Check out this very interesting talk (part 1 & 2) on “Cultivating the Feral Mind” with Daniel Vitalis and myself.
Check out this very interesting talk (part 1 & 2) on “Cultivating the Feral Mind” with Daniel Vitalis and myself.
OK–I am addressing the popular question concerning why I don’t recommend calcium supplements. Basically, the American public has been completely bamboozled by the American Dairy Association to believe that calcium is somehow the most important mineral ever and that we should all want to get as much of it in our diets or supplementally as possible (“don’t forget to take your Tums!”). There is no rational foundation for this.
Calcium is, in fact, the single most abundant mineral in our food supply. Even if you completely avoid dairy products (which isn’t the worst idea in the world, btw) there would still be plenty of existing calcium in other foods to meet anyone’s daily requirements. If, for some reason you truly are deficient in calcium, the problem isn’t likely to be a “deficiency” of dietary calcium. The problem is much more likely to relate to deficiencies in essential cofactors (i.e., magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D3, vitamin A, vitamin K2, boron…etc.) OR– very commonly— an issue with insufficient hydrochloric acid production, absolutely required for the proper ionization of calcium so that it may be properly absorbed. Hormonal imbalances and errant signaling can also contribute improper calcium metabolism. If these happen to be your issues, then calcium isn’t going to be the only thing you are likely missing and calcium supplementation is anything but advised.
Just because you’re sucking down calcium supplements (and I don’t care from what source) it doesn’t mean that the calcium is necessarily going where you want it to go. You are far more likely to wind up calcifying things that were never meant to be calcified; such as your cardiovascular tissue (arteries and heart), your brain tissue, your joints (ever hear of bone spurs?) and whatever else. There is literally NO reason to waste money on calcium supplements for “bone health”.
There are quite a number of nutrients essential for the formation of healthy bone, of which calcium is only one– and is the least likely to be dietarily deficient. Calcium gives bones their hardness, however it is the collagen protein in bone that gives it its strength and flexibility and is far much more likely to be diminished in osteoporosis due to factors that I have little space to elaborate on here (though I did write a chapter about some of this in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind). Sufficient bone calcium without sufficient collagen protein makes for dense looking bone scans, but otherwise leads to very brittle bones.
Furthermore, a meta-analysis study in the British Medical Journal a couple of years ago showed that calcium supplementation actually can augment the risk of a heart attack by as much as 30% [“Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis” BMJ 2010; 341 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c3691 (Published 30 July 2010)]. The authors of the study additionally pointed out that taking calcium supplements improves bone density only by a marginal amount at best. They said that the minor beneficial effects of supplemental calcium on bone density were greatly outweighed by the potential cardiovascular/heart attack risks. Excess intracellular calcium can actually increase undesirable spasms and contractility of cardiovascular tissue (and is a hallmark of cellular sickness, impairment and aging), while it is MAGNESIUM (something many people are far more likely to be deficient in) that is essential for healthy cardiovascular and parasympathetic functioning– along with about 400 other things. Magnesium is also far less efficiently retained in the body.
Even in those with insufficient bone calcium, the same individuals with poor bone density scans typically have abnormal calcium deposits elsewhere in the body where they don’t belong. In fact, excess calcium can even lead to problems with building sufficient protein matrix in bones. The issue isn’t whether you’re getting “enough” dietary calcium almost ever. Once again, it boils down to digestion/ionization, absorption and proper utilization balanced by sufficient necessary co-factors.
Save your money on over-hyped (and potentially deleterious) calcium supplements. Enjoy your bone broth but also make sure you’re getting plenty of fat-soluble nutrients and other good stuff.
So–there’s a story behind this eBook:
Some time ago, a good friend of mine was planning on launching a website that was designed to provide information and support for individuals who were suffering through relationship breakups. There was actually quite a lot of very good stuff happening with that website and some very good ideas going into it—but the Universe interfered and it just didn’t end up happening. Such is life, I guess. At any rate, while the whole thing was still in its developing stages this friend of mine had asked if I would write an eBook for the website on the subject of what actually happens in the body when a person is going through this type of acute emotional trauma and what could be done nutritionally to support a person in a way that would help them to get through it in the best way possible. I realized this was actually a really good idea and set about creating a short but very useful eBook on the subject. Having been through something like this a number of years back I immediately recognized all the things that I had been through emotionally and physically as a result of that painful trauma. I found that I was eager to share what I had learned.
In the end, the eBook turned out great–the website project unfortunately didn’t.
It turns out that statistically more relationship breakups happen in February than any other time of the year (having something, I think to do paradoxically with Valentine’s Day). Not trying to be cynical, but it did seem like a good idea in light of all that to release this eBook now. I think this eBook, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do…But the Best Revenge Is Living Well is fairly rich with valuable information that anyone going through a breakup can genuinely benefit from.
That said, I think a lot of what’s in this book is actually quite applicable to any acutely stressful situation. Many people nowadays are losing jobs, homes and experiencing other traumatic events that challenge their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth, not to mention challenging your adrenal health, brain health and health of your immune system plus all the rest all at the same time. Quite a lot of us don’t know how to deal with this sort of thing particularly well. Although I have an outstanding eBook on adrenal issues coming out shortly (The Fatigue Factor: What your Adrenals Are REALLY Telling You and What You Can Do About It), this particular eBook is useful for those going through particularly difficult emotional challenges in their lives.
If you happen to be going through a relationship breakup, or are experiencing an emotionally difficult, stressful challenge in some other area of your life I think you are likely to find the information in this eBook valuable. Learn what could be done nutritionally to support a yourself in a way that would help you get through a difficult time in the best way possible.
I sincerely wish you all the best,
First of all, it’s a lovely book! It’s very compassionate and inspiring, and I felt all built-up and psyched after I read it! It’s kind of a two-fer, too. All the great nutritional information is certainly useful for any kind of stressful period in one’s life–breakup or otherwise–but it’s also just a wonderful presentation in a nutshell of how to eat well–with the added benefit of some sound advice on how to think about life. Plus the tone is so sweet and down to earth, and Nora’s awesome sense of humor comes right through on every page. I’d recommend this book in a second to anybody. Some lousy breakup or other is something we’ve certainly all been through, and the book is unquestionably great for that, but even if one is just going about one’s business, it’s still a great read–with a nice, decent dopamine hit thrown in for good measure. ~ Dr. Chris Decker
So less than a week ago I was minding my own business, doing some light, casual (NOT) continuing education in the areas of brain chemistry and functional neurology when an email came through on my iPhone from the producers at the Dr. Oz Show. As if my brain wasn’t overloaded in the first place!
“Can you do the show this coming Friday?” they asked…HUH?
From that moment forward I felt like Dorothy getting sucked up into a category F5 tornado, whisked up into a cloud of whirling chaos and ultimately deposited 3000 miles away (virtually overnight) into “The Land of Oz”.
The show was originally meant to focus on food sensitivities and mental health, with additional focus on the phenomena of leaky gut and leaky blood-brain barrier commonly driving these kinds of issues. Normally, I can talk about all this in my sleep… And for those that know me, they will agree when I say I can talk about this pretty much all day without even coming up for air. But this was the alien world of mainstream media, sound-bites, advertisers, demographics and extremely limited blocks of time. Encapsulating this rather complex and involved– but incredibly important and timely subject is nearly impossible to do with any due justice. That’s simply the nature of the beast. That said the playful use of props and demonstrations were probably helpful for many viewers for at least setting up a preliminary stage for understanding something that we all need to know about. I’m hopeful that my own contribution to the show was able to inspire the audience to want to know a bit more.
Toward that end, for those that really do want to know more, here are a few things I would have very much liked to have shared with the audience on the show that there just simply wasn’t time for. Hopefully this is a helpful next step for those of you wanting to crack your own “food sensitivity code”.
In preparation for the show and determining what would actually be presented, I found I was actually being restricted from using the word “gluten” during the taping, as this was a topic that had been covered on recent shows and they didn’t want audience members to see the show content as being too repetitive. The fact is, however, that gluten really is the granddaddy food sensitivity of them all. It is the main culprit behind dietary grains and wheat (contained also in most commercial processed foods, some medications, shampoos and other personal care products) and is what I like to call a “gateway food sensitivity” that frequently opens the door to the creation of many, many others.
For starters here, I’d like to refer you to another article I have written in this blog titled: “What Is Gluten and Why Should We Care?”. The article is filled with incredibly useful and detailed information that everyone who cares about their health should know. I strongly suggest reading it. Trust me…you’ll thank me later.
One subject related to this we did not have time on the show to touch upon, but is really important to mention is the cutting edge subject of something known as “cross-reactivities”.
Here is why these are important for you to know about:
You may decide to embark upon a gluten-free diet (basically avoiding foods containing wheat rye and barley) as a way of eliminating this suspected culprit in order to figure out whether it’s a problem for you. This is what elimination diets are all about: you pick one or more foods that may be known as common food sensitivities you suspect may be problematic for you and you avoid them completely for a period of no less than two weeks to see how you feel (at least in theory). It can take eight days or more for antibody reactions in the body to begin to calm down enough to start to notice a difference (which is why two weeks is stated as the minimum time needed). It can take fully 6-weeks of total avoidance for antibodies to ultimately disappear. This doesn’t mean these foods become OK for you after that, though, it just means they aren’t reacting in you and causing damage as long as you stay away from them. If you eat the food again the antibodies and inflammation come raging back, so it isn’t OK to just go back to eating them again once you start to feel better. The truth is that 2 weeks abstinence may not be enough for some people. A better goal would actually be closer to six weeks–or better yet even 6 months to really allow some noticeable healing to occur, but this is a hard sell for many folks). Sometimes it is recommended that you reintroduce the suspected food at the end of the two week elimination period to see if there’s a noticeable adverse reaction (referred to by nutritionists as the “elimination/provocation” approach). In the case of gluten, in my opinion, it is a very, very bad idea to reintroduce it again simply because the consequences of doing so when you are sensitive (which is honestly most of the time) can be so dire and risky.
But here’s the rub: there are a number of common dietary substances that are technically gluten-free, but in certain people their immune system may not be able to distinguish it from actual gluten! This is one reason (among many) why some people go gluten free for two weeks and then think that nothing’s changed and that this food is okay for them. I’m here to tell you–particularly if you are symptomatic in any way shape or form physically, mentally, or emotionally–that the vast majority of the time it isn’t okay to eat gluten again–ever.
If you happened to be eating what you thought were gluten-free foods on the elimination diet and some of those gluten-free foods happened to be cross-reactive for you without you knowing it, then your body and brain may have felt as though it was eating gluten the whole time. And when you’re used to feeling a certain way, you think that’s normal for you and you may not notice the difference. This concept called cross-reactivity is based on something scientists call “molecular mimicry”. The diagram above helps illustrate how cross-reactivity works. I talk about this more in my gluten article and in my book but I’ll just touch upon it a little bit here.
The structure of the proteins inside these cross-reactive foods look enough like gluten that in some cases certain people’s immune systems can’t tell the difference. This phenomenon is very well established within the immunologic literature but poorly understood by many people, including many health care providers. The most common cross-reactive foods with gluten include: dairy products (i.e., casein and other dairy proteins), oats (yes, even gluten-free oats), millet, corn, yeast (as in Baker’s yeast and Brewer’s yeast), and even pre-ground commercial and/or instant coffee (though whole roasted, organic coffee beans are likely OK). Believe it or not, rice can also be cross-reactive with wheat for some people! Furthermore, nearly all oats (with the possible exception of those labeled “certified gluten-free”), buckwheat flour and soy flour are actually nearly always contaminated with gluten by virtue of the manner in which they are processed and stored commercially. It seems like gluten is literally everywhere! And it is. It’s a big problem.
Gluten is able to compromise the gut and the blood brain barrier in a very unique and pronounced way– and, GET THIS:
Gluten compromises your gut and your blood brain barrier whether or not you happen to be sensitive to gluten in the first place!
So you don’t even have to have a gluten sensitivity in order for gluten containing foods to damage your gut or even your brain! No real harm has ever come to anyone by eliminating gluten from their lives and it may be something you want to consider for yourself and your family just as a matter of precaution in the name of better health. Given the enormous number of ways in which gluten can destroy your health, and given the fact that the number one cause of bankruptcy right now in the United States is a “bad diagnosis”, unless you can afford to be sick, you cannot afford not to eat optimally well. Welcome to the modern world!
I often refer to gluten as “a gateway food sensitivity” since eating it automatically compromises the critical lines of defense in your gut and in your brain and can allow anything to get through that happens to be there in your diet along with it. Once other things get through, the immune system can react to those too. Before too long, you may be reacting to a number of things that you never even suspected were problematic for you. It is an automatic set up for creating inflammation everywhere in your body including your brain in a way that can lead to autoimmune illness, cardiovascular disease, cancer– the three leading causes of morbidity and mortality anywhere in the industrialized world today– not to mention depression, anxiety, attentional disorders (like ADD/ADHD) and just about anything else with a symptom attached to it lying anywhere/everywhere in you between your hair follicles and your toenails that you can think of. A number of years ago one peer-reviewed research article linked 55 different diseases to the consumption of gluten. Today, at least 200 different health related problems are known to be potentially associated today with the consumption (and consequences) of gluten. For 3 million years–over 100,000 generations our ancestors never ate any significant amount of grains or legumes. They entered out diet in a significant way only in the last 10,000 years (more like 2,ooo years ago–and even less in the Americas!). This just hasn’t been enough time for our genes to fully catch up to such a major dietary change. Human health has suffered greatly since then, as a result. Humans even lost just over ten percent of our brain volume since adopting an agricultural lifestyle, too! As time goes on research evidence is showing that are actually becoming less adapted to these foods and not more adapted, as one might reasonably expect. Some of this has to do with the fact that grains are such a new food to the human species in the context of our long evolutionary history. Our bodies simply cannot easily recognize the proteins in grains and many other post-agricultural foods, and this can (and does) cause us problems. Another reason these foods are problematic, as I mentioned on the show, is the fact that we keep hybridizing and changing these grains in a way that make them a constant moving target and literally impossible for us to catch up with and adapt to. Furthermore, since we humans are actually not at all even able to digest gluten in the first place, I am hesitant to even refer to it as any sort of food and believe it more appropriately belongs in the category of being a bona fide contaminant. There is no one for whom gluten containing foods are actually necessary or even healthy but there are many, many millions of people worldwide who suffer consequences of this substance in ways they may not even suspect are related to it. People are suffering every single day all over the world and most will never know why. Little more than 1% of everyone with a gluten sensitivity, in fact, has ever been actually diagnosed. For anyone that is symptomatic in any way shape or form, in my opinion, this is the most important thing to rule out using accurate testing.
Although the Dr. Oz Show focused on implementing an elimination diet as a way of figuring this out for yourself at home, I personally find this a bit of an inefficient way of going about it, even though it is seemingly affordable and sounds easy. Based on everything I just said I’m sure you can see where this might not be the case.
I personally prefer to do accurate immunologic testing to make these determinations, so that all the guesswork is removed from the equation and then you know with reasonable accuracy whether or not these foods are a problem for you. But here’s the other rub: there is literally only one lab in the entire world doing accurate testing in this regard, and that is Cyrex Labs. I will tell you right now that I have absolutely no financial ties with this laboratory whatsoever, but I consistently recommend them as the only way to go simply because they are the only lab doing truly comprehensive, sensitive and accurate testing in this regard. No other laboratory comes even close.
Cyrex Labs testing is easily 30 years ahead of anyone else’s (even your doctor’s, unless your doctor happens to have an account with them, which they should). If you go to your doctor and he/she does a standard blood test for gluten sensitivity there is a 75% likelihood (literally) that what will come back as a result will be a potentially false negative. Intestinal biopsies, too, do not and cannot take into account the hundreds of other ways the gluten may be affecting you, either. In fact, gluten is even more likely to impact your brain than it is your gut, according to some of the most current research. In other words, those results from the most common kinds of testing are nearly worthless. Standard blood tests simply are not sensitive or comprehensive enough to make this determination with any accuracy.
Cyrex Labs also tests accurately for gluten’s known cross reactivities, as well as other common food sensitivities, including other (non-cross-reactive) non-gluten grains, chicken eggs (an extremely common sensitivity), soy, potatoes, and other foods commonly eaten on a gluten-free diet. Once you actually know what you’re dealing with its easier to feel motivated to do what is necessary to eliminate these problematic foods from your diet. I have discovered that an accurate test result is the best compliance tool and motivator that I have ever found. It doesn’t rely on you keeping journals or wondering whether you’re experiencing a symptom or not. You can’t fool yourself or lie to an accurate lab test. You don’t have to guess. It keeps everybody honest. The lab results simply lay out the facts in a way that are hard to argue with. The good news is that once you heal your gut some of these foods may be okay to eat again in a limited way eventually– with the exception, of course, of gluten and any gluten cross-reactivities you may have. Those, I am sorry to say are permanent food sensitivities for you and must be forever avoided completely and totally.
The most common cross-reactive food with gluten is dairy (most specifically casein—though other dairy proteins may be an issue too). Roughly half of everyone that has a gluten sensitivity also has a dairy cross-reactivity. This basically means that your immune system can see dairy as indistinguishable from gluten and both then need to be avoided– totally and permanently. On the show we talked about corn (another potential cross-reactivity with gluten) and soy briefly as well, but we lacked the time to touch upon chicken eggs, which is also a surprisingly common food sensitivity. There can be many others, too. Again, there just wasn’t time to cover it all.
I realize all this sounds very complicated. In some ways it is. But it’s worth your while to spend a little time on the subject trying understand it more because chances are that you and your family are being affected by some of the foods you eat in ways you may never have even suspected. My book, Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet For Total Health and A Longer Life supplies you with a lot more information and background on this subject in ways that make it (please excuse the pun) easier to digest and understand. You will learn things about your health you are unlikely to find in any one place anywhere else in ways that can change or even possibly save your life.
I, for one, never even suspected I had an issue with gluten or dairy at all, much less chicken eggs (which I ate almost every day). I honestly thought these foods were fine for me. I was always health conscious and only ate the best quality, organic sources of these foods I could find. I didn’t even suspect a problem. The wake-up call was an accurate test result that told me differently. Eliminating them changed my life in more ways than I can list here and additionally resulted (as an unexpected bonus) in significant and totally effortless weight loss for me. Although it is a bit of a process eliminating these foods at first that takes a little getting used to, once you get through the initial phase of getting accustomed to a different way of eating it just becomes part of your everyday routine and something that is as normal for you as anything you may be used to doing now. In time (and it honestly doesn’t take that long) you will find that you no longer even miss these foods. In fact, you will feel so much better that you may wonder why you didn’t do this sooner!
I would also add here that genetically modified foods, commonly referred to as GMO’s contain toxins that are known to damage human cells and can also lead to persistent problems with leaky gut and a leaky blood brain barrier. The single simplest way I can recommend for avoiding them is by eating only those foods labeled as “certified organic”. Although this may sound unaffordable to some of you, the way of eating I talk about in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind is actually the least expensive way to eat optimally well ever found! Not only this, it is even less expensive than the standard American diet! An e-Book I can refer you to in this regard is called Primal Tightwad: Maximizing Your Health on A Minimal Budget, written by “tightwadista” and expert extraordinaire, Carolyn Rush and can help you learn how to slash your grocery costs (not even counting your future healthcare bills) by up to $1,500 per person/per year simply by adopting this way of eating. Perhaps the greatest myth of all is the idea that you have to be wealthy in order to eat well. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Another point I had wanted to make on the show but there was no time to do—was this: very often, the very foods you crave the most are the ones to which you are the most sensitive. It sounds a little counterintuitive, but it isn’t. What happens is this: any food that you eat that you happen to be sensitive to (whether you are aware of it or not) is going to be a stress on your body. I’m sure that makes some sense. Your body deals with stressors in part by releasing certain “feel-good chemicals” that help you deal with it. The problem is that these “feel-good chemicals” (actually referred to as opioid enkephalins) are related to drugs like morphine, opium or heroin and can be extremely, extremely addictive for some people. In fact, some of these foods (specifically gluten and dairy) actually contain morphine-like compounds called “exorphins” that can add to this addictive cocktail in your brain and make these foods even more addictive! So even though these foods are causing you uncomfortable or even devastating health symptoms and consequences long-term, in the short term you may be unconsciously associating them with pleasure. It’s a bit of a cruel paradox. This is why on the food sensitivity questionnaire posed to the audience in the show one of the questions was: “Is there particular food you feel you could not live without?” Very often that food is something you need to take a much closer look at. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to put that particular question in context so I’m sure it might have been a little confusing. Hopefully that one makes sense now.
If I were to create my own version of the questionnaire from the show, these are the questions I would have selected for that, instead (which admittedly there wouldn’t have been room for on the show):
If you say “yes” to any one of these questions–there is a high probability that food sensitivities are in fact an issue for you.
As I said on the show, this is not some fad. It is truly a silent mass epidemic of mammoth proportions affecting almost everyone you know to one degree or another. And very often the most common symptoms involve destructive brain inflammation that can profoundly impact your mood, your memory and your ability to think.
On the show we talked about these foods affecting you within a couple of hours of eating them. Even though this is somewhat true the trouble with that way of looking at it is that you are probably eating these foods all the time (in other words, nearly every day) and may never get enough of a break from them to notice clearly whether or how they are actually affecting you. It’s not always a “Jekyll and Hyde” change—though for some people at times it can be.
For instance, on the flight to New York a few days ago there was a little boy who was throwing a full-blown screaming tantrum from the moment he was dragged by his hapless mother onto the plane (to the considerable chagrin of all passengers involved). This tantrum lasted solidly for over an hour. I found myself looking at my watch thinking, “hmmmm….four more hours before we land in New York… Good times! Parachute, please?” I was tempted to walk over and ask this child’s mother what he’d eaten for breakfast, though I didn’t. I’m sure this wasn’t a bad kid. I’m guessing he was at that moment just a prisoner in his own little nervous system that was being ravaged by an inflammatory reaction to something he ate. His brain was running wildly like a horse with no reigns. Know anyone like that? Maybe even you sometimes, perhaps?
On the show I also mentioned my own recovery from depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I lived with these debilitating and all-consuming symptoms for more than 30 years of my life. Something called neurofeedback (which I write about more in my book) was an enormously helpful and supportive catalyst for liberation from these symptoms for me. In fact, my experience with neurofeedback prompted me to become a neurofeedback provider myself and I have been seeing dramatic and even miraculous changes in others for the last 17 years that I have been doing this work (see www.EEGInfo.com for more information). There is no question, though that addressing these kinds of dietary issues has allowed me to make the most of what I gained from neurofeedback training in the most foundational way and has allowed me to remain symptom-free and even thrive ever since. I did not lie on the show when I said that addressing these dietary issues made an enormous and life changing difference for me. I have found the combination to be quite powerful. Diet was a huge issue for me and it is for countless millions in the world who may be suffering in ways they don’t understand. Eliminating foods to which you are sensitive to may be the single most important mental and physical health decision you will ever make. It could even save your life. I know it did mine.
If you have ever really wondered why you feel the way you do and have never been able to explain it or address it effectively in a natural way, then you may need to look no further than your own immune system and how it is reacting to what it is you are choosing to eat!
I really hope you enjoyed the Dr. Oz Show and my appearance on it. I will say that it was very much an honor for me and a really wonderful experience I will never forget. I was sincerely impressed with the kindness and genuineness of everyone I met working on the show, including the wonderful producers, and including Dr. Oz, himself. I also want to thank my own fans—in a truly heartfelt way—that made a point of coming to the show itself and participating in the studio audience. It meant the world to me.
If you feel that my appearance on the show provided you with value, please don’t hesitate to write the show and let them know! You can add your comments to the following webpage: www.doctoroz.com/contact.
Thanks for tuning in— and don’t be a stranger! Be sure to sign up for my free newsletter and stay connected. There is much, much more to come that can make a profound difference in your life you never may have thought possible. This is only the beginning!
Keep in mind:
“Emotions are little more than biochemical storms in your body and brain.
The healthier your biochemistry the better the emotional forecast”
~ Nora Gedgaudas
Your brain can be like a white, sandy beach with gently swaying palms or it can be hurricane Katrina.
And the difference can be as simple as what it is you choose to put in your mouth.
And also remember:
If you miss the show on TV, the episode clips are available approximately 24 hours after air date.
You’re reading this because you care about your health, right?
Of course, there are literally thousands—some might say TENS OF THOUSANDS of different diet books out there…
You’re reading this because you know Paleo trumps all those limited approaches—and that’s why this email is so important.
Because the world’s largest Paleo community—PaleoHacks.com—is hosting a 7 day FREE online event on the latest information related to the Paleo diet & Paleo ‘lifestyle’…
CLICK HERE to find out more and get everything at no cost.
The panel of expert speakers are pretty amazing… I’m talking about:
Loren Cordain (the “godfather of Paleo”), Mark Sisson (famous blogger and author of The Primal Blueprint) Robb Wolf (author of The Paleo Solution), Dave Asprey (BulletProof Exec), and YOURS TRULY.
Not to mention video demonstrations with executive chefs of top Paleo restaurants, a 2 time gold medal Olympic athlete, champion CrossFitters, and more.
This is only a teeny tiny fraction of what you’ll get as part of
this amazing online health summit!
Learn more and register for PaleoCon right here at no cost.
Sure, you can use Paleo to shed a few pounds, but there’s so much more to this movement and lifestyle… amazing meals… looking and feeling younger… peak mental and professional performance…and much more.
And they’ve got the world’s best lineup of speakers to cover all that and more.
And then be sure to show up. In one week you’ll get more practical, empowering information than you’d find in 10,000 books.
And cheaper, too.
Did I mention the event was free?
I’ll see you there!
P.S. The event starts January 27th (my presentation is February 5th), but there are limited time bonuses when you register now – so make sure to get in today! Register here.
It is a way of eating that seeks to mimic foundational dietary principles followed by our ancestors throughout most of human evolution, spanning the last 2-3 million years. This is a diet that is the most familiar and natural for the human body, and seems to minimize susceptibility to modern day diseases and premature physical degeneration. It includes a variety of meats/fish (containing natural healthy fats) that are from animals naturally grass-fed, organic (seeing as once upon a time everything was essentially “organic”) fibrous vegetables/greens and occasional fruits, plus some nuts and seeds– in other words, it includes foods that would’ve looked like food to someone wandering around 40,000 years ago with a loincloth and a spear (or a pair of mukluks, as it were).
We lost stature, bone density, overall health, immune integrity, and even brain size once we adopted modern day agricultural foods. The idea consistent with a Paleolithic approach involves sticking to the dietary inclusions that would have served to shape our early physiological makeup and nutritional requirements and avoiding the modern day things that tend to compromise that. The agricultural revolution (and needless to say, the food industry) is exceedingly recent in human evolutionary terms and something to which we have not genetically adapted as a species. In fact the evidence seems to show that we are not becoming more adapted to many of these foods, we are actually becoming less adapted (as evidenced in part by the veritable explosion of gluten sensitivity, together with other growing sensitivities to proteins and lectins in other post agricultural foods). I talk more about why this is in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind.
It depends. If you happen to be overweight starting the Paleo diet then chances are you will be likely to lose most of the weight you need to. It is technically possible to overeat Paleolithic foods, like anything else– although it is less likely because it is more nutrient dense, more inherently satisfying to appetite and much lower in sugars and starches that tend to be most responsible for undesirable weight gain. If a person is underweight, this way of eating may possibly help normalize that (depending on the underlying cause). Again, “it depends”. The primary idea behind the Paleo diet is not so much focused on weight loss, but instead better optimization of overall health by consuming a diet to which humans are most naturally adapted. Usually normalization of weight follows this, but it’s far from the only reason people adopt this way of eating.
From this essential starting place other principles derived from modern-day science and human longevity research can be applied to better refine the basic Paleo dietary approach and better optimize outcomes in the face of our unique and unprecedented modern day challenges, as I explore in considerable depth in my book Primal Body, Primal Mind, but “Paleo” is really undeniably foundational for us all.
A lot depends on how you actually define “Paleolithic”. If we’re talking about Paleo humans, say, 200,000 years ago (back to the time when we first became fully human) up to the edge of the pre-agricultural time period, then we’re talking about a variety of climatic conditions– some that were actually quite harsh– that would have limited us to a mostly meat and fat diet, with very little inclusion of anything resembling sugars or starches. If one is talking “Neo-Paleolithic”, following the more stable and temperate conditions following the end of the last Ice Age and the die off of the mega fauna, plus the more universal adoption of fire for cooking, then diets would’ve been more inclusive of leaner meat (though we certainly continued to seek out and covet high fat foods), a greater variety of plant-based foods, including some starchy roots/tubers and more fruit (in season).
Grass-fed meat, natural fats, mostly fibrous vegetables and greens, nuts and seeds (as long as they are well tolerated) and some seasonal fruit.
Feedlot meat, pesticides, GMO’s, refined sugar and salt, fast food, and most other things that would not have been recognizable as food to pre-agricultural human populations. The Paleo diet tends to be essentially free of post agricultural foods including grains/gluten, legumes, dairy and processed modern day “food-like substances”.
In my view there is good reason– especially in modern times– to particularly avoid sugars and starches, and to moderate our protein intake, relying more on natural fat as a primary source of fuel (rather than glucose).
Although it is fashionable and populist to say “eat a varied diet” and “everything is fine as long as it’s real food” and the ever-popular, “everything is fine in moderation”, I think the current state of compromised health in the majority of us in today’s world requires a more careful and disciplined approach. It’s simply the nature of the times and highly compromised conditions we are in. There is a great deal of evidence and research today in the literature supporting the adoption of a more fat-based, ketogenic diet. This way of eating takes advantage of what is termed “the caloric restriction effect” (leading consistently to greater longevity) without leaving one hungry or malnourished, it minimizes the risk of metabolic issues, most common modern diseases–including minimizing the risk for developing cancer (while supporting immune health), and does the best possible job of supporting the brain and nervous system, cognitive functioning and healthy moods of any other dietary approach long term. Mind you, not all participants employing the Paleo approach do it this way, but the evidence is increasingly mounting for the inherent benefits of this particular modification to “Paleolithic dietary principles”. It also happens to be the single most affordable approach to this particular diet and lifestyle.
There are tens of thousands of peer-reviewed articles throughout many, many research journals over decades addressing various aspects of what can be defined as “the Paleolithic diet”.
Stable isotope evidence from researchers studying early human fossil remains certainly support the idea that meat eating plays—and has always played a central role in the human diet.
At the very least this presents conclusive evidence that we were never vegetarians and that animal source foods are something to which we are exceedingly well adapted as a species.
What “science is saying about all this” can also be broken down into virtually innumerable studies showing the benefits of avoiding processed foods, avoiding dietary pesticides, avoiding GMO’s, avoiding refined sugar and refined salt, avoiding gluten, consuming naturally grass fed (as opposed to feedlot) meats, consuming unprocessed, organic vegetables and greens. One can also find overwhelming evidence for the benefits of a fat-based, ketogenic diet for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, autoimmunity, diabetes, metabolic disorders… along with all the research over the last few decades or more showing the inherent benefits of low and very low carbohydrate diets. We can also include all the evidence in the literature at-large showing support for the avoidance of processed foods and chemicals, GMO’s, pesticides, and modern day junk foods. When taken as a whole, the potential scientific evidence already published that supports a Paleolithic approach to eating is quite literally staggering.
The potential list is a long one. Quite literally all modern day disease processes and health concerns may potentially be powerfully and positively impacted by a well formulated Paleo diet.
There is substantial evidence supporting the use of Paleolithic dietary principles to help address things like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disease, cognitive impairment, mental illness and mood disorders, mental decline and premature aging. There is also ample evidence to support the use of a Paleolithic way of eating to support peak athletic performance, improved endocrine health, cognitive and mood enhancement, improved bone density and greatly improved energy/vitality.
Studies researching the health of existing primitive societies still consuming their native diets consistently showed these same sorts of benefits and a distinct lack of ill health of any kind in their populations.
The first thing I’ll do is refer everyone to an e-book titled: “Primal Tightwad” written by Carolyn Rush. Her findings in it basically show that the version of the Paleo diet that I recommend in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind is actually the cheapest way of eating well currently possible. After comparing the costs associated with a weeks’ worth of meal menus based on the standard American diet to a weeks’ worth of meal menus based on a more fat-based, ketogenic approach that I talk about in my book showed that this “Primal” way of eating was not only cheaper– but literally $1,500 per person per year cheaper, on average. The idea that one must of necessity be wealthy in order to eat well is a total unnecessary myth.
By simply avoiding nutrient devoid, processed, chemically-laden junk food, sodas, sports drinks, so-called energy-boosting beverages, juices, cereals and other grain-based foods, conventional dairy products, desserts and conventional snack foods one can save untold thousands of dollars per year. When you consume a diet that is extremely nutrient dense, it is much easier to meet your nutritional requirements as well as satisfy your appetite on much less food.
This readily offsets the little bit extra one pays for top quality nourishment– not mentioning the untold savings in potential healthcare costs long-term.
Those suffering serious illness should always consult with a knowledgeable and qualified healthcare provider familiar with their situation before undertaking some radical change in diet.
Even a positive change can be discombobulating temporarily to some and may require closer monitoring or special modifications to the transition for greater comfort and ease. Also, anyone with gallstones or who may be prone to these and/or biliary attacks needs to get to the bottom of and resolve these issues before engaging in a dietary approach higher in even extremely healthy natural fats.
Otherwise, it is the most natural approach to eating in human history.
My meals are usually pretty simple. I’ll have a duck egg in the morning cooked in a little duck fat, or a maybe couple of ounces of grass fed ground beef sautéed together with mushrooms, onions, and a variety of chopped vegetables and greens as a sort of breakfast stir fry. Evening leftovers or even light snacks can also be a morning favorite.
Lunch might be a vegetable salad with a small amount of sliced meat, plus maybe some avocado with an olive oil/balsamic/raw cider vinegar combo for the dressing.
Dinner might be some modest portion of meat or poultry lots of steamed veggies covered in olive oil, melted duck fat or Cultured Ghee together with a salad on the side.
I often also include a spoonful or two of cultured vegetables for their nutritionally excellent, plus enzymatic and probiotic value. I mostly drink tea and spring water.
Anyone can avoid processed foods, pesticides, commercially prepared beverages, sodas and junk snack food and experience improved health. It’s also possible on a vegetarian diet to avoid grains/gluten and legumes/soy, as well as most conventional dairy… But that basically ends up leaving vegetables, nuts, seeds and eggs (plus maybe a few berries), which does not a balanced diet make. There would be several significant problems to overcome–namely the inherent critical need for complete protein sufficiency (minus starch), adequate mineral absorption which often requires the active presence of hydrochloric acid for proper absorption, sufficient utilizable B12, deficiencies of true vitamin A (which is not beta carotene, btw, and is poorly converted from this but found naturally and exclusively in animal source foods as retinol), and deficiencies of EPA and DHA (which absolutely cannot be sufficiently obtained, if obtained at all from poorly utilized plant source omega-3’s).
In short, since there has never been a known primitive truly vegetarian culture and since there has never been any evidence of vegetarian diets anywhere in the human fossil record (all the way back to the great apes) a “Paleo vegetarian” approach would be essentially oxymoronic.
Also, since a vegetarian diet tends to be a post-agricultural, mostly starch-based diet, typically contains many common dietary antigens, simply cannot supply many essential nutrients and is something we are ill-equipped (lacking 4 stomachs or a bacterially-based digestion) to make optimal use of, it becomes difficult to see where a committed vegetarian would fit into this approach.
That said, most Paleo enthusiasts share many common values and concerns with most vegetarians/vegans, including an avid interest in their own health, the desire for clean air and water, a general desire to avoid dietary pesticides, chemicals and GMO’s, the avoidance of feedlot meat and meat sourced from inhumane/unhealthy and unsustainable practices, a passion for having a clean, healthy source of nourishment that is environmentally friendly, as well as often both sharing a desire to live consciously, naturally and sustainably. If we could focus more on what we have in common than what divides us we could accomplish a great deal more in a way that could benefit literally everyone.
There are many written books and websites and/or free podcasts that can supply good information about the Paleo approach from unique and well researched perspectives. One can also do searches all day long online for innumerable peer-reviewed papers on the subject or look up some of the research by Dr. Michael Richards of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Each reader will obviously have to sort out the relative merits of each perspective and find what works best for them. The Ancestral Health Society also has a website full of wonderful presentations by many of the best recognized Paleo diet experts that can be accessed for free. PaleoFx has many good presentations for purchase. Paleo Magazine, available on most newsstands contains a lot of good articles, recipes and resources. There is no shortage of available information. That said, people will need to sort through a number of differing opinions on the finer points of the Paleo lifestyle. Check out my book or my Double Audio CD Set for more information on the Paleo Diet as well.
The idea that calcium is a scarce dietary mineral of greater health importance than any other mineral is a myth we can largely thank the dairy industry for perpetrating.
Calcium is actually the single most abundant mineral in our food supply. The problem isn’t getting enough for most people. The issue (if there even is one) tends to be poor digestion and insufficient cofactors/other deficiencies.
What is more problematic than “not enough calcium”—by far–is actually magnesium deficiency. That said, the greater issue when it comes to meeting calcium needs relates more so to the digestion and absorption of calcium (requiring the presence of sufficient hydrochloric acid for its necessary ionization), the presence of its essential cofactors (vitamins D3, K2, Mg, P, and trace elements, boron and natural strontium) and healthy endocrine function is needed to use it properly. A well formulated Paleo diet provides more than ample calcium that is more likely to be effectively digested and absorbed than with most other types of diets.
I’d say the most common and annoying misconception for me lies with the idea that a Paleolithic diet is about brutishly gorging endlessly on meat with little or no vegetables and no regard to the welfare of animals or the planet.
The idea of meat-eating being necessarily destructive of the environment or unsustainable is its own myth (unless we happen to be talking about feedlot meat, which most Paleo folk agree is a horrible, inhumane, unhealthy, unnatural and unsustainable thing and which we all tend to avoid).
This planet is filled with plentiful non-agriculturally viable grassland that can be used for sustainably and humanely raising vast herds of grazing animals capable of feeding vast human populations and even restoring (rather than compromising) the health of the land, the soil, reverse desertification, restore healthy watersheds while facilitating healthy ecosystem diversity and potentially even slowing climate change–Unlike monoculture agriculture, by the way. Vast herds of grazing animals and grasslands co-evolved and were thriving for tens of millions of years–long before humans ever entered onto the scene. Nothing could be more natural or more potentially healing to this world than ending the aforementioned myth, once and for all. Whoever doubts me should watch the recent TED talk by Allan Savory of the Savory Institute. If that doesn’t put this myth to rest, I don’t know what will.
<– Click the image to find out more!
Gluten (the Latin word for “glue”), is a substance found in numerous grains. It is actually a complex of proteomes and lectins that are a part of most known grains, including even rice, however the form of gluten associated with the most adverse health issues is found particularly in wheat (durum, semolina, spelt, triticale, kamut) rye, and barley. This is the form of gluten I will be referring to in this article.
This large, complex and impossible to digest protein has been associated with literally hundreds of health related issues, though more misinformation and misunderstanding about it exists in medicine and even the field of nutrition than up-to-date, accurate information. Part of the reason for this is because the field of immunology where the newest information clarifying the effects of gluten mostly arises is not made up of medical doctors, but rather PhD researchers. There is a real disconnect between medicine and immunology and there really is no such thing as a “medical immunologist”. As such, the exponentially growing numbers of patients filling hospital beds with some form of gluten-related issue are seldom addressed on this foundational level. They are treated for their symptoms and their dietary habits are largely ignored and treated as insignificant.
It turns out this is VERY significant.
For the record, wheat gluten contamination is typically present in oats, soy flour and buckwheat flour, too, due mainly to modern processing and storage methods. Small amounts of wheat gluten contamination are also typically present in processed corn products and corn starch unless otherwise labeled. All grains and processed foods should be considered suspect.
What is called “gluten” is actually made up of hundreds of peptides. The only proteome typically screened for by doctors is gliadin, which consists of subtypes alpha gliadin, beta gliadin, gamma and omega gliadin, as well. All are potentially immunoreactive but the only fraction of gliadin currently tested for in most serologic or salivary testing is alpha-gliadin due to its close association with celiac disease, which leaves considerable margin for error in the form of false negatives. Interestingly and also tragically, celiac disease (which until very recently was the only form of gluten sensitivity conventionally recognized) comprises no more than about 12% of those suffering with the effects of gluten sensitivity. Celiac is literally but the tip of a much larger iceberg. If you happen to be sensitive to a fraction of gliadin (or other commonly reactive epitope of gluten) other than alpha-gliadin then you will likely test negative for “gluten sensitivity”. This is deeply problematic. And only about 40% of celiac patients actually even test positive for alpha gliadin. A LOT ends up falling through the cracks with standard medical testing. In fact, more actually falls through the cracks than not.
Gliadin in some form exists in most grains. Wheat, durum, spelt, triticale, barley, and rye are members of a family of grains having the most pronounced antigenic effects on those sensitive to gluten, though all grains (including rice) contain some form of gluten. The gluten in these other grains may or may not be significantly problematic, though a general avoidance of dietary grains for numerous reasons (outlined in detail in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind) is probably a good idea.
Gluten, used in baking it gives bread dough its elasticity and baked goods their fluffiness and chewiness. It is also used as an additive and stabilizing agent in innumerable processed foods and personal care products. Insanely, gluten is nearly everywhere. Laws do not require its labeling on all products so the consumer is left to judge for themselves whether gluten may be an additive or not. I, personally, don’t trust any product that isn’t clearly labeled “100% gluten free”.
For us humans, where we have spent nearly all the last 2.6 million years as hunter-gatherers, gluten (and its closely related compounds) is a very new inclusion to the diet and is essentially impossible for us to digest. In fact, according to respected celiac expert and researcher, Dr. Alexio Fasano, NO human can actually digest gluten. This, to me, effectively takes it out of the food category and into a category of being no more than a contaminant. Researchers at GreenMedInfo.com have recently identified fully 300 health related issues associated with gluten. To say that gluten can add complications to your health is putting things mildly. Problems with gluten are becoming literally epidemic and although public awareness about this issue is certainly growing there is more that is poorly understood by most than not. The consequences of gluten sensitivity (diagnosed or undiagnosed) can literally be lethal and often are, particularly in tandem with other vulnerabilities. You may not think you’ve heard about this but the fact is that you hear about it every day. It just goes under different names: cancer, heart disease, autoimmunity. The consequences of gluten exposure are potentially very real.
Although commonly associated with celiac disease many do not appreciate gluten’s potentially incredible impact on the health of countless individuals or the commonality with which people may be afflicted with non-celiac “gluten sensitivity”. In fact, gluten may well be at the silent root of a great many of the health challenges millions of people face today, both physical and mental. Its inflammatory and immune compromising effects can be a dangerous catalyst for many things. It is rarely even suspected as an underlying culprit in most instances, however. Furthermore, the inherent presence of what are called exorphins in grains (morphine-like compounds) make gluten-containing grains quite addictive for large numbers of people and leave many in frank denial of the havoc it can wreak.
Allow me to elaborate:
A 2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Sept 16; 302(11):1171-8) found that those with celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed had a significantly higher risk of death, particularly from heart disease and cancer. It is currently estimated (very conservatively) that one in every 100 people suffers from celiac disease, a devastating consequence of gluten-containing grain consumption. Some more recently have hypothesized that this number may be closer to one in 30. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (as opposed to celiac disease) is itself also an autoimmune condition and is considerably more common. In fact, it is currently nearly epidemic in its scope. The effects of and markedly increased mortality risks associated with both full blown celiac disease and gluten sensitivity happen to be virtually identical. Both are autoimmune conditions that create inflammation and immune system effects throughout the body. They can affect all organ systems (including your brain, heart, kidneys, etc.), your nervous system, your mood, cognitive functioning, your immunological functioning, your digestive system and even your musculoskeletal system. Almost literally everything from your hair follicles down to your toenails and everything in-between.
Exposure to gluten in a sensitive individual essentially shuts down blood flow to the prefrontal cortex—the part of our brains that allow us to focus, manage emotional states, plan and organize and exercise our short term memory. The prefrontal cortex is our brain’s “executive function” control center and is the part of our brain that basically makes us the most human. The inflammatory response invoked by gluten exposure additionally activates the brain’s microglial cells, which have no built in inhibitory mechanisms and do not readily wind down again on their own. In some individuals this destructive inflammatory cascade can literally take months, years or even potentially decades in some to abate. Additionally, these periods of cerebral hypoperfusion followed by reperfusion can be quite damaging (much the way heart muscle cells typically die following reperfusion after the ischemia of a heart attack). The damage and neurodegeneration this can cause over time, together with sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system over-arousal can be significant.
In routine blood tests, seeing functionally chronic states of anemia (serum iron below 85 ug/dL or especially ferritin below 40, plus hemoglobin below 13.5 in women or 14 in men), functionally depressed or elevated serum protein levels (below 6.9 or above 7.4 G/dL), unusually depressed triglycerides (below 75 mg/dL–especially where carbs play a significant dietary role) and/or elevated CRP, significantly “elevated” or depressed (below 150 mg/dL) serum cholesterol, alkaline phosphatase levels (significantly below 70 U/L), functionally depressed BUN (below 13 mg/dL), abnormally high HDL (in excess of 75 mg/dL) and/or chronically (even functionally) elevated SGOT/SGPT liver enzymes, among other chronic inflammatory and malabsorptive markers although not diagnostic here can be cause–especially when found in combination with one another–for possible suspicion and further investigation. It takes further testing to be sure–though even some of the best testing methods can vary greatly in their accuracy.
Gluten can also be looked upon somewhat as a bit of as “gateway food sensitivity”. It is known to increase an enzyme in the body known as zonulin, which controls intestinal (and also blood-brain barrier) permeability. Elevated zonulin levels in the presence of gluten can also serve to allow other types of undigested proteins to slip past what would otherwise be more selectively permeable barriers and cause additional immunological reactions to other foods. Casein (milk protein) is the most common co-sensitivity and cross-reactive compound with gluten, but the immune system can come to react to almost anything if gluten consumption persists. This can be a very real problem. Once multiple food sensitivities take over it can amount to a very vicious cycle that only worsens with time and becomes extremely difficult to correct. Living with this can be miserable at best.
A study published in 2009 in the peer reviewed journal, Gastroenterology (July;137(1):88-93) compared 10,000 available blood samples from individuals 50 years ago to 10,000 people today and found that there has been a 400% increase in the incidence of full blown celiac disease (defined by conventional medicine as a total villous atrophy of the small intestine)! There are numerous potential reasons for this. Part of it has to do with the fact that wheat has been so hybridized. Each time they hybridize wheat in order to try and improve or modify some of its characteristics for specific growing regions or some desirable change it literally creates roughly 5% new (foreign) proteins every time. Proteins which are inherently foreign to us. The deamidation of wheat to broaden its use in processed foods has significantly increased its immunologic reactivity potential. There is also more selection for gluten in grains by Big Agribusiness. Today, wheat is also beginning to be genetically modified, which will unquestioningly add an exponential problem. Furthermore, I believe we are also looking at an increasingly weakened human genome through multi-generational exposure now to processed foods, depleted soils, environmental contaminants, pesticide use, increasing heavy metal contamination, fluoride, radiation exposure, EMF, and on and on. According to this study in the Annals of Medicine in 2010, “The prevalence of Celiac Disease has increased five-fold overall since 1974. This increase was not due to increased sensitivity of testing, but rather due to an increasing number of subjects that lost the immunological tolerance to gluten in their adulthood.” Ann Med. 2010 Oct;42(7):530-8
According to the Journal of Gastroenterology fully 30-50% of all people carry the gene for celiac disease (known as HLA-DQ8 or HLA-DQ2)–and eight times more people with celiac disease have no GI symptoms whatsoever. Gluten sensitivity genes are significantly more common (HLA-DQB1, Alleles 1 and/or 2).
Although oats, soy flour, buckwheat flour and processed corn products technically are not part of the gliadin-containing family of grains, modern methods of processing and storage nearly always ensure gluten contamination of these products and the presence of actual gluten should always be assumed unless labeled “100% gluten free”. The prolamin (avenin) content of oats, however, still makes them at least potentially suspect for inherent sensitivity issues, as is corn (zein).
Easily 99% of those who suffer from this entirely curable and potentially devastating condition do so completely unaware of the dangerous vulnerability within themselves. Although a biopsy of the small intestine is commonly used to diagnose (intestinally-based) celiac disease, fully eight out of ten celiac sufferers exhibit no intestinal or GI symptoms at all. In fact, an article in the journal Neurology (Vol 56/No.3 Feb 13, 2005) states that “Gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times exclusively a neurological disease”, affecting not only the brain and nervous system directly, but also cognitive and psychiatric illness.” In the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (1997; 63; 770-775) an article states “Our finding…implies that immune response triggered by sensitivity to gluten may find expression in organs other than the gut; and the central and peripheral nervous systems are particularly susceptible.”
A 2002 review paper in the New England Journal of Medicine (Jan 17; 346(3):180-188) found that fully 55 diseases were known (at that time) to be potentially caused by gluten. These partly included heart disease, cancer, nearly all autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome, as well as many common psychiatric illnesses, partly including anxiety issues, ADD, bipolar disorder, depression dementia, schizophrenia, Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disorders), migraines, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, ALS, neuropathies (having normal EMG), and most other degenerative neurological disorders…as well as Autism, which is technically an autoimmune brain disorder. In my opinion, it is always safest to assume the presence of gluten sensitivity in these populations, or frankly wherever significantly compromised health, mood or brain function is an issue.
Testing for gluten sensitivity
Although there are numerous methods for assessing gluten sensitivity and/or celiac disease, most are unfortunately somewhat unreliable (at best) in their accuracy (including the so-called “gold standard” approach of intestinal biopsy), which may be partly why so few are properly diagnosed even when testing is sought out. With respect to blood and salivary testing, out of potentially hundreds of different sub-fractions of gliadin, for instance, typically only one—alpha-gliadin—is ever tested for. If you happen to have a sensitivity for any of the other forms of gliadin (or other compounds in gluten) it might not ever show. False negatives are a notorious part of this type of testing, unfortunately. Accuracy (where negative results are concerned) is never 100%. In fact most standard serologic or salivary testing is no more than about 30% accurate. Immunoglobulin testing for food sensitivities in those with autoimmune disorders and particularly Hashimoto’s are almost always skewed due to chronic imbalances of TH-1 (T-cell) and TH-2 (B-cell) immune response. It’s critical to look for multiple markers (although the overwhelming—nearly 100% association between gluten sensitivity and Hashimoto’s and many other autoimmune disorders make the automatic assumption of gluten sensitivity a good idea). The most important tests to run in regular serologic testing are IgA (anti-gliadin antibodies and anti-endomysial antibodies), IgG (anti-gliadin antibodies), IgM, antibodies, tissue transglutaminase 2 antibodies (which are most associated with small intestine villous atrophy (IgA and IgG)), Transglutaminase 3 antibodies (associated with epidermal gluten effects (IgA and IgG)) and Transglutaminase 6 (associated with neurodegenerative effects of gluten (IgA and IgG)), gluten antibodies, total IgA antibodies and if possible, it may be helpful to test for the presence of genes’ HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8, as well as HLA-DQB1, Alleles 1 and 2. WHEW!
In lieu of ordering all these individual tests (with highly variable standard deviations of sensitivity/accuracy) I’ve found that by far the most accurate assessment may be made by simply using a the Array 3 panel offered by Cyrex Labs (www.CyrexLabs.com). Cyrex offers by far the most advanced, comprehensive, sensitive and accurate testing of any other lab in the world right now (and likely for some time to come) and is setting a new Gold Standard for this. They look at fully 9 different epitopes of gluten (that’s 8 more than anyone else looks for), they test within one to two standard deviations of sensitivity (an accuracy otherwise unheard of) and look at IgA, IgG and in some tests even IgM immunoglobulin reactivity. You will need to get this testing through your licensed health care provider. They also offer accurate testing for the presence of gut barrier compromise (some refer to as “leaky gut”)—including what the specific nature of that leaky gut is—which makes a big difference in treating this, as well as accurate testing for other major common food sensitivities and gluten cross-reactivities, as well. They also have a test array for the presence of potentially inappropriate antibodies to 24 different tissue complexes to help you identify and be able to address developing autoimmune processes sometimes decades before one might otherwise obtain a diagnosis (and usually by then it’s too late).
To quote the site, itself, “Cyrex™ is an advanced clinical laboratory developing and offering cutting-edge tests based on the latest scientific advances in the field of immunology. These tests cover mucosal, cellular, and humoral immunology and specialize in antibody arrays for complex thyroid, gluten, and other food-associated autoimmunities and related neurodysregulation.” Make no mistake about it, Cyrex Labs WILL revolutionize the entire field of immunology. And no, I have no financial stake in this company. They are really just that good—and that unique.
Elimination diets can at times be an effective means of determining the potential for gluten sensitivity, but must be strictly adhered to for no less than 2-3 weeks and ideally at least 6-8 months to make a genuinely clear determination. Any exposure of any kind (even seemingly innocuous unintentional slip-ups) means you must start over with the time spent on the elimination diet. Without a real lab result to motivate you, disciplined adherence to this type of self-testing can be difficult. Avoidance of gluten must be no less than 100% from all (even hidden sources) and not so much as even a single crumb of bread or trace contamination. Also, beware of cross contamination issues—where non-gluten foods may come into contact with gluten-containing foods via cooking/preparation surfaces and utensils in restaurants or at home (yes—all this matters). The inflammatory effects of even trace gluten exposure in the brain especially and throughout the rest of the body can reverberate for several weeks, months or more in sensitive individuals.
This is decidedly an issue that needs to be taken extremely seriously.
The journal Gastroenterology (2009; 137:88-93) states that “During a 45 year follow up, undiagnosed celiac disease was associated with a nearly 4-fold increased risk of death.” The prevalence of undiagnosed CD seems to have increased dramatically in the United States during the last 50 years.” In an individual with either full blown celiac or gluten sensitivity the risk of death from all causes, according to the journal Lancet (Vol 358, August 4, 2001) was dramatically greater: “Death was most significantly affected by diagnostic delay, pattern of presentation, and adherence to the gluten free diet…Non adherence to the gluten free diet, defined as eating gluten once-per-month increased the relative risk of death 600%.” Next time you want to rationalize that “one little piece of bread” –think twice. Is it really worth playing Russian roulette?
Being “mostly gluten free” or allowing yourself to imbibe in gluten-containing foods “only occasionally” just doesn’t cut it. In the case of diagnosed or undiagnosed gluten sensitivity or celiac disease the popular mantra of “all things in moderation” can literally cost you your health—maybe even your life.
Brain and mood disorders, migraines, osteoporosis, type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, bowel diseases, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory disorders and cancer are rampant. Grains are rarely suspected as an original culprit, though every one of these disorders, among many more, can potentially be traced to often-insidious gluten exposure. Gluten sensitivity is only rarely obvious to the afflicted, and many are even entirely surprised to learn they have this sensitivity. I know I was.
That said, one doesn’t even need to have an immunoreactivity to gluten for it to be damaging to anyone that ingests it. All gluten consumption at least temporarily compromises gut barrier (and likely blood-brain barrier) integrity and can open the gates to the potential for all kinds of immunoreactivity and inflammation/neuroinflammation. Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA), richest in supposedly “healthier” sprouted grains can pass right through your blood-brain barrier, attach itself to the myelin on your neurons and other nerve cells and inhibit nerve growth factor. (Myelin is the protective sheath on nerves and nerve growth factor is important for the growth and maintenance of your neurons.) So, even in the absence of immunoreactivity to gluten, wheat can cause brain damage!
Not much more than 1% of all people suffering gluten sensitivity or celiac disease are ever diagnosed, by the way.
The good news is that the devastating symptoms of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are at times entirely reversible. –The treatment solution? You MUST eliminate 100%–not just “most”–gluten from your diet, including not just gluten containing dietary grains but all hidden sources, as well, which can include (but are not limited to) commercial soups, commercial broths, processed food mixes and soy sauce, teriyaki and other sauces, corn products and corn starch, and salad dressings. Even buckwheat and soy flours are commonly contaminated with highly significant amounts of gluten due to modern processing and storage methods. Gluten can be cryptically listed on food labels as vegetable protein, seitan, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, modified food starch and others. Gluten is even an ingredient in many shampoos, cosmetics and lipsticks (which can potentially absorb transdermally–through the skin), children’s Play-Doh, medications, vitamins (unless specifically labeled “gluten free”)–even non self-adhesive stamps and envelopes.
Although I realize all this need for ultra-strict avoidance sounds rather tedious and extreme, an article in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (1997; 63; 770-775) states clearly: “Even minute traces of gliadin (gluten) are capable of triggering a state of heightened immunological activity in gluten sensitive people”, meaning prolonged inflammation and other symptoms. Saying you’ve eliminated “most” gluten from your diet is a bit like saying you’re just “a little bit pregnant”. Either you are or you’re not. There are NO in-betweens. Avoidance must be strict…and total.
Many people will claim they have been adhering to a strict gluten-free diet when, in fact, they have only been avoiding the obvious sources and really haven’t been paying attention enough to potentially hidden sources, including their personal care products. They will eventually rationalize their lack of positive health results to the idea that they weren’t gluten sensitive after all and they simply go back to eating whatever they want. This is a HUGE mistake!
Even where adherence to a genuinely gluten free diet doesn’t seem to generate expected turnarounds in health and well-being, you have at least removed one very major hurdle to improvement. There can always be other hurdles yet to conquer, not the least of which is identifying and addressing potential as yet undiagnosed cross-reactivities (Cyrex Labs Array 4 panel can help identify these). In a peer reviewed article in the journal, Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 2008 Feb; 8(1):82-6 the authors stated that “The phenomenon of immunologic cross-reactivity occurs when an adaptive immune response to one antigen results in reactivity to structurally related antigens.”
Currently identified cross-reactive compounds with gluten/wheat include:
[X]Rye, barley, spelt, Polish wheat (also known as “Kamut”)
[X]Alpha-casein and beta-casein (milk proteins)
[X]Casomorphin (peptide created during digestion of
milk protein that produces an opioid affect in the
[X]Milk butyrophilin (a protein in milk fat)
[*]Prepackaged, Pre-ground and Instant coffee
This isn’t to say that everyone having an immunoreactivity to gluten will necessarily have these cross-reactivities, but some certainly will be reactive to one or more of them. In this case the immune system sees the cross-reactive compound as indistinguishable with gluten and reacts accordingly—potentially perpetuating symptoms even on an otherwise gluten-free diet! Obviously, it’s important information to have. Cyrex offers this testing in their Array 4 panel.
Gluten is certainly not the only modern substance challenging the health of the masses—but it is the most common, the most potentially damaging and the one most likely to facilitate all other food/chemical sensitivities. Restoring health can be like peeling back the layers of an onion. It is a process. Still, often enough, by simply removing this one major/key dietary antigen the turnaround in some people can seem nothing short of miraculous. It can also make a massive difference where seemingly more benign issues like resistant weight loss may be concerned.
Wait just a minute, back up—did you just say “personal care products”?
Crazy sounding, but true. You need to examine your shampoos, conditioners and other hair care and skin care products for the presence of wheat protein, sometimes also listed as “hydrolyzed vegetable protein”. Look for corn-related additives, also.
While you’re at it (digressing a bit here), you might also want to consider avoiding toxic additives like parabens, pthlates, artificial fragrances, sodium laurel sulfate, methylisothiazolinone (MIT), and petroleum derivatives like mineral oil, toluene, petrolatum and paraffin (slightly off-topic, but extremely noteworthy, nonetheless). Note that the FDA does nothing to ensure the safety of any chemical used in personal care products, so you’re left to trust the manufacturer. Ummmm, yeah (er, NOT). Even the FDA states: “Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives … Cosmetic firms are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products and ingredients before marketing.” Out of roughly 126 or more chemicals consumers regularly apply to their skin, 90% have never, ever been tested for their safety. Most people think nothing of the products they apply on their hair or skin and the cosmetics industry readily capitalizes on this ignorance at tremendous potential cost to your health for considerable profit.
Why is this important? I mean, we’re just talking about skin, right? It’s not like you’re drinking the stuff…
In fact, it’s probably worse. Keep in mind that your skin is your largest organ and that it is exceedingly thin (less than 1/10th of an inch in thickness) and permeable. If you were to eat or drink these products you’d have several things come into play to help protect you from direct bloodstream exposure—your gut lining, hydrochloric acid, enzymes, etc. In a hot shower, however, with your pores open wide and barefoot up to your neck, there is very little between you and direct absorption of anything you are applying to your scalp and skin right into your bloodstream where it is all free to travel throughout your body to your brain and all your other organs. These compounds may also even be inhaled with the shower’s steam. The concern here is very real—especially if you happen to be symptomatically vulnerable. When you’re reading hair and skin care labels it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether you would be willing to actually drink the contents of that product or not. If you’re reading a list of a whole lot of difficult-to-pronounce chemicals and/or also seeing wheat protein/vegetable protein on the label you’d do well to think twice about using it. And don’t let buzzwords like “organic” or “natural” fool you. A partial listing of product sources can be found at www.celiac.com. Also, just Google “gluten and additive-free hair and skin-care products” in your computer’s browser. The potential selection is huge. If you happen to have a smart phone there are also numerous available “gluten-free apps” available to help you screen individual products, restaurants, grocery stores and other shopping sources at your fingertips. The good news is that the awareness of these issues is rapidly spreading and resources are likely to grow exponentially in the very near time to come.
So what about gluten-free “substitutes”?
Seeking out gluten-free substitutes is certainly an option, as there are scores of “gluten-free” products of all kinds available today. It’s big business for food manufacturers these days, in fact. Clearly, gluten free shampoos and cosmetics are a good and necessary idea, as are gluten free condiments and soup bases (chicken/beef/vegetable broths, etc). Unfortunately, even though other grains, such as quinoa (actually more of a starchy seed than a grain), corn, millet and buckwheat or rice do not contain the same gluten as wheat, many are still a source of potential cross-reactivity, high glycemic starch and the majority of “gluten-free substitutes” are highly, highly processed foods. Many are soy-based, as well (don’t get me started on THAT!). Just because something is “gluten-free” does not mean it is actually healthy for you, any more than the word “organic” does. “Gluten free organic brownies” are still junk food. Don’t be fooled. Gluten and carbohydrate intolerance, in general, are far more the rule than the exception in today’s world. It is logical to conclude that grain consumption, especially gluten-containing grains, just isn’t worth the dietary risk, given our modern day culture’s innumerable health challenges and vulnerabilities. Why play Russian roulette? Why add to the unnecessary, glycating, fattening and neurotransmitter and hormonally dysregulating carbohydrate load? In my view it’s better to take processed food off the radar screen entirely and mainly stick to the foods that don’t need a label you have to read every time.
In short, there is no one alive for whom grains are essential for health and gluten, in particular, is a health food for no one.
It stands to further reason that the more symptoms a person has physically, cognitively or psychologically, the more primitive a diet (in other words, pre-agricultural or “Primal”), one ought to consider adopting for reclaiming rightful health. The commonality of degenerative diseases does not make these diseases a normal part of aging, or even remotely inevitable.
The choice is mostly ours.
~ Nora Gedgaudas
Author of Primal Body, Primal Mind
For the most accurate testing and more information go to: www.cyrexlabs.com.
Click here to ORDER the Gluten Summit presentations!
Copyright 2013 – Nora Gedgaudas
Is gluten the cause of your health problems? It very well could be.
It’s an interesting, and important, question to ask. Fortunately, Dr. Tom O’Bryan has made it part of his personal mission to move this question into today’s conversations between patients and healthcare professionals. Asking this question could, potentially, improve the lives of millions now instead of years from now, which is how long it often takes for groundbreaking research to make it to mainstream practice.
This FREE event is taking place online from November 11-17. Dr. O’Bryan has gathered 29 of the world’s experts and opinion leaders on the topics of gluten-related disorders, healthy living and nutrition, each in one-to-one interviews about their particular areas of expertise.
YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THE KNOWLEDGE THAT WILL EMERGE FROM THIS EXCITING EVENT!
Prof. Michael Marsh, Dr. Loren Cordain, Dr. Alessio Fasano, Dr. Umberto Volta, Dr. Aristo Vojdani, J.J. Virgin, Dr. Mark Hyman, Jeffery Smith, Dr. Deanna Minich, Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld, Dr. David Perlmutter, Melinda Dennis, Dr. Daniel Amen, Suzy Cohen, Dr. Mark Houston, Dr. Rodney Ford, Andrew Keech, Erica Kasuli, Cynthia Kupper, Dr. Liz Lipski, Dr. William Davis, Dave Asprey, Nora Gedgaudas, Dr. Peter Osborne, Jaqui Karr, Sayer Ji, Tom Malterre, Dr. Marios Hadjivassiliou, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
The Gluten Summit will take place online for FREE from November 11-17. Each day, 4-5 interviews will be available to watch on demand. The information each interview contains will be educational for you–even potentially life changing–as you learn the importance of these new healthy practices for you and your family.
Therefore, I urge you to register today to reserve your spot.
The Gluten Summit is FREE for all attendees. Archives of the summit (Audio, presentations and transcripts) will be available to purchase for those who wish to retain the educational information that will be presented.
Visit THIS PAGE to register for this free, online event today!
—-> REGISTER TODAY <—-
We’ve all been there.
“Cholesterol is bad, so you can’t eat red meat. Saturated fat is bad so you can’t eat butter…”
That’s what’s so exciting about the Real Food Summit that my buddy Sean Croxton is hosting. Because it goes AGAINST nearly every myth or lie we’ve been told is “gospel” when it comes to food and nutrition.
Not only will you learn the benefits of eating rich, savory full fat, grass fed meats and veggie dishes — you’ll actually learn how to MAKE THEM, from some of the best natural/Paleo chefs in the world.
The Real Food Con <– CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ALL 29 PRESENTATIONS!
The information you’ll receive is incredible. I’m talking about super-detailed health lectures from renown doctors, NY Times best-selling authors, famous gurus and other experts.
They’ll show you how to unlike the power of real foods to make any change you want in your body — whether you’re looking to slim down and look younger…
… Or heal specific conditions related to digestion, pain, energy, immunity, sleep or anything else.
The amazing panel of experts that Sean has put together is going to cover it all.
In fact, show up just one day for this event and you’ll see what I mean. Sean’s events are legendary in the natural health community.
Still, what I’m personally most excited about is all the cooking demos he’s showcasing.
To have some of the most highly sought-after natural/Paleo chefs invite you into their kitchen and teach you how to make amazing dishes your whole family will devour…
Well, there’s simply no other place or way to experience this — only at the Summit.
The Real Food Con <– CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD ALL 29 PRESENTATIONS (INCLUDING MINE!)
Check out my new double audio CD:
‘Optimizing Human and Planetary Health’ <- Click here