Roundup: Paleo Magazine Interview; Gut Flora Presentation; No Soap or Shampoo – “Washing with Bacteria”

~ Tim Steel and I did yet another podcast, this time with Tony Federico of Paleo Magazine.

In this two-part special episode of paleo Magazine Radio, we’re going to be addressing the subject of resistant starch with Richard Nikoley and Tim Steele. The idea that starch is a beneficial component of our ancestral-focused diet is not new – it’s a concept popularized by Paul Jaminet in his book, The Perfect Health Diet. But the idea of resistant starch, and particularly what this peculiar type of starch can do for our health is catching the Paleo world by storm.

The second segment is with Clifton Harski.

After we talk about resistant starch with Richard and Tim, we’re going to be featuring our first ever installment of having fun with fitness with Coach Clifton Harski – talking about ways that you can shape up for summer.

Here’s the link to listen to the show. Here’s the transcript. The whole thing runs about 35 minutes.

~ A week or so I wrote about Giulia Enders and her bestselling book in Germany on the gut biome. Tuns out there was a short presentation she gave (in German) and a couple or few of my stalwart readers were good enough to translate it and subtitle the video in English.

Wasn’t that awesome of them?

~ Many of you know that I haven’t used soap or shampoo for five years now. Turns out some people don’t even use water as I do, but bacteria to clean their skin: My No-Soap, No-Shampoo, Bacteria-Rich Hygiene Experiment.

For most of my life, if I’ve thought at all about the bacteria living on my skin, it has been while trying to scrub them away. But recently I spent four weeks rubbing them in. I was Subject 26 in testing a living bacterial skin tonic, developed by AOBiome, a biotech start-up in Cambridge, Mass. The tonic looks, feels and tastes like water, but each spray bottle of AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist contains billions of cultivated Nitrosomonas eutropha, an ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) that is most commonly found in dirt and untreated water. AOBiome scientists hypothesize that it once lived happily on us too — before we started washing it away with soap and shampoo — acting as a built-in cleanser, deodorant, anti-inflammatory and immune booster by feeding on the ammonia in our sweat and converting it into nitrite and nitric oxide.

Check it out. Pretty interesting. As an aside, I have a big 150-gal tub in the backyard I fill with the garden hose and will usually take a couple of cold dips per day, few minutes each, followed by a rinse under the hose. Wonderfully invigorating and great way to cool off when it’s hot. If I go more than about 3 days without changing the water, I’ll eventually see little critters swimming around. Must mean its teaming with bacteria too.

Interesting times.

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  1. bettyboo on May 22, 2014 at 15:00

    Are channelling the wisdom of jack Kruse with the water bath?

    • Richard Nikoley on May 22, 2014 at 21:22


      Laf. No idea of the history here, eh?

    • LeonRover on May 22, 2014 at 23:59

      If Rich is “channeling” it is Thermogenics – Ray Cronise, a guy who takes measurements & produces papers.

      Richard has a post, way back when.


    • bettyboo on May 23, 2014 at 03:09

      Thanks Leon. I just found the stuff on Ray now. Fascinating stuff. I hear Art Devany also does some sort of cold therapy. All I know is that some ice water firms me up nice and tight like I’m a teenager again.

    • LeonRover on May 23, 2014 at 10:06

      Hmmm BettyBoo,

      I wonder if your experience is anecdotal of 1, or if Ray is aware of a significant fraction having a similar effect ?


  2. Starchild on May 22, 2014 at 16:25

    Pretty interesting. As an aside, I have a big 150-gal tub in the backyard I fill with the garden hose and will usually take a couple of cold dips per day, few minutes each, followed by a rinse under the hose. Wonderfully invigorating and great way to cool off when it’s hot. If I go more than about 3 days without changing the water, I’ll eventually see little critters swimming around. Must mean its teaming with bacteria too.

    Interesting times.

    WAIT WHAT?I have a small pool in my backyard that I lay in sometimes to kool off and I never seen “little critters” floating around in it.What are the little critters if I may ask?I read that you do not use soap,though I doubt that is the reason that you are leaving critters behind.Do you have any idea what they are?

    • Richard Nikoley on May 22, 2014 at 21:25


      No more of an idea than when I take a dip in a mountain lake or strem.

      No idea how they got there.

    • Gemma on May 23, 2014 at 22:19

      There is a lot of life in a drop of water

  3. marie on May 22, 2014 at 21:15

    Giulia Enders sounded incredibly informative while being hilarious! Many thanks to the awesome translators.

  4. Martin on May 22, 2014 at 23:59

    Richard, et al, I might be totally wrong about this, but to me it seems that resistant starch and low-carb (or low-digestible-carb) are totally compatible. Or aren’t they?

    Some background: I’ve been low-carb for the past 4 years and only recently started experimenting with some extra carbs, once or twice a week, following loosely Kiefer’s carbnite protocol. I also eat resistant starch (raw potato starch, 4-8 TS / day) and supplement with Prescript Assist. I do still eat very low carb most of the week though and don’t really feel the need to eat starches every day. What’s your thought on this?

  5. LeonRover on May 23, 2014 at 02:12
    • gabkad on May 24, 2014 at 05:28

      True Leon. The time I inadvertently rubbed Scotch Bonnet pepper into my eyes my backache went away for the rest of the day. Yowza!

      Just sticking it up my nose didn’t have such a profound effect.

  6. Gemma on May 23, 2014 at 03:36

    Fascinating reading in the skin microbiome article leading to AOBiome and their ideas on skin bacteria Nitrosomonas – an important source of nitric oxide (NO) for the human body.

    Suddenly everything becomes so simple: not only feed you gut flora with fiber, but feed well your skin flora with nitrites and nitrates from your food (veggies or bacon, who cares) sprinkled with your sweat and let it have good portion of sunshine. They will reward you with pleiotropic signalling of NO leading to low stress level, normal blood pressure and low inflammation, to name just a few.
    Imagine a Hadza doing hard work, sweating under African sun, digging deep in the soil for their tubers.
    Antibiotic soap, suncream, life and gym classes behind glass windows and daily showers, anybody?

    • Grace/Dr.BG on May 23, 2014 at 05:43

      Gemma ~ Once more, you’re such a gem with all your insights :) Bathe in bacteria — live long and prosperous; run away from them, their absence leads to slow, painful demise.

      Martin~ No VLC + powdered RS2 is un-natural and not ideal imho. RS2 (raw starch granules) feeds slightly different gut populations than RS3 (cooked and crystallized) that our microbes may be more co-evolved and adapted to.

      RS2 alone ferments fast early and proximally. That’s a problem. VLC probably only delivers ~5-15 g fiber from salads, fruit and nuts which may not be sufficient to carry fermentation all the way to the end. RS2 alone doesn’t do many of the things that cooked/cooled starches, legumes and whole GF grains do for instance:
      –bulk stools
      –increase wet fecal matter (only dry)
      –dilute ammonia or bile acids
      –bind bile acids
      –lower (carcinogenic) secondary bile acids compared to RS3 head-to-head
      –carry fermentation distally to where butyrate and fermentation are typically low

      The synergism of RS2 with other fibers (cellulose, hemi-cellulose, pectin, oligos, inulin, etc) mimics whole food (tiger nuts, tubers, yams, seeds, etc) and is likely more ideal. Bile acids become lower and butyrate will flood the entire colon, not just burning ‘hot’ in the caecum, with lower pH, ideal gut populations selected and improved immunity through out the entire length of the colon.

      For the most bang for the bugs, consider a synergistic combo of fiber (25 g/day), RS2 0-15 g/day and RS3 10-40 g/day

    • tatertot on May 23, 2014 at 08:53

      I second this whole-heartedly!

      Some critical missteps we made early on with regard to gut health were:

      1. Not considering gutbugs
      2. Not considering other fibers (prebiotics and non-fermentables)
      3. Considering RS2 and RS3 exactly the same
      4. Underestimating RS3 contents in foods

      When we went back and looked at studies where they fed isolated RS2, the results were always less impressive than when the RS2 was fed alongside other fiber types.

      Consider just getting RS from real foods for the bulk of your needs. One cup (~200g) of cooked and cooled potatoes, then reheated, for instance supplies approx. 15g of RS3. A banana, still green at the tips, will have approx 15g of RS2. I think this combo is much healthier for gut than a VLC day with 4TBS of potato starch.

      More than one person has remarked that potato starch at much more than 1-2TBS is more ‘medicinal’ than ‘real-food.’ We are after growth of health gut bugs and the resultant butyrate/pH changes…this can be done with real foods.

    • Gemma on May 24, 2014 at 01:22

      And now on the importance of the ammonia oxidising bacteria (AOB) living on the skin:

      Soil bacteria, nitrite and the skin
      “Mammals likely evolved with AOB on their skin, providing their host with nitrite by conversion of ammonia in providing their host with nitrite by conversion of ammonia in sweat with scalp, pubic and underarm hair providing a suitable niche due to enhanced sweat production, increased warmth, increased relative humidity and protection of light (the latter is important as ammonia monooxygenase activity is inhibited by light). Low NO increases androgen levels which increase growth of pubic hair, expanding the AOB niche thereby increasing NO/NOx production and absorption in a feedback loop.
      The production of a suitable niche for these bacteria provides a rationale for non-thermal sweating (e.g., under stress) (to supply NO/nitrites, the location of body hair (near lymph nodes), why the skin of the scalp is thin and well vascularized (to enhance NO/nitrite absorption), any why the sweat glands are most abundant on the feet and palms (fro antimicrobial effects of acidified nitrite in surfaces in contact with soil).

      (full text available)

    • Janet on May 23, 2014 at 12:59

      VLC/LC for 2 1/2 years but began the PS in January almost exclusively using BRM PS. Added the probiotics in late February. Feeling super. I am now adding the food sources of RS. Does this sound good for 66 yo woman, normal weight, no real other issues (thanks to Paleo, but need to move forward so following the PHD)?– I have about 2 T of PS a day in the morning plus about a cup of either potatoes, rice or black beans with my dinner. Discovered plantains and sometimes boil until soft, smash down and fry up lightly in coconut oil. YUM. Do plantains need to be cooked and cooled first? It’s hard to keep up with all the posts and comments. I am confused about all this at times, but this sounds about right for me. Is my instinct good on this? I want a balance plus making it not so complicated I quit doing it. When do I take the probiotics? With the RS? or with dinner or which ever meal has fat or protein (recommended on Heisenbug). If you have answered this millions of time already, I apologize. I feel calmer than I have in decades. Crap is just rolling off me with no anxiety rearing it’s ugly head. Just for that, I am so grateful.

    • gabkad on May 23, 2014 at 13:55

      Tatertot, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      There is a valid use for reasonable quantities of potato starch and even unreasonable quantities for therapeutic purposes.

      My patients who take 1 heaping tablespoon in water per day sleep well, shit well and are dedicated to this protocol. They eat sources of RS (beans) and they eat stuff like okra, asparagus, artichoke hearts, etc. but none of those or even psyllium gave them good shits.

      I’d rather they take a tablespoon of PS than sleeping pills and laxatives.

      I don’t think anyone needs to take 4 tablespoons indefinitely, but a combo of 1 scant teaspoon of psyllium + potato starch will regularize the colonic function and over time rebuild the muscles so that peristalsis and general colon health improves remarkably.

      This also includes people who have had drippy shit for years and years, not just the constipated.

      Busy people don’t always pay enough attention to diet such that they get all the various fibre types in optimum ‘doses’. PS is a sort of insurance policy and it’s not harmful.

    • Grace/Dr.BG on May 23, 2014 at 16:55

      Janet ~

      LOVE LOVE LOVE ur story — I’m glad to hear you are calmer in decades. Sounds like you’re synergizing both of your brains, the gut and the cranium one.

      I think that in this modern technological age, we are very fortunate to have access to things like supplements (BRM, commercial probiotics, psyllium etc) to bridge health. Hopefully until transitioning to real food or as minimally as possible for maintenance since for some gut health is compromised as early as birth.

      Prior to the technology of refridgeration the human load for microbes was immense. Tubers and vegetables were coated with probiotics. By excluding these and using potato starch – we’re actually perhaps missing the biggest piece of the gut problem: the bugs from the ground.

      Plantains and all starches have some RS3 after cooking but most crystallize upon cooling. Before refrigeration, our ancestors likely cooled/reheated food often or consumed most cooled after a large ‘batch’ fire cooking.

      Some probiotics induce so much calm, people feel drowsy. Probiotics are great with food but otherwise we probably had exposures to microbes all day so timing perhaps doesn’t matter (unless drowsy).

    • Grace/Dr.BG on May 23, 2014 at 17:10

      Gab ~ my comments are directed toward VLC, a diet devoid of starches by nature. People with colorectal family history or risks should consider. The best way to measure effects of carcinogens is to do a GDX organic acid (ONE, Organix, Nutri eval or ION) imho. The studies with RPS (RS2) alone show that considerably longer fecal mean transit times and increased (carcinogenic) secondary bile acids occur. There are also the studies where with certain carcinogens, RS2 avoidance (control) has less CRC tumours, initiation and progression compared to RS2 treatment arms. Very contrary to expected but likely secondary to a couple factors incl the fact that longer mean transit increases exposures of fecal carcinogens to colon and rectal epithelial (and lack of butyrate the in distal GI tract).

      However this issue is ameliorated when 3-5% cellulose is in the diet (pig and rodent studies). For an average dry 400g human diet, that’s ~12-20 g cellulose. Salads don’t provide enuf.

    • Duck Dodgers on May 23, 2014 at 18:31

      Grace/Dr. BG wrote:
      Before refrigeration, our ancestors likely cooled/reheated food often or consumed most cooled after a large ‘batch’ fire cooking.

      I’ve uncovered evidence that traditional cultures all over the world have been creating lots of RS3 for a very long time.

      Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L. by Stanley J. Kays, Stephen F. Nottingham

      “Precooking the tubers has been a culinary practice for many years and is mentioned, for instance, in the 1633 edition of Gerard’s Herball and in the 1738 edition of La Varenne’s le Cuisinier Francois.”

      Indian tribes actually made RS3 cakes!

      Tuber & Root Crops

      “Elephant foot yam chutney with or without dry fish is [a] common dish among the tribes of Tipura and Meghalaya…Cooking the elephant foot yam in bamboo shoot ash water and after decanting water, the cooked tubers are made in to paste and dried in the form of a cake. After drying, the cake is again cooked in bamboo shoot ash water and dried in sun after decanting ash water. This dried cake can be stored for 30-45 days without any quality deterioration.”

      And my personal favorite…

      North American Cornucopia: Top 100 Indigenous Food Plants By Ernest Small

      “Duck potato was in fact a staple food for many Indian tribes. On boiling or roasting, the tubers became pleasant in taste. Some Native North Americans sliced boiled tubers and strung them on twine to dry and store for winter use (dried tubers store about as well as potatoes)…The dried tubers can be ground into a flour.”

      And then we have the “Blue Zones” where people tend to live exceptionally long lives for a number of reasons. But, it turns out, most of those “Blue Zone” cultures have one thing in common that nobody really notices. They were all relatively poor. And what do poor people do?…

      Why do sardinians live so long?

      “Sardinians were poor for most of their history. And so their diet is incredibly simple and frugal. Their traditional dishes are about using up leftover pasta, bread, meat and cheese.”

      Yep. They were saving all their foods and inventing ways to reheat them because they didn’t have the resources to waste their food.

      The Nicoya (another “Blue Zone”) in Costa Rica had their Gallo Pinto, a leftover rice and beans dish. In Panama and in El Salvador, they call it Casamiento. In Cuba it’s known as Platillo Moros y Cristianos.

      Tuscans have their Ribollita. “Bubble and Squeak” is a famous leftover potato/meat dish in Europe, and just about every European culture had their own version of it.

      Where ever we look, we see a long tradition of saving foods and dreaming up new ways to reuse them.

    • marie on May 23, 2014 at 21:11

      Tatertot, you’re a perfectionist my friend, they weren’t even remotely ‘missteps’.
      Just more progress along the same path.

      You always said potato starch was just an easy, cheap source, so you liked it for its accessibility. People have to start somewhere to see the benefits of tending to their biome properly and if it’s too hard they won’t do it or won’t stick with it. So what’s not to like about drinking down some potato starch or mixing with yogurt?

      The RS itself, all alone, brings perhaps the most immediate benefit to people with chronic constipation, like Gabkad notes, and to Diabetics and those with the Metabolic Syndrome (quite a lot of people there).

      Even for them, like for everyone, you’ve always said that complex food sources are important and a variety of them at that. Variety is the name of the game. Varied food for varied bugs.

      With Grace since sometime late last year, you and Richard added the ‘missing piece’ of repopulating a biome decimated by modern living and antibiotics, and if applicable, fixing any dysbiosis.

      But o.k., maybe the time is ripe to summarize “Pitfalls and Common Mistakes”, enough of them have shown up by now.

    • Gemma on May 24, 2014 at 01:04

      There was perhaps too much nitrogen in my original comment, so here goes some science to de-confuse the dear reader (on the interplay of sun, nitrogen, ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and CVD health):

      Is sunlight good for our heart?
      “We propose here that many of the beneficial effects of sunlight, particularly those related to cardiovascular health, are mediated by mechanisms that are independent of melatonin, vitamin D, and exposure to UVB alone. Specifically, we suggest that the skin is a significant store of nitric oxide (NO)-related species that can be mobilized by sunlight and delivered to the systemic circulation to exert coronary vasodilator and cardioprotective as well as antihypertensive effects (Figure 1). We further hypothesize that this dermal NO reservoir is a product of local production and dietary supply with nitrate-rich foods.
      A recent human study has demonstrated that UVA irradiation can increase plasma nitrite levels by 40%. This is intriguing considering that in animal models, a similar increase in nitrite is associated with cardioprotection following I/R injury. Dietary nitrate intake (predominantly from green leafy vegetables) may provide an alternative source of nitrite.”

  7. Bob on May 23, 2014 at 07:20

    Off topic but can anyone remember the link to that Youtube video with the guy talking about prejudice and how it is not necessarily always a bad thing? It’s an old video (80s or 90s by the look of it). I want to send it to a friend who has been infected with political correctness and needs to be enlightened. Spent all morning looking for it on Youtube and back through the FTA archives but can’t find it

  8. Michele on May 23, 2014 at 08:12

    So I am about half-way through the Giulia Enders book “Darm mit Charme”….fantastic read, complete with cute little hand-drawn pictures. And her sense of humor in German is really precious. Am at the part where she is talking about the digestion of fat and I sort of have the feeling she’s against high fat but I will not pass judgement until the end of the book! I wish I had the time to translate the book for everyone to read.

  9. the iz @ oz on May 23, 2014 at 08:16

    ever tried a mud bath?

    lot’s of animals love to wallow in the mud (or take a dust bath), and they usually don’t use shampoo or soap to “get clean” afterwards. most of us humans probably wouldn’t really like walking around in a crust of dirt, but just showering off after a mud bath should do the job without removing the sbo’s.

    here is a quote from one of the first links that came up when googling “mud bath” (not posting the link since it’s from an advertisment for a mud spa):

    “Is that a frog? Yes, certainly! It’s hiding in the shadowy part of the mud dam and jumps out to find a new hiding place as someone climbs into the mud next to him. I’ve heard of snakes (not dangerous). And once you’ve managed to get yourself into the mud you’d better not think about what might be in here. Lie back and stare up on the clear blue sky instead.”

  10. canuck on May 23, 2014 at 17:53

    WTF : another RS advocate. Two thumbs way up !

    No hard numbers (well, weight about the same), but h*ly sh*t do I feel better.
    RS (2-4 Tbs potato starch + parboiled rice, etc) for the last couple of months. Also added Primal Defence probiotics.

    Background : LC (moderate)/paleo for the last 4+ years. Felt fine – I thought. RS experiment has resulted in way higher energy levels, 5 AM wake ups without an alarm (never used one, but used to wake up more like 6:30 AM). Energetic all day – then off to bed @ 10 PM or so with some crazy detailed and elaborate dreams. Oh, yeah, feeling super warm, haven’t taken my temp, but my daughter has started saying “you are sooo warm” a lot. I didn’t think I was ‘cold’ before, but she is an objective reference and her comments feel significant.

    That’s all, just wanted to say thanks Richard and Tim and Grace.

    • canuck on May 23, 2014 at 18:08

      Ok, one question : has anybody tried these plantain chips as a RS source ? Plantains, palm oil and a bit of salt.

      Inka Crops Inka Crops Roasted Plantains

      Local dollar store has them @ $1/bag and I like them so I eat them :-) Not sure about RS as they are fried not dried (well maybe dried then fried – can’t tell).

  11. yien on May 23, 2014 at 21:42

    Tim, was with you up until “resultant butyrate/pH changes”. Difficult to categorically support any preferred SCFA outcomes based on current science. Can get a relatively high propionate / low butyrate outcome, following pretty much what you stated. Also this appears typical outcome for Hadza etc. Somewhat depends on “relative” to what. I suspect “butyrate is good/best” will be similar to “this nut’s fat profile” = best by far. Pretty much impossible to say, and not possible to easily change once the brainwashing, cut and paste blogging, book publishing commences.

  12. Jim on May 24, 2014 at 16:57

    No soap. No shampoo. Got it.

    Let us take this to the next level. How about no toilet paper? Fecal matter accumulating in the buttocks as the ultimate incubator of probiotics!

    Recycle the bugs back to digestive system via frequent digital butt scratching with direct transmission back through the oral cavity!

    Ain’t’t nature wonderful!

    • Natasha v. Potato on May 24, 2014 at 22:19

      Jim, with respect, that is a silly comment. Why are you even here if you don’t have something useful to contribute? This topic is an extremely interesting one and has been something I have been thinking about this week.

      Have you ever considered what these soaps and shampoos are doing to our skin, hair and body? Our we really, truly clean? And is this clean a healthy one? My hands are hurting right now, I did too much cleaning this week…. my house is “clean” but the skin on my hands have taken a beating. That can’t be right….

      The skin is an organ, how does it handle all the stuff we to do it? Can it perform all its duties? What about dealing with the sun? Did you know the skin is to absorb sunlight similar to what leaves on trees do, and the body processes it? My aunt ended up with porphyria… and her body could no longer handle sunlight….something was desperately wrong…. genetic? environmental? Don’t know, she died from liver failure…

      30 years ago were we all so desperately reliant on sunscreens? No! Yesterday, I read that we are now supposed to put sunscreen on ourselves AND our pets. Slather it on…. Excuse me, but I think it is strange! When I was a child, the sun felt wonderful…. The sun was good for us. It was healing for mind and body. Now the sun is bad?? Or… rather have we done so much to our microbiome that we can no longer properly interact with sunlight? Wow, aren’t humans smart….

      What about the environment, have you ever looked at what our soaps do to water? Did you ever think that there is something wrong with our modern “clean” society? Is it not merely a “not in my backyard” principle, to make water unusable (dirtied by chemical soaps) and then divert it far away?

      I stopped using “antibacterial” soaps years ago. I realized, they weren’t logical. They were going to cause more problems than they “solved”. Now, whole states and countries are looking at banning antibacterial products from soap.

      Shampoo? I have to confess, I have to wash my hair every 24-36 hours. HAVE to. Otherwise it is gross. I wasn’t like this a child, my hair was fine. Even when I was a teenager, it was normal. What is happening?

      The more I read about the microbiome I realize how much is out of balance.

      I am on page 70 of Dr. Martin Blaser’s “Missing Microbes” and I have already finished Moises Velasquez-Manoff’s “Epidemic of Absence”.

      Get up to date Jim, the world is going to pass you by.

  13. Q on May 24, 2014 at 21:01

    I tried no shampoo for a long time. It was very appealing to me cuz I am very sensitive to chemicals, already don’t use soap and I believe in the thought that, as animals, like all other animals, our hair (and other parts) should not need products!

    But, my hair took on the texture of old lady cotton for a long time. A LONG time. People commented. Maybe that is just the natural texture of long fine lady hair, but I’m wondering if there are any new/other secrets to making no-poo work for women!

    • bettyboo on May 28, 2014 at 04:14

      I find a bit of jizz helps the hair over time.

  14. Fraser on May 27, 2014 at 15:38

    Hi Q,

    I use a dilution of baking soda (shampoo) and a dilution of vinegar (conditioner), every week or so. Works brilliantly. Currently am using distilled white vin., but notice that when I change that (to apple cider vin., sherry vin.) my highlights change a bit.

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