Category Archives: Reader Results

Farewell Mathias

Longtime readers will remember Mathias and Zachary, the unfortunate children suffering from Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation, a genetic disorder that leads to horrifically painful spasms beginning in early childhood, and death as a teenager. I wrote about their case in Ketogenic Diet for NBIA (Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation), February 22, 2011.

The ketogenic version of PHD had remarkable effects for the NBIA kids. Mathias and another boy who tried the diet, Zachary, regained control their limbs, and the spasms and pain went away. Kindy, Mathias’s mom, wrote in 2011:

Both boys have begun smiling and laughing all the time.

Nothing inspires happiness more surely than the cessation of extreme pain!

My speculation is that a ketogenic (or high-fat) diet helps in NBIA by allowing Coenzyme A, the crucial enzyme which is under-generated in NBIA, to be redistributed from organs like the liver and muscle, where it is manufactured in abundance, to the brain where it is most needed. On a ketogenic or high-fat diet, more CoA is created and it is more often bound in water-soluble forms (such as acetyl-CoA, acetoacetyl-CoA, and HMG-CoA) that can cross cell membranes and enter the brain.

Mathias and Zachary continued to do well on our diet for over three years. Kindy recently wrote:

Zach is actually doing really well.  He is following your diet still (not into the ketogenic range but otherwise following it more or less precisely) …  He is off nearly all of his medicines and is able to do things that he never could in his life.   He is not well – but he is not in pain and has no spasms, and is doing school work etc.

An aside: I’ve been hearing recently from a number of people who experienced great benefits in neurological conditions – NBIA, epilepsy, migraines, and others – following the ketogenic version of our diet, and later transitioned to the regular version of PHD with more carbs and less fat, and continued to maintain all the neurological benefits they had first achieved on the ketogenic diet. Perhaps it was not the ketosis that was crucial, but some other aspect of PHD, such as reduction of inflammation or improved nutrition.

Mathias also was doing very well, until he developed pneumonia last summer. Possibly his genetic mutations disturbed immune function; in any case, the pneumonia led to fatal complications. Kindy wrote:

I want to let you know that on June 23, Mathias died of septic shock.  He went into the hospital 10 days prior with pneumonia and we were packing to go home on the following Friday when he got a sudden fever.  The doctors asked us to stay one more day – his lung x-rays were clear but they were concerned about the fever.

On Saturday, his fever went to 41 degrees Centigrade.  On Sunday, it went to 42 degrees.  Despite every available antibiotic and all other attempts to save him, Mathias died peacefully with a strong heart (153 beats per minute – and breathing on his own).

He was surrounded (even in Intensive Care) by his whole family, plus his aunt, and two of his long time helpers – plus two of his nurses and two doctors.  We thought it would be a few more days and we were all hugging him, and laughing with him and telling him stories.  From one second to the next, his heart stopped.

We choose to believe that Mathias decided – down to the last second – what and how he was going to leave his earthly body.  He had no cramps, no spasms, no pain. He just let go surrounded by love.

We are privileged and honored to have known such a brave, smiling, incredible person.  He did more and affected more people in his 9 years of life than most people do in their entire lives. He was always happy, always smiling – a gift to everyone around him.

Thank you for being part of the forces around his life who helped support him, love him, and provide him with the best life that was possible for him. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Mathias RIP

Farewell Mathias. May you rejoice in God’s kingdom, where all love and all are lovable, and all tears are wiped away. Requiescat in pace.

Reader Reports

It’s been a while since we’ve shared reader feedback – too long!

In the last few months, readers have reported good results against: obesity; underweight; joint pain; anxiety and panic attacks; autoimmune thyroid conditions; infertility; back, neck, and stomach pain; insomnia; hunger; menstrual cramps and pain; fatigue; bipolar disorder; scoliosis and back pain; prediabetes; eczema; skin quality; multiple sclerosis; irritable bowel syndrome; heart palpitations; leg cramps; low energy; low libido; flat mood; gingivitis; type 2 diabetes; ringworm; seborrheic dermatitis; back pain again; thyroid, adrenal, and gut issues; autism; arthritis pain; and headaches.

Thank you to everyone who shares results! If, by chance, you want to cure some of these conditions yourself, the quickest way forward is to attend our Perfect Health Retreat.

From Amazon reviews

Taylor wrote:

This book is great. I’ve been on the diet for about two months and have already lost ten pounds, and I feel a lot healthier.

Charlie wrote:

Lost already 12 pound in 6 weeks. Simple advice with big impact.

Healthy pursuit wrote:

I have been waiting for this book all my life. I have tried every diet with no success. I knew there had to be a diet that was nourishing but also did not create constant cravings. I have been on this diet for just a few days, but already feel much better and have less cravings. I will be recommending this book to all my family and friends.

Mary Joy Fant wrote:

Both of my grandmothers lived to be in their hundreds. They both cooked their own meals and ate lots of potatoes and onions. Neither had ever been hospitalized. Both died from complications from broken hips. I have been low carb for a couple of years but after the first 40 #s I am just stuck. Can’t lose more weight and still need to release about 50 more to be at a health weight. After I got the book I started immediately with adding potatoes and rice and lost 2 # this week. I liked that I had the bare bones of the book with diet info at the very beginning. Took me a week to finish the book. Now I feel like I too will be able to be a spry healthy person in my later years. I am a 57 year old female and looking forward to life with a healthy and strong body. Thanks for such an informative book and for the hope it gives us all.

Mallory Osugi wrote:

It’s been said before…but it really is the sanest book on health. No exaggeration or gimmicky ideas, just very sound and practical information that completely makes sense. I am rereading for the fourth or fifth time and still having dozens of epiphanies. This is one book I am buying for as many loved ones as I can convince to accept it. I started on zero-carb, lean-meat-and-veg Paleo, and became painfully thin and developed some health problems, and now I have gained weight, but in a good way–I get some compliments on looking toned or, once, to my surprise and delight, like a runner (though I exercise little). And I have fixed several other problems. I am just dying to give this to everyone

D&S wrote:

In short, this book has changed my life. Since adopting the PHD shortly before Thanksgiving, I have lost 25 pounds. I have not “dieted” at all. I just simply removed the foods the book suggested and ate more of the foods recommended. I have also practiced the intermittent fasting suggested in the book.

I feel unbelievably better. I have 10 times the energy and the pain in my joints is gone. Consequently, I have been exercising more regularly. The pounds are just melting off. I have not been at my current weight since I was in High School over 25 years ago. I can’t wait to go to my physical and see my blood work. In addition, it is now fun to sit by the pool in my bathing suit and wear my entire new wardrobe.

From the PHD Facebook group

Go to the PHD Facebook group page and click “Join Group” to join:

Leo wrote:

my bad anxiety and panic attacks came from following Atkins … this was my first attemp at dieting, thankfully my second attempt 3 years later was with phd, lost 4 pounds/month for 8 months

Angela wrote:

I have been a type 1 diabetic for almost 30 yrs-low carb was life changing for me for a good number of yrs. I was 30 grams or below each day without cheating (ever) for a few yrs with really great results. I truly thought I found the magic fix! after I developed an autoimmune thyroid problem things went south and no matter what I felt bad-very low carb can cause issues with converting t4 into t3….I explored adding the PHD safe starches back in with good results. for me, carb balance is a must. if I am too low carb for a wk or so I can tell. As soon as I up the starches I get some relief.

From Anonymous:

So here’s a story for you. Friend just gave birth. Baby and mom are great. Mom is 36. First two babies were at age 21 and 24. Then despite best efforts, no babies came–and mom was so, so sad. At 32, she decided the age span was too large and she didn’t want to keep trying. They started using birth control.

A year ago March, mom was diagnosed with Crohn’s and she could only tolerate those awful elemental diets. Slowly, she added joint stock (pressure cooked) with feet, joints. Then little bits of egg yolk and liver in the stock. Then meat. Then bits of blended veggies. Eventually, she was eating essentially a Sarah Atshan version of PHD (lots of soup!)

Around the same time, they stopped using birth control thinking that it was pointless anyway because, after all, they’d tried for 9 years to no avail.

Then, after 5 or so months on PHD/AIP/traditional foods, at age 36, she was pregnant! **After 9 years of trying**

Uneventful pregnancy.… Amazing n=1 for treating infertility that was, in this case, likely both male- and female-factor.

Kathy James wrote:

I also switched from VLC. I’m about 5 weeks in, and I already consider this a success.

When I switched to PHD, I had just gained over 20 lbs on low carb Paleo, with thyroid symptoms (terrible!!). I continued to gain after starting thyroid meds. Then after switching meds, and starting the PHD, I gained another 8 lbs. However, in spite of the gaining, I feel DRAMATICALLY better. More clear headed, more energy. I’ve included resistant starch and my gut is doing so much better!!!

I believe I may have just lost a couple lbs. I’m trying to not get on the scale, and focus on healing and taking care of myself. Trust me, would LOVE to lose these 28 lbs!! However, I want to be healthy, and this is getting me there, I believe it.

I like the saying “you don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight”.

Pola wrote:

Hi everyone, thanks for adding me. My story, if anyone is interested: I had been on the paleo diet for over 4 years, getting more and more low carb until I went ketogenic for over 1 year, eating just fat and meat, zero or close to zero carbs and I was getting more and more more fatigued. I started experiencing increased stiffness in my body, especially my neck. I seemed to be always in a sort of spasm around my shoulders. I was feeling constantly nauseous and I had recurring sharp pain in my stomach area. A visit to the doctor could not explain what it was. I started experiencing something I never had before: a burning sensation in my mouth, an insatiable thirst. I could drink as much water as I wanted, it was to no avail. It was literally as if my mouth was on fire. I also started having the sensation of head pressure and head pulling that felt like there were strings attached to my brain and somebody was pulling down on them. For the first time in my life I started developing insomnia problems. I would sleep only 5 or 6 hours, sometimes wake up in the middle of the night. Then there was phlegm in my throat. Years ago it used to be extreme and it improved dramatically since i stopped eating grains but then came back on the low carb and ketogenic diet. I kept on spitting out clear phlegm. Most curious of all: I gained weight! That was truly baffling to me. I was literally not eating any carbs. It was just meat and fat. Organic 100% grass-fed burgers with 20% fat content and slabs of organic grass-fed butter on it – and I was gaining weight. Or I would drench everything in coconut oil. When I mean no carbs, I mean not only no potatoes, rice etc, but also no starchy veggies like carrots, beets, winter squash, not even salads. I would eat a salad maybe once every 3 or 4 months. so then somehow by accident I came across mark sisson’s article on about candida and him mentioning Paul’s theory that candida feeds more readily on ketones than on carbs and I decided to put it to the test. Given that sweet potatoes were part of the paleo diet I thought that that allowed me to safely test the claim without me having to break my paleo/keto diet strain and still remain at least a “pure paleo dieter”.

By the time I had returned from the grocery stores on the day of the test I hadn’t eaten for a good 3 hours and with a now sober eye I noticed that the head pressure had increased and the stiffness in my neck and body was escalating as well. I cooked and ate the sweet potatoes I had just bought and the relief I felt was nearly instant. Within 20 or 30 minutes the head pressure which had been unrelenting for good 1 year, just dissolved. Fatigue improved markedly as well as the body and joint stiffness.

The painful insatiable thirst that not even a gallon of water a day was able to quench? The sweet potatoes took care of that. The constant nausea? I wasn’t even done eating before I noticed an immediate relief.

I had taken a theory, tested it and verified it. Within 3 or 4 days I had lost the extra weight I had accumulated around my waste on the ketogenic diet. I stopped spitting out clear phlegm. My energy was better and the body stiffness stayed better as well. The heart palpitations which hadn’t allowed me to sleep, stopped. I haven’t experienced them since.

I was sold.

That was around 9 months ago. Since then I kept proving Paul’s theory correct every day, several times a day. I’ve learned to tune into my body and know now when my body goes into ketosis and when it’s time to eat some carbs to not allow things to escalate. And it works every time.

Paul, feel free to add this to your testimonials on your website if you want.

Anyways, thank you so much for helping me out of my ketogenic diet delusion.

Thanks, Paul!

From email

J wrote:

Just to let you know I have been on phd for about 7 months, my body is in amazing shape feeling awesome.

Kathy wrote:

Just a few days on the diet and I can’t believe how much better I am sleeping and how little hunger I have.

K wrote:

My menstruation cramps have completely diminished and that has never happened before. I almost get it always the first day menses and it usually keeps me doubled over in pain for at least 10-15 minutes and for the rest of the day it would just be a gnawing pain at my side. So the fact that I barely have fatigue (except from my finals) and that I feel no painful cramps anymore has completely blown my mind. I have always had pain and it always incapacitated me for the week. I am so fascinated by this fact.

G wrote:

I have Bipolar type II. It’s been a month and a half [since I started PHD] and I am not looking back. Eating along the lines of the PHD is definitely having a positive effect on my moods – significantly reduced diurnal mood variation, less depressed mood and much better sleep.

KM wrote:

I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing one of the best books ever written.  Your research is so thorough and your conclusions are so enlightening.  Your work has greatly improved my life and my health and for that I will be forever grateful.

When I was 16 years old, I was diagnosed with scoliosis which caused me pain and hardship.  Every doctor I went to said basically the same thing, “It’s not so much the degree of curvature that is plaguing you, it’s the inflammation.”  In 30 years of seeking treatment, not one doctor ever asked me what I was eating.  After beginning the Perfect Health Diet in order to lose some weight, I ended up curing my back pain in the process.  The inflammation was aggravated by a diet high in carbohydrate and low in fat.  In fact, when I was 16, I had been on a Weight Watchers program that allotted me one tablespoon of olive oil a day and that’s when I had the first flare up.  In hind sight, each time I would attempt to lose weight, my back would freeze up and I then I couldn’t exercise, so I would gain more weight.

Now, at 46 years old, I have reached the goal weight that was set for me when I was 16–and the process is so enjoyable!  I now go for weeks without even thinking about my back pain!  It’s a miracle!

Alfred wrote:

Hi Paul. Quick feedback. My concern was prediabetes and eating a pound of potato/ day. Well for 1 year now I have consumed half a pound a day and been fully complient with PHD. One year ago A1C was 6.6, this week A1C is 6.1. Thank you for all you do.

Helen wrote:

I have been wanting to let you know that I tried your eczema recommendations for my pre school daughter and within only a couple of days the eczema dramatically reduced and it was completely gone within a week. I also start taking choline, along with the standard supplements you recommend and I actually feel a lot better.

Floyd wrote:

First I just want to say thank you PHD. I truly believe the book you co-wrote is one of the best books ever written and should really be taught in schools. I follow your diet and it has changed my life for the better.

Koustav wrote:

I wanted to send you a thank you note for your work on the blog and the book. Like a lot of other people, I have been looking for a more healthy diet for ages, and found the cornucopia of diet information available on the internet to be highly confusing, if not downright misleading. I found your blog after reading recommendations on Chris Kresser and Mark Sisson’s blog, read through the a lot of it, and ordered a copy of your book.

This was in February of this year. Since then, I have lost about 25lbs and have run a 10K with my wife. My wife, who was fit to begin with, jumped on board early, and not only has she reached her goal weight, but her skin looks so clear that people have commented on it. I got additional copies of the book for my parents, sister and extended family, and everybody who has read the book has lost weight after following the diet. My father has lost lost 10lbs, which has been amazing, since his doctor has been recommending that he lose weight for years! I did not expect to convince people this easily, but after all, nothing works as well as results!

Dorothy wrote:

I have been following your PHD closely for 6 months including 16 hour fast daily, eating only twice and taking a course of probiotics. I have a fairly benign form of MS but 18 months ago got a bad outbreak of eczema which I have never had before, combined with a deterioration in my MS. This was arrested after a few months of PHD incl all supplements as well as the additional Lysine and Arginine you advised for MS….

But just to say again, I have had a wonderful improvement to my general health and MS and I attribute this to the daily fasting, eating your recommendations and the hour- long strength/ weight training twice a week. The combo is very very powerful medicine :))

Lisa wrote:

Reading your book and practicing the diet has been very beneficial to me. I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and have been suffering pain, bloating, et cetera for 30 years. My symptoms are now 80% reduced. I am trying to perfect my diet using your guidelines to alleviate the other 20%.

From PHD comments

Kathy wrote:

My husband and I had purchased your book a few months ago, and I had been reading your blog for awhile. We have fully implemented the PHD way of eating and it has been about three months now. It has made a big difference for us both, in improved health and weight. I have had no more heart palpitations, and my leg cramps have subsided. (and i lost 4 lbs) …

My husband and I have both had significant improvement on your Perfect Health Diet and were low carb before so enjoyed the addition of the safe starches. Thank you for such a great, great book!!

Nick wrote:

I would like to thank Paul and his wife from the bottom of my heart. I was on Gaps for 2 months to deal with digestive disorders and pain. I noticed good results on GAPS but after 2 months looked like I was wasting away. I had very low energy; dry mouth; low libido, yellow, gelatinous semen; flat mood; gum infection (lowered immunity). It seemed to me that carbs and starch were the ultimate “bad guys.” After reading Paul’s work, I realized they are actually necessary. Within 2 days all the above symptoms reversed, and I am feeling better than ever. This is a detail that the current low carb fad has not addressed. I was really worried for my health, and can’t even imagine going years on very low carb. For someone like me with a fast metabolism, I would probably end up dead. Thank you again – you guys are a great light in the dark.

TC wrote:

Heartfelt thanks for creating such an erudite comprehensive and lifeimproving work. A friend of mine who is suffering from type 2 diabetes and non alcoholic fatty liver disease adopted PHD some 15 months ago and for the first time [she has tried scores of diets] in her life has not felt hungry! She has taken all the recommended supplements[other than coconut oil which causes indigestion]and after 9 months and 2 daily fasts a week she is now consistently loosing weight.

Joseph Downey wrote:

I had ringworm and seborrheic dermatitis and lots of amalgam fillings. I still have the fillings, but fungal problems went away on PHD. The ringworm went away immediately. The dermatitis took six months. For a while, it would come and go depending on stress or circadian rhythms. If I stayed up late watching TV too many nights, it would flare up. Hasn’t flared up for at least 8 months now.

Matt wrote:

After reading your book, I’ve been following the Perfect Health Diet for some time now, and have never felt better!

JR wrote:

I came to the PHD after a very mixed experience with the GAPS diet, which I tried after a recommendation from my sister in law. I have had chronic health problems since I was 18, and have been diagnosed with mild CFS/ME, IBS among other things. For the last 10 years I have had chronic inflammatory back pain, which remarkably is much better after I started changing my diet. Having taken NSAIDs for a decade I found after some time on the GAPS program that my pain recovered enough that I could manage without them. However after about a month and a half on the program I began to feel really ill. My GAPS practitioner encouraged me to stick it out, but I needed to work and was feeling so ill that driving was difficult, let alone doing my job, which requires me to think fairly hard at least some of the time! I decided to try a medically trained GAPS practitioner, and she basically had me eat loads of butternut squash, a safe starch according to the PHD! This helped a lot, but in the process I had come across the PHD and bought the book. As a scientist your book was a breath of fresh air, I had resigned myself to accepting what I thought was essentially a trial an error approach to diet based on intuition (GAPS/Western A Price style), or the medical establishment approach (when I consulted my doctor during my GAPS issues he told me I was a hypochondriac as I was not overweight so why should I be on a diet?!). Now I follow the PHD and my back pain is 90% resolved, although I still have some health issues.

Primal J wrote:

Hi, Paul. You’ve helped me tremendously with issues I’ve had with my thyroid, adrenals, formerly VLC woe and the issues that resulted, gut health, the whole lot

Marcia wrote:

My 5 year old son, diagnosed with autism, does very well with a no fructose version of the PHD. But there have been a couple foods that have been incredibly good for him, and I just had to share our experience. The first is raw egg yolks. I know from your book that having 3 yolks a day is good for many people, but I find that when my son has 2 yolks, 3 times a day (each serving about 4 to 6 hours apart) his language and eye contact is so much better. The positive effects seem to wear off in a few hours, so we find that multiple doses throughout the day works well. Sadly, cooked egg yolks have had no good results.

The second food that has been really good for him is resistant starch. We give him 1 TB of raw potato starch with his probiotic, 3 times a day, and he is so much more social and more affectionate than ever before! I was nervous to try it because my son does not digest most carbs or fiber well, and I was worried about the potential increase in SCFA (since some very compelling research by Dr Derrick MacFabe implicates propionic acid in autistic symptoms). But so far, we have seen no negatives and only wonderful results.

For my son, his autistic symptoms will wax and wane depending on what he eats. And trust me, I know how crazy this may sound, but we actually have days now where it seems like his autism has nearly vanished. I have no doubt that his gut plays an utterly profound role in his mental health.

Rebecca wrote:

Hello, My family has been following your food program for 30 days and we can tell the difference … no more arthritis pain every day, no more low-level chronic headaches, more energy, better digestion … we love it! … Thank you so much!! You have really changed our health for the better in only a month…I’m looking forward to seeing more changes over the next years!!

Jeff wrote:

My wife and I have both been trying the PHD diet this spring. We both feel better, have more energy and certain acute symptoms (e.g. IBS) are gone. But our experiences with weight loss are very different–I have lost 25 pounds since February with limited exercise, she has lost nothing.

From Twitter

@ppedrazzi wrote:

PHD transformed me. If it was a pill it would be impossible to keep in stock.

We are grateful to all readers who share their stories! Thank you!

Thoughts on Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, the day of Jesus’s entrance to Jerusalem, when crowds who thought he might lead a new Jewish kingdom strew palm fronds on his way, an honor fit for a king. It was the only day of Jesus’s life when he was honored and cheered.

None of those cheering followers were to be found a few days later, when the crowd demanded his death.

For Jesus it must have been a bittersweet moment. He must have known that the cheers of Palm Sunday were mere flattery.

The Palm Sunday liturgy does not emphasize the day itself; rather it looks ahead to the painful events of Thursday and Friday, to his betrayal with a kiss; his abandonment and denial by his followers including the “rock” of the church, St Peter; his humiliation and death.

After the false pleasure of Palm Sunday, beyond the pain and desolation of Good Friday, comes the day of true joy: Easter, resurrection and new life. Joy, ultimately, is certain to triumph over pain. But, we mustn’t hasten too quickly to Easter. For there is a time for joy and a time for grief; and first we must grieve.

If life’s nature is bittersweet, it is inevitable that our own lives will recapitulate those ups and downs. Let me share some of my own recent up and down moments, bitter and sweet.

Shou-Ching is in Australia at the moment, spending a few weeks with her godparents, who are in failing health. As their health declined, they found it difficult to cook, and their diet for some time now has consisted largely of packaged foods and pre-prepared dumplings. It is difficult to know how to help them; they have pain, disability, and cognitive decline; and Shou-Ching’s godmother, in particular, may have little time left. “Old age shouldn’t be this hard,” Shou-Ching wrote me. Yet, it is a blessing for Shou-Ching to be able to share time with them, and do them a bit of good.

Kirk MacLeod, a PHDer whom many of you learned about in this blog post, passed away last week from metastatic colon cancer at the age of 42. He was a kind, strong-spirited, courageous man. His cancer was already advanced four years ago when it caused his colon to rupture; yet he was able to make an 11 mile swim for charity last August, from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island across the Northumberland Strait. The swim benefited Brigadoon Children’s Camp, a charity for children that meant a lot to Kirk. His family has set up a memorial page and suggests donations to Camp Brigadoon as the best way to honor Kirk.

Ironically, Shou-Ching is in the midst of developing an anti-cancer drug that probably would have saved Kirk. Unfortunately, under the laws of the land it can at present be used only to rescue laboratory rodents. Perhaps in ten years, it will pass the regulatory hurdles for use in humans.

Last week brought mingled pleasure and pain to me as a sports fan. I grew up near the University of Connecticut and have rooted for its sports teams since childhood. On Monday the men’s basketball team won the national championship, and on Tuesday the women’s team followed suit. The men’s team has now won 4 of the last 16 championships and the women’s team 9 of the last 20 (and 8 of the last 15).

This year’s men’s team was an unexpected champion. They were not the most talented team in the field, but they were the gutsiest. Their defense became spectacularly good in the tournament; no matter who was on the court, all five defenders synchronized their movements and seemed to be always in perfect position. They held powerful opponents to 54 points or less in the last three games.

Their excellence was no accident, but the fruit of two years of dedicated, gritty effort. Suffering came before the joy, and made the joy possible. I like this highlight video because it shows the fruits of virtue rewarded. Watch the post-championship dancing:

A subplot of the tourney was the story of Lacey Holsworth – ‘Princess Lacey’ – an 8 year old who died of cancer last week. Here’s an ABC News segment about her connection to the Michigan State Spartans:

And here is MSU coach Tom Izzo talking about Lacey at a vigil on the Michigan State campus:

These cancer deaths are painful. Yet why do we mourn them so? A dinner party is a good thing, Santayana noted, though it comes to an end; so too is life something to celebrate, be it ever so short. Death can never diminish life’s worth, nor triumph over joy.

One positive to sickness: it helps us appreciate good health. We regularly receive reader success stories, and they are always a source of joy. From last week:

  • In two weeks on our diet, Primal Psychologist reported improvements to Raynaud’s and hypothyroidism, and hints of relief from amenorrhea.
  • Andy Grove writes in an Amazon review: “I have been following this diet as closely as possible for 4-5 months and have lost close to 25 lbs in weight and improved my health considerably. I have been relying on daily medication for asthma since childhood (I am now in my 40s). My asthma did not improve immediately on this diet – it took several months, but I have not had any asthma at all in just over 3 weeks now. This is an incredible change for me.”
  • Healthy Amelia, who will be at the May Perfect Health Retreat, writes: “My appetite is WAY down and my sugar cravings have diminished a lot. I feel almost incapable of overeating. When I’ve had enough, I have to stop right in my tracks with a feeling of not being able to take even one more bite. I can’t eat even half what I used to for dinner. Very interesting.”
  • Paula, who had been on Primal for three and a half years, reports: “Tomorrow will mark the end of my second month on the PHD. I have lost about 10 lbs and hit a new low weight…. Benefits so far: Weightloss in spite of binges. Stable mood. Stronger in the gym. Better sleep. Better response to carbs. Decreased PMS. Better sex life.”

From the week before that:

  • In the midst of a longer philosophical treatise, Euthyphro wrote: “After adopting, four years ago, the Perfect Health Diet, I have not once gotten the common cold or anything else. The anatomical structures of my body have become increasingly robust, especially after the inclusion of pogo jumping.”
  • Angela Jane Hampton wrote: “From someone who had vitamin deficiencies, severe neutropenia, next to no weight to lose, multiple food intolerances and chronic fatigue and no idea how to get out of my hole. I thank u. For writing this book, it’s (sorry about being cliche) changed my life. 7 years since I could say I feel well, great even! Thank u!”
  • Mark Barnes-Williams wrote: “I’ve lost 14 lbs in 4weeks and my energy levels have improved, the recipes are tasty and would recommend this way of eating for life.”
  • Another reader emailed: “I have followed the Perfect Health Diet with great success and am an avid cyclist …  When I switched over to the PHD I never really missed a beat on the bike and my IBS symptoms went away.  In fact both my peak performance and endurance have increased.”

As always, we’re grateful for every reader who reports results, especially in Amazon reviews.

I have one last pleasure to report. A few days ago my friend Jennifer Fulwiler sent a copy of her new book, Something Other Than God:

Jennifer is at once hilarious and thoughtful. This is her conversion story. I’ve read about a quarter of it so far, and though it is not as funny as her Christmas letters – but what is? – it is deeper and equally entertaining. Highly recommended.

In conclusion: A blessed Holy Week to you, dear reader. Our lives mingle pleasure and pain, suffering and sorrow. Life is brief, and we all witness the loss of loved ones. As Henry James said, it is worse than that: Evil is insolent and strong; beauty enchanting but rare; goodness apt to be weak, folly stubborn; wickedness to carry the day; the corrupt to be in great places, the good in small. Yet for all that, life gives plentiful ground for joy. May you find it and treasure it.

Toward a Proof of the PHD

I hope all of our readers enjoyed a happy and healthy Father’s Day.

We had two PHD-related sources of happiness this weekend. On Friday and Saturday we filmed a documentary for Korea’s SBS TV, which will air July 7 in Korea. And then, over the course of the weekend, we heard a number of positive reader stories.

I’d like to share those stories, as a warmup to telling you about about a new venture that will, we expect, create many more health successes.

Reader Results

John Parker is 70 years old and looks fantastic on PHD:


Well done John!

Antoniette Descisciolo-Rozean is losing weight with ease:

Week 4 Update:

Another half pound bites the dust woot woot!! 😀 😀 😀

This may not sound like a lot to many people, but I don’t have a ton of weight to lose, and I’ve NEVER lost weight as painlessly and naturally as I have on this plan!

I can absolutely do this plan for life and never feel deprived. I still have not counted one calorie, nor have not felt hunger once.

This brings my total loss at close to ten pounds on one month. I am so completely happy with this!!

My husband, who doesn’t need to lose weight, is trimming up. Though he’s lost no weight, his waist is trimming up, his chest is getting more solid, etc.

He has only cut out grains/legumes and has not changed his routine (which is naturally active), yet is experiencing these surprising improvements!

He was previously getting stiffness in his joints, and that has nearly disappeared!

Aaron Macomber has lost 53 pounds and feels ten years younger:

January to June, I’m down 53 pounds on the PHD. I also weight train for 1-1.5hrs 4 days a week, no cardio training at all. I weighed 238lbs when I started and now weigh 185, and still dropping! I’m 40 years old and I feel and look better than I did when I was 30 (now just figure out how to re-grow hair :).

The better part of the story is that the inflammation that I was constantly suffering with is reduced so much it’s incredible! My hands and feet used to ache at the end of the day, and they just don’t anymore. I used to be hot all the time, and was popping advil like they were breath mints, and I just don’t have a need for that anymore. I am still dropping 1-2lbs a week and packing on the muscle fairly fast. I will be seeing my abs for the first time in my life within the next few months and have gone from a 38-40 waist to a 32 already.

Both Antoniette and Aaron left Amazon reviews – thank you very much!

Gill is only two weeks into PHD, but has some results already:

In desperation one night I trawled the web and found your website and thought it was worth a shot. Within a matter of days of kicking gluten for good (not that I ate much wheat anyway but we scots eat a lot of oats) and starting magnesium/selenium/iodine supplements I felt 50% better. Given my deteriorating health over the preceding two years, this was a HUGE improvement. My sinuses, whilst still far from perfect, are feeling considerably better.  My energy levels, whilst still not what they used to be, have definitely picked up.  This is after a fortnight.  I am so excited that I might actually keep improving!!

June is healing:

I have started eating this style of eating introducing bone broths, organ meats, coconut oil, eliminating vegetable oils, sugar amongst other things. One big change I am finding is at 59 I was having problems with the skin on my hands, every little knock cause a a heamatoma type of bruising under the skin, an obvious sign that the collagen in my skin was lacking. Today I gave my hand a big knock & there is only a small bruise.

Also I am having less problems with my knees, so I am sold on the paleo/high fat style of eating.

I haven’t lost a lot of weight but it is stable & body fat percentage is reducing slowly. On a low fat, moderate protein diet my body fat percentage just kept going up & up.

Thank you for your book & the information it provides.

Richard Parker had inflammatory bowel disease for 35 years, now it’s gone:

I have been following the PHD for about 5 months. I had a serious flare of IBD over the Christmas holidays. For several years I had been able to control my symptoms to tolerable levels but this flare was beyond my control with my old diet. I first started with a broth diet for 2 weeks, then elimination diet before I discovered PHD. I lost 30 pounds in a month, which is mot particularly healthy before starting the PHD at the end of January. Several things truly shocked me on PHD that helped. Being able to tolerate fat, cutting down on fruit was good, elimination wheat and whole grain was good, eating egg yolks didn’t raise my cholesterol, eating liver and liking it and switching to goat dairy helped. I had been on a low fat, whole grain, yogurt, low animal protein, probiotic and Chia seed fiber diet before. The Chia seeds had been my savior to slow down the diarrhea. I still eat Chia seeds but just sprinkle them on salads. Today my digestion and elimination system is better than it has been in 35 years. My triglycerides have dropped from 153 to 72. My HDL has risen to 45 after 30 years of HDL between 27 and 35. I drink bone broth every day as I eat 3 egg yolks. The only probiotic I take now is Live Zing Salad. I also take most of the supplements recommended but take them on faith that Paul knows what he is talking about here too. I have never been able to say that I know a supplement has helped. But I wouldn’t stop anything I am doing for fear that the good changes I have experienced would end.

Bill Rafter found that PHD helped him deal with cancer:

About 6 months ago I learned that I had metastatic prostate cancer.  The treatment recommended was hormone therapy and targeted radiation.  The hormone (androgen deprivation) therapy tricks the brain into suppressing testosterone production.  The effects are a total suppression of sexual drive, hot flashes similar to those experienced by menopausal women, and the feeling that one is an old, old man.  The lack of sexual function I could deal with, and the hot flashes just seemed like a good sweat.  But, at 65 and still athletic, I found the last one particularly brutal, and questioned whether I wanted treatment at all.

A friend gave me a good book on cancer, recommending an all-out approach rather than the sequential attempts favored by most oncologists.  Nutrition was a major part of the approach.  I then trolled my friends for books on nutrition and one commented that PHD was the best he had ever read.  I am overwhelmed by what it has done for me.

After reading PHD, I immediately adopted the recommendations in full, with the exception of fasting.  I then went thru 44 radiation treatments, and never felt fatigue, a common symptom.  No more old man feelings, and no thoughts of quitting treatment.  Hot flashes are completely gone, which really puzzles the oncologists. Everyone wants to know what stopped the hot flashes.  The trouble is that because I adopted everything at once, there is no way to identify that which contributed most.  But that’s not all.

Ever since grade school I have been a nailbiter.  I knew the habit was caused by a chemical imbalance, rather than behavioral, but could never figure out what.  But since adopting PHD, my fingernails have grown to the extent that filing them is annoying.  That makes me wonder that if PHD brought my system into balance, how many other imbalanced people could also benefit.  Those people could manifest their imbalance otherwise, say with abuse of alcohol or drugs.

This reduction in cancer therapy side effects may be more significant than mere symptomatic relief. Cancer therapies generally have a very narrow margin between hurting the cancer and hurting normal tissue. A diet that enables normal cells to tolerate cancer therapies better may allow more effective doses of therapy to be used, potentially significantly improving odds of remission.

There are many other great stories on the PHD Facebook group. Our thanks to all who share their results!

Toward a Proof of the PHD

I strongly believe that PHD is, indeed, the most healthful human diet. The science is solid. Moreover, diet seems to have a large influence on health, so adopting PHD can lead to dramatic health improvements. Personal experience, and reader stories like those above, give me confidence in those claims.

But how can we prove PHD to skeptics?

Self-reported reader results don’t convince skeptics because they are an incomplete and biased sample. Those who have good results are enthusiastic and excited and take the time to report their success. Skeptics can always wonder whether there were an equal number of readers with poor results who simply didn’t report their negative experiences. To prove a diet, it is necessary to compile unbiased evidence from a complete sample.

For some time, I’ve been looking ways to generate compelling evidence. At the Ancestral Health Symposium in 2012, I organized a panel discussion (“New Technologies, New Opportunities”) looking at how new technologies such as quantified self tools with automatic data collection via Wifi could help us generate unbiased data on the effects of different diets and lifestyles.

Others in the ancestral health community are also attacking this problem. For example, Gary Taubes and collaborators have created NuSI in an effort to fund clinical trials testing the effects of low-carb diets.

Now, happily, thanks to a new partnership which I’ll announce on Thursday, we are going to have an opportunity to do a fair and unbiased test of PHD’s effectiveness. In fact, it’s already underway. At a secret location in Austin, Texas for the last four to eight weeks, a half dozen people with serious health concerns have been following the PHD diet and lifestyle advice. Every one of them has experienced health improvements. Among the results:

  • A woman who in February was walking with a cane, taking pain medications, and scheduled for knee and hip surgeries is now walking with no difficulty and has stopped her pain medications. A longtime Sjogren’s sufferer, she now has tears. She has lost two inches from her waist, is sleeping better, is happier, and has more energy.
  • A diabetic with fasting blood glucose of 160 now has fasting blood glucose in the 90s. He has lost 7 pounds and 4 inches from his waist.

I will share further details on Thursday, as we still have work to do before a formal launch and announcement. Let me just say – I am excited; I am optimistic that we can make a huge difference in the lives of a number of people; and I believe we will be able to generate convincing proof that a natural diet and lifestyle, along the lines of PHD, is the path to good health.

More coming soon!