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.

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:


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:


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.


Gut Microbiome and Resistant Starch Roundup

First a bit of The Book update. Tim, Dr. BG and I have completed the first draft and 95% of the content that's going to be in it, is in it. Also, longtime frequent commenter (about 950 comments, going back to 2010) Dr. Gabriela Kadar, DDS contributed a chapter on non-gut microbes (mouth, skin, vajayjay, etc.). Comes in at around 450 pages, but I'm sure that will get trimmed as I go through the 1st editing run, now about 20% through. The references are the the thousands and much of the research published in 2013 and even 2014, is in it.

There's lots of title ideas, but one thing for sure is that it will be for the widest possible audience. Not a "Paleo Book," even remotely. Not a diet book either. It's a book about the other 90% of us, the part ignored to our own detriment for so long. Anyway, this was the title and tagline I had in my mind when I woke up this morning.

Mind Your Gut, Heal Your Body and Mind — The burgeoning new science in the care and feeding of the 100 trillion

So, any suggestions, critiques, input in the comments appreciated. Brevity, please. I also posted this to Facebook, so wherever you prefer to provide input.

~ "Steven Leigh (Univ of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) explores the nature of the primate microbiome with the goal of understanding the impacts of microbiomes on human evolution. His results point to important contributions of microbial ecosystems to the evolution of human diet. He also sees implications for human brain evolution through energy and micronutrients that are produced by microbial taxa. Series: 'CARTA - Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny'"

~ Dr. Art Ayers of Cooling Inflammation has been busy at work with a series of four very nice posts:

Congratulations on 200 valuable posts, Dr. Art! He probably saw he was at 196 and just had to go get busy.

~ Dr. Norm Robillard of Digestive Health Institute has up a new post about resistant starch:

Resistant Starch – Friend, Foe or Lover ?

Since my first article on resistant starch (RS), raw unmodified potato starch, or RUMPS as I like to call it, continues to light up the blogosphere. Like a lot of people, I was caught off guard by the overwhelmingly positive light RUMPS has been cast in. Some people have truly fallen in love with this molecule, or rather two molecules (amylose and amylopectin) all tangled up together. Even Tom Naughton and Mark Sisson have fallen and Jimmy Moore wants to get some. The explosive interest in this topic can be traced to the extraordinary efforts of two flies in the nutritional ointment, Tim Steel, AKA Tatertot and Richard Nikoley of FreeTheAnimal.com.

The reported benefits of RUMPS include the enticing claims of better sleep and vivid dreams. Those alone make me want to buy some tonight and give it a try, but there’s more: improved gut function, curing SIBO (Say what?) preferentially feeding healthy gut bacteria, preventing cancer with more butyrate, immune stimulation, toxin/carcinogen degradation, blood sugar/insulin control, improved cholesterol, triglycerides and even weight-loss. [...]

After all, RUMPS is a form of resistant starch, which I have recommended limiting for SIBO. For more info on this counterintuitive idea, you can visit Dr. BG, AKA Grace, at Animal Pharm and Dr. Art Ayres at Cooling Inflammation. You can also see my mini-debate with Tim in the comments section on Dr. Mike Eades’ blog on heartburn. [...]

Tim and Richard contacted me recently to discuss some of the experiences people were reporting after supplementing with RUMPS. At that time, we agreed to share all information, both positive and negative about RUMPS and digestive health issues going forward. Realizing that our real goal was to help people and that science will figure this out eventually anyway, we agreed to do our best to speed things up hopefully benefiting all involved. In other words:

“Instead of making science conform to our beliefs, let’s find out what’s real and update our understanding”

~ Dr. Bill Lagakos of Calories Proper seems to have been interested in my 2-Part "Duck Dodgers" series: Disrupting Paleo: Inuit and Masai Ate Carbs and Prebiotics (Part 1 and Part 2).

Animal fibre

Fruits and veggies, fermented or otherwise, aren’t the only source of prebiotics in your diet. Eat a whole sardine and some of the ligaments, tendons, bones, and cartilage will surely escape digestion to reach the distal intestine where they will be fermented by the resident microbes.

Salmon skin and the collagen in its flesh, the tendons that hold rib meat to the bone, and maybe even some of the ligaments between chicken bones. All of these are potential prebiotics or “animal fibres.” And it may explain why fermented sausages are such good vessels for probiotics.

~ Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple has had enough, and pushes his substantial blogging weight around by penning a Definitive Guide. I think it means that Mark thinks that resistant starch is definitively here to stay.

The Definitive Guide to Resistant Starch

Mark manages to be the elephant in the room, while also maintaining high levels of respect throughout the Paleo and Primal community in spite of the fact that he dares to actually make money doing this! Here's why:

I’ll admit now, with regret, that I didn’t look as deeply into the matter as I might have. I didn’t dismiss resistant starch, but I did downplay its importance, characterizing it as “just another type of prebiotic” – important but not necessary so long as you were eating other fermentable fibers. While technically true, we’re fast learning that resistant starch may be a special type of prebiotic with a special place in the human diet.

See how easy that was? It happens.

Update: Oops, missed something worthy.

~ The Microbiome Discovery Project.

ME/CFS: a devastating neuro-immune disease as disabling as multiple sclerosis, affecting one million Americans and 17 million people worldwide.

The study: a cutting-edge hunt for the causes of ME/CFS in the gut “microbiome” – the bacteria, viruses and fungi in the digestive system – led by “the world’s most celebrated virus hunter”, Dr W. Ian Lipkin at the world’s largest and most advanced center for microbe discovery and diagnosis at Columbia University in New York.

The payoff: a world-class study with the potential to swiftly lead to treatments using drugs, probiotics or exclusion diets.

Our challenge: to raise $1.27 million (£760,000; €910,000) to fund the project and do it fast! The scientists are ready to go and can complete and publish the study within 12 months. The sooner we fund it, the sooner it starts.

Go check it out and watch the brief video by Dr. W. Ian Lipkin. And pitch in if you can.

The Numbers Matter and Only The Numbers Matter

I didn't need to look far and wide to find the usual hysterics over this post: How Eating Heaps of Safe Starches Cured My “Diabetes”. It's good enough, though. Hate still = passion, and I prefer a mix of both just to keep things real.

Nowadays, I only just skim that kinda stuff, looking for something actually helpful—maybe a valid criticism I can correct—that goes beyond the very boring "Richard is such an asshole" stuff. Kinda duh, really. This is news? I know of no other way to get valuable information across effectively, overcoming the background noise that's everywhere, now. Some people seem to think I don't love being seen as 'his royal highness, the asshole,' perhaps unfamiliar with the 10 year history of 4,000 posts here, where being asshole in noise as best I can be—so as to avoid John Doe vomiting on me for general banality (bonus to the 1st commenter who gets the ref)—has always been paramount; accepting, even embracing the "adverse" consequences.

It's almost embarrassing to see people anguish over my choices as they do, as though I ever saw what I do differently, or wrung hands over how other fingers might type! in reaction. I simply have the self trust to do it my way, daily. Sorry if some lack the confidence to trust in themselves as much as I trust in me, 53 years and running. Not sorry if that bugs the living shit out of some. That part I love, actually. Here.

99% of human problems boil down to an absence of self trust, combined with an obsessive compulsion to seek the approval of the very ones who'll suck the life and joy out of you. It's a recipe for failure and unhappiness. Detect it. Dump it. Let them fend for themselves. Hope they starve to death for the attention in the demolition they always seek, as building values is not their forte; that requires talent and conscience.

Yea, I wrote that, so it's true. Trust me.

...I'm not seeing a lot of numbers in these elsewhere places, in the context of normal or improved glucose regulation—nor any other thing, really. Just sour, dripping resentment—high perturbation (rhymes with masturbation) that the project Tim and I started, and Dr. Grace joined, has gained so much traction all over the place. And now, Mark Sisson has a Definitive Guide to Resistant Starch. I'm betting that Mark doesn't make a Definitive Guide until he's certain it's something that merits permanence as a part of the diet, or Primal-styled health.

I posted numbers, a lot of background, and I think the logic flow makes some sense:

  1. A way better gut biome (prebiotics and probiotics) helps a lot and affords other benefits that have been tossed around by LOTS of people.
  2. Safe starches that have been prepared to maximize prebiotics help a lot. Exercise metabolic response, or go with a limp-dick metabolism. Your choice.
  3. Together, they're synergistic. That should be no surprise. Right, Grace?
  4. The numbers don't lie.

Perhaps it's a trust issue, so next time, I'll have to eat my 80g starchy meal in front of a USA Today, on video, then show my postprandial glucose numbers with the time & date of the meter visible. Because, some of the stuff I see out there, I have to conclude that it's from people who simply think I'm lying, and their assessment of my untrustworthiness is so profound that they don't seem to care about looking like fucktards when it becomes clear and obvious they're wrong, which of course they are. The numbers are the numbers, and it means something. News flash: I and my wife both had unacceptably high fasting and post-meal glucose readings, caused by chronic glucose starvation, and adding in lots of starches fixed it right up. That's the truth, those are the numbers, and I'm an asshole for rubbing it in faces. You really have to love it. OTOH, they're on safe ground in that what they type with their fingers! will never be seen by anyone but the Richard haters. It's got to be in the hundreds, by now. Don't worry, I'm working on it and we'll get those numbers up there to more respectable levels.

...So, I'm just seeing squirming and temper tantrums, because why else would anyone care?

  1. Do I care that some people (and lots and lots of very young people) do great on LC? No. I did fabulous myself in 1991, at exactly 30 years old, first time I tried Atkins. Quickly dropped 10-15 pounds, heartburn went away, etc. Bee's knees. It's like "Ha, I have found the secret!"
  2. Do I laf at 20-somethings who scoff at people like us, with 20-30+ years more dietary and metabolic experience? Of course I laf, because in this context, they're adorably ignorant and it's a bit reminiscently sweet, if you ask me on a good day. Hell, I used to be way smarter and more knowledgeable about everything at 30, the last 23 years being a downward spiral of increasing levels of ignorance on all fronts. At this rate, by the time I check out, I'll think I don't really know anything at all.
  3. I've not only my own experience, but that of my wife, other family members, hundreds upon hundreds of blog commenters in over 90 posts on resistant starch with about 10,000 comments; and even, various forums where people are figuring this all out on their own—including ulcerative colitis and a bunch of other stuff. This has grown far beyond Free the Animal, now, and I see everything. The Launch was over with almost a year ago, and it is more popular than ever.
  4. It's not going away. Plus, it's just delicious how it so puts the 24/7/365 very low-carb and ketogenic catechism peddlers in bunched panties under short pants.

Sure, a relatively small percentage of people have had some adverse issues with RS—especially autoimmune from leaky guts in the first place—but many tweaked that with the unique, soild-based probiotics and reported back with improvements, just as predicted by Dr. Grace—someone with actual clinical experience, not just fingers that type! Now, the probiotics are actually sold out in some places. Reports coming in daily, mostly positive.

...The very first post on resistant starch was over 90 posts ago, April 24, 2013, with a prophetic title: Prepare for the “Resistant Starch” Assimilation; Resistance is Futile [emphasis added]. See, I actually did lots of homework on this with Tim, prior to sticking my neck out—while admonishing him that he'd better be right. It's naturally going better than according to plan and I simply intend to keep at it. The numbers tell the story, and it's a way to live in a natural, fed mode of being, rather than an unnatural, simulated starvation mode in chronic VLC or ketogenic fad dieting, typing LOLS with their fingers! at people who point out that even the Inuit were never producing ketones above the normal.

...my post was targeted at the low carb gurus and promoters who wrote books, websites and articles claiming that the Inuit and other carnivorous cultures were ketogenic. I have three different studies here (one from 1928, one from 1936 and one from 1972) and in each case, there were no ketones in any of the Inuits’ blood. None. Zip. Nada.

In 1972 they even used the fancy “strip paper technique, which is sensitive to concentrations of 1 mg/100 ml or greater and all serums were negative” for ketones. (The only time ketones were ever found in the Inuit was when they fasted).

How did these low carb fanatics miss this? How did they dismiss it? And why didn’t they investigate it further? Why did they bastardize what these cultures actually did (eating raw, fresh animals)? Think of how many people went low carb and got sick because of those misleading suggestions.

So, if you want to eat low carb, great! Do it. But, don’t go around telling people that the Inuit were a ketogenic culture. Don’t go around telling people that homo erectus didn’t eat carbs. The evidence just isn’t there to support those statements when you consider what these cultures were actually doing.

You have websites [that] want people to believe that carnivorous hunters were always ketogenic. What [they] don't seem to understand, or don't want people to know, is those carnivorous hunters who chased down animals and slit their prey’s throats would plunge their fists into the carcass of their kills and pull out the glycemic equivalent of a giant cupcake…and eat it as quickly as they could.

All I’m here to say is that the ancestral-based justification of permanent ketosis is complete bullshit. That has nothing to do with the efficacy of LC, for those who absolutely need it.

Chronic VLC and ketogenic dieting as somehow ideally healthy for most people is utter bullshit and hurts many people, documented about anywhere you care to look, with actual stories. That it's not actually harmful for most people—especially as they get older—is also utter bullshit. Sorry, but some fat loss—until you stall—isn't worth any of the problems I had, my wife had, and that I've seen reported thousands of times over more that five years at this Paleo blogging gig. And I was a big LC advocate way back too. I'm betting that I and a couple of human collaborators, and 100 trillion micro-friends are not going to let me down; and that most folks will gradually take a very different view of VLC and ketogenic dieting, not even close to the panacea pitched. I've been doubling down on this bet for over a year—even before RS, when I saw what The Potato Hack did for stuck LCers—all while others have been shorting me.

Chronic VLC and ketogenic dieting ought come with a huge warning label and ought only be performed under medical supervision, kinda like chemotherapy. OTOH, probably 100g of starchy carbs will be fine for a lot of folks. Just look at all the health benefits from eating 100-200g of starches daily, on Paul Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet. Seriously, do take a look at the list of conditions. They might ring a bell as exactly the stuff reported in the comments of this blog all the time, resulting from years of chronic VLC and ketogenic dieting where elsewhere, these sorts of complaints were always met with the same answer: your carbs aren't low enough! Or, the most laghably ridiculous one of all: oh, you have the 'low-carb flu' hahaha!

Or, stuff like this comment that came in just a few minutes ago, a daily occurence mutiple times, on multiple of the 90 posts going all the way back.

DeeNH // Mar 27, 2014 at 13:46

I just want to report that I read AnimalPharm’s superb 7-part series on how to cure SIBO back in the Nov/Dec 2013 time frame where the details of how-to RS, etc. were nicely laid out. And then I found great reading here on freetheanimal. In early February I finally started twice daily doses of Organic PS + ORAC green powder + psyllium + Primal Defense to awesome results (thank you). Fasting blood glucose finally dipped from above 100-120 to 80-90 and SIBO/IBS symptoms almost vanished (excretion almost back to normal). Great to know you are working on a book together now. I will purchase it for sure. [emphasis added]

I think that due to the popularity of VLC—combined with the marketing hype and willingness to cherry pick everything that tends to support it—while finding fault with any study that has other findings—it's going to fuck up a lot of young people. Unfortunately, many, especially women, won't realize it for a long time—and maybe not until it's too late. Unlike the popular low carb proponents, I could no longer stand to see stories of problems over stories of problems, blithely repeating over and over, "well, carbohydrate drives insulin drives fat storage. You need to lower your carbs even more. And, you need to get a blood ketone monitor to make absolutely certain your carbs are low enough and your 'nutritional' ketones, high enough."

I'm an asshole, but with a conscience.

Adding in the range of 100-200g daily of safe starches while eating otherwise very nicely (paleo/primal), it's my bet that this is going to help the most people and minimize the individual need to try endlessly to tweak every little thing.

...Because, you know, when you go out in nature, all you're seeing is animals tweaking their diets.

You Heard It Here First Update

The number of posts here are over 90, now.

The body of research is is 30+ years old, encompasing thousands of studies and I and my book collaborators—the amazing Tim, who just did an update with Angelo, and Dr. BG, "Grace", who just recorded with Dave Asprey (Tim & I are scheduled to go on Dave's show jointly on May 2)—have been uncovering it, writing about it—and not only here, but in a book (RS is a mere part of it) that now busts at 450 pages, into the thousands of references, and three appendices. Accordingly, we are now facing a luxurious problem of too much.

Resistant starch: a promising dietary agent for the prevention/treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer.


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Resistant starch represents a diverse range of indigestible starch-based dietary carbohydrates. Resistant starch has been investigated in the past for its effects on bowel health (pH, epithelial thickness, and apoptosis of colorectal cancer cells); reduction in postprandial glycemia; increased insulin sensitivity; and effects on the gut microbiome. This review highlights advances as resistant starch gains clinical relevance as a potential treatment/preventive tool for diseases such as colorectal cancer (CRC) and diabetes.

RECENT FINDINGS: Recent articles have evaluated the comparative physiological effects of different types of resistant starch and investigated the effects of resistant starch on blood lipids, body weight, and defining resistant starch-induced changes to the micriobiome that may be important in health and disease. The most novel and relevant recent data describe a role for resistant starch in ameliorating inflammation; the use of resistant starch for optimal bowel health and prevention of CRC; and, further, that the systemic effects of resistant starch may be important for the treatment of other forms of cancer, such as breast cancer.

SUMMARY: This review describes advances in resistant starch research highlighting the gastrointestinal effects that are now being linked to systemic, whole body effects with clinical relevance. These effects have important implications for overall health and the prevention or amelioration of various chronic diseases. [emphasis added]

Remember how all the paleos and LCers dismissed it out of hand, 99%, back in about 2011 when it seemed to hit the "news" big time?

Screen Shot 2014 03 23 at 11 52 46 AM
Resistant Starch - Looks Like We Have LOTS of Work to Do

As you can see, I'm no match for the MSM, but it'll be interesting to see how that chart looks in a year or two, and I suspect you suspect how it'll look.

How Eating Heaps of Safe Starches Cured My “Diabetes”

I'm almost reluctant to post this because I get a perverse pleasure out of seeing myself diagnosed as an "obese diabetic," in caps, on the Internet. Both are lies, of course. Eventually, all will be revealed but for now, let's dispense with the "diabetes" claim.

As background, I was occasionally getting high morning fasting BG reading going back to 2008, though my fasting BG tests performed by my provider have never been higher than the 90s, right up to 2011, the last one done. A1c also has been between 4.5 and 5.0, also going as far back as they go, right up to 2011. My strips went out of date probably around that time, never got them replaced.

I got a new meter and some test strips some months back and became a bit alarmed. Fasting BG was always above 100, usually above 110, and every now & then in the 120's. One and two hour postprandials were often high as well—depending on the kind and size of the meal, of course. The highest I ever measured (though I can't recall the meal) was 194 on May 8, 2013, just about the time I began to ingest Potato Starch and Plantain Flour. But, just like with a lot of very low carbers, I was seeing some improvement from all the resistant starch supplementation in terms of improved BG, but not nearly as much as I'd hoped for. Call it maybe a 20 pt improvement on average post meal, maybe 10 on average fasting.

At the same time, the stuff Tim was posting in comments about his BG history sounded even worse than what I was experiencing, at its worst, yet he was posting outstanding BG results, with meter pics. Hmm. The final clue came with this post: Resistant Starch Ingestion Has No Effect on Ketosis But Blood Glucose Blunting Effects are Highest in A Normal Diet.

So, I need more carbs, specifically starches in the form of legumes, rice, and potatoes, ideally cooked and cooled, which ups the levels of resistant starch. But I was just so damn used to eating pretty low carb on average. I just wasn't used to eating these foods daily. So, what happens? When I did eat them I'd get alarming BG readings. I liken it to a couch potato who knows he should exercise by, say, climbing a lot of stairs every day. But instead, he still takes the elevator most of the time. Every now and then, he forces himself to take the stairs and of course, gets a heart rate of 220.

This then reenforces his reluctance to take the stairs. This is what happens to many very low carbers. They have physiological insulin resistance in order to ensure glucose is available for vital functions like the brain. So, what happens when they eat a starchy meal any normal person with a well-exercised metabolism handles with no problem? They have an abnormally high response, reenforcing their belief that they can't handle starch and that if they eat it, they'll become diabetic. Similarly for diabetics. Why not simply eat a normal amount of starch and be your own pancreas?

How and why insulin has become so ridiculously demonized, I have no idea. The poor stepchild of all hormones, I guess.

Alright, so a little over a month ago I did three things at the same time:

  1. I got soil based probiotics. Probiotics: The Genetic Component of Obesity.
  2. I began forcing myself to make and have on hand the cooked & cooled starches (it's ok to reheat them) and to eat them with every meal, starting small and working my way up. I also had a sandwich or two per day, on Udi's Gluten Free White Sandwich Bread, about 25g carbs per sandwich.
  3. Put the damn meter away for a month so I wouldn't freak myself out.

I began testing again a few days back (did cheat a time or three and tested during that month), and here's what I got: Sunday Starchy Breakfast: Beans, Potatoes, Eggs and a Side of Insulin Sensitivity. In addition, fasting was now usually in the 90s and when over 100, just slightly. This was so encouraging that I began to eat more and more starch, more and more often; doubling, sometimes tripling the amount.

So let's take a look at a few of the meals and readings.

IMG 2243
Plate of Fried Potatoes (lots!)

Those were leftovers from the corned beef & cabbage, cooled overnight, diced and wok fried in my favorite Juka's 100% Organic Red Palm Oil from Africa.

IMG 2245
With Three Sunnys on Top
IMG 2246
One Hour - 139 mg/dL
IMG 2250
Hot Turkey Sandwich with Mashed Yukon Gold and Chicken Stock Reduction

Ha, the turkey was some TJ's roasted I had bought, along with Swiss cheese and the fixin's, in order to make classic turkey & Swiss sandwiches. Utterly tasteless, so I soaked the turkey in chicken stock overnight, then strained it, added more stock, reduced it and thickened with potato starch. Of course, no RS value. The Yukons have sane amounts of butter and half & half. That was actually Bea's plate, as mine was less photogenic, having even more. I actually didn't take a reading here (just checked my meter to make sure, since it saves a history).

IMG 2251
This Morning's Fasting BG

That's the first time under 90 that I recall in years and years.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of this morning's breakfast, but it was two full cups of refried beans (in leaf lard) with a slice of Swiss melted on top, 2 eggs o/e in grassfed butter, and two thick slices of beefsteak tomato with lot's of sea salt and finely ground black pepper. The carb count is 75 whopping grams!

IMG 2252
One Hour - 125 mg/dL
Two Hour - 116 mg/dL

Interestingly, Beatrice had about 1 1/3-1/2 cup of refried beans with Swiss, one egg, and 2 slices of tomato. She measured higher at 136 at one hour but lower, at 105, at two hours.

So, if you'll pardon me, I think I have this puppy figured out, and you zealots are right: IT'S THE CARBS!!!!!!!!! Yep, I wasn't getting enough of them, particularly in the form of cooked & cooled (reheated if you want) safe starches.

One final note is that I also have not taken any supplemental resistant starch (potato starch, plantain flour, or banana flour) in about 3 days. After that hot turkey sandwich, I fasted for 39 hours.

Be careful out there. Be skeptical of low-carb and ketogenic diet zealots. In time, I'll speak to the "obesity." You can probably guess, though.