Around the Web: Bears in the Woods Edition

My apologies: I have been busy with work obligations lately. I hope to return to a regular blogging schedule soon.

[1] News: The recent flurry of interviews is winding down:

Second, Shou-Ching and I have been invited to blog at Psychology Today, and we’ve accepted. We’ll mostly be cross-posting similar posts at both sites, but we may write some original posts introducing our diet to that audience.

Finally, I’m going to be speaking at Paleo(fx) in Austin, Texas, March 14-17.

[2] Music to Read By: Last week’s IZ video was popular so let’s try one more: “What a Wonderful World”:

[3] Interesting Items This Week:

Adventures in food reward: Eating from a red plate and drinking from a red cup causes people to eat 40% less food. (Via John J. Ray) Quiz for Stephan: What’s the better weight loss plan: Gourmet food on a red plate, or bland food on a white plate?

I mentioned Stabby Raccoon’s binge drinking protocol last week. I didn’t mention that Stabby is from Alberta, Canada; and that the closer you live to Stabby, the more likely you are to need his protocol. Here are the percentage of binge drinkers in each state, according to the New York Times:

Gregory Cochran ponders why anyone ever thought genetic mutations would be the cause of common diseases.

Dr. Brownstein claims that bromine toxins can be passed from parents to offspring, impairing their thyroid function. Salt and iodine supplementation both help excrete bromine.

Pal Jabekk discusses “the carnivore connection” to obesity: the Paleo environment selected for insulin resistance, the modern environment for insulin sensitivity.

Dr. Jack Kruse advises a patient to try a Paleo diet for 30 days in an attempt to avert surgery.

CarbSane discusses irisin, an exercise hormone that assists weight loss.

Bix tells us why TV chef Paula Deen “can’t keep pushing mac and cheese and deep-fried Twinkies.”

“Circadian rhythm therapies,” such as sociability and looking at human faces, improve health; Chris Kresser makes a case for nature as an effective therapy. I know it always makes Shou-Ching and me feel better. (Note to Steve: I first wrote “Shou-Ching and I” and then remembered you.)

In some hard-to-diagnose cases, Lyme MD says, “Acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal therapy would be much better than what I have to offer.”

Chris Highcock reports that obesity-promoting gut flora protect against heart attacks by suppressing leptin, which worsens heart attacks.

Cheeseslave is embarrassed. Her waist to hip ratio is too high: 0.72.

Derrick Martin believes “macrobiology” is being neglected.

Paleo Pepper discusses causes of PCOS.

Via Tyler Cowen, a neat story on the communion wafer industry. Sister Lynn of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration learned how to make gluten-free wafers:

We eventually made a bread that worked with .01% gluten content [as compared to the 12-14% in normal communion wafers]… The Church said that was acceptable to them, so we gave the breads to people with coeliac’s [sic] disease and they had no reactions whatsoever.

A rare white penguin has been spotted in Antarctica:

Economists find that fasting during early pregnancy impairs the child’s intelligence.

Argentine President Christina Fernandez had her thyroid removed for fear of thyroid cancer, but it was a false alarm – her thyroid was fine.

Cygnia Rapp, the creator of Melt Organic Butter Spread, gave a very nice review of our book. She’s an organic food producer in Idaho.

New York City really does have a modern caveman. No, it’s not John Durant! But what is his diet?

Stephan addresses an issue – physiological insulin resistance on low-carb diets – we discussed in our reply to Ron Rosedale:

The first study to address this question was published in 1935 by Dr. H.P. Himsworth (Himsworth HP. Clin Sci 2:67. 1935).  He found that insulin sensitivity was increased by feeding a high-carbohydrate diet and decreased by feeding a low-carbohydrate diet, but these effects were only observed at very high (70-80%) and very low (less than 10%) carbohydrate intakes, respectively.

[4] Cute animal:

Via Yves Smith.

[5] New Papers and Books This Week:

Congratulations to two top Paleo bloggers who published new papers this week:

  • Chris Masterjohn has a new review paper, here, on the therapeutic potential of green tea.
  • Stephan Guyenet has a new review paper, here, on the regulation of food intake and body mass in obesity.

Richard Nikoley’s new book, Free The Animal: Lose Weight & Fat With The Paleo Diet, has come out. From the cover image I at first thought the title was “Beyond the Blog,” and even Richard refers to it as “My ‘Beyond the Blog’ Book”. Congratulations, Richard.

Finally, Chris Highcock of Conditioning Research has come out with an ebook, Hillfit: Strength. The booklet is available for download from I was able to read a copy and it is excellent.

His booklet is an introduction to fitness. It is designed to help readers develop versatile and functional strength that enables them to excel at natural human movement. Chris breaks strength down into 5 basic functional patterns – two upper body patterns (pushing and pulling), two lower body (squatting and hip-hinging), and one whole body (running/hiking) – and shows exercises that can be done indoors without equipment to develop strength in all five patterns.

Although this is marketed as a booklet to make you “Hillfit”, ie good at moving over mountains and hills, it could just as well have been titled “Lifefit.”

Congratulations on an excellent book, Chris.

PS – Doug McGuff also has a review. Doug had a great week as well, he was interviewed by Dr Mercola and sold a lot of copies of Body By Science.

[6] Of Safe Starches and Ketogenic Dieting: Lucas Tafur discusses safe starches and blood glucose. He adds:

Despite my obvious differences with Paul (33), his dietary advice is very reasonable and his diet is the first I recommend.

Thanks, Lucas. It is not clear to me why we have differences. The main difference seems to be that Lucas equates low-carb and ketosis (for instance, in his most recent post he says “I will use low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets equally,” ie, interchangeably), whereas I distinguish them because you can generate ketones even on a high-carb diet by flooding the liver with MCT oil or coconut oil. In the post in which he disagreed with me, Lucas took my critique of zero-carb diets to be a critique of ketogenic diets, which I did not intend at all; I believe ketogenic diets are therapeutic for many conditions and should be a weapon in everyone’s dietary arsenal. I simply believe that making a diet ketogenic through the use of carb-starvation, rather than by MCT oil, should be viewed as a method of short-term fasting that is unsafe as a long-term diet.

I understand that Lucas has increased his “safe starch” consumption recently, so perhaps we are converging!

[7] From the Comments:

Joan reported her work-in-progress results from using PHD for Crohn’s:

Results? Well, I’m still off steroids which my gastroenterologist didn’t think would happen! I do still get diarrhea and pain at times but that is often a result of my experimentation with different things. I got alot of bloating and gas when I first introduced carbs and 100g of rice (uncooked weight) looked enormous. The bloating is decreasing and my stomach capacity must have increased! I’m getting closer to understanding what works for me so hope things will settle down further. A major improvement has been my increase in energy; I no longer require one or 2 naps during the day and I’m slowly upping my exercise.

It definitely is a “work in progress” but I feel confident this is the right path. Steroids have wrecked my body (I have an artificial hip due to osteoporosis) and the future looked grim. Thank you Paul and Shou-Ching for giving me hope.

Joan also did a do-it-yourself fecal transplant using a colonic enema kit, and reports results. KH quotes Proverbs 13:12 in reply: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Lance Strish notes that Dr Greger opposes fermented foods. On the strength of Seth Roberts, the Weston A Price Foundation, and many traditional cuisines, we have included fermented foods in our food plate and have been eating them ourselves for the last year, but I’m still open to counter-evidence. Live cultures are surely not risk-free.

Rob links to an interesting story. High fiber did not solve Hitler’s gut dysbiosis – and neither did strychnine, cocaine, or amphetamines.

Mario notes evidence linking Sjogren’s syndrome to viral infections.

Kyle and Connie Warner give us interesting stories about the links between cyanobacteria and ALS and Parkinson’s.

Finally, Dale wonders if we designed this dog’s diet:

Actually I bet a “Perfect Puppy Diet” book would do well. I notice on Amazon that The Culinary Canine is doing well, perhaps because of great recipes like “Muttloaf”:

[8] Not the Weekly Video: Owl – or blood-sucking bat?:

[9] How Henry Harpending Escaped Being Turned Into a Frog:

Everyone except the Americans agreed that witchcraft was a terrible problem, that there was danger all around, and that it was vitally important to maintain amicable relations with others and to reject feelings of anger or jealousy in oneself. The way it works is like this: perhaps Greg falls and hurts himself, he knows it must be witchcraft, he discovers that I am seething with jealousy of his facility with words, so it was my witchcraft that made him fall. What is surprising is that I was completely unaware of having witched him so he bears me no ill will. I feel bad about his misfortune and do my best to get rid of my bad feelings because with them I am a danger to friends and family. Among Herero there is no such thing as an accident, there is no such thing as a natural death, witchcraft in some form is behind all of it. Did you have a gastrointestinal upset this morning? Clearly someone slipped some pink potion in the milk. Except for a few atheists there was no disagreement about this. Emotions get projected over vast distances so beware.

Even more interesting to us was the universal understanding that white people were not vulnerable to witchcraft and could neither feel it nor understand it. White people literally lack a crucial sense, or part of the brain. An upside, I was told, was that we did not face the dangers that locals faced. On the other hand our bad feelings could be projected so as good citizens we had to monitor careful our own “hearts”.

This all went on for an hour or so and I am ashamed to admit, here, that when the crunch came I blinked. Our employees were so adamant to show me the truth that they pooled their money so they could take me to the local witch doctor, who would turn me into a frog. “Of course he can do that, it is easy for them to do, even to white people” they said. I thought for a very short time and took the coward’s way out, I refused their interesting offer, the risk was a little too much for me.

[10] Shou-Ching’s Photo Art:

[11] Paleolithic animal diets: Paleophil questioned whether Paleolithic hunters passed up the lean portions of meat. I mentioned in my reply a link from Mark Sisson showing that even beetles adjust their food sources to optimize nutrient ratios.

But maybe a better example would be killer whales, who scorn the lean shark meat but eat the liver:

[12] Weekly Video: What Do Bears Do In the (Ontario) Woods?

Leave a comment ?


  1. I think I’m going with the Northerner hypothesis for why people drink so much in the North. There’s little else to do in the winter, there’s only so much I can use my brain for fun before I have to destroy it for fun.

    That study with the colored plates is no surprise, there’s a famous psychological experiment where making people eat popcorn at a movie with their wrong hand (a catcher’s mitt on their dominant hand) causes them to eat substantially less popcorn. The lesson? A change in one habit produces wide-ranging changes in behavior. That’s why I suggest that smokers quit while they’re camping, it’s a change from the routine that became associated with the habit and perpetuated it. Of course I’m jumping to conclusions, they seem to think it’s because red signifies “stop”. Could be true, we would have to try with other flamboyant colors. Picnic time!

    The rest looks interesting, I’ll have to bookmark many of these. Cheers.

  2. And I’m going to change the name of the “Northerner hypothesis” to not be so redundant, heh. Time for bed!

  3. Paul

    Thank you so much for your review of the Hillfit book. It is great to read that you have found it useful. I really appreciate your kind support


  4. Thank you for the mention!

  5. I’ve been reading Ray Peat lately and I noticed that he is against fermented foods. He cites a high incidence of stomach cancers among the Japanese as part of his logic. Don’t have the link at the moment, will try to find it.

  6. Oh my gosh, who put that kangaroo is dog’s clothes!??? I laugh-cried so hard for 2 minutes watching that clip! Thanks for posting, that was so funny! 🙂

    And… speaking of laughter, here’s another great proverb (thanks for the mention!), wait sorry, it says “cheerful heart” but I think “laughter” is the same idea,
    “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Don’t focus on the last part… I have to remind myself that too!)

    So, go find a good laugh 🙂 (that dog video is a good start)

  7. Hello Perfect Health Penguin,

    Regarding the quiz for Stephan, I don’t know about red vs white plates, but I am familiar with red vs blue pills –

    Since I never get bored repeating this – reward is not synonymous with palatability, though correlated 🙂

    Jokes aside, this weekend I included some raw, aged cheese in my eggs (the “good” stuff loaded with K2 no doubt). But it was “stinky” cheese. The stank was enough to where it made me lose my appetite. Just a random observation that I’m sharing.

    Stinky food on red plates FTW!

    Take care,
    G. Wolverine

  8. Hey Paul, what do you think of this study on various carbohydrates and phagoctic potential?

    It seems to support your recommendation for starch over other sugars, as the neutrophils are more effective after starch than with the sucrose, fructose and glucose. It doesn’t seem to have to do with blood glucose either.

    But as I am learning these things aren’t always so straight-forward, what say you?

  9. Phagocytic, rather. Damnit, check your spelling, Stabby! Yes, Stabby. Right then.

  10. Hi Stabby,

    It’s interesting, but I don’t know what to make of it. There’s a fairly large literature on phagocytosis which I’ve been meaning to investigate, but haven’t yet.

  11. I’m looking forward to it then. We want our little eaty guys to be working their best, right?

  12. Hi Stabby,

    Probably, although they also have to be good at killing the critters once they get them inside. Don’t want them becoming infected, crippled uselessphils.

  13. Hi Paul,

    I think that our main disagreement is respect to the causes of the possible glucose deficiency. We don’t know if glucose avoidance can have deleterious long term effects, we can only theorize. Maybe, maybe not. Our discrepancy arises from the evidence presented to support your thesis of glucose deficiency, which I found not supportive. Maybe its true that zero carb diets can lead to the dangers you warn, but the studies cited in those articles do not support your hypothesis, specially in the case of mucus deficiency, where no relationship has been observed between dietary glucose and mucus production; only with threonine deficiency. In the case of vitamin C, you state that insulin is needed for vitamin C recycling, so a zero carb diet, by lowering insulin, lowers vitamin C recycling. You forgot to mention that vitamin C is in part transported through GLUTs, so it makes sense that insulin stimulates vitamin C transport into cells, because glucose competes with it. This competition with glucose occurs both at the intestinal (absorption) and cellular level.

    For a diet to be ketogenic, it must have low levels of carbohydrates. Eating MCT oil and/or coconut oil might enhance ketogenesis, but eating 100g of carbohydrates + MCT oil does not produces the same level of ketonemia as eating a zero carb, low protein, high fat diet. So, for therapeutic purposes I would opt for fasting and/or a strict very low carbohydrate diet. I think that is more natural to achieve ketosis through fasting (and or very low carb diet) than from eating MCT oil + 100g carbs. In any case, the level of ketosis of the latter is very low compared with a “true” ketogenic diet.

    All the best,


  14. Subject: Re: Is Jaminet referring to you?

    (A friend) wrote:
    > From the PerfectHealthDiet blog:
    >> (Note to Steve: I first wrote “Shou-Ching and I” and then remembered you.)

    Yes, it must be I.

  15. Hi Lucas,

    I think it’s clear, in my own experience and that of others, that glucose avoidance can have negative effects within weeks/months/years.

    So the main issue is what causes it and how can it be avoided.

    “Zero carb dangers” doesn’t mean that there’s no way to avoid it, it means that if you fail to do the things that avert the danger, you may experience it.

    Since protein can be converted to glucose, additional protein consumption is one way of averting zero carb dangers. But the fact that protein / amino acids like threonine can help avert the danger doesn’t mean there is no danger.

    About the glucose-mucus connection: the connection to dry eyes is well established, I did many experiments myself (remove dietary glucose, dry eyes; restore it, moist eyes). In this case I was resorting to the literature not to find out whether the phenomenon existed – I knew it existed – but to look for related information.

    I’m surprised if I didn’t mention that vitamin C is transported by GLUTs, that’s why its transport is insulin dependent. Yes, competition from glucose is a factor, but blood glucose is regulated more closely than insulin levels. Also, the competition at the GLUT transporter had been widely discussed in the Paleo community as a possible reason for low vitamin C needs on low-carb diets.

    I think more data is needed on the level of ketosis achievable by the different techniques, but MCT oil + 50-100 g carbs seems to produce enough ketones to relieve migraines. I am not convinced that the amount produced is low; short- and medium-chain fatty acids are sent to the liver for disposal, if the quantity is large energy substrates will have to be exported regardless of carb intake, and it seems to be easier to reduce the fatty acids to ketones than to lengthen them to long-chain fatty acids. Empirically it seems to work.

    Finally, starvation may be a natural way to produce ketones but it is not healthy as a long-term diet. The many negative effects seen on “clinical” ketogenic diets seem to be largely attributable to the starvation nature of the diets.

    So, perhaps we do have some genuine differences. But they seem relatively modest and open to experimental test.

    Best, Paul

    Hi Steve,

    Heh. Your reputation is everywhere.

  16. Hi Paul,

    “About the glucose-mucus connection: the connection to dry eyes is well established, I did many experiments myself (remove dietary glucose, dry eyes; restore it, moist eyes). In this case I was resorting to the literature not to find out whether the phenomenon existed – I knew it existed – but to look for related information.”

    Yes, I do not imply there might be no problem. Some of your readers and you have experienced this issue, so despite the lack of studies, it is real. However, my problem is attributing it to glucose per se. Maybe it is, but the only studies I have seen find a connection with threonine, irrespective of the carbohydrate content of the diet. If glucose deficiency were the problem, you should see no issues even with threonine deprivation, or at least, mucus deficiency will be ameliorated.

    Re: ketosis. I think it depends on the pathology being treated. And the utilization of clinical ketogenic diets (calorie restricted 90% calories from fat) surely is problematic. I think that a more flexible diet, combined with some tools (MCT, fasting, exercise) should help getting ketonemia at an adequate level (not too high but not too low) to achieve potential benefits.

    How boring would be if everyone agrees, right?

    Thanks for being always open to debate.


  17. @ Stabby & Paul
    Leptin has been been grouped as a cytokine by some researches and related to the IL-6 family, though, if I recall correctly not of the same gene family. It has been demonstrated to modulate the immune response and would hence increase the phagocytic activity of neutrophils. If leptin is expressed more highly as a result of glucose-based starch ingestion (i.e. amylose) then this would make sense. This also troubles me as it may also worsen some dieters immune-based disorders and may be a reason some individuals do better on different glucose sources. Just a thought.

  18. Yes, there are gluten free communion wafers available. There’s also hypo-allergenic incense.

  19. Hey Paul,

    First off thanks for writing the book. I just bought the Kindle edition and my wife & I are trying to get on the diet this week.

    I have a few questions regarding the diet if you or someone knowledgeable here can help answer them.

    Is corn allowed on this diet? Like corn on the cob or steamed corn? Is that a bad starch to avoid or is that considered a veggie?

    Also, I found a brand of rice crackers in the Asian Food section of the store that has sugar listed toward the end of the ingredients list but no grams of sugar listed on the dietary info of the crackers? Good, bad? Any thoughts?

    Also Trader Joe’s carries a line of brown rice gluten free pasta. Since you would be soaking the pasta in boiling hot water first would that effectively reduce the phytin issue we’re trying to avoid re: brown rice? Is their brown rice pasta an okay form of starch to use on this diet?

    Any thoughts on “carraggean” as an ingredient? It seems to be on all forms of heavy cream and sour cream I find in the stores. Something to avoid or is not an issue?

    Thanks in advance for your input.

  20. Thanks for linking that Cochran article. I didn’t realize he and Harpending are blogging now. The book they co-authored, The 10,000 Year Explosion, is a facinating read, so i’m expecting their blog to be equally good.

  21. Thanks, Gabriel.

    Hi Joe,

    Corn is not technically allowed but corn on the cob is a minor transgression.

    I wouldn’t worry about an insignificant amount of sugar in the rice crackers. The bigger concern may be the type of oil used.

    I would prefer white rice pasta but brown rice noodles are acceptable. I am less concerned about phytate (an anti-nutrient) than about toxins.

    Carrageenan is bad, and it would be better to avoid it. But it’s nearly impossible to find cream without it. Some people are more sensitive to it than others.

  22. Thanks so much for the response Paul.

    The brand of the rice crackers I found was “Asian Gourmet”. They use Palm oil which I think was an okay-ish oil according to your book. They’re actually quite good. All the rice crackers I found in Trader Joe’s have soy or soy sauce flavoring in them so I’m guessing those are not good going forward.

    My last question was dark chocolate – I found an organic bar at Trader Joe’s that is 73% dark chocolate with no soy products in it. It does have 9g of sugar per serving from evaporated cane juice. Is that an okay product to use when consuming small amounts of dark chocolate? Finding dark chocolate w/o Soy products in it or w/o sugar proved pretty difficult unless there’s a bran you recommend that is sugar free w/o artificial sweeteners.

  23. Hi Joe,

    Palm oil is excellent so Asian Gourmet crackers sound great.

    The chocolate is OK. I don’t mind small amounts of fructose on a low-carb diet. Darker chocolate would be even better, I find 73% chocolate too sweet, but 73% is OK.

    A little soy sauce is OK. Lecithin should be OK.

    Best, Paul

  24. Paul and Shou-Ching, I wanted to thank-you for a well thought out and written book. I’ve followed “paleo” type eating for about a year (with good results), and began trying to follow PHD from the website, but finally bought the book after getting a Kindle Fire for Christmas. While I’m still pondering some things, the information in the book is valuable (beyond what’s on the website) and seems to provide a logical eating strategy.

    Since corn was mentioned above, I’ve not read anything convincing that eating some corn is bad, especially (maybe?) if it’s been treated with lime like traditional cultures do when making masa. I’m definitely open to being wrong here. Corn oils and HFCS are evil, of course.

    On fermented foods, I make yogurt weekly, and have began experimenting with fermented vegetables (thanks to your previous posts!). Is there any further information or studies on why fermenting may be harmful? Paul, it seems you have mentioned being opposed to kefir, is that correct?

    I’m sure I’ll pepper you with more questions from time to time. Thanks again for the book/website!

  25. Hi Pooka,

    It’s true there’s no direct evidence for harm from eating corn from the cob, but it is a grain and the presumption is against it. The fact that corn oil is more harmful than similar omega-6 rich oils like safflower oil is a hint that there are toxins in corn.

    Re kefir, I am not opposed to it in general, but I think people who have fungal infections would do well to avoid yeast-fermented foods.

    Why may fermenting be harmful? For the same reason probiotics may be harmful. You can introduce a pathogenic bacterium along with the probiotic ones.

    Overall, fermented vegetables and probiotics seem to be beneficial to most people most of the time, but we can’t exclude an element of risk.

    Best, Paul

  26. Hi Paul,

    What’s a good estimate for the release of the cookbook?


  27. Hi D,

    There is no estimate, we are aiming for late this year but don’t have a publisher yet and we’re still writing it.

  28. Thanks for the fast reply, Paul, that all seems fair. Kefir is only something I occasionally drink, but I couldn’t live without my homemade yogurt! My “system” seems to run better on yogurt.

    Look forward to the cookbook.

  29. Congrats on the invite to blog over at Psychology Today!

  30. I’m surprised if I didn’t mention that vitamin C is transported by GLUTs, that’s why its transport is insulin dependent.
    This is only true for DehydroAA and its now thought that its minor C transporter in healthy tissues, SVCT1/2 beeing dominant ones. In fact, DHAA contribution to vitamin C pool for healthy people is now considered to be minimal nowdays. This situtation changes in diseased tissues as there will be more DHAA due to redox changes. Also, some cells are very well equiped to deal with hyperglicemia and C transport, like RBCs and its stomatin switch from glucose to C on GLUT1 transporter.

    High fat diet reduces vitamin C availability via increased LPS circulation and increased bile production and that is the primary reason you need more C. But you need it in all circumstances anyway so this discussion is pointless – if you don’t supplement at least 2x500mg C daily, you are going to be deficient in some part of your body, no matter the diet, period.

    About the glucose-mucus connection: the connection to dry eyes is well established, I did many experiments myself (remove dietary glucose, dry eyes; restore it, moist eyes)
    Have you tried with pure glucose ? That would actually be interesting. We don’t know how much of extra things are you getting along with dieatery glucose.

  31. Also, since location is very important, low carb diet and C supplementation is important in the gut, since oxidative stress is strong there, so it makes a lot of sense to lower your glucose if you take C with food. Tendency toward starchy foods also promote more basic stomach juice and C is degraded or useless in higher pH.

  32. Hey Stabby, I’m in Alberta too, trying to find a sympathetic doctor – any suggestions?

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