Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tolerance & Slow Motion Poisoning

In response to my Turkey Day post in which I resolved to avoid partially hydrogenated tainted food at my family's celebration feast, finndistan guy made a point for which I myself have contemplated as well:

About your memories on hydrogenated oily poisons.

First memory: Three years ago got bronchitis related to dust allergy and my laziness. did not go away for two weeks so I went to the doc. Got some antibiotics; and even if the bronchitis went away after a ten day regimen, those ten days were pure suffering. Talk about bloody diarrhea and such.

Second memory, a recent one.

I am lazy with dusting the house, so there was dust in the house, but I had no problem, zilch. Then one sunday; after a saturday party at a friend's, including little alcohol, and lots of "healthy vegan food" like whipped cream from oat milk, and milkless butter (took some questioning to get the words margarine out); I went to eat at a local ethnic diner. Lots of food. Almost binged.

The system did not recover from this assault, and for a week I was down, until few days ago; then I got a sore throat.

Realizing what is happening, I cleaned the house, but the throat turned into similar symptoms as the bronchitis three years ago.

I will not take any antibiotic I said to myself.

Since the binge, I had been eating clean, so there was not much to do there,

Took off from work, popped 15.000 ius of vit d every meal (2-3 meal per day), slept 12 hours, ate only food that I made (now am thinking of 100% my way (except the weekend alcohol) till christmas);

The same symptoms that took me ten days to clear three years ago, that took another friend two weeks, another three months (yea, this one is a grain lover); took two nights of 12 hours of sleep with enough tea and vit d, coconut oil, good butter and no processed crap.

The lungs went to crap on wednesday morning, now it is friday afternoon, and I have them running at 95%.

Definitely a placebo effect. Both on the negative effects of the vegan/processed stuff, and the positive effects on what i did to cure.

Placebo, yea.

I have distinct recollections of my health and well being prior to discovering the Weston A Price Foundation and the Paleo blogosphere and figuring out unconventional, anti-establishment truths regarding diet, health and nutrition.

I frequently lament to myself, "If I had known then, what I know now..."

From my mid-20's to my early 30's I thought I knew what eating healthy was, and I thought I knew what foods I should avoid. Yet I was overweight, had frequent allergy attacks, caught every cold and flu bug that I happened to come into contact with, and always took a really long time to recover. I frequently had chest colds turn into bronchitis and occasionally turn into walking pneumonia.

I also suffered from chronic asthma. I could not live without daily doses of asthma control medicine. I've had asthma since I was a young child, so I've always lived with it. I've become used to frequent attacks, and always carrying a rescue inhaler with me 24/7.

I used to also get an asthma attack every single time I exercised. Every single time. Usually withing 5 to 10 minutes of commencing some sort of physical activity or recreation, I would inevitably feel the tightness in my chest and immediately have to stop whatever I was doing and take a few puffs of my meds, hack out a few coughs and finally feel good enough to resume whatever I was doing.

My entire life, I was told by my HMO GP Doctor to avoid dairy, that my asthma was most likely related to milk allergy.

In hindsight, I now realize the truth is that I ate a grain heavy diet ('heart healthy whole grains!'), and the primary source of fat was Omega 6 rich vegetable/grain and legume oils. Margarine, low-fat/non-fat food products, and cooked with Canola, Soy and Olive oils.

Also ate a lot of commercial peanut butter brands, most made with partially hydrogenated oils.

When I first read the good folks at the WAPF article Know Your Fats, it was the first time I ever came across this piece of knowledge:

Saturated fats play many important roles in the body chemistry. They strengthen the immune system and are involved in inter-cellular communication, which means they protect us against cancer. They help the receptors on our cell membranes work properly, including receptors for insulin, thereby protecting us against diabetes. The lungs cannot function without saturated fats, which is why children given butter and full-fat milk have much less asthma than children given reduced-fat milk and margarine. Saturated fats are also involved in kidney function and hormone production.

My first thought here was "well fuck me." Then I kept reading:

The crux of Dr. Price's research has to do with what he called the "fat-soluble activators," vitamins found in the fats and organ meats of grass-fed animals and in certain seafoods, such as fish eggs, shellfish, oily fish and fish liver oil. The three fat-soluble activators are vitamin A, vitamin D and a nutrient he referred to as Activator X, now considered to be vitamin K2, the animal form of vitamin K. In traditional diets, levels of these key nutrients were about ten times higher than levels in diets based on the foods of modern commerce, containing sugar, white flour and vegetable oil. Dr. Price referred to these vitamins as activators because they serve as the catalysts for mineral absorption. Without them, minerals cannot by used by the body, no matter how plentiful they may be in the diet.

An honest assessment of my overall dietary patterns brought me to the point of realization: while I didn't oft eat white flour, I ate plenty of whole grain flour and bread based products like pasta. I also ate a lot of sugar, and yes, all the oils I was eating where largely the so-called "healthy" vegetable oils. I was following the mainstream advice to avoid saturated fats, minimize your animal foods consumption, and that a plant based diet was optimal for human physical health. This WAPF stuff was the very antithesis to everything I thought I knew.

And yet it also jibed with my personal studies regarding Hawaiian history and culture. I've read numerous history books, oral traditions, and observations made by Europeans who first came to Hawaii. They were full of references to tall, muscular, very fit, healthy looking people. And they ate plenty of animal foods - fish and all other sorts of seafood, dog, chicken and pig.

This is why I investigated further into the WAPF...and eventually coming to the Paleo Blogosphere, and began a massive turnaround in my diet, health and well-being.

I've been basically eating a nutrient-dense, traditional-based diet while doing my best to avoid neolithic agents of disease for close to 5 years now. The transformation in my health has been dramatic.

While I still have asthma (I will probably always have it), it has nowhere near the same effects on my life like it used to. I no longer carry a rescue inhaler wherever I go, and it took me 10 months this past year before I had to refill my prescriptions...prescriptions for which I used to have to refill every single month, 12 times a year at a minimum.

This was not a placebo effect. It can't be. The difference between then and now is just too dramatic.

This was discovering the difference between a diet rich in inflammatory-promoting foods, and anti-inflammatory foods. As I've frequently stated in the past, I basically follow Mark Sisson's 80/20 paradigm. In other words, the occasional indulgence of junk food for things like special occasions.

For the most part, that's been my occasional dessert after dinner indulgence. I've never noticed any problems or residual effects when I have done this. But even in these cases, the primary NAD I'm indulging in is sugar. Even on my "cheats" I try to avoid partially hydrogenated oils. (I really do miss the local Hawaii favorite, the Malasada - A type of doughnut in which Portuguese sweet bread batter is deep fried and coated in sugar).

But there have been a few times where I eating deep fried appetizers at a restaurant or party. I began to notice whenever I did this, I'd start to get asthma attacks within an hour or so.

Onion rings, french fries, or deep fried chicken (chicken katsu), doughnuts, all the stuff fried in partially hydrogenated oils (which is to say 99% of you eat anything deep fried from a restaurant), I always get asthma attacks within an hour or so, and sometimes multiple attacks over the course of the next 24 - 48 hours. But I never really paid much notice, as over the past few years in which I indulged on such occasions, were really few and far between.

But last year, I simply threw all caution to the wind and just pigged out at my family's partially hydrogenated Thanksgiving. I ate bread, dinner rolls, salad dishes containing mayo (soybean oil), loads of gravy (made with partially hydrogenated oil and wheat flour), and various desserts for which I know the crusts contained the crap too. Up to that point, having eaten "clean" for up to 3 years prior, it was quite the Omega 6/Hydrogenated oil indulgence.

I spent days with constantly recurring asthma and allergy attacks - which was how my life used to be on a daily basis when I ate the SAD. I had forgotten just how miserable I really was when I ate the neolithic agents of disease on a daily basis.

Is this nothing more than a placebo effect?

From my recollection, my attitude at the time was "I eat so good now, I'm doing so much better, this one time holiday gluttony won't affect me much! This is my cheat day, I'm with my family, let's just eat it all up and enjoy this without any worries."

Prior to that, the occasional indulgence like a few fries or onion rings or a piece of fried chicken may have caused me to have a small asthma attack, so no biggie, I'll just dose up on the meds and go back to eating good again.

So now I'm left having similar thoughts as finndistan guy. Am I having a placebo over-reaction? Or is it that when I used to consume these oils and other neolithic agents of disease regularly, did I have some sort of tolerance to the continual ingestion of inflammatory food products? Did largely removing this poison from my diet make me that much more sensitive to it when I actually do "cheat" and eat it again?

Of course, prior to changing my diet, I basically had to use asthma medication every several hours, both night and day, 24/7/365. I used to always double check to see if my inhaler was in easy reach whenever I went to bed so I could simply reach out and grab it for use when I would invariably wake up in the middle of the night with another asthma attack...usually several times, every night. So maybe I always had that same reaction to these oils, but simply managed my reactions to it by a constant dose of medications?

Now I'm not trying to make the case that my asthma is solely linked to the food I eat. I think it's more complex than that. I now believe my asthma is related to my immune system response to environmental allergen exposure (I'm hyper-allergic to dust mite allergens which are plentiful in Hawaii)...but my diet also affects my immune systems ability to deal with allergen exposure as well.

In other words, when I eat pro-inflammatory foods, my immune system becomes more susceptible to reacting to allergens, making it more likely I'll experience the bronchial tube spasms of an asthma attack.

For my own experience, the vast improvement in my asthma and allergy condition is the ultimate proof I need to validate the principles of the paleo-type diet. This is why I get annoyed when clueless people call the paleo diet a "fad."

There's so much more to your diet than simply your weight.

Ah, what the hell. Maybe I really am just a loon, and it's all just a placebo effect.


mmaier2112 said...

I used to have constant sinus / allergy symptoms. Headaches that would make it impossible to keep my eyes open, clogged breathing, stuffed-up ears, the works.

Once I purged most sugar, white flour, corn syrup and hydrogenated oils those symptoms almost completely went away.

I still drink too much beer and indulge in too many carbs. But the more I do, the worse my congestion problems and "quick bowels" get.

I will say that once you get used to purging those things from your diet, you body doesn't tolerate them much at all. And it tells you you're screwing up REALLY quick.

But my overall health is much improved, so there's no going back for me.

I just make sure I indulge in pizza much less.

Hell, my friends at work bought me a store-made pumpkin pie and German chocolate cake for my birthday. I threw it out because of the corn syrup & hydrogenated oil.

Deansdale said...

Yep, and game is placebo too :)))

Aussie Papist said...

Hi there

First time commenting, long time reader....

After reading about it for a long time I finally took the plunge in going Paleo/Primal just after Easter this year. I've been off sugar, wheat, hydro oils - the whole deal. I do eat fruit and dairy though.
Anyway, its been all good with many health complaints going away.
This Friday night my housemates and I had a celebration of St Catherine's Day (we don't have Thanksgiving in Australia) and we cooked traditional sugary/floury treats for each other. It was so strange - I would take a bite of something and then couldn't finish it. I ended up with all this unfinished food on my plate. The next day I had the biggest sugar hangover of my life! Headache like I had a swarm of bees living in it. I also had trouble waking up.

I now know that come Christmas I'm really going to have to be careful or I could end up feeling ill for the next week afterwards.

Anyway, I also want to say thanks as your blog was the first that really got me thinking "paleo" and lead me to Mark's.

Aussie Papist

Frost said...

Since I've been living in Thailand, I've been eating a fair bit of rice. Maybe 3-5 meals worth a week.

I still feel great. Better, in fact, than I felt on a more strict low-carb regimen in North America. My conclusion is that the majority of the benefits of a paleo diet are not from going low-carb, but just from avoiding the junk in American food.

Basically, it's hard to make humans fat, and the Conventional US diet seems engineered to do so.

Patrick said...

Another Primal (do eat some high quality dairy still) eater here. About 18 months since i changed the way i eat. On the topic of now being hyper sensitive to neolithic poison foods i can definitely attest to that. I get sick/bloated/lethargic (huge blood sugar crashes) within an hour of ingesting that stuff. I consider it a good thing. My body is letting me know right away that this stuff is bad.

I am more muscular (to be fair thats due to working out rather than diet), have low body fat for the first time ever, sleep better, look better, FEEL better, think better, etc etc.

But, of course i do. I mean intuitively this way of eating makes complete and utter sense. We evolved over a couple of hundred thousand years to eat like this. OF COURSE sugar and vegetable oils and soy and wheat and all that stuff is going to be bad. When you really take a moment to think logically and rationally about this stuff the answer is right there in front of you. I'll never go back to my old way of eating. Being in good health is the most important thing in life. Without it, everything else you have counts for nothing.

Love your blog btw man, you are an inspiration for me. Gl with the job hunt, keep your chin up.

Madbiker said...

This is basically my experience as well. Paleo eating has relieved me of constant suffering from allergies and sinus infections. When I indulge in neolithic foods, I pay with tummy aches and a clogged head, poor sleep and overall fatigue for a day or two. I don't think it's placebo effect; I think we become accustomed to feeling crappy for so long that we forget what feeling well feels like. Then we feel well after changing out diets, and upon reversion to the old CW way of eating, the crap feeling comes back. Only now, we can recognize it.

But this applies to so much more than diet. As a person whose been nibbling the red pill since about 7th grade, and swallowed it fully a few years back, I see the intersection of eating and health and behavior, mental and physical.

Since eating 80-90% paleo and cooking all of my own food (even the occasional sourdough bread from my own wild starter, as a cheat), I feel like I have become calmer, more rational and clear-headed, and able to make better decisions. I am no longer in a fog, mentally or emotionally.

One other thing I did as I became paleo was refuse to go back on hormonal birth control. It effed with my system way too much and after I had kids I decided I was through with the roller coaster and low libido. I learned how to do the FAM (fertility awareness method) and feel incredible without the mood-altering, psycho-bitch inducing pills.

I was in the midst of a perfect storm that brought me to paleo and the manosphere and libertarianism and finally letting myself see the world as I always knew it was but was afraid to embrace.

Anonymous said...

@Frost: The differences between rice and wheat are 1) the gluten in the wheat, and 2) digestibility.
1) Many people have gluten intolerance; they just don't know it and are so used to the symptoms that they think it is normal.
2) Wheat and other 'western' grains are not easily digestible by other than birds. In mammals, which of course include humans, this damage the lining of the intestine as the undigested, remaining shards pass through, causing irritation and minor leakage of waste toxins (offal!) into the bloodstream.

Anthropologists/paleopathologists can pinpoint the agricultural revolution to within a few decades from the study of skeletons:

"One straight forward example of what paleopathologists have learned from skeletons concerns historical changes in height. Skeletons from Greece and Turkey show that the average height of hunger-gatherers toward the end of the ice ages was a generous 5' 9'' for men, 5' 5'' for women. With the adoption of agriculture, height crashed, and by 3000 B. C. had reached a low of only 5' 3'' for men, 5' for women. By classical times heights were very slowly on the rise again, but modern Greeks and Turks have still not regained the average height of their distant ancestors."

Read the whole thing here:

blahblah said...

long time reader, first time poster. i am a white guy from north carolina that lived on the north shore of oahu for two years back in 2007-2008. i found this blog through roissy and really enjoy your writing. please keep up the good posts. there is a lot of good information in here. i wish i had met you during my stay, but i was too busy working and surfing.

blahblah said...

btw, i recently started a blog on sustainable surfing materials and am getting some good content from hawaiian shapers and surfers. feel free to to have a look and leave any comments. thanks

Carnivore said...

HL, you are definitely NOT a loon, and it is NOT all a placebo effect.

I had a similar experience. Was sickly as a child with really bad hay fever. Once things started to sprout and bloom in spring, I'd be on allergy pills and shots until after the first frost. In my early 20's, I also developed asthma, always had the inhaler on hand, etc.

I cured the asthma in two ways: 1. Removed all wall-to-wall carpets. I've got wood floors in the bedrooms and don't use any carpet; in the living room have an oriental rug on the wood floor. 2. No longer keep a dog. I don't like it, but there it is.

That didn't solve the hay fever. That's where the diet change came in. Dumped grains, the healthy oils, etc. and started eating primal & more animal fats. At this point, several times in the spring and fall I'll have to take an allergy pill for a few days at a stretch till things calm down. But it's not constant medication. No question in my mind that the change of diet did it.

BTW - you might be interested - good article on benefits of coconut water (which you probably already know):

Aurini said...

From about the age of 22 until I went paleo at 29, I used to suffer from awful heartburn; it would inevitably occur whenever I aid grains combined with lots of fatty foods, and I blamed the fatty foods.

Since going paleo, the heartburn is gone; I tend to eat pretty much nothing but sausage, eggs, (because I'm lazy) with a bit of veg thrown in, and a few potatoes. The only time I get heartburn now is when I crack, and cook myself a delicious grilled cheese sandwich (real cheese, oregano on the outside, garlic powder on the inside).

Funny - a purely grain diet (my poor-pasta twenties) doesn't seem to cause heartburn until you mix in fatty food. Glad I finally figured things out.

ThirdMonkey said...

Although I've not gone 100% paleo, I dumped white flour, sugar, and the vegetable oil. I've noticed a huge difference in my mood, energy, and workout stamina. I fell off the wagon earlier this month, and am reaping the consequences. Like you, I'm having problems with asthma again. I've been short with the wife and kids, have a case of the "mud butts" every morning, and the acne is back. This was the push I needed to get back on the wagon. Thanks.

finndistan said...

Before I go on with a short update, this was just in my facebook updates:


Kind of explains the fact that it is not my narcissism, but that I actually do look younger than my peers. It helps with the 22-25 year olds..


On the topic of the picture:

Very good friend of mine 180ish, had passed the three digit weight marker. So he decided to enact change.

We sat down, we talked, he started eating in line with "dude that will kill you" paleo.

Decided to run a marathon, and in few months he managed a marathon at 90 kgs of weight.

I was proud and happy.

Then he found the vegan lifestyle. And decided to run a triathlon.

My uttermost respects for people who manage triathlons also goes to my friend, but some pointers:

- Now he is down to 80, but skinny fat. so bad that the fat is hanging from the arms.
- Everytime he trains, he has a flu, after every long run, he is sick for days.
- When he started the trip back to two digits, his brother was at 99 or 98 kgs (it was a joke amongst them), the brother, continued weight training and eating traditional finnish way (meat, potato, bread, fish, cheese), and is still one gorilla of a man

But could not talk sense into him.

Ideologically so brainwashed he was, that when he was sick, he tried to talk sense into me about meat, when I had bypassed (except a few "Why am I so tired" days) the four or five "flu epidemics" of the last one and a half years.

Only thing I could tell him was "I did not get sick for two years. If you feel your health is not what it used to, I would like to sit down and talk"

finndistan said...

Now the update to my comment that is in the beginning of the post.

Days are dark, it is pre-christmas party season, so everybody out in town will be smashed.

So, alcohol was involved in my weekend.

Welcome back the itchy throat.

Known info as learned lesson: Alcohol is not an immune booster. :) (even "pure" stuff like tequila lime and carbonated water)

About the sensitivity, i believe you get more sensitive, but I also believe that is due to your baseline health being healthier.

If you look at health as a puddle of water that gets deeper with sickness, and shallower with health, any ripple caused in this puddle, even if it is same size, will seem larger on the shallow puddle.

I.e. My friends who are down with the flu two weeks out of every four in the winter, will not even feel a sudden lowering in the health of the body, but if you got sick three days in a year, then the slightest ripple will be like a tsunami.

A one meter wave in the ocean is invisible, while a one meter wave in the paddling pool will be, like a tsunami.

Though the recovery in the paddling pool still will take shorter time than what the perceived effect would dictate.

WP said...

Been eating paleo for almost 2 years now. Similar to HL, where I'm adding back carbs into daily eating (potatoes and rice).

Had chicken wings / deep fried potato wedges yesterday...Can't remember how long its been since I had deep fried food. My stomach is a mess. While I'm not sick, I did notice the rest of the day I had a headache I couldn't shake at all. And while I normally have bowel movements in the AM after waking, they came at 11-12 last night, kept me awake till 1am.

And related to thanksgiving - does anyone else think its disgusting how "gravy", which is traditionally the drippings from the roasted animal, is now made mostly from flour? Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

It's totally a placebo effect...
Just like how adding sparks and oxygen to gasoline has been scientifically proven not to cause it to combust.

Agnello said...

You are right,of course;The available wheat and milk are so different from their historical forms that even those with exclusively European ancestry often cannot consume them safely.I would note two points;
If one does have European ancestry, then he may have a bloodline representing five thousand years of daily dairy consumption.For some,dairy fats(heavy cream,fresh butter)are a necessity.
Unfermented soy - whether oil or 'flour'- is not just an allergen.It is,simply, poison.If one is doubtful of this fact, simply feed a cat on the soy augmented diet commonly found in an American supermarket.(NOTA BENE:The cat will die).There is NO safe level of dietary soy intake,for any mammal.A great deal(though not all) of the negative effects of consuming 'hydrogenated'(rancid) oils comes the fact that most of them are soy.
Try your Malasada fried in olive oil,coated with brown sugar.

Omnipitron said...

Keoni could you suggest some sites where one can learn a little bit more about where someone can start with paleo? Mrs. Omni and I are looking to change our diet and this seems very promising.

Keoni Galt said...

Omni, I'd suggest 5 sights:

Dr. Kurt Harris - Archevore
Melissa McEwen - Hunt. Gather. Love.
Mark Sisson - Mark's Daily Apple
Richard Nikoley - Free the Animal
J. Stanton -

IMHO paleo nutrition thinking as has evolved - it is no longer simply a low-carb/high fat diet.

It's now become a paradigm for avoiding the modern poisons ubiquitous in the food supply...or as Dr. Harris refers to them as Neolithic Agents of Disease.

Omnipitron said...

I appreciate it Keoni

Anonymous said...

The "Conventional United States Diet" is a diet devised by Jews for consumption by non-Jews because it makes us sick.