Kurt G. Harris MD

PāNu means paleonutrition. The "paleo" here signifies "old" and not necessarily paleolithic. The PāNu approach to nutrition is grounded on clinical medicine and basic sciences disciplined by knowledge of evolutionary biology and paleoanthropology. The best evidence from multiple disciplines supports eating a pastoral (animal-based) diet rather than a grain-based agricultural one, while avoiding what I call the neolithic agents of disease - wheat, excess fructose and excess linoleic acid.

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Monday
Dec282009

Avoid Poison or Neutralize It?

Let me be clear. Weston Price the man was a giant in nutrition and had many brilliant insights.

For some reason, though, some members of the Weston A. Price Foundation have a peculiar attachment to gluten grains. This attachment is strong enough that I frequently find myself admonished by them for recommending that all gluten grains be avoided as unfit for human consumption.

One reader, commenting off topic on another post, takes me to task at length for saying I don’t like the cavalier attitude towards gluten grains that I have found on the WAPF website.

Complainant’s comments in italics and indented, mine in standard font:

He says:

 The article by the WAPF that you referenced, written by Katherine Czapp can be found here:

http://www.westonaprice.org/Going-with-the-Grain.html

Perhaps you should take a second look at it.

I have.

There is no mention of re-introducing gluten grains as a part of the celiac healing protocol, as you claim, aside from the anecdotal bits about Czapp's father being able to eat sourdough bread seemingly without harm:

“... can those who have suffered from celiac disease enjoy genuine sourdough bread, properly prepared from rye or Kamut®? My father's experience suggests that the answer is yes, at least for some.”

Isn’t that anecdotal suggestion and the cheerful speculation that it may yet prove to be safe enough? It is enough for me to conclude that the writer is ignorant of the medical physiology of celiac disease.

If you're (sic) think that she's suggesting this for others to try, think again:

“While some critics may argue that long-rise sourdough breads could be doing silent damage beneath such apparent success, researchers are currently investigating the effects of long-term consumption of sourdough breads on recovered celiacs, and in coming years will be able to answer this question with enough certainty to satisfy the skeptics. For now, we know that properly prepared non-gluten grains can be safely introduced as wholesome additions to the diets of people who have recovered from celiac disease, and anecdotal experiences and preliminary research both indicate that breads traditionally prepared from gluten grains, even wheat, may also in time serve as wholesome additions to the diets of many people who have recovered from celiac disease.”

She says “anecdotal experiences and preliminary research both indicate that breads traditionally prepared from gluten grains, even wheat, may also in time serve as wholesome additions to the diets of many people who have recovered from celiac disease.”

That is not suggesting that it is possible for others? The descriptor for those who think eating gluten if you are celiac, by those who think it is possible is “skeptic”, yet the person doing the describing is not an advocate? I differ with your characterization of the author's stance.

By her own description, I am a skeptic and she is an advocate.

And regarding the breakdown of gliadin and glutenins, I didn't ask whether or not "soaking and cooking" wheat would accomplish this, as in your reply.  I specifically asked about sourdough bread being able to change the nature of these proteins.  Apparently this does happen through bacterial fermentation. 

It happens to a varying and incomplete degree in controlled laboratory experiments, and may or may not occur to the same degree in everyone's kitchen.

Czapp references research about this, as well as fermented wheat's effect on celiacs:

 “Their experiment included 17 subjects, all celiac patients who had been consuming gluten-free diets for at least two years and no longer exhibiting symptoms. The experimental bread was made from a combination of wheat (Triticum aestivum), oat, millet and buckwheat flours, 30 percent of which was wheat. The flour was mixed with a "broth" of four lab-obtained lactobacilli, a dose of baker's yeast and tap water in a continuous high-speed mixer. When the dough was allowed to ferment at about body temperature for 24 hours, almost all of the toxic peptide fractions in the wheat protein had been hydrolyzed. The bread was then baked and fed to the celiac volunteers (who also bravely ate breads made with plain baker's yeast as "controls"). After consuming the simple yeasted bread, analysis of the volunteers' gut permeability was made, which showed a change in permeability normally associated with celiac response. No such response was noted when the volunteers ate the 24-hour fermented sourdough bread.” 

The author is very clear throughout the article that sourdough bread may be okay for celiacs to consume.

Yes, she is and that is what I take issue with. That claim has an inadequate basis if you know anything about celiac disease.

WAPF does not recommend re-introducing gluten-grains after healing from celiac.  They merely suggest that sourdough might in the future, be discovered to be acceptable for people with such a condition.

I am aware of what they are saying and I maintain that it is irresponsible and pointless to say that it may be possible to eat small bits of gluten if you are known to have celiac. To say so reflects a lack of understanding of how hard it would be to prove lack of harm in celiacs, many of whom have clinically silent pathology that may not be manifest for many years

Again:

“anecdotal experiences and preliminary research both indicate that breads traditionally prepared from gluten grains, even wheat, may also in time serve as wholesome additions to the diets of many people who have recovered from celiac disease.”

I feel that this is important to bring to the table because one of your big contentions with the WAPF appears to be that they recommend eating gluten grains again after healing from celiac.  As far as I can tell, this simply is not true.

You have quoted an article by a non-physician, non-scientist with an anecdotal account of eating sourdough bread with no obvious recrudescence of Celiac disease with the contention that this might be safe to do for celiacs. Did her father have a jejunal biopsy or assays for TTG or IGA or IGG? Was he followed clinically for many years for autoimmune diseases?

Perhaps you should clean the slate and retract this particular argument against the organization ...

Show me where WAPF states that no one alive should eat gluten grains whether they have celiac disease or not and I will “clean the slate”. That is my position on gluten grains and it is one of the three pillars of my approach.

Until then, the slate will have to remain dirty.

The larger point is this - The whole exercise of finding a way to justify eating gluten grains is beyond pointless.

We have here a class of plant proteins derived from the seeds of plants that do not want to be eaten and that we did not evolve eating – cereal grains. These gliadin proteins (glutenins and gliadins) have known effects on gut permeability even in those without celiac disease via the innate immune response. These effects are in addition to those of wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), a secondary plant compound found in wheat germ that is elaborated solely to discourage consumption of seeds by animals.

The WAPF position is that, rather than simply avoiding eating things with gluten, we should soak, sprout and ferment these noxious plant seeds and eat them anyway, in hopes that our preparation has hydrolyzed enough of the gluten to make short enough peptides that the immunogenicity is diminished.

I suggest wheat advocates who worship tradition pay for access to this short report published in GUT – I did - and then explain why a celiac, or indeed anyone with a gut should expose themselves to even microgram amounts of incompletely hydrolysed gluten when 5 out of 6 people without evidence of CS (Celiac Sprue) have evidence of an abnormal innate immune response using a highly sensitive assay.

http://gut.bmj.com/content/56/6/889.extract

Here is a link to Peter's discussion of same.

Try to visualize this: 

The smallest circle in the Venn diagram contains ones with diagnosed clinically evident celiac disease – less than .01% of the population.

The next circle includes the first plus those with undiagnosed celiac disease, many of whom have vague or no symptoms (perhaps like the father in the anecdote above!) yet are at increased risk of cancers like lymphoma and various autoimmune diseases – this is about 1% of the population.

The next biggest circle is the 30% who have the HLA haplotypes that tend to get diagnosable celiac - a good portion of these will show evidence of an adaptive immune response if tested serologically.

The biggest circle in the Venn diagram encompasses 83% of the population –all the smaller circles plus those who might show evidence of an innate response but in whom testing for antibodies may show nothing, and who therefore would never be known to have been damaged by gluten consumption, even if they had MS, schizophrenia, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Grave’s disease. Lupus, Type I diabetes, Sjogren disease, etc. or any other of the many diseases that travel with celiac as a consequence of leaky gut and ensuing molecular mimicry that occurs when you damage your gut with wheat.

You are acknowledging that gluten damages so many people that you have only a 16% chance of being impervious to gluten yourself, but celiacs who are known to be affected by it to the point of villous atrophy on biopsy should not avoid bread, but eat sourdough because “most” of the gluten might be hydrolyzed?

I just don’t get it.

You can live fine with zero gluten grains in your diet. Wheat flour is vitamin poor, has no nutritious fat that isn’t rancid, and the proteins in it are incomplete in their amino acid complement. There is absolutely no upside to eating wheat if you are not starving

So why engineer some convoluted preparation ritual in order to eat it? Why not just avoid it?

Weston Price studied traditional cultures, many of whom were healthier than those on the SAD, and none of whom were pre-neolithic cultures. That they were healthier than modern folks eating biscuits and sugar does not mean that every foodway these traditional cultures practiced is by definition healthy or desirable for everyone or even anyone. That is just one giant non sequiter, and for reasons I can’t fathom I see that all the time when I argue with some WAPF members.

WAP the man was cool.

You could do worse than to follow some of the advice on the WAPF website, but not when it’s about eating grains. I don’t care if the Swiss got away with it just like I don’t care if the Kitavans get 70% of calories from tubers.

Tolerated is not optimal. Why is that hard to understand?

Someday eating corn oil and soy protein will be a “tradition”, too. Then what will you do? Say that only sugar is bad because it’s the most obvious?

Pick the traditional practices that have a good foundation in modern medical science and that comport with evolutionary reasoning and toss the rest.

Don’t practice blind empiricism.

Reader Comments (80)

I just don't get why consuming grains is so dang important!! Name one thing I can only get by consuming grains! One thing that is important to good health that is.

KGH:

Irritable bowel and celiac disease?

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlcinda Moore

Alcinda Moore said...
"I just don't get why consuming grains is so dang important!!"

When converted into chocolate éclairs, they do taste rather yummy.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNige

Fuckin' A Kurt.

Every Effin Word Right On.

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Nikoley

"Tolerated is not optimal. Why is that hard to understand"

I don't know your entire stance on dairy, but a significant portion of the world's population is intolerant to it and those that aren't have the gene for tolerance. As you say, tolerance does not imply optimality and that is what I am currently searching for. So I'm confused as why you would treat dairy tolerance different than grain tolerance. I understand that dairy has a complete amino and fatty acid profile but if a significant proportion of the population cannot digest it then I would assume the entire human population would be better off avoiding it altogether if the presence of more nutritionally apt food was available. Apologies if I have misunderstood your stance, having only read a limited number of entries.

KGH:

I treat it differently because it is biologically completely different.

Upside of dairy - vitamins (esp. K2) - excellent source of healthy animal fats and animal protein. Dairy is an animal product designed by nature to be eaten by animals. How is that like poisonous grass seeds?

Lactose intolerance, which is the bulk of the problem for people who cannot tolerate dairy, is not a deadly immune reaction or even an allergy, it is just a failure to split and thus absorb lactose. It is totally obvious if you are lactose intolerant. Lactose tolerance is also inducible for many (as is starch) - if you never eat dairy, you will not tolerate it as much. Easy, if you have no history of eating it, then don't.

You can be allergic to beef as bovine serum albumin just like you can be allergic to casein - in my opinion the allergic diathesis in either case is not caused by the dairy or the beef but by wheat, excess LA and other aspects of the SAD making you react to otherwise benign proteins.

PaNu does not require you to eat dairy, it just allows it if you like it. Cream and butter are great sources of healthy fat, unlike wheat.

There is no parallel with wheat - which can kill you silently and has no redeeming value.

Dairy - like whole milk - is a complete food you could survive on with nothing else, designed to be eaten by growing mammals. Grass seeds are not designed as food at all.

Grass seeds have no good fats and the proteins are only there to feed the grass embryo and to poison predators.

Clear enough?

December 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTeddy

Appreciate the quick and thorough reply - I do have a worry about the claim, "Dairy is an animal product designed by nature to be eaten by animals" that it is too simplistic and not complete since dairy is equisitely designed to feed infants of their own species. This is why human newborns drink their mothers milk not cows milk. Also, no other animal consumes dairy after a certain age, why would humans be any different? Dairy, like grains is a neolithic food only starting to be consumed 10k years ago. Humans naturally lose some of the ability to digst milk around age 4 or 5, IIRC.

This may seem rather minor but again it seems to me like it doesn't approach my definition of optimality and there could be potentially serious deleterious affects after consuming heavy amounts for decades. I won't continue this anymore as its not really that important and Ive got my message across. I really enjoy the blog and am looking forward to future posts, especially about crossfit.

KGH:

Do you think I do not know that most mammals are weaned after a few years? Of course I do. Does this prove that milk of other species cannot safely be consumed? Of course it doesn't. The flesh and organs of other mammals is no more designed for us than is their milk, is it? The proteins in their organs and muscles could be and sometimes are seen as foreign, just like those in the milk.

Honey is a paleolithic food millions of years old that can destroy your liver - read the posts about food re-enactment to see the failure of logic you are using. Use medical evidence first, then evolutionary reasoning.

Send me the peer reviewed scientific evidence of the harm caused by dairy, not just theory, and I'll look at it. My reading of the literature so far does not convince me it is of major concern. If you fear it, don't eat it.

You don't have to eat dairy or anything else, so why perseverate on this? Have you personally had a problem you can prove is due to dairy? If so then just avoid it.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTeddy

Why should someone with even a little bit left brain try grain again after bad experience?! It´s sick. I would never ever touch it again even if some miracle would make it tolerable. For most people pure poison for some nothing but fuel.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterByron

Hopefully in the ballpark of this topic:

I've done a great deal of scanning around in search of info on the possibility of tempering/curing chronic allergies (prompted once again by Jason's anecdotal recovery from allergies and your comments on dairy) and a number of questions recur. First, the gluten question, and whether or not the state of obvious and/or hidden gluten intolerance is related to allergies. Second, leaky gut (as the result of gluten damage) and whether IT is the cause of allergies. Third, all other "hidden" food allergies (including casein, etc) and whether those contribute to overall allergenic state and whether, in the total absence of gluten, there is potentially enough gut "recovery" to satiate sensitivities to these other proteins over time.

Everything condensed:

To what extent is gluten gut damage repairable?
In the total absence of gluten grains, is it possible for an asymptomatic coeliac or a highly allergenic person to recover, or is this just a pipe dream?

I have been totally avoiding gluten for months, VLC for a year plus; unfortunately I don't have a success story to backup VLC espousals to my skeptical friends -- still sleep poorly, bad allergies, anxiety. I'm a firm believer that all these *physical* problems must be related, but I've not found that hidden link.

KGH:

I think the leaky gut can be curd by gluten grain and excess PUFA avoidance. Celiacs usually have antibodies disappear after a number of weeks or months. Autoimmune diseases that were started because of the leaky gut may continue on their own, even for years, even after the gut returns to normal, however. Lutz describes this re: Crohn disease as well as "flaring" in "Life without bread". Also, some autoimmune diseases may cause permanent damage that may require medical treatment even thought the immune reaction is halted - thyroid, for instance.

If you are depressed and anxious have your TSH free T4 and free T3 checked.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBen

another great post Dr. Harris,

KGH:

Thank you

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterborsaj

I like the WAPF for a lot of things but Dr. Harris is quite right for taking to task their position on gluten grains. With so many benefits or potential benefits for such a large proportion of the population and no adverse effects, the logic for total grain avoidance is simple and inescapable. Primum non nocere. PaNu wins again.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKetoWarrior

What follows is my personal narrative. I make no generalizations. I have no scientific studies to confirm that my experiences are generalizable.

I have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). By the time I was in high school, I subscribed to the belief, widespread in the 1970s, that meat and fat were bad. So, I restricted my intake of meat. I reached a point where I had constant diarrhea. Almost by accident, I discovered that eating low-carb, albeit not a cure for my IBS, did bring about a significant lessening of my symptoms.

A few times I tried eating only meat and low-carb vegetables. This always gave me more diarrhea. So, I would, eventually, go back to having some grains and cheese with my meat and vegetables.

Then, a few years ago, I read the book, and subsequently some of the research of Mark Pimentel, the author of A New IBS Solution. He said that the IBS paitents he studied did best eating low-carb with small amounts of refined grains. I found this to be anathema. But, willing to try anything on the hope that it would help me, I decided to give it a try. To my astonishment, I again experienced a qualitative improvement. The only time I had ever experienced an improvement of such significance was when I first introduced meat back into my diet on a regular basis.

The problem is, I didn't want to eat refined grains. I have read much of the science and I know how destructive they can be. So, starting November 2008, I once again tried again to eat a very low-carb (<25 grams) diet of meat and paleo-approved plants. I felt myself getting worse and worse. I assumed that my problem was caused by the few remaining plant substances in my diet. So, I started looking at zero carbing (ZCing). At the beginning of June 2009, I started ZCing. Again, to my astonishment, the removal of the plant substances from diet did not help.

I am still ZCing, because the anti-grain arguments strike me as compelling and appealing. But, to be honest, I am about ready to abandon ZC and abandon paleo. My particular experience is that small amounts of white bread, for example, added to meat, allow me to enjoy major improvements to my digestion. At some point, I will have to decide whether I want to have diarrhea for the rest of my life, or whether I will abandon my preconceptions about what a good diet consists of.

If I were a health professional, I would not recommend to anyone that they eat refined grains. As I have already written, the evidence against them is overwhelming and convincing. So, please be clear, I am not advocating that others eat grains. In a comment above this one, there was the suggestion that grains give people IBS. That might be the case. They might have given me IBS. But, I fear, in my case, now that the damage is done, I have no comfortable alternative but to continue eating small amounts of refined grains or increase my suffering qualitatively.

As of now I am still ZC. But I am contemplating eating a predominantly paleo diet with a small amount of refined grain added to it. It's not pure. It's not absolute. But it strikes me as pragmatic and realistic, given the particulars of my history and experiences.

KGH:

I think you should see a gastroenterologist and possible have a colonoscopy. You may have some kind of colitis. One explanation for your experience is that the opiate-like peptide fractions in grains can paralyze your gut. That is what they do to me - I get constipated and bloated with so much as a hamburger bun. If you have an underlying inflammatory disease causing excess motility with diarrhea, grains could paradoxically provide short term symptom relief via this mechanism.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermoises

Dr. Harris,

Thank you for this post! And thanks for the elaboration on the dairy comment. I have a question that I think is related:

I think I'm not tolerating milk or dairy. I said I think, because the reactions I get are not really obvious. But after eliminating and reintroducing dairy, I have been more or less dairy free the last months (except for butter).

Could it be that my organism will be able to tolerate dairy in the future, after my system has more or less recoverd from years of grain eating (have been eating grain free (99%) for more than 8 months)? Could it be that, when the intestinal function returns to normal after being grain free, that casein can no longer enter the body? Or could casein by itself cause/sustain leaky gut?

Thanks!

Pieter

KGH:

I do believe that if your symptoms were of an allergy to casein or beef protein or shellfish anything else that most people can eat, the allergic diathesis is caused by something else and these proteins are just triggers. So if after some time off wheat and excess PUFA you can then tolerate something you did not before, then that is certainly possible. No way to know for sure other than empirically and that is up to you.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPieter D

I will admit that back when I used to eat wheat, sprouted wheat products were more easily tolerated by my system, but now that I've been gluten free for over a year there is no way I would go back to eating any gluten containing grains, even if they were deemed safe to consume.

I read an article awhile back that talks about the development of a genetically modified form of wheat that would be safe for celiacs to eat. To me this is absolutely ridiculous. But now if they could genetically modify wheat so that it would grow ribeye steaks instead of cereal grains then maybe I'd consider it!

I can't find the original article on gluten-free GMO wheat, but here is a different link that talks a little about it :
http://glutenfreesteve.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/gluten-free-wheat-development-is-on-the-way/

KGH:

Have you ever considered that a sprouted seed is no longer a seed but rather a baby plant?

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCavePainter

Kurt,

Thanks for your reply.

>>I think you should see a gastroenterologist and possible have a colonoscopy. <<
I have had numerous visits to the GIs and numerous colonoscopies. Everything's good, according to them.

>> One explanation for your experience is that the opiate-like peptide fractions in grains can paralyze your gut. That is what they do to me - I get constipated and bloated with so much as a hamburger bun. If you have an underlying inflammatory disease causing excess motility with diarrhea, grains could paradoxically provide short term symptom relief via this mechanism.<<

I am aware of the idea that grain has opioid effects and I have often stated that, for me, refined grains act like a medicinal substance in terms of motility, but I had never before made the connection between those two propositions. Thanks for the insight.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermoises

I like to point out to people that gluten, as abundant as it is, is never used by bodybuilders or athletes as a protein source. Surely they've experimented with it, as they do with practically all proteins, in hopes of finding the best one. But, you cannot find gluten protein for athletes, because it's a trash protein, more harmful than beneficial. Instead, you'll find whey protein, rice protein, egg protein, hemp protein, and numerous others -- all gluten free.

If gluten had any value as a good protein source, it would be used by athletes. But, it does not. Instead, it is found as a cheap filler ingredients in processed foods.

In fact, that's how I view grains: a cheap caloric source that's allowed for the growth of tightly packed, heavily populated cities. Grains are good for civilizations. They are bad for individuals.

I'm happy to let most people take the bullet for me, so that I can benefit from relatively low-cost, high-quality paleo foods. Let's face it: if everyone went paleo, meat prices would soar -- at least until all the relevant industries re-adjusted.

KGH:

I would not ascribe any scientific credibility one way or another to a practice based on if bodybuilders do it.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott Miller

Great post! As a dues-paying WAPF member and generally a supporter of the foundation's dietary and nutrition principles, I've wrestled with this issue too (there are other issues I don't agree with, too, like their stance on homeopathy). My observation from reading many, many WAPF member blogs and attending local chapter meetings is that many WAPF members are still far too wrapped up in their grains and sugars because they feel safe about their preparation techniques. While I think there is considerable value in "traditional" techniques that reduce the damage improperly treated foods can cause, the foundation and members' scope is sometimes far too limited and biased.

I first suspected a gluten problem in our family a little more than a year ago when I observed a connection with unusually uncooperative behavior and poorer academic performance whenever there was bread in the house. As part our our LC way of eating for other reasons, my husband and I have less and less bread and grain products more than 5 years, but I occasionally purchased locally baked sprouted "flourless" whole wheat bread for our son. He ate bread eagerly when it was around. I didn't notice the "off" behavior as much when I purchased a locally baked "slow-fermented" true sourdough bread, so I do think there is probably something to the notion that a "proper" fermentation might reduce the risk from gluten. He really liked that bread more, too, and requested it.

However, prompted by my observations on the bread/no bread behavior and academic differences, I had my son tested by Enterolab. I tested myself as well (because I have a hypothyroid condition which often occurs with gluten intolerance). Enterolab uses a cutting-edge fecal sample test protocol to detect IgA antibodies from the GI tract, because antibodies occur there first as a result of contact with the dietary proteins, long before antibodies are detectable in blood tests, plus not all gluten-induced damage occurs in the small intestine (& therefore isn't detectable by biopsy). We did the full panel of tests for IgA antibodies to gluten (gliadin), casein, soy, egg, and yeast; anti-tissue transglutaminase; fat malabsorption, and the gene testing.

Sure enough, we were both positive to gluten, casein and soy IgA antibodies (phew, not egg protein!), TTG, and we both have genes that support the results (I have two copies of HLA genes that predispose to gluten sensitivity and he has one of those copies and one that predisposes to celiac - there is a cousin with celiac disease in my husband's Scandinavian side of the family so that wasn't a huge surprise). My son also had an abnormal fat malabsorption result (I did not, but I also consumed far less gluten than he did), which would put him at risk for fat soluble vitamin and mineral deficiencies and growth/development problems. Thank goodness I'd already been feeding him lots of naturally vitamin rich fats, not the low fat diet we are urged to feed all children over 2 yoa.

I've read with interest the WAPF suggestion that slow fermentation of gluten grains can eliminate or reduce the risk, but I have decided to remain cautious in my approach to gluten with our family. Perhaps it's reasonable for a 70 or 80 year old to take the risk and simply go by observed symptoms (or lack of), but I question that stance for younger people and especially for children.

I am responsible for a growing child, and especially with the abnormal fat absorption result, I've decided experimenting with fermented gluten simply isn't worth the potential risk. After all, the few symptoms of gluten intolerance either of us exhibited were very, very subtle and would have been impossible to notice had we not had significant periods with no wheat consumption for comparison. The only way I could consider the long fermented bread option was if I repeated the Enterolab tests over and over to make sure his immune system wasn't reacting to the gluten. Aside from how expensive and cumbersome that would be, it seems like a foolish approach when a gluten free diet will easily work. We were already so limited in grain in our household due to my glucose regulation problems, so officially going truly GF wasn't really very difficult. And overall, going grainless fits better in my paleo-inspired food philosophy anyway. I think it's better to encourage him to simply avoid gluten grains to reduce his exposure risk and at the same develop a taste for foods that promote health. After all, it's during childhood that many of our food habits and tastes become entrenched. Far better to get him started on the right foot sooner than have to make huge, difficult corrections later, eh?

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnother Anna

I'm with you, I never understood why WAPF spend so much time trying to neutralize things that are bad. There's a blogger whose blog I enjoy, http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/, but he's aligned with WAPF and he occasionally posts about detoxifying grains and such and I always wonder why the heck one would go to such lengths for a virtually worthless, and sometimes very harmful, food source.

KGH

Stephan is a great resource and generally is wary of gluten grains. He is not a member of WAPF and in fact rather pointedly declined a free membership to WAPF when offerred, stating that he disagreed with some things WAPF promoted.

I also don't see the point of meticulous preparation for the sake of tradition.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy LC

As far as dairy is concerned, I think casein intolerance, not allergy, is under-recognized and under-studied. Casein also breaks down into opioid peptides and in me anyway, causes constipation. In fact, I had a reaction I think you kind of touched on in the comments, gluten gave me horrible diarrhea and cramping while casein makes me constipated. So they sort of balanced out sometimes and made it difficult for me to identify my gluten intolerance.

I also find that my sinus issues and muscle spasms seem to be related to dairy products. And as someone who has wracked up a couple of autoimmune diseases, I kind of wonder if casein, as well as gluten, had something to do with that.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNancy LC

Hi Kurt,

Thanks for replying to my posts. I agree with much of what you say when it comes to celiac disease and eating wheat in any form, however I feel you're being a little untruthful about your previous statements (found in the comment section of "I'm So Bored with the Kitavans") regarding the WAPF's suggestions. You said:

"WAPF thinks wheat is fine and you can eat it again after you "recover" fom (sic) coeliac disease. They are wrong! (Novemember 3rd, 2009)"

Your contention was that the WAPF thinks that wheat is "fine." They do not say this in any regard besides saying that sourdough bread might be found to be okay for celiacs to eat in the future. They are not, in any way, saying that wheat itself is benign. What they are suggesting is that sourdough bread, as prepared in traditional cultures, appears to have properties that might allow for its safe consumption without the detrimental effects of glutenins and gliadins. They aren't claiming that recovered celiacs can go eat a loaf of bread, although this is what you were orignally implying -- and this is what led to my response. I felt it was ireesponsible to deface the WAPF by stating something that simply was not true.

KGH:

I totally disagree with your characterization of what they are saying. They are saying it might be OK and I think it is not.

I believe gluten is one of the main instigators in the poor health of modern people. There's a lot of research that indicates this, as you've pointed out.

KGH:

So why the hell eat it in any form? WHY??? What is the point if you could just completely avoid it with no fuss? why do you need bread? Please explain this bread fetish. It sounds insane the way you present it.


I certainly agree with this, and I myself avoid gluten and wheat products and have for a number of years. However, I am also a modern person whose health is quite comprimised compared to my ancestors. My teeth are definitely one indication of that! The question is: is wheat inherently harmful? Or is it harmful because modern folks' health is so poor?

KGH: Are you serious? Yes, it is inherently harmful. No it is not benign if you have straight teeth. I've heard this argument form WAPF people before and it makes no biological sense.

The studies of people which suggest that gluten is inherently harmful are done on modern people, whose health is not optimal, and do not provide a clear picture of the nature of this protein, in my opinion.

KGH: And why do you think their health is not optimal - could it be related to neolithic food like wheat?

All these studies are concluding, to me, is that gluten is a poison to modern people, whose immune systems and overall state of health is suboptimal to say the least. But, Kurt, you read that information and take a leap of logic, concluding that grains are poor additions to the human diet due to these effects on modern humans and the evidence pointing to our meat-eating evolutionary history. To you, it seems, when a modern human eats wheat and gets gut inflammation, this means that wheat, in any form, is a no-no for humanity in general. This is not dissimlar to the vegetarian that says eating meat is unnatural for human beings because he gets a headache or constipation every time he eats it.

KGH: Eat what you want, your logic here is totally ass-backwards.

It's his health that's the problem, not the food.

KGH: The poor health is partly due to neolithic food like wheat!

It seems to me that, if some traditional cultures ate sourdough bread and still appeared healthy and robust, then wheat, in and of itself, must not be a problem when fermented. However, our modern high-gluten, unfermented wheat -- which is a very new player in the diet of of human beings -- could certainly be a culprit in our modern health crisis. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water, in other words.

KGH:

What baby? Seriously, how am I harmed by not eating sourdough bread? Are you thinking about this at all? What am I missing?

But you say that grains, in any form, are unnecessary and are only "tolerated" by human beings. I concede to your point that the most optimal diet is probably a high-fat, meat-based diet as eaten by our paleo ancestors. I agree with that. Yet I also acknowledge (and I hope you do, too) that there are grain-eating (and tuber-eating) cultures that thrived throughout evolutionary history and were much better off health-wise than modern humans. So I don't demonize grains completely. And I do value traditional wisdom regarding grains, as the WAPF does. There was a reason they were soaked, fermented, cooked, boiled in three changes of water, etc.

KGH:

Why neutralize it if you can avoid it? Did it ever occur to you that they only ate it for supplemental calories. Why are you compelled to eat it? Because you need to ceremonially honor these WISE people?

I suppose what I'm getting at here is that there are many foodways that have nourished cultures throughout history. Some of these foodways included grains in the diet. That's a fact. To say that all grains (or all carbohydrates, for that matter) lead to ill heath or are "tolerated" is dogmatic when considering that fact.

KGH:

From someone who was once silly eonugh to be a vegetarian to call me dogmatic is a bit of pot calling the kettle black, don't you think? Grains do nothign good for us. Period. If you read any of the blog I most certainly don't say that all carbohydrates are bad. Don't put words in my mouth.

There must some admission in paleo world that "properly prepared grains" (to quote the WAPF) are not inherently evil and may be included in a healthful diet.

KGH:

There must not be any such admission, and it will certainly never come from me. The whole "properly prepared grains" fetish is pointless.

Thanks for responding to my post, and keep up the great work with the website.

Regards,
Ryan Koch

***Also on a personal note (and you don't have to include this in my comment), it seems that you were ignoring my comments that I was posting and only addressed them when I tried 3 times. This was frustrating, as you were replying to other posts while mine remained unaddressed and floating around. This may have been a simple web error, I don't know.

KGH: No, I was busy blogging about what I wanted to and ignoring a too long argumentative comment on an old essay.

Also, I found it peculiar that the comments were disabled on "I'm So Bored with the Kitavans" right at the time that I was engaging you in this debate. Especially because no other comment section in any other post seems to be disabled. If you had done this as a way of shutting me up, I really don't appreciate it. If I misinterpreted this, I apologize, but it does seem unusually coincidental. And telling me to e-mail you was odd, as well. You don't seem to respond to other commenters like that.

KGH: I tell people to do that all the time. I won't make the mistake of trying to communicate with you privately again.

Then you responded to my comments in a blog post, which would have been flattering, except for the fact that you didn't include my name or website (maybe for the sake of my anonymity, I don't know). I also feel that you're very much preaching to the choir and there isn't much contention on your blog. Paleo to paleo. When I came on and disagreed with you, I felt unwelcomed and sort of brushed aside, as if my opinions were unimportant. Maybe this wasn't your intention, but it was how it felt.

KGH:

Don't you have your own blog - why not write a very long post about how important grains are there? Is it important to see what you write on my blog?

Anyway, take that for what it is. I just wanted to voice that.***

KGH:

Alow me to repeat myself yet again.

WAPF thinks wheat is fine and you can eat it again after you "recover" from coeliac disease. They are wrong! (Novemember 3rd, 2009)

For Pete's sake is wheat used to make sourdough bread or not? Does the article irresponsibly say that celiacs might be able to eat sourdough bread made from wheat that even those articles say is not always completely hydrolysed? Yes it does.

Does WAPF generally advocate eating bread whether prepared or not? Yes, they do.

I totally stand by that statement and I don't care if you or anyone else likes it.

The next time you call me untruthful I will just hit the delete button.

I have several old posts that are closed. Also, if comments are too long, off topic, aggressive (as yours was) or generally grinding some axe I don't have time for, I reserve the right to ignore or delete the post at my pleasure. That said, although I ignored it I did not purposefully delete your original two page post complaining about my opinion of WAPF, nor did I close the comments there as some bill of attainder against you. If I were trying to suppress your opinion I would not have made a whole blog post out of it would I? Did you notice how I responded point by point to the other WAPF defender?

Tim Ferris says you should not take instruction from anyone not paying you to blog and that seems like very good advice to me.

Some blogs are a free-for-all for anyone to post anything they want. This is definitely not one of those blogs. It is done at considerable cost of money and my time at no charge for the purpose of promoting my ideas and others I agree with (not WAPF or yours) and is not an open-source debating forum for anyone who wanders by a month after I post something. Tough.

Dr. Harris, i took the conversation about VLC to prof devany's blog. I'm posting my questions and prof de vany's response. i hope you have time to comment. Happy new years!!!!


v says:

Prof De Vany wrote in his latest post: "I find it very satisfying to have been applying both these ideas---glucose restriction and exhaustion of muscle glycogen---to my own life for over two decades, long before they were discovered in the lab."

If glucose restriction is good, how far can you get it down for optimal results? How do you measure what is optimal? Over at Panu, Dr. Harris is saying that there is no evidence that vegetables and fruits are necessary, not even for vitamin C. So if you can live happily with zero glucose on a high fat/protein diet, is there any reason not to do it? Robb Wolf has a post up with a guy trying a zero carb experiment and using Crossfit exercise measures (how much you can lift/ how fast you can run) to see if performance suffers/ is static/ improves on zero carbs. His performance improved. Then there are various bloggers saying that there is no "magic" to fruit and vegetables, and that there is not evidence of health benefit from eating them.

Any comments?


Posted: 29 Dec 2009 09:31 Back to top

Art De Vany replies:


Posts:24

v,

Nobody knows. We do know that plants contain toxins and protective chemicals. The same protection that, say, resveratrol, provides to the plant seems to protect the mitochondria of our cells. It can even affect gene expression favorably.

I just don't feel that a narrow range of foods is all that healthy, nor do I believe in the concept of optimality in diet or health. Everything has to vary. That is a misunderstood aspect of diet and health. When you go for an optimum, you narrow the range of responses and lessen your adaptability.

It is pretty well established that people who eat a varied diet are more healthy and live longer.


Posted: 29 Dec 2009 11:11

KGH:

Every thing there sounds reasonable except that last sentence. If variation includes sugar and wheat and vegetable oils that are outside our evolutionary experience, then I disagree that a varied diet is better and even if it is defined to include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, then I do not think it is all proven.

Where I agree that variety is better is simply as a hedge - There is simply too much we do not know about what we might benefit from some foods to say for sure. That is Dr. Bernstein's position and I think that is reasonable. I eat vegetables myself because I like them but also partially as a hedge, even though on balance a variety of animal foods is much more likely to be important than a variety of different plants.

It is hard to imagine a diet centered on animal products that results in serious deficiency, but ground beef and water like the ZC crowd eat might come close (I never understood why not eat eggs butter and fish if you are ZC)

The myth of the need for a "varied diet" is based mostly on the lack of nutrients and complete proteins in individual plants. You would have to eat a large variety of plants to get a fraction of the nutrients in a slice of beef liver, for instance. The more vegetarian your diet, the more variety will benefit you in that sense.

Also, there is probably not enough resveratrol in a plant you eat to aid your health, in my opinion.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterv

Like Another Anna, I'm also a WAPF member. More importantly, I've read WAP's book cover to cover. I follow his most important discoveries: eat a whole foods diet (for me sans grains) and take some high-vitamin cod liver oil and high-vitamin butter oil every day. I've been giving my family (wife, 4-year old, and 15-month old) the same since about last March, and so far we've had fewer colds and runny noses in our household than ever before. And my 4-year old who's always been petite and below 25% in height and weight for her age has gone through the most amazing growth spurt since the beginning of the summer. She still eats some grains, including wheat, but much, much less then the past three years and her diet is closer to lacto-paleo than to SAD, which makes us all HAPPY.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAaron Blaisdell

Grains are addictive. Toddlers are hooked early on with bags of whole grain Cheerios and all manner of breadstuffs. Adult grain eaters can frequently seem unable to wait for a "fix." It's not a rare occurance to see wheat eaters eating right from the cereal box or taking bites of their bagel, roll, cookie etc before they even pay for the item. Either their high carb fare makes them uncontrollably ravenous between meals or there is something else going on. But the behavior looks like addiction -- no control whatsover. Compulsion.
My husband has this. He simply cannot resist tearing into the bag of a loaf of whole grain bread while waiting in the checkout line. Ditto for cookies etc.


I think wheat as well as dairy can be addictive to some people. They crave it and simply have to have it unless they abstain completely.

I personally have this problem with dairy -- a little inevitably leads to too much. Same craving/binge cycles happen to me with nuts. I love all nuts but hazelnuts and almonds are my favorites -- yet whether eaten raw or dry roasted -- a little always leads to too much.

KGH:

I think you just explained the apparent level of unreason we see with the wheat defenders. They are addicts.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

I gave up all gluten grains 18 months ago and am working on the rest, but not for intestinal problems. After 45 years of migraines, I finally discovered that it was gluten that caused them (I'm now 50). Casein, apparently because of its similar protein structure to gluten, can also be a problem, but I seem to be able to tolerate it better now than 18 months ago, in small amounts. Still, I always had a lingering doubt - was I really gluten intolerant? I was also tested by Enterolab (Dr. Kenneth Fine). It showed active response to gluten and casein. I had HLA DQ1 and DQ2 haplotypes. . From MedHelp: "Another marker, HLA DQ1, has been identified by both Dr. Kenneth Fine and Dr. Marios Hadjivassilou as being associated with a Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. While those who carry HLA DQ1 rarely show villous atrophy, it does happen on occasion. Since about 1-2% of biopsy proven celiacs carry the HLA DQ1 gene, it may be questionable practice to rule out Celiac Disease solely by the absence of the main genes (HLA DQ2 or HLA DQ8).

While HLA DQ1 is not recognized by most celiac experts as being associated with celiac disease, Dr. Hadjivassilou has found HLA DQ1 in about 20% of his gluten sensitive (antigliadin positive) neurological patients. The remaining 80% have either HLA DQ2 or HLA DQ8 consistent with the celiac population. "

I think the link between gluten and many inflammation type disorders has just begun. One of the major problems is getting the Conventional Wisdom celiac folks to give up the idea that only a few are affected. Because of my own experiences and research (which led me eventually to the primal/paleo way of eating), my daughter and sister are now both gluten-free - my daughter had migraines and vertigo; my sister had IBS and severe vertigo. Both had complete relief from symptoms after going gluten-free. My sister is DQ2,2, so both parents had at least one celiac allele.

Sorry for all the personal info, but I think it is important for people to realize that grains are very good at poisoning us and not all symptoms are gastrointestinal. Dr. Hadjivasillou found gliadin in the myelin sheath of neurons in his research patients. Fermented or not, I'm staying off the stuff for good!

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

Agree on every word about gluten. My 2.5 years son has had dry and rough skin on the calves for some time now. Lately it's been the same on the surface of the stomach. Could this be caused by gluten? And what makes these two locations special so that it shows up there (first)? I recently asked at the kindergarten to give him gluten free food. They said I needed a doctor's certificate so I need to fix that. Hopefully the doctor is nice to me.

About diary. I'm no scientist so I'll just refer to what Cordain says. He believes dairy has quite an effect on insulin and IGF-1 which causes acne in some people. My own speculation and just pure speculation; if dairy has this effect on insulin and IGF-1 and if myopia is caused by IGF-1, isn't there a possibility that dairy contributes to myopia? What are your thoughts on dairy and insulin/IGF-1? You do mention cream and butter though, I guess they don't contribute to insulin and IGF-1 as much as milk does.


KGH: Sorry I can't diagnose your son over the web. I recommend no gluten grains whether there is a rash or not. Good luck with the soviet school system. They will feed your child insulinogenic snacks all day long and they don't care what you think about it. Consider homeschooling for your child's health. Have you seen a dermatologist? Have you tried a trial of no gluten grains?

What does Cordain mean by "dairy"? That is as nonspecific as saying "meat". Butter, cream, milk, ghee and cheeses are all quite different foods. Cream and butter have basically zero effect on insulin levels.

I am aware that Cordain thinks cheese is as bad as grains, but I obviously disagree.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTim

thank you for your reply to my post. i must say that the people here are some of the politest i have encountered in the blogosphere. they obviously want your opinion.

KGH:

You are most welcome

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterv

I'm a dues-paying WAPF member too, but I certainly don't accept everything they say, and their stance on grains is one of the items I rabidly disagree on. I am gluten-free and have every intention of remaining so - also sugar-free (except, I have to confess, for the occasional square of 70-85% chocolate) and PUFA-oil free. I think WAPF is too free with their sugar usage too. I love the cookbook Nourishing Traditions, but they seem to think sugars in certain forms are also fine - another place where we disagree.

But I love their support of the raw milk movement, and through WAPF I have joined a food coop where I can get raw milk and cream, pastured eggs, and other items that are acceptable to my diet. But I'm firmly in the "avoid" camp rather than the "neutralize" one. But I'll continue to be a member of WAPF because of the things I do enjoy about them.

KGH:

I must say I am not crusading against them - I recommend their site for dairy information. Some of the members have argued for grains in a strangely illogical fashion, but most are more like you.

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

When we eat the grains, most of the starch winds up being converted into triglycerides and stored as (hopefully) healthy saturated fat in our body. In the end, does it even matter if the animal ate the grass and you ate the animal's fat or you ate grass (seeds) and made the fat yourself ?

I also don't buy that grains are inferior in vitamins department.
Loren Cordain's book has a table that emphacises spinach as the king of all carbs as far as nutrients. This is per 100 calories.
What is not emphacised is that to get 100 calories from bread, you only need a slice.
To get 100 calories from spinach, one needs to eat 15 cups. Now that can't be done.
So, it would be fare to compare 1 cup of spinach to a slice of bread, since both represent reasonable quantities of food. But in such scenario spinach and broccoli are loosers.
My own analysis using USDA Nutrient Database has shown that bread does indeed hold the candle to spinach and other greens and fruits.
The only difference is alittle vitamin C (10mg) and some carotene.

Historically, we do know that people survived and bred on bread alone, with tiny portions of meat ( such as during famines ), but not spinach alone -- that would be extreme non-fat raw vegan diet.

KGH:

Here we go.

The fact that you "get" 100 calories of empty insulin-stimulating starch that turns into stored fat in your body (and on the way elevates your triglycerides and blood sugar and gives you a dose of lectins and gluten) in slice of bread is the problem.

The ratio of vitamins to useless starch is higher in the spinach, get it? You have it backwards.

Saying that the only difference is "a little vitamin c and and carotene" is like saying that the only difference between a slab of butter and a cat turd is "a little vitamin K2 and healthy fat"

In the end does it matter how the fat gets there? Of course it does! GOOD GRIEF, MAN. Have you read anything at all on any nutrition blog anywhere or say, good calories bad calories by Taubes? What do you think we are talking about all day long?

How it gets there is EVERYTHING.

Lets say a bolus of glucose and fructose from a glass of "healthy" orange juice ends up as sat fat in your body.

On the way there, it raises your insulin levels, causes insulin resistance in the liver, activates a variety of inflammatory signaling pathways, raises your triglyceride levels, increases your blood's thrombogenicity, makes small dense LDL and helps to oxidize it, glycates your structural proteins, contributes to steatohepatosis which can destroy your liver, etc.

The caloric equivalent from butter does exactly zero of those things.

Start reading, my friend.

BTW, when did everyone lose the ability to spell "lose"? It's one "o" not "loose".

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterIK

One of the wonderful things about Gary Taubes book GCBC was being taught as to how to read studies and findings, that anecdotal findings are commonly replaced by true science- beware of false findings to fit the cause. Good work K

December 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpjnoir

The WAPF has a number of positive qualities, but their absurd attitude toward grain and "healthy sugars" are not included. In the interest of settling the wheat debate, I'd like to point out that even in Nourishing Traditions Fallon "allows" the occasional use of "unbleached whole wheat flour" for pie crusts, of all things. If that is not a clear enough indication of WAPF's lax attitude toward gluten grains, I don't know what is. There is more than a little pseudoscience at the bottom of many of the organization's claims, despite their laudable efforts to champion saturated fat and animal products (including the loathed organ foods!).

Unrelated question: In two of the above comments, commenters have plugged Enterolab. From what I gather, the lab tests stool samples for various food antibody sensitivities. Kurt, do you have any opinion on the efficacy of these tests? Clearly gluten is a non-question, but others may be illuminating...

KGH:

I cannot make a pronouncement on Enterolab yet - need to research it more.

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Great post, Kurt. I agree with you. We gave up grains but still eat dairy. And if anyone can't bear to live without cakes, crackers, pastry, cookies, muffins and gateaux, you can still eat these (if you don't mind using a little sweetener such as stevia) .. there are several recipes on my blog for such low carb gluten-free comfort foods and I am just making a lemon and lime gateau made of nuts, eggs, cream and lemon and lime zest.
Thanks for your blog, it is always very informative.

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDr_A

KGH said "Saying that the only difference is "a little vitamin c and and carotene" is like saying that the only difference between a slab of butter and a cat turd is "a little vitamin K2 and healthy fat."

Hahaha, I think that one is going in my favorite quotes area on facebook. I really enjoy this blog!

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

Dr. Harris,

You, and others, may recall Peter's fine posting on gluten versus casein, tight junctures, and so forth... from January of 2008 on Hyperlipid:

http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/search/label/Casein%20vs%20gluten

One issue Peter raises about casein relates to an other-than-optimal condition of the stomach to process casein in some instances. He opines that the effects of gluten, and its deleterious effects on the body, are of a different sort than what some may experience with casein if their stomachs are not functioning properly and healthy.

When I stopped eating bread and started following a low carb diet, one of the first major improvements I noticed was the disappearance of mild indigestion and I suppose what was acid reflux into my throat when I went to bed at night. Wow! Having some sort of acid boil up into one's throat really burns!

Wheat and milk are often eaten together (breakfast cereal comes to mind) and it leads me to think that at least some of the bad responses to casein, a portion of them anyway, would cease if the wheat was left out of the diet.

Interesting post by Peter, worth a fresh review, and a comment from you... if you find the time.

Cheers! Brad

KGH:

Yes I have read Peter on Casein and many other things as well. Thanks for the link.

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Reid

I'm grain and sucrose free, and it has done nothing but improve my life. With that said, to say some cultures merely "tolerated" grains might be an understatement. Apparently some thrived. Perhaps it's the fact that we wouldn't recognize the "bread" of 2 thousand years ago. 100% rye isn't Wonderbread. But you're correct, grains are an inferior food. Who could dispute that? People ate them for lack of animal products, methinks.

I consider myself a lay expert on dairy. People have problems because of the rest of their diet, and because pasteurized/homogenized from grain fed cows is crappy white chalk water. Trust me, you don't want to drink it if it costs $1.99/gallon. It's cheap but it's not. Don't get my started on Organic Valley's ultra-pasteurized ripoff milk. Before I got my cow I was paying $14/gallon for raw grass fed milk. The health effects have been marked. Even on low carb I would get several minor colds a year, haven't had one in years. Skin looks brighter, such that people have commented on my family's complexion.

KGH:

The "organic" appellation in general is meaningless. Organic Valley butter is not even grass fed.

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterzach

I've been a member of the WAPF since 2003, and have learned and continue to learn much from them. For the last couple of years they have been big advocators of the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet which is 100% grain free, and a version of the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet). It is basically a paleo diet, but with even more restrictions.

I think that Sally Fallon herself would be among the first to agree that the micronutrients found in grains can be more easily, readily, and preferably acquired elsewhere i.e. in animal based products such as organ meats, bone broth, butter, and cream, however, in an effort to convert a greater number of people to a - lets face it - rather radical traditional "natural" foods based diet, the addition of grains makes it less of a "turn off" to the masses. It is definitely a step in the right direction, and was the catalyst for me to discover this blog (and a handful of like-minded others), and has helped to transition me into a lacto-paleo diet. I will be forever grateful to them for this.

Basically, what I take from the WAPF is "if you can't do it right, don't eat it", and “if it doesn’t make you personally feel good, don’t do it”. I think people resist going grain free because wheat etc. consumption is so “in-grained” (ha) in our culture. People think they will shrivel up and die if they don’t eat bread, rice and pasta. People think I am off my rocker, nuts…

I also like the various WAPF crusades (all listed on the cover of their publication "Wise Traditions" as follows): "Nutrient-Dense Foods", "Traditional Fats", "Lacto Fermentation", "Broth is Beautiful", "Soy Alert", "Truth in Labeling", "Non Toxic Farming", "Prepared Parenting", "Nurturing Therapies", "A Campaign for Real Milk", "Pasture Fed Livestock", "Life Giving Water", "Community Supported Agriculture" "Technology as Servant", "Science as Counselor", and "Knowledge as Guide".

My one beef, is that they are so staunch in their core beliefs, so focused, that they only hear what they want to hear, but don’t we all sometimes?

Happy New Year Kurt and all!

KGH:

“if it doesn’t make you personally feel good, don’t do it” - I am wary of this sentiment as it would justify consumption of cocaine and cigarettes, as well as coca-cola and pie.

Happy New Year to you as well!

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny Light

Methinks the (seemingly stubborn) reluctance of some to "throw wheat under the bus" also has roots in powerful cultural/religious memes which probably go back to the earliest dawn of the transition to agriculture; and the subsequent (inevitable?) organization of societies around same.

That had to be a pretty radical departure from the previous 2.5 million years of HG existence. The "stories of the people" that helped make sense of things had to be re-written to incorporate and rationalize . . . bread.

Jesus and the breaking of the bread, etc., is probably just one of the more recent iterations of this.

KGH:

Staff of Life.. etc.

Maybe it's easier to throw wheat under the bus if you have already done so with the other artifacts of the neolithic power structure - like the old testament sky-god.

I've been an non-believer for almost 30 years now so maybe I underestimate the power of these cultural attachments.

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercaphuff

This thread has a lot of references to Weston A. Price, so I just wanted to mention that the WAPF is not the only resource available for Weston A. Price's research. There is also the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation (PPNF) based in Lemon Grove, CA.
http://www.ppnf.org/catalog/ppnf/whois.htm

Here's a quote from their website that pretty much sums up their purpose:
"The Foundation serves as a guardian for precious archives and provides access to modern scientific validation of ancestral wisdom on diet, agriculture, life-style and health. It houses the extensive files, notes and photographs of Dr. Price and Dr. Pottenger, along with the groundbreaking research of William Albrecht, Ph.D., famous soil specialist; Dr. Royal Lee, vitamin researcher; Dr. Melvin Page, specialist in the relationship of the endocrine system, diet and disease; Dr. Emmanuel Cheraskin, renowned nutrition researcher; and practicing physicians John Myers and Henry Bieler, both known for their success in the treatment of chronic illness."

If you're interested in Price's research it may be worth you time to check it out.

KGH:

Thanks for that, CavePainter.

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCavePainter

Kurt,

I am in agreement with you that wheat and grains in general are unnecessary components of a human diet. I'm merely saying that they <i>can be</i> part of a healthful diet, as many traditional cultures have shown to be true. Can you agree with that statement?

KGH: NO, and I don't agree that they have proven any such thing - did they have coronary scans done by Weston Price?

I also echo what Jenny Light said above regarding the WAPF's mission and making it more accessible to more people. This is the crux of what I'm getting at by acknowledging that grains -- sourdough included -- can be a part of a healthy diet <i>for some people</i> (i.e. those without celiac or other health issues that may be compounded by grains). It gives people choices and allows them the freedom to decide what is best for them while paying attention to their bodies.

KGH: Who said there are no choices?

I see paleo eating as a very extreme diet for most people, and that's why I think it's important to provide alternatives. The next best diet is a neolithic one, in my opinion, so why not educate folks on the best ways to eat what they're going to eat any way (i.e. sourdough bread, soaked grains, etc.)?

KGH: Why on earth is a steak and green salad extreme? Are you that addicted to bread? Why not advise filtered cigarettes in preference to camel straights.

For you, Kurt, it's very black and white. Just stop eating wheat and grains, right?

KGH: Yes

Well, to be realistic, most people have a difficult time with that recommendation.

KGH: Some have difficulty not smoking and eating candy bars, too. So what? I personally have had zero difficulty with any of it.

I guess that's where you and I largely disagree. I believe in acknowledging that there are simple, achievable food choices folks can make to be 100 times healthier -- cutting out gluten and soda and eating real fats, for example -- while you recognize that the most optimal way of eating is probably a high-fat, low-carb paleo diet and so you highly recommend it, eschewing non-paleo foods completely. We just differ in our approaches.

KGH: How does eating bread figure with cutting out gluten?

Well, that should explain this "bread fetish" that I have. :-)

I also want to say that, now that I know how you function as a blogger, I'll be sure to be respectful of your commenting guidelines. If I ever post something that is "too long" or "aggressive" and you don't want to respond, please let me know! Otherwise, I'll assume it's a web error or something, and I'll keep harassing you!

And, from now on, I'll respond on my own blog if I have any lengthy additions to your posts. I'm used to using comment sections of blogs as debating/discussing forums, and, if your blog isn't the place for that, then I'll publish my opinions on my own blog.

And, dude, the personal attacks on me are complelety uncalled for. I've tried to be respectful, and if you feel I haven't been, there's other ways to let me know. Maybe you misinterpreted what I meant by calling you "untruthful," and so you felt attacked and responded in kind. What I meant to say was "misleading," as the WAPF writes clearly writes about <i>sourdough bread</i> specifically. And what you said is that they "think wheat is fine." Replacing wheat in this context with "the WAPF thinks sourdough wheat <i>may</i> be fine" would have been more accurate, and that was basically what I was getting at.

Hope that clears that up.

Regards,
Ryan Koch

KGH:

I follow Tim Ferris' living room model. When offering a contrary opinion as a guest, act as if you are in someone else's living room. That is how I would act on your blog.

Your first post was two pages long, late to the party, aggressive in tone, called me by my first name, demanded that I retract statements and did not contribute any new information of a substantive nature - it was just a long and argumentative opinion piece.

Calling someone untruthful is a "nice" and passive aggressive way of calling them a liar.

Addressing a 48 year old man you do not know as "dude" is disrespectful. Would you call Dr. Eades "dude" on his blog? I doubt it. Perhaps you are just young, but I know plenty of 18 year olds that know how to communicate.

I think I and my readers are well versed on your position now - you have said the same thing 3 times.

Comment on dairy. I too try my best to follow a paleo diet. I do eat dairy (cream, cheese, etc) but keep it to low levels and not very often....and of course only full fat! I feel that at some point Grok, in slaughtering a female animal, found milk in the mammaries and made use of it. I just can't see the milk being thrown away! Maybe they drank it, maybe they kept it and in doing so discovered cheese, yogurt, etc. I agree it was not a large part of their diet, which is why I restrict it, but I do feel that it was a part of their diet.

KGH:

I totally agree that this was likely. I killed a whitetail doe few years ago and she was lactating - it would have been an obvious and nutritious meal for any HG.

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlcinda Moore

Kurt, you said (December 29th, 2009 in response to Teddy):

Honey is a paleolithic food millions of years old that can destroy your liver...

What are your sources for this? I've been curious about honey's effect on the liver, as I know that artificial fructose definitely affects this organ.

KGH:

Honey contains fructose, glucose and sucrose (the disaccharide that is half fructose and half glucose)

Fructose is a hepatotoxin and it makes absolutely no difference metabolically if it comes from table sugar, an apple, coca cola, raw honey, high fructose corn syrup, etc.

For a good primer on fructose, go to youtube and search "Lustig".

These posts are getting a little heated. Dr. Harris-I don't think you'll ever be able to convince everyone that you're right. Discussing nutrition is like discussing politics and religion. Facts, logic and reason get pushed aside and feelings predominate. Some seem take your information as a personal attack. Why argue? It never works!! Anyway, I appreciate your insite and the care you take in presenting valid information. By the way, I study and believe in evolution and believe in God (not that you care) and find it interesting that many of the major "paleo" writers out there are avid athiests. I peronally think there is room for both (just a thought).

KGH:

I am not under the delusion that I will convince everyone or even anyone. It's a banquet offered for free. I have no problem with people ignoring or spurning any or all of what I offer. The invitation is to come and eat if you like, not to pick up the food and throw it at me or the other guests if you don't like it.

I think the "free" nature of the internet makes some folks think of it is a commons and other's web domains are a public property to do with as they like. I certainly don't treat it that way when I post on other blogs. I have not posted on WAPF to tell them they are wrong, I just say what I think about it on my own blog.

The choices are argue, ignore and delete. It's not always easy to choose which. If I delete a pointlessly argumentative or aggressive post, I get spammed with even more outraged posts and emails. If I ignore it, they keep posting.

If I argue, someone will then helpfully point out that I am wasting my time :)

My wife says I should just hit "delete" to anything that is not contributory, enlightening or at least entertaining and spend the time on a new blog post instead. She is probably right. She usually is..

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

Heed the spousal advice, (please!)

Yours and a few others (including Peter's Hyperlipid and Stephan's Whole Health Source, etc. ) are now my go-to blogs on this fascinating topic.

Absolutely stellar content (both quality of writing and information-wise), and very greatly appreciated.

KGH:

Thank you for the kind words.

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercaphuff

Hi Dr. Harris, and sorry to ask an off-post question, but I'm afraid if I ask it on your original post it won't get looked at. I'm very interested in your insulin baseline ideas.

Is there a threshold at which your base (fasting) insulin stops going lower? And is it higher for those coming off of years on the SAD? I notice several people who get stalled their weight loss or whose FBG actually starts going up while on VLC. This happened to me and then receded, but only after almost 2 years. The process seems to move in fits and starts. I'm not sure why and in my case it's not because of cheating.

How would one know they've hit their natural baseline? When they're not hungry anymore, when they can eat carbs and not get fat? Or when they've hit their ideal weight and bodyfat percentage? I ask because I'm wondering what's going on with people who are rail-thin eating pure crap all the time. What exactly is broken in our case? Thanks. G

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergunther gatherer

I emailed Dr. Lustig after watching his video:

Dear Dr. Lustig,

I recently watched "Sugar: The Bitter Truth", and I have a question
about fruit. There are people who eat an 80/10/10 carbs/protein/fat
raw diet that is largely sweet fruits with one meal per day of raw
vegetables, and they claim that it's perfectly healthy to eat large
quantities of sweet fruit every day (like a dozen bananas and several
mangoes). In your video, you say that the fiber and nutrients in whole
fruit are an antidote to the fructose. My question: are the
fiber/nutrients an antidote to the fructose, regardless of how much
fruit is eaten?

His response: "as long as the fiber is endogenous fiber (that is the fiber that came with the fruit naturally, then it doesn't matter. However, adding exogenous fiber (iike added cereal fiber or Metamucil) to fruit juice doesn't work.

In general, with a few rare exceptions, the amount of fiber correlates with
the amount of fructose. So for the most part, the more fruit (i.e.
Fructose), the more fiber.

So I don't really worry about how much whole fruit a person is eating. Whole
fruit delivers the satiety signal that juice does not. It's kind of hard to
OD on fruit."

I have a hard time believing that sweet fruit can be consumed in large quantities a la 80-10-10 without ill effect, and I'd like a second opinion on that. Is Dr. Lustig correct about the fiber and nutrients being an antidote to the sugar, regardless of the amount eaten?

KGH:

I think I saw you post this same comment somewhere else.

I have very hard time believing Lustig actually endorsed getting 80% of one's calories from fruit -that would be 40% of calories from fructose alone - that would be unrealistically toxic even to do to a lab rat.

Perhaps he is mentally excluding such forms of fruit as watermelon that are just liquid sugar.

His general point about fiber limiting the ability to OD on fruit has some merit, but I absolutely disagree that you can eat all the fruit you want if it has fiber in it. Slowing the absorption of the fructose- how does that help - it still goes straight to your liver. Eating a few bananas or two apples is about the same as a candy bar, I don't care how much fiber is there.

Fructose is fructose.

80/10/10? What nutty thing will they come up with next?

December 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I am new to leaving bread by the wayside and it is suddenly apparent how ubiquitous bread and sugar are. I began to learn about nutrition from the WAPF but am realizing that although it would be easier to believe that normal modern food is fine so long as it's preppared "whole", grains simply are not human food (don't animals need a gizzard to digest a seed?).

My daughter is 1 year old and has only tried gluten-containing foods a dozen times or so, but I really do not want her eating gluten whatsoever. She eats mostly breastmilk, then some foods such as cheese, butter, egg yolks, blueberries, almond butter and whatever meat/fish I am having. However, my husband oftens mentions how perhaps our baby should start eating oatmeal or other cereals, as if she NEEDS them, and he himself loves bread and gluten containing foods and is actually kind of offended by my nutritional "crusade" in trying to keep these things out of our home.

Do you have any suggestions as to how I might gently go about explaining and educating my husband on why I feel it is so crucial to not feed our baby grains? I am just sort of feeling like an alien in my new found knowledge about paleo nutrition amidst an entire society that is telling everyone to eat crap and that said crap is actually good for us.

thank you for all the information you are sharing on your blog. I appreciate it.

KGH:

Assert your primacy as the the fierce mother bear whose is solely biologically able to feed (and wean) your baby. Eat whole foods and wean her as absolutely late as possible to real foods without grains and sugar. She won't need braces or allergy shots.

Fight The Power and don't give in to the neolithic cult of Wheat.

December 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteremily

Great post; can't get my head around why you would purposely include the neolithic grains in when there is abundant access to good food.

On a sidenote; I have however, in the past at least, given the grains some credit for what i perceived as rationality in terms of food production, effect on soil, ability to feed people sustainably. Or put simply; that they are "cheap" staple, even more so when accounting for the criterias above.

But as my interest to these topics increase , and the more I read, the further I get from that perception. A holistic, pastured based food system has slowly emerged to me as the most reasonable, rational approach, even including the criteria of sustainability.
My point is; I do not even consider pasta as a cheap staple anymore, with all things taken into account. Pastured butter/whole cream though, that is hard to beat!

KGH:

some pastas and cereals and veggies cost more than meat on a caloric basis.

December 31, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercust

Dr. Harris,

You said:

Fructose is fructose.

Isn't there a difference between artificial, enzymatically treated fructose and natural fructose found in fruits, honey, etc.? A quick search on Google for "honey and liver disease" only brought up studies claiming that honey was protective and preventative to liver disease.

One study is called, "Substituting honey for refined carbohydrates protects rats from hypertriglyceridemic and prooxidative effects of fructose."

Thoughts?

KGH:

A molecule is a molecule is a molecule - whether it is extracted from natural honey or made in a test tube is totally irrelevant. Why do you imagine how it was created would matter?

You will not find anything on honey and hepatotoxicity as no one would ever study it that way - who eats that much honey? It's not as ubiquitous as HFCS or sucrose but chemically it is exactly the same on a molar basis of fructose consumed.

Is the alcohol in beer different from the alcohol in wine or whisky? Of course not. Alcohol is alcohol. Exact same concept.

Dear Dr. Harris,

You used cigarettes as an analogy in your response to Ryan which prompts me to respond with my opinion on wheat/grain addiction. Proponents of low carb diets (e.g., Dr. Eades) will tell people that it only takes a couple of weeks to get over the craving for carbohydrates, and I would strongly and respectfully disagree. I think the initial habit of looking for that something extra takes some getting used to but the real desire for carbs takes longer to conquer. My husband and I started eating low carb two years ago. We both lost 30 pounds each. I've never been someone who "needs" bread (but I do have a sweet tooth!) and it easily took over a year for me to lose that "wish" for something else (that something else being a grain or a sugar). Having a low-carb or paleo diet is now effortless for me but it definitely took a while to get there. So, I wonder if there isn't something to the idea of grain/sugars being addictive. I remember a couple of years ago a man commented at Dr. Eades' site that he was an alcoholic but when he went on a low carb diet his cravings for alcohol went away. I keep his experience in the back of my mind as there seems to have been some issues with alcoholism on my mother's side of the family.

Two other experiences with going grain-free in our home: in addition to losing the weight, my husband's high blood pressure dropped to the normal range. Also, our 5 year old son has developed IBS (oh how I wish I had discovered this information on grains & sugars before he was born). He's on the SCD and the difference in his personality is like night and day. Before with grains (he's primarily a grain lover not much of a sweet tooth) it was like living with a prickly diva - moody, whiney. Since taking away non-fermented dairy and all grains and only using honey as a sweetener he's always cheerful and energetic.

Anyway, thanks for letting me share my experiences. I love to come here and see what you're stirring in the pot each day. :)

KGH: Thanks Gwen - I agree with Dr. Eades that physical symptoms of carb/wheat/ sugar craving go away pretty quick but agree that there is a psychological conditioning that may may persist for much longer. I still crave sweets but do not find them that satisfying if I actually indulge. I do not crave wheat at all, though.

December 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGwen J

48? Would have guessed late 30's. Suppose this makes more sense with your about section though.

Anyway, good post, and awesome discussion "dude" ;)

(Seriously, I laughed out loud more than once reading your comments here)

-Anthony

KGH:

I tried to be more polite originally but it's jsut not me :)

December 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony

Dear Dr. Harris,

You said: "I am not under the delusion that I will convince everyone or even anyone. It's a banquet offered for free. I have no problem with people ignoring or spurning any or all of what I offer. The invitation is to come and eat if you like, not to pick up the food and throw it at me or the other guests if you don't like it."

The free banquet is such a good metaphor! Some say:"there's no such thing as a free lunch". Well, I disagree! Your blog is, in fact, it's not a 'free lunch', it is a true free banquet. And it is a kind of banquet where you don't have to fear eating too much, nor eating garbage.

It is appreciated enormously! I wish you had some kind of book I could buy, to thank you and somehow compensate you for the efforts you do.

Best,

Pieter

KGH:

Thank You, Pieter

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpieter d

How do you handle social events when all on offer is Lasagne and Chips? I know you can play the Coeliac card but total avoidance is sometimes hard. Are you strong enough to refuse (and possibly offend) or do you sigh, put up with a token amount and get back on the wagon afterwards?

KGH:

The same way you handle it if you are around friends that smoke - you smoke at least a few cigarettes to fit in :) Miss Manners would agree.

Seriously, I tell them I never eat wheat.

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWinalot

gluten is the black knight

January 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertuquer

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