Tag Archives: gut health

The high levels of Lactobacillus probiotics found in kimchi can help soothe diarrhea, calm irritable bowel syndrome, and strengthen the lining of the intestines, among other health benefits. The only problem is that typical kimchi recipes are prepared in a salt brine in order to kill harmful bacteria which leads to a high sodium content. Check out our recent article by Lauren Fellows to learn more about kimchi. Here’s a healthy Paleo-friendly kimchi recipe you can enjoy with many of the benefits and without the high sodium content.


Paleo Low-Sodium Kimchi Recipe

Kimchi In JarThe high levels of Lactobacillus probiotics found in kimchi can help soothe diarrhea, calm irritable bowel syndrome, and strengthen the lining of the intestines, among other health benefits. The only problem is that typical kimchi recipes are prepared in a salt brine in order to kill harmful bacteria which leads to a high sodium content. Check out our recent article by Lauren Fellows to learn more about kimchi. Here’s a Paleo-friendly kimchi recipe you can enjoy with many of the benefits and without the high sodium content. Want to be hardcore and purely Paleo, try this no-salt kimchi recipe instead.

  • Author: The Paleo Diet Team
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Kimchi
  • Cuisine: Korean


  • lbs. Napa cabbage, coarsely chopped into large pieces, about 2x1 inches
  • 1½ Tbsp. Himalayan salt crystals
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp. coconut sugar
  • 4 scallions, cut into 2-inch slices
  • ¼ cup red onion, very thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup apple cider or rice vinegar
  • 2½ Tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice


  1. Place the cabbage in a large bowl, add salt, and toss. Set aside to wilt for 45-60 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so.
  2. Thoroughly rinse the cabbage under cold running water, then set aside in a colander to drain for 30 minutes, saving the water as it drains.
  3. In the meantime, combine garlic, ginger, and coconut sugar to make a uniform paste. Set the mixture aside for 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer the cabbage back into the large bowl, and add garlic-ginger blend, scallions, cayenne pepper, and onion, and combine well.
  5. Pack the mixture tightly into a 1-quart lidded glass jar, leaving about an inch of space at the top.
  6. Use the reserved water to lightly “rinse” the bowl to capture any remaining seasoning. Add the apple cider or rice vinegar and lemon juice to the bowl, then pour this liquid into the jar.
  7. Screw on the jar lid, and let stand at room temperature (65-70°F) for 2 days. Refrigerate when finished.

Keywords: Low Sodium, paleo, kimchi, fermentation

Mind Your Microbes: Gut Health | The Paleo Diet

I have a gut feeling that things are about to become much more interesting in the science world.1, 2, 3 As researchers continue to discover more and more exciting news about just how our microbiomes can uniquely identify us, change our food cravings, and alter our health, we must continually realize the importance of keeping a ‘healthy gut’.4 While this phrase has become increasingly popular in the mainstream world of health, many still do not realize exactly is meant by having ‘good gut health’. Perhaps more troubling – they have no idea how to obtain it. A Paleo diet will be the single best thing you can do for your gut, by avoiding Western foods which have been proven to alter gut bacteria in a negative fashion.5, 6

Mind Your Microbes: Gut Health |  The Paleo Diet

Bischoff, Stephan C. “‘Gut Health’: A New Objective in Medicine?” BMC Medicine 9 (2011): 24. PMC. Web. 20 May 2015.

By adding in foods that help to promote gut health (fermented choices like sauerkraut) you will be moving things in the right direction.7, 8 Poor gut health is correlated with a multitude of negative symptoms and conditions, including a lifetime of antibiotic treatments (which have increasingly been shown to be detrimental to the microbiome), and is often the most common problem experienced by anyone with poor health. 9, 10, 11, 12

For over a decade, researchers have known that the gut microflora is a major part of metabolic activities that result in salvage of energy and absorbable nutrients.13 Researchers have also known that the microbiota plays a crucial role as a source of infection and environmental insult and also in protection against disease and maintenance of gut function.14 Since this is scientific information, the general public remained largely unaware of it – even as we became fatter, sicker and more likely to receive a host of antibiotic treatments.15, 16, 17

Mind Your Microbes: Gut Health | The Paleo Diet

Bischoff, Stephan C. “‘Gut Health’: A New Objective in Medicine?” BMC Medicine 9 (2011): 24. PMC. Web. 20 May 2015.

Sadly, it has taken illness, poor health and chronic pain for many to discover a Paleo diet. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Preventative – rather than reactive – measures are ideal when looking to maintain one’s health in the long term.18 Since your microbiome is a unique fingerprint, you want it to be in the best shape possible.19, 20, 21 Researchers at Harvard recently even warned that people may be able to be identified by their microbiome fingerprint (which has possible data privacy implications).22 Fast food has been shown to worsen the balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria in the gut, and also increases the likelihood of obesity.23, 24 These are all good reasons to adopt a Paleo diet and ‘mind your microbes’ – as the saying goes.

Mind Your Microbes: Gut Health | The Paleo Diet

Hoffmann, Christian et al. “Archaea and Fungi of the Human Gut Microbiome: Correlations with Diet and Bacterial Residents.” Ed. Chongle Pan. PLoS ONE 8.6 (2013): e66019. PMC. Web. 20 May 2015.

Lastly, many are unaware that they themselves carry more bacterial cells than human cells – meaning that bacteria literally run our lives.25, 26, 27 This is one of the biggest reasons to really focus on improving your own gut’s health – and in turn – adopt a better diet. Western diets have poor implications and results for the human microbiome – it is a bad idea to continue to eat that way.28, 29, 30 Instead, focus on a nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory Paleo Diet – and make your bacteria happy.



[1] Cummings JH, Antoine JM, Azpiroz F, et al. PASSCLAIM–gut health and immunity. Eur J Nutr. 2004;43 Suppl 2:II118-II173.

[2] Choct M. Managing gut health through nutrition. Br Poult Sci. 2009;50(1):9-15.

[3] Bischoff SC. ‘Gut health’: a new objective in medicine?. BMC Med. 2011;9:24.

[4] Available at: //www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150511162914.htm. Accessed May 16, 2015.

[5] Brown K, Decoffe D, Molcan E, Gibson DL. Diet-induced dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota and the effects on immunity and disease. Nutrients. 2012;4(8):1095-119.

[6] Martinez-medina M, Denizot J, Dreux N, et al. Western diet induces dysbiosis with increased E coli in CEABAC10 mice, alters host barrier function favouring AIEC colonisation. Gut. 2014;63(1):116-24.

[7] Selhub EM, Logan AC, Bested AC. Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry. J Physiol Anthropol. 2014;33:2.

[8] Van hylckama vlieg JE, Veiga P, Zhang C, Derrien M, Zhao L. Impact of microbial transformation of food on health – from fermented foods to fermentation in the gastro-intestinal tract. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2011;22(2):211-9.

[9] Hemarajata P, Versalovic J. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2013;6(1):39-51.

[10] Kelder T, Stroeve JH, Bijlsma S, Radonjic M, Roeselers G. Correlation network analysis reveals relationships between diet-induced changes in human gut microbiota and metabolic health. Nutr Diabetes. 2014;4:e122.

[11] Hoffmann C, Dollive S, Grunberg S, et al. Archaea and fungi of the human gut microbiome: correlations with diet and bacterial residents. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(6):e66019.

[12] Catanzaro R, Anzalone M, Calabrese F, et al. The gut microbiota and its correlations with the central nervous system disorders. Panminerva Med. 2015;57(3):127-43.

[13] Guarner F, Malagelada JR. Gut flora in health and disease. Lancet. 2003;361(9356):512-9.

[14] Tuohy KM, Probert HM, Smejkal CW, Gibson GR. Using probiotics and prebiotics to improve gut health. Drug Discov Today. 2003;8(15):692-700.

[15] Rocca WA, Petersen RC, Knopman DS, et al. Trends in the incidence and prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive impairment in the United States. Alzheimers Dement. 2011;7(1):80-93.

[16] Roth J, Qiang X, Marbán SL, Redelt H, Lowell BC. The obesity pandemic: where have we been and where are we going?. Obes Res. 2004;12 Suppl 2:88S-101S.

[17] Available at: //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2014-10-10-antibiotic-resistance-continues-to-rise-/. Accessed May 16, 2015.

[18] Maciosek MV, Coffield AB, Flottemesch TJ, Edwards NM, Solberg LI. Greater use of preventive services in U.S. health care could save lives at little or no cost. Health Aff (Millwood). 2010;29(9):1656-60.

[19] Franzosa EA, Huang K, Meadow JF, et al. Identifying personal microbiomes using metagenomic codes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2015;

[20] Gillevet P, Sikaroodi M, Keshavarzian A, Mutlu EA. Quantitative assessment of the human gut microbiome using multitag pyrosequencing. Chem Biodivers. 2010;7(5):1065-75.

[21] Albenberg LG, Lewis JD, Wu GD. Food and the gut microbiota in inflammatory bowel diseases: a critical connection. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2012;28(4):314-20.

[22] Available at: //www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150511162914.htm. Accessed May 16, 2015.

[23] Available at: //www.ibtimes.com/what-good-gut-bacteria-fast-food-kills-natural-allies-worsens-obesity-other-health-1916714. Accessed May 16, 2015.

[24] Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5(4):1417-35.

[25] Available at: //www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-humans-carry-more-bacterial-cells-than-human-ones/. Accessed May 16, 2015.

[26] O’hara AM, Shanahan F. The gut flora as a forgotten organ. EMBO Rep. 2006;7(7):688-93.

[27] Turnbaugh PJ, Ridaura VK, Faith JJ, Rey FE, Knight R, Gordon JI. The effect of diet on the human gut microbiome: a metagenomic analysis in humanized gnotobiotic mice. Sci Transl Med. 2009;1(6):6ra14.

[28] Myles IA. Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity. Nutr J. 2014;13:61.

[29] Poutahidis T, Kleinewietfeld M, Smillie C, et al. Microbial reprogramming inhibits Western diet-associated obesity. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(7):e68596.

[30] Wong JM, Esfahani A, Singh N, et al. Gut microbiota, diet, and heart disease. J AOAC Int. 2012;95(1):24-30.

If I Eat Strictly Paleo, Do I Have To Brush & Floss To Prevent Tooth Decay?

Great question! Let me review the science before I give you the answer.

An interesting paper published in the Journal of Periodontology in 2009 described a study of 10 individuals.1 These people had to eat a Paleo-type diet, which strictly avoided refined sugars and all processed foods. For 30 days, they could not brush or floss their teeth. At the beginning of the study, their teeth were examined for any signs of gum disease, and the bacteria around their teeth were identified. At the end of the 30 day period, the bacteria around their teeth as well as any gum bleeding or gum pockets were reexamined. The results at the end of this study showed that bleeding from their gum tissues decreased, the depth of their gum pockets decreased, and unhealthy types of bacteria around their teeth decreased. They did have quite a bit of bacteria around their teeth, but they were not the unhealthy types that caused gum disease or tooth decay. As a reminder, they did not brush or floss for the entire 30 day study.

Let’s go back in time and look at our primal ancestors. They rarely had gum disease or tooth decay. We know that from skeletal remains.

Skeletal remains from 20,000 to 10,000 years ago showed minimal signs of tooth decay or gum disease.2 And, through DNA testing today, the amount of bacteria around the teeth from those skeletons were significant, but these bacteria were not the virulent types that would cause dental disease. However, the skeletal remains from 10,000 years ago until modern days progressively showed tooth decay and bone destruction surrounding the teeth. The DNA tests from these jaw samples identified increasing numbers of disease-producing bacteria.

I don’t have to tell you that our primal ancestors did not see a dentist every 6 months and did not brush or floss their teeth. (Although some societies did use sticks to clean around their teeth.) So, what was going on?

Other researchers have reported that the prevalence of dental decay and gum disease were the results of a change in the human diet – specifically the introduction of processed grains and sugars. 3 It appears that grains and sugars change the ratios of bacteria in the gut as well as the mouth to favor unhealthy types. These fermentable carbohydrates feed the unhealthy bacteria as well as damage the delicate gut lining. Undigested food particles and bacterial remnants pass through the damaged gut lining into our bloodstream causing chronic inflammatory reactions throughout the body. A common term for this is leaky gut. Cellular damage leads to organ damage that leads to body damage.

But there was an anomaly. A group of primal people, about 5,000 years before agriculture farming, had serious dental decay.4 Remains from a society in Morocco around 13,000 BC actually showed that they lived with severe tooth decay. It turned out that they were unique in that they were a relatively sedentary society and regularly ate acorns that they mashed and cooked.

Raw acorns have a carbohydrate density of 41%. The processing of these acorns probably increased the carbohydrate density to greater than 41%. The cooked acorns were sticky and clung to their teeth. In contrast, the diet of most Paleo peoples consisted of foods that contained 23% carbohydrate density or less.5 The concentrated fermentable carbohydrates from the mashed acorns changed the bacteria in the mouth to become more virulent, which initiated tooth decay.

To sum up, here is what the research suggests. Processed foods, grains and sugars replaced the nutrient-dense Paleo-type diet. As a result, there also was a decrease in the necessary dietary nutrients that provided a natural method for the saliva to remineralize teeth. These dietary changes increased the levels of harmful bacteria and damaged the gut lining. Chronic cellular inflammation became the rule rather than the exception. This change in diet was the culprit leading to tooth decay and gum disease. Returning to a strict Paleo diet should protect the health of the mouth. But there is more to the story.

Today there are at least three other considerations that generally were not a concern for our primal ancestors: inadequate levels of Vitamin D,6 chronic stress,7 and environmental toxins.8 These factors affect the biochemistry of the body. They affect the gut, the microbiome, and the immune system. Unhealthy bacteria in our gut increase unhealthy bacteria in our mouth. When fermentable carbohydrates come into contact with these nasty bugs, which congregate around the teeth as dental plaque, they set the stage for tooth decay and gum disease.

So, the answer to the original question is a little more complex than just a simple yes or a simple no. If you were strictly eating a Paleo diet and (1) maintained healthy levels of Vitamin D and (2) did not include foods that had a carbohydrate density greater than 23% and (3) had minimal chronic stress and environmental toxins in your life, then you probably would do OK without brushing and flossing most of the time. However, if you live in the modern world as I do, and there are toxins and stresses that you must endure, then I would recommend that you brush and floss on a Paleo diet at least once a day.

Dr. Alvin DanenbergDr. Danenberg is a periodontist in South Carolina who has been in practice for 40 years. Within the last 4 years, he has included Laser Periodontal Therapy as his primary treatment for periodontal disease. The procedure is called “Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure” or “LANAP”. The last two years he has incorporated a lifestyle program for all his periodontal patients including an ancestral diet to enhance their overall body’s health and function. In July of this year he was awarded the designation, “Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner.” For more information,  please visit www.DrDanenberg.com.


[1] Baumgartner S, et al. The impact of the stone age diet on gingival conditions in the absence of oral hygiene. J Periodontol. 2009;80(5):759–68. [PubMed]

[2] Adler CJ, Dobney K, Weyrich LS, Kaidonis J, Walker AW, Haak W, et al. Sequencing ancient calcified dental plaque shows changes in oral microbiota with dietary shifts of the Neolithic and Industrial revolutions.Nat Genet. 2013;45(4):450–455. doi: 10.1038/ng.2536. [PMC free article]

[3] Hujoel P. Dietary carbohydrates and dental-systemic diseases. J Dent Res. 2009;88:490–502. [PubMed]

[4] Humphrey LT, De Groote I, Morales J, Barton N, Collcutt S, et al. (2014) Earliest evidence for caries and exploitation of starchy plant foods in Pleistocene hunter-gatherers from Morocco. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111: 954–959doi:10.1073/pnas.1318176111 [PMC free article]

[5] Spreadbury I. Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2012;5:175–89. [PMC free article]

[6] Martelli FS, Martelli M, Rosati C, Fanti E. Vitamin D: relevance in dental practice. Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism. 2014;11(1):15-19.

[7] Rodiño-Janeiro BK, Alonso-Cotoner C, Pigrau M, Lobo B, Vicario M, Santos J. Role of Corticotropin-releasing Factor in Gastrointestinal Permeability. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility. 2015;21(1):33-50. doi:10.5056/jnm14084.

[8] Bischoff SC, Barbara G, Buurman W, et al. Intestinal permeability – a new target for disease prevention and therapy. BMC Gastroenterology. 2014;14:189. doi:10.1186/s12876-014-0189-7.

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