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Using ketosis to deal with excess phlegm. I'd be grateful to get feedback

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  • Using ketosis to deal with excess phlegm. I'd be grateful to get feedback

    Gross topic, yep. Hardly anybody seems to be afflicted with this, so I don't know who among you can relate.

    I've heard--but by no means have verified--that ketosis can contribute to (or cause) leakygut via the reduction in mucus: the protective mucus layering in the stomach becomes reduced, and leakygut follows.

    Is there any evidence for that? In my case I have had excessive phlegm production, or "sinus issues", for the past 15 years or so--basically as far back as I can remember; I'm 25 now. I had colic as a baby, but I don't know of anything specific that could have caused this.

    Doctors have been unhelpful (one guy condescendingly said "well everyone gets mucus, it's a normal part of being human"). Yeah, but not to this extent; I can't go an hour without having to hawk up phlegm. This isn't very sexy. And it's interfering with the quality of my personal life and career--I have to give talks for over an hour and it gets tricky.

    I've been on paleo for the past 2 years--pretty strictly so (absolutely no dairy)-- and it has helped the problem but has not eliminated it or reduced it to a level that's manageable. I'm in good shape physically, though I am prone to blotchy skin.

    So I'm going to try ketosis. I started about a week ago, and I'm starting to feel pretty damn good from it, and the phlegm issue seems to have improved.

    If you'll bear with me, I have a couple more questions.
    Could a naturopath help me? Or an "allopathic" practitioner? The one naturopath I saw didn't seem to have a clue. Is it possible I have candida, or some kind of fungus or parasite, which is causing this?

    I'd do anything to get this taken care of.

    Any input, suggestions, ideas, are very welcome.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Sabre View Post
    I've heard--but by no means have verified--that ketosis can contribute to (or cause) leakygut via the reduction in mucus: the protective mucus layering in the stomach becomes reduced, and leakygut follows.

    If you'll bear with me, I have a couple more questions.
    Could a naturopath help me? Or an "allopathic" practitioner? The one naturopath I saw didn't seem to have a clue. Is it possible I have candida, or some kind of fungus or parasite, which is causing this?
    Where did you hear that about leaky gut? If anything I would think that the opposite would be true. How could ketosis possibly reduce your stomach mucosal lining?

    About possible candida issues. Maybe but I really think candida had become the diagnosis du jour with a lot of holistic practitioners. I'm not saying that candida overgrowth doesn't exist but it is really rather rare and caused by something pretty severe like a prolonged bout of industrial strength antibiotics.

    Have you seen an allergist? You may be having a histamine reaction to something. Could be a food intolerance, a soap product, pets, any number of things.

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    • #3
      I've been on a ketogenic diet for the past month or two. Phlegm production hasn't really fallen much. Probably some but not enough to really be impressive. I think my allergies (seasonal nasal type) are better but not anywhere close to gone.

      I did try something that actually worked but didn't stay with it long enough. You grind all your fresh veggies in a food processor really thoroughly, to liquify them, before eating. And avoid things like raw garlic and raw onions. This regimen gives your gut a chance to heal.

      Also sleeping grounded has helped.

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      • #4
        how about seasonal allergies? other allergens? mold in your home? allergies to soap, certain fabrics, pets, etc? I'm not sure why people think ketosis is the ultimate cure-all for all things great and small...

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        • #5
          Have you had your D3 blood level tested? My phlegm has decreased considerably since I got my level up on the high end of normal.

          Absolutely no gluten, right?

          Also, google histamine intolerance.

          The low mucus/ketosis thing is a myth, but I can't seem to find the relevant link. I'll post it if I do.

          FWIW, I am loving my ketogenic diet. Have never felt better.
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          • #6
            Sabre, I'd love to find the solution too. I have chronic sinus issues, due partly to narrow sinus and polyps, other than I don't know. I've had fewer sinus infections since going primal 3 yrs. ago but it's still a problem. Whether I'm allergic to things in my environment or the foods I eat I haven't figured it out. I've been on the paleo autoimmune diet for 3 weeks now (it pretty much eliminates anything that's known to trigger allergies) and haven't noticed any difference. I caught a cold 1 week into the diet (the whole family got it) and here I am 2 weeks later and still congested. I haven't had a decent night sleep since it started, when I lie down I can't breath through my nose so it keeps me awake, not to mention the excessive amounts of phlegm.

            I'm taking lots of Vitamin C, zinc, Vitamin D, magnesium and of course eating 100% paleo. i can't think of what else to do.
            Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.

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            • #7
              ^Do antihistamines or allergy medications help at all? Flushing with a neti pot or using a saline spray could help to at least clear things out temporarily. It's worth it to me, I do it every morning, and even though I get a ton of post nasal drip and phlegm on my bike ride to work, it helps keep my nose clear throughout the day. I do know I have a lot of pollen allergies, so I'm pretty much screwed. I can't imagine ever being able to afford allergy shots.

              To the OP, ever seen an ENT? I was told by the doctor that tested me for allergies that an ENT might be able to see something that could be corrected. Post-nasal drip is not an easy thing to cure or pin down the cause.
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              • #8
                I take antihistamines daily and use a neti pot most days.

                NW brings up a good point have you seen an ENT? There could be a physical cause like polyps. Not everything is related to diet, there could also be a genetic cause (not likely) but you may want to look into it. My son has Cystic Fibrosis, it's a genetic condition where the body produces an excess of very thick mucous. Our first clue was that he constantly had a runny nose, the doctors kept treating him for allergies and didn't suspect CF because he didn't have any digestive issues. In most people with CF their pancreas does not function due to excess mucous, but in my son's case his pancreas functions fine. When the pancreas doesn't function CF is diagnosed early because the person (infant) can't digest fats.
                Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
                  Where did you hear that about leaky gut? If anything I would think that the opposite would be true. How could ketosis possibly reduce your stomach mucosal lining?

                  About possible candida issues. Maybe but I really think candida had become the diagnosis du jour with a lot of holistic practitioners. I'm not saying that candida overgrowth doesn't exist but it is really rather rare and caused by something pretty severe like a prolonged bout of industrial strength antibiotics.

                  Have you seen an allergist? You may be having a histamine reaction to something. Could be a food intolerance, a soap product, pets, any number of things.
                  I heard it from a guy called Dave Asprey, he's the "biohacker" guy--I can't vouch for his overall validity, and he's made some dubious claims, but a lot of what he says sounds legit.

                  He said he tried ketosis with virtually zero carb for 3 months and, because he didn't have enough glucose to form mucus, it dried up the mucus in his body making him "unable to produce tears", and he developed some leakygut. To him the solution is to occasionally refeed with plenty of (paleo) carbs once a week or so. But it's possible that in his individual case very low carb has that effect, I don't know.

                  A link to where he said it: The Bulletproof Perspective on “Safe Starches”

                  I had some basic allergy bloodtests done, and nothing showed up. I don't think it's an allergy, because I've lived in so many different countries, places, environments, and it has no effect. I've excluded pretty much every potential allergen you could imagine, for at least 6 weeks, and it had no significant effect. But just to mark it off the list, I'll get looked at by an allerginist.

                  I've been planning to get a proper food-intolerance test done, but apparently the science behind it is up for question. It's disheartening. In any case, I strictly avoid gluten, dairy, sugar--my diet is spartan paleo.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by not on the rug View Post
                    how about seasonal allergies? other allergens? mold in your home? allergies to soap, certain fabrics, pets, etc? I'm not sure why people think ketosis is the ultimate cure-all for all things great and small...
                    Doesn't seem to be anything seasonal, it's all the time. The idea of mold in my home is a disturbing thought, but the past 2 years I've lived in 3 different places and there was no difference.

                    You're right, ketosis isn't a panacea, but when you've tried everything else...

                    For a lot of people, low-carb works wonders. I'm sort of straddling low-carb and ketosis, aiming for a metabolic flexibility that allows me to dip in and out of ketosis, it seems to be the best option.

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                    • #11
                      edit: let me reply to the other posters a little bit later, cheers


                      Originally posted by Dragonfly View Post
                      Have you had your D3 blood level tested? My phlegm has decreased considerably since I got my level up on the high end of normal.

                      Absolutely no gluten, right?

                      Also, google histamine intolerance.

                      The low mucus/ketosis thing is a myth, but I can't seem to find the relevant link. I'll post it if I do.

                      FWIW, I am loving my ketogenic diet. Have never felt better.
                      Glad to hear you're doing well on ketosis. Yeah if you find that link that would be great. I'll look into histamine intolerance, cheers. (edit2: hmmm, very interesting stuff. Chris Kresser has a post on this. http://chriskresser.com/headaches-hi...e-be-the-cause
                      This may be very helpful, thank you Dragonfly)

                      I haven't had D3 tested. Robb Wolf posted an article a few months back showing that vitamin D supplements decrease the body's own endogenous ability to process it, or something to that effect--so I try to get as much sun as possible. In Ireland that's not always easy.

                      And yeah, zero gluten. Though I do have a paranoia about gluten since reading the claim that a piece of gluten the size of 1/8th of yout thumbnail can cause inflammation for 6 months in the body. Intuitively, that seems like an outrageous claim. Could it be true?

                      If so, that's extraordinary, and I can't guarantee that I haven't had some cross contamination with minute particles of gluten in the past 6 months. I'm definitely becoming neurotic and for the past few months I've foregone eating at restaurants, even the ostensibly "gluten-free" ones.
                      Last edited by Sabre; 06-05-2013, 06:55 PM.

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                      • #12
                        I've lived with the same thing for years. It has abated slightly since going primal, but it still sucks.
                        The above should be viewed as complete and utter nonsense.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sabre View Post
                          I heard it from a guy called Dave Asprey, he's the "biohacker" guy--I can't vouch for his overall validity, and he's made some dubious claims, but a lot of what he says sounds legit.

                          He said he tried ketosis with virtually zero carb for 3 months and, because he didn't have enough glucose to form mucus, it dried up the mucus in his body making him "unable to produce tears", and he developed some leakygut. To him the solution is to occasionally refeed with plenty of (paleo) carbs once a week or so. But it's possible that in his individual case very low carb has that effect, I don't know.

                          A link to where he said it: The Bulletproof Perspective on “Safe Starches”

                          I had some basic allergy bloodtests done, and nothing showed up. I don't think it's an allergy, because I've lived in so many different countries, places, environments, and it has no effect. I've excluded pretty much every potential allergen you could imagine, for at least 6 weeks, and it had no significant effect. But just to mark it off the list, I'll get looked at by an allerginist.

                          I've been planning to get a proper food-intolerance test done, but apparently the science behind it is up for question. It's disheartening. In any case, I strictly avoid gluten, dairy, sugar--my diet is spartan paleo.
                          First of all, ketosis=/=ZC. Also he is talking about a carb refeed once a week which I think is a great idea particularly for lean folks. As to any damage being done to the guts, I would be more likely to suspect Dave's huge intake of coffee as the culprit in his diet there. He also is a special snowflake n=1 because of the longstanding thyroid condition he writes about and the medication he takes for it. I'm not sure that his results are generalizable.

                          Personally, I eat close to ZC but not completely and I have never had a problem with dry eyes. Also Dave extrapolates from dry eyes to "This must be doing damage to my intestines due to lack of mucus." That is a bit of a leap. Many medications list dry eyes as a top symptom and he talks about increasing his dose during that time frame. Too many confounding variables.

                          Dave says, " If I had continued the diet with near 0 carbs I would likely have suffered gut permeability issues when I ran out of mucus to protect the lining of my stomach from stomach acid." He doesn't say he ever had that problem.

                          Allergens can be something you take with you, not necessarily something in the place as you say you have moved often. Personal care products, soaps, pets, etc.
                          Last edited by Paleobird; 06-05-2013, 03:20 PM.

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                          • #14
                            I had the same issue for a long time. I'd be coughing up nasty mucus and blowing my nose nonstop throughout the day. I couldn't even workout properly at the gym, when i'd lie down to do bench presses, i'd literally choke and gag. I stopped eating wheat and dairy around the same time and now I have no issues, i still have to blow my nose everyday, but i think its a normal amount now. I no longer choke and gag and cough up crap every 15 mins. Im leaning more towards dairy being the cause for me. I added in protein shakes with milk a while back for a few days and the symptoms returned.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Urban Forager View Post
                              Sabre, I'd love to find the solution too. I have chronic sinus issues, due partly to narrow sinus and polyps, other than I don't know. I've had fewer sinus infections since going primal 3 yrs. ago but it's still a problem. Whether I'm allergic to things in my environment or the foods I eat I haven't figured it out. I've been on the paleo autoimmune diet for 3 weeks now (it pretty much eliminates anything that's known to trigger allergies) and haven't noticed any difference. I caught a cold 1 week into the diet (the whole family got it) and here I am 2 weeks later and still congested. I haven't had a decent night sleep since it started, when I lie down I can't breath through my nose so it keeps me awake, not to mention the excessive amounts of phlegm.

                              I'm taking lots of Vitamin C, zinc, Vitamin D, magnesium and of course eating 100% paleo. i can't think of what else to do.
                              That sucks. Let me share what I've discovered from the past few days of looking for answers. You mention you have narrow sinuses and polyps; I presume a specialist did a CT scan and confirmed this to be the case.
                              Have you looked into this ("minimally-invasive balloon") surgery

                              A 2-minute video on this: Treating Chronic Sinusitis - YouTube

                              "Chronic hyperplastic sinusitis" is the name given to it when there are polyps present.

                              Have you looked into FESS/Functional endoscopic sinus surgery? I don't know enough about it yet to say either way.

                              Sinusitis in general may be a hyper-responsiveness of the immune system in the sinuses to bacteria. Another idea connected to this is that the bacteria or fungi are able to embed themselves in a kind of biofilm that antibiotics/antifungals aren't able to eradicate--this is the gist of the idea I get from pouring over various articles and papers about this--and so nasal irrigating may be the best way to manage it, rather than cure it. That's an annoying idea that I don't like to resign to just yet.

                              So, the takeaway from that is: some surgeries might work wonders, depending on the type of sinus issues you have. Nasal irrigation is good for managing it.

                              Another interesting idea was mentioned by the poster Dragonfly, histamine allergies may exacerbate this. Check out that Chris Kresser post I linked to a few posts ago.

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