Everything Update. But Mostly Gut Microbiome and Resistant Starch

I really need to spend way more time getting the book ready for the publisher, in my eyes (now editing chapter 6 of 15, and accelerating); which means, excruciating editing at word, sentence, paragraph, section, "science sidebar," and chapter levels. Convey the ideas in the fewest words possible. That's the creed I go by. I truly do believe its going to be amazing; and if not, I fail. Tim and Grace both knock my socks off. Makes it easy foundationally; but so hard, too, because I want those ideas and wealths of information to shine in a very particular narrative, and it's nothing like writing this blog here.

A word of thanks and deep appreciation for your continued support. The Amazon deal (see all the links and banners all over) is going so very well. Every day, many of you are hitting the link, or just clicking on a banner, and doing your shopping. Here's how it works:

  • Anything you purchase over the 24 hours after clicking the link or a banner, I get some help from Amazon.
  • Anything you put in your cart, I get the same help from Amazon, so long as you check out within 90 days.

Simple and elegant. A company most people love and trust, and you don't even have to buy what I'm peddling. You can buy anything you want (I see TVs, cameras, stereos, kitchen appliances, etc., in the reports). One time, a gal must have been outfitting a sports bar, so I got a piece of an order for 12 flat screen TVs. 2,500 units of various things ordered in March, 3,600 over the last 6 weeks.

That said, the only things I will ever peddle myself are things I use myself and find value in. The hottest thing now is the soil-based probiotics. Since I first did the post on them in late February, about 1,500 units out the door in total, for the three of them. One Tweeter tweeted me just this morning:

@rnikoley Thought dreams were good on RS alone. Popped my first Prescript-Assist yesterday and holy shit. One after another w/ movie

Turns out to have been something about Keith Richards in Todd's living room, discussing blues musicians. What will your dreams hold?

Thank you very much. You motivate me to do better. Oh, BTW: Go get your soil-based probiotics if you like.

...OK, here's my cool stuff for you, before I turn to preparations for recording Jimmy Moore's The Livin' La Vida Low Carb Show late this afternoon as guest host. If everything goes according to Skype testing, I'll be recording the show from San Jose, CA, on the line with Dr. Grace in Shanghai, Tatertot Tim in North Pole, AK; and to close things out, Tom Naughton from his farm in Tennessee. It'll be about the gut microbiome and resistant starch, but with an emphasis on how low carbers can benefit without sin. :)

~ Speaking of Tom Naughton, did you know that Tim, Grace and I collaborated on an extensive interview with Tom about resistant starch? In total, it comes out to almost 11,500 words, and here's Part 1 that Tom has published, with a really great mix of intelligent comments so far. Oh, I see that just this morning, Part 2 is up, and I haven't even read it myself, yet. I hope you enjoy what we tried to do in answering questions in different styles—something for everyone. You can guess which style I took up.

~ Speaking of Tatertot Tim—more popular on my own blog than I—he did a podcast with Ameer Rosic. My own podcast with Ameer a while back is at nearly 5,000 listens and Ameer asked me for a Part 2. I suggested that he go with Tim (and I'm going to suggest that he delve deep into science, medicine, pharmacology and clinical practical experience with Dr. Grace, as his part 3).

~ If you have paid any attention to me in the past, you may know that I have a serious crush on Terry Gross, whom I consider to be the very best all-around interviewer of our time. Most recently, she has interviewed Dr. Martin Blaser.

There are lots of theories about why food allergies, asthma, celiac disease and intestinal disorders like Crohn's disease have been on the rise. Dr. Martin Blaser speculates that it may be connected to the overuse of antibiotics, which has resulted in killing off strains of bacteria that typically live in the gut.

Blaser is an expert on the human microbiome, which is the collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that live in and on the body. In fact, up to 90 percent of all the cells in the human body aren't human at all — they're micro-organisms.

Blaser is the director of NYU's Human Microbiome Program and a former chairman of medicine there. His new book is called .

What's covered:

  • On why he thinks the number of diseases has risen
  • On the potential link between antibiotics and obesity
  • On how the birth process informs a baby's microbiome
  • On a study comparing the microbiomes of babies born via C-section and those born vaginally
  • On how the microbiome can determine a person's immunity and allergies
  • On probiotics

Not to toot Grace's, Tim's, and my horn, but virtually all of it has been in our book for months, under editing, revision, and inclusion of the latest science. No surprises. But, you will for sure want to read our unique perspectives when it comes out. Our perspective of the whole thing is quite a bit different, fundamentally.

~ On the allergy issue, there's this: Pollen is Not the Problem.

When the gut is out of balance, opportunistic and pathogenic microbes overgrow and take over dominance. These pathogens produce toxic substances which are the by-products of their metabolism. Some of these toxins actually play an important role in the body when the pathogens in the gut are controlled and kept in check by good flora. But, when the good flora is absent or not playing a dominant role, these pathogens can overproduce these toxins.

One such toxin produced by several types of gut pathogens (Proteus, E. coli, Staphylococci and others) is histamine which is actually an important neurotransmitter in the body.

When these microbes grow unchecked in the gut due to a lack of beneficial flora, they overproduce histamine causing many functions in the body that react to histamine to go haywire as excessive amounts pour into the blood.

Is Benadryl your best friend? If so, you know you potentially suffer from an overgrowth of pathogens in your gut that are overproducing histamine!

I don't care for exclamation marks in that context, but for me it has been over the top amazing: sneezing, wheezing and dripping since I was 13. It happened within 3 days of eating the dirt. I breath clearly through my nose, for the first time in life memory. Thanks, Grace.

~ There's a study out about the first looking into of the Hadza gut microbiome (full text). There's a couple of articles written about it, here and here. A graphic from the latter link in Wired.

Hadza gut microbiome figure
Hadza gut microbiome comparison

I'm not going to go into details but as it turns out, the results are surprising because they appear to have more of what we'd tend to think of as pathogens, less of what we'd tend to think of as friendly—in an American SAD context. It's compromised, though, because they stored the poop in a harsh solvent to preserve for testing; whereas, Jeff Leach—in his ongoing project—has the foresight to freeze them, so as to preserve a poop in time.

But let's just take the existing data for what it is, for now. I'm an Occam's Razor kinda guy, and given that that Hadza exibit none of our Western maladies, their guts just rock and yours are pathetic. Fair?

What I think is that ultimately, while these sorts of studies are surely going to provide very valuable insight, they're ultimately only going to serve as practice and foundation for the testing to come:

  • Rather than test Hadza living in the dirt, against 5th Avenue apartment dwellers in New York, you test healthy Hadza against unhealthy Hadza (if you can find any), and heathy Manhattans against unhealthy Manhattans. This is the environmental angle.
  • To go even a step further, you test healthy Manhattan Jews against unhealthy Manhattan Jews. This is the social angle that incorporates the environmental.
  • This is how it drills down.

There is no "healthiest gut biome" in the world. There is potentially healthiest in an environment, and beyond that, healthiest in a socio-environment. Then, we'll be getting somewhere and the discoveries are going to be so fucking gobsmacking I can't even believe it.

...And, just as Dr. Grace has admonished us so many times, once they adjust all the above data to various levels of antibiotic use, the picture is going to be just as she said. The unhealthy in the same socio-enviro will have had high antibiotic use and they healthy, relatively less.

Honestly: Do You Really FEEL GOOD About Having Filed Your Papers Today?

If you feel really good, then good for you; I'll leave you alone. I'm sure your wager to have others pay for you beyond your ability to pay for yourself will pay off. Your conscience—beyond the dusty items of defeat or resignation—will be clean.

You're fine. Don't worry, be happy. Human Animals are going to take up the slack anyway. So relax.

baby birds feeding
 

Make sure you have your papers stamped by the Postal Bureau on time.

...You might turn into a pumpkin and/or be the subject of a psychotic heir in a realm where everyone thinks that's normal and you're strange because only one shoe fits.

Just go file your papers and don't worry about glass slippers. Pop a cork for The Land of the Free.

Don't worry. Be happy.

Free Will and Tabula Rasa is Dead; But So Is Materialism. Connecting Dots.

The Enlightenment idea of Free Will, or Tabula Rasa, is one in which humans are deemed to have been born clean slate, no intrinsic behavioral programming. It's often juxtaposed with the observed unlearned behavior of animals, called instinct.

On the other end are the materialists, who essentially hold that we're merely a product of genetics that call forth certain cellular chemical processes that effect brain processes, and everyone is just a product of an evolved genetic code—blameless—and it's for us to select enlightened leaders to socially engineer things so as to minimize carnage.

I regard Free Will as a means by which humans can be made to feel unearned guilt. I regard Materialism as a means by which humans can rationalize any behavior, along with regarding guilt as social construction. Metaphorically, it's a philosophical battle between Angels and African Cats. ...Angels have free will, if you've ever heard of Lucifer.

Moreover, I regard the former as a crutch for religion—the idea of sin or Original Sin—and the latter as a crutch for socialism, as everyone is an innocent, blameless victim of their programming.

For many, many years, I've not been an allie of either—though I now believe I was still mistaken, had not connected all the dots. It's the classic sort of dispute...in which, one must pick a side. But I hate picking sides—because all sides are obsessed with a side and thus, always wrong. So, for a long time, I've called myself a materialist, except for free will (I wasn't trying to be funny).

And now, that changes.

Animal Behavior and the Microbiome

But humans are not the only animals with microbiomes, and microbiomes do not just impact health. Recent research is revealing surprising roles for microbiomes in shaping behaviors across many animal taxa—shedding light on how behaviors from diet to social interactions affect the composition of host-associated microbial communities and how microbes in turn influence host behavior in dramatic ways.

...Just wait until you read the bit on the lifecycle of the liver fluke in our upcoming book; which reminds me...I've got to get back to work, or Tim is going to have my ass.

So, here's where I'm at now. Humans have neither free will where they're necessarily culpable in all action, nor are they materialist-blameless and guilt free for any deed. It's a complex combination where humans are 10% of the total cells of a human body, 500-1,000th the combined species of a human body, and 100-150th of the genome.

There is perhaps an alien mind control aspect to it but perhaps the reconciliation I seek is to be found in a simple distinction: It's not free will, but it is the power to exercise conscious will and it's something that almost everyone has experienced, regardless of the makeup of their mocrobiota. That only means it's easier for some, but not entirely out of the reach of anyone I've ever experienced. Easy for some, fucking difficult for others.

So, to my mind, we have the potential of a new philosophy where you're neither all guilty, nor all blameless. But, you still have some power.

It's complicated.

I think this notion has the potential to revolutionize philosophy, and everything human ultimately flows from human philosophy over the questions of why. It's why so many of you health/diet bloggers don't have the readership you may deserve on the 1+2 merits of your work. You have to connect it all to deep contemplation.

Consider that the idea I've just put forth has the potential to unite free will, materialism, and even the observed instinct in animals. Is instinct in lower animals simply a far lower resolution of human-like intelligence, where there's no extant power of will that by definition in this context, is the power to override the chemical-signal influence of the microbiota, because they don't deal in intellectual conceptualization and metaphor?

Is the human power of will a double-edged sword, essentially—literally—what makes us human when called for, but a noisy signal when we ought to relax and go with the flow?

I can't begin to sort out all the possibilities, so I'll leave it to comment contributors at this point.

“Paleo” Is An Exclusive and Not Inclusive Diet: What Are You Eliminating Rather Than Including, Next?

One way to chew on that title is to realize why Low Carbers have had success infiltrating Paleo Ranks. They merely restrict a macronutrient (carbohydrate); so, if they have no allegiance to Paleo, They can eat as much cheap soy-oil mayonnaise as they like, while scoffing at your super expensive grassfed butter.

It's an extreme example, but serves to illustrate the difference between just excluding a macronutrient (carbohydrate) and going Big, excluding lots of bad stuff (anything bad, all macronutrients). In other words, it's arguable that Paleo is more restrictive than Low Carb—even with plenty of carbs—in a quotidien context.

Food for thought.

In everything I saw this afternoon—after 30 hours of zero Internet—this interested me the most:

Depressed (Updated)

Depressed today. Ate starches several days this week. I’ve been feeling dull the last few days, and today it’s full-on depressed. I’m sure it’s because of the starches…because this is what happens. But you know what? I’d really like to be able to eat a slice of home-cooked gluten free bread now and then without it having such a dramatic effect on my mood. I’m tired of having to stick to such a restrictive diet in order to feel ok.

After reading this post over at Free The Animal, I’m asking myself if my current restrictive diet (basically just dairy, coconut oil, butter, meat, eggs, fruit, juice, seafood (1x a week), liver (1x a week), and sometimes chocolate) is really just symptom management. I feel great when I’m able to stick to it for a string of consecutive days, but eating the same 9-or-so things is monotonous and isolating. I don’t feel like I can eat at restaurants or sit down to meals with my family, because most often I’m having something weird like juice and cheese for dinner.

I think you all need to be policing yourselves a little better. You're creating a culture of exclusion, of catechism, and of doctrine. At the same time, you can't police everyone, nor can you help everyone.

This is why Culture matters so much and I'm suggesting to you that the whole Paleo food culture of exclude, exclude, exclude is not right; or, you're not really going out of your way to emphasize the importance of reasonable amounts of sane carbohydrate via starches and fruit.

What's above is only posted as "what's going to happen more and more," and it's just that this one person looks a bit beyond help, to me. An update to the post.

It occurs to me that I should really put some effort into learning how to cook with the few ingredients that make me feel awesome so I can learn to tolerate a restrictive diet. I’ll share the recipes I come up with.

I'm suggesting that anti-grain, Paleo folks really take to heart the neuroses they may be encouraging. I've been guilty myself, so this is a wake-up-call for me.

Ever heard of the east meets west metaphor? Vegan meets Paleo. Head that shit off, please.

The Best General Explanation of Resistant Starch Yet; Eye-Popping 4-Minute Video

There's nothing like someone making something as simple as possible, but not too simple. It's perfect, and right after I post this, it will be added to the "Newbies' Primer" on Resistant Starch.

The Hungry Microbiome: why resistant starch is good for you

Really, share this one around big time. It's short & sweet, and carries a powerful message.

Share 50 Google +1 8 Pin it 4 0 Retweet 12 Like 137 Google +1 8 4

The American Food Project Rings in For a Commenter and Not Good (Why Resistant Starch Doesn’t Work for Some)

Tatertot Tim put this together for us, in collaboration with Dr. BG (Grace)

What's Lurking in your Guts? Potato Starch as Litmus Test for Gut Health

Earlier this week I was copied on an email from frequent FTA commenter Nancy, who had some important news. Her American Food Project results were in and she was a bit concerned:

Subj: Results from American Gut: my innards are quite f*cked up

Results attached with crude photography below.

For context, I was the one who responded the worst to the PS. Started it twice, about six months apart, and it led to nighttime and morning loose and urgent stools. It just wasn't working. Now we know why.

My population was/is PRET-Ty sucky. And Googling some of these geni and families is freaking me right out. The same family as the bacteria causing the plague? A bacteria extremely populous in me that is only supposed to be in whiteflies?? I'm a bit nauseous! This is like the opposite of Tatertot Tim's profile!

I took one glance at her AmGut report and could tell she was right, her innards were quite f*cked up.

photo 1
 
photo 2
 

Apparently when Nancy got these results, she started looking up names and discovered that some of these microbes were disease-causing and belonged in a whitefly. I did the same thing when I got my results, if you’ll remember: Resistant Starch: American Gut Project Real Results And Comparison (Very Big News).

The report also noted I had some rare types of microbes...

  • Victivallaceae - A producer of acetate
  • Limnobacter - A bacteria normally only found in high mountain glaciers, a tribute to my Arctic life, I suppose.
  • And my favorite—because I am often thought to be a slacker—Slackia—a producer of a substance known as Equol.

[Editor's note: If Tim is a slacker, then I'm a reprobate derelict!]

With all these names readily searchable by anyone with one finger and an internet connection, it’s easy to get lost. Dave Asprey loved to tease that all my RS ingestion seemed to do for me was to insert rare gut bugs in my gut, completely ignoring the fact that I had virtually NO detectable pathogens: Is there such a thing as Bulletproof Resistant Starch?

In fact, “tatertot” who worked with Richard on this research, got his American Gut results back after lots of resistant starch. His biome was stellar, but it contained a lot of Limnobacter, a rare microbe normally found in glaciers. Who knows what’s going to eat the resistant starch you put in your mouth?

When I looked at Nancy’s report, a quick glance at the bar chart—with the massive area in keto-pee yellow—screamed at me. This is the bar we really don’t care to see. It's the bar that represents the Proteobacteria...the home of E. coli, salmonella, H. pylori, and cholera. Most people have a small band of these. But as you can see from the bars to the right of Nancy’s, most people have 5-10% of their sample represented by Proteobacteria. My sample showed I had about 2%.

So what's in this massive Proteobacteria band of Nancy’s? The charts show that one of her most abundant microbes is of the genus Morganella, at 25% of her total microbiome. But we're still missing a few specific microbes that comprise nearly 40% of her gut. ...So, I asked her to send me her full taxa report. From the full report, we can see that not only does Nancy have 25% Morganella, but also nearly 10% of an unnamed member of the Gammaproteobacteria Class, Enterobacteriaceae Family—which is precisely where E. coli lives. We don’t know for sure it’s The E coli; but at a minimum, we're talking relatives. Elsewhere on the report—in ranges of .02 - 2%—were no less than 24 other genera of Proteobacteria. For comparison, I had 12 genera. These are not all pathogens, and most are considered normal parts of the human gut. And, some Proteobacteria are actually good.

So, what’s the big deal? At tiny fractions, these bacteria are fine—everybody has them. A gut that has “broken bad,” however, favors the pathogens and allows them unimpeded growth and they then control the real estate. This is exactly what has happened in Nancy’s gut.

The genus Morganella has exactly one species—Morganella Morganii. M. Morganii, as it is more commonly called—that's en effing bastard of a microbe. But, it’s not that uncommon either—my report shows that I have approximately .01% of it. But it doesn’t take much Googling to find out that this is not who might want dominating your gut.

Morganella morganii is a facultative, gram-negative and anaerobic rod found in the feces and intestines of humans, dogs, and other mammals. It's known to be a causative organism of opportunistic infections in the respiratory tract, the urinary tract, and in wound infections. It can cause devastating infections in neonatal and postoperative stages—particularly in diabetic patients. The risk of infection is especially high when a patient becomes neutropenic as a result of myelosuppressive chemotherapy. Massive hemolysis can be associated with bacterial infection and has been reported mainly in cases of Clostridial or Vibrio sepsis.

But, it’s not all bad:

Morganella morganii is a species of gram-negative bacteria that has a commensal relationship within the intestinal tracts of mammals and reptiles, as normal flora. Although M. morganii has a wide distribution, it's considered an uncommon cause of community-acquired infection and it is most often encountered in postoperative and other nosocomial infections such as urinary tract infections.

Or is it?

M. morganii is motile via the use of a flagella. In some cases, it reacts to changes in the pH of the gut, as well as to changes in the state of the immune system. Since it's an opportunistic pathogen, it takes advantage of any compromise of the immune system—why it's most often detected  in hospitals after a serious injury or surgery, perhaps from its ability to hydrolyze and modify antibiotics through the presence of adhesins, and other enzymes.

When the host’s immune system is suppressed, M. morganii will rapidly invade the host and also cause specific IgA responses and as well as cause an increase in the volume of Peyer’s patches. It's also able to ferment sugar and is glucose positive.

So, it seems that in my haste to pimp prebiotics on an unsuspecting public, I told Nancy to go ahead and eat potato starch, one of M. morganii’s favorite foods.

When I’d realized what I’d done, I wanted to see what lame advice I gave this poor lady who, as I write this, is trembling and curled the fetal position as she awaits a call from the doctor to schedule an appointment—just kidding.

Our conversation on the blog went something like this, beginning early November, 2013: 

Maybe someone can help me. I think I have a bad biome. I have been gluten free and focused on healthy animal proteins and fats including coco oil for three years. I am quite overweight because I am a chocolate junkie. I tried the RS about 4 months ago, starting with 1 tbsp in the AM and one at night, going up to 2 and 2. After a few weeks, my TMI became late at night, first thing in the morning diarrhea. So I attributed it to the RS and stopped. The D lasted for about 3 more weeks, then finally became more normal. Because it still lasted, I ended up concluding that the D was from some other reason.

This week, I decided to really clean up my diet, and get off the sugar, mostly quality milk chocolate but also sometimes too much fruit, or crème brûlée. I was urged to try the RS again because of it help keeping cravings down. For three days I did 1 tbsp morning and 1 before dinner. After day 2 the TMI was changing. And after day 3, the looseness was back, and the urgency. I stopped RS today because I just don’t have the time to sit home in the morning.

Does anyone know what is wrong with my biome? Obviously something is amiss. I haven’t had any antibiotics for maybe 5 years except what they give you during a c-section birth two years ago. I also get migraines from any probiotic pills, liquids, or vegetables (I love kimchi but it doesn’t love me). I drink 1 cup of commercial full fat plain kefir a day, and 1 bottle of commercial kombucha a night in hopes of fermentation.
I suffer about 8 migraines a month. Maybe there is a connection.

Here was her plea for help...would the FTA community come through? You decide:

Richard Nikoley says:

Nancy, darling. Your comment is palpable to me.

You are suffering, girl. And it’s far beyond any advice I can offer. My only suggestion would be to fix your diet first, by which I mean no sugar that’s not in real food, no grains. Real food only you go out and get yourself, prepare yourself with whatever natural fats are your preference. Maybe feel free to include some of the foods touted for RS, but you probably ought stop supplementing it until you’re healthy.

You might consider seeking out pro help in the Real Food realm.

Then a nice number of helpful folks showed up, as is pretty common, here:

  • Nancy, based on what I know (but I could be wrong), RS works really well for gut dysbiosis, i.e., dysbiosis in the large intestine. It may not be that effective for SIBO or IBS.
  • I always crave chocolate. I find if I eat liver the cravings go away!
  • ...for what it is worth, what I found what worked for me a while back was raw, natural, unprocessed honey

Then, thank doG, Ellen came along:

Ellen says:

Nancy,

WARNING serious tmi ahead.

When you say that the PS makes you go more often, is it actual watery D or a well formed stool that is just frequent with cramping?

I was having the latter (plus headache) from more than a tiny bit of either PS or foods high on RS and have been taking Prescript-Assist for several days and it seems to be changing things for the better.

But, either way, I don’t think it can do you any harm to try a top quality probiotic.
The bottom line however is that nothing is going to change if you don’t get off the sugar. I would suggest that the higher carb end of PHD style eating might help you avoid the sugar cravings.

I had to have a say, too:

Tatertot says:

Nancy – I concur with everybody else! You would probably be wise to look for a naturopathic doctor and get this all straightened out. Right now you are shooting in the dark, something is going on, you owe it to yourself to get it fixed.

Don’t bother with the American Gut Project unless you just want to give them money. They take 6+months to get back with you and only identify gut microbes to the family level–not species level. Here is a better place.

This is a full report and quicker for not much more money. I have a buddy who can help you interpret the results if you need explaining, just post back here and we’ll get it figured out.

In the mean-time, green bananas have been used forever as a treatment for diarrhea in 3rd World Countries. I’d highly recommend buying a bunch of the greenest bananas you can find and eating 1-3 daily. If they are too hard to peel, slice them in half lengthwise and peel sideways. They taste like crap when that green, but eat while drinking hot tea or coffee to wash them down.

Oh, and quit eating milk chocolate! Learn to eat 100% Baking Chocolate, or buy the 90-100% candy chocolate. There is no high-quality milk chocolate!

Then Richard Nikoley says:

Nancy:

Please go also post your comment at my long time friend Dr. BG’s blog, Animal Pharm.

She can probably help.

So, you all decide: were we helpful or hurtful in this situation? I think we all handled it pretty well. It turns out that, back in November, Nancy had just sent off a sample of her poo to the American Food Project and decided she’d wait to see the results—returning to her diet that she knew would keep her in the most comfortable range of gastric disturbance, a low-carb paleo approach.

Also, in related emails, I dug a bit into Nancy’s background. She’s led quite a hectic life and her gut bugs have taken the brunt of the punishment. Many rounds of antibiotics, a benign brain tumor (prolactinoma on pituitary) removed—and grown back, and the usual array of health issues surrounding most everyone. She’s hypothyroid, and has frequent migraines. She’s Mom to 4 active children.

Would any of this info have swayed our musings? Probably not. So, what lessons can we learn from Nancy...amazing Mom who was overweight and had some TMI troubles, looking to resistant starch and a bunch of internet morons to help her out, i.e., just cut the carbs?

I think the big lesson we need to take from all this is that if potato starch f*cks you up, you need to go to a doctor ASAP. Get a full gut health report. Eating in a way that alleviates symptoms is not the same as eating in a way that is helping you out...it may just be doing the exact opposite! How many thousands of people get operated on every day in this same condition? Do doctors and surgeons routinely check for this kind of thing? Doubtful. It’s entirely possible that Nancy’s life will now improve, now that eating cheap Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch, 24-Ounce (Pack of 4) identified a clear gut problem. For many months, we have heard loud and clear from those who conclude it's not about them that they can't handle it, when the clear evidence is that better than 90% of people can.

Here's someone who took the time and trouble to find out.

...Another lesson is that if you think you have gut troubles, don’t mess around with the American Gut Project. Get a real test, like the Metametrix GI Effects stool analysis and get a urine test while you're at it. These will need a doctor’s help and prescription, involving insurance paperwork and all that, but it may end up really improving your life. The American Gut Project is wonderful, but only for basic amusement. It only shows the level of diversity you have in your guts—which is totally fascinating—but potentially misleading. It won’t show yeasts, or put up a red flag if something is seriously amiss. Had Nancy not thought to share her results, she might have just gone on her merry way thinking that 25% Morganella was perfectly acceptable. Nancy may also find she has even more sinister inhabitants when examined fully.

...The gut is an amazing piece of machinery. Your gut microbes can exert a form of mind-control and do it all the time. This M. morganii, for instance, that has taken over Nancy’s prime neighborhoods, loves to eat sugar. What was Nancy admittedly addicted to? Sugar. M. morganii should also be able to eat RS as it is a form of carbohydrate, but it’s almost as if Mr. Morganii didn’t want her to have it—because it would also feed his enemies...and...diarrhea for weeks!

Nancy suffers migraines, why do I have a strange feeling that these are related to her gut? Are these migraines the remaining few good gut bugs screaming for help? Or M. morganii hoping she’ll seek solace and comfort in a piece of apple pie?

What advice would Nancy have gotten from any of the other gastrointestinal ‘gurus’ out there? Hopefully, they would have first advised her to get a full report. We are beginning to see, now, that the information you can get from genetically sequencing your poop can add up to gold.

Nancy further relates, within the last few day, and a few months later:

I started taking Prescript-Assist Probiotic 6 weeks ago. With one a day, taken at night before bed. Within 48 hours my poop and my life changed for the better. Instead of quite urgent but controllable poop that was not on the Bristol scale (I liked to call it ‘sludge’), I went to shaped poop that kept the shape even in the bowl. On the Bristol scale and one of the good ones, I think. And if someone is in the bathroom, I can wait my turn. This was a change I welcomed.

As to Resistant Starch and her diet lately:

I only eat RS in the form of cooled rice really, right now. I was planning to start Potato Starch soon, now that my stools are changed and maybe my biome too? I have to go very easy with most fermented foods, like kimchi or real sauerkraut. Love them, but more than a tablespoon and I get a migraine. I drink a cup of commercial plain full fat kefir maybe 3-4x a week. I drink half to one bottle of chia kombucha a night. That is as much alcohol as I can handle without migraine. It's the weak kind of kombucha that you can buy under 21.”

Hopefully, when Nancy gets her gut bugs re-checked very soon, she’ll find that the Prescript-Assist, fermented foods, and rice have turned the tide and her gut is well on the way to healthy.

Some advice from Dr. BG on what tests to ask for can be found on her blog.

Grace’s thoughts on RS failures are that there are four main reasons why people can have a hard time when they first start an RS rich diet:

  1. SIBO/SIFO—Small Intestine Bacterial or Fungal Overgrowths. RS utilizing bugs in the wrong place (right bugs, wrong place). The only way to tell is with testing.
  2. Antibiotics have removed the RS utilizing bugs—over 25% of individuals make zero butyrate with RS due to missing ‘core’ gut bugs.
  3. Parasites, yeasts and pathogenic strains in the small intestines and/or colon—either too much (or too little) butyrate, propionate, or acetate production depending on which strains, how much and where in the enormous ecosystem.
  4. VLC or ‘Atkins’ type diets—drops butyrate to 1/4 of control diet. Symbiont RS-utilizing strains are decimated analogously, particularly Roseburia which tracks with butyrate production.

So if you think you have a serious problem in your gut, please don’t mess around—get it checked out. Maybe it's not the potato starch. Maybe it's you. Spend some money and get a real test done. Waiting 6 months for an American Gut report is fine if you're generally healthy; but if you cannot eat real food, like potato starch or cold potatoes—you just may be ill, from the perspective of a normal human. Resistant starch is an age-old food, one we evolved millions of years eating. If you can’t eat it, you probably need some modern medicine to find out why. Hopefully, Nancy will get her appointment and a new stool test very soon and she and her doctors will come up with a solution to restore balance and heal her gut fully. Last word is, she's well underway with that.

What’s lurking in your guts?

~~~

Editor's comments: Let me close with a little hubristic spice. It's not a question, anymore, about all the millions of folks who've invested countless dollars and time in oder to fully understand every metabolic pathway, every axis, or every single genetic expression that they just love to go on and on about.

None of it—regardless of how detailed and precise—has even a sliver to do with a scintilla of all of the foregoing. What does that mean? Smart people, but smart people who are literally back at the drawing board. Every one of them. And I'm talking day one, and kindergarten—and I care not their names or credentials. Meaningless.

  1. When they are talking about metabolic function, hormonal signaling, et al, they are talking, at most, about 10% of you. Until they fully integrate the gut biome's role in all of this and minimally, begin to start classifying different levels of healthy guts vs. bad guts, they ought be regarded as going bla bla bla.
  2. When they are talking about gene expression it's even worse, and more embarrassing, since our own genome is less than 1% of the total genome including the up-to 1,000 lines of microbiota.

I'll tell you what's far more hubristic, though; and I'm just alerting you, because you're going to see it a lot—from those who invested so much to be "experts" on 10% and 1%. It's very simple and you watch. You are going to see tons of people who are behind, who thought they were the Bee's Knee's tell you it's all a bunch of BS, don't look. Watch for being told not to look.

That's exactly how things shift from who knows nothing, to who knows everything—and vice versa—in every paradigm shift; and if the science of the gut microbiota doesn't represent a back-to-the-drawing-board paradigm shift in health and medicine, then nothing does.

Stay tuned for the book. The foregoing represents a Tim drafted, but Richard and Grace collaboration—with me as your final say editor. Hope you liked it.


 

One Thousand Nails in the Coffin of Arctic Explorer Vilhjálmur Stefansson, and His Spawn

This is yet another Duck Dodgers post....

He and I collaborated over answering Dr. Mike Eades' tweets in counter to my post: To Reiterate, Just In Case You Missed It: No Elevated Ketone Levels in the Inuit. Duck came up with most of it.

~~~

Ask any ketogenic dieter about the Inuit's eating habits and they'll tell you to "read Stefansson." Ah yes, Vilhjálmur Stefansson—easily one of the least capable Arctic explorers and well known for stretching the truth. One of Stefansson's early claims to fame was his supposed sightings of "Blond Eskimos" in Western Nunavut—a claim that was later debunked by DNA testing.

In 1913, he set out to search for a "hidden continent" for the Canadian government which he believed to be concealed by the polar ice cap. He made the mistake of purchasing the Karluk—a retired whaler that was completely unsuitable for an expedition into the Arctic. Within three months, the Karluk became trapped in the Arctic ice, and Stefansson deserted 22 men (and two children) who were aboard. He just turned and walked the other way. Eleven of those men died before a rescue party finally saved the survivors.

Despite the expedition being fully backed by the Canadian government, it is now known that Stefansson skimped on purchasing quality supplies for his men. He bought subpar polar gear for the party and inferior tinned pemmican, which was the primary staple of any polar expedition. Historians now believe that improperly prepared pemmican contributed to the deaths of two of the party and the illness of some of the others.

Years later, he launched a book tour promoting "The Friendly Arctic," where he set out to challenge the notion of the Arctic being a harsh and inhospitable land and promoted the idea that the "friendly" Arctic was open for development. He had the audacity to claim that the Karluk disaster not only wasn't his responsibility, claiming the men who perished would have survived if they knew how to live off the land the way he did.

In 1921, Stefansson convinced four men to settle the same Arctic island where the Karluk members perished and within two years the four men died. Once again he shirked responsibility, blaming their incompetence—rather than their misplaced trust in him.

Rudolph M. Anderson, a zoologist and member of two of Stefansson's expeditions, wrote, "Stefansson is the outstanding humbug in the exploration world at the present time—a persistent, perennial, and congenital liar who for years has made his living by sheer mendacity and skill in handling words."

The idea that anyone would take dietary advice from Stefansson is mind-boggling, but in his 1946 low carb diet book, "Not by Bread Alone," Stefansson Westernized the mostly raw Inuit diet by promoting a cooked, all-animal-food-diet including dairy and eggs. Never mind that the Inuit diet relied heavily on raw marine mammals and tended to look a lot like this…

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The things kids do these days

To give you an idea of Stefansson's mendacity, here's how he dismissed the Inuit's raw meat consumption:

From: Not by Bread Alone, by Vilhjálmur Stefansson

"If we compare the whole diet of a strictly carnivorous group of Eskimos with the carnivorous portion of our diet, they would be found to eat, on the average, a higher percentage of raw or rare meat than we do. But if we compare our whole diet with theirs, remembering that our milk and cream are sometimes raw, our fruit and vegetables frequently raw, our eggs usually soft-cooked while Eskimos invariably cook theirs hard, and that our roasts are more rare than theirs though their boiled meat is more rare than ours—if we consider the whole picture, we doubtless use nowadays a far higher percentage of uncooked food than did the pre-white Eskimo world."

And never mind that those raw meats were what made them feel warm and strong.

Rather than providing an accurate representation of the Inuit's dietary habits, Stefansson was more interested in winning over converts—and he stretched the truth whenever it suited him. The fact that nobody trusted Stefansson is why the year long Bellevue Experiment was performed in the first place.

[Editor's note: Tim "Tatertot" Steele, who lives in North Pole, Alaska, tells me that the natives uniformly regard Stefansson as a liar. Of course, they're munching canned Pringles when the say that. But it was passed down.]

Yes, "read Stefansson" if you want a Disneyland portrayal of the Inuit that isn't supported by scientific observations and appeals to Westerners. Stefansson's cooked and Westernized version of the Inuit's diet became the cornerstone of future ketogenic diets—every single one pointing back to Stefansson as if he was a reputable source.

LAND MAMMALS ≠ MARINE MAMMALS

Stefansson—who died of a stroke at 82 (though, surprisingly, he lived longer than a lot of other VLC authors)—made the fatal assumption that land mammals and marine mammals are similar. They aren't. They are entirely different, and the difference is tantamount to different species classification. The Inuit were exploiting unique carbohydrate properties in these marine mammals that aren't found in land mammals.

It turns out that marine mammals that spend a good deal of their time diving to great depths have significant glycogen stores. Sperm whales make routine dives to 400 meters for 40 minutes and can reach a maximum depth of 2000 meters (6,560 feet, or 1.25 miles). Narwhals make some of the deepest dives recorded for a marine mammal, diving to at least 800 meters (2,600 feet) 18 and 25 times per day every day for 6 months, with many dives reaching 1,500 meters (4,900 feet). Narwhals have been recorded diving to as deep as 1,800 meters (5,900 ft, over one mile). In addition to making remarkably deep dives, narwhals also spend more than 3 hours per day below 800 meters—this is an incredible amount of time at a depth where the pressure can exceed 2200 PSI (150 atmospheres).

[Editor's note: most of your grilled Paleo land food lives its entire life at 1 Atmosphere, or nearly so.]

During their deep dives these marine mammals run out of oxygen and switch to their unique glycogen-based energy stores. They store large quantities of glycogen in very odd places, but it typically gets concentrated in the skin and organs. Researchers have discovered significant "glycogen pools" in the narwhal's arterial thoracic retia. Ringed seals have "large quantities of glycogen" in a gelatinous material near their sinuses. A sperm whale's blubber ranges from 8—30% carbohydrates, mostly believed to be glycogen. The hearts and brains of weddel seals have concentrations of glycogen that are two to three times that of land mammals. Furthermore; in marine mammals, these organs tend to be larger in proportion to the total body weight than in land-based mammals.

In 1973, George and Ronald wrote about the harp seal, "All the fiber types contained considerable amounts of glycogen...it is postulated that the seal muscle is basically geared for anaerobic use of carbohydrate as an adaptation for the animal's diving habit."

In a paper on diving marine mammals Hochachka and Storey wrote, in 1975, "In the terminal stages of prolonged diving, however, even these organs must tolerate anoxia for surprisingly long times, and they typically store unusually large amounts of glycogen for this purpose."

Perhaps what's most disappointing is that Stefansson never bothered to clearly explain the Inuit's favorite sweet-tasting whale skin dish (muktuk), that was already known by scientists to be a carbohydrate-rich food. In 1912, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) had reported, "the skin [of the narwhal] contains a remarkable amount of glycogen, thus supplying sufficient quantities of a carbohydrate to cure the scorbutus. The walrus liver also contains much glycogen."

So, this idea that we can compare glycogen content of a [grilled, braised, stewed, or otherwise thoroughly cooked, long after dead] cow or human to that of what the Inuit were eating is entirely misguided. We're talking about marine animals that need large quantities of glycogen to complete their extended deep dives.

[Editors note: It's almost like we're talking about the other 2/3 of the planet earth!]

THE INUIT ATE GLYCOGEN-RICH FOODS QUICKLY

It's well known that glycogen does not survive very long post-mortem. So, it was no coincidence that the Inuit often consumed glycogen-rich foods quickly and froze whatever they couldn't consume. Peter Freuchen, a Danish doctor and member of the 5th Thule expedition based at Melville Peninsula from 1919-1925, wrote that when a whale was brought to the beach at Repulse Bay everyone feasted on large quantities of the skin until their jaws became too sore to continue.

After a hunt, seals are quickly cut to expose the internal organs. Kristen Borré writes in her 1991 report for the Medical Anthropology Quarterly, that "one of the hunters slits the abdomen laterally, exposing the internal organs. Hunters first eat pieces of liver or they use a tea cup to gather some blood to drink." This was no coincidence. The parts of the animals with the most glycogen were eaten quickly.

At the time of death, the glycogen and free glucose in beef muscle contains approximately 6g of glucose equivalents per pound. As explained above, diving marine mammals have much more glycogen than land mammals. When we consider that the average Inuit consumed 5 to 10 pounds, or more, of raw fresh or flash-frozen meat per day, it should be clear that they were consuming a lot of glycogen.

[Editors note: no matter how you want to slice the blubber, they are not in ketosis, and it takes a long fast to get them there. Inuit are off the table for ketogenic low carbers. Find another ketogenic society, if you can.]

But, of course, the Inuit consumed other carbs, too. They consumed berries, seaweed, nuts, corms, and tubers—such as yupik potatoes, boiled polysaccharide-rich seaweed, glycogen-rich winter mussels. See the Disrupting Paleo series for a more indepth discussion of these foods and their importance in the Inuit diet.

THE INUIT INVENTED "FLASH FREEZING"

What about the glycogen in the foods that weren't consumed rapidly? If only the Eskimos had access to extremely cold temperatures where they could rapidly freeze chunks of meats immediately after hunting... Hmmm... Kidding aside, the Inuit not only consumed fresh raw meat, blubber and skin that was rich in glycogen, but they also consumed it flash frozen—thus preserving and maximizing its glycogen.

Interestingly, Clarence Birdseye—who invented technology for "flash freezing"—learned about it from the Inuit. According to Wikipedia, "He was taught by the Inuit how to ice fish under very thick ice. In -40°C weather, he discovered that the fish he caught froze almost instantly, and, when thawed, tasted fresh." He recognized immediately that the frozen seafood sold in New York was of lower quality than the frozen fish of Labrador, and saw that applying this knowledge would be lucrative.

ERRORS IN THE USDA NUTRITION DATABASE

You might be wondering why the USDA Nutrition Database lists known glycogen-rich foods like muktuk or beluga whale liver as having either zero or virtually no carbs. There are two reasons. The first reason is that glycogen tends to rapidly degrade post-mortem. This makes it especially challenging to measure, in a lab environment—particularly since nutrition scientists tend to not do their own slaughtering and butchering. The second reason might surprise you.

When measuring carbohydrates, the USDA and international Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) standards for nutrition data have decided that the standard procedure is to not measure the carbohydrates in a food sample. (Say what?) Yes, you read that correctly. Carbohydrates are actually inferred to save money and to highlight dietary fiber.

From: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations : Methods Of Food Analysis

"Total carbohydrate content of foods has, for many years, been calculated by difference, rather than analysed directly. Under this approach, the other constituents in the food (protein, fat, water, alcohol, ash) are determined individually, summed and subtracted from the total weight of the food. This is referred to as total carbohydrate by difference and is calculated by the following formula:

100 - (weight in grams [protein + fat + water + ash + alcohol] in 100 g of food)

It should be clear that carbohydrate estimated in this fashion includes fibre.

The problems and errors that come with this calculation are well known. In fact, even the FAO does not recommend using subtraction for determining "available carbohydrates."

From: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations: Methods Of Food Analysis

"Obtaining values by difference should be discouraged because these values include the cumulative errors from the analytical measures of each of the other non-carbohydrate compounds; these errors are not included in direct analyses."

And it's not just the FAO that has noticed this. You can read about the problems of erroneous carbohydrate analyses from the subtraction method here, here and here. Each of these papers explain that the gold standard for measuring carbohydrates is to actually measure the carbohydrates by direct measurements.

You might wonder why the international "standard" is to infer carbohydrates. The first reason is that carbohydrates on nutrition labels are designed to highlight dietary fibers. By inferring carbohydrates, nutrition labs can be selective as to which fibers are counted. So, that candy bar with resistant oligosaccharides (maltotriose and maltotetrose) wouldn't be labeled as a significant source of dietary fiber.

The second reason is to keep the labels neat and tidy. For instance, CHOAVLM is a carbohydrate analysis method that actually measures "available" (glycemic) carbohydrates, thus it excludes resistant fibers. CHOAVLM is typically expressed in monosaccharide equivalents and includes free sugars plus dextrin, starch and glycogen...

From: Impact of different macronutrient definitions and energy conversion factors on energy supply estimations

Therefore, if CHOAVLM is used, the sum of macronutrients in starchy foods often exceeds 100g. For example, 100 g starch expressed in monosaccharide equivalent weights 110 g. On the other hand, when calculating carbohydrate values by difference, the sum of macronutrients always equals 100 g food weight. Even though, chemically, the grouping of carbohydrates is unambiguous, five definitions of carbohydrates are in use in food composition databases and labeling regulations leading to different values and thus inconsistencies and possible confusion.

So, the subtraction or by difference method yields a nice and tidy number that won't exceed the weight of the food. It makes the nutrition label less confusing but inaccurate.

...And this is why you see studies analyzing the nutritional content of the Inuits' whale meat or blubber with the "subtraction" method, finding virtually no carbohydrates. And then you see other studies that actually measure the carbohydrate content of whale blubber with direct measurements and discover significant quantities of carbohydrates. In fact, the study that actually took the time to measure the carbohydrates by the direct method [Editor's note: "direct" is euphemism for actually measuring] concluded that a large portion of the carbohydrate is probably glycogen still present in the blubber more than a day post-mortem. This is rather impressive since glycogen should degrade quickly from an animal, post-mortem.

ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE INUIT ARE NO LONGER VALID

The obsolete and overly-simplistic observation of the Inuit eating lots of fresh and raw marine mammal meat, and equating that with eating lots of cooked steaks and hamburger meat can no longer be considered valid. The Inuit were not eating like a Western low carb dieter—that much should now be abundantly clear.

The Inuit had a unique situation where they could find glycogen-rich marine mammals and flash-freeze them by cutting them up into chunks—preserving their glycogen for long periods of time. And then they would often eat those chunks still frozen and drink a little tea to help thaw the ingested pieces. You can't easily reproduce that kind diet anywhere else.

~~~

Editor's [second to last] final note:

What Duck Dodgers has done here is going to potentially help millions of people, once word spreads; and it's going to spread even without my help. You're going to spread it, and you'll not be able to help yourself, because it's truth, you wallow in wrong, and people you love wallow in wrong. It's going to make them realize—in terms that are far from uncertain—that they have been wrong.

But I must say this, and I just want too. For a long time I've thought the whole thing is evolving. Stuff like this, and the gut biome, I'm more than sure of it. I'm making a commitment to be conciliatory, even though my tendency is to hubris. One big reason why I can't wait to guest host Jimmy Moore's show on April 28, just a few weeks away. You're not going to miss it even if you try.

This is not about any bad people. It's about people being wrong, and everyone is a member of the club.

Update: Hoping to persuade Dr. Mike Eades to dig deeply into this after his tweets from the last post about the Inuit not being in ketosis, demonstrating excellent glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, but then demonstrating awful glucose tolerance and insulin resistance when put into no-shit ketosis, I tweeted out last night after publishing and got a reply this morning.

Screen Shot 2014 04 08 at 9 49 17 AM
 

I tweeted back "Welcome to the club, then." There's a problem with that sort of out-of-hand dismissal, from the perspective of PGH (Pretty Good Honesty). I have been a strong proponent of low carbohydrate dieting and lifestyle going all the way back to 2007 when I began blogging about Evolutionary Fitness, upon discovering Arthur De Vany. I promoted it, interviewed about it, shot a thousand pics of my food. I often ignored reports in my own comments—especially from women—reporting "issues."

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When I got to a weight of 175, about 10 lb. from my 165 goal, unless it was about 75F, I had ice cold hands & feet. Just didn't really feel that great, anymore. Eventually putting on 10, then 20 lb., those problems rectified somewhat, but not entirely. Something wasn't right. Long story short, simply adding some starch—no, not sugar drinks and pastries—fixed everything right up. We're not talking swinging for the fence, but a mere 100-200 grams daily of rice, potatoes, legumes, more often 100-150. Now, when the wife unit is away, I can sit in the house with the furnace off, at 60-65F and have no problem at all.

Let me summarize my irritation in this:

  1. I am far from an enemy of LC, or "biased" against it. As example, Jimmy Moore knows this, and I'm gearing up to record my guest hosting of the Livin' La Vida Low Carb Show that will air April 28. And I will do it professionally; i.e., what his audience actually is and does, with a view to helping them benefit from resistant starch. Sooper duper "bias," there.
  2. Some elements of LC didn't work for me and I have thousands of anecdotes in my comments from others similarly questioning. Namely: chronic LC. Sporadic LC, even ketogenic (like intermittent fasting) are not only A-OK in my view, but probably healthful measures. I go ketogenic on average of once per week or two by not eating for 30-40 hours.
  3. In that previous post that Dr. Mike sent out a bunch of tweets on, he/they seemed to miss the entire thrust of the post, which was: look how good their glucose tolerance is on their normal diet, and how bad it is when put into deep ketosis.
  4. Instead, it seemed to me to be a bunch of quibbling over whether or not they are really in ketosis or not, measuring methods, etc.; when the whole thing is staring you in the face. After an 82-hr. fast, quibbles over whether or not in ketosis ought be disregarded by any honest person. And the difference in glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity are beyond stark. Today, anyone who spikes at 300 BG under any circumstances would be diagnosed clinically diabetic.
  5. Not one single up to 140-characters from Dr. Mike on that issue.
  6. And now, on this last post. Duck and I originally began to focus on those issues of whether in ketosis or not, the distraction of measuring, etc. What's the point in that? Why did the Inuit have to have crossed some line? Bias, perhaps, because some have staked so much on it—it's folklore at this point? Perhaps a different bias than I have, being biased against feeling shitty on LC while achieving a state of not burning a lot of body fat, anymore, at about 49 years of age?
  7. It's "one thousand ways of confirming [my] bias" to simply point out that heretofore, nobody in this general LC/Paleo community has pointed out that the marine mammals the Inuit hunted as top prize have huge glycogen stores all over, owing to their completely different evolution in inner-space—that have some doing extended dives a mile deep in the ocean? It's confirming my "bias" a thousand ways to point out that their entire body composition is so unlike land mammals as to realize that classification by species has human classification tendency limitations?

Ever heard of Ada Blackjack?

Ada Blackjack Johnson was born in Solomon, Alaska. Early in her life Blackjack relocated to Nome, Alaska. She married and gave birth to three children but only one survived past infancy. Her husband left her destitute, and she temporarily placed her son in an orphanage. Soon after, in 1921, she joined an expedition across the Chukchi Sea to Russia’s Wrangel Island led by Canadian Allan Crawford but financed, planned and encouraged by Vilhjálmur Stefansson.

Ada BlackJack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic. From the book description:

"The last third of the book details the battles by Stefansson, who comes across as little more then a tireless self-promoter, to protect his belief in the Friendly Arctic. Stefansson's detractors - including the man who led the 1923 relief expedition - were determined to discredit him. The families of the men who were lost, of course, want answers. And caught in the middle of this tragedy is Blackjack - praised at first for surviving the doomed project and then vilified before having her reputation restored."

You get to decide for yourselves, but I'll just tell you what I think anyway. When something reaches folkloric proportions, as has Vilhjálmur Stefansson in various LC communities, it means that there's literally nobody asking questions, anymore. Instead, they actually see any detraction as from an outsider, and those questions are dismissed as confirmation bias. Hilariously, I might add.

AdaBlackjack1
Who ya gonna trust, since you weren't there?