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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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March 15, 2016

Can Exposure to Non-Primal Foods Actually Help?

By Mark Sisson
72 Comments

Can Exposure to Non-Primal Foods Actually Help FinalAre we shortchanging ourselves by complete elimination of potentially allergenic or sensitizing foods like wheat, peanuts, or dairy? Do we become even more sensitive to “bad” foods by avoiding them entirely? This question stems from two things I recently encountered. The first was a recent rewatcing of The Princess Bride. The second was the recent peanut allergy study.

If you haven’t watched The Princess Bride yet, go do it (the book is also good) because a small spoiler is coming. The hero Wesley spikes the wine he and the villain Vizzini are sharing with iocane powder, a fictitious ultra-lethal poison that kills instantly. But because Wesley has spent the last several years ingesting incrementally-larger doses of the poison, he has complete resistance to its effects. Both men drink. Only Vizzini dies. What else can this apply to? I wondered.

Then there was the study last week describing a new way to prevent food allergy in kids: feed them the offending foods during infancy. For years, we’ve been told to avoid potentially allergenic foods when introducing solids to our babies. Stick to supposedly safe stuff, like rice cereal. But this paper, and several other recent findings, turns that old advice on its head. Exposure to peanuts before turning one appears to confer protection against allergies later on, even with subsequent peanut avoidance. This has also been strongly suggested for other commonly allergenic foods like eggs, wheat, white fish, sesame seeds, and yogurt. In that study, breast-fed infants who were regularly exposed to allergenic foods in the first year of life were less likely to be allergic at age 3, compared to exclusively breast-fed infants with no exposure to allergenic foods.

We aren’t infants. If any of you are, incredible. I’d love to hear how you learned to read at such an early age, assuming you can also use a keyboard to type. But for the rest of us, that developmental window in which future desensitization is established has passed. We can’t return to the breast. We can’t recapture that magic time when our immune systems are being primed for the rest of our lives.

But is it possible that we can still benefit from exposure to certain non-Primal foods?

Certain sensitivities can definitely be overcome with exposure to the food. With dairy, for example, we can change our ability to digest lactose with careful consumption of fermented dairy because fermented dairy contains the very same probiotic bacteria that can digest lactose. That’s how dairy ferments—the bacteria consume the lactose. If you want to try this, start small. Eat a tablespoon at a time and check for symptoms. Any discomfort—gas, bloating, diarrhea—means you’ve passed the threshold of tolerance. But it’s not going to hurt you, just feed your bacteria and toilet bowl, and the next time you eat yogurt or drink milk you (and your bacteria) should be able to handle a little bit more without crossing the threshold.

Introduction of specific bacteria (whether through yogurt or probiotics) who set up shop and digest the food component responsible for your sensitivity clearly works, but that’s a specific example. Any others?

Milk and egg allergy can be treated, too. In one study, children who were otherwise intolerant of milk and eggs were given milk and eggs that had been subjected to extensive heating. Not only did they tolerate the baked milk and eggs, the baked milk and egg diet accelerated the children’s development of regular milk and egg tolerance. Overall, researchers find that most kids intolerant of milk and eggs can tolerate heated milk and eggs. Between 69% and 83% of milk allergy patients can eat baked milk. Between 63% and 84% of egg allergy patients can tolerate baked eggs. They have to start with a modified (heated) version of the foods but can eventually graduate to normal versions.

Consumption of problematic compounds that can negatively affect everyone, not just the allergic or intolerant, might also confer benefits.

4-HNE is a toxic byproduct of oxidized linoleic acid implicated in oxidative stress and found in arterial lesions. French fries cooked in refined seed oils are probably the best (worst?) source, having up to 32 micrograms of 4-HNE per serving. Large concentrations of 4-HNE and other similar toxins are responsible for tissue damage stemming from ischemic heart attacks, but low concentrations of 4-HNE activate NrF2, the same resistance pathway activated by phytonutrients like blueberry anthocyanin. In the right dose, 4-HNE actually primed cardiac cells to develop resistance against the damaging effects of 4-HNE and increased glutathione synthesis. More glutathione improves your overall ability to deal with oxidative damage and inflammation, including the inflammatory effects of eating refined seed oils.

Your gut bacteria can learn to break down the phytates found in grains and other foods, thus liberating any bound minerals and creating helpful new compounds in the process. Certain gut flora actually turn phytic acid into inositol, a nutrient involved in mood regulation and insulin sensitivity (one of my favorites, in fact). The more phytate-rich foods you eat, the better your gut bacteria get at breaking it down.

What about wheat?

Anecdotes abound of lifelong wheat eaters going gluten-free or Primal for a year, having a bite of bread one day, and feeling like they’re hit with a ton of bricks. I’m sure many of you reading this have experienced the same thing. I was like that in the early days of the Primal Blueprint. I’d figured out the grains were largely responsible for my decades-long battle with irritable bowel syndrome, so I gave them up and remained strict for a year or two. Felt great. When I decided to see how it felt to eat wheat again, I was destroyed. Headache, diarrhea, all that good stuff came roaring back. But in the last five years or so, I’ve been more lax. I’ll have a crust of bread at a restaurant. I’ll nibble on dessert at a friend’s dinner party. I don’t worry about getting gluten-free tamari at sushi joints. And those little dalliances never bother me. I seem to have built up a tolerance.

There’s some indication that how and what you eat can affect your response to wheat. There’s the most obvious one: sourdough. The fermentation process makes gluten somewhat less allergenic, depending on the sourdough cultures used and the duration of the fermentation. Though I’m not sure if eating sourdough can help you adapt to non-fermented wheat.

There’s the fact that gluten-degrading bacteria exist in the mouth and survive passage into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine) where they may reactivate and continue acting on gluten. Those same bacteria may even colonize the duodenum itself, where they can work on any gluten that passes through. Many other species that live in human guts show potential as gluten degraders or mitigators. This is just preliminary, of course. Most research concerns farming those bacteria for gluten-cleaving enzymes to be used in celiac drugs. But the anecdotes are numerous and compelling. Once I started using probiotics and resistant starch and other prebiotics regularly, my tolerance of wheat seemed to increase.

The nocebo effect.

You read how grains contain harmful lectins, mineral-binding phytates, and are far less nutritious than we’ve been led to believe. You catch up on the latest data about gluten sensitivity and the problems with modern wheat. You read how superior organic produce is and how some of the pesticides in non-organic produce really do matter. You stop eating pasta and bread. You cook all your meals and switch over to grass-fed meat and leafy green vegetables. You do everything right, and you feel fantastic. The weight melts off, your energy levels skyrocket, you get stronger and think quicker. Given the powerful evidence for the deleterious effects of many non-Primal foods, you can think of no good reason to eat them ever again.

When you do encounter a slice of cake or crust of bread, you’re convinced it’s “bad” for you. You take a bite and imagine the gluten molecules entering and perforating your gut lining, leaving you vulnerable to all manner of dangerous pathogens and compounds. You go out for fast food and can’t help but notice that the fries smell really, really good, so you order another lettuce-wrapped burger to keep you from eating any oxidized PUFA-laden potatoes. You’re at your kid’s friend’s birthday party and get a cold sweat at the thought of eating the cake.

The placebo effect describes our ability to derive medical benefits from inert compounds or therapies through sheer belief. If a doctor gives you a sugar pill and tells you it’s an anti-hypertension drug, it may very well lower your blood pressure. If an orthopedic surgeon puts you under for knee surgery but doesn’t actually cut into your knee, studies show your condition will improve.

The nocebo effect is like that but flipped around: a mostly innocuous intervention harming your health because you think it will. Many of those non-Primal foods are problematic, particularly if consumed on a daily basis. That’s the standard Western diet, a chronic load of inflammatory foods and dietary toxins. Eating non-Primal foods every once in awhile is a different thing. I don’t just recommend the 80/20 principle for fun and flexibility. Those are major reasons why it’s important to let loose, but I also want to avoid people turning their way of eating into a pathology. I want people to make choices without feeling guilty about it.

So listen up: you’re going to be okay. I’m serious. You’re probably fine.

Eat the slice of birthday cake the cute towhead with freckles and a My Little Pony shirt offers you. Unless you’re celiac or full-blown gluten-sensitive, you’re going to survive.

Have a couple fries when you’re at happy hour after work and your manager offers. Maybe the small dose of 4-HNE will upregulate glutathione synthesis!

If you plan on getting into any battles of wits with balding evil geniuses, build up resistance to the tasteless, odorless poison of your choice.

Mostly, know that absent blatant allergy or intolerance consumption of these foods is not a death sentence. You’re not letting yourself or anyone down. You’re not a failure. And you might just help solve the problem preventing you from eating them in the first place.

What do you think, folks? What’s your experience with non-Primal foods?

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TAGS:  immune health

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72 Comments on "Can Exposure to Non-Primal Foods Actually Help?"

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Wildrose
Wildrose
6 months 14 days ago

I only have wheat in baked goods, once in a while, so it’s hard to say what hits me, the sugar or the gluten. Bread just doesn’t seem worth it.

I will say, though, that my reactions can be damned weird. I completely pigged out on my birthday, had cake and wine and everything divine… I slept like the dead and woke up the next day feeling GREAT! And yesterday I had pie for pi day, weighed myself this morning and I’m down 3 lbs?

Don’t ask me.

Myles
Myles
6 months 12 days ago

Carb refeed. Yup. 😀

Kelly
Kelly
6 months 14 days ago
About a week ago, I had a slice of pizza and was delighted when I felt fine the next day. So, I had a half a cheeseburger and another slice of pizza within the next several days, along with some Chinese food of unknown origin and a gluten-filled communion host at church on Sunday. Lesson: one slice of pizza not and then is okay, but I can not tolerate eating like that regularly. Or perhaps I need to spend more time on building up my tolerance. Don’t forget, the Dread Pirate Roberts (Wesley) spent several years building up his tolerance!… Read more »
Mrs Rathbone
Mrs Rathbone
6 months 13 days ago
Would you *want* to build up tolerance to a non-essential food that you’ve felt better from cutting out, though? Serious question, not snark. 🙂 I don’t think anyone could pay me to eat gluten knowingly again, I feel so awesome without it, so I freely admit to being very biased here. The two exposures (that I know about) that I had within 12 months of eliminating gluten hit me pretty hard, but the one I know about in January had no noticeable effect – I actually took that as a sign of healing, but not a green light to start… Read more »
Kelda
6 months 13 days ago
For me one bite (or sip) inevitably leads to another as you noted above, ‘ah that slice of pizza was fine, no problem… half a cheeseburger… Chinese …’ There is something about the hit it has on the brain wiring that means I’m better off abstaining completely. I found this to be the case with alcohol and stopped all together about a year before Mark did his n=1, just too easy for half a glass to become half a bottle. With baked goods I think it must be the combination of sugar (almost always present) the fats and the grain… Read more »
Jack Lea Mason
Jack Lea Mason
6 months 13 days ago

Ditto, for me. It’s not the dose, its the chain reaction that ensues.

OctoberAmy
OctoberAmy
5 months 20 days ago
Kelda, I so agree. I don’t enjoy alcohol but I am (I’d say “was” except that I don’t know if it ever goes away) a sugar fiend. I ate a bit of cake at two separate 90th birthday parties for my father-in-law, and it turned into three months of cheating. Not to mention (math geek warning) that 80/20 would mean 20% of my daily 1600 calories, or 320 calories could be junk, or at least non-Primal. Looked at another way, 2 whole days out of 10 could be Pop-Tarts and Caramel corn. That would never work for me. I can… Read more »
Charles
Charles
6 months 14 days ago
You will be exposed to enough non-primal ingredients simply by how prolific they are in todays society, no one needs to “allow” a certain amount of this garbage into their systems. You will be told that margarine is butter at restaurants. Your grilled fish will be dusted with flour by the chef without telling you. Rice starch is used on your flash frozen “100% wild caught Alaskan Salmon filets” to keep them from sticking to each other. Your glass of red wine has been chaptalized and pumped with Mega-Purple. Sorry, it’s true. No one needs to add bits of non-paleo… Read more »
David
David
6 months 13 days ago

Totally agree!

Zach rusk
6 months 13 days ago

Exactly what I was thinking! The important part is that you accept those I’m perceptions and be happy about it.

Sofie
Sofie
6 months 8 days ago

Yep. Also, how did Grok allow all the industrial crap into his diet?

Julie
Julie
6 months 14 days ago
“Mostly, know that absent blatant allergy or intolerance consumption of these foods is not a death sentence. You’re not letting yourself or anyone down. You’re not a failure. And you might just help solve the problem preventing you from eating them in the first place.” Has anyone else seen a movement toward Purism going on? Is it just me? But many of the forums (fora?) I’ve visited have turned me off recently because of the multitude of comments such as “I had a snack, do I need to beat myself up?” or “I had three cups of coffee instead of… Read more »
His Dudeness
His Dudeness
6 months 13 days ago

I see this a lot too. Not from primal/paleo bloggers and authors as much as from the folks in the comment sections or the paleo subreddit. People seem to want to wallow in their perceived failures.
I’ve always used the philosophy of “don’t let the way you eat turn you into a complete weirdo”. So Christmas cookies, thanksgiving mashed potatoes, and the odd beer during grilling season are just fine with me. Although, until now, the thought that occasional ingestion of these things could be helpful was… inconceivable.

Dawn F
Dawn F
6 months 12 days ago

Ah! “…inconceivable” I see what you did there.

mark N
mark N
6 months 13 days ago

I totally agree. Lightening up is in order here. I suppose that, if we truly look at the ancestral life, as lived,would sometimes include semi toxic food.
And yes, if I can avoid such semi toxic food, I will. I will agree that a dogmatic position is even more toxic then the semi toxic food, baring true life threatening instances.
So, lighen up folks.

Mrs Rathbone
Mrs Rathbone
6 months 14 days ago
I think you have to know your lifestyle, weaknesses, and what will work – with kids, the cake thing probably makes sense, with our lifestyle right now it’s ignoring the use of veg oils (2g/tin) in some of the nicer tinned soups, Patak’s pickles, or the occasional gluten-free baked products we buy. Cutting those out completely would be way too much hassle because even though I love cooking, they’re too complex to make my own from scratch for the small amounts we use, so provided it’s not a daily thing, they stay. Too much “perfection” isn’t good in any area… Read more »
Shary
Shary
6 months 14 days ago

Great article on the wisdom of remaining flexible. A rigid mindset can become more detrimental than the occasional cheat meal. For one thing, the minute you tell yourself you can never, ever eat another slice of pizza or piece of birthday cake, you’re already in danger of permanently falling off the wagon. 80/20 is a much easier goal to attain and live with.

Mrs Rathbone
Mrs Rathbone
6 months 13 days ago
In the UK you can get all of these made from certifiied gluten-free ingedients to within parts per miliion, and they’re NICE as well, so people who want to avoid knowing intake of gluten can easily do so and still have cakes, pizza, toast, whatever. The upside is, the more people who avoid gluten without a medical DX, the larger the market and the more incentive to create quality gluten-free foods, so diagnosed celiacs who get annoyed at people with no DX really need to rethink that one, because it’s their money that’s expanding the range of food available, and… Read more »
Shary
Shary
6 months 13 days ago

The gluten-free breads made commercially in the US are, IMO, pretty godawful, and the weirdo ingredients are nothing to write home about either. I’m not sensitive to gluten so I prefer to indulge in the real thing on an infrequent basis. Obviously, for those who are sensitive to gluten, this is not a good idea. However, it’s an equally bad idea to think it’s okay to freely consume gluten-free/sugar-free substitute foods, which, in most cases aren’t any healthier.

Sofie
Sofie
6 months 8 days ago

That’s entirely individual. Some people find 80/20 easier, others abstinence. Also, if you’re phrasing it as “can’t”, you may well be setting yourself up to fail – see it as “won’t”, as in “I won’t hit myself in the head with a hammer”, and it’s just that easy.

Christina
Christina
6 months 14 days ago

Thanks for this, Mark. I gave up dairy almost a year ago to see if it would improve my skin (I didn’t see any significant change). When I tried to reintroduce dairy after a month, my body definitely couldn’t handle it. I’ve had small amounts of cheese now and again with no major problems, as long as I’m not eating it on a daily basis. Now I’m thinking I might be able to gradually work it back in to my diet, as long as I do it slowly.

Christy
Christy
6 months 14 days ago

I’m an “abstainer” and find it easier to categorically reject whole classes of nutrient poor foods than to have them in moderation or on occasion. I feel better for that. Haven’t had pizza, bread, pasta or sugary desserts in years and at 45 I look better than I did at 25. Love Mark Sisson!!

Becky D
6 months 13 days ago

I’m with Christy, Mark. From the way you write you definitely sound like a ‘moderator’. I’m an ‘abstainer’, like Christy, and it’s just more attractive to me to forego the birthday cake in general. Do I flip out at sushi joints if my roll has tempura? No. Do I stand in cold sweat trying to resist birthday cake? Nope. I don’t feel deprived, it’s just not interesting to me.

Kelda
6 months 13 days ago

Ditto

Good to see those of us abstainers are feeling able to stand up and be counted too.

One size doesn’t fit all!

Interestingly I’ve noticed among friends that were strict and have taken the more ‘relaxed’ approach that they have drifted more and more from the Paleo/Primal eating principles – few seem able to truly ‘cheat’ and return quickly or as fully.

Clay
Clay
6 months 12 days ago

Part of that may be the “cheat” concept. I don’t have a forbidden food list. I have a scale from eat everyday to eat a couple times a year. Everything fits somewhere on that scale. French fries are a couple times per year. Eggs, nuts and leafy greens are everyday. Bread and pasta is a once a week thing.

David
David
6 months 14 days ago

Recently I have been tested allergic to eggs and dairy. Wondering if baked eggs and milk is worth trying. Baking eggs in the oven is one way of cooking them and eating them without allergy reaction. Maybe cooking the eggs at 350 degrees may do the trick?

I have learned that eating goats cheese is safer too than cow’s milk cheese.

Susan
Susan
6 months 13 days ago

At 5 my grandson was anaphylactic with dairy having been breastfed his first year and then loving almond milk. The allergist had my daughter prepare a sponge cake made with milk that was baked at least 25 minutes, and Jacob had to have a small piece every day. This was to go on for an entire year. But 6 months into this treatment, he accidentally had dairy at a school party and did fine. So the allergist tested him again, and he had no allergy to dairy. It does work.

Andrea
Andrea
22 days 45 seconds ago

Thank you for sharing this.

Whitney Treadwell
Whitney Treadwell
6 months 14 days ago

I don’t mind having a burger w/ a bun, pizza, burritos or sushi – every now and then. One because its fun and different and two I exercise more than the blueprint plan and like having the carbs for energy in addition to fat and ketones. I am typically 90/10 in terms of eating adherence so I don’t feel any guilt or ill effect of grains. And I just like the primal eating style better then the standard american diet.

Julia
Julia
6 months 13 days ago

I’m a believer in Primal, but my actual progress towards the goal is at about 50%. But I feel healthier already! I’m not a purist, so my goal is 75/25, so now guilt for me!

Nannsi
Nannsi
6 months 13 days ago
I’ve been gluten sensitive all my life. Went GF 8 years ago and grain-restricted (occasional rice and non-GMO corn only) 5 years ago. Much better! I WILL NOT knowingly eat gluten products, but lately I have eaten out and forgotten to ask for no croutons on the salad. I pick them off, but the crumbs remain. Turns out I can eat them with no problems…something that would never have happened in the past. I may have healed enough to be able to eat minuscule amounts, but I doubt I will ever get far enough to have cake or bread. Fine… Read more »
Neal
Neal
6 months 13 days ago

Inconceivable!!

Tammy
Tammy
6 months 13 days ago
I’ve been gluten free for 7 years. In the beginning, very strict made a huge difference for me. But for the past few years, although I don’t eat bread, pasta, cake, etc…. I eat the “soy” sauce at restaurants with my sushi and if there’s crumbs I don’t worry about it. Never had issues with dairy, except milk. Quit drinking milk years ago but eat all other full fat dairy. This past year I’ve gotten a good source for raw milk and decided to try it. Two seperate occasions drank 4oz a day for several days in a row –… Read more »
WendithS
WendithS
6 months 13 days ago

Mark, I cannot tell you how much I APPRECIATE your level headedness in the primal “field.” It’s refreshing to have a voice of “grace” and understanding that it’s not the end of the world to allow occasional use of those foods into our diet. Thank you for the laid back mindset you share here. Wendy.

Shary
Shary
6 months 13 days ago

+1

Rick
Rick
6 months 13 days ago

“…but I also want to avoid people turning their way of eating into a pathology.”

Amen, Father!

Oops.

😀

HealthyHombre
HealthyHombre
6 months 13 days ago

Don’t confuse us with common sense Mark, we want to be 100% compliant or else beat ourselves up when we sample a bit of this or that on occasion lol.

barry
barry
6 months 13 days ago
I’ve actually never been on the primal diet but I do like the primal blueprint and actually recommend it to people seeking a healthy lifestyle. I follow certain principles of the primal blueprint (mainly the exercise regime). Out of all the doctors and nutritionist I’ve talked to or have listened to on the internet Mark is the only one I’ve seen make a case against “chronic cardio”. I’ve always felt like excessive cardio is counter-productive and could even be damaging to the cardio system but was a belief it seemed for awhile I only believed, until finding the PB. brisk… Read more »
Rozska
Rozska
6 months 13 days ago
One of the things that I learned when I went Primal was that I was actually *allergic* to grain. (I had just thought I had year-long seasonal allergies.) By eliminating the grain all my allergies went away. Period. Now, when I go out to eat, within twenty minutes after eating I can tell if a restaurant was lying about using wheat or corn in their cooking. My eyes start watering, my sinuses get congested, I start sneezing, etc. Going Primal was one of the best things I ever did. Possibly I could build up more of a resistance to wheat… Read more »
Rick
Rick
6 months 13 days ago

Inspired by today’s post, reminded of the 80/20 principle, and because I’ve had no junk food for a week, I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich. Man, was it good. I don’t feel so hot right now, but the memory is awesome. I’d say I’m net positive on the deal. 🙂

Paleo Saskie
Paleo Saskie
6 months 13 days ago
I’ve had an interesting experience with this lately. When I first went paleo, I both felt much better and noticed significant reactions to any gluten when I encountered it. After being paleo for a while, I got pregnant (5 months right now!!) and had really bad food aversions to both protein and vegetables during a really tough first trimester. I started eating sourdough bread and found that I tolerated that really, really well – lived off grilled cheese sandwiches for 6 weeks, I think! While we were travelling to visit family for the holidays, I ended up having to eat… Read more »
TF
TF
6 months 13 days ago
First, congratulations on your pregnancy! 🙂 I’ve had a similar experience just yesterday and today. I’ve been breastfeeding for almost 13 months now, and somewhere along the way I developed a sensitivity to eggs, I ate them frequently, and suddenly my stomach would react with intense burning pain everytime I ate them. I’ve tried every couple months to eat them again since then, with the same reaction. I’m now almost 2 months pregnant, and I ate eggs yesterday again just to give it another shot, and had no pains at all, did the same today with no issues either (which… Read more »
Ron Pereira
6 months 13 days ago
I’ve been eating Primal and following a CrossFittish like workout plan for 90 days… I started at 208 lbs and am now down to 185. I can pump out 160 push-ups across a 15 minute EMOM workout with ease and now wear size 34 pants (38s were snug 90 days ago). And my energy level and mental focus is incredible. All this to say I have never felt better in my entire life (I’m 42). This even includes the days of being a far more ripped stud back in my 20s when I could bench 405 lbs. Yes, I was… Read more »
Beth
Beth
6 months 13 days ago

And of course you’d need bread for a nice
“MLT, mutton, lettuce & tomato sandwich. When the mutton is nice and lean… and the tomatoes are fresh… There so perky! I love that!”

Laura Routh
6 months 13 days ago
I love the balance, Mark. And I agree with you. I have to be strict because I’m not completely sure what I’m sensitive to. I have a pretty good idea, though. If I’m not strict about certain foods, then I mess up my experiment in finding out. Although I avoid gluten, other grains aren’t as problematic as foods like dates, apricots, blueberries, onions, garlic, tomatoes….ok, I think I’ll stop at those for now. And dairy seems to cause swelling and severe constipation, but the swelling part is partly anecdotal, even I’ll admit. Sometimes I wonder I long I’m going to… Read more »
David
David
6 months 13 days ago
I changed my diet to Paleo two years ago. No grains, dairy, industrial seed oils, processed food or added sugars at all since then. No regrets. I had already previously given up dairy due to lactose intolerance but once in a while it would slip in on something. Now I’m a strict food nazi. It’s easy. I have a chronic autoimmune condition as a strong motivating factor. Giving up bread and baked goods was the hardest at first but it became easy. I still have my autoimmunity but I immediately lost 15 pounds of fat and best of all my… Read more »
Cliff
Cliff
6 months 13 days ago

Are you acquiring tolerance, as in your body can process gluten/milk/whatever; or is your gut healing and then a healthy gut/blood barrier is able to exclude gluten/milk/whatever so your body doesn’t have to deal with it?

Jed
Jed
6 months 13 days ago

I saw a long thin empty bag on the kitchen counter yesterday and I immediately thought, “baguette” even though I haven’t had one in a long time. It just reminded me of one and I missed it. But then I realized that I had had a revelation about bread, 3 years ago. I now look at bread like cardboard or wood. Something edible but not a real food. I have sure come a long way in the past 4 years.

Coco
Coco
6 months 13 days ago

I’m really curious to know what you think about leaky gut in this perspective. Maybe I’m wrong but I think that what you’ve said only apply when you have a healed gut.

I’ve never had any fear of eating gluten, it’s dairy that I fear but I don’t fear it for fun, I fear it because it gives me horrible migraines and I want to avoid that at all costs. Maybe I should ask my husband to slip me some dairy that I wouldn’t notice to test the nocebo effect?

Elizabeth
6 months 13 days ago

Such a great post!! For me, dairy (except butter and ghee) is not worth it because I break out. And wheat makes me feel bloated and puffy. But stuff like beans and peanut butter I really don’t stress about. They don’t seem to have an effect on me, but since I ate so much of them in my 30+++ years as a vegetarian I just don’t want them that much.

mark N
mark N
6 months 13 days ago
Ok, seems like everyone is doing testimonials. I go low carb as possible. The closer I am to ketosis, the better I feel. So I avoid grains, but do consume some, sometimes, with little if any affect. Fermented diary is on the menu for me without any problem. Raw dairy, not a problem, in small amounts. Pastuized diary, yes a problem. Peanuts, give me a headache, but I will eat things that have peanuts in it with little effort. The point is this, knowing one’s body,and what you put into it is good. But to be dogmatic about it is… Read more »
CatK
CatK
6 months 13 days ago
This is what I love about Paleo-like people… they are flexible and intelligent. They are mutable. It’s awesome! Dr. Weil also says that you may not have to be on a super paleo-like diet (anti-inflammatory diet) for a very long time. I think a lot of our bodies just get worn out and messed up (metabolic syndrome). Some people don’t have this problem. However, I have a theory that aging and years of consuming bad forms of wheat (even in the VERY Active thin runners) will put them at health risks (especially diabetes). That’s how some people who are otherwise… Read more »
Ellen
Ellen
6 months 13 days ago

My mom found some enzyme pills for dairy (Lacto) that I tried. I was able to eat a cheeseburger and escargot in Paris with no problems. I used the same pills here to have pizza and had diarrhea. So I am now confused. I avoid dairy and gluten when eating out when possible but will take the pills if I am unsure if the item might contain butter (scrambled eggs for example) Home cooking is all about paleo

TF
TF
6 months 13 days ago
I’m not sure I’m going to act on the information about babies having better tolerance for gluten/dairy/peanuts/etc if they’re introduced to it early on… I have given my one-year-old dairy before (he LOVES cream cheese but doesn’t react to it well), but I would never give him peanut butter, and DEFINITELY wouldn’t give him anything with gluten. And honestly probably wouldn’t give him any other grains either… Why would I? If he tolerates them less when he’s older because of this, then that means he’ll be more likely to not eat those things, which is great. I want him to… Read more »
TF
TF
6 months 13 days ago

Also, it seems weird to group eggs, fish, and yogurt with gluten and peanuts, considering the first three are so much healthier than the latter two. I know they’re all potentially allergenic, but I’d definitely prefer giving my baby nutritious eggs and fish and yogurt before age one rather than peanut butter or gluten, which has no health benefits at all, just for the sake of preventing an allergy. Doesn’t seem worth it to me.

Mrs Rathbone
Mrs Rathbone
6 months 13 days ago
TF, I’m a reasonably smart adult and even with all precautions, I’ve ended up eating gluten at least 3 times since I gave it up, and only found out afterwards. I react badly to malt vinegar, as well, which every source says can’t possibly contain gluten, yet it really makes me ill, and it’s included in a LOT of things. IMO giving a child a degree of exposure to peanuts, at least (which seem to cause the most life-threatening reaction) is a basic safety precaution and not the same as setting him up for a lifetime of PB&J sandwiches. It’s… Read more »
TF
TF
6 months 12 days ago
The study about peanuts said that it prevents allergies in kids who have a family history of peanut allergies right? Considering all the peanut butter sandwiches (and whole jars of straight peanut butter) that I have eaten, and my fiancé as well, I don’t believe he’d have an issue, but I understand where you’re coming from. I may get some fresh grind peanut butter and give him a little at some point. I appreciate your input/opinion. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to give him anything with gluten in it (not knowingly anyway), but the other grains and… Read more »
Seth (Apex Omnivore)
Seth (Apex Omnivore)
6 months 13 days ago
FWIW, N=1: I was able to reintroduce some previously offensive foods, particularly some dairy (aged cheese and even fairly large servings of full fat cottage cheese), after about a year of fairly constant primal eating. I noticed that things like the occasional pizza slice or two really just didn’t bother me anymore, digestion-wise. That said, I still will get noticeable carb cravings the day after a big eating excursion. The comforting thing is that I know those cravings aren’t real, so they are easy to ignore, and they go away with a nice long walk (thanks Mark!) and a short… Read more »
Dee
Dee
6 months 13 days ago

“The first was a recent rewatcing of The Princess Bride.” …”If you haven’t watched The Princess Bride yet, go do it (the book is also good)…”

Good to know Mark is watching, and reading. 🙂 And just a couple of weeks ago he was reminding us to know where our towel is…

Towelie
Towelie
6 months 13 days ago

Don’t forget, umm, to… I’m so high right now.

Kristin
Kristin
6 months 13 days ago

For me it just becomes a slippery slope very easily if I start eating foods like that again so I find it better to avoid them as much as possible. Besides dairy gives me acne and I don’t think that will ever change.

Les
Les
6 months 13 days ago

Three things spring to mind.
Firstly, at last there is someone else in the world who knows that the plural of ‘forum’ is ‘fora’ – I no longer walk the Earth alone.
Secondly, a very good site concerning hormesis is http://gettingstronger.org/
and
Thirdly, be wary of ‘gluten-free’ food. Those of you who have read the Wheat Belly books will know that they are based on starches and may well send your insulin and/or blood glucose through the roof, neither of which is generally considered to be a good thing.

Kris K
6 months 13 days ago

Love this post! I enjoy small amounts of sourdough and einkorn almost every day, but only once a day and not a lot. When at a friends if they serve crackers, I might take a couple to be more social. This moderation seems to work very well for me.

John Myers
6 months 13 days ago

It was the Man in Black that faced off with Vizzini in the Challenge of Wits.

See? you don’t have to spoil anything.

Favorite movie EVER!!

Gypsyrozbud
6 months 13 days ago

And when I’m travelling in Europe….I simply must partake of the local dishes! The “pan au chocolate”, croissants and red wine in France, for instance. However, I try to keep it to about once a week, or every couple of days….there is also so much delicious produce, great cheeses and lots and lots of OLIVES!!!! YUM!

Patrick
Patrick
6 months 12 days ago

I read this article yesterday and decided to eat a small slice of pizza from our local Italian restaurant.
Had loose stool and gas this morning and I overate tonight…. Almost felt like I would pass out. It’s either the wheat or I am entering ketosis again and it’s keto flu.
I’ll be traveling to Italy this summer, if my body reacts like this to wheat maybe I should stay gluten free on my trip there. I started grain free in July

AllaboutEunice
AllaboutEunice
6 months 12 days ago

You’re the best Mark. This article is superb. I have graves disease and despite all the foods I should avoid, a bit of plain old fashion living in the moment has not affected my levels in a negative manner. Just be mindful in your enjoyment. Live!

Mike
Mike
6 months 12 days ago

Bacon is my number 1 sin followed by sausages (my kids like them). I usually eat loads of veges along with it. No real noticeable issues. I seem to have more issues with starches. I want to consume more starchy vegetables as I have increased my workout load, it’s what we Aussies call a conundrum (though I notice more Americans using it). My wife is even worse with the starches, she has eczema break outs

Marc
6 months 11 days ago
Mark, In regards to the recent study… I have lots of kids including an 11 month old. She eats avocados, salmon, tubers and veggies. We gave her some sprouted grain bread with peanut butter the other day. She’s been exclusively breastfed. I think there’s something else at work here with the allergies and the kids Csection rates are through the roof. So the little fries start with comprised “advantageous buggies”. Then even most breastfed kids start their nutrition at 4 months with CEREAL. garbage food for the next 3 months exclusively. Speculating this is not optimal for gut bug development… Read more »
Nameless
Nameless
6 months 9 days ago

I am surprised you didn’t mention the actual name of the process…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithridatism

mommy
mommy
6 months 4 days ago

any life lessons learned from princess bride are for sure legit!

ancient
5 months 2 days ago
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