Jeff Leach Wrote:

Buzz is out that Dave Asprey didn’t like his RS via PS experiment. (I would have been surprised if he had, because if beneficial, LC is an ass and he’s been wrong for a long time—which I love to be, but he’s not demonstrated, yet.) Moreover, if he actually took the months I and others have taken to be able to down bolus doses of PS, chased with beans and have no bloating or gas, then it would necessarily mean that he or his protocols are not all that “Bulletproof.”…If he couldn’t manage to go where so many other men and women have managed to go, in the hundreds, worldwide? Bulletproof?

Or, does Bulletproof mean Tender Flower, at the end of the day?

The irrational assumption is that when everything doesn’t come up roses, that there’s something wrong in eating a natural, easily obtainable fraction of a potato that doesn’t even get digested by you (hunter-gatherers can make potato starch). From what I got 2nd hand from the podcast, Dave is concerned with feeding bad bacteria. But I thought we’re in a Bulletproof context? Bad bacteria? Enough to make a difference, and with all that daily intake of butyrate and MCTs?

PS feeds a variety of bacteria, and some feed only off the by-products of others that eat RS. The general idea is that with 100 trillion gut bugs, you’re pissing up a rope tied to a string you’re pushing upwind to try to figure this out. You need to trust evolution.

So, most simply, the idea is that resistant starch is a very proven substrate that feeds good bacteria and some bad. It’s they who are your antibiotic chemical plants against each other. And guess what? This war is 3 billion years old, so evolution probably has something to do with why the normal human state is for lots of good bugs, with bad ones who piss in the pool, kept in check. They can evolve antibiotics that work far faster than all the drug companies and FDA combined, and are species targeted. Of course, this is evolution we’re working with, and not even the good guys care about a human life; so man-made antibiotics definitely have their place. I’ll take a fucked up gut any day if I get to live another day, should I have a raging infection and the good guys have been overcome.

…But please understand: I like Dave, and quite a lot. He cracks me up, and I’ve sat across the table a couple of times (who puts a pat of butter on his sushi? Dave, that’s who.). He knows this—si il n’existait pas il faudrait l’inventer—and I’m just a different sort of self experimenter, not to mention a different kind of blogger and promoter.

…A commenter, DuckDodgers, took the time to embed a bunch of links in text for a comment, and I figured that nice work needed a bigger audience. It began with something someone else had written.

Besides it’s not as if gut bacteria is optional – you need to have it anyway, thus feed it anyway, it’s just a decision how much food they get.



Here’s why Asprey’s fear mongering is weak. Just look at the evidence (hat tip to Jeff Leach, of the American Gut Project).

Jeff Leach wrote: When it comes to the health and well being of your gut microbes, nothing matters more than fermentable substrates (You can read about here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here – you get the idea). As the rules/tenants of basic microbial ecology go, a reduction in fermentable substrates derived from carbohydrates means less energy sources for the microbes – who depend on host-derived substrates as well, as in the case of mucin-degraders like Akkermansia. As fermentation drops, so to does the byproducts of fermentation which include short chain fatty acids (primarily acetate, butyrate, propionate), organic acids, and gases like hydrogen. All of this can and will dramatically shift the pH of the colonic environment. As it stands in a healthy or normal gut, the pH of the colon changes from proximal to distal end, being more acidic in the proximal (front) end than the tail end – mainly as a function of more rapid fermentation as food items empty from the small intestine. As the pH shifts to being more alkaline from less fermentation, a number of shoes begin to drop (or can). A less acidic environment means acid sensitive groups of bacteria, like those in the Phylum Proteobacteria, which includes a who’s who of bad guys like strains of E. Coli, Salmonella, Vibrio, Helicobacter, might bloom – not a good thing. You see the same blooms following antibiotic treatment. In addition, as pH shifts away from acidic, the genus Bacteroides can also bloom as well, gaining an ecological niche in this less acidic environment courtesy of a low carb diet. For those of you keeping score, many talk about the American gut in general being dominated by Bacteroides as a function of our high fat, high sugar diet. The reality is, it might have to do with what we are not eating – dietary fiber (of all kinds). The all-important butyrate producers Roseburia spp. and Eubacterium also drop in abundance as pH shifts away from acidic as well. A drop in fecal butyrate and butyrate producing bacteria was demonstrated in an elegant study comparing diets of varying amounts of carbs. Given the importance of butyrate in colonic health, any dietary strategy that potentially shifts pH away from acidity as a function of reduced fermentation, might contribute to various forms of IBD. So, low carb equals a less acidic colonic environment due to the drop in fermentation (and I presume harder, and less frequent stools as a function of reduced biomass from bacteria – or maybe not). As pH shifts, prospects for opportunistic pathogens increase, as does opportunities for gram-negative bacteria like Bacteroides and Enterobacter. When you add this up – and a lot of more shifts in the microbial ecology of the low carb gut – you most certainly have a classic case of microbial dysbiosis – as the name implies, an imbalance. This dysbiosis can lead to issues associated with IBD, autoimmune disease, metabolic disorders and so on. But again, a large cohort of low, low carb dieters has never been looked at using 16S rRNA methods. So the jury is still out – but will be fascinating to see. [end quoted text]

Click on those studies that Leach references — particularly the ones about pathogens disappearing when the pH shifts from alkaline from to acidic.

Now, consider that pathogens, like Candida, become benign in acidic environments and pathogenic in alkaline environments, and you begin to see the big picture.

People who worry about RS feeding the bad microbes seem to be oblivious to the fact that it very likely doesn’t matter since the “good guys” bloom in an acidic digestive tract and the bad guys get crowded out and inactivated by those same acids.


Ball. Court. Dave.

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  1. john m on January 23, 2014 at 11:49

    “Click on those studies that Leach references — particularly the ones about pathogens disappearing when the pH shifts from alkaline TO acidic.”

    Small typo. Other than that, Dave can stick it in his pipe and smoke it. Good points.

  2. tatertot on January 23, 2014 at 11:52

    Dang, Richard – I’m starting to think you actually believe in this stuff…

    Don’t ask me why, but I was looking into vaginas last night.

    The va jay-jay is a perfect breeding ground for pathogens, but there is a certain bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus ) that wants to colonize every single cooter in the world. Its prime directive is to perform extreme acts as a cunning linguist and secrete lactic acid into its heavenly home.

    This lactic acid makes the poo-tang just acidic enough to keep almost every other form of bacteria, fungus, and yeast out of his private playground. There are a few other pathogenic opportunists that can also live at the same pH, but Lactobacillus acidophilus has built-in defenses against these, and can just outright kill them off at will when his populations are high enough.

    For whatever reason, many women don’t maintain optimal communities of Lactobacillus acidophilus in their nether regions and their husbands end up making late night trips to the Wal-Mart to buy things like Lactobacillus acidophilus supplements, pH improving products complete with plungers and putties, and even sometimes find themselves in the yogurt aisle carrying all manner of implementation that has nothing to do with food prep.

    When these don’t work, the OB/GYN puts them on antifungals. antibiotics, and god knows what else to help the poor ladies out. Generally, some relief is found, but usually not for long.

    Here’s the moral of this story. What’s happening in the Vagina Monologues is also happening in the gut. It’s just not as obvious, and all the efforts to correct the problems in the gut are just as effective as those late night Wal-Mart visits–not very.

    It’s like Grace was saying a while back–you can’t feed empty cages. But also, you can’t keep your caged animals alive very long if you don’t feed them. I suspect a lot that goes wrong in the feminine hygiene arena starts in the gut. Huge colonies of pathogens that overwhelm the immune system and lead to dysfunction in the bacteria everywhere. A self-replicating problem, when doctors prescribe antibiotics for everything.

    The difference between the microbes that are found in lady parts and microbes that are found in the gut is the food they need to thrive. Some microbes, like Lactobacillus acidophilus, are perfectly suited to eat things secreted from the skin of their host, while bacteria that do the most good in our gut need to be fed things like resistant starch and other fibers. Lots of the bacteria in our guts are perfectly suited to feeding just like Lactobacillus acidophilus, they eat the secretions/mucus of the gut and don’t need much external input. They are happy just eating whatever they find. These are also the microbes that raise the pH and make the place hospitable for their trailer trash cousins who are headed to town tomorrow.

    It’s kind of funny how the pH stuff is all coming to light now, it was actually one of the first things we talked about, but I guess also easy to overlook.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 23, 2014 at 12:05

      “Don’t ask me why, but I was looking into vaginas last night.”

      New best offhand, deadpan quote ever.

    • sootedninjas on January 23, 2014 at 12:13

      just looking ?

    • tatertot on January 23, 2014 at 12:15

      I found it’s best to have “safe search moderation’ turned ON or you will literally be looking into vaginas. It took me 3 hours to realize I could turn off the adult content.

    • GTR on January 23, 2014 at 13:27

      But if you eliminate “bad” microbes from women parts there’s going to be less sex – they seems to be controlling the host’s promiscuity level in order to spread.

    • Emma on January 23, 2014 at 16:31

      I was trying to find a way to let you guys know about this without randomly talking about vaginas on a digestion post, so excellent work tatertot on opening the door…

      I had been suffering from a monthly dose of thrush for about a year which I have treated over the past three months with a twice daily dose of potato starch, acidophilus and Reuteri probiotics. It’s completely cured.

      I can’t isolate one of those three variables and say for sure what fixed things up, but I’m convinced it was the gradual replenishment of good bacteria combined with the food they like in the form of RS.

      Another win!

    • tatertot on January 23, 2014 at 18:15

      I just have to believe that it’s all connected. My wife did the AmGut test the same time I did, she has long history of antibiotic use and also lots of problems that result in those late night runs to Wal-Mart where I get to learn all there is to know about feminine hygiene.

      Her gut report was full of microbes that when you looked them up, say, ‘common pathogen of the mouth’, ‘common pathogen of the urinary tract’, ‘common pathogen of vagina’, etc… She had none of the so-called probiotics on her report.

      She’s finally been hitting the potato starch and taking some good probiotics and she’ll be testing again soon. Hope it shows a turnaround. But I think it illustrates exactly what’s going on–it’s a whole body deal when you get everything out-of-whack.

      The acidophilus that should be growing in the vagina requires a good supply of secretions to eat, just like good gut bugs need RS or a crap-load of other fibers to thrive. If the gut is starved, the body responds, possibly by slowing down the normal secretions that feed acidophilus, or changing the pH of the body to where acidophilus doesn’t thrive.

      Cramming yogurt up the hoo-ha may seem like a smart idea, but it’s very short-sighted I believe. The same with taking probiotics or eating tons of yogurt without the requisite fermentable fibers.

    • nopavement on January 25, 2014 at 08:27


      Best quote ever!!

  3. DuckDodgers on January 23, 2014 at 12:17

    It also means that all those alkalizing products out there are all bullshit. All those “alkalizing” vegetables are the ones that just happen to do a good job of fermenting into SCFAs and thereby acidify the intestines.

  4. BigRob on January 23, 2014 at 12:25

    Are we now advocating potato starch cure bad vagina bacteria? If it works in the gut, can it work there?

    I can see it now:

    Tatertot and Richard bring a new Potato Starch douche to the market and become billionaires!

    • gabriella kadar on January 23, 2014 at 19:05

      According to what’s recommended for douching is something acidic like vinegar (?), would potato starch mixed with vinegar not only clean but provide substrate for acid producing bacteria?

      Since the starch settles in watery solutions, you may need to add something like processed cellulose (?) as a thickener. Which is also a prebiotic.

      That end of the body is not my expertise, but you may have a point here.

    • gabriella kadar on January 23, 2014 at 19:06

      or use a mixture of yoghurt and starch.

    • tatertot on January 23, 2014 at 19:21

      Hey, Gab – If I had one, I’d surely try. But I don’t know if the acidophilus can eat RS. It may rely almost completely on the secretions from the epithelium. However, the combo of RS and an acidophilus enriched yogurt may create an environment where attachment to epithelial cells is more likely. here’s a good description of how it’s supposed to work…”Lactobacilli are believed to interfere with pathogens by different mechanisms. The first is competitive exclusion of genitourinary pathogens from receptors present on the surface of the genitourinary epithelium (5, 21). Second, lactobacilli coaggregate with some uropathogenic bacteria (14), a process that, when linked to the production of antimicrobial compounds, such as lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, bacteriocin-like substances (12, 15), and possibly biosurfactants (21), would result in inhibition of the growth of the pathogen.”

      Here’s what determines if lacto can adhere:

      The factors responsible for adherence to epithelial vaginal cells seemed to be glycoproteins (L. acidophilus and L. gasseri) and carbohydrate (L. jensenii). The receptors of the vaginal cells were glycolipids, which presumably were the targets of the competition observed between the lactobacilli and the pathogenic microbes.

      Maybe the ‘carbohydrate’ is a good indication that RS may make a difference after all.

    • tatertot on January 23, 2014 at 19:35

      I find the research fascinating, though, on the parallels between vaginal microbes and gut microbes. I knowmy wife has struggled with this her whole life.

      Antibiotics—yeast infection—antifungals—UTI—abx—yeast—-never ends.

      Have you read anything about FUT2? It’s a sugar we excrete (fucoid) in the villi of the cells in our small intestine that feeds gut microbes that keep pathogens out of the small intestine. 20% of the world’s population is FUT2 deficient (‘nonsecretors’) and are susceptible to all sorts of bowel problems, but have 100% protection from Norovirus. Isn’t that bizarre?

      I have to wonder if there is a nonsecretor angle for vaginal microbiome as well, or if it is completely different. We have microbes all over our body, in every nook and cranny, and they all have to eat. Most eat skin cells, sweat, fat, secretions, or whatever–they don’t need fed. I doubt that vaginal microbes need fed, either, they just need a nice environment where they can adhere to skin cells and do their ‘thang.’

    • gabriella kadar on January 23, 2014 at 20:36

      Never tried it, but I think the use of acidic douche is to kill the sorts of bowel bacteria that can infect the vagina. We know that the pathogenic types don’t appreciate acidic environments.

      By using yoghurt, it’s also acidic. But it’s thicker and hangs around longer. Sometimes rinsing with a liquid, is not advisable in some situations. Like for example, it has been shown that excessive sinus rinsing can prolong sinus infections. It washes everything away and that includes the good bugs and too much mucous.

      Just thinking here that adding the RS to the yoghurt wouldn’t necessarily provide substrate for bacteria but it would provide substance and stick-to-it ness and stay in location for longer.

      What were women, historically, using douche for? Was it a misguided attempt at preventing pregnancy by washing out semen? (I don’t know, it’s a before my time thing. I think I read it in a novel.)

    • nopavement on January 25, 2014 at 08:40

      The juice from fermented sauerkraut might work

  5. Dave Mayo on January 24, 2014 at 03:52

    Good blog. I’m in the middle of working on a blog looking at the relationship between fungal candida overgrowth and gluten sensitivity and your identification of C. Albicans and the pH of the gut is spot on. However, it’s not just that C. Albicans will grow in an alkaline environment, C. Albicans can actively alter the pH of the digestive tract via fermentation of amino acids. In my opinion this has a tremendous impact on leaky gut and the microbiota and may be a potential game changer in gluten induced intestinal permeability. The optimal environment for fungal candida conversion….Low glucose and high amino acid content. Here is a link to a study…

  6. Hodgepodge on January 23, 2014 at 15:01

    Asprey also seems fixated on the fact that there were some rare glacial bacteria in Tatertot’s gut. Call me weird, but perhaps this isn’t surprising for someone living at the North Pole. Or is it Asprey’s point that the PS resulted in the glacial critters taking up residence in Tatertot’s gut?

    • tatertot on January 23, 2014 at 18:19

      I drink water every day that comes from a well drilled 30 feet into glacial silt, could that be where it came from?

      They still find frozen wooly mammoths in the ground where I live. More than one person who lives here has complained of funky tasting well-water, and they find the well is drilled directly through a frozen mammoth or ox or some other ice age creature that has begun to thaw and pollute their water…wonder what there gut microbes would look like. Ha!

    • gabriella kadar on January 23, 2014 at 19:07

      I like to think I have a strong stomach. But………..

    • Hodgepodge on January 23, 2014 at 21:05

      I wonder if the frozen mammoth meat is still edible? Talk about authentic Paleo food….

    • tatertot on January 23, 2014 at 21:08

      One of the best-documented accounts of a prehistoric meal comes at the end of Frozen Fauna of the “Mammoth Steppe (1990), by Alaska zoology professor Dale Guthrie. After successfully unearthing and preserving “Blue Babe,” a 36,000-year-old steppe bison found near Fairbanks in 1979, Guthrie’s team celebrates by simmering some leftover flesh from Babe’s neck “in a pot of stock and vegetables.” The author reports that “the meat was well aged but still a little tough, and it gave the stew a strong Pleistocene aroma.” Now, I’m all for scientific esprit de corps, and I’m not by nature an incurious sort, but I’ll say right now I don’t see the appeal. Let’s keep it simple: Frozen meat from tundra = specimen; frozen meat from freezer = dinner. Study the mammoths and eat the burgers, and anyone who craves that great prehistoric taste can wash ’em down with Tab.”

    • nopavement on January 25, 2014 at 08:44

      good one! Tater, that could be your million dollar idea, woolly mammoth jerky, the true Paleo food!!

  7. Marybeth on January 23, 2014 at 17:05

    Or Astroglide “tater” for the poontang. :)

  8. Beans McGrady on January 23, 2014 at 17:46

    I just re-read the comments on the bulletproof site.
    I am very sad for humanity.
    People can be really really stupid.

  9. Bill on January 23, 2014 at 19:07

    Slightly off topic but I’ve got a bunch of mcT oil on hand. Does it make sense to take with potato starch for some off the wall bullet starch proof cocktail? Or should I pitch it and just do PS like I do now.

  10. rs711 on January 24, 2014 at 00:18

    Hey Richard & Tatertot Tim, [re-post from the ‘Confirmation Bias’ post]

    An example of the conflicting/contradictory results regarding RS & insulin responses I mentioned before.

    — Dietary Fibre Improves First-phase Insulin Secretion in Overweight Individuals — doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040834

    “Analysis of the 7-day dietary records revealed no significant differences between the HAM-RS2 and placebo for either energy or macronutrient intakes. Fibre intake was significantly higher during the HAM-RS2 intervention compared with the placebo (57.861.2 g/day versus 17.561.6 g/day, respectively; p=,0.001) which can be directly attributed to the HAM-RS2 supplement. Blood glucose concentrations during the FSIVGTT were not significantly different following supplementation with either HAM-RS2 or placebo (Figure 1). However, plasma insulin (Figure 2) and C-peptide (Figure 3) concentrations were signifi- cantly higher following 4 weeks supplementation with HAM-RS2 compared with placebo (p=0.009 and p=0.016, respectively).
    Whilst modelling of the data showed no significant difference between the supplements for insulin sensitivity or disposition index, there was a significantly higher first-phase insulin response (AIRg) following supplementation with HAM-RS2 compared with placebo and a trend for increased glucose effectiveness with the HAM-RS2 (Table 2).”

    “Although this study showed an improvement in insulin secretion following HAM-RS2, it did not demonstrate an improvement in insulin sensitivity which we have shown previously using the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp [7–9].”

    Do you think the fact that they were testing RSII (aka raw potato, banana, and high-amylose starch) & not RSIII is meaningful to the results in any way?

    This study looks at the incidence of scFOS, RS and wheat bran on colon tumours, also exploring the SCFA angle. Curious ‘non-linear’ affect of RS in terms of butyrate/tumor suppression.
    — Short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides reduce the occurrence of colon tumors and develop gut-associated lymphoid tissue in Min mice — [Cancer Research. 225-228, January 15, 1997

    [RS was retrograded high-amylose corn starch]
    “Neither starch-free wheat bran nor resistant starch modified the number of tumors. However, short-chainfructo-oligosaccharides dramatically reduced the incidence of colon tumors and concomitantly developed gut-associated lymphoid tissue.”

    “sc-FOSs and RS are fermentable fibers that provide protection against earlier stages of colon carcinogenesis: they both reduce the number of azoxymethane-induced aberrant crypt foci in rats, in conjunction with high butyrate production (4). The inefficiency of RS in the present experiment suggests that fermentation either is not involved in the protective effect or is not sufficient by itself. In vivo and in vitro studies indicate that fructo-oligosaccharides can be used successfully as prebiotics to enhance the population of BifidobaCterium in the large intestine (15, 16). Direct evidence that Bifidobacterium stimulate murine antitumor immunity and modify cytokine expression has also been reported (17).”

    This one quoted an unexpected wheat bran/RS interaction in terms of butyrate production (no idea why – any thoughts? Also, why does wheat brans’ ‘butyrate enhancing’ effect not then translate into positive morbidity/mortality results in the literature?)
    — Resistant Starch-A Review —

    “when RS was combined with an insoluble dietary fiber like wheat bran, much higher SCFA levels, in particular butyrate was ob- served in the feces”

    • tatertot on January 24, 2014 at 08:21

      rs711 – One thing that is pretty clear from many studies, a combination of RS and some other plant fiber is better than either on their own. Also, many show slight differences between RS2 and RS3.

      To that end, you can probably see why eating a Perfect Health Diet type of menu AND adding some RS to give you a combined fermentable fiber intake of about 20-40g/day is probably ‘optimal’ in terms of feeding gut microbes.

      Going through studies is tough–they are all designed to spur new studies, and the jargon that scientists use is almost incomprehensible to the lay reader. For instance, ‘statistical significance, p=.0016’ means absolutely nothing to me, but may have a biochemist jumping up and down for one reason or another.

      Here’s a fun exercise: Go to PubMed (or Cambridge Journals, or Google Scholar), type ‘resistant starch’ in the search bar, then use the advanced search to ensure the results you get are for those words to appear somewhere in the title or abstract. Hit Enter. These are all peer-reviewed studies you will get.

      Then, on the left, you’ll see where you can ask for specific years. Go through and re-do the search starting in 1987 and ending in 2014 (or just pick a few years). What you will see is a very linear increase in studies on RS. Also look at what they were studying in the 90’s compared to what they are studying in 2014. It’s utterly amazing how much research has gone into RS, and how completely unaware the general public still is.

      So, yes, sure, there are plenty of studies out there from the 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s that don’t give glowing reports on every single thing that was looked at in the study, but that hasn’t stopped researchers from continuing to study those and other areas.

  11. Drini on January 24, 2014 at 02:27

    Hi everybody, new here. I’ve been paleo-ish for 2 years and a half and I’ve tested different degrees of low-carbism, even doing epi-paleo for a while (great for losing weight, not so good for everything else).
    It has been a couple of months that I’ve increased my carb intake (starches and fruits) and I feel definitely better.
    I also ditched IF because eating large meals gave me massive bloatings and generally I didn’t like to stuff myself.
    It has been a couple of days now that I’ve started supplementing with PS (3T yesterday) and trying to increase the intake of RS. So far, besides the increased trips to the toilet, I haven’t noticed any benefits. On the contrary, I’ve been feeling more tired than usually, the past few days, and sleep has worsened a little. In addition, I’ve been having mild aches on my hip (these are really mild and come and go, but it has been a couple of months that I haven’t been suffering them).
    Nevertheless, I’m not rushing to conclusions and I am willing to give RS and more fermentable fiber in the diet a couple of weeks. I like to think that something is happening, a kind of war between the good bacteria and my immune system against bad bacteria. The bad bacteria, sensing that they’re losing this battle, are trying to cause the more damage they can :D. Anyway I reckon my body is using a lot of energy in this war.
    One thing, however, stroke me reading on this post about the importance of an acidic environment in the gut.
    Isn’t it curious that in order to harm bad bacteria, fight cavities and dental plaque and to promote teeth remineralization you need an elevated pH in the mouth? (
    It’s quite odd that in two different parts of the digestive system, where bacteria play a major role, different rules apply, in order to keep these environments healthy.
    Anyone has any thoughts on this? Why you think this is the case?
    I would love to hear your opinion.

    • tatertot on January 24, 2014 at 08:31

      Hi, Drini – Hang in there! I think you are on the right track. As to pH in mouth and gut–that is very strange. Also amazing how well controlled pH is in a normal functioning body, and how messed up it gets with antacids and PPI type drugs. Thanks! Maybe GabKad will see and comment, she’s a dentist!

    • Junkgrl on January 24, 2014 at 09:41

      I have had a similar experience as Drini. Low-carb Paleo for about 2 years, but have added more starch in potatoes, sweet and white and some white rice recently because I think I am really too low carb at this point for no good reason. (65 YO woman, excellent health, pretty normal size, no real issues with blood sugar, etc. but gluten sensitive). Been on PS (about 1 Tbl a day for about a week and will up the amount next week.) I just feel “off” and my right hip and knees are really bothering me–way more than usual. I may have overdone it on the treadmill, but I don’t think it is that, really. Will keep up the RS and check back in. I am going with fight going on inside me as why I feel kind of crummy. The RS is a fascinating subject.
      Richard: Got the John Sarno book on TMS and seeing many parallels in my life on pain and what’s goin’ on in my wee mind. I have always believed a connection exists, so maybe this will be of help to me.

    • Junkgrl on January 24, 2014 at 09:54

      I drink the PS in water as I swallow my frozen raw liver “pills”. The PS has just enough flavor to offset the liver if it doesn’t hit the mark clean and clings to the back of my throat. GAG!!!!! This is the only way I can do liver. Thanks for all the info, tater and Richard.

    • DuckDodgers on January 24, 2014 at 10:50

      Isn’t it curious that in order to harm bad bacteria, fight cavities and dental plaque and to promote teeth remineralization you need an elevated pH in the mouth?

      I don’t think it’s all that surprising. The enamel of the teeth don’t like acids. You can actually wear away the enamel by chewing on lemons or exposing your teeth to too much pool water. (nice pictures)

      The Relman-Stanford group research has also shown that even within the gut there is a very specific “biogeography” from site to site.

      In addition to the work they’ve done on mapping the bacteria in the oral cavity, they’ve also found that the that the flora in the healthy mucosa of the gut differs from site to site within the gut and differs considerably from what is present in fecal material (which often has higher numbers of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria).

      So, different sections of the the stomach and intestines have very specific bacterial demographics. And the bacteria in your poop is really just a piece of the puzzle (and not all that indicative of your mucosal microbiota in various sites of your digestive tract).

      The fact that the mouth needs a more alkaline environment isn’t surprising when you realize just how different and specialized the bacteria is on every organ and every inch of your body.

    • DuckDodgers on January 24, 2014 at 10:55

      Interestingly, H. Pylori — which dislikes acidity and secretes ammonia to lessen the acidity in the stomach and make the environment more tolerable for itself — is hypothesized to contribute towards GERD, which can release acid into the esophagus and mouth where the acid doesn’t belong. This improperly-placed acidity can contribute towards tooth enamel erosion. How’s that for biogeography!

  12. Paleophil on January 24, 2014 at 04:25

    Richard, the results so far have been exciting, but before you count scalps and finalize your book, I’d like to see some input on your and Tater’s take on RS from informed skeptical folks like Stephan Guyenet, Peter of Hyperlipid and say a gastroenterologist. Just as most people missed the RS piece of the puzzle up to now, maybe you guys are missing some things or getting something wrong?

    • tatertot on January 24, 2014 at 08:27

      Norm Robillard should HATE Richard and I. Have a listen to this podcast from yesterday. If you get bored, jump to 1hr, 10 minute point and listen for 4 or 5 minutes. Read Norm’s credentials while you are listening.

      I think at this point, the only valid argument is, ‘Nobody has defined the ‘perfect’ gut microbiome makeup.’

      That’s true, and they probably never will, but it doesn’t change what I think about the need for fermentable fibers.

      But, I’m sure everyone will chime in soon enough. If ‘farts’ is the biggest problem, I’m happy.

    • Paleophil on January 25, 2014 at 06:42

      Thanks for the link, Tater. It’s good to see that the expert most-quoted by critics of RS is now surprisingly positive about it. That does warrant some victory dancing. Persuading Peter and Stephan a bit would warrant some more.

  13. rs711 on January 24, 2014 at 09:49

    I went ahead with your suggestion: searching for ‘resistant starch’ – limited to title/abstract from 1987-2014 in PubMed – I found about 780 studies.

    I also looked at what they were doing in the 90s compared to now. It seems like in the 90s the studies were mostly trying to understand fibers’ potential in improving colorectal mutagenesis outcomes.
    As far as the 2000s-present day range goes, here are some examples of the study titles appearing on the first page of results:

    “Dietary red meat aggravates dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in mice whereas resistant starch attenuates inflammation.”
    “Effect of resistant starch RS4 added to the high-fat diets on selected biochemical parameters in Wistar rats.”
    “Effects of potato fiber and potato-resistant starch on biomarkers of colonic health in rats fed diets containing red meat.”
    2nd page result(s) – “Inhibition by resistant starch of red meat-induced promutagenic adducts in mouse colon.”

    These study titles seem to suggest potential benefits of RS on physiology are inferred from a comparison of outcomes with ‘high-fat/red meat’ rodent diets – I hope we can all agree, such a ‘diet’ is pretty horrible diet for nearly any living thing. This, though, doesn’t mean that seemingly positive outcomes from dietary inclusion of RS should be brushed aside.

    The studies seem to mix in their results with many different fiber types ( including RS), so disentangling any kind of effect is a gargantuan task. It’d be interesting to see more human studies on RS with fewer variables that are better controlled.

    The fact that people continue to study something is no guarantee of its validity (and vice-versa).

    I agree, people are generally incredibly ignorant about such important matters, but it’s certainly not limited to RS – but to health and nutrition at large (+ loads of other important stuff unfortunately).

    Tim, statistical significance is of paramount importance when attempting to interpret data usefully. This is something lay readers should know and is usually taught in high school (it was in mine at least…although I quickly forgot it and had to relearn it, like most things!). Sorry to insist but not appreciating the importance of P values in the context of scientific investigation is big NO NO – it’s very easy to get a handle on thankfully. KhanAcademy videos will get you up to speed quickly if you feel the need :)

    Maybe you can shed some light on this for me: I’m a bit confused about Jeff Leach being (apparently) quite certain about the benefits of certain bacterial species increasing/decreasing in response to dietary changes, while in the same article/comment making an emphatic point to say how much we still do not understand about the species themselves and their impact on us…he seems to be pulling the brakes while getting ahead of himself simultaneously. Is there a resource or review paper you can point me to where the distinctions amongst bacterial species and their purported effects are made more clear? Or defines where the boundaries of our current knowledge regarding the microbiome lie?
    I feel like I’m missing something – and I probably am (surprise surprise!).
    Thanks for the guidance!

    • DuckDodgers on January 24, 2014 at 10:23

      I’m a bit confused about Jeff Leach being (apparently) quite certain about the benefits of certain bacterial species increasing/decreasing in response to dietary changes, while in the same article/comment making an emphatic point to say how much we still do not understand about the species themselves and their impact on us…he seems to be pulling the brakes while getting ahead of himself simultaneously. Is there a resource or review paper you can point me to where the distinctions amongst bacterial species and their purported effects are made more clear? Or defines where the boundaries of our current knowledge regarding the microbiome lie?


      You’re probably not going to find the answer to any of your questions in a single study — at least not yet. There is so much research on RS, and so much data, that at some point you need to take a step back and look at the big picture — including all of the n=1s.

      The whole point of the American Gut Project is to help answer these questions. And even that project will only get us so far.

      Jeff Leach said
      Like Jimmy Moore and those guys. I mean, I have nothing but ultimate respect for Jimmy. He is all in, but I worry about it. What’s interesting in American Gut is we have quite a few paleo dieters that have identified as paleo dieters in the study, and we need a lot more. It’s a group of people we’re very interested in, and we’re interested in the very low carbohydrate guys as well. We’re seeing an increasing number of those guys in the study, but we need more of them to have any kind of definitive take on the problem. But if you just look at it from what we know from the literature – and there are not many studies that have isolated very low carb people – but when you come at it from the perspective of pH like you do, which is spot on, what happens when people go on a low carb diet – you know more about this than I do, but I always get the emails, ‘What’s wrong with eating 10 cups of broccoli a day?’ One of the big things that the low carb diets do is they really drop out the resistant starch in the diet. And what’s interesting about a lot of butyrate producers, Roseburia and these guys and Eubacterium, they’re cross-feeders. For example, you have certain species of bacteria, groups of bacteria that break down whatever, cellulose and hemicellulose, and produce acetate and propionate and all these things, but a lot of the butyrate producers are cross-feeders and they’re feeding off of other activities. So, when I see a very low carb person, I often see not only a huge drop in dietary fiber, but a drop in diversity of dietary fiber and a significant drop in resistant starch, which is a huge source of nutrients for the microbiome as well. Resistant starch is often called the third dietary fiber.

      But I lump it all together with anything that escapes digestion in the upper GI tract and ends up in your colon and is available for fermentation, and it’s a lot of things besides just dietary fiber. But I’m concerned about it for the exact reasons that you are. We don’t have the data. Nobody has done any nice clinical controlled trials, but when you starve the bacteria, you may see an increase in mucin degraders like Akkermansia and a few other ones. That shift in the pH is going to provide opportunities for pathogens to maybe bloom up that may cause some down-the-road, long-term problems. But again, maybe not. Nobody knows for sure, but if you’re shifting that pH and you’re not fermenting, you’re opening the pathogen’s door. It’s going to take a long time to unwind this, but I think the more low carb people we can get in the study, we can contribute to the conversation at least to the point where it can serve as a baseline for maybe more controlled clinical kinds of studies. But I would never recommend a low carb diet. I think you can eat lots and lots of healthy carbs and maintain your weight.

    • DuckDodgers on January 24, 2014 at 11:05

      …And to clarify, later in that interview:

      Jeff Leach said: The low carb thing is really terrifying to me from a microbiome perspective, but I want to couch that in saying that that’s not based on any data, so to speak. It’s just based on what we know about fermentation.

  14. rs711 on January 24, 2014 at 12:53


    Interesting. I had read these 2 pieces of writing not long ago.

    I think that Jeff’s project will be very important in advancing our knowledge of human health – kudos to him, really. We need more people taking on important although yet undiscovered areas of microbiology.

    However, I think he would better serve his investigation if he refrained from gross generalisations, such as:

    -the title of one of his recent articles – “Sorry low carbers, your microbiome is just not that into you”
    or “But I would never recommend a low carb diet. I think you can eat lots and lots of healthy carbs and maintain your weight”
    or “The low carb thing is really terrifying to me from a microbiome perspective”…terrifying really suggests a strong level of certainty.
    or, even stranger “when I see a very low carb person, I often see not only a huge drop in dietary fiber, but a drop in diversity of dietary fiber and a significant drop in resistant starch” Really? Most people transition from a SAD diet – is he really claiming SAD to some version of LC Paleo has LESS green leafies/fiber/RS? I’m sure that may be the case, but the majority? hhmm…

    Furthermore, it seems reasonable that certainty should be proportional to how you come by your claims and the rigor you’ve applied in trying to actively disprove them: knowledge of ‘fermentation’ —> generalisations about diets is one thing…direct observations is another.
    It’d be scientifically sound to see a genuine interest in trying to prove ones ideas wrong rather focusing solely on trying to prove them right – these are not the same.

    It’s frustrating to have to wait for clearer results, I hope that our impatience doesn’t slow down an already complex and laborious process = scientific discovery.

    • Paleophil on January 25, 2014 at 13:42


      While statistical significance has its uses, it’s not the be-all and end-all and also has potential pitfalls:

      “Statistical signficance is … a diversion from the proper objects of scientific study. … Statistical significance should be a tiny part of an inquiry concerned with the size and importance of relationships. Unhappily it has become the central and standard error of many sciences. …. Real science depends on size, on magnitude.” (The Cult of Statistical Significance: How the Standard Error Costs Us Jobs, Justice, and Lives, by Stephen T. Ziliak and Deirdre N. McCloskey)

      “Statistical significance will happen by chance about 5% of the time, yielding false-positive results. Researchers may exploit this phenomenon by asking lots of questions and then creating a story around what are likely random, or chance, events.” (Henry I. Miller and S. Stanley Young,

      “A Turkey is fed for a 1000 days—-every [day] confirms to its statistical department that the human race cares about its welfare ‘with increased statistical significance’. On the 1001st day, the turkey has a surprise.” (Nassim Taleb,

      Normally impatience is associated more with going too fast than with slowing down. I don’t see how some people doing self experimenation and sharing the results is going to slow things down. On the contrary, it is already speeding things up and drawing more attention to the topic. Waiting for clearer results or desired p values before trying RS would slow down the learning process for anyone who did that. I don’t have to wait and didn’t, and I have so far benefited. As always, YMMV.

    • DuckDodgers on January 27, 2014 at 12:32

      For what it’s worth, Melissa McEwen explains why the “acellular carb” theory is too simplistic:

    • rs711 on January 27, 2014 at 01:12


      Yes, understanding the utility of P values, not overstating them and understanding the scope of the inferences made from them are good scientific practices, totally agreed – that was kind my point.

      F*ck patience, an overrated quality IMHO. The more then N=1’s, the better!
      But what won’t make the scientific discovery go faster are holding claims that don’t match the available data. We can try to make educated guesses as much as we want – they still remain guesses/hypotheses in the absence of strong data. The stronger our claims are in the absence of good evidence (of all kinds) the less likely we are to adopt better theories quicker and the more likely we are to feel ‘wed’ to those we are ‘used to’ or already feel comfortable with.

      Scientists should be more like sluts = minimal personal investment in a ‘theory’ and a progressive ‘open mind’ to novel ones

    • Paleophil on January 27, 2014 at 04:07

      Yes, agreed on the importance of good scientific practice, including analyzing this stuff with a skeptical eye. It makes sense to try get an expert to review the material or answer questions, to minimize errors and overextrapolations.

      One question about Jeff’s results appears to have gone unanswered on Facebook – – which suggested that his microbiome may have improved when he ate more LCHF, rather than worsened.

      Most reported versions of LC Paleo I have seen do appear to contain significantly less RS than the SAD–due to generally less grains, legumes, and potatoes.

    • rs711 on January 27, 2014 at 05:39

      I went to check out that FB link – thanks! It’s a perfect example of how his data is “confusing” (perfectly normal) and isn’t yet conducive to claims of great certainty – either way.

      I’d challenge the assumption that the SAD diet is more fiber rich than what people switch to when they claim to be on a health LC-Paleo diet.
      Why? Because the end-products we call food in a SAD diet are based on fibers/starches that are in the acellular form most of the time —> basically, fibres/starches that are “pre-broken down”, precisely the opposite state in which our body is accustomed to handling them.
      Check this out: “Comparison with ancestral diets suggests dense acellular carbohydrates promote an inflammatory microbiota, and may be the primary dietary cause of leptin resistance and obesity”

    • DuckDodgers on January 27, 2014 at 06:45

      It’s hardly a surprising conclusion that refined carbs contribute to disease. I think Paleophil was specifically referring to RS consumption.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 27, 2014 at 08:03


      Or, “pre-broken down” fibers and starches are what molars and salivary amylose is for.

    • rs711 on January 27, 2014 at 12:02

      No Richard, that is not what I’m referring to (& neither is the paper I linked to):

      “Whereas foods with living cells will have their
      low carbohydrate density “locked in” until their cell walls are breached by digestive processes, the chyme produced after consumption of acellular flour and sugar-based foods is thus suggested to have a higher carbohydrate concentration than almost anything the microbiota of the upper GI tract from mouth to small bowel would have encountered during our coevolution”

    • rs711 on January 27, 2014 at 12:09

      That’s why my comment was about: how the quantity of fiber &/or RS from “grains, legumes & potatoes” in a SAD diet might be substantially less than suggested, because of the processing that often accompanies these – turning them into acellular carbs.

    • DuckDodgers on January 27, 2014 at 12:16

      Huh? How exactly are legumes & potatoes “processed” into acellular carbs?

      And isn’t the main point here that the low carb dieter doesn’t really eat any complex carbs?

    • Paleophil on January 28, 2014 at 04:16

      rs711 wrote: “I’d challenge the assumption that the SAD diet is more fiber rich than what people switch to when they claim to be on a health LC-Paleo diet.”

      The point is re: resistant starch, not all “fiber” (Richard and Tatertot have explained the differences in the past, so I won’t get into it here again), and it’s not an assumption, it’s a logical point. How would one remove or greatly reduce grains (the base of the food pyramid), legumes and potatoes and not lower RS intake?

      It is easy to get carried away with excitement over the early good reports re: RS, and it’s good to get reasonable skeptical input.

      It’s also easy to underestimate the significance of RS, which I did a bit myself when I first learned about it. Have you tried increasing your RS intake?

      DuckDodgers wrote: For what it’s worth, Melissa McEwen explains why the “acellular carb” theory is too simplistic:

      Yeah, it’s a less persuasive and less scientific study than some of the positive RS studies that rs711 critiqued. We have seen plenty of traditional RS-rich foods posted on this very blog that were ignored by the study.

    • rs711 on January 27, 2014 at 23:50

      Imagine a ready-made meal where, for example, your potatoes aren’t simply mashed but actually processed substantially to the point where most cells are lysed – maybe to have vegetable oils mixed in, to achieve a certain mouth-feel/texture or what have you. This is quite different that ‘kitchen processing’. Same goes for other flours from grains and/or legumes. Your stomach is dealing with ‘cell contents’ rather than a whole cell linked to millions of others.

      This seems to impact the microbiota, absorption rates, satiety signals etc… To be fair, that impact isn’t easily measurable yet but it is a plausible mechanisms that might explain some part of why grains & legumes are particularly problematic in highly processed states.

      A LC or VLC dieter can eat complex carbs, but in limited amounts – timing those intakes with exercise can sometimes allow for a decent tater intake :)

    • rs711 on January 28, 2014 at 06:30

      I understand the simple logic behind your argument and agree with it:

      base of pyramid = grains/legumes high in RS relative to other foods in the pyramid —-> thus removing thee base foods also equates to a substantial decrease in overall RS consumptions

      The caveat I propose is simply the following:

      base of pyramid = lower in RS than one might think because legumes/grains in our modern food environment are often consumed in a highly processed state (as an example, I introduced ‘acellular carbs’) where the RS is heated/denatured or so finely broken apart that it is more like conventional flours (not Bobs Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch)

      I was familiar with Melissa McEwans take on the paper I linked to. Her arguments aren’t very convincing – especially as her focus is very much on the supposed endotoxemic effect of high-fat diets (right…).
      Occam’s razor: Try to eat a handful of seeds straight from the field and then try to eat these same food after having ground it down with machinery – I hope we can agree the result is not the same for your body, right?

      I’m simply extending that point to acellular carbs – when the cells are lysed, this is not the same for our bodies. The carbohydrate density is a factor our body is used to dealing with within a certain range, like most other things. It seems reasonable to assume that our capacity to handle such densities aren’t infinite.

      I’m not making specific claims as to how EXACTLY this effects us, but the cautionary principle would suggest not making these significant part of ones diet (for many other reasons also) until a solid reason is put forward.

    • DuckDodgers on January 28, 2014 at 08:01

      So, it sounds like what you’re saying is that you don’t have good data to back up your hypothesis. Isn’t that what you were complaining about with Jeff Leach’s hypothesis?

      Just curious, but are we just having this conversation because you are low carb and want Leach to be wrong about low carb?

    • rs711 on January 28, 2014 at 09:06

      What I am trying to say is the comparison of RS levels between a SAD and LC diet doesn’t seem to take into account: the processing affecting the final product, differences by country/culture, by season, preparation techniques and so on…thus making Jeff Leach’s claim about RS levels being ‘low’ when transitioning from a SAD to LC diet an undue (and unfortunate) generalisation.

      My ‘complaint’ about his hypothesis was that he seemed to use a double-standard: on the one hand he cautions against making strong claims about the micobiome’s effect on health…but then goes on to make strong claims about the effect of LC diets on that very microbiome.
      [furthermore, failing to distinguish that a LC diet can be incredibly healthful or very dangerous depending on how one formulates it).

      Compared to the typical SAD or European equivalent – yes. But maybe you should decide for yourself! What I ate today at lunch: 2 pastured eggs mixed in with veal brains + beef liver (cooked in coconut oil + ghee) + kimchi and mixed veggie leftovers on a separate plate (more cabbage, onions, garlic etc..), topped off with a handful of berries and a square of 90% dark chocolate.
      At the moment I am making sure to include sweet potatoes pre and post-workout to experiment with performance.

      Jeff Leach is definitely ‘wrong’ to make those kind of sweeping statements with the currently available data – he may still be 100% right though (I can’t predict the future – hopefully you can grasp the distinction I’m making). Lets just say that ‘fantastic claims require fantastic evidence’ or however the saying goes…

    • DuckDodgers on January 28, 2014 at 10:18

      What I am trying to say is the comparison of RS levels between a SAD and LC diet doesn’t seem to take into account: the processing affecting the final product, differences by country/culture, by season, preparation techniques and so on…

      As Tim already explained in previous posts, the SAD dieter gets a very low amount of RS as it is. I think it was about 3-5 grams per day, at best. Maybe it’s even less. Who knows. But it doesn’t change the fact that the LC dieter doesn’t really get more than that. Sounds like you are arguing about pocket change. Splitting hairs over details between a LC diet and a SAD diet isn’t exactly helping your case. :)

      on the one hand he cautions against making strong claims about the micobiome’s effect on health…but then goes on to make strong claims about the effect of LC diets on that very microbiome.

      Ok, but it doesn’t change the fact that LC diets tend to starve gut bugs of fermentable carbs and there’s good evidence that you need fermentable carbs to help produce SCFAs. And there’s good evidence that starved gut bugs tend to degrade mucin. So, therein lies the conundrum with LC diets. How does one produce enough SCFAs and maintain a healthy mucin barrier with LC when you starve the gut bugs?

      And speaking of a need for lots of hard data. I definitely don’t think there’s enough data on LC diets to come to any “incredibly healthful” conclusions on them. Yes, LC diets are known to be helpful for some specific conditions, but they’ve never been proven to be “incredibly healthful” for all aspects of peripheral health. So the data is certainly lacking there as well. I don’t think you get to have it both ways.

    • paleophil on January 28, 2014 at 17:55

      @rs711 – I didn’t mean “substantial decrease” in RS from the SAD, and I already knew that the RS content of the SAD is low and in part because the foods tend to be processed, so it’s not lower than I think. I just meant that Jeff is probably right that a significant number of LC Paleo dieters are consuming even less RS than is in the SAD, and considering that the SAD starting point is already much lower than ancestral levels, that doesn’t seem wise.

      I do think that Jeff’s wording “huge drop in dietary fiber” probably overstated the case, on average, though he might have in mind the more extreme LC Paleo folks, such as zero carbers and very LCers, which the media tends to focus on.

      The key relevant point re: Melissa’s article is that countless RS-rich traditional foods were ignored in the study (probably unintentionally, because modern Westerners tend to be unfamiliar with many of these foods).

      You’ve got it backwards re: the precautionary principle–evidence shows that foods rich in RS have been part of the human diet for millions of years and that they affect the gut microbiome. RS content was reduced significantly very recently, with industrialization, and further in versions of VLC Paleo that eliminate grains, legumes and potatoes and minimize fruit. Thus very-low-RS diets are a recent novel experiment in the history of peoples of European descent. So the precautionary principle would suggest not removing Rs-rich foods from the ancestral diet until a solid reason is put forward.

      You were right to warn about not getting carried away with early positive results, but it’s also important to keep an open mind and not get so wedded to VLC or any other theoretical dietary doctrine to the point that we ignore our own experience or cherry pick the data or apply a finer comb to some studies than others to avoid contradicting the doctrine. Confirmation bias is another problem to watch out for in science.

      Let’s not go off on a seeds tangent. They aren’t necessary to get RS.

      I don’t think you answered my question–have you experimented with RS yourself? Based on your comments, my guess would be no. I’m not telling you what to do, but I’ll bet if you do try it for more than a few weeks that you’ll find that your theoretical concerns will be outweighed by the real benefits. No guarantee, of course.

    • Spanish Caravan on January 28, 2014 at 19:17

      Paleophil, you’re on the same wavelength with many people who’ve lived and learned. Those who’re wizened and have been on VLC and ketogenic diets know that in terms of metabolic improvements, there is nothing better. For the morbidly obese and diabetics, it is a godsend. For a while, that is.

      What we’re realizing is that the microbiome research is revealing exactly we suspected about the long-terms health hazards of VLCing. It’s incredibly helpful in the beginning for the above, but they usually end with a bad outcome.

      Well, if you’re Jimmy Moore, who can only keep his weight off on ketosis, perhaps it’s not such a bad tradeoff. But what we suspected about what unduly restricting carbs does to T3, T reg cells, WBCs is in line with the research being published. When you starve your microbiome, your jeopardize immunity. How many people have you seen who developed cold fingers/toes, low body temperature, sleep issues, adrenal fatigue, heart racing and panic/anxiety attacks, and certain food allergies that they never had before? People are developing these symptoms after they go on so called “autoimmune protocols” or ketosis designed to allay their symptoms. These are supposedly attempts at a cure that are backfiring.

      What I’m also seeing is that people cannot seem to detect cause and effect. Such symptoms seem coincidental at first until you realize what starving the microbiome does in terms of immunity. The problem here is that if these symptoms become full-blown, you will develop autoimmune diseases. If your cold fingers are Raynaud’s they’ll easily become secondary and introduce you to a full-blow autoimmune disease. If your low T3 is autoimmune, you’ll eventually develop Hashimoto’s. And autoimmunity comes in clusters — once you contract one, you’ll develop 5-6 other in your life time. These could be serious and life-threatening issues like Systemic Scleroderma or Systemic Lupus. You could try BRM RS and redress your gut dysbiosis, but there is really no cure.

      The tipping point will come sooner or later. And those slow on the uptake will finally “get it.” There could be legal consequences. Some low-carb gurus are sitting on a keg of dynamite that could explode and destroy their credibility to smithereens. Some of them are in denial and have resorted to confounding tactics to distort and misrepresent the knowledge being transmitted. But the truth will come out. It may seem like I’m overstating things. But I had this hunch 3 years ago when I started reading low-carb and Paleohack boards and realized so many low-carbers are coming down with immune problems. And it’s not just autoimmunity. Some of their WBCs literally fall off the cliff and they develop a form of immunodeficiency which makes them susceptible to lymphoma. It’s truly tragic.

    • Paleophil on January 29, 2014 at 18:48

      Spanish Caravan, Apparently not quite the same wavelength. To be clear, my experience and thinking didn’t fit most of your guesses (and thus maybe that of others also doesn’t fit them). The main reason I underestimated the significance of RS was not because I was trying to stay in chronic ketosis or VLC forever (which potato starch wouldn’t interfere with anyway, if I wanted to use only that). At the time I was trying to find a way to incorporate more carby foods into my diet and to improve my carb tolerance, so that wasn’t the thing I needed to wizen up about. Nor was it the other reasons you gave.

      My primary problem was simple ignorance, specifically about resistant starch. I had come across it years ago, but didn’t understand the significance of RS until recently, and I hadn’t noticed anyone, even on the pro-carb side, strongly advocating it. As a matter of fact, when I did start looking into it, I found that at least one pro-carb guru and his followers were warning people to avoid RS and other prebiotics, and they still are. The message I found from both sides of the macronutrient war was mostly that RS probably isn’t “necessary” and may even be harmful, and often that “it’s all about the carbs” (resistant starch does not function like a “carb”) just in opposite ways.

      The first popular guru I saw make a positive comment about RS from was Paul Jaminet (via Otzi/Tatertot), who advocates a LC diet (albeit one that includes “safe starches”). So the problem is not only on the LC side and the help is not only on the HC side.

      Most of the problems I’ve been seeing VLCers report are what seem like minor issues, such as high and gradually rising fasting and post-prandial blood glucose, which they are writing off to “natural physiological insulin resistance”. I have suspected for some time that it’s not a natural and totally benign thing. Like you, I do expect that chronic VLCers will report more problems over time, especially those who have the lowest intakes of RS and other prebiotics. Do you have some links to where LCers say their WBC’s are falling or getting lupus or lymphoma? I think I have seen a couple reports of falling WBC’s.

      It’s nice that you’re trying to help VLCers. Have you persuaded anyone? If so, what worked? When and how did you first learn about RS?

      What if it turns out that most folks on both sides of the macronutrient war are getting important things wrong? Do you think they will all be sued? Should they be? Should I sue you if you write something wrong in your comments? What would be the cutoff point? Would Dr. Rosedale be sued for recommending and avg of 20% carbs but Paul Jaminet be OK at 25%?

    • Spanish Caravan on January 29, 2014 at 22:16

      Paleophil, the legal issue here is an example I cite because it harks back to SAD and conventional medicine. We’ve been told that the medical establishment will never admit that they were wrong about fat, especially saturated fat, since that will open a floodgate of lawsuits. So those who’ve harmed themselves, became obese, and developed CVD by avoiding fat and eating processed carbs might have a case, if they can prove the nature of the harm, and especially if the medical establishment comes out and admit that they’ve been wrong all along about SaFA.

      They’ll never do that. That’s an exposure to legal liability that you cannot risk. That’s how corporations behave and any medical practitioner, or even those who’re not medical doctors but diet gurus, can possibly be exposed. Notice, Dr. Perlmutter always prefaces his answers to questions with “you’re not under my care and I don’t have your blood labs, so this is my general take on your question without knowing anything about you or your background.”

      If a low-carb doc ever came out and admitted that, look I’ve been wrong: VLCing actually lowers WBCs, jeopardizes immunity, facilitates autoimmune pathogenesis, triggers Raynaud’s … he better have some good liability insurance. He’ll deny if he wants to survive. It will be like Lance Armstrong coming out and expecting to hold onto his records and endorsements. Penn State only became liable to the victims of Jerry Sandusky after it fessed up and fired Paterno and the administration.

      I actually know a few low-carb doctors who are no longer touting VLCing, now have developed serious reservations about it, but are never publicly warning about the dangers or side effects for such reasons. For any hint of legal admission of guilt or culpability.

      I also know a very prominent guru whose patient population have an autoimmunity rate of 1000%, that’s 100%. He’s said that 90% of his patients have Raynaud’s, and 90% are hypothyroid (low T3). He prescribes cytomel and T3 medication freely. But do you know the other side of the coin? About 1/3 of his patients have a serious immune condition called CVID. The remaining 1/2 have a singular immunoglobulin deficiency which makes flu and pneumonia shots pretty much ineffective. Sudden food allergies, unexplained allergies to airborne particles, dust mytes, and indoor materials are features of some of these conditions. These allergies show up all of a sudden and you start sniffling around constantly. You may treat all these as anecdotal. I actually know these guys and the doc himself is currently on immunoglobulin injections to stay alive. Most CVID patients will die from lymphoma, and he had a biopsy a year ago, and so do many of his patients. I know what he thinks. But he’ll never admit that he became sick or jeopardized the immunity of patients through long-term VLCing. Doing so would be tantamount to what Lance Armstrong did.

      When you have skin in the game, you cannot be objective. It’s very naïve to think that any party will roll over in this diet war. But you have to use your power of observation and observe patterns. As far as VLCing goes, I’ve seen enough evidence to convince me that’s it’s not matter of love it or leave it.

    • Paleophil on January 30, 2014 at 04:21

      Spanish Caravan wrote: “He’s said that 90% of his patients have Raynaud’s, and 90% are hypothyroid (low T3)”

      Who is he?

    • Paleophil on January 31, 2014 at 17:36

      Never mind about who he is, sorry SC. I understand now that you mean you know that guru from the inside, confidentially, not as an outside observer.

      You didn’t try to BS me on statistics despite clearly knowing something about them and you mentioned skin in the game–impressive. Plus, I’ve seen some more ex-VLCers with serious issues coming out of the woodwork, now that Richard and Tatertot are bringing this stuff up, so I’m convinced you know what you’re talking about. The problem sounds worse than I realized, even though I try to check some of the most avidly pro-carb sources and research and get a wide range of opinions. It’s unfortunate that there’s a climate of fear so that we don’t get the full story.

      About what was the Raynaud’s and low T3 rate of the patients before they came to this physician? VLC advocates will just assume that he is some sort of specialist who treats patients with those disorders.

      You mentioned that mung bean starch sent your temp above 99F. What do you think of Ray Peat’s claim that 99+F is healthy and what he shoots for himself, IIRC (though he tells most people to shoot for 98.6+)? Presumably he means that 99+ is only good if you have an efficient metabolism like he claims to have.

      What disorders, symptoms and metrics beyond Raynaud’s, low body temperature and low T3 should we be looking for in our VLC friends that might help them realize that something is wrong?

      I know you can’t diagnose and treat via the Internet, but are there any basic tips or things to watch out for with someone I know who is a relatively LC and previously low-RS mostly-Paleo dieter (though he does eat potatoes, squashes, fruit juices and wine and used to drink lots of almond milk) in his 70’s with an unusual dermatitis that stumped his physicians? It resembles Grover’s Disease and improves with UV light treatments. I suggested that he try adding potato starch, more potato salad, potato pancakes and liver pate, which he’ll eat. He won’t eat unripe plantains. Now I’m concerned that the skin issue could be just the start and he might develop worse autoimmune-type issues down the road.

      I don’t seem to see many reports of new autoimmune problems among raw and mostly raw VLCers (though at least one other person besides me reported the rising FBG). Do you think the raw aspect helps? I wonder if it helped me avoid more serious problems from my lowest-carb period (granted, I only tried near-ZC for a few months as an experiment, as it never made sense to me).

      I’ve been seeing some VLC physicians advocating intermittent carb binges/refeeds, so maybe there is a way for more to come out of the closet. Ironically, Dr. Oz has gone in the opposite direction at this late date, now targeting “carbs” as the enemy of weight loss after it’s becoming increasingly publicly clear that there are upsides to “carbs” and major potential downsides to VLC.

      Thanks for your efforts.

    • Paleophil on February 1, 2014 at 10:11

      Spanish Caravan, Hope you don’t mind some more questions. Could you please explain these stats: “whose patient population have an autoimmunity rate of 1000%, that’s 100%”?

      While I am concerned the reports from you and others I’ve seen recently, and the way they appear to fit in with the research on Paleoanthropology, the Old Friends Hypothesis, and prebiotics, I also look for evidence that doesn’t appear to fit my current hypothesis, to avoid the problem of confirmation bias, and to be able to explain it to others. Given that you can’t name names, I am left with asking other questions. Do you, Richard, Tatertot or Jeff have an answer to this Facebook question I still haven’t seen an answer to?
      Did Jeff’s microbiome actually improve when he ate more LCHF and less prebiotics, rather than worsen?

      What is your take on the following reports that also seem contrary on the surface:

      > “adinaverson / 26 June 2013
      hi jeff! this post leaves me confused, and i’ll tell you why… i was a vegetarian/vegan for 13+ years and suffered from IBD, then was eventually diagnosed with an immune deficiency (hypogammaglobulinemia, to be precise). i then (about 7 years ago) switched to the paleo diet, and eventually low-carb paleo- where i’ve remained for the past 3 years. i’ve stuck with it because my IBD and immunity symptoms are gone- and left more rapidly the lower carb i went.
      so, how does this line up with the research so far? help me!! just kidding. but really… i’d love to know.”

      > Hypogammaglobulinemia patient’s “health improved drastically on a very low carb ‘paleo’ diet,” per Adina’s comment at

      Can hypogammaglobulinemia also be triggered by restrictive vegetarian diets and perhaps other sources of chronic stress and can VLC actually improve hypogammaglobulinemia in the short term and then potentially worsen things again in the longer term?

      I have been seeing VLCers report these symptoms mentioned in a comment at
      – hypotriglyceridemia (extremely low triglycerides)
      – mucin deficiency (ex: Paul Jaminet talks about dry eyes)
      – low WBCs
      – gut dysbiosis
      (As well as the better known symptoms and metrics, like cold extremities, low body temperature, poor sleep quality, fatigue, low pulse, low T3, constipation, ….)

      What do you view as the low end of the healthy range for trigclycerides and what would you shoot for as a rough optimal level? The “normal” range on my lab test reports shows 35-160, but I saw someone claim recently that below 50 is not good.

      What you’ve been saying basically fits with what I’ve been finding and with this report at the MDA forum I saw recently that was disturbing to me: “Two years of Low Carb gave me Hashimoto, now three years of Perfect Health Diet with lots of rice and potatoes couldn’t reverse the damage.”

      So I’m not discounting you. I do wonder (and I’m sure that VLC/ketogenic diet supporters do as well), if the problem is as serious as you report, why haven’t I seen more online reports and questions from VLCers with new onset of hypogammaglobulinemia, Raynaud’s, RA, T1 diabetes, or other autoimmune illnesses? They can do so anonymously and it seems like more than a handful of folks would be concerned enough to report and ask about such problems at forums and blogs, even if they don’t detect the cause. To any readers who have/had these or other serious problems on VLC (or, contrarily, had them clear up on VLC), please do share this. In my case adding more RS to my diet resulted in reversal of my high and rising fasting and post-prandial blood glucose, increased morning body temperature and improved cold tolerance, improved dream recall, and provided more and steadier energy (not earth-shattering, I know, but welcome).

      I see it was mostly rs711 I was thinking of re: stats, so that kudos goes to rs711.

  15. rs711 on January 24, 2014 at 12:55

    [sorry for the multiple typos!]

    • DuckDodgers on January 24, 2014 at 13:08


      The last conversation was also taken from a podcast where Chris Kresser <a href=""was talking about the clinical problems he sees, all the time, from Paleos not eating enough carbs and fermentable fibers. So, you have to understand that the conversation was about what Kresser is seeing in his clinical practice and Leach was just giving his opinion.

      It’s an opinion. A hypothesis. And the anecdotal evidence from all our n=1s seems to suggest there is something there. We just need more data.

  16. Maki on January 25, 2014 at 04:08

    Is there any way to test if I have potato starch or potato flour? I live in Poland, and I don’t know what brand to buy or if there is even any unrefined potato starch to buy.

  17. gabriella kadar on January 25, 2014 at 14:47

    Maki, it’s ziemniak skrobia. Skrobia is starch

    potato flour = mąka ziemniaczana.

  18. Adrian on January 25, 2014 at 19:03

    What do you think of Chris Kresser’s articles on Diabetes?

    Excerpt from

    includes Fourth, inflammation of the brain (specifically the hypothalamus) causes leptin resistance, which often precedes and accompanies insulin resistance and T2DM. Leptin is a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism. It does this through its effect on the hypothalamus. When the hypothalamus becomes resistant to leptin, glucose and fat metabolism are impaired and weight gain and insulin resistance result.

    Finally, inflammation of the gut causes leptin and insulin resistance. This may occur via an increase in lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an endotoxin produced by Gram-negative bacteria in the gut. LPS has been shown to cause inflammation, insulin resistance in the liver and weight gain.

  19. GTR on January 26, 2014 at 13:21

    Richard : “Or, does Bulletproof mean Tender Flower, at the end of the day?”

    I read forums on his site, and apparently there was some drama over Dave’s former partner “bulletproofphoenix” who not only separated, but made his own knock-off coffee, after which changing name to “Pirate life”.

    Dave Asprey:
    “Then I got a call saying he had lined up his own coffee and didn’t want to work with me.
    Honestly, I was stunned and surprised and felt betrayed. I actually lost sleep over it, which hasn’t happened in years over anything, so I spent a day at 40yearsofzen doing some computer-aided forgiveness because I didn’t want to be stuck carrying a grudge, and I was having a hard time letting go of it with non-tech forgiveness meditation methods. Maybe I need to man up or something, but it really got to me. This kind of treatment was unexpected and not necessary.”

  20. Harriet on January 25, 2014 at 23:49

    Reporting in after about 18 days on PS with the last 14 being undertaken while on a cruise ship inundated by HG carb temptation and sugary desserts. I have to say I was not as good this cruise as on the last one and I ate far too much, too often and ate too many desserts. Despite all this I have only put on 2kg, of which 1.5 kg went on in the first 4 days of taking the PS and before I got on board.

    My ankylosing spondylitis was only a problem for a couple of days when I had a very stiff back with increasing pain (days 3 – 7). Then it settled down and I only have very slight back stiffness additional to what I’ve had all my life. I have had sore arthritic fingers to start with, settling down to just one occasionally sore, but constantly stiff 4th right hand finger. Farting has been an issue, but not really a problem most of the time. It was worse when I started then when I went from 1 tbs to 2 tbs. Today will be the first day taking 3 tbs and I’ll take my third one at night time.

    In the past when I have eaten too much and too much food that I’m intolerant to I would get terrible diarrhoea for two days. When I did it on the ship I had 3 trips to the toilet and deposited HUGE quantities. Bristol 3/4 the first time, 4 the second time and 4/5 the third. My history for decades is to go from constipation to diarrhoea and back again. Since I started PS I’ve been almost completely Bristol 4 (though with occasional 3/4 after a couple of days of nothing, and the one occasion of 4/5 mentioned above). For one who has had a life time of gut issues this is very unusual and my body is having some adjustments along the way.

    At the end of week one I developed terrible dandruff on my head and dry skin on my body for 24 hours, then it normalised again.

    I’ve not been sleeping through the night but I have been having awesome dreams. Instead of waking just the once I’ve been waking 2, 3 or 4 times, but this could have been because I was overeating and eating the wrong stuff on the boat. I’ll see how I settle down now I’m home.

    For the first time I’ve not got sick while cruising. In the past I’ve always gone down with a sore throat or sinus infection by about day 7. Not this time though I may have a small cold sore developing on my lip now I’ve got home!

  21. […] "Spanish Caravan" (edited for style, not content) […]

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