Erin Seaver on the Perfect Health Retreat

Erin Seaver, of Washington DC, was a guest at the October 2014 Perfect Health Retreat. Erin kindly recorded a video for us discussing her experience at the retreat.

Some highlights:

  • “I wasn’t having the success I wanted on the Paleo Diet and started reading [Paul’s] book and things really resonated with me so I actually reached out to Paul and talked about … going beyond diet and implementing a lifestyle in terms of exercise and sleep and go beyond foods themselves. That’s really what brought me to the Perfect Health Retreat.”
  • “The Perfect Health Retreat far exceeded my expectations. It’s been a really wonderful experience.”
  • “The food stands out … the Perfect Health Diet supports very flavorful and varied real foods and the chefs just did a phenomenol job. We were licking our fingers after every meal.”
  • “The structure of the retreat is great in that it supports learning, healing, and relaxation”
  • “The staff went above and beyond”
  • “Even in just the short span of a week I found some great improvements. … Even in just a week I’ve found improvement in my sleep, I had more energy, was less lethargic in the morning, general mood improved, and my anxiety dropped pretty significantly.”
  • “I do feel pretty prepared to translate the things I’ve learned and implement a lot of the lessons I’ve learned in this retreat back home.”
  • “Health coaching was great. I think I have spent more time with Paul talking about my health than I probably have with any doctor to date in my life, which is kind of sad but a great opportunity, and Paul’s also spent more time explaining things to me than most of my doctors have…. I appreciate the support.”
  • “The cooking classes were one of my favorite parts of the retreat.”
  • “I’m not sure if you could find a better setting for health promoting, peaceful relaxation…. Great location.”
  • “I would absolutely recommend this retreat to pretty much anyone. I don’t think it needs to be just for folks who have health challenges.”
  • “I probably will try to drag my mom here.”

Thank you Erin!

We are taking reservations now for the next Perfect Health Retreat to be held October 10-17, 2015. Don’t miss this opportunity for a luxurious vacation combined with a week of learning that will pay a lifestime of dividends. To reserve a room or learn more, please contact Paul Jaminet at paul@perfecthealthretreat.com or Whitney Ross Gray at whitney@perfecthealthretreat.com.

Disease Begins in the Mucus

Hippocrates famously said, “All disease begins in the gut.” I think we can narrow it down further: much modern disease begins in the mucus.

In a recent post, I put up this picture:

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), including defensins and cathelicidins, constitute an arsenal of innate regulators of paramount importance in the gut.

A depleted mucosal layer leads to inflammation and gut permeability.

It’s from a paper on the role of antimicrobial peptides in maintaining gut health. [1] The point of the left panel is that a healthy gut is characterized by a thick mucosal layer that shields our intestinal and immune cells from direct contact with bacteria. The inner mucus layer is infused with antimicrobial peptides to minimize its bacterial content. The outer mucus layer contains a population of friendly mucin-degrading bacteria – symbionts like Akkermansia who evolved to feed on our mucus. These friendly bacteria provide another layer of defense against infectious pathogens; bacteria tend to be quite good at keeping out competitors. Akkermansia has been found to prevent obesity.

In an unhealthy gut, on the other hand, the mucosal layer often gets stripped away. The image (right panel) attributes this to infection, which is one possibility, but nutritional factors also matter. For example:

  • Deficiencies of vitamins A or D will reduce production of antimicrobial peptides, making it easier for pathogens to reach our gut cells;
  • On very low-carb diets, production of mucin-2, the primary constituent of gut mucus, may be limited in order to preserve glucose for the brain (see “Dangers of Zero-Carb Diets, II: Mucus Deficiency and Gastrointestinal Cancers,” Nov 15, 2010);
  • Deficiencies of dietary fiber, vinegar, choline, and other nutrients may impair gut motility, leading to concentrations of partially digested food and bacteria at specific points in the intestine.

Regardless of why it happens, once bacteria come into direct contact with our gut and immune cells, they trigger inflammation and tend to loosen the gut barrier. This allows live bacteria and cell wall components from dead bacteria to enter the body from the gut.

Endotoxins – toxic compounds released when bacteria die, such as lipopolysaccharides from the cell walls of gram-negative bacteria – are immunogenic and inflammatory. A large influx of endotoxins into the body is “endotoxemia” – poisoning by endotoxins. As little as 2 nanograms LPS per kilogram body weight will induce fever, and 1 microgram LPS per kilogram of body weight will induce shock. [2]

Diseases caused by endotoxemia include:

  • Hepatitis [3]
  • Diabetes [4]
  • Heart disease [5]
  • Obesity [6]
  • Pulmonary hypertension [7]
  • Dyslipidemia [8]
  • Chronic kidney disease [9]

Many of today’s most prevalent diseases are caused by chronic endotoxemia.

So it behooves us to avoid it. If endotoxemia is fundamentally caused by the loss of a protective mucosal layer in the gut, how do we assure healthy production of mucus?

A recent paper sheds valuable light on that question.

Natural Whole Foods, High-Fat Diets, and Gut Health

It’s well known that in mice, “high-fat diets” induce endotoxemia. But these diets aren’t necessarily high in fat – any pelleted rodent food in which fat provides more than 20% of calories may be called “high-fat.” The critical difference of “high-fat diets” from chow is that they are composed of purified nutrients – starch, sugar, oil, vitamins, and minerals – whereas chow is composed of natural whole foods such as wheat, corn, and seeds.

A recent study tried to distinguish whether the cause of endotoxemia is the fat, or the purified starch, sugar, and oil. It made up three diets of varying fat content (8%, 48%, and 74% of energy respectively), but composed of natural whole foods. [10]

The result was remarkable:

[U]sing complex [i.e. natural whole foods] HFD, no associations were observed between dietary lipid amounts and the magnitude of endotoxemia, inflammation, and physiological alterations developed.

It turns out the endotoxemia that typically develops on high-fat diets is due to getting the calories from purified sources – starch, sugar, oil – rather than from whole foods. On a whole foods diet, the amount of endotoxin entering the body is more or less independent of the amount of fat consumed.

This is surprising in one respect. Lipopolysaccharide is fat-loving and enters the body along with dietary fat. So it stands to reason that a higher-fat diet would carry more endotoxin into the body.

But it turns out the body has mechanisms to regulate how much endotoxin enters the body. It wants a small amount so that the immune system can sample the gut microbiome, but not so much as to cause inflammation.

The primary mechanism for controlling endotoxin influx? Mucus production. The study noted that the mice eating higher-fat “had an increased number of goblet cells … [and] an increased MUC2 production.” MUC2 is mucin-2, the primary component of mucus in the gut.

Here is a picture with mucin-2 in the mucin-producing goblet cells stained red:

disease begins in mucus 02

It’s obvious that mucin production goes up dramatically as the fat content of the diet increases.

The study concludes,

“We show that, in complex HFDs based on chow ingredients and milk fat, there was no association between dietary lipid amounts and the magnitude of metabolic endotoxemia or low-grade inflammation.”

If high-fat diets are healthy, we can thank our mucin-producing goblet cells.

One last note: the fact that mice can produce healthy amounts of mucus on a 74% fat diet does not necessarily mean that humans can do the same. Humans have much larger brains than mice, and as a result our carbohydrate needs are larger. It’s possible that mice can maintain mucus production on a low-carb diet better than humans can.

References

[1] Muniz LR, Knosp C, Yeretssian G. Intestinal antimicrobial peptides during homeostasis, infection, and disease. Front Immunol. 2012 Oct 9;3:310. http://pmid.us/23087688.

[2] Warren HS et al. Resilience to bacterial infection: difference between species could be due to proteins in serum. J Infect Dis. 2010 Jan 15;201(2):223-32. http://pmid.us/20001600.

[3] Parlesak A, Schäfer C, Schütz T, Bode JC, Bode C. Increased intestinal permeability to macromolecules and endotoxemia in patients with chronic alcohol abuse in different stages of alcohol-induced liver disease. J Hepatol. 2000 May;32(5):742-7. http://pmid.us/10845660.

[4] Moreno-Navarrete JM et al. Circulating lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP) as a marker of obesity-related insulin resistance. Int J Obes (Lond). 2012 Nov;36(11):1442-9. http://pmid.us/22184060.

[5] Lepper PM et al. Association of lipopolysaccharide-binding protein and coronary artery disease in men. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007 Jul 3;50(1):25-31. http://pmid.us/17601541.

[6] Cani PD et al. Metabolic endotoxemia initiates obesity and insulin resistance. Diabetes. 2007 Jul;56(7):1761-72. http://pmid.us/17456850.

[7] Dschietzig T, Alexiou K, Richter C, Bobzin M, Baumann G, Stangl K, Brunner F. Endotoxin causes pulmonary hypertension by upregulating smooth muscle endothelin type-B receptors: role of aldose reductase. Shock. 2008 Aug;30(2):189-96. http://pmid.us/18091567.

[8] Lassenius MI et al. Bacterial endotoxin activity in human serum is associated with dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, obesity, and chronic inflammation. Diabetes Care. 2011 Aug;34(8):1809-15. http://pmid.us/21636801.

[9] McIntyre CW et al. Circulating endotoxemia: a novel factor in systemic inflammation and cardiovascular disease in chronic kidney disease. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2011 Jan;6(1):133-41. http://pmid.us/20876680.

[10] Benoit B et al. Increasing fat content from 20 to 45 wt% in a complex diet induces lower endotoxemia in parallel with an increased number of intestinal goblet cells in mice. Nutr Res. 2015 Apr;35(4):346-56. http://pmid.us/25687164.

 

Matt Farina’s Recovery from Hypothyroidism

Matt Farina is in the process of using the Perfect Health Diet to recover from hypothyroidism, and wanted to report his progress to PHD readers. Here’s Matt! – Paul Jaminet

My hypothyroidism was discovered in 2012. I was age 30 at the time and had just moved to a new part of the UK and enlisted with a new doctors surgery. The condition was discovered by accident when a nurse at the new surgery noticed I had an irregular heart beat. I was sent for blood tests in April 2012 where it was discovered that I had an underactive thyroid. My serum TSH was 11.3. We retested a week later and it was similar, 11.7. Free T4 was 11.1 and 11.6 pmol/l, on the low side.

The doctor asked if I had any of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism; I said I was tired in the day and had brain fog in the morning. I regularly go to the gym and run 10k and half marathon races, so the tiredness was noticeable. My mood was sometimes a little unstable too.

The doctor prescribed 50 mcg levothyroxine, and I began taking it daily. In July 2012, we remeasured. With the levothyroxine, my TSH had fallen to 3.0 and my free T4 had risen to 17.6 pmol/L – right in the middle of the normal range. Nevertheless, my hypothyroidism symptoms, such as brain fog and tiredness, persisted.

In early 2013, I relocated to a new part of the country and found a new doctor. They remeasured and my TSH was now 2.71. In July 2013, it was 2.6. I was still taking 50 mcg levothyroxine daily.

In early 2014, I moved again, and found a new doctor. My TSH had risen a little, to 3.3.

I decided to start researching causes and cures of hypothyroidism, and started to listen to podcasts from Ben Greenfield and Robb Wolf. Through them, I noticed that some people were successfully curing hypothyroidism through the Paleo diet. This really piqued my interest and I wanted to know more.

In May 2014, I sent Ben Greenfield an email saying I was considering starting a Paleo diet to overcome my hypothyroidism and I really wasn’t expecting a reply considering how busy he must be. He kindly responded very quickly saying, “I would say Paleo may be a bit dangerous, ideally I encourage you to follow a diet closer to this one.” He linked to the Perfect Health Diet.

A new set of blood tests were taken a few days after Ben’s email which showed a significant decrease in serum free T4 and an increase in TSH levels; free T4 was down to 12.1 and TSH was up to 6.42.

The doctor wanted to double my daily dose of levothyroxine to 100 mcg per day. I asked him why he thought I had hypothyroidism, and whether he would recommend that I change my diet to help overcome it. His responses shocked me. He said my hypothyroidism “could be genetic” and “unfortunately it’s just who you are.” He also said that he wouldn’t recommend any dietary changes because I didn’t show symptoms of food intolerance.

I decided that I would stick with the 50 mcg dose of levothyroxine, and see if diet could help me. I started the Perfect Health Diet the next day – June 2, 2014.

The first 3 months on the Perfect Health Diet yielded weight loss and other health benefits. I was never over weight but I dropped a jean size, started noticing stomach muscles and people were commenting on me losing weight in my face. As I intermittently fasted in the mornings, my clarity of thinking improved at work in the mornings with reduced brain fog. Other benefits included easier breathing through my nose, reduced tiredness in the day, and no more heart palpitations. The first few weeks were a little tough as my body was becoming fat adapted but that soon passed. The diet left me feeling satiated the vast majority of the time and the food I was having were truly delicious combinations. I used the Perfect Health Diet audiobook to scrub up on knowledge while I was at the gym.

After 3 months on the Perfect Health Diet, in late August 2014, I had a set of blood tests. My serum free T4 was back to normal at 18.0 and my TSH had dropped to 5.25. Nevertheless, my doctor still wanted to double my levothyroxine dose to 100 mcg. I politely declined as I knew the diet was working and that there would be even better results to come.

After 6 months on the Perfect Health Diet, in November 2014, free T4 was up again to 19.2 pmol/L and TSH had dropped again to 3.78. At this point the doctor had no comment except to say that I should stay at 50 mcg of levothyroxine daily.

At my next test, in March 2015, free T4 was up again to 19.9 pmol/L and TSH had dropped to 2.08. I continued to take 50 mcg levothyroxine daily, though in retrospect this would have been a good time to begin dropping the dose.

At my 12 month anniversary of adopting the Perfect Health Diet, in June 2015, I was tested again. This time free T4 was 27.6 pmol/L – well above normal – and TSH was only 0.12. I was now overdosing on thyroid hormone.

The doctor suggested cutting my levothyroxine dose in half, to 25 mcg per day, but I’ve decided to drop levothyroxine entirely and see if I show hypothyroidism symptoms. If I do I’ll try small doses of levothyroxine to see what works for me. I’m eagerly looking forward to my next blood test in three months to see if I am back to normal.

I fully intend to continue the Perfect Health Diet indefinitely, and I hope my story helps other people overcome their hypothyroidism.

Back in May 2014, when I first learned about PHD and the hope that it gave for natural thyroid healing, and heard my doctor say that hypothyroidism was genetic and incurable and that I would be living with it for the rest of my life, I left the doctors office feeling sad. If diet could heal hypothyroidism, then many people were being misled by their GPs.

Now I feel hope. I know hypothyroidism can be healed. Thanks for you hard work Paul, it’s really appreciated.

Cyndi Dorsett on the Perfect Health Retreat

Cyndi Dorsett, of Palestine Texas, was a guest at the October 2014 Perfect Health Retreat. Cyndi kindly recorded a video for us discussing her experience at the retreat.

Some highlights:

  • “I’m having such a good time I don’t want to leave.”
  • “The food is delicious, and it’s easy to prepare…. I’m never hungry, the staff has been wonderful, they’re very helpful, very patient.”
  • “This place is gorgeous.… You couldn’t have asked for a better setting…. The setting is peaceful. It’s conducive to this whole diet and regime. No stress.”
  • “I’ve really enjoyed it.”
  • “I’ve been trying to lose weight all my life…. With this one, I was going to approach it in a different way, for my health, not just for weight loss. But I have found my clothes are fitting a little looser…. I’m not hungry. We have the fast. After our evening meal, we fast for 16 hours. I wake up, I’m never hungry…. I don’t eat as much, and yet I’m full. That whole concept there is worth being here.”
  • “I’m tired of my doctors telling me I’m going to get these health problems…. I want to get better and enjoy my old age. I retired to have fun, not to be under a doctor’s care.”
  • “Paul is very helpful with the classes, and informative.”
  • “Cooking classes were very good…. I may never go out to eat again…. The food was phenomenal, and it’s not anything that anybody couldn’t do.”
  • “I don’t feel like I’m dieting, I don’t feel like I’m eating health food, but I am.”
  • “I would definitely recommend the retreat to anybody interested in better health and losing weight…. Better health especially, because that’s more important than anything.”

Thank you Cyndi!

We are taking reservations now for the next Perfect Health Retreat to be held October 10-17, 2015. Don’t miss this opportunity for a luxurious vacation combined with a week of learning that will pay a lifestime of dividends. To reserve a room or learn more, please contact Paul Jaminet at paul@perfecthealthretreat.com and 617-576-1753 or Whitney Ross Gray at whitney@perfecthealthretreat.com and 910-763-8530.