9 Steps to Perfect Health - #1: Don't Eat Toxins | Chris Kresser

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

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This content is part of an article series.

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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.

400 Comments

Join the conversation

  1. Is he telling me to not eat fruits ?
    I’ve heard fruit sugar is the best for our bodies, unlike processed sugar.. I’m confused

    • I would hope that there is a basic if unwritten caveat in order to post to these blogs, which is to take few minutes and research an issue via the Internet BEFORE asking questions that mean that no research was done. For example, the composition of fruit sugar versus table sugar can be summarized as follows:

      “The ratios of fructose and glucose are pretty much the same in both fruit and table sugar. Most fruits are 40 to 55 percent fructose (there’s some variation: 65 percent in apples and pears; 20 percent in cranberries), and table sugar (aka sucrose) is 50/50.”

      • This type of response is really not helpful. The information you shared after your “lecture” only serves to deepen the ambiguity surrounding the original question:

        — Should we avoid eating fruit?

        See Dani’s response re: natural vs. processed and the benefits that fiber affords when consumed in combination with natural fructose.

        • You missed the point of my “lecture.” LOOK IT UP YOURSELF and decide what you want to do by understanding what is happening physiologically and then matching that to your intake level.

          On the other hand if you want to be “told” what to do, then eat only local fruit that is in season. In that way, you will be eating like our ancestors. Unless you overdo it, the problems from overloading the liver with fructose should not occur.

          But if you are determined to eat fruit all the time as a result of it being flown in from Honduras or elsewhere so that it is available regardless of the local weather and season, then see what another objective website has to say about it (I hope that Chris does not mind since knowledge about these problems should be universal):

          http://authoritynutrition.com/why-is-fructose-bad-for-you/

          • Asking questions is an important part of the learning journey, no? Perhaps someone has been “looking it up” on their own, and still chooses to ask a question. Should we presume to judge they have done no research on their own?

            Adding a “Dr.” prefix to your name brings with it a certain level of responsibility (esp. in relation to health-related content — in the eyes of those who’ve yet to realize how few *nutrition credit hours are required of the average medical PhD candidate, of course).

            Perhaps you are a doctor of philosophy? Here’s one of my favorites: you catch more flies with honey.

            Enjoy your day. 🙂

            • I always say…Don’t cast your pearls before swines. And that “doctor” you were interacting with definitely sounds like a pig.

          • If your ancestors lived in Honduras that would presumably be OK? Or indeed if they lived in the tropical jungles of Africa, where they actually did…

  2. I agree with much that is written in this article, and I have a couple of comments. First, our ancestors may have lived a life that did not incur our modern day diseases, but they also died at a MUCH younger age. Maybe we just live too long! Also, after listing the ill effects of soy; breast cancer, estrogen-dependent tumors, neurotoxins, etc. the author states, “Perhaps most alarmingly, a study . . . 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.” Now why is this the most alarming I wonder? Probably do the planet some good actually.

    • People used to die at a much younger age firstly because food/shelter and predators where a much bigger issue then than they are now and also because there was little or no medicinal cures or vaccines for disease or infection. If you got a bad cut more than likely it would get infected, without disinfection the only option was amputation. People back then didn’t suffer from diabetes or obesity, when they got sick it was from a serious virus or infection such as a plague,

  3. Thank you for the informative article. I changed my diet when I developed joints inflammation when I turned 60. I follow the vegan diet. Ate lots of carbs at the beginning, which I am reducing. It has been a challenge but finding what to eat that’s healthy has been almost imposible given that it seems these days everything we consume may do some harm.
    My advice to others as confused as I am about what to eat:
    1.Eat organically when possible
    2.Don’t eat process food of any kind
    3.Avoid can or box products
    4.Anything in excess is bad for you, therefore moderation is key; once a week, month or once a year depending on your vice.
    5.Do a cleansing, especially after holidays. There are many forms. I like fruits and raw vegetables preferably organic for a minimum of one week and two weeks max. But you can do a day or three days. Or if or when you eat toxic foods, cleanse!
    6.I found at my age that two meals a day is enough. Gaining weights I believe is our body’s way of saying I had enough; if it’s not clinical and you and your doctor knows that. And avoid large portions, especially after 7:00 PM. .
    7.Don’t agree 100% on every you read. It is my opinion that no one is 100% correct.
    8. Most importantly, exercise at least 20 min. 3 X Week. Walking is awesome.
    9. Lastly, read labels, healthy doesn’t always mean healthy.

    It took a year but my inflammation went down. And one thing is for sure, when I eat bread, rice or/and pasta (always whole) my belly grows. When I stop, my belly goes down.
    I look and feel younger and I don’t take medication.
    Finally, know your body and how it reacts to what you eat. It knows and it gives you the signs. Listen to your body.
    Thanks again Chris, it was a very informative article. Good stuff!!!

  4. Ok….so, there are some flaws in this article’s argument. It narrowly specifies that it’s claims are directed towards people with a known intolerance to gluten (i.e. Celiac disease, etc.) and is vastly overboard. Nevertheless, there are also some significant and valid points being made. It is well known that the American diet is not that healthy…we put grains first, eat way too much sugar, dairy, and starch. Certainly, it would ignorant to think anything but for these foods are not being consumed in the healthiest ways. And, it would certainly be grand if people ate every meal with their ‘supreme’ health in mind…they should…but they don’t. As long as humans are impetuous and apt to falling for cravings and desires for food…they will most likely fail to eat solely for health purposes. There is more to consumption of food than health…part of it is social, for the pure taste of an elegantly concocted aperitif, or just because its so seriously tasty( I am thinking of a cinnamon bun right now). Still, as we gain more knowledge about the human body and discover new findings in how the body best functions….diet cannot be ignored as the #1 key to maintaining supreme health. I do believe that certain diseases and functions like Alzheimer’s, certain forms of cancer, cognition, memory, energy, sex drive, and behavior are affected and effected by what we eat. I have been gluten free for awhile now….and I feel awesome. I do not believe in ‘hippie dippie’ dieting nor do I believe that people should be vegetarian or vegan, unless they want to because that is their will. I think healthy habits can be obtained through discipline, exercise, and lifestyle with any overarching diet style. For me, I simply wanted to experiment and see if going gluten free really would change my life. Boy did it…my memory is better…I don’t get migraines as much anymore…I have more exercise….I am less irritable…etc. Alas, I cannot truly call my self gluten free as I enjoy beer, scotch, and other grain alcohols…that while I limit…are part of en enjoyable lifestyle. Also, noting back to the article where it referenced cross toxicity foods (COFFEE)…I will never give this up. I’m a big fan of coffee, and contradictory to this articles claim, some research I have read says that COffee is a great brain drink…apparently it activates our ‘Nrf2 pathways, helping to fight off oxidative stress and protect against neurodegenerative diseases like dementia’. Enough said…just sharing my scrambled thoughts.

  5. Convincing self, husband, daughters, son, sons-in-law and all family members of Mother Church what to and how to eat and heal our ills. Not that we will not die, but what medicine was intended to do ….to comfort or ease our way of life till we go to the Lord. One daughter married to recently graduate Physician’s Assistant ( lives in San Tan Valley, AZ.) second daughter an RN (New Iberia, LA.) third daughter (Hays, KS) doctor diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I know their ills to be American diet lacking in whole God’s wisdom of scripture

    • Bringing in religion to a discussion about diet is counterproductive. Try making your observations without religion if you can.

  6. Dr. Alan Barlos,

    The validity of what the guy’s saying is painfully obvious. As are a million other causes for chronic illness in the US and plenty of other places as well.

    Toxins in the enviro, food and water supply … everywhere ( too many to mention). The populace also of course has people like yourself to thank.

    Sad fact is you probably really are a doctor. Or make that one of the pathetically incompetent Big Pharma drug pushers that pass for healthcare professionals nowadays.

    You folks have an ( expensive) pill for everything, put a bandaide on a chronic illness to mask some symptoms. Even if the true cause and cure is right under your nose.

    Sad, sad, sadddddd state of affairs. So many so called “physicians” that couldn’t find their arses with both have an anatomical chart.

    PS, Hey I tried to resist the urge to post this stuff but what can I say, brain dead people are really offensive, shrugs.

  7. Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this before. The link to the Weston A Price foundation at the end of the in the Soy section does not redirect right for me. Just an FYI.

  8. 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

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  10. 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.

  11. 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

    • Civilization was well underway with the Egyptians -along with its negative effects. He’s speaking more of the hunter-gatherer period (the majority of our history).

  12. 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

    • Please go get yourself checked for colon cancer. My best friend suffered from the same issues… her cancer was diagnosed too late. Also, eating too much fibrous foods and doing things to irritate your bowels could worsen/spread the cancer. Seriously please get checked. I truly hope you find out what ails you..

    • Go to Dr Richard Schults web site.he will tell you what to do to reastablish your bowel. I did it, it works

  13. 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?

    • 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!

  14. 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.

    • Lorraine, Thanks for posting about your every 4 day cycle. I’ve been slowly losing weight / gaining health in the 18 months and recently I started doing something similar to what you describe. I’m just following what my body seems to need. It seems that I need to cut way back on carbs to lose weight, but after a week or so, I need a day to refuel. If I stay at a constant level, day in and day out, my weight seems to plateau, but when I cycle my carbs, I’m able to lose a couple of pounds a week.

  15. 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.

    • 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

    • “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.”

      Before the internet (scare tactics) food was actually food, not modified, genetically engineered, imported from other countries with little to no standards/regulations.

      Before the internet (scare tactics) there was a greater percentage of “housewives” who made everything from scratch and used whole, farm fresh non-modified ingredients.

      Before the internet (scare tactics) there was less cancer, less behavioral problems, less autism, less food allergies.

      I don’t know how anyone can not put the pieces together and see that the chemicals in our food supply are a problem. The human body is not built to process chemicals. Velveeta? American Cheese? Chicken nuggets, Spam, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter – oh boy! Some sort of butter tasting oily goo with no nutritional value, I had a Diet Coke habit – like 3 cans a day or 2 large ones from a fast food place. After quitting cold turkey and not having it for months – I was out to eat and this place had some of the worst tasting water on the planet. So I ordered a Diet Coke – took one drink and it was horrible. Nothing but the taste of chemicals. Gone was my beloved Diet Coke. Now when I want “soda” I make it at home by carbonating filtered water with my soda stream and adding just enough 100% organic juice to give it some flavor. Other than that, I drink water. I have since eliminated grains, added sugar, processed foods, artifical whatever, soy, alcohol, and I limit dairy. I know what changes I’ve seen and how I feel.

      No more heartburn.
      No more migraines.
      No more nagging cough.
      No arthritis pains in my hands.
      Watery eyes have cleared up.
      Sleeping like a rock – and 8 hours straight.
      No afternoon slump.

      My only complaint is the amount of dishes I have to wash on a daily basis.

      That said – to each his/her own. It’s no concern of mine what other people eat. 🙂

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

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