completed a large (~100) case survey of autoimmune patients including a substantial group with Hashimoto’s and other thyroid.  We examined medical records of the patients pre-post adoption of a Paleo Diet, and were encouraged by the results, particularly in autoimmune thyroid patients and those with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis.

We believe that increased intestinal permeability (“a leaky gut”) may represent an environmental trigger for many autoimmune diseases in genetically predisposed individuals.  I have written about the mechanisms involved in the scientific literature (these papers are available as free PDF downloads at my website).  In my latest book, The Paleo Answer, I have devoted a number of chapters explaining how various foods compromise intestinal function and promote a leaky gut. The Paleo Diet severely reduces or eliminates these foods (grains, dairy, legumes, potatoes) and describes how patients with autoimmune disease should proceed cautiously with other foods known to cause a leaky gut such as capsaicin (hot) chili peppers, some nightshades, alcohol, antacids, alfalfa sprouts and a few others I describe in my book.

I hope you achieve success with The Paleo Diet.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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