June: Your Top Five Comments | The Paleo Diet®
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June: Your Top Five Comments

By The Paleo Diet Team
July 9, 2016
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Our Readers Respond to Our Articles in June

You, our readers, are what keep thePaleoDiet.com website going. Your comments and responses let us know what you’re thinking and what you’d like to hear about. Every month we take the time to read all of your posts and try to reply to your questions. While we get many great comments, we’re going to start selecting five conversations from each month that we think are interesting and should be shared with all of you. Here’s our top five for June. We hope you enjoy!

1. Readers Share Their Experience with the Paleo Diet and the Pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Article: Curing Rheumatoid Arthritis with The Paleo Diet
Nean on April 28, 2015 writes:
After visiting so many therapists because of RA and being on different diets with food supplements for maybe 5 years, after severe pains 2 weeks ago (I was ready undergoing surgery) I decided to treat my body for the leaking gut syndrome plus really avoid all ‘nutritions’ I am intolerant or allergic to. And, wow, I am amazed that the diet I made up actually has a name! It is really encouraging to read how the diet helps you fight RA. I am in my 2nd week – indeed loosing weight – without any results yet. The pains in my finger joints are terrible and it seems another joint becomes inflamed every next day, but I promised myself to give it at least the 12 weeks over the summer period. So I keep my fingers crossed, as long as I can Thanks for sharing your stories, even though shared a long time ago.

Ruth Scherger on June 22, 2016 writes:
I did not notice improvement in my RA until I was into it for about 60 days. I may not have been strict enough, so hoping it will work faster for you. Today, at lunch, I sent back a salad with quinoa (which was not supposed to be there); I would not have done that 2 months ago!

Mark J. Smith of the Paleo Committee replied:
Thanks for sharing Ruth. Because it only takes a tiny protein fraction to trigger an autoimmune reaction, it is indeed important to be very strict in the early stages when trying to improve autoimmune conditions by adopting the Paleo diet. It is prudent to eliminate autoimmune problematic foods normally included in the modern Paleo diet (tomatoes, chili peppers and eggplants). Of course, unknowingly eating problematic foods also plays into the equation; this is very common when eating out and so it is worth eating at home where it is much easier to control ingredients during the early discovery phase. But hopefully improvements can be seen by following a strict plan, the time-frame for which can vary from individual to individual. It is not unusual to begin seeing improvements within a few weeks, but certainly may take longer. If the autoimmune condition improves, one can slowly, and ONE AT A TIME, re-introduce potential problem foods to try and develop a personalized “foods to avoid” list.

2. Does the Harvard Rebuttal of the Paleo Diet Miss the Elephant in the Room?

Article: Christina Warinner “Debunking The Paleo Diet” Rebuttal
Alessio on June 25, 2016 writes:
I think that it’s highly unlikely that it’s about ignorance…this talk, together with Mrs.Zuk’s claims, represent the most pathetic desperate attempt to defend the grain based world. Only a very ignorant and biased person may believe to the title, because the actual debunk is indeed only inside the title. Probably people who sustain this didn’t even hear the talk but read just the title. What sounds astonishing to me is that Harvard professors were not able to find any better rebuttal. This fact reinforces the validity of the paleo diet.

The most ridiculous claim for me, that requires a very stupid way of thinking, is that if you can’t do 100% of what our ancestors did, so let’s do all the other way around. It’s so stupid that I don’t even want to realize that someone could have used this. We humans are very resilient animals, indeed it takes decades to develop issues. However, we have defined boundaries, and the more you steer away from them, the more you suffer. Even a cat, the most carnivore animal, can survive for a while with pasta, but instead of stating fancy theories of alleged evolutionary adjustments, we should talk about species appropriate food, instead of “tolerance”, a term that hides itself in suboptimal food. You don’t have to tolerate your wife, you should love her. Species appropriate food is the food that makes us thrive, and though we may not be able to eat a real paleo diet, it’s not a good idea to do all the other way around. But the most important thing, is that the mismatch theory is the explanation of the phenomena that we are sick if we eat the standard western diet and we go well if we follow the paleo template. You can’t deny that apple were falling from trees when Newton had yet to formulate the theory. They are denying the phenomena in this way. The evolutionary template comes as logical explanation of the evidence in front of us, you can’t be blind in front of the big elephant in the room.

Mark J. Smith of the Paleo Committee replied:
Excellent points Alessio.

3. Should We Be Concerned About the Microbiome or is it Just Marketing Exploitation?

Article: How The Paleo Lifestyle Optimizes the Microbiome: Part Two
Alessio on June 22, 2016 writes:
Right, the exploitation of some alleged components on a certain food to claim that “it is good because it contains this..” is silly and misleading. Moreover, grains mostly contain insoluble fibers that is really hard on our gut, and its abuse may lead to tearing it. With the aforementioned claims we should say that hemlock is good because it has phytochemicals and minerals…would you like to have some?

Besides, the concept of microbiome is being exploited in a misleading way to push miraculous probiotics. We co-evolved with our microbiome, and we are supposed to harbor certain species, others that interact badly with our DNA may be harmful, like the grain degrading ones. We should look at what kind of molecules their metabolism produces, like butyrate etc.. Even lysine degrading bacteria, recently discovered, produce antinflammatory butyrate, and what is the main source of lysine? Beef, my friends!

Christopher Clark author of the article replied:
Insoluble fiber is also present at significant levels in leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, onion-family vegetables and others. Insoluble fiber can cause problems for those with IBS or other serious gut issues, but shouldn’t be wholesale avoided otherwise. Insoluble and soluble fiber work in concert together to feed the microbiome while promoting healthy bowel movements. Other components of grains (WGA, gliaden, lectins) are more serious threats to gut inflammation.

Certainly you are right that microbiome health is and will continue being exploited to sell products, but that doesn’t mean all such products are scams. Probiotics supplementation can be appropriate and beneficial in certain situations, but of course not all probiotic products are comprised equally.

4. Is Fiber the Answer to a Healthy Microbiome and Do We Even Know?

Article: How The Paleo Lifestyle Optimizes the Microbiome: Part Two
BobM on June 24, 2016 writes:
I think studies of the biome are in their infancy, and many times the people discussing these are saying things that go well beyond the science. For instance, I was listening to NPR, and they had someone discussing the biome. He implied he could ascertain the differences in biome by, say, eating more raw onions. I don’t think we’re anywhere near that level of data (or ever will be). I also think this denigration of meat based on biome has to stop. Even if a diet is 55% by calories of meat (and mine is probably well beyond that, as I try to average 70+ percent fat per day), there are no long term, randomized studies of the biome in this group, nor is there any reason to believe that this is somehow bad. The biome just changes to accommodate that diet.

I do try to eat vegetables and the like, and even some fruits (primarily berries). I also will eat potatoes and other tubers periodically. I think the rotation of fruits and vegetables is potentially a very good idea, particularly seasonally. The problem is that in the American market, that rotation often doesn’t exist. There are some winter squashes, and more strawberries at times, but I can find fruit year round. I have to program myself to ignore what’s available and concentrate on eating what should be available if we were in the “wild”.

Will there be a part 3 to this? I spent a few months increasing my resistant starch intake and increasing my probiotics (mainly fermented vegetables, but I also started on probiotic pills), and I couldn’t determine much of a difference. I did seem to dream more, but I had horrible gas, indigestion, etc. The detriments seemed to far outweigh the benefits. Also, I was taking potato starch and other prebiotics, but I also was adding “real food”, too, such as potatoes (cooked, cooled, reheated), plantains, green bananas, etc. I also started taking probiotics, some soil-derived. To me, it seems like I was on a “fake” diet that I could not maintain. I can eat a diet with real food and fermented vegetables, but when I start having to buy starches and prebiotics and pills (probiotics), that’s when I think it’s fake. So, I’ve stopped that. I would like to know, however, whether any of that is recommended.

Christopher Clark author of the article replied:
Absolutely, the microbiome changes to accommodate the diet. It makes the best out of whatever inputs it receives. But certain inputs feed the microbiome and promote microbiome diversity better than others. In Part 1 of this series, we discussed MAC’s, or microbiota-accessible carbohydrates, the most relevant source of which is fiber. On a high-fat diet, you can still consume plenty of fiber, especially from non-starchy vegetables (which are very low in calories).

While you’re right that much more research on the microbiome still needs to be done, it’s becoming increasingly clear that low-fiber diets detract from microbiome health. Also in Part 1, we referenced the Sonnenburg Nature study from January 2016, which demonstrated irreversible multi-generational microbiome damage in mice eating low-fiber diets. It’s true that human studies of this sort haven’t been done, but it’s clear that our ancestors were hunter gathers and that the “gathering” part was just as important as the “hunting” part.

Probiotics may be a viable strategy for reintroducing lost strains of gut species. We’re not planning a Part 3 at this time, but resistant starch is indeed an interesting topic. Anecdotally, I experienced similar side effect that you did and came to similar conclusions after experimenting with resistant starch powders.

5. Figuring out the Body Fat of Plains Bisons

Article: Pemmican: A Plains Indians Staple Food That Prevented Protein Poisoning
Miki Ben-Dor on June 18, 2016 writes:
Fat content of 4 Bisons is reported in a PHD thesis by Emerson. Some calculations are needed so my results are 59.6% 57.1% 44.9% 43.4% fat on a caloric basis for the four animals. The first animal is a fall adult male and the last is a fall yearling male. The second and third are spring adult female and male respectively.

Emerson AM. 1990. Archaeological implications of variability in the economic anatomy of Bison bison. Ann Aarbor: Washington State University.

Loren Cordain replied:
Thanks for the information Miki,

I was unaware of this citation. I would be interested in the specific body composition procedure that was used to analyze the body composition of these 4 bison. I suspect that it was measurement of total body water (TBW) which in turn allows the calculation of % fat by weight and in turn allows % fat by total body calories (energy). Below is the universal equation third order polynomial I developed in 2002 (Cordain L et al. Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Mar;71(3):682-92) which allows one to algebraically interconvert % total body calories (% energy) to % fat by weight and vice versa.

y = 3.21 + (7.92 * x) – (0.403 * x2) + (0.0090 * x3)

where y = % total body calories (% energy)
x = % body fat by weight; x2 = x squared; x3 = x cubed

So for the values you presented:

59.6 fat total body calories (% energy) = 13.9 % fat by weight
57.1 fat total body calorie (% energy) = 12.7 % fat by weight
44.9 fat total body calories (% energy) = 7.9 % fat by weight
43.9 % fat total body calories (% energy) = 7.6 % fat by weight

The values for the fall adult male and spring adult female are very close to the values I have shown in this blog using the scaling equations I presented.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

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