9 Steps To Perfect Health – #1: Don’t Eat Toxins

doughnut

This content has been updated and is now available as part of a free eBook.

Download the free eBook here


Imagine a world where:

  • diabetes, heart diseases, autoimmunity and other modern diseases are rare or don’t exist at all
  • we are naturally lean and fit
  • we are fertile throughout our childbearing years
  • we sleep peacefully and deeply
  • we age gracefully without degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis

While this might sound like pure fantasy today, anthropological evidence suggests that this is exactly how human beings lived for the vast majority of our evolutionary history.

Today, most people accept diseases like obesity, diabetes, infertility and Alzheimer’s as “normal”. But while these diseases may now be common, they’re anything but normal. Humans evolved roughly 2.5 million years ago, and for roughly 84,000 generations we were naturally free of the modern diseases which kill millions of people each year and make countless others miserable. In fact, the world I asked you to imagine above – which may seem preposterous and unattainable today – was the natural human state for our entire history on this planet up until a couple hundred years ago.

What was responsible for the change? What transformed us from naturally healthy and vital people free of degenerative disease into a world of sick, fat, infertile and unhappy people?

In a word? The modern lifestyle. And though there are several aspects of our current lifestyle that contribute to disease, the widespread consumption of food toxins is by far the greatest offender. Specifically, the following four dietary toxins are to blame:

  • Cereal grains (especially refined flour)
  • Omega-6 industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, etc.)
  • Sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup)
  • Processed soy (soy milk, soy protein, soy flour, etc.)

What is a toxin?

At the simplest level, a toxin is something capable of causing disease or damaging tissue when it enters the body. When most people hear the word “toxin”, they think of chemicals like pesticides, heavy metals or other industrial pollutants. But even beneficial nutrients like water, which are necessary to sustain life, are toxic at high doses.

In their book The Perfect Health Diet, Paul & Shou-Ching Jaminet apply the economic principle of declining marginal benefits to toxins:

It implies that the first bit eaten of any toxin has low toxicity. Each additional bit is slightly more toxic than the bit before. At higher doses, the toxicity of each bit continues to increase, so that the toxin is increasingly poisonous.

This is important to understand as we discuss the role of dietary toxins in contributing to modern disease. Most of us won’t get sick from eating a small amount of sugar, cereal grain, soy and industrial seed oil. But if we eat those nutrients (or rather anti-nutrients) in excessive quantities, our risk of developing modern diseases rises significantly.

That’s exactly what’s happening today. These four food toxins – refined cereal grains, industrial seed oils, sugar and processed soy – comprise the bulk of the modern diet. Bread, pastries, muffins, crackers, cookies, soda, fruit juice, fast food and other convenience foods are all loaded with these toxins. And when the majority of what most people eat on a daily basis is toxic, it’s not hard to understand why our health is failing.

Let’s look at each of these food toxins in more detail.

Cereal grains: the unhealthiest “health food” on the planet?

The major cereal grains – wheat, corn, rice, barley, sorghum, oats, rye and millet – have become the staple crops of the modern human diet. They’ve also become the “poster children” of the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet promoted by organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA). If you say the phrase “whole grains” to most people, the first word that probably comes to their mind is “healthy”.

But the fact is that most animals, including our closest relative (the chimpanzee) aren’t adapted to eating cereal grains and don’t eat them in large quantities. And humans have only been eating them for the past 10,000 years (a tiny blip of time on the scale of evolution). Why?

Because plants like cereal grains are always competing against predators (like us) for survival. Unlike animals, plants can’t run away from us when we decide to eat them. They had to evolve other mechanisms for protecting themselves. These include:

  • producing toxins that damage the lining of the gut;
  • producing toxins that bind essential minerals, making them unavailable to the body; and,
  • producing toxins that inhibit digestion and absorption of other essential nutrients, including protein.

One of these toxic compounds is the protein gluten, which is present in wheat and many of the other most commonly eaten cereal grains. In short, gluten damages the intestine and makes it leaky. And researchers now believe that a leaky gut is one of the major predisposing factors for conditions like obesity, diabetes and autoimmune disease.

Celiac disease (CD) – a condition of severe gluten intolerance – has been well known for decades. Celiacs have a dramatic and, in some cases, potentially fatal immune response to even the smallest amounts of gluten.

But celiac disease is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to intolerance to wheat and other gluten containing grains. Celiac disease is characterized by antibodies to two components of the gluten compound: alpha-gliadin, and transglutaminase. But we now know that people can and do react to several other components of wheat and gluten. The diagram below shows how wheat and gluten are broken down in the body:

diagram of components of wheat

Current laboratory testing for gluten intolerance only tests for alpha-gliadin and transglutaminase, the two components of gluten implicated in celiac disease (highlighted in red in the diagram). But as you can see, wheat contains several other components including lectins like wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), other epitopes of the gliadin protein like beta-gliadin, gamma-gliadin and omega-gliadin, another protein called glutenin, an opioid peptide called gluteomorphin, and a compound called deamidated gliadin produced by the industrial processing or digestion of gluten.

So here’s the thing. Studies now clearly show that people can react negatively to all of these components of wheat – not just the alpha-gliadin and transglutaminase that celiacs react to. And the worst part of this is that up until about 2 weeks ago, no commercial labs were testing for sensitivity to these other subfractions of wheat.

This means, of course, that it’s extremely likely that far more people are intolerant to wheat and gluten than conventional wisdom would tell us. In fact, that’s exactly what the latest research shows. Dr. Kenneth Fine, a pioneer in gluten intolerance research, has demonstrated that 1 in 3 Americans are gluten intolerant, and that 8 in 10 have the genes that predispose them to developing gluten intolerance.

This is nothing short of a public health catastrophe in a nation where the #1 source of calories is refined flour. But while most are at least aware of the dangers of sugar, trans-fat and other unhealthy foods, fewer than 1 in 8 people with celiac disease are aware of their condition. A 1999 paper in the British Medical Journal illustrated this well:

Graphic depicting incidence of undiagnosed celiac disease

Patients with clinically obvious celiac disease (observable inflammation and destruction of the gut tissue) comprise only 12.5% of the total population of people with CD. 87.5% of those with celiac have no obvious gut symptoms. For every symptomatic patient with CD, there are 8 patients with CD and no gastrointestinal symptoms.

But does that mean patients with CD without gut symptoms are healthy? Not at all. It was long believed that the pathological manifestations of CD were limited to the gastrointestinal tract. But research over the past few decades has revealed that gluten intolerance can affect almost every other tissue and system in the body, including:

  • brain;
  • endocrine system;
  • stomach and liver;
  • nucleus of cells;
  • blood vessels; and,
  • smooth muscle,

just to name a few!

This explains why CD and gluten intolerance are associated with several different diseases, including type 1 diabetes, thyroid disorders, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia, psychiatric illness, ADHD, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, obesity and more. The table below from the same 1999 BMJ paper depicts the increased incidence of other diseases in patients with CD:

table showing associations of other diseases with celiac disease

As you can see, up to 17% of people with CD have an “undefined neurological disorder”. But even that alarmingly high statistic only accounts for people with diagnosed CD. We know that only 1 in 8 people with CD are diagnosed. We also know that those with CD represent only a small fraction of the population of people with gluten intolerance. With this in mind, it’s not hard to imagine that the number of people with gluten intolerance that have “undefined neurological disorders” (and other associated conditions on the list above) could be significantly higher than current research suggests.

Finally, we also now know that when you are gluten intolerant – which 33% (if not more) of you are – you will also “cross-react” with other foods that have a similar “molecular signature” to gluten and its components. Unfortunately, the list of these foods (shown below) contains all grains, which is why some medical practitioners (myself included) recommend not just a gluten-free diet, but an entirely grain-free diet. As you can see, it also contains other foods like dairy (alpha & beta casein, casomorphin, milk butyrophilin) and coffee (which is a very common cross-reactant).

  • alpha-caesin
  • beta-caesin
  • casomorphin
  • milk butyrophilin
  • cow’s milk
  • american cheese
  • chocolate
  • coffee
  • all cereal grains
  • quinoa
  • amaranth
  • buckwheat
  • tapioca
  • rice
  • potato
  • corn
  • sesame

Industrial seed oils: unnatural and unfit for human consumption

Industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, soybean, safflower, sunflower, etc.) have not been a part of the human diet up until relatively recently, when misguided groups like the AHA and the ADA started promoting them as “heart-healthy” alternatives to saturated fat.

The graph below shows how dramatically seed oil consumption has risen over the past several decades:

pufaconsumption

Throughout 4-5 million years of hominid evolution, diets were abundant in seafood and other sources of omega-3 long chain fatty acids (EPA & DHA), but relatively low in omega-6 seed oils.

Anthropological research suggests that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1. It also indicates that both ancient and modern hunter-gatherers were free of the modern inflammatory diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, that are the primary causes of death and morbidity today.

At the onset of the industrial revolution (about 140 years ago), there was a marked shift in the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids in the diet. Consumption of n-6 fats increased at the expense of n-3 fats. This change was due to both the advent of the modern vegetable oil industry and the increased use of cereal grains as feed for domestic livestock (which in turn altered the fatty acid profile of meat that humans consumed).

The following chart lists the omega-6 and omega-3 content of various vegetable oils and foods:

efa content of oils

Vegetable oil consumption rose dramatically between the beginning and end of the 20th century, and this had an entirely predictable effect on the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the American diet. Between 1935 and 1939, the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids was reported to be 8.4:1. From 1935 to 1985, this ratio increased to 10.3:1 (a 23% increase). Other calculations put the ratio as high as 12.4:1 in 1985. Today, estimates of the ratio range from an average of 10:1 to 20:1, with a ratio as high as 25:1 in some individuals.

In fact, Americans now get almost 20% of their calories from a single food source – soybean oil – with almost 9% of all calories from the omega-6 fat linoleic acid (LA) alone! (PDF)

This reveals that our average intake of n-6 fatty acids is between 10 and 25 times higher than evolutionary norms. The consequences of this dramatic shift cannot be underestimated.

So what are the consequences to human health of an n-6:n-3 ratio that is up to 25 times higher than it should be?

The short answer is that elevated n-6 intakes are associated with an increase in all inflammatory diseases – which is to say virtually all diseases. The list includes (but isn’t limited to):

  • cardiovascular disease
  • type 2 diabetes
  • obesity
  • metabolic syndrome
  • irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
  • macular degeneration
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • psychiatric disorders
  • autoimmune diseases

The relationship between intake n-6 fats and cardiovascular mortality is particularly striking. The following chart, from an article entitled Eicosanoids and Ischemic Heart Disease by Stephan Guyenet, clearly illustrates the correlation between a rising intake of n-6 and increased mortality from heart disease:

landis graph of hufa and mortality

As you can see, the USA is right up there at the top with the highest intake of n-6 fat and the greatest risk of death from heart disease.

On the other hand, several clinical studies have shown that decreasing the n-6:n-3 ratio protects against chronic, degenerative diseases. One study showed that replacing corn oil with olive oil and canola oil to reach an n-6:n-3 ratio of 4:1 led to a 70% decrease in total mortality. That is no small difference.

Joseph Hibbeln, a researcher at the National Institute of Health (NIH) who has published several papers on n-3 and n-6 intakes, didn’t mince words when he commented on the rising intake of n-6 in a recent paper:

The increases in world LA consumption over the past century may be considered a very large uncontrolled experiment that may have contributed to increased societal burdens of aggression, depression and cardiovascular mortality.

And those are just the conditions we have the strongest evidence for. It’s likely that the increase in n-6 consumption has played an equally significant role in the rise of nearly every inflammatory disease. Since it is now known that inflammation is involved in nearly all diseases, including obesity and metabolic syndrome, it’s hard to overstate the negative effects of too much omega-6 fat.

Sugar: the sweetest way to wreck your health

About 20 years ago, Nancy Appleton, PhD, began researching all of the ways in which sugar destroys our health. Over the years the list has continuously expanded, and now includes 141 points. Here’s just a small sampling (the entire list can be found on her blog).

  • Sugar feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, lung, gallbladder and stomach.
  • Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose and can cause reactive hypoglycemia.
  • Sugar can cause many problems with the gastrointestinal tract, including an acidic digestive tract, indigestion, malabsorption in patients with functional bowel disease, increased risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Sugar can interfere with your absorption of protein.
  • Sugar can cause food allergies.
  • Sugar contributes to obesity.

But not all sugar is created alike. White table sugar (sucrose) is composed of two sugars: glucose and fructose. Glucose is an important nutrient in our bodies and is healthy, as long as it’s consumed in moderation. Fructose is a different story.

Fructose is found primarily in fruits and vegetables, and sweeteners like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). A recent USDA report found that the average American eats 152 pounds of sugar each year, including almost 64 pounds of HFCS.

Unlike glucose, which is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and taken up by the cells, fructose is shunted directly to the liver where it is converted to fat. Excess fructose consumption causes a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is directly linked to both diabetes and obesity.

A 2009 study showed that shifting 25% of dietary calories from glucose to fructose caused a 4-fold increase in abdominal fat. Abdominal fat is an independent predictor of insulin sensitivity, impaired glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and several other metabolic diseases.

In a widely popular talk on YouTube, Dr. Robert H. Lustig explains that fructose has all of the qualities of a poison. It causes damage, provides no benefit and is sent directly to the liver to be detoxified so that it doesn’t harm the body.

For more on the toxic effects of fructose, see The Perfect Health Diet and Robert Lustig’s YouTube talk: Sugar, The Bitter Truth.

Soy: another toxin promoted as a health food

Like cereal grains, soy is another toxin often promoted as a health food. It’s now ubiquitous in the modern diet, present in just about every packaged and processed food in the form of soy protein isolate, soy flour, soy lecithin and soybean oil.

For this reason, most people are unaware of how much soy they consume. You don’t have to be a tofu-loving hippie to eat a lot of soy. In fact, the average American – who is most definitely not a tofu-loving hippie – gets up to 9% of total calories from soybean oil alone.

Whenever I mention the dangers of soy in my public talks, someone always protests that soy can’t be unhealthy because it’s been consumed safely in Asia for thousands of years. There are several reasons why this isn’t a valid argument.

First, the soy products consumed traditionally in Asia were typically fermented and unprocessed – including tempeh, miso, natto and tamari. This is important because the fermentation process partially neutralizes the toxins in soybeans.

Second, Asians consumed soy foods as a condiment, not as a replacement for animal foods. The average consumption of soy foods in China is 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) per day and is 30 to 60 grams in Japan. These are not large amounts of soy.

Contrast this with the U.S. and other western countries, where almost all of the soy consumed is highly processed and unfermented, and eaten in much larger amounts than in Asia.

How does soy impact our health? The following is just a partial list:

  • Soy contains trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and affect pancreatic function;
  • Soy contains phytic acid, which reduces absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc;
  • Soy increases our requirement for vitamin D, which 50% of American are already deficient in;
  • Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
  • Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12;
  • Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines;
  • Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods to mask soy’s unpleasant taste; and,
  • Soy can stimulate the growth of estrogen-dependent tumors and cause thyroid problems, especially in women.

Perhaps most alarmingly, a study at the Harvard Public School of Health in 2008 found that men who consumed the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had a 50% lower sperm count than men who didn’t eat soy.

In 1992, the Swiss Health Service estimated that women consuming the equivalent of two cups of soy milk per day provides the estrogenic equivalent of one birth control pill. That means women eating cereal with soy milk and drinking a soy latte each day are effectively getting the same estrogen effect as if they were taking a birth control pill.

This effect is even more dramatic in infants fed soy formula. Babies fed soy-based formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen compounds in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula. Infants exclusively fed soy formula receive the estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of at least five birth control pills per day.

Click here for a complete list of studies demonstrating the harmful effects of soy products.

Like what you’ve read? Sign up for FREE updates delivered to your inbox.

  • I hate spam too. Your email is safe with me.

Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Hector says

    hello. I have improved my health thanks to these articles. Thank you for all this information. This is the best source for all things healthy eating. On this article I see mention of many bad grains I already withdrew from my diet. but I have doubts on Barley. Is traditional where I live to drink it in a refreshing beverage. It is sold as powder and added to water, some ppl add sugar. I find it is very recommended all over the internet. Unlike the grains mentioned here, it has a great reputation. What is your take on this particular grain Dr. Kresser. Thanks in advance for any reply. Regards

  2. Julie says

    Warm appreciation to Dr. rick simpson for curing my Breast cancer with cannabis oil. I really appreciate your help in bring back my lost life with the help of his high quality Cannabis Oil, i am so grateful to you Dr for all the love and concern that you showed me and i would keep on giving my testimony about your Cannabis oil and how is cures Cancer within 90 days of treatment. it just like a Miracle that has happened to me with full recovery from cancer and i am free from Cancer. Thanks be to God Almighty for sending you my way Dr, i hope and know that you would keep on putting smiles on world at large with this great medication. email:rickcancercure@gmail.com for all solution to cancer and other diseases. Those facing health challenges should go for cannabis oil to ensure the absolute cure of all kinds of cancerous diseases. For hopes and help, kindly contact Dr.rick simpson for full knowledge about the medication and Services to you. Dr. email:rickcancercure@gmail.com for all solution to cancer and other diseases.

    Julie Fred
    U.S.A

  3. Janis says

    My family follows our personal paleo diet which Chris’ book, Your Personal Paleo Code helped us determine. After 50 years of not feeling well, we are happily discovering what wellness is. My personal opinion is that many people have no idea how unwell they are because they have never actually experienced wellness. I see this in many people I know. Unfortunately, most are not open to change and self medicate with excess sugar, processed foods, caffeine and alcohol. I try to reach out to people that seem like they might be open to change, and suggest they look into altering what they eat to improve their health. Some are interested and some are not. Thank you Chris for providing such accessible information for those who are looking for wellness and open to change.

  4. Neal says

    i don’t know how accurate this information is. According to scientists that have done tests on the ancient Egyptians, they suffered the same diseases that we suffer at this time. Cancer, skin problems, etc

  5. cristi joket says

    Hi I need to what to eat to heal myself. I’m very ill. I can’t go to the bathroom no matter what the hospital gives me. Years of not eating right vteo months ago I started eating no grains all organic and lost all my weight. Taking bit d pro biotic but can’t potty. Enemas don’t work fiber doesn’t work. Stuff at ER doesn’t. I’m scared I’m going to die. What little has come out has need watery. I’m also bloated thanks please help

  6. Dr. Alan Barlos says

    The entire argument against whole grains presented here was “if you have celiac disease, then grains that contain gluten are bad for you, so that means all grains that do or do not contain gluten are bad for everybody who does or does not have celiac disease.”

    How can you attempt to attack one of the most widely accepted healthy food groups with such a weak, situational claim?

    • David Franklin says

      Alan, that was NOT the entire argument. Chris went into detail about why grains are not a good idea.
      Just because something is widely accepted – does not make it right.
      It’s currently nine pm where I am, and yet I am sitting in bright light, typing this. Thanks to electricity and the light bulb. Widely accepted ideas that most people think are great.
      And yet… there is hard scientific evidence that artificial light at night, and the resulting disruption to our natural sleeping patterns, is harmful to our health.
      Good luck selling that one to the general public though!

  7. Lorraine says

    Haven’t been here in a while, thought I’d give an update. Been about 6 months, exercising about 1.5 – 2hours a day, lost the extra 4 lbs of fat, down to my regular weight again, feeling fantastic at 104/105……lost fat now at @12 or 13%, and gained maybe 2-3 lbs of muscle. It’s great, I’m in my forties. And did it all WITHOUT the rice that I thought I couldn’t do without. Every fourth day, I calorie/carb cycle, w/ extra starchy vegetables and maybe a plantain…….and extra fat. Daily fat is cut drastically though. Down from @ 75 grams a day, to about 20-30, sometimes 40 grams of fat a day. This site is very informative, and the information is extremely well researched, and it helps me.

  8. Joshua says

    It’s safe to say that all foods contain some form of toxins. Let’s face it certain people can handle more of something than others can: be it food, alcohol, sunshine and even water!

    Before all of these scare tactics were available on the internet I remember people eating the foods that agreed with them and discarding the foods that didn’t.

    In turn people lived to old age back then too! Some died young (like some do today) and some lived well into old age. It’s called “survival of the fittest” and there’s nothing we can do about it.

    This article is a bit pretentious wouldn’t you say? Honestly, let’s be realistic here: The article makes broad, borderline paranoid claims with little mention of the studies to back it up.

    The author couldn’t possibly know how much soy is eaten by the average Asian. the author couldn’t possibly know how much soy each and every human being can tolerate or how the soy is prepared in each and every household (and that is just one example).

    Why not do it the old fashioned way? If it doesn’t agree with you … don’t eat it! Enough scare tactics. Living the human life has always been dangerous regardless of the time period.

    Striving for so called perfection is impossible and leads to emotional illnesses. EAT! and if you feel bad doing so? change your diet. This is the way it has been done for 1,000s of years.

    • says

      Joshua,

      Theoretically I cannot agree more with you, although I like Chris’ article.
      It shows potential risks in foods, everybody has to figure out what is good for him or not.

      Anyhow, here is the problem with doing it the “good old way” as you suggested:

      The food we ate as kids is not available anymore. Full stop. Although I only eat bread occasionally at special events I can tell you something:

      Growing up in the European alps I had lots of contact with farmers. 30 years ago wheat had up to 7 kinds of grain which got mixed through harvest and distribution. It was always a bit different, the body got automatically variation. Nowadays there is one single kind across the western world (Monsanto…). Mono culture par excellence.

      We ate MUCH more fat as kids, YES!, even MUCH animal fat, but nobody had overweight. The animals where running around outside eating up to 25 different grasses and herbs, today cows (same at little farms in the European alps and at California’s huge cow factories) are fed a powder-mix of animal meal “garbage” and some corn, causing major bloating, I saw enough cows cut a hole in the back for gas release.

      The corn farmers plant today are blue (!! – I saw it with my own eyes in lower Austria last summer) including everything “you need” already INSIDE (pesticides etc.) Farmers I know say they have to take that as it would be too much work and they couldn’t compete to do it the old way, natural fertilizer are forbidden in most countries, natural pesticides as well, it is all a big business lobby in Europe, in USA and Chinese anyway have unfortunately other problems than eating healthy.

      I’m not saying everything got worse, it is just very different now and we need another 1.000 or even 10.000 years to adapt to the new food regime.

      But do we have that time?

      Simply not, in most countries overweight and obesity rate is 90%+, humans are moving with full speed in a health disaster, cancer rates are skyrocketing (is that the right word?).

      And please forget the studies to back up a claim. Every study, especially here in the States is financed from an “interest group” …. in addition Chris once mentioned that he and Dr. Cordain analyzed a study and came independently to the exact opposite conclusion ;)

      What is a potential solution?

      Eat everything you like but in moderation, it is important what you eat 80% of the time. Like my grandfather liked to say it is important what you eat between New Year and Christmas, not what you eat between Christmas (or Thanksgiving, I’m not Christian) and New Year.

      However, I’m very thankful to people like Chris who put so much effort and identification in an authentic way into their work and make it available to all of us.
      For me I don’t see any value in criticizing such articles, instead we can discuss certain topics to elevate our common knowledge about good nutrition.

      Bernhard
      Team CROSS-EAT

  9. Phillip says

    I just want to point out, sickness has been around since the beginning of time. which was roughly only 10,000 years ago, not 2.5 million or whatever the hell you said. You make great points about staying healthy, but like I said, sickness has been around forever, and there is no way to stop it. You have to think about things like this, how would yo be free of sickness for 84 centuries? You have flu from pigs, aids from monkeys and all other sorts of sicknesses came from animals. Evolution is not real, as long as there is people and animals on this earth, sickness will follow with them.

  10. Missy Wyld says

    Thanx Chris wonderful work and insightful info. I hope I win a copy of your book off Sarah’s page :)
    (I listened to your interview yesterday)

    Keep up the good work.

  11. Adam says

    The 2008 Harvard study you quote has some major flaws. The main one is that over 70% of the study’s participants were obese – hence those people probably ate terrible diets. If that isn’t a confounding factor, I don’t know what is. Also, you incorrectly stated that the sperm count was 50% lower – it was actually the sperm concentration that was lower. There was no association found between soy products and sperm count and ejaculate volume. This is a very strange result, which further points to the study’s shortfalls. I agree that processed food products containing soy should be avoided, but there is little evidence for soy beans and tofu. In fact, many studies have found that consumption of these healthy soy products are correlated with reduced cancer risk.

  12. Mary says

    Chris,

    All the charts/picture under industrial seeds oils are not showing anymore in your article. I really wanted to take a look at them. Hope you get a change to fix it since it is a great article

  13. Natalie says

    Have adopted my own mostly vegan version of the Paleo diet following various elimination diets that allowed me to reverse several debilitating health conditions including neurological problems with concentration and depression. Gluten and sugar aren’t enough… I react to dairy, grains, beans, nuts and had a terrible reaction to potatoes.

    Articles like this make it all make sense.

    Anyone who is sick needs to try cutting out all grains, dairy and nightshades… you can take prednisone & painkillers for symptoms but unfortunately they aren’t addressing the cause.

    I strongly believe our bodies are designed to be self healing – if you are truly desperate to be well then no food should get in your way.

  14. vlad says

    Just watched a video about the “centenarians village” in China. 1/3 of the villagers are over 100 years old! And they eat predominantly homegrown corn, potatoes and rice…So these weeds can be healthy – if they are homegrown in clean environment.

  15. max says

    I avoid grains. However I’m considering adding organic hemp protein powder(pure) to my diet. Thing is… isn’t hemp also a grain? Technically all seeds are grains right? Plus hemp is also a grass seed – which is what most commenly refered to grains are. Am I right? If so wouldn’t this mean it’s likely to have similar ‘hard to digest’ qualities (ie lectins etc) and damage the gut?

    Thanks

  16. Lan says

    I have been wondering this but not sure where to find the answer. I was born and grew up in an East Asia country by East Asian parents whose parents were from the same origin, etc. For 25 years since birth I ate a whole food (white) rice-based diet with regular but small amounts of dairy (mostly yogurt and in baked goods) and other animal products (meat, fish, eggs), more or less similar to that of my parents’ and grandparents’. Then I went to live in the U.S. where I started eating a lot of *whole* wheat (I had eaten small amounts of *refined* wheat before as well) in breads, pastas, cereals, etc. and for about a year did eat quite a bit of processed food. Then about 1.5 year ago I started (gradually) eating a WAPF diet (still eating gluten BUT rotating among a variety of grains) and about 6 months ago transitioned into a half-WAPF half-Paleo diet with lots of saturated fats and moderate amounts of dairy (only fermented dairy and butter, all raw), together with lots of fermented vegetables.

    About 2.5 months ago I started having some digestive issues. Now there can be different factors contributing to them BUT I wonder if the changes in diet was too dramatic and my system did not keep up. Is it possible I was born with organs suitable for eating the way my people have probably been eating for a long time and not quite adapted to such a diet as SAD or even “Paleo”? (I may need to look into whether Western and Eastern paleolithich people ate significantly differently… )

    Any thought is appreciated!

  17. Lorraine says

    I cut down my sat. fat to about 25-30% of my calories a day, which is what I have now. My cholesterol is dropping. That’s why I do some form of exercise daily. When it was higher, like 40-50% of my calories, and when I was only exercising 2-3 times a week, my total cholesterol went up 78 points to198, over a period of several years. Used to be 120, 7 years later, 198……….now, after cutting fat fr. 40-50% to 25-30%, plus daily exercise, it is on the way down again, I think it was around 160-164….Anyway, thanks for the advice! I appreciate the replies.

      • Lorraine says

        Yes, only b/c my mom was a little puffy let’s just say. I’m a small boned ectomorph if you’re wondering why I’m this weight and height…..one of the lucky .08% of women who can eat whatever and still be underweight. But, I’m not w/out troubles, when I was 108 and 16% body fat I have some excess fat on my butt. Though, was still ‘underweight’ accord. to BMI, even though I was OVERweight for me.

  18. Lorraine says

    I have spent the last two weeks on veg/fruit/fish/poultry/game/olive oil/occasional nuts…….three meals a day, calories averaging around 2,000/day. My protein, I figured it up, is about 25% of my daily calories, my carbs are about 40-50% and fat is about 25%-30%. I’ve gone from about 13% to 11.9%, same person, same calipers…….I see the difference in myself. I am terribly lean, almost too much. Every time I cut out rice and beans, which provided me with a significant amount of extra calories, I lose weight, and dip to too low fat levels. It’s a shame almost, b/c I almost rather prefer not to eat them, one more thing to cook. My stats have changed too, I now 103, and 5 ft 7…too low. Still exercising daily. My normal weight is 105, and about 13% fat, this when exercising daily.

    Does anyone else have this problem? Not getting enough calories and/or losing too much fat? Very curious here…….

    • Mark says

      You mention olive oil (Extra Virgin preferably) and nuts….but what are your other fat sources?

      How grams of carbs are you taking in a day?

      Finally, why do you need to exercise everyday? Even if you’re competing that’s too much

      • Lorraine says

        Um, occasionally guacamole, Earth Balance soy free spread until I found out it had corn…the my protein sources, olive oil & occasional nuts are my fat. Nuts are just hard for me to digest, even after soaking them and dehydrating them in my oven, so I cut them out just recently.

        The grams of carbs…haha, I figured out my percentages based on my grams, I don’t remember, I’d have to check my notes…

        And yeah I have to exercise everyday, I don’t feel right unless I do, helps me sleep, I’m a thin wiry type w/ lots of energy, I stay up all night if I don’t exercise daily. I was a dancer for many years, so, now I take it easy w/ just an hour a day walking/jogging/dancing……weights 4 times a week. Can’t go a day w/out being active……except Sundays. I mean……..maybe 30 minutes a day instead of 60……IDK, was just wondering if other people have this problem? Not enough cals…….by cutting out all grains and legumes. I’ve snuck back plain white rice in my diet like 3 times last week……who knows. I may have to cut down my exercise time. You ever seen this before? Like, really lean types losing too much fat when going Paleo? Not enough calories? I get hungry as heck…flying through veg/protein/fat/fruit………..

        • Mark says

          You need more saturated fat…the books I recommended before will help you. However the main recommendations are: Ghee, butter, coconut oil, lard. duck fat, full fat diary, etc.,

          I’m not good with nuts either. Most nuts have more omega 6 than omega 3 (apart from Macadamia nuts)…so given all that exercise you’re doing you’re not helping your body combat inflammation.

          Now. You’re definitely working out too much, dare I say it’s close to an addiction? There’s really no need to train that much especially weights four times a week. It’s doing more harm than good. I do 15 mins of HIT (weights) once every 7-10 days and martial arts when I have the time and occasional sprint training…that’s all. Search for Doug McGuff, Drew Baye, and James Steele (there’s no such thing as cardio) on YouTube.

          You may need to explore other methods to help you sleep. Google for Mark Sisson and sleep.

          Yes being active is ok, do as much as you want in fact it’s your choice, but do you really need it? http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-you-shouldnt-burn-more-than-4000-calories-a-week-through-exercise/#axzz2ig1eTVws

          • Mike says

            Lorraine, sounds like a little more energy in the forrm carbs is what you need. Your exercisee is fine, many ectomorphs need lots of exercise, ooften more than other types. The average American iis now recomeended to do an hour of some cardiovascular workout every day. I too need to exercise daily to feelwell and sleep well, and know quite a few people who are also very lean and need more calories particularly carbs, than moost. Granted most of them are young men, not women in their forties. You are lucky indeed. Most women are overweight or obese. Buut try more carbs and more calorries in general.

            • Lorraine says

              In the past week or so I’ve gained almost a lb. Been eating more veg, starchy sweet potatoes, starchy/sweet fruit, and rice like twice a week. Also, high calorie brewer’s yeast, rice milk, frozen fruit, honey drink. I honestly don’t think the guy who did my body fat was right, I think I’m more like 13% now, and WAS like 14 or even 15%. Anyway, I agree w/ the basic premises here, all I’m doing is just adding rice when I really feel like I need a shot of high carbs. Lean people cannot burn fat off their body, if it’s not there…not everyone is the same, I agree. Thanx.

              • Lorraine says

                * the guy who did my body fat was NOT right, calipers…got a slightly different result when someone else did it.

          • says

            I have read all of the comments down to this one and nothing, regardless of my opinion has prompted me to reply. This one has.

            Why do you say exercising every day is wrong? Tai Chi, stretches, walking, climbing, running, rowing, martial arts, sex and lifting (and I’m sure many more) are things that have been done naturally every day since the beginning of man. Do you really think the original ‘man’ (man or woman) would have gone much more than a single day where they could sit around doing nothing? Everything in [healthy] human life require exercise. This is, in my opinion, the prime issue with modern life – PROLONGED SITTING. If somebody CAN exercise everyday without any repercussions, why shouldn’t they? Now you can come up with excuses with regards to joint issues etc in later life – but that’s only the same responses we’re seeing here about eating certain foods. Answer is really, they’re inevitable.

            And just for clarification, you don’t ‘do martial arts’ if you only do it when you have time, you are just practicing a glorified cardiovascual routine. Martial art means the art of war and if you train in it then you dedicate a lifestyle to it, without frequent training you will not be prepared for combat and without partaking in more than just the self-defense training there is no art.

    • Dan says

      Lorraine, here are a few comments to your postings:

      My personal experience when I shifted (from a vegetarian diet) to Paleo, was similar regarding weight loss. I am 5-10.5 and weighed about 165, and dropped to about 158 in 2 weeks while eating as much as I wanted and snacking a lot between meals. Actually, I was happy with this result, as my body looked like it did 20 years earlier, with a nice flat stomach. In your case, it seems that 103 is too low for your height. Given the exercising you are doing, I would add more calories. The mix you reported is not bad, — maybe more fat could be tried (like avocados, butter, nuts, coconut, etc.). Maybe try adding another light meal (250 cals?) somewhere during the day, and see if you can gain an ounce or two a week. I would stay away from the pasta, breads, and grains (except buckwheat, which is not a true grain) but, I admit, I do slip in some organic red potatoes into my chicken cacciatori or beef stew.

      Regarding cholesterol, there is a lot of new info about how to measure it properly, and you should read this article on Dr. Mercola’s website: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/28/nmr-lipoprofile.aspx
      He actually references work done by Chris Kesser in this article. Certain ratios and particle size are more important than the usual numbers given by the labs.

      Regarding your body fat, that also seems way too low for a woman. Here’s a table, again from Dr. Mercola, found in this article: http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2012/04/27/vitamin-d-and-blood-test-health-factors.aspx

      Category Women Men
      Essential Fat 10-13% 2-5%
      Athletes 14-20% 6-13%
      Fitness 21-24% 4-17%
      Acceptable 25-31% 18-24%
      Obesity >32% >25%

      Soaking buckwheat is mostly for reducing phytic acid, another plant toxin implicated in digestive problems.

      I hope this is helpful!

      • Lorraine says

        Yeah..haha I seem to be alone in this ‘dilemma’ I guess. I mean, I feel good but……….yeah, a little low. I tried that soaking of buckwheat flour for cakes (lemon one time, acv one time)…..they came out good, but I hate ANY sweet foods, and with the syrup and berries and stuff it was too sweet for me, I don’t even like sweet potatoes ha. But, OH, what is your opinion on anti-nutrients of white rice? compared to buckwheat flour soaked? w/out the bran of brown rice? I boil it straight at high heat for 15 min. in a ton of water then drain. I’m more likely to eat this, b/c it goes w/ tomato sauce, ground bison, fish, chicken, salads, garlic and olive oil……a lot of the Mediterranean cooking I like to do.

        My biggest thing is, sometimes I just want/need more carbs….I stuff literally stuff w/ veg and fruits and winter squashes, but sometimes I just feel like I need more concentrated carbs, esp. w/ the dancing/jogging. Let me know what you think of long grain white rice……toxins/lectins/anti-nut. etc…when you have time. Thanks!

        Tonight is a nice Paleo Mediterranean meal! Recipe from Corfu…….Bourdetto. I will serve w/ salad, and sauteed leeks.

        IDK, don’t know if we can post links here, guess so right? here’s the link for anybody who likes Greek food. Ha, when need glucose infusion, might do white rice ahhaha!

        http://kalisasorexi.com/2010/03/bourdetto/

      • Lorraine says

        So disappointing to see people still look to charts to tell people how much fat they should have. I’m the exception, the one in a million. On me, 16% fat, meant I had cellulite on my buttocks, was eating 3,000 calories a day in high fat foods, and was not doing a lot of cardio (was still doing weights, never stopped that). On me, 13, even 12 % fat is what my body wants to fall to, w/ healthy diet and exercise. This is NOT what most women will do……most would have to starve to get where my body wants to go to, naturally.

  19. Lorraine says

    Um, if you aren’t supposed to eat fair amounts of fructose (b/c it goes straight to the liver to be stored as fat, and it’s a poor energy source)…and we are not supposed to eat grains (that are glucose), what are we supposed to eat? If living off salads and green leafy vegetables can give anyone here enough energy, I’d like to know. I’m 5 ft 7 and 105 lbs, I’m 13% body fat, and ectomorphic and very active. Even with a lot of fructose containing root vegetables and fruit, I’m still hungry, 3 meals a day, good protein, good fat. I eat vegetables starchy and non starchy, fish, poultry, fresh fruit and olive oil. I mean there is only so much fat, protein and vegetables one can eat. I think it’s possible that the very lean, with not much fat to spare, can just need more energy than those with normal or over abundant fat reserves (fat cells being used as energy source). In spite of running an hour today and lifting weights, I’m still up, not tired. Not tired b/c I’m hungry. Any comments/help/suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Mark says

      Sounds like you need to do a bit more research :-). Wait for Chris’s book, and/or take a look at Aglaee Jacob’s http://www.eat-real-food-paleodietitian.com/ or Diane Sanfilippo’s books http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Paleo-Customized-Whole-Foods-Lifestyle/dp/1936608758/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382187757&sr=1-1&keywords=balanced+bites

      “Only so much fat…” – You can eat as much as you need. Protein is usually no more than 30-35% of total calories depending on need. Carbs no more 150g a day, however, again depending on individual need you can higher than that (but usually opt for more fat first). So eating more saturated fat and/or a bit more starchy carbs might be my short answer. Perhaps four meals a day might help too.

      • Lorraine says

        Thanks for replying…I’m already doing enough saturated fat, too much in fact, since I’ve increased my saturated fat my cholesterol went from 120 to 198. I am generally eating starchy carbs 2 meals a day….I think you are right, maybe 4 times a day feedings would help.

        I will check out the sources you recommended.

        I am considering a serving of legumes/grains in the morning, leaving the other 2-3 feedings to be without. I am concerned w/ lectins mainly, and getting rid of them. And anti-nutrients and hard to digest sugars, as well.

        Does soaking buckwheat flour in lemon, probiotic, apple cider vinegar get rid of lectins? Is that what is known as the ‘sourdough’ process? Does pressure cooking legumes get rid of lectins?

        • Mark says

          Paleo people tend to avoid grains and legumes. As to soaking etc., I don’t know… Maybe cut back on your starchy carbs and eat only on weight training days (I hope you’re not training too often though).

          Cholesterol needs to be measured correctly. If it’s an increase in HDL then that’s great, nothing to worry about. It’s the small dense LDL that causes problems. Try cutting back on carbs and maintaining saturated fat consumption. Sign up to this: http://highcholesterolplan.chriskresser.com/

          May I recommend that you read some more of Chris’s, Robb Wolf, or Mark Sisson’s work to find out more about cholesterol tests

          • Lorraine says

            It was total cholesterol, went up from 120 to 198.

            I am really wondering if the fact that I’m only 13% fat has something to do with the fact that I need more calories than the typical woman, my body does not want to burn anymore fat, it will have nothing left… I’ll check out the cholesterol sources. Thank You!

  20. Molly says

    I know this is fairly old but oh well surely someone will still comment
    Anyways, I’m 17, a vegetarian for about 7 years but can be a fussy eater
    I am slightly underweight but find it incredibly difficult to put any on as I’ve been trying for many years, since before I was a vegetarian
    I’m considering changing my diet a bit so I’m in the long run a whole lot healthier but I don’t want to loose more weight as if I lost any it would be very unhealthy haha
    Anyone have any tips or think I should wait a bit longer?
    Also, what foods would work?

    • Dan says

      Molly, your problem may be due to the way you are processing your food. See this article in Smithsonian magazine: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Why-Fire-Makes-Us-Human-208349501.html#Mind-on-Fire-cooking-evolution-1.jpg

      It appears that only a fraction of the calories and nutritive ingredients of raw foods and other similar foods eaten by vegetarians are able to be utilized by the body. Cooking is important, as well as mechanically processing the food, and chewing properly, in order to maximize how much can be absorbed in the digestive process. A vegetarian or raw food diet can be especially dangerous for young people, especially children, if not managed properly.
      Here’s one paragraph from the article, but you should read it all:

      “Which is, in a way, his point: Human beings evolved to eat cooked food. It is literally possible to starve to death even while filling one’s stomach with raw food. In the wild, people typically survive only a few months without cooking, even if they can obtain meat. Wrangham cites evidence that urban raw-foodists, despite year-round access to bananas, nuts and other high-quality agricultural products, as well as juicers, blenders and dehydrators, are often underweight. Of course, they may consider this desirable, but Wrangham considers it alarming that in one study half the women were malnourished to the point they stopped menstruating. They presumably are eating all they want, and may even be consuming what appears to be an adequate number of calories, based on standard USDA tables. There is growing evidence that these overstate, sometimes to a considerable degree, the energy that the body extracts from whole raw foods. Carmody explains that only a fraction of the calories in raw starch and protein are absorbed by the body directly via the small intestine. The remainder passes into the large bowel, where it is broken down by that organ’s ravenous population of microbes, which consume the lion’s share for themselves. Cooked food, by contrast, is mostly digested by the time it enters the colon; for the same amount of calories ingested, the body gets roughly 30 percent more energy from cooked oat, wheat or potato starch as compared to raw, and as much as 78 percent from the protein in an egg. In Carmody’s experiments, animals given cooked food gain more weight than animals fed the same amount of raw food. And once they’ve been fed on cooked food, mice, at least, seemed to prefer it.”

      Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Why-Fire-Makes-Us-Human-208349501.html#ixzz2hu1mtNps

      By the way, I was a veggie for 5 years, then last year switched to a Paleo diet (about 30% meats/fish/poultry/eggs, 50% healthy fats like avocados, nuts, coconut, etc., lots of vegetables – mostly cooked, and minimal carbs. Little or no grains, seeds, breads, pasta, rice, etc.). I feel very good on this diet, but actually lost about 5 pounds due to eliminating the carbs, which are usually a big part of most of the veg prepared foods. My wife has stayed on the veg diet, and struggles to keep her weight down, even after eating only 1200 to 1500 calories a day and being always hungry. She also runs about 12 miles a week. I think it’s all because of the carbs in her diet, and few in mine. This may not be a big deal for you now, but in 10 years, it might be beneficial due to you becoming less active, or having children, etc.
      Best wishes for your health……

      • Molly says

        I shall deffinately read the whole thing
        Hmm, well I eat cooked and processed food right now, well always, and have searched up what’s supposed to help me gain weight and school doctors always monitored me and just said it was while I was growing
        but I’ve pretty much stopped growing as far as I can tell for quite a while now and I eat as much as I can but no change, oh well
        and I don’t think I could eat meat or fish again, just the thought of it is impossible to me, I never really liked meat and now I just can’t imagine putting it near my face, it’ll sound silly probably but just the way I am sadly haha
        And thanks
        I think I too would definately prefer cooked meals haha but at some point if I do eat more raw stuff I could get used to it surely and may feel better, can always have treats haha

        PS- sorry if I’m understanding any of what you said wrong I sometimes have difficulty reading certain sentence structures or something – don’t know what it is but random things that make complete sense in my mind just won’t click at times

        • Dan says

          I absolutely understand what you are saying, and it’s totally up to you whether to eat meat, fish, etc. again.

          So, maybe a good alternative would be to increase the energy density of the foods you’re eating, such as by increasing the healthy fats. Healthy fats are good sources of energy and calories, such as avocados, nuts (not peanuts), coconut and coconut oil, olive oil, etc. Maybe carry a bag of almonds around with you during the day, and have a handful when you feel hungry and can’t eat a meal. Also, you could try some organic whey protein powder (Source Naturals is a good brand) and mix a heaping spoonful with water or in a smoothie, especially right after playing sports or doing any cardio or strength workouts. This will enable you to build muscle mass, which will add weight without adding to your body size very much, and keep you strong. :)

          • Molly says

            Oh good, almonds are the only nut I don’t seem to be repulsed by haha
            I tried eating nuts before but the texture repulsed me haha but almonds seem to be ok

  21. paul says

    I think it’s quite simple. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables and good quality organic meats.
    Boiled foods are better than fried. Raw vegetables are better than cooked.
    Plain foods are better than processed so that you can control the amount of salt etc. that is in them.
    Herbs and spices for taste. Mushrooms, Onions, Berries and Beans. All preferably organic to make sure they haven’t been sprayed with chemicals.
    Apples, cores and all. Drink water.
    A variety of colors

    • Dan says

      Paul, not good advice to eat apple seeds, or several other types of seed as well, because of cyanide. See the below, from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article Chris referenced:

      “Kidney, haricot and navy beans, black-eyed peas, and lima beans contain cyanogenetic glycosides. Black lima bean is most bitter and most toxic—its importation is restricted to varieties yielding <200 ppm hydrogen cyanide. (27). Bitter cyanogentic glycosides are contained in kernels of almonds, lemons, limes, apples, pears, cherries, apricots, prunes, and plums. Some of these compounds are purported to have a use in chemoprevention."
      http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/72/6/1424.full

  22. Jordan says

    I’m sick of reading all these articles about what foods are bad for you. Not to say I oppose the information presented here, but how about a few suggestions on what we can actually eat? I’ve done so much research and all of it contradicts each other. One diet says I can eat Quinoa and brown rice, and another says to avoid them. How about some helpful, useful information on how to combat these diseases besides telling us all the things that we CAN’T eat? How about providing a few helpful options on what we CAN?

  23. Jennifer Candela says

    What about organic soybeans, steamed, in the pod as edamame? Still toxic? I love them so it’s an important question for me. Thank you Chris!

  24. Tom L. says

    I am interested more in the people who visit this website than in diets and nutritional theories. I am considering writing a book on the people who follow this kind of information, how they became interested in it, and the impact of this information on their lives. I am also interested in their backgrounds and want to develop a questionnaire based on that and on some other views that seem unrelated to foods. I am particularly interested in cancer patients.

    I request that the webmaster here write me privately if he is willing to help me gather (with permission, of course) this sort of data from respondents.

  25. Norman says

    I am 71 and sleep well, eat most things, no pains, no illenesses. Gym 5 times a week. I quetion the most written about subject i.e. diets, ways of eating. It is just so difficult to know who really knows what they are talking about simply because there are so many “experts” out there trying to tell us what is wrong and what is right. I do understand that some form is control is needed, but what and with whom is the problem. I would say that there are thousands of so called experts out there and there are only 24 hours in a day – who has the time for this when there are so many other issues out there effecting us all.

  26. Brit says

    Thank you so much for the information Chris, it is what I have been needing to hear for some time now! I was just wondering what are your thoughts on drinking alcohol? I already stay away from anything that isn’t wheat/gluten free but I enjoy a glass of wine now and then. Should I be avoiding it as well due to the sugar content? I am trying to heal from leaky gut and want to avoid all that I can. Thank you for all of the great information, I am very grateful I stumbled upon it!

  27. says

    Great post Chris. It’s alarming how we our becoming a world where fraken-foods are more popular then real foods. I run a personal training and boot camp business in a gym where I encounter kids daily. It get so upset seeing what they eat. It’s practically processed foods! this article should open up many eyes of people especially parents so we can create a trend in the right direction.

  28. Jeremy Silver says

    What about sugar alcohols, in particular erythritol which has not calories and no affect on tooth decay or insulin? It is made from natural substances.

  29. Emi says

    If soy is ‘bad’ what about tofu? It seems that it is a staple in the Japanese diet, yet overall they have relative few health issues compared to those of us in the U.S. Although, with the importation of our fast food chains, they are catching up with regards to heart disease and obesity.

  30. HoudaZreika says

    My son is on 1 Cup of rawmilk mixed with a raw egg daily. If dairy is on the list what does that mean for him.

  31. Dirk says

    I just found this article and read all the comments, and I have my doubts about some of the things I read.

    E.g. You say we’ve been g grains for the last 10000 years, but then you say modern health issues only started a couple hundred years ago?

    At first you said rice was also a cereal and thus bad, then later on you it was recommended.

    And I really hope you don’t mean that the “goal is to reduce intake of plants since all plants contain toxins” ?!!

    I really like a lot of the articles on this website, but like most logs that promote the pales diet, there does seem to be a very strong bias towards it. Our diet should be focused on micronutrients which are only found in plant sources more than animal sources. There is zero evidence that paleolithic man didn’t have a primarily plant based diet, yet every single paleo diet is focused on animal sources.

  32. Hemming says

    Hi Chris,

    Very interesting article. I have a couple of questions, for the very occasion where I would need a sweetener should I use pure glucose as opposed to sucrose? Could it be a better option to use pure stevia? I’ve never had any problems with insulin, metabolism etc.

    Thank you.

    Best regards,

    Hemming

  33. MM says

    Clearly, the old ways of raising your own food and hunting were definitely better than today. There’s sugar, aluminum, sodium nitrate, mercury, Omega-6, and soy. Farmers probably use ingredients like steroids, pesticides, plant enhancers, and cheap feeding methods. I’ve watched on TV where these farmers are stretched financially, so–if this is true–it’s not that far-fetched to imagine that this may be going on. Is anything safely edible anymore?

    Yeah, I believe what is said here about soy and I didn’t dive right in as many undoubtably have, because I read something long ago about it and cancer plus (if I remember correctly) I read something about soy being derived from cardboard(look it up–I could be wrong on that).

    That being said, all of those toxins are unavoidable at moderate levels throughout our lifetimes anyway, as we are too fast-minded and too fast-paced. Those additives listed are in everything that one can imagine. The only things that anyone can personally do–without overly stressing about it–is to pray, avoid these things as much as you can right now(maybe even plan a personal garden), and plan your retirement with getting land, raising your own animals, and hunting in mind. Another option is to petition our gov’t in any way that we can to ban hidden toxins in food/drink, skin/hair care products, and in things that come directly in contact with food/drink.

    Meanwhile, one should also benefit by mitigating those damages to the body–as much as one can–by checkups; taking herbs, vitamins, and minerals designed to counteract or lessen problems created by the toxins; and by leading a healthy lifestyle.

  34. Mark says

    Hi,

    I’m confused as to what is the best source of Omega oils (in the correct ratio). I take Udo’s Choice http://www.udoschoice.co.uk/ from Udo Erasmus the author of Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill. This oil is kept refrigerated in the shops and at home.

    Should I stop using this oil as it’s made from Sunflower Oil (and some other
    oils mixed in)? It also has some Soy added to it, which you’ve advised to avoid…

    A few years ago I also watched a British documentary that stated, “the human body is inefficient at converting seed oils to DHA and EPA, it is far better at the conversion using fish oils”. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/fish.shtml). The problem with fish oils is all the heavy metal, PCB, and dioxin content…

    Thanks in anticipation for any response (if not at least I’ve got this off my chest)

  35. Elaine says

    In looking through this site I haven’t found a recommendation to consume bone broth to heal a leaky gut. I had thought that was a necessary part of the healing process. Can anyone clarify this for me?

  36. Carrie says

    By the way, we have done some AAT for food sensitivities, but it won’t touch corn. Are you familiar with AAT?

  37. Carrie says

    Chris, what do you know out corn allergy? Like so severe that I can’t find meat for my son to eat. Definitely nothing processed by the USDA, and so far I can only find farmers in my area who are willing to process a few chickens for me with only water. Hopefully this will be enough, but the chickens are fed a grain diet with corn. We have our own chickens, but we have yet to find a diet for them that is safe enough for my son to tolerate via their eggs. So no meat, no eggs…he is on an extremely limited diet and still reacts. I’m looking for any advice/help I can get. Thanks for putting the info out there.

  38. Tom Westbrook says

    Know this is a long shot but I am a student of Chinese Medicine in the UK and am keen on the paleo diet. I would really appreciate some feedback from you on the effects of the Paleo diet on Spleen Qi over time. As the modern diet has destroyed most people’s Spleen Qi I am wondering how people going on a Paleo will adapt to it?

    In my case, I’ve had a slippery pulse since I’ve been on the diet (2 months now), although I’ve always had a tendency to “dampness” and am thinking that digestion will improve and slowly as I am become more robust, I will be able to transfrom the foods easier.

    However, I cannot be certain as there is a lack of classic Spleen nourishing foods like white rice in the diet. Even though you recommend sweet potato and potato, they play a small part. I would just like to know what your clinical experience has shown? Is there an adaptation period? If Spleen Qi is week do you emphasise less fats? Any help would be massively appreciated, thanks.

    • Greg says

      Tom, the paleo diet is a joke. This comment is not directed at you; it’s directed at the hordes of paleo dieters who neglect to try and understand diet from the perspective of traditional cuisine/medicine. Stick to TCM and your spleen qi will remain strong. Eat properly prepared/fermented whole grains, legumes, and vegetables as your staples. All that fat will exhaust your liver and spleen qi and eventually destroy your internal organs, diminish jing, and shorten your life. We are most probably 95% herbivorous as a species, and even early man was primarily a plant-eater. Animal products are probably not necessary at all for most people to achieve optimal health. Check out Don Matesz at Primal Wisdom. Trained in TCM. Believed in paleo for 14 years before coming to his senses and becoming a vegan. Not everyone should be a vegan, but it’s certainly better than paleo…also check out plantpositive’s series on youtube debunking paleo using hundreds of scientific articles. Btw, I was a former paleo dieter for several months, had loads of health problems. Suffered from fatigue, palpitations, anxiety, abdominal pain, heart pounding in my chest, excessive thirst. Then I went to see numerous TCM physicians and read a lot on TCM dietetics. All health problems now gone and feeling great eating primarily grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit and a little dairy/meat once in a great while. Paleo is pure delusional fad diet, stay away! The Chinese have had thousands of years and millions of brilliant and talented physicians to sort out empirically what kind of diet is most appropriate for every type of individual. How can modern science, which is only 150 years old compare in terms of wisdom derived from hundreds of generations of pure trial-and-error? If you compare TCM to other traditional diets in India, Middle-East, Africa, Japan, they all follow the same broad strokes: whole-foods, plant-based, grains, vegetables, legumes as the staples with dairy, meat, eggs, sweets forming a smaller component. Are they all really delusional? Could they have been deluded for thousands of years? Could the paleo dieters have finally “figured out” the perfect diet for all humanity? These are all rhetorical questions, but you get my drift…

      • Olivier says

        You’re right, Greg, the evidence backing Paleo pales in comparison to the rock solid foundations of traditional Chinese medicine.

    • Greg says

      I would like to add one thing as well: There are several intriguing studies I have seen recently that demonstrate that celiac patients can in fact tolerate whole grains that have undergone fermentation by yeast/bacteria, even though not all the gluten is digested by these organisms. It stands to reason that gluten may not be the only culprit or that it is only harmful in unfermented grains or that some other factor is responsible for celiac. I believe that once people start realizing that fermenting whole grains can remove gluten, phytic acid, fructans, and also make grains more digestible in general, the whole “gluten-free” movement is going to die off somewhat.

  39. Danny says

    Chris great article.. Quick question I seem to get gas after eating broccoli. Why? Thank you. When is part 2 of this article coming out?

    • Chris Kresser says

      Cruciferous vegetables are FODMAPs, which are a class of food that has excess fructose, fructans or sugar alcohols (polyols). People with SIBO or other digestive issues tend to be have trouble digesting FODMAPs, which can cause gas.

      The entire series is finished. You can get it delivered via email by signing up for the Beyond Paleo newsletter on the home page (the series has been renamed Beyond Paleo).

  40. Kathy says

    I am have already eliminated most of these foods because of the food sensitivities I have. Soy makes me hyper and sugar makes me crash for several days. I recently cut out gluten products and immediately felt a lift in my mood and energy. Food sensitivities have pretty much forced me into eating the whole food way and I guess that has turned out to be a good thing. The one question I have is about mayonnaise. I have been eating a Safflower mayo that was suggested by another nutrition guru. What is a good mayonnaise to use. Would Canola be better?

  41. Mary Conway says

    My Lord, this is a lot of information to take on board but with the right medical intervention I’m trying to get my health back on track. I have been having difficulties over the last three years and diagnosed with Hasimoto’s but with some very severe reactions to certain foods (I believe to be caused by storage proteins), the last reaction necessitated the use of a cane for a number of days. I do believe I am very intolerant to certain foods, toxins and even medicines. My commitment to my health is to started in June by eliminating coffee, chocolate, cereals (except whole-grain rice & rice flour). How much of a problem is the rice flour and also potatoes? These would be my last carbohydrate and I used to love to bake, what could I use as an alternative? I guess I can answer this from my on symptoms. Will press on with the elimination diet and work towards sugar in home-made cakes, dairy & rice/potatoes?
    Hard to get used to, any advise or support much appreciated.
    Mary

  42. jay says

    Let us not forget, there are many very different yet effective ways that people achieve health with diet change and natural therapies. The thing I have noticed they all have IN COMMON is how our body’s pH levels directly determine how healthy we are. It has become apparent to me that blood pH is the most important focus for any person who wants to heal, although keeping in mind it can be a complex issue for some individuals, since such a goal must be personalized.
    All grains are acid-forming in the blood.

  43. Ben says

    Chris
    I am sure you have discussed this but where does milled flaxseed fit in the toxin scale. I buy my seeds whole, strore them in the freezer and grind them just before I use them.
    Ben

  44. Sarah says

    Thank you for the insightful health guidance. I’ve been working to get my health back for a couple years and feel like I am just now getting some answers. I’m struggling with adrenal fatigue and leaky gut. As a result of the leaky gut, I’m allergic to virtually everything at this point. It is making it very challenging to find healthy food choices. I am required to be on a rotational diet to prevent further allergies from developing. The anti-inflammation diet, however, contradicts the diet I’m supposed to maintain for adrenal fatigue. Then I recently read about oxalates and that diet…and now I’m reading your dietary recommendations. Honestly, my head is spinning. I’m really getting to the point where I am scared to eat anything–I mean now fruits and vegetables are bad? I’m just looking for answers and everyone seems to have a different opinion and they all contradict. I’m allergic to wheat, barley, oats (gluten), and corn and rice…just to name a few. So, for my grain choices I’ve been eating millet, sorghum, buckwheat, teff, and amaranth, several of which you listed above as toxic. Seriously, I just need someone to provide a list of foods that are OK to eat. Otherwise, I may be fasting permanently! Now that will truly bring me divine health!
    Kindest Regards,
    Sarah

    • jay says

      Sarah, I know EXACTLY how you feel! Make sure you research msgtruth.org for valuable information about how protein processing releases free glutamates and the ways sensitive individuals are affected by them; it has been invaluable in helping me to determine some of my AVOID foods that had been triggering symptoms. I had lists of oxalate foods, salicylate foods, acid vs. alkaline-forming foods, blood type foods, I am still confused. Every week I find a new food that was problematic,i am scared to eat, take vitamins, scared not to eat. avoid anything with NATURAL FLAVORS in it – another form of MSG. Also, without grains I continue to lose weight, which I can no longer afford to do…

  45. Chantel says

    As far as the fructose and glucose from NATURAL and hopefully organic sources of fruit, much health is gained from this. Table sugar is NOTHING like sugar from fruit. To me this sounds like a calorie counting issue.
    If you read Brendan Braziers Thrive Diet it explains very clearly how important several servings of fruit are in a day. Keeping in mind he is 100% raw and would have a completely alkaline body. I eat fresh fruit and veggies, I’m a female body ‘builder’ and very lean. I eat fruit with very rich greens every day all day. I do not eat any type of grain or processed food, no dairy or soy. I think this post needs more information… Have u even tried it? If you watch the documentary Food Matters, you will be much more informed on choices of food and why.

  46. Wade Gwin says

    Hello Chris,

    After researching for months I’m still a little confused on some things regarding grains, and I would love to get your insight. First, a little background information…

    I have been off most grains (with the exception of the occasional white rice) for quite a while now. I am not gluten intolerant (or at least I don’t think so). In the past I experimented with making bread from Jim Lahey’s NYT article (“No-Knead”) with unbleached wheat flour. I eschewed this style of bread after reading this post (wheat=bad), but recently have made some sourdough rye simply because I miss eating bread. The current bread I’ve made is a wholemeal rye sourdough with a long (read: 24(+) hour) fermentation.

    However, I am still weary of using wholemeal/bran due to the enzyme inhibitors and insoluble fiber (not being the best for the gut lining). Both Stephan Guyenet and Rami Nagel advocate for the removal of part (~50-95%) of the bran, and that this is a traditional practice in many cultures. What are your ideas on removing bran and subsequent effects on health?

    Furthermore, you have mentioned above that it’s not only the gliadins and glutenin in wheat but also the lectins that cause problems for people (such as WGA). Besides gluten, the rest of the problematic components of wheat are in the bran and germ, correct? Would removing the bran and germ, help to reduce the problems with wheat?

    Also, I would love to hear your take on this article in Nourished Magazine:

    http://nourishedmagazine.com.au/blog/articles/bread-dread-are-you-really-gluten-intolerant-2

    He is obviously lacking in references, but is there any truth to the idea that: unbleached wheat flour + commercial yeast + long fermentation –yields–> a digestible loaf?

    I would like to add bread back into my diet if possible. This bread would be for pure enjoyment, and not for the negligible micronutrients in bran- kind of like white rice. I guess my ultimate question is, do you think that, although not necessarily nourishing, this bread is harmful? Would eating it have negative repercussions? Does the 80/20 rule apply here/is there any benefit to enjoying “compromise foods,”
    assuming they are stress-lowering?

    If any of my questions are unclear, just ask. I had a difficult time trying to phrase all of this. Thanks for your help Chris. I truly appreciate your wisdom and blog posts.

    Sincerely,
    Wade Gwin

  47. says

    If evolutionarily speaking, grains are morphing to harm our stomachs becuase we digest the seeds that would otherwise propetuate their species, wouldnt all seeds that we can digest, start to change to harm us? This includes beans and nuts. I will have to respectfully disagree that all grain is bad. I think to Americans grains are bad becuase we put it in EVERYTHING. We, as a group, eat way too much of it. I follow, and recommend that others follow a simple rule of thumb. If the plant or animal has been tampered with, in any way, don’t eat it (Including GMO, antibiotic and hormone fed cows and cows milk, ect.)

  48. Dan Possnack says

    Chris, I don’t see olive oil in the chart. What’s the story on that, particularly with respect to omega3/6 ratio, plant toxins, and whether it fits in a paleo diet.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, with a low-moderate amount of omega-6. For that reason, it’s great for cold uses (salad dressings, drizzling on vegetables, etc.) but not great for cooking at high temps. Olive is a fruit and low in plant toxins.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, tubers, white rice & dairy (if tolerated)… essentially all of the foods your ancestors ate for the vast majority of evolutionary history (with the exception of dairy and white rice, which are relative newcomers).

      • Greg says

        Hi Chris, thanks for writing this. I’m a fan of TCM, and I know you have a background in this, so I just wanted to share a few thoughts. By tubers do you mean sweet potato? Because as far as I know that is the only organic tuber commonly available in the US aside from potato. You gotta get your energy from somewhere, and in TCM, eating large amounts of fat is generally contraindicated because it can lead to stagnant liver qi. This has been my personal experience, although I understand that many do not have the same problem. Eating too much sweet potato can overload the spleen-pancreas in TCM, although clearly the Okinawans don’t have a big problem with it (don’t know how much they actually consume on a daily basis or what kind). It seems we only require about 3-4 oz. of protein a day so even if you eat fatty fish like salmon, this would not be enough to satisfy your energy needs. Besides, there is a very well established ceiling for protein toxicity. Vegetables supply a negligible amount of energy. You can’t pig out on nuts either. While I understand that there is a lot of variation, primitive groups that eat a high fat diet (Maasai, Inuit, Aboriginals, etc.) are much more active/live in much colder climates. I would be curious to know how much of each type of food in absolute number of grams the high fat diet groups consume across different climates on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis. I would be very surprised if the Maasai consume as much as the Inuit. Same thing for the Aboriginals. According to TCM, a high fat animal products based diet would probably be suitable for someone living in the polar regions. If you make the Maasai sedentary and have them continue to eat their diet, I bet they will develop stagnancy problems. When I do vigorous exercise, such as biking for 20-30 km, I feel I need to eat much more, and I specifically feel like eating more fatty/heavy foods, esp. animal products. But when I am not that active, the same foods will immediately cause me to have stagnant liver qi. In my opinion, TCM is based on thousands of years of trial and error, and all those TCM practitioners could not have been totally delusional for hundreds of generations recommending grains as the energy staple for a sedentary, civilized human existence. Grains/legumes do have antinutrients, but these are easily neutralized by soaking/fermenting/cooking/sprouting and are a non-issue when properly combined with other foods. Rice has a very stable protein digesting enzyme inhibitor called oryzacystatin, which is another reason why consuming rice with meat is never recommended. Grains/legumes also provide a wider and higher micronutrient profile on a kcal basis than fatty tissue. Organ meats are the most concentrated sources of nutrition, but how much can a generally sedentary human being living in modern society consume before reaching satiety? Probably not much. Try getting over 50% of your daily calories from grass-fed liver, kidney, intestine, and other offal. Your protein intake would be much higher than 3-4 oz. In addition, organ meats do not supply all of the vital micronutrients that humans need for optimal health. TCM says that excessive (depending on your constitution, environment, lifestyle, etc.) animal protein results in the build-up of unwanted residues as well as kidney-adrenal degeneration and osteoporosis. In my very limited opinion, it seems we should be using TCM and Ayurvedic Medicine as the starting point for research/dialogue instead of the anthropological/ethnographic/evolutionary research on primitive HG tribes. While the latter makes some very convincing arguments, it has not been “field-tested” on modern, civilized humans over thousands of years. Would love to hear your thoughts if you ever find the time.

  49. Danielle says

    Dr. Kresser – Informative article that I hope people will take to heart.

    In the gluten section, I believe you meant to write “deamidated gliadin” rather than “deaminated gliadin.”

  50. Jules says

    In the last few months I’ve discovered the whole nightshade family, potatoes, tomatoes, capsicum, aubergine, chilli are the cause of my decades long battle with an itchy sore-ridden scalp. After spending a lot of money on shampoos and naturopaths and trying steroids from the doctor I have control I can eat small quantities if necessary but avoid almost all now as the joy of a healthy scalp is SO worth it.

    I also think some joint problems (stiffness mainly) were caused by nightshades.

    Is this a leaky gut thing? The solanin from nightshades is pretty toxic!

  51. Heidi says

    I’m surprised to see that rice is listed among the toxins. I thought it was a ‘safe’ starch. Can you shed some light on my confusion?

  52. Iseult says

    Hi Chris,
    I’d like to know your thoughts on blood testing for food sensitivities as a more direct alternative to the elimination diet?

  53. says

    I believe the issue is to avoid commercial sugars and sugar substitutes, and anything commercial (or homemade) that requires commercial sugar. Natural sugar from fruits and vegetables can be balanced with adequate protein. To all of my patients (and I adhere to this also), do not put a carb in your tummy without a protein to balance it. The key is balance. If 3000 calories is your metabolic setpoint, then you probably are doing OK unless you have physical symptoms suggesting otherwise.

  54. David says

    On average I get about 100g of sugar on a 3000 calorie diet. ALL of this sugar comes from fruit and vegetables I eat on a daily basis, which comes to a large portion of my diet.

    Can you please clarify and please post reference to exactly what sugar we should be avoiding? Should I cut down on whole fruits? Thanks.

  55. colleen says

    Do you always recommend to someone with gluten intolerance and autoimmune issues to also avoid the cross-reactant foods listed in the article? If so, what do you recommend to those people who already cut all grains except potatoes and rice, what would be the alternative? Are sweet potatoes ok? What about goat milk? Thanks so much!

  56. Dan says

    Chris,

    Ok, so its very possible, if not completely true, that Hunter Gatherer people lived to and around their seventies. Everyone seems skeptical of that fact, but if you carefully read the article Chris posted http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2010/02/paleo-life-expectancy.html#_jmp0_, the math is there that suggests they were (and other evidence shows they are).

    But I don’t see any evidence posted here that shows they didn’t suffer from inflammatory deseases or do. Are modern hunter gatherer people free of inflammatory deseases? Have there been any studies that show that ancient hunter gatherer peoples (from 2.5 million years ago) were free of inflammatory deseases?

    “Humans evolved roughly 2.5 million years ago, and for roughly 84,000 generations we were naturally free of the modern diseases which kill millions of people each year and make countless others miserable.”

    Where is the peer reviewed study for that?

    hopefully I didn’t miss something obvious…

    Love this website by the way..GO SKEPTIC, GO PALEO, GO OUTSIDE and UNPLUG lol

  57. says

    You mention soy as a toxic food; what about phosphatidyl choline and serine which are derived from soy – do you still consider these to be toxic?

  58. says

    Chris,
    I just discovered your website and blog…nice job…and you’re saying all the things I preach all the time! However, I noticed in your list of oils that you did not list coconut oil. Is there a particular reason it isn’t listed? I prefer – and recommend to my patients – coconut oil because of the higher temperatures it can tolerate when cooking, without becoming rancid. Am I misunderstanding it?
    Thanks,
    Patti

  59. Amy Harper says

    I have a chronically low WBC & have been trying to get pregnant for 2 years. I took the ALCAT blood test & determined all of my food sensitivities. I took out all 30 something foods for this past year. My acne has cleared & my digestion is very improved but my WBC is still severely low & I am not pregnant. My period are also very irregular. My O2 profusion is also really low so I am currently taking Glutathione Recycler, Glutathione Cream & Nitric Acid daily. I was tested one month into doing this and my levels are improving.
    Question: Do you think I should also take out the cross reactor foods you have listed above even though they are on my “approved” list? The only ones I eat are: Coffee, Brown Rice, Corn (occassionally), Chocolate (occassionally) & Tapioca in my coconut plain yogurt.

    Could these foods be why my WBC is not improving & I am still not pregnant?

    THANK YOU!
    Amy

  60. Michael George says

    And to Life Expectancy,
    Gosh, folks — look around. Do you REALLY want to be like the old people you see around you today? Hip & knees replacements, degenerative disease, so stiff and weak they have to use these motorized carts in Wal-Mart? That’s what the modern diet has done to there people. Instead, I want to be like the Tarahumara Indians where the grandfathers can out run their grandchildren. Like our more primitive ancestors who were strong and vital up into their 80’s and 90’s.

  61. Michael George says

    To Diana and similar,
    The carb cravings will last 4 to 8 weeks as your body transitions to running on fats, instead of sugars. It’s a challenging transition. It’s withdrawal symptoms. However, since I got past it, I don’t crave anything. I can even eat only 2 meals a day without cravings. Yeah, I can get hungry, but I don’t get shaky, or foggy headed and such, like you get with carb addiction.
    And if you’ve got bloating, you need to cut out all the grains. There are many more problems with grains than just gluten. As per Weston Price, the few healthy traditional people that ate grains, soaked them for up to a week, and processed them by fermentation or some such way, to make the grains edible without side effects. I doubt you’re doing that kind of preparation to your grains, and your body will pay for it in time.

  62. Anna says

    Great article, I love your argumentation against grains that they have developed toxins, though I’m wondering: Doesn’t that leave out vegetables too?

    • Chris Kresser says

      All plant foods have some toxins. The goal isn’t to avoid them entirely – since we have the ability to process them efficiently in small amounts – but to minimize their intake.

      • A. Fine says

        If a food TASTES good, it’s bad for you. I hate most food. If it was up to me I would only drink water. Then you would tell me it is unhealthy.

        There are soooo many opinions on what to eat for hundreds of years, it is ridiculous.
        Eat what ever you want ….in moderation.

        • Kali H. says

          Wiser approach might be learn to listen to your own body, and let it guide you! Use elimination die if necessary, for some of us moderation = misery!

  63. Lydia says

    I take 1000 mg of Evening Primrose Oil and 1200mg of omega 3 from whole body fish oil a day and I snack on a few handfulls of nuts and seeds a day. It sounds to me that you are saying the Omega 6 from Evening Primrose oil is not a good idea. I have some bloating all the time. I eat almost no sugar, not much fruit (about a banana, a quarter cup of blueberries and maybe an apple most days), and I have been experimenting with eating only sour dough rye bread. I have a history of allergies but I don’t think I am reacting to anything right now but I am still bloated and I still have some swelling of my lymph glands. I have also been asthmatic but I am not on puffers now and I think that is also under control. Should I stop the Omega 6 supplement? I’ve been tested for Celiac disease because my brother has Celiac disease but I tested negative.

    • Kali H. says

      If you have trouble with bloat, it may be from yeast intolerance and any fermented food is to be avoided if you are. Look into Candida diet, and consider giving it a try. Another thing to consider, is Histamine Intolerance. I do have yeast intolerance, and need to avoid sugar, limit fruit to 1 or 2 low glycemic ones a day, and avoid all fermented foods, and also high histamine foods especially when pollen is prevalent in spring, it’s accumulative.

  64. William says

    Great article. I’d like to point out something too which I don’t think many people realise. When it is said that life expectancy now has grown and is much higher than it was a long time ago, it is important to remember that life expectancy calculations include:
    1. Casualties of war and conflict. Somalia has a very low life expectancy but I don’t think its bad food.
    2. Starvation. Many regions of Africa have low life expectancy not from bad dietary habits but lack of diet altogether.
    3. Diseases arising from poor hygiene. For example, diarrhea is the second most common killer of children worldwide, and has a lot to do with sewer-infested rivers.
    4. Lack of basic medical treatment and support services. Throughout history, you could easily die from a broken leg, tooth infection, diarrhea, and many other seemingly non life-threatening problems because of secondary infection. Not to mention giving birth with no medical assistance.

    Since we have very little problems with the above in modern society, our life expectancy has gone up dramatically. However, we have developed a wide range of debilitating chronic diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, obesity, depression, heart disease, diabetes, attention deficit disorder, etc at a time when we should be living healthily. Our ancestors faced many dangers, but it had little to do with the problems we have now.

  65. says

    I eat gluten free, but if I were to go more Paleo, and avoid most grains, how should I deal with carbohydrate cravings? Sure I eat fruit, and I guess I should start eating more things like sweet potatoes, but I do love my gluten free oats, amaranth and millet, and quinoa. I actually think oats might be causing me bloating, so by avoiding them, by restricting carbs, I notice that’s all I can think about. I crave it. What do you suggest for carb cravings? Does your PaleoDetox program help the transition?

  66. says

    Chris,
    Just so you know, transglutaminase is not a component of wheat. It is a protein expressed in the human body that interacts with gliadin. In celiacs, auto-antibodies (antibodies made against your own proteins) are directed against transglutaminase.
    Kyle

  67. says

    I’m still confused. So if I don’t think I’m gluten intolerant, is it prudent to give up coffee and milk along with grains anyway? I know Chris advocates self experimentation and seeing how you tolerate things, but I don’t even know what I’m looking for.

  68. Anonymous says

    You say that fructose is the enemy… does that mean we shouldn’t eat fruit?? Fruit is the only natural raw thing in the wild that we would’ve snacked on. It looks pretty to us, it can be eaten raw and it tastes good – it’s obviously our primary food source??

    Please explain if you think I am wrong. Preferably email me on herbal_monkey@yahoo.com

    • Anonymous says

      Fruit was not our primary food source because in most places its seasonal.
      Fruit is a con job. The plants “goal” is to have you deposit the seeds a few miles away with a source of fertilizer.
      Its as concerned with your health as you are with the condition of a u haul trailer once the job is done.
      Furthermore, modern fruits have been bred to be sweeter, which means more fructose.

      • Lisa says

        Unless you have serious metabolic disease, 2-3 servings of fruit a day is not going to be a problem. Chris made that clear in another comment. I think it’s a little misleading for you to call fruit an overall con job, although it is funny to imagine a masked apple breaking into my house with a cro-bar.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I think it’s an excellent paper, and I’m happy to see them reversing their previous stance on saturated fat.

  69. says

    @Gonzalo- the food guide pyramid is developed by the US Department of Agriculture. Their primary goal is to promote and expand the agricultural endeavors of the country, not to keep your family healthy. It’s all about money… follow the money. Think about who promotes these concepts of grains being healthy, who creates the commercials, the products that are touted as “health” foods and consider how highly processed most of them are versus whole, natural foods like meat, eggs, vegetables and fruit. Food for though, no? I wrote about this in a post here: http://balancedbites.com/2010/09/weve-been-fed-a-pyramid-built-of-processed-food-bricks.html

    Best.
    Diane

  70. Gonzalo says

    My family and I are primarily on a gluten free diet. My wife brought up a good question because are children are not fully gluten free (rice, and oats): If grain products are toxins, why are they promoted as a staple in any and all dietary guides available to the general public. We are apprehensive to put our children on a pure grain free diet for those reasons. As you we are also Healthy Skeptics that would love an answer.

    Thank you

  71. Debbie says

    Hi Chris,
    I notice “American cheese” was on the list of toxins. I love pecorino which is Italian sheep’s cheese. And I almost jumped for joy but I’d still need you to explain the difference, that is, between American and other; and why the other is safer to consume.

    Thank you.

  72. says

    Chris: Do you differentiate between a “toxin” and a potential allergen? On a related note, what about a GI-related toxin vs a respiratory or skin-related allergen?

  73. Lori Smart says

    Thank you, Cris! My husband is type 1 diabetic, and I have eternally fought with issues involving my immune system and Candida. We’ve both found that living grain, soy and sugar free is VERY easy! Fresh organic produce, local grass/pasture fed meats, eggs and dairy are not only easy to find, they taste WAY better. We save a fortune on our groceries (no processed foods, we cook all our meals at home) and we’re both becoming healthier than ever. This series of articles is really helping us, and the sceptics that tell us how ‘leaving out whole food groups will harm you’, to understand WHY this way of life is helping us. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

  74. Olivier says

    @Barbara
    I think nobody doubts the fact that we have the genetic material, in the good conditions, to naturally live above 80. I, personally, had a great grand mother who didn’t see a doctor until the age of 93 and lived an active life until then (she was, for instance, cycling regularly beyond the age of 85).
    What can be questionable is the amount of data which irrevocably proves that a majority of our hunter-gatherers ancestors routinely lived healthy lives to 80-ish. Modern day evidence (from existing hunter-gatherer tribes around the world) shows that the living conditions of those people are such that few get the opportunity to get to old age. When they do, though, they seem not to be affected by some our modern diseases, hence some assumptions being made it could come from our diet differences (my point being that there are many other factors that differentiate our life styles…)
    I’m not certain the bible could be taken as a reliable factual source, but that’s certainly beside the point :)

  75. Glenn says

    Hi Jack,

    I agree, there’s beauty in the open forum. It encourages the knowledge pool to grow, and actually probably helps Chris improve the material he’s currently working on sometimes!

    I think of the NPR show “All things Considered”. Worst thing about it is the title. How long could they keep that title if THEY had a forum?

    Glenn

  76. Jack Kronk says

    Glenn,

    I agree with this way of thinking. Sometimes if a reader posts something completely incorrect, whether they meant to or not, it can cause other readers (or Chris himself) to step up and ‘correct’ it for all, allowing us all to learn in the process. Sometimes I throw stuff out there to create additional discussion. I’m sure many people do the same. Lots of times the articles simply serve as a great way to insight fantastic discussions on the comments board.

    But then again, comments like the ones from ‘Adam’ and ‘R-01′ are ridiculous. I don’t see any sound thinking there at all. The beauty is that you let people post whatever they want, so long as it does not directly violate the board rules, and then let people discern from it what they will.

    -Jack K

    • Adam says

      As long as the comments seem to keep trickling in on this post…

      Simply calling something ridiculous and saying “I don’t see any sound thinking there at all” isn’t a terribly persuasive rebuttal. Could you be more specific as to what’s unsound about the points I made in my previous post?

      I’m not being snarky; I’m genuinely curious as to what flaw(s) you see in my reasoning.

  77. Glenn says

    Good declaration in support of pro-active and positive assertions, Ron Lavine. Definitely, someone has to step up and support something before there can even be a subject for a debunker to make a case against!. I am heartily thankful that Chris has this information coming out and has allowed a forum to develop with respect to each newsletter.

    And also, not all replies are going to be debunking. And not all debunking is bad. Some replies may be augmentative, qualifying, or otherwise additions to what Chris provides. And statements that present a conflicting view can be just as helpful to the reader as those initiated by Chris. I’m happy to read it all.

  78. says

    It can be very difficult to evaluate evidence backing various sides of a debate. It’s true that if a website is “self-serving”, one might wish to downgrade the evidence presented on the site.

    Unfortunately, there’s “self-serving” information available on several different sides of the argument. If something is the “accepted wisdom” it can be harder to discern the self-serving nature of the evidence mounted in its favor.

    That’s why The Healthy Skeptic is performing such an important service.

    And it doesn’t have to be perfect in order to continue serving that purpose. I’ve found it easy over the years to debunk stuff. But sooner or later you have to decide that you stand for something – even if by standing for that thing you leave yourself open to others doing the debunking.

    Keep up the good work, Chris.

  79. Barbara says

    I find all this stuff about how long people lived in the past is just silly. It’s one thing to die young from trauma or infection, and another to just die young. Infant mortality totally skews the total mortality rates as well. We do know from the Bible and other ancient sources (records left by Romans and Greeks in history) that people in general lived to 70, and in many cases into their 80s as a matter of course. All the fooling around with medicines and ‘interventions’ has not lengthened this life span much at all.

    Once we get over infant death, and getting killed in a hunt or being injured and not having antibiotics, it’s natural for humans to live long lives.

  80. Adam says

    Oops. Last sentence of my previous post should have read: “Oh, and a link to an obviously agenda-driven blog does NOT constitute ‘evidence.'”

  81. R-01 says

    You sir are extremely misleading.

    I had a good page and a half of repudiation typed up and ready to post with links and references. I also feel sorry for some of the people posting comments here and how far some people have been misled by articles such as this. I do appreciate that you responded to some of the dissenting comments, even if you stuck to what is false. I would encourage everyone to do your own research on eating in moderation, soy (and why it is not bad for you), what sugars you really consume, and what gluten really is (it is protein, it is not A protein, BIG difference).

  82. Adam says

    There’s a whole lot of bad science in this article. Example:

    “If you remove infant mortality and deaths from injury and trauma from the life expectancy equation, Paleolithic people reached ages comparable to civilized people up until very recently, but they did so without any of the modern, degenerative diseases that plague us today.”

    There’s so much wrong with that assertion. First off, removing trauma-deaths from the life expectancy calculations of Paleolithic hominids is like removing touchdowns from footbal scoring statistics; Paleolithic people didn’t live long enough to contract our “modern, degenerative diseases.”

    Secondly, our knowledge and records of Paleolithic times are scattershot at best; there isn’t remotely enough evidence to assert any kind of detailed statistical analysis like this. This is like pretending you’re able to take roll at the invention of the wheel.

    I’m all for living a healthier lifestyle. I avoid all sugar and most meats, keep my portions reasonable, and exercise regularly. But you haven’t persuaded this skeptic of anything with this article.

    Oh, and a link to an obviously agenda-driven blog does constitute “evidence.”

  83. Jack Kronk says

    Fantastic comment Glenn. Bravo :)

    Debbie,

    It sounds like you are at least taking steps in the right direction. Good on you for that. You may want to look into HIIT. Short bursts of high intensity training can sometimes kickstart you body into fat burning/muscle building mode. Chris wrote an article on here a few weeks back about the difference between long and ridiculous hours in the gym 4-5 times a week versus short, intense workouts a couple times a week. Also, you may want to closely count your calories, and use high quality fats like organic cream and butter (if you tolerate dairy well) and maybe some nuts like almonds/pecans (soaked/dehydrated is best). Remember, eating fat will not make you fat. It will satiate your appetite better and you will not desire as much food.

    cheers,
    Jack Kronk

  84. Debbie says

    Great article. I cut out gluten grains, omega-6 oils, sugar and soy over two years ago, and I have felt great ever since! And not been sick once since then – even though for the preceding 15 years I had suffered 2-3 bad colds, bronchitis and pneumonia every single year. If only I could lose weight too! But alas, I still have a ton of weight to lose and can’t seem to drop an ounce. :-(

  85. Glenn says

    I agree the chart could use a few more oils that people commonly eat, Ben. I read your referenced article. I’ve also read that chia seeds are not really recommended for a Paleo diet because for one thing, they contain some substances thought to be “anti-nutrients”. Here’s more:

    http://stephenson.typepad.com/train_with_nellie/2010/04/are-chia-seeds-ok-to-eat-on-the-paleo-diet.html

    Back to the article you provided. Its a little wrong here and there, and very misleading at times. For example, it says olive oil has a ratio of 10 to 1, omega-6 to omega-3. Well, that might be true, but its insignificant because there is hardly any omega-6 or omega-3 in olive oil. Its mostly omega-9. Then it says “as a result, the Western diet is way out of whack on the EFA front. I assume that means the omega-6 to omega-3 suggested intake ratio.

    Then it says “So ideally, we want to find EFA sources with more omega-3 than omega-6 in order to counteract the imbalance we find in most other foods. ” This needs to be clarified. It is the mistake that almost all “health” writers make. First of all, if you follow Chris’s guidelines in this article, and eat a Paleo diet, there will be no imbalance, so you don’t even need to worry. That’s because natural foods just don’t give you an imbalance of fatty acids, and if they did, it would be small and your body would handle it fine because its just healthy food. So when a “health” writer says “imbalance” of omega-6 to omega-3, he’s talking about the fact that Americans and other people in developed countries are now eating so much MANUFACTURED food that has been prepared with cheap vegetables oils that started with healthy omega-6 containing nuts and grains but got adulterated, oxidized, changed to trans-fats, etc. The “health” writer will then call these prostituted oils that are very unhealthy for your bodies “omega-6″. And he/she will point out quite accurately that the average American ingests possibly 20 to 40 times as much of these substances as they do foods containing omega-3. But the mistake that is almost always made next, is to guide you to believe that the way to fix the “imbalance” is to supplement with omega-3. This is just what the fish oil industry wants, and possibly has provided the fodder to the writer to load his canon with. This is not the solution. The solution is to cut out the junk food, and anything that says on the contents that it contains any of the common vegetable oils. Just as Chris has guided us to do in this news letter. Anything short of getting off the commercial oils is NOT going to bring the best of health, including trying to get more omega-3 oils. These will come naturally in your food if you eat a Paleo diet. All foods have these oils, even green leafy veggies. Not much, but enough so that if you eat nothing but good food, you’ll get your oils just as you get your vitamins and minerals.

  86. says

    Ron, they did. Some of the toxins just act more instantaneously than others. “Consumable” is not black-and-white, either it sends you into convulsions and death, or it’s perfectly safe. Lots of plant foods are toxic in high doses, such as rhubarb leaves, potatoes that have turned green, vanilla beans, acki fruits and other tropical fruits that are toxic if not prepared correctly.

  87. says

    Chris – I’m enjoying your article and find this one particularly inspiring.

    One line of argument I don’t follow is the idea that plants developed toxins to protect themselves from being consumed. If this were a significant factor, wouldn’t it apply to all plants (that have consumable roots, stems, or leaves) not just grains?

    Ron

  88. Jack Kronk says

    Harald,

    Keep in mind that ‘grains’ in the roman times were likely very different than the grains of today, especially wheat. And even if not, we don’t know the effects the grains they ate had on their health. Maybe the other facets of their diets brought with it a sort of ‘protective’ element. What we do know, based on solid and conclusive evidence of recent studies regarding modern grains, is that it is absolutely certain that grains cause many people to have severe health problems.

    Glenn, great points you make about shopping. I’ve gotten to a point now where I know what foods are not gonna ‘qualify’ before I even see the label. One thing I have found very interesting about eating “paleo” style is that I enjoy my food much more now. I look forward to eating, whereas before, I often was annoyed by having to make time for it. Now that I only eat real, whole, nutrient dense foods and do not fear healthy saturated fats, I love my new food choices, especially since I handle dairy just fine.

    And if anybody wants to know ‘what to eat’ and is confused by all the ‘what not to eat’ articles, there is a wealth of information that Chris and several others have put out that have allowed me to build a rich and full diet.

    For some more great info, look up Stephan Guyenet, Chris Masterjohn, Weston A Price, Kurt Harris, Mark Sisson. That should start you down the right path.

    Cheers,
    Jack Kronk

  89. Jack Kronk says

    Ralph,

    Here is what everyone is saying to you. Quit whining. Any excuse will work so long as you are making one. I live in a big city will all the food and drink trappings of modern life, and yet I have managed to almost completely cut out all of the garbage that we all have come to believe is normal and acceptable. Besides, let’s wait for the other eight parts of nine. And I never said you used those words. I am the one who used them to describe your comments.

    Here, let’s a take a look.

    “If you are going to do all this research to point out a problem with the way people are eating then you should provide a solution that adequately replaces they problem.

    The amount of foods that have the ingredients you list in this article would mean that I would have to completely change the foods I buy and eat on a regular basis. You need to provide context and solutions, otherwise people just read this and say “oh well, what can I do…. “

  90. Glenn says

    Ralph,

    I would like to continue along the lines of Chris’ answer to your Feb. 1 issues with avoiding his list of toxic foods. One of your original points (Jan. 31) was that Chris did not supply alternatives, and he has persisted in just stressing the 4 things that should be avoided. You also mentioned that you can’t read labels to the degree required to avoid all these substances, and that is a very good point.

    So I would like to say that, if you follow Chris’ general guidelines and eat “real food”, not anything in a container that has labels, you will be on your way, and will save a lot of time in that you won’t HAVE labels to read. To give you examples of alternatives, well, you may not like it, but you are going to be eating green leafy veggies probably 3 times a day. So just accept that. Yes, even for breakfast. Its way better than sugary fruits, or cereals. And even if you eat eggs for the protein and fat content, the greens are necessary. So your alternatives are going to be meals that consists of mostly green leafy veggies and either meat or dairy. Its a sure bet there were no vegans in paleolithic times, but if you are so disposed, you know what the additional limits would be. For variety, as long as you don’t eat much of it, would be foods from the starchy veggie group, and also fruit and beans. But starches and fruits have to be minimized, because in my mind, and others, they really work as sugars in your body. Oh, and have a few nuts.

    So forget about studying labels. Probably 98% of the time labels are going to be on food that you will have to shun once you read the label. So just go to the produce, meat and dairy sections, or local farmer’s market vendors, and select your foods there.

    I think that its OK if good food is boring and eating it is just a simple repetitive task that you undertake just to get energy to live fully. Its modern salesmanship that has convinced many of us that a meal must be a thrill and an experience to write about. So I wouldn’t think of also providing recipes for these simple foods as the solution you ask for. The solution is to accept the fact that the choices of foods you will be eating is quite narrow compared to what is offered in the standard supermarket, but a bit wider and easier to come by than what our paleolithic ancestors had.

    Chris hasn’t gotten into fresh vs cooked or preserved foods, and preferred methods of cooking and preserving foods, so there’s another reason he might not give you “solutions” yet. The whole problem hasn’t even been described yet. Just some toxins to avoid. So lets all be patient and give Chris time to really get into the subject. Maybe he will still provide solutions.

  91. Harald says

    Dear Chris.
    I admire your tenacity and your patience, but right now I feel the need to contribute in a way, which is counter to your thinking.
    Grains were developed from grasses in an effort to provide a food source, that does not require taking a life. More over, Romans dragged grain mills along to their battles and they were quite successfull in the outcomes of those battles. They are also known for their road building, aquaduct building, their baths and generally for their highly developed society. –
    Ralph, if you want to have an alternative to “prepared” food, please go to: http://www.dr-schnitzer.de/ .
    This dentist has done a lot of research and has empirical findings, that support his conclusions and he is trying to educate everyone who wants to find the alternative to the present sad and unhealthy condition of the (western) societies. check it out.
    Thanks again, Chris, I for one appreciate your efforts and your generous nature. May you continue to have the energy . . .

  92. Chris Kresser says

    Ralph: it is nowhere near impossible to eliminate the foods I’ve listed. Humans lived for millions of years without them, and I assure you there are millions of people living on all continents of the world that do not eat them now. Myself and countless others who follow a “paleo diet” do not eat them, and we are here to tell you that it’s not only possible, but relatively simple: eat real food. Don’t eat things that come in a bag or a box, and don’t eat grains. If you follow that simple and highly practical advice, you’re most of the way there.

    While I empathize with the difficulty of making dietary changes, and know how difficult that can be (especially in the face of so much conflicting information), I think it’s important to point out that difficulty is not impossibility – or anywhere near it in this case.

  93. Ralph Staubach says

    Chris,

    I did notice that this is part 1 of the series as I read the introduction as well. I am not trying to be argumentative as Jack so kindly perceived my feedback but I don’t see where you are covering alternatives in any of the series.

    The introduction points out all the things you should avoid or try to do, like sleep enough. What people need is a practical approach to eating and being healthy. As I pointed out previously it is near impossible to eliminate what you are suggesting in today’s world. I have yet to find any health expert that go to a grocery store to walk people through easy ways to shop healthy that are realistic.

    It is a facet of today’s society that we are all in a hurry and to try and stop and read the labels of everything is not practical. I’ve tried….

    I am a healthy individual and only through the process of learning on my own have I been able to do it. If someone really wants to change the way and what americans eat they should try and put their research into practice in an empathetic manner. I would love to see it.

    Jack, As far as your comments go. I was simply stating my opinion about the article. I never used terms like “childish” or “grade shoolish” to try and insight an argument.

    • Jennifer Candela says

      Ralph. I hear you. But just because we don’t want to radically change our habits, or because it’s not easy, doesn’t mean we don’t need to in order to be healthy. It’s a choice. And really, it’s not that hard. The concern about the time it takes to read labels at the grocery store is moot because if you’re following Chris’ recommendations, or any other version of a reasonably healthy diet, you’re not eating things that have labels (i.e. come in packages, are processed). It’s actually pretty simple – shop the perimeter of the store only an that change alone will significantly enhance the health of your diet. Perimeter shopping, as I call it, generally takes you through produce, meats, dairy and then to the register. And guess what? Very little label reading. Now, you can skip meats and/or dairy if that’s your thing and in that case it’s even simpler :) The only things that take me off the perimeter briefly are tea, coffee and nut butters.

  94. Olivier says

    @Chris
    You are right, indeed, I have been following your column for a while now and the evidence is clearly intriguing, regardless of the evolutionary aspects which you yourself relativised in one of your previous posts.

    As a recent poster said, I’m definitely looking forward to your next articles on this matter and let me reiterate that I appreciate you sharing these insights to the ‘crowd’ (for better or for worse!)

  95. Jack Kronk says

    Ralph / Brent and the like…

    Chris is being quite cordial. But I’d like to poke at you a bit.

    Your comments seem like childish attempts to be argumentative, almost grade schoolish. Or maybe you are in argumentative college philosophy class mode. It’s like you are just trying to troll around and argue with things so you can feel cool on the internet. either something is wrong with your brain or you just have an agenda. In any case, knock yourself out.

    But if you do have something to say about an article that you don’t agree with, why not actually give some real backing to it. Here, Chris writes a very insightful and well articulated piece, and then you come along with some silly comment that holds no weight. I’d say that’s both ironic and hypocritical of you all at the same time.

    As for me, I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

    Thanks,
    Jack K

    • Kali H. says

      Sorry but you are falling into the either/or thought process. Not everyone who is fat is eating too much. Many people are eating food their bodies can’t metabolize, for numerous reasons: allergy, food intolerance, histamine intolerance are just a few possible reasons. Others are yeast intolerance, causes bloat, weight gain. And most grains are consumed in the form of bread, muffins. desserts or thickeners. It thickens our waists too!

  96. Ralph Staubach says

    What I get tired of is all the articles out there about how this, that or the other thing are bad for you even when being promoted as healthy but they don’t give alternatives.

    Ok, so say cereal is actually bad for you. What should I do about? I’m not going to start making eggs every morning. Fruit isn’t enough and will get expensive.

    If you are going to do all this research to point out a problem with the way people are eating then you should provide a solution that adequately replaces they problem.

    The amount of foods that have the ingredients you list in this article would mean that I would have to completely change the foods I buy and eat on a regular basis. You need to provide context and solutions, otherwise people just read this and say “oh well, what can I do…. “

  97. Brent says

    I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a skeptic. I just don’t see the evidence as being completely conclusive. It’s like you mentioned in a previous post about dietary cholesterol and its relationship to coronary artery disease. Initially it looked like there was a relationship but in the end it didn’t hold up. I think that it is too early to jump to conclusions on some of the things you mentioned. All that being said, I think moderation is needed in all aspects of the western diet, which would include your toxins. Thanks for the post.

  98. Chris Kresser says

    I applaud your skepticism!

    But keep in mind that we can completely discard the evolutionary argument and still reach an identical conclusion regarding the toxic nature of the four foods I listed. There is abundant modern clinical evidence supporting the damage that wheat, industrial seed oils, sugar and processed soy cause.

    So regardless of whether you accept the evolutionary argument, the evidence suggests these foods should be minimized or avoided.

  99. Olivier says

    Thank you Brent for doing that piece of research I meant to do.

    The linked article also mentioned modern hunter-gatherers, but unfortunately didn’t cite its sources on that either.

    I’d be interested on getting statistically meaningful data on those modern tribes about the health of those that make it through old age.

    What I’d like to add as well, is that, even if ancient humans did indeed live much better to old age, if they managed it, could you attribute that mainly to nutrition? Maybe there are other factors that civilization put into the mix. For instance, proximity and travel probably brought epidemia on a large scale and on a regular basis. What is the long term effect of those little/medium diseases we routinely catch? I’m also thinking of stress levels, exercise, sunlight exposure…

    Of course, this doesn’t undermine the advice you provide, Chris and I’d like to make it clear that I am very grateful for your sharing of it.

    But please allow us some degree skepticism on some little aspects of your healthy skepticism :)

  100. Brent says

    I did read the article and I saw that there were contradictory arguments to the article I shared. That is exactly my point. How can you say one argument is right and the other isn’t? One or two articles does not equal absolute truth. You can’t just find one article that says “hominids lived into their 70’s” and think that is the final word on the subject. Good science involves a lot of back and forth, and my point was simply to show that there obviously isn’t a consensus on how long our ancestors lives.

  101. Chris Kresser says

    Brent: look at my response to a previous comment about this, and read the article I linked to (with several references that contradict the one you posted).

  102. Brent says

    I’ve found the discussion about the life expectancy of hominids very interesting. I always assumed that hominids had lower life expectancies than modern humans, but was surprised when I read the links that you shared that provide evidence that they lived much longer. So I decided to do a little more reading and found that there isn’t complete agreement among anthropologists. Here is one example:

    “Never before in human history have the majority of individuals born survived through their 4th decade of life. Models of senescence positing life expectancies over 40 years among pre-modern and early modern humans are based on the premise that mortality hazards similar to those
    observed among contemporary transitional populations existed in the past. However, such extended life expectancies were never reported for any population prior to the late 19th and 20th centuries, they have only come to characterize most populations during the 20th century.
    Those hypothesizing such long life expectancies in prehistory and earlier are applying a model of »unilineal evolution« to human LH, life span, and senescence. Fossil, archaeological, and historical records do not support that such extended life spans ever occurred in prehistory.”

    -Crews DE, Gerber LM. Reconstructing life history of hominids and humans. Coll. Anthropol. 27 (2003) 1: 7-22.

    I think this is a good illustration of the issue I have with your article as a whole. You make dramatic and sweeping conclusions from single pieces of data. The data you share about celiac disease, omega-6, soy and fructose may be true, but that is only one part of the picture. Remember that evidence is not proof and correlation is not causation. Based on the evidence you have provided it is difficult to draw any conclusions (ie call things toxins). There are far more factors that play into these disease processes that are still not understood. For example, you’ve included a graph that shows that with increasing % of n-6 HUFA the rate of mortality from CHD also increases and then you say “it’s hard to overstate the negative effects of too much omega-6 fat” That is like me saying that people with undiagnosed type 1 diabetes drink more water than normal people so water consumption must cause diabetes. There is a correlation, but that doesn’t make it the cause. Or I could make a graph that shows that increasing levels of water consumption are associated with increasing mortality from hyponatremia, but that doesn’t prove that water is a “toxin.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I think that Americans need to change the things they eat and the way they eat, but I think that you have to be careful when you start calling certain things toxins just because a graph shows there is a relationship between it and CHD. Things are always far more complex than you think.

  103. Emily says

    Calling food items “toxins” is rather extreme, considering that they have varying effects on different organisms. For example, gluten is toxic for me because I have Celiac disease, but it does not have a toxic effect on my friend, so it is not a toxin for him. Also, your application of “toxins” is incorrect. A toxin is a “poisonous substance produced by a biological organism such as a microbe, animal, plant or fungus” according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/enviro/iupacglossary/glossaryt.html#toxin), so substances like high-fructose corn syrup (which is synthesized by humans in a lab) would be a toxicant (or a “toxic,” if you prefer), not a toxin. Please check your facts and use reputable sources to avoid misleading people.

    While I agree that the food we consume in our “modern lifestyle” is to blame for many of our health problems, it is largely the fault of the industrial food system altering the chemical structures of the foods we eat (i.e., growing wheat that contains more gluten protein) and changing the ways that they are prepared. Simply not eating these foods does not solve the problem. We need to fight to change the way that our food is processed, and at the very least push the FDA to step-up laws on labeling and regulation.

  104. Glenn says

    Arpita, here’s a handy site with the omega balance for some of the more exotic oils, but olive oil is included:

    http://www.latourangelle.com/nutrition.php

    The chart shows the number of grams of each type oil in 1 Tablespoon that weights 14 grams.

    Flax seed, and the common commercial cooking oils are not shown, but you want to stay away from the cheap oils anyway if they aren’t cold pressed. I’m talking about corn, safflower, sunflower, and canola. These are mostly omega-6, and if they aren’t organic and cold pressed, they may have lost their ability to handle oxygen, or worse, be rancid.

    Flax seed oil contains, in 1 Tbl: omega-9, 3 g; omega-6, 3 g; and omega-3, 8 g.

    Coconut oil contains, in 1 Tbl: saturated fat, 13 g; omega-9, less than 1 g; omega-3 and omega-6 together, also less than 1 g.

    Personally, I use a lot of hemp oil because I can buy it from the local health food store in dark bottles and it has been kept cold, so it has even less chance of becoming rancid. It has this composition: omega-9, 2 g; omega-6, 8 g; omega-3, 3 g, or about the same as walnut oil.

    Best of luck. It doesn’t hurt to mix the oils. Olive is mostly mono-unsaturated, but some of the others are more heavily poly-unsaturated. The essential oils (parent omega-3 and parent omega-6) have many uses in the body that olive oil cannot perform, including being broken down into derivatives such as DHA, but also omega-6 is twice as effective as olive oil at bringing oxygen into the cells, and that is one of the main functions of the essential oils while they are still in the “parent” form (before being broken down into derivatives that are used in other ways).

  105. Arpita Caird says

    Still wondering about the omega 3’s vs. 6’s of olive oil and coconut oil — thanks, Harald for your words about coconut oil, I think it’s quite wonderful stuff, I’m just wondering how it is in the omega department — or maybe it doesn’t have any?

    Ana– homemade nut milk is really yummy! I especially like it from slightly sprouted almonds. Hemp seed milk is also really good. I think you’re son may like it. Especially if you have him sprout the almonds himself, and see the cute little sprouts starting, he may feel good having that relationship with his food, and feeling the life force present in the milk that he saw/sensed in the sprouted almonds.

    • Tom Ledford says

      The idea of “vital life force” has been dismissed from science over a century ago. The notion is called “vitalism.” There is a fairly good article on the subject in Wikipedia.

  106. Chris Kresser says

    The protein in soy is what most people have an immune reaction to, so from that perspective soy oil is probably not likely to provoke autoimmunity. However, soybean oil is extremely high in omega-6 linoleic acid, which is pro-inflammatory. Whether that is triggering him depends on how much of the oils he’s taking on a daily basis. I imagine the dose is very small, so I doubt it’s a huge factor.

  107. Cathy says

    I am curious to know what you, Chris, or anyone else thinks of the supplements like Vitamin D3 and Fish oils (which I know Chris does not favor, but my husband will not stop taking) which have a soy oil base.

    My Husband is on synthroid and I am wondering how soy products interfere with the uptake of this medicine. He has no thyroid due to nodules/cancer so he is dependent on synthroid. I also believe he has undiagnosed autoimmune problems

    Thank you for the great articles and the great, informative site!

  108. Chris Kresser says

    Lasse: that’s a flawed argument and I’ve addressed it already in the comments section above:

    “If you remove infant mortality and deaths from injury and trauma from the life expectancy equation, Paleolithic people reached ages comparable to civilized people up until very recently, but they did so without any of the modern, degenerative diseases that plague us today.

    Infant mortality and death from injury and trauma haven’t gone down because of positive changes in our diet. They’ve gone down because of improvements in sanitation and emergency medical care.

    Read this article for more: http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2010/02/paleo-life-expectancy.html#_jmp0_

  109. Lasse says

    If you claim that humans used to live perfectly healthy, you should probably also mention how long they did that on average (which is not long). If you average live expextancy is 40 years, you simply don’t have time to get all those diseases.

  110. healthy quality of life-ist says

    i think you give the ancestors too much credit.
    its foolish to assume they were happy as they were since we didn’t get where now we are because they were so self-satisfied that they became complacent and didn’t change.
    and you fail to account for the idea that maybe some people don’t care about a long life devoid of things that make life wonderful.
    i’d rather have all the beautiful things like rice, millet, cous-cous, tofu, and tempeh, on and on and on that you demonize, even if it means a shorter life.

  111. says

    Because plants like cereal grains are always competing against predators (like us) for survival. Unlike animals, plants can’t run away from us when we decide to eat them. They had to evolve other mechanisms for protecting themselves. These include:

    You and I seem to have a really different understanding of the relationship between humans and cereal grains. I have been taught that the relationship is symbiotic, not predatory. Plants generally benefit from animals’ consumption of their seeds, hence fruits–a juicy, sweet shell specifically designed to entice an animal to eat it.

    • C says

      Thank you for this! I thought the quoted statement was particularly ridiculous. Especially since IF that were true in any way wouldn’t that mean this would also be true for other plants, i.e. the fruits and vegetables that he is still putting forward as ‘healthy’? Why haven’t berries and spinach and kale and oranges figured out how to destroy us from the inside? We also ‘prey upon’ them… Maybe grains DO do bad things to us, but the logic of this statement about it being an evolutionary tactic to fend off predators just doesn’t hold (not in combination with the rest of the argument anyway).

      • Chris Kresser says

        It holds perfectly well. Ask any biologist or botanist and they’ll tell you all about it. This isn’t controversial – it’s a fact. All forms of life have defense systems. Not all plant toxins are equally harmful to humans. Berries don’t have toxins because the strategy of that plant is to be eaten and then spread to a new location via the “manure” of the animal that eats them. Leafy green vegetables do have toxins, but the levels are minimal and not harmful to humans when consumed in normal amounts. Some greens, however, have more phytic acid than grains. Spinach is a good example. However, phytic acid isn’t the only problem in grains. There is also gluten (in wheat, rye, oats, etc.), wheat germ agglutinin, and other toxins that cause harm.

        There’s no way to completely avoid toxins, and it’s not necessary. But we should minimize them while obtaining the highest amount of nutrients possible, and a Paleo-type diet is the best way to do that.

  112. says

    @Ana-

    Additionally, do you feed him wheat products currently? It’s common that the wheat allergy is the root-cause of the dairy allergy. Chris can probably address this further for you as well… it’s a condition called Leaky Gut.

  113. Chris Kresser says

    Homemade nut milk is the best alternative. Coconut milk is another choice, although it has a completely different texture and density than soy milk. Or just no “milk” at all.

    Kids will adapt, and he’ll learn to like the alternatives if that’s all he has to choose from. I don’t say this to be harsh. I say it out of concern for his well-being.

    You haven’t done anything terrible. We’re all doing the best we can with the information we have. It’s tough to be a parent with so much conflicting info out there.

  114. Ana says

    Hi,
    I have an 8-year-old son who’s allergic to dairy product and he’s been on soy since he was a baby. He drinks a little less than a cup of organic soy milk a day now, but of course it used to be much more than that. (Soy seems to be so prevalent in everything nowadays anyway).

    At any rate, after reading your article I feel I have done something terrible to him… What other options do you suggest for a child in his case? I tried other milks and he doesn’t like them. Thank you.

    • Kali H. says

      I like Chris’ reply, wise and compassionate. He’s so right, you did the best you knew how; so much better than forcing him to drink milk he was allergic to! Kids get set in their ways and can challenge our best intentions. Rather than try to get your son to drink other types of milk suggested in Chris’ reply, try using them in cooking and baking, reducing how much soy is in your son’s diet. Gradually, he may even adjust to the subtle difference. And there is no reason to start serving water instead of soy milk, with meals. Just some ideas.

  115. Chris Kresser says

    Andrew: I’m planning a whole series summarizing the latest research on gluten intolerance. Cross-reactivity will be part of that.

    Megan: more citations coming up in the series I mentioned to Andrew.

  116. Glenn says

    I find the “more obvious bodily reactions to unhealthful foods” to be true in my case also, Brenda. Such a good point!

    Especially when I hardly ever notice positive reactions to supplements I take. I always feel like I am taking them more on “faith” than practical results. So its quite nice to have a fairly clean internal environment such that ingesting a “nasty” once in a while really makes you feel polluted. Its quite the incentive to get back on track. And who knows, maybe what its all saying is a healthy person on good food just doesn’t need supplements that much. I’m continually daring myself to get off another supplement here and there.

    Thanks for the great observation.

  117. Brenda says

    I like the way you pulled together the information in this article. I found it quite helpful. My husband and I have weaned ourselves off many harmful foods you have mentioned, and are still coming off a few that are remaining. I notice that the cleaner the diet gets, the more obvious bodily reactions to unhealthful foods become. These reactions become further motivation to clean up the diet, since greater awareness of the unhealthy effects of these foods produces a lesser willingness to bother with them.
    Thank you Chris, for providing helpful articles like these.

  118. Eric W. says

    Hi Chris Kresser. You write “In fact, Americans now get almost 20% of their calories from a single food source – soybean oil”, but I can’t see any support for that in the PDF you link.

    In fact there is a table showing that ‘Fats and Oils’ contribute 23.9% to total calories in the US food supply, which doesn’t seem plausibly consistent with 20% coming from soybean oil alone.

    Unless I’m missing something.

    Cheers.

  119. Harald says

    Arpita Caird.
    Coconut oil is a saturated oil without having cholesterol and is comprised of lauric acid and capric acid. The ‘virgin oil’ process uses no chemical extraction but an expeller extraction method, so it is as close to perfect, especially for cooking with, as possible.

    Cheers, Harald.

  120. Harald says

    Chris, thanks for this article.
    Allergies are caused by a “snapshot” of a traumatic unexpected biolgical conflict event, ie. if one happens to eat an orange, for example, while one experiences such an event, seeing, smelling or eating an orange from then on could cause an allergic reaction, because Nature wants to warn one: “don’t go there – you got hurt before while eating it. –
    Omega 6 essential fatty acid supports inflammation, while omega 3 has anti-inflammatory properties. Both are ESSENTIAL, because the body needs inflammation to support healing and needs something to shut the inflammation down again when healing is complete. Too much omega 6 in the system tends to cause chronic inflammation, hence the prevalence of this condition.
    We should nourish ourselves with “species specific food”.
    A Dr. Schnitzer in Germany, a dentist, has found out, that we are frugivores (seed eaters) by studying the make-up of our teeth.
    I have personally changed my eating habits to incorporate his ideas and found, that I needed to add supplemental omega 3 to my raw grain and fruit regimen. I must say, that I do feel a lot better after several years of eating this food in the mornings. –
    The prevalence of ever increasing cancer cases would indicate to me, that people are eating too much ‘industry manipulated food’.
    Cancer is a last ditch P-R-O-G-R-A-M we are all born with, which includes a healing phase upon resolution of the above mentioned biological conflict. Read about that here: http://learninggnm.com .
    Cheers, Harald. PS. I pressed Submit Comment twice because my slow internet connection did not seem to function, sorry.

  121. Harald says

    Chris, thanks for this article.
    Allergies are caused by a “snapshot” of a traumatic unexpected biolgical conflict event, ie. if one happens to eat an orange, for example, while one experiences such an event, seeing, smelling or eating an orange from then on could cause an allergic reaction, because Nature wants to warn one: “don’t go there – you got hurt before while eating it. –
    Omega 6 essential fatty acid supports inflammation, while omega 3 has anti-inflammatory properties. Both are ESSENTIAL, because the body needs inflammation to support healing and needs something to shut the inflammation down again when healing is complete. Too much omega 6 in the system tends to cause chronic inflammation, hence the prevalence of this condition.
    We should nourish ourselves with “species specific food”.
    A Dr. Schnitzer in Germany, a dentist, has found out, that we are frugivores (seed eaters) by studying the make-up of our teeth.
    I have personally changed my eating habits to incorporate his ideas and found, that I needed to add supplemental omega 3 to my raw grain and fruit regimen. I must say, that I do feel a lot better after several years of eating this food in the mornings. –
    The prevalence of ever increasing cancer cases would indicate to me, that people are eating too much ‘industry manipulated food’.
    Cancer is a last ditch P-R-O-G-R-A-M we are all born with, which includes a healing phase upon resolution of the above mentioned biological conflict. Read about that here: http://learninggnm.com .
    Cheers, Harald.

    • Kali H. says

      It sounds like you are referring to Body Memory, a component of PTSD. Recent research has revealed there is such a thing as body memory, it may be to a food eaten when one was traumatized, or it could be stormy weather, or a scent one exposed at the time of trauma. It’s more complex.

  122. says

    Thanks for pointing out all the components of grains that can cause a reaction. That would explain why a lot of clients I have worked with show a definite improvement from removing all grains, but some don’t test for any gluten sensitivity in blood tests. Do you happen to know where these tests are available? Great article!

  123. Chris Kresser says

    Mark: that list isn’t conclusive, i.e. just because a food is on that list, doesn’t mean you’re reacting to it.

  124. says

    Hi,

    I see potato listed in the list of cross-reactant foods for CD. Is this list ordered from most to least reactive? I’m enjoying my peeled potatoes mixed with sweet potatoes! (200cals per day per Perfect Health Diet) :)

  125. Glenn says

    Thanks Chris. A great article and I actually like your extension of the word “toxin” to include what has heretofore been known as food. Its somewhat debatable whether its a good idea, but at least you were first to do it for these 4 “food” groups.

    Also, thanks for carefully handling the wording in the “Industrial Seed Oils” section. I feel this is so important. The problem is the “industrial” and the “excessive consumption”, and not the Lenoleic Acid, or omega-6. So many writers act as if there is something toxic about omega-6, because they have an ax to grind: either they are selling fish oil, or, like the Weston A. Price Foundation, they are promoting animal fats.

    One point that I’d like to make, to clarify the “vegetable oil” issue is to point out the insidious ways the “oils” enter our bodies, lest the reader think that the only way they intake “vegetable oil” is by buying if in a bottle off the shelf of their grocer. Your graph is great at showing the expanding use of the oils, but I believe the reader should know that the chart doesn’t represent their use of the liquid oil, alone, but is heavily influenced by how much we now depend on commercial foods, from crackers (and all boxed bakery items), to potato and corn chips, to restaurant foods, to fast foods. Even the healthy looking hummus I buy occasionally has “canola oil” on the label.

    My personal rules are to just not buy anything with ingredients on the label if I can help it, and if I do, to avoid the item if it mentions any kind of grain/nut oils (and of course sugar and soy per your other “toxics”).

    I would offer that absolutely no tests have been done to prove that a gross imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 is unhealthy, if those ingested fatty acids were themselves healthy. And that is why I like to keep the “industrial seed oils” as the toxic substance that you define, so you can safely be accurate in this assessment of the situation. Its probably the adulteration of the oils, by excessive heat processing, by oxidation on the shelf before use, or by intentional hydrogenation that seems to be causing the problem.

    That being said, there is also no reason, considering our diet since our origin as a species, to WANT to consume much greater than twice the omega-6 as omega-3. And the only way I see of doing this is the same way as avoiding all the toxins you have identified here: read labels and know what the different terms on them mean, and then totally AVOID ALL commercial vegetable oils. If one wants to eat vegetable oils, as in preparing their own salad dressings or mayonnaise, they can buy organic, cold pressed vegetable oils and keep them and the resultant dressings refrigerated, and not suffer at all from the omega-6 that is contained in moderate amounts of these dressings. And if one wants to have a balance of essential oils in the dressings, they can chose (from your chart) canola, walnut, and/or flax seed oils and get a dressing holding both omega-6 and omega-3 oils. Not on your chart, but with a ratio similar to canola oil is hemp seed oil, which I use often because it is available refrigerated from most health food stores.

    I love your long list of diseases that are definitely caused by the heavy current use of industrially produced omega-6 oils, and can’t fault a single item on that list. I just wish you would have not introduced it as “caused by elevated n-6″, but had identified the link as PROBABLY the increased use of adulterated seed oils. As I said, no one has ever increased the use of healthy, omega-6 oils to where they outweigh the omega-3 oils by even 10 to 1 and then tested to see if the same modern diseases occur. I would ask that you continue to be careful in the terms you use so that people do not start blaming omega-6 for their health problems. That is exactly what certain industries, including the drug industry, want. “Omega-6″ is a nebulous term. No one now realizes that it means “salad oil” or “that oil in all the commercial pastries I eat that used to be just butter or lard”. But supplement providers and healthy salad oil producers have a hard time printing the “omega-6″ amounts on their labels right now, thanks to the bashing that this essential oils has gotten from the press.

    Our bodies need healthy omega-6 oils. The whole, omega-6, or Lenoleic Acid (not its components) in each of the 100 trillion cell walls of our bodies is what provides oxygen to each cell for metabolism. As I understand the problem, once you ingest a lot of commercial, adulterated omega-6 though, it replaces the healthy omega-6 in the cell walls and retards the oxygen entry. Once this progresses past a 35% reduction for a period of time, the cell always turns cancerous. Likewise, it is the esterified cholesterol, carrying adulterated omega-6, that damages arterial walls. Cholesterol has always been a part of a healthy body before introduction of industrial seed oils. Its in every cell, and 25% of it is functioning in the human brain. It is not the problem. The adulterated oil is.

    For more on these issues, I can only direct interested parties to:

    http://www.brianpeskin.com/BP.com/reports/CAMB-Fish-Oil-Fallacies-Report.pdf

    Best of health to all.

      • Craig says

        How is that hard to understand? Food should 1-2 ingredients. Broccoli. Beef. Coconut oil. Butter. Put them together and you have real food. A box with 50 ingredients on it? Not food.

        • Kali H. says

          I understood you Craig! Many people do better with simple foods, some thrive if they are careful with what foods they eat together. It’s certainly obvious that western style diets with highly refined foods, lots of sugar and fructose lead to so called “civilized” diseases. Study after study show
          that a country that replaces their native diet, with western style diet have skyrocteding obesity, and health declines.

        • Tom says

          I think you’re getting at something that hasn’t been mentioned yet, and that’s food additives being toxic in their own right. Dyes, sulfites and nitrites, for example, may not kill a lab rat in six months, but enough of them over enough years could be toxic. Grocery stores have to be concerned about shelf life and manufacturers want their products to be visually appealing, factors which may be at odds with my body’s machinery.

      • Ginny says

        Seriously, Thomas? Is that your takeaway from all that Glenn said? Obviously he meant additional ingredients, not NO ingredients.

    • penelope says

      I’m interested to read this post because I have been avoiding all seeds nuts grains and legumes for over a year and so not consuming any Omega 6. I know it’s considered an EFA and I’m having trouble with eczema which has recurred from childhood during menopause. I have systemic lupus so all the arguments about Omega 6 grains and seeds etc makes sense to me but I am also wondering if I should have *some* Omega 6 in order to support my skin and my whole system. It’s a complicated thing trying to navigate one’s health via nutrition. Especially when you have such a serious condition.

      • Glenn Atkisson says

        Penelope,

        I’m not sure whether omega-6 shortage (if you have it) contributes to eczema, but for sure, you need a certain amount of omega-6 (very small compared to other oils except omega-3) to have a healthy body, and especially to have healthy skin.

        However, just because you’ve eliminated those seeds/nuts you mentioned doesn’t mean you’ve eliminated all intake of omega-6, if that’s even what you meant. You may have eliminated all refined sources of omega-6, which is a good thing, but it’s impossible to eat whole foods and not get omega-6 in almost every food you eat.

        Just because seeds and nuts are mentioned as primary sources for polyunsaturated oils such as omega-6 doesn’t mean you don’t get traces of o-6 in most foods, and you get heavy amounts in fresh meats, eggs, etc.

        Check the nutrients in beef liver:

        http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/3468/2

        Tons of omega-6. Way out of “balance” with what is recommended by people pushing for a balance between omega-6 and omega-3. Yet liver is considered a health food (if you can get it raised free-range and organic.)

        If you want to balance things the other way, eat brains. There you have about a 30:1 imbalance towards omega-3.

        Notice how spinach provides over 5 times the omega-3 as omega-6 though, in case you are worried about balance:

        http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2626/2

        The 2 omega’s are closer to equally balanced in collard greens, but there’s still more omega-3 than omega-6:

        http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2410/2

        Most foods though are higher in omega-6. Not to worry. If it’s natural whole food, that’s how we’ve eaten for thousands of years. Eating meat “nose-to-tail” you get about a 4:1 ratio of the omega’s, overall, if the meat is wild game, or a little higher if it’s “free range domestic species. That tells me that is an acceptable ratio. Eat more skin, you get more omega-6. Skin of any animal has hardly any omega-3.

        Best of luck in finding your cure for eczema. My mother once had lupus and I got her completely cured by having her fast several times. Paavo Airola has written extensively on fasting to cure disease. Check out his books, especially on arthritis.

  126. Chris Kresser says

    smgj: as I pointed out in the article, there are many components of wheat/gluten that people can be sensitive to. If someone reacts to lectins or gluteomorphins, I don’t think fermentation will prevent that reaction (even though it does seem to help in cases of intolerance to gliadin).

  127. Mike says

    Dave: have some meat! Liver is especially nutrient rich, with pretty much nothing in it that can hurt you. If you’re concerned about the omega-6 content of grain-fed meat, you can eat grass-fed meat.

    One thing Chris did not mention is that foods with a high saturated fat content tend to have less omega-6 just because they have less total polyunsaturated fat. That means even grain-fed beef is much lower in omega-6 than vegetable oil.

  128. smgj says

    Very interesting – for me, especially the part on grain. I’ve read some articles that claim that slow-rising sourdough (typically 24hours with older sourdough culture as starter) may neutralize the harmfull gluten for many of us. Even to such a degree that some diagnosed celiacs are able to eat such bread. Do you have any thoughts/comments to that claim?

    • ethan says

      i’ve read that fermentation breaks down some of the gluten, either due to metabolization or simply the acidification. the trade-off is a less-sweet, more sour and potentially lower-rising bread. it’s an art to make a long-fermenting sourdough with a balanced flavor profile; sometimes the acidity is too much and it turns bitter.

    • penelope says

      It’s true that properly prepared gluten flours are digestible for some people and for some people who cannot digest contemporary bread products. However there is no evidence that someone who has celiac can consume gluten or gliadin grains.

  129. Chris Kresser says

    Shelley: you don’t need to worry about the fructose in fruits and vegetables when consumed in moderation. 2-3 servings/day of fruit are fine for most people (unless they have serious metabolic disease).

    • Kali H. says

      Your use of the word moderation is important. Just a comment on natural fruit. Years ago, in an attempt to eat really healthy, I began to have problems with bloating and weight gain despite eating whole grains and no sugar. I went to a dietician and she had me keep a food diary for a week.
      She spotted I was eating too much fruit for my metabolism ( not extreme amounts ) and told me I was eating too much fruit. She recommended I eat low glycemic fruit and only 2 servings a day: am with 1 oz of protein from nuts, and again 1 serving at night. Limiting the kind and amount of fruit and I thrived, lost 25 pounds without effort, and became the healthiest I ever have been for years.

      • penelope says

        you are in full agreement with Chris, you are describing a metabolic problem. Moderation = 2-3 servings a day if you do not have problems with sugar.

  130. Wood says

    “Humans evolved roughly 2.5 million years ago, and for roughly 84,000 generations we were naturally free of the modern diseases” – why are you so sure about it?

  131. Kimberly says

    I must say that I found this to be a very impressive and well written article. Through my own research I have come to many of the same conclusions yet when I have posed these sorts of conclusions to others (many of whom suffer from Celiac Disease) I am met with a great deal of disbelief.

    The only correction I would make here is that current archaeological evidence shows that human were consuming and processing a grass similar to wheat for the past 30k years. Here is a link that quotes the research:

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-10-prehistoric-ate-flatbread-years.html

    Keep up the good work.

    Kimberly

  132. Daniel says

    Hi Chris

    Thanks for your amazing article. I agree with most of your arguments in this post. We should avoid toxins to avoid modern diseases.

    Can you explain why excess linoleic acid is bad for us? Is it because linoleic acid is the metabolic precursor of arachidonic acid and inflammatory eicosanoids are derived from arachidonic acid?

  133. says

    In reading about the glucose/fructose, i see you mention that the fructose is also coming straight from fruits and veggies… So are we not to eat those or are there certain ones best for consumption? I have just recently diagnosed myself with celiac disease. I am going next week to start the process of being tested for it, so Ia m trying very hard to really be informed and take control of my health! I am soooo tired of feeling poorly when I thought I was eating well before hand.. I have been off of gluten for about three weeks now, and I cannot believe the difference in the way I feel!! I am beyond excited and want ALL the info I can get my hands on now!! Thanks so much for what you do! Without people like you, we would have only the “publicized” crap of info that they CLaim is healthy living!!!

    • Robert Sanders says

      My wife was diagnosed with celiac and her health has improved dramtically since she started avoiding flours. Her weight has dropped a whole lot and she doesn’t look swollen all of the time.

      So you have told us what to avoid. How about a menu of things we can eat?

    • says

      In reference to Sally Stroud’s January post about fructose from natural sources-fruit. Yes, it is possible to eat too much fruit. Some people’s metabolism doesn’t do well processing
      a lot of fruit especially high glycemic fruits. A nutritionist had me keep a food diary for a week, since I was having weight problems, yet eating natural and “healthy.” She quickly discerned from my food diary that I was getting too much fructose from fruit. She recommended I limit myself to two pieces of medium size fruit a day: an orange mid morning eaten with one once of protein ( 7 nuts such as walnuts, pecans or almonds ) and an apple or other low gylcemic fruit at bed time, also with an ounce of protein. I was given recommendations of how much quality protein from meat or fish per meal, amount of veggies or salad and fat from butter or olive oil to keep blood sugar stable to prevent cravings. I lost 25 #s in 6 weeks, was never hungry.

    • penelope says

      Good luck and best wishes on your journey. I think you will find that by eliminating ALL gluten from your diet you will have dramatic improvement. Then if you are still having problems you can look into the other things like fruit but at the beginning, as long as you are eating whole foods (not manufactured products like the seed oils mentioned above) you may not need to restrict anything more than gluten grains. read more of Chris Kressers work (the book) and also look at The Perfect Health Diet (jaminet and Jaminet), if you are interested in evidence based, fad free Paleo.

  134. Rebecca says

    Interesting article with lots of good information, but you need references…LOTS of them…and please don’t refer me to an article on someone’s BLOG (the above reference to lifespan) for additional information! That’s almost worse than my undergrads handing in work from Wikipedia!

  135. Dana says

    Life expectancy is an average, Olivier. It’s not an absolute number for how long every single person in the population lived. All a life expectancy of 40 tells us is that a lot of babies died and a lot of adults had accidents.

    Traditional cultures teach respect of elders for a reason: elders existed in traditional cultures. (Still do. Not all traditional cultures have died out.)

    You want to talk about poor life expectancy, check out how much ours dropped in the West (and here I include the Fertile Crescent since that’s where we started, for all intents and purposes) after the introduction of grain agriculture. Only in the 20th century had we returned to anything like a pre-agricultural life expectancy, not to mention pre-agricultural *average height.* In Greece and Turkey, they still haven’t recovered the latter.

    It’s amazing what the field of paleopathology will teach you.

  136. Olivier says

    You’re right, Chris, I read my facts too quickly. This link is interesting and makes sense.
    I still believe that some of the perception of the generality of age-related diseases is also bound to the fact that our age pyramid is fast inverting and generally, we are pushing the boundaries of ageing. I am looking forward to seeing more evidence that support your speculations, but ultimately, seeing more awareness about how the quality of our diet impacts our health… And there a long way to undo what those last 40 years have done to us…

  137. Dave says

    Great article!
    So what should be eaten? It seems like an impossible task trying to find foods that don’t contain these toxins.

    • Holly says

      I would like to second this request–after reading this list, determining a healthy diet seems nearly impossible. Any suggestions?

    • Chelsea says

      One thing I do at grocery stores is only shop around the outside and not in the aisles. This way you focus on meats, fruits and vegetables, and dairy items and don’t get taunted by pasta, etc. Since many of these items are more perishable, I find that getting in the habit of going to the store more often and purchasing a smaller amount of items helps.

    • penelope says

      If you buy food, not food products, its really simple to find. Vegetables, meat, dairy (if you are tolerant) nuts, fruit (in moderation if you are tolerant) … there is a world of food out there outside the supermarkets.

      • Diana says

        Your body can do just fine without grains, and in fact can do much better than with grains! I’ve been off of them for quite a while and have noticed better health and improved weight loss. It takes learning a new lifestyle, but it’s totally worth it. For more information, try reading “The Paleo Diet,” “The Primal Blueprint,” and “Wheat Belly.” Replace grains with vegetables, and you’re halfway there.

  138. Chris Kresser says

    If you remove infant mortality and deaths from injury and trauma from the life expectancy equation, Paleolithic people reached ages comparable to civilized people up until very recently, but they did so without any of the modern, degenerative diseases that plague us today.

    Infant mortality and death from injury and trauma haven’t gone down because of positive changes in our diet. They’ve gone down because of improvements in sanitation and emergency medical care.

    Read this article for more: http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2010/02/paleo-life-expectancy.html#_jmp0_

  139. Rodney says

    Hi Chris,

    In the grains section I am not seeing the list referenced by this sentence…

    “Unfortunately, the list of these foods (shown below)”

    Is it just me (typically, yes), or is the list missing?

    Nice summary! I look forward to the rest of the series.

  140. Olivier says

    I think the ideal world you’re mentioning is a bit intellectually dishonest: you’re certainly right to say that until recently it was very rare to find people with osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and other age related diseases. You may also add cancer to the list. Yes, those ancient people lived healthily until they died.
    But, maybe, just maybe, that’s because the life expectancy was hovering around 30. It’s only at the beginning of the 20th century that the modern world pushed the life expectancy beyond 40.The only thing that evolution gave us is the ability to reproduce and support the next generation(s) sufficiently so that they can in turn reproduce. Not the ability to live beyond that point.
    I’m an avid reader of your column, I find your insights interesting, and I also intend to live healthily beyond my “purely genetic” time, but the “good old times” aren’t what you depict.

    • jeff says

      A common misconception. Average lifespan includes infant mortality, accidents, and infections. It doesn’t mean that a lot of people didn’t live to old age. Look at primitive people today – there are lots of elderly.

        • Mike Ellwood says

          My maternal grandparents and my paternal grandfather lived well into their 80s, and they were born in the late 19th century. They probably always had access to clean water, but in the early days at least, lived in relative poverty and certainly didn’t have any of the conveniences of modern life, lived through the depression, and wartime (and 9 postwar years in this country) rationing. However, I suppose they had the benefit of living in the country and ate mostly “real food” (what there was of it), with the distressing exception of margarine (which was truly awful in those days, by all accounts, so my 88-year-old mother tells me). They didn’t benefit from modern medical developments simply because they were never ill, until their last days. They also worked very hard all their lives.

          True, some people did die young (2 deaths from TB that I know of in my extended family, both before WWII).

          But, as a visit to an English country churchyard will tell you, some people certainly lived to their 70s, 80s, occasionally 90s. Not seen many centenarian graves, I have to admit.

          So it’s a case of the misleading average I think. IF you made it past childhood, and managed to avoid major Flu epidemics and TB, and avoided being killed in the wars, then you had a reasonably good chance of making it at least to your 70s.

          I see in the obituaries a distressing number of 40, 50, 60-year olds dying today of diseases like cancer (actually, it’s mostly cancer). So, I’m not so sure the modern world has contributed that much to health really, although it does offer us more choices, for good and ill.

          • Nelly says

            Quite true hey. You can’t exactly compare the average lifespan of a population that endured 2 World wars with one that has Mr Delivery to drop their food off every night. :/

            [You would need to compare the average lifestyle of only ppl who lived past 13 and didn’t die from pox or flu epedemics (+ all the other 500 diseases that modern people get vaccinated against these days) and also exclude anybody who died in combat/ from starvation due to war/ concentration camps)

            Another major difference between populations of modern times and “the good ol’ days” = that during the wars most people affected by the stress of war could feel as if they were actively doing something about it. These days executives stress about all sorts of market/economic crashes that are entirely out of their control. You stress a lot more if you are confined to your desk and have to watch the world fall apart around you in stead of actively fighting in the field… so they might as well just stop comparing paw-paws to apples.

            [ Even comparing different cultural populations eg Chinese vs Americans would not be entirely accurate as there are many cultural differences, which would impact the person's reasoning/feelings toward economic uncertainty or war and life/death scenarios]. Stress is a MAJOR contributor to health/illness. Any study that does not include that aspect in the interpretation of health data (or have + and – controls for it) is entirely flawed.

          • Heidi says

            Along with technology, came an increase in convenient ways to produce more food, thus, the poisons also.. Most food is poisoned and we don’t usually see the results of that until decades later, when it’s very difficult to find the connection, BUT THERE IS ONE. If it kills small living things, THEN IT KILLS, PERIOD. Maybe for humans, only a little bit at a time, which is probably why it takes so long. Our food is NOT what is used to be.

      • R says

        Wow, could the tone and brevity of “A common misconception” be more condescending? Perhaps but, what follows is generalized garbage that proves the author is no intellectual mountain, or even anthill, to condescend from in the first place. Using the argument of observing today’s primitive people sounds good. But name one “primitive” people today who face an environment comparable to the peoples’ of 10,000 years ago? This argument has a radical amount of holes in it.

        • George says

          C’mon R, it IS a common misconception. That doesn’t give you the right to go all ad hom on jeff. Forget the primitive people. Instead, focus on life expectancy at age 20 (or even 10) instead of life expectancy at age 0. Once infant mortality is taken out of the equation, The modern world hasn’t come all that far compared to the pre-industrial world. Particularly when you consider that we have largely dealt with the infectious diseases that most people used to die of. Modern medicine has given us a lot of extra years, and our modern diet and lifestyle (mostly our diet) has taken a lot of years away.

        • jay says

          I have a copy of an issue of National Geographic published in 1971. The feature article was an in-depth look at the lives of men and women who were 110’s, 120’s, and even 130’s years in age in 1971. The oldest living man we knew about on the planet in 1971, according to the author, was 163. The majority of the people mentioned lived out their lives in rural villages, and I do believe there weren’t any if but one American.

    • Hedge says

      The flip side of this argument is to look for the negative consequences in today’s “younger than previous generations’ mortality age” eaters. Do we now see a greater incidence of diabetes, asthma, obesity, food allergies, cancer and other symptomatic illnesses in those who would not have died during during the good old times … children and teens? Without any data on hand to substantiate, I would say yes, and most of us would be able to say yes. Granted, some of this is due to a more sedentary 21st century lifestyle. But food is still half of the equation (ala Super Size Me).

    • penelope says

      It’s possible to read the first section as journalistic creative narrative and all the rest as evidence based clinically informed useful information. That’s how I read it.

    • says

      I am 57. When I was a baby, I was allergic to wheat. When I was older my mother gave it to me thinking it was okay. I have been ‘sick’ with IBS, lethergy, depression, and finally panic attacks. A good doctor finally listened to me and had me tested. I have Hashitmoto’s thyroiditis from eating wheat when I was allergic! My digestive tract is in a terrible state and I only hope that diet changes and nutrician will heal me. Good grief!! Listen to this information! I wish I had known this in my 40s before I ruined my health!

      • Kali H. says

        Cynthia,

        OMG! I can relate, though my allergens were and is dairy and yeast. My mother, bless her was an early proponent of healthy diet, read Prevention Magazine and Adele Davis’ books; but latched on to a recipe called “Tiger’s Milk”, full of B vitamins, calcium….and decided I would have a healthy puberty. The health drink consisted of milk, brewers yeast and black strap molasses! I went from a slender, well muscled kid to a fat, bloated, pasty and sickly teen. Sounds a lot like your mom’s good intentions, with getting you back to eating wheat. Arrgghhh. One night I had a vivid dream that told me to stop drinking/eating all dairy. That ended the Tiger Milk “Healthy” Shake. I declined all dairy and within 3 months, was slender, fit and feeling good again. I wish it were so easy now, as my body’s got more allergies, Histamine and food intolerance(s), and hypothyroidism with all it’s complications.

    • Pam says

      I am wondering why rice cereal is prohibited. What is positive to eat for carbohydrates besides yams and sweet potatoes? A special diet get so restrictive in terms of food combining and avoidance that I feel like I’m starving. I need a recovery diet plan with recipes to follow.

      • says

        Pam,
        Squash is a great grain replacer in meals, as are sweet potatoes as you mentioned. Look into the Weston A Price Foundation, they explain how to sprout, soak, and ferment (think sourdough) grains in the traditional preparation, which supposedly removes the anti-nutrients and prevents them from causing the nutrient absorption problems improperly prepared while grains can cause. If you don’t have a gluten intolerance, it is still very beneficial to eat the grains properly prepared, but then your diet isn’t so restrictive. If you did want to eliminate grains altogether, there are tons of Paleo recipes out there that are also quite delicious.
        -Ashley

      • Lisa Truity says

        I am glad you have eliminated the cause of your problem and are feeling better. Did you not know about gluten and grain sensitivity before going to the doctor? I ask because I have met so many people who tell me I think I might be gluten intolerant so Im going to get my doctor to test me. In my opinion that is a waste of time and money and can even lead you astray. The only definative test is a biopsy of your intestinal tissue which is invasive, and expensive and painful and could lead to complications. So most people do other tests which have a high inaccuracy rate. I dont for the life of me understand peoples trust and dependency on doctors. It is real easy to figure out if gluten or grains or foods that crossreact with them are your problem. You eliminate the categories one at a time and see if you improve. Or you can eliminate all and test each one after you symptoms have abated. Actually you might improve your insurance situation if you cured yourself and didnt end up with a negative diagnosis forever on your record. I did this myself and I know of others who very possibly would have ended up with a uc or crohns diagnosis based on symptoms. Dont get me wrong if I had not been able to find ways to check diarrhea, etc. I would have taken meds temporarily to safeguard from serious immediate threat to my life, but my goal was to avoid and take care of myself if at all possible and I was able to with diet and natural medicines. What perplexes me is the utter helplessness and dependency on mainstream medicine and docs of many people. I guess some just havent yet experienced how ineffective and even worsening of health problems they are most of the time. They havent been burned enough yet so that they are extremely wary and stay out of harms way as much as possible.

        • Heidi says

          Lisa, I totally agree with you. Doctors have a very narrow view of how to fix health problems. I was just diagnosed with early Crohn’s disease, but am not planning on the drug therapy. Instead, I am going to learn what my body can and cannot digest well and tailor my diet. I just hope I can figure it out before the inflammation gets worse.

          • Denise says

            You should read and follow the diet in Gloria Gottschall’s book, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle”. My son’s Crohn’s symptoms abated almost immediately after starting the diet. He was essentially cured after 3 years on the diet and is still symptom free 5 years later.

      • Kali H. says

        Brown rice, is a good carb usually, wild rice. I use brown rice flower to make crepes with almond milk occasionally.

        • penelope says

          Many of us actually avoid brown rice. The “brown” of the rice, the bran contains the oils that Chris is talking about and the bran can be irritating and inflammatory for people like me who have autoimmune disease and for others as well. that’s why the Paleo people who talk about “safe starch” eg Jaminet and Jaminet, recommend starchy vegetables and white rice for carbohydrate needs, not the brown or other grains. I have been doing this for 28 years.

      • Craigian says

        Pam, great question. One I’ve explored a lot lately.

        So here’s a list of “safe” starches:

        Plantain/banana
        Squash
        Rutabaga
        Parsnip
        Potato
        Sweet Potato
        Taro

        Semi-starches are:

        Carrot
        Beet
        Turnip

        These are not complete lists but still may be helpful.

        :)

      • Hélène says

        replace grains with GREENS lol
        eat lots of greens EACH meal.
        spaghetti squash is a good plate filler-upper as are mushrooms. those squash strands are nice to put meat and veggies on or yummy sauces.
        i use salad alot for a bed instead of grains…put taco filling on, spaghetti sauce on, chicken alfredo on, chicken salad or tuna salad on, rest a salmon fillet on, etc.
        carrots, jícama and beets arent rly that carb-y but are higher carb. sweet pot, winter squash, turnips and rutabagas, even parsnips are all delicious with meat fats on them or EVO or butter or sour cream and SALT. real, quality, salt not that mortons salt kind of crap.

    • Thomas Ledford, Ph.D. says

      Everything that we eat is toxic at some level. Water is a poison if we drink too much in too short a time. In fact, it is not unreasonable to think about gross morbid obesity as equivalent to “carbon poisoning,” since our foods are carbon-based.

      We are all accustomed to hearing that heavy metals are poisons, and they are, at high enough levels. Some of the most poisonous elements, like selenium, are biologically necessary at extremely low levels for normal bodily functions.

      There is a concept called “hormesis” that food faddists should familiarize themselves with. It is the idea that there is always some extremely low level of what is considered a poison — a low level where poisonous effects do not appear. This is analogous to humans making antivenin to combat snakebite poisoning by exposing horses to tiny amounts of snake venom in their blood. The horses build antibodies to the poison. Their blood is later separated from the antivenin that destroys the poison and is used to save human lives. People who are protected from all manner of things that might be judged as poisons at high enough levels are going to have a hard time finding something to eat! Tiny amounts of things that are harmful at high levels are actually good for you. Google the word “hormesis” and see the research stories about this. You can not live a life without risk.

      How many of you know that gluten is required to make good yeast-leavened bread? Gluten levels have been so reduced in flour lately that people who make homemade yeast breads are having to buy gluten separately to add it to bread flour to get the yeast to do its lovely work?

      The “food industry” people eat their own products. They are not trying to poison any of us. You can overdo anything, especially conspiracy theories.

      • crosswind says

        Read the book “Wheat Belly”. You’ll realize how wheat is no longer the same wheat anymore. It’s been so hybridized and genetically engineered to have MORE gluten today. Human guts also have not evolved over thousands of yr to handle the toxins, which these grains naturally have to keep predators like bugs from over eating them. http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/

        • Thomas H. Ledford, Ph.D. says

          This is a common manifestation of a conspiracy theory, that modern plants are not as good as the old wild types. The reason more gluten is wanted by some buyers is that gluten is essential to good yeast-raised baked goods. My wife is a bread maker and has to buy extra gluten to add to today’s bread flours because so much gluten has been taken out of modern flours at the urgings of food faddists. At least your convictions are putting a lot of gluten on the market and helping with the cost of supplementing it to make good bread. The elasticity of gluten is essential to good bread rising.

          • Michelle says

            I think the cafeteria at Monsanto is organic. So no the food industry is not eating what they are producing.

          • Patti says

            This is absolutely untrue. Modern wheat has multiple times the amount of gluten…intentionally bred that way for the reason you stated…to make bread rise better. Ancient wheat has a fraction of the gluten that modern wheat has. Einkorn wheat is an example. Look it up. And all that gluten is not doing us any good. Fluffy bread is hardly worth my health. I haven’t had gluten-filled bread in over 2 years and I don’t miss it at all.

          • Russell says

            One of the reasons your wife must buy gluten to add to her bread is that most of the flour sold in stores is winter wheat not spring wheat. Most of the spring wheat is bought up by bread companies before small bread makers like your wife can get their hands on it.
            However, regardless I of how bread turns out (fluffy or hard), it still makes me bloated. Having well leavened bread is not a good argument for eating more gluten for a health standpoint.

          • Craig says

            You seem to be under the misconception that yeast raised baked items are ‘good’ for us. They are not. REAL bread made the old fashioned way doesn’t even use yeast. Yeast just speeds up the process and makes things cheaper and ultimately less nutritious.
            And it is absolutely not a conspiracy that ancestral plants are more nutritious than the modern junk we have. This has been proven through tons of research Mr. PhD. You need to look into the field of medical anthropology and read up on how our diet is different from what it should be and how suboptimal it really is.

            • Jim says

              @Craig Please cite one or more instances of the “tons of research” you rely on to make your point (and does being snarky really add anything?)

            • Tom Ledford says

              I don’t want to descend to “snarkiness,” so I will resist some temptations here and just ask why you found it offensive for me to mention an obvious qualification to speak on the present subject. See my reply to Craig below.

              Shall I take on a false character like “Joe the Plumber” to win your respect?

            • Felicia says

              @Craig Old fasioned breads most certainly did use yeast. The old world European breads have a starter that sits around collecting wild air-born yeasts, that’s why they take longer to rise. That is one of the reasons for different bread types developing in different areas, different types of wild yeasts. See how much you don’t know.

            • Thomas H. Ledford, Ph.D. says

              To the respondent who called “Mr. Ph.D,” I will always be “Dr. Ph.D.” to you.

          • says

            And some of us are gluten intolerant! My doctor feels many with hypothyroid issues are best without gluten. I’ve learned to trust my body, rather than the latest fad. Only by elimination diet, have I concluded I am better off with little wheat bread. Not everyone needs to be as restrictive. But then I also have a number of food allergies
            ( real ones) and some food intolerance. I once had a very wise MD tell me, always trust your own body, even lab tests have inaccuracies.

          • Hélène says

            just becuz gluten is needed in breadmaking is not a reason to eat said bread.
            if u want to eat modern bastardized wheat, go for it.

      • Josiah says

        Dr. Ledford, I appreciate your input here. Unfortunately your condescending tone made it difficult for me to focus on the points you make. I think this concept “hormesis” (thank you for brining up the proper term) is essential to be keeping in mind while reading this article. I think this is why Chris Kresser brings up the definition of a toxin early in the article (“But even beneficial nutrients like water, which are necessary to sustain life, are toxic at high doses.”).

        • Tom Ledford says

          Josiah, I cannot imagine how you read condescension in my statements when all I did was to explain some technical facts.

          I did not use the word “ignorance” in my statement, but what it means is one who is uninformed about something. It is not a badge of dishonor, until the person being discussed begins to become proud of his ignorance and clings to a belief in things that just “ain’t so.”

          I was in a dilemma about whether to put my PhD after my name, because a lot of people think of that as a mark of arrogance, but I finally did it out of a conviction that it must mean something other than mere endurance. There is enough prestige, honor, and good will floating around in the world to allow all of us to have some of them. Nobody has to be so thin-skinned. Please accept my apology for admitting to any qualifications to speak on this subject. Obviously, it upset you. Just call me Tom, like everybody else does.

      • Alice says

        A good analysis. While I understand that my gut problems have evolved over years, I also know I need to be careful to get too rabid in my effort to correct them. I am glad I have read all the articles – and, having gotten a good cross section of information, I will be smart and, as the Bible says, be moderate in all things. Moderation is usually the cure for most illnesses as long as what I consume is not obviously poisonous. I’ve learned to always use my own herbs and spices rather than prepared foods and cut back on fat producing carbs within moderation, there’s that word again. No MSG, I finally found out after numerous doctor visits that my headaches were caused by MSG. No doctor ever mentioned it. I have been studying how my liver and gut work and am trying to be kind to them. With God’s help, my body will repair itself as it was designed to do.

      • Albert says

        I think if you have made a loaf of bread at home; you will realize that what you make and what you buy at most stores is not the same thing! Buy some wonderbread and wonder how it’s even called bread! Everything is a poison in large quantities; but let’s be realistic… Eating too much broccoli isn’t something any of us really worry about. I sit down in front of the TV and munch on cucumbers. Is there such a thing as too much cucumbers? I’m sure there is! But I am not even going to put a single brain cell towards worrying about it. Living in Taiwan; MSG is the norm not the exception. Are they trying to poison me? Yes. Do they eat it themselves? Yes. One is not mutually exclusive to the other. Phillip Morris staff smokes; doesn’t mean the cigarettes are good for you. Your body was never designed to deal with as much crap as we throw at it nowadays. I heard a doctor speak; someone asked how much we see more and more allergies. He replied by saying, you now eat on average; 435 different food chemicals that didn’t exist when your grandma was your age. So the potential for wrong interactions and allergic reactions is quite high.

        • Thomas H. Ledford, Ph.D. says

          Albert, regarding eating too much broccoli, I always say that, “Broccoli is not just for breakfast any more.”

      • penelope says

        Like the horses you mention, my body makes antibodies to just about everything. This is called autoimmune disease. The antibody protein complexes are what cause the disease, by gut permeability and then systemic disease.

        Your theories are not applicable to my body. This page is for people who are promoting and regaining their health through nutrition. That’s why we are interested in Chris Kresser’s knowledge gained through clinical experience and serious study.

    • Mark Williams` says

      Many people say that dark chocolate has health benefits. However, it’s almost impossible to find chocolate that is free of soy lecithin…should I avoid chocolate that contains soy lecithin and ignore the health benefits I might obtain from dark chocolate consumption?

      • Dan Possnack says

        Try Baker’s unsweetened chocolate, found in most markets. I use it in smoothies and things like that, and even eat it straight sometimes. Once you get used to not having all that ridiculous sweet taste of regular chocolate, it’s not bad.

        • Mark says

          Thanks for the above suggestions. I’ve discovered that Green & Black 85% chocolate bars have no added soy lecithin too, however they may contain ‘trace’ amounts

          • Meg says

            Try “Pascha” Organic Dark Chocolate. Found in some health food stores, Amazon, and elsewhere online. Delicious, and “completely free from the 8 major allergens” as posted on the package. Also, it only has 5 ingredients and is minimally processed. Chocolate is too good to give up.

      • Thomas H. Ledford, Ph.D. says

        Mark, your response reminds me of the potassium dilemma. All living creatures require at least some amount of potassium to stay alive, so that is an important nutrient that is checked when we have a “metabolic panel” blood test, but there are two dangers to too much potassium. Like everything else, it is possible to get too much of it. Too much potassium will stop your heart. In fact it is “too much” potassium that is usually used to stop the heart in death by lethal injection. The second danger is that all potassium on earth contains a little bit of potassium-40, an isotope of the element that cannot reasonably be removed from it, so all of us who eat the foods we need (to get our daily potassium) are eating a radioactive element that is unavoidable.

        • Concerned Citizen says

          Funny that you would mention potassium, because I need to take two big pills of it everyday. Every time a different pharmacist fills the prescription he/she gets all excited.

          My dose becomes lethal to the normal person. Too much of that good thing, that essential element.

          None of my doctors, so far, can tell me why I do not retain potassium, and don’t seem much interested in finding out. It is strange that the potassium levels were fine until during a most chaotic time in my life when I developed a Diet Soda addiction and then later ended up on lithium.

          I believe n moderation, but I try to not become too obsessed about it.

          Still searching for an acceptably moderate level of obsession about obsessing.

      • penelope says

        Lindt Dark chocolate (in all the supermarkets) has no soy even though all the Lindt flavoured dark ones do. It’s less common but if you read labels, you can find chocolate that it soy free. Its also worth buying Fair Trade (not Lindt) so that child slavery is not contaminating your chocolate.

    • lenslens says

      umm by the early 70s a lot of research had been done on soy because it was extensively used as an animal feed. Toxins were identified and eliminated from the feeds. Readily available information. Also WHO used to do lots of good nutritional research identifying issues with soy products for humans. May be it’s speculation to you, but that may be you are ignorant (unwilling to look certain places for information) and think, or maybe have vested interests of some form. Criticizing something as being an opinion with an opinion is rather amusing for its blatant tautology. Anyways, I do grow tired of people saying what you should not eat, because ultimately it’s what you do eat that matters.

    • Robert W. Martyr says

      Soy BLOWS OUT MY BELLY HUGE!
      I Go into a Coma, very Weak & Must Go to Bed!
      Then I Get Terrible I.B.S. ISSUES + GAS!
      ALSO
      Wheat & FIGS Cause High Systolics & Pulse!

    • Jennifer says

      lol..speculation until you get a chronic illness, then you have your proof. Enjoy your donuts and sugar coffee!

Join the Conversation

Current ye@r *