Revisiting the Changing Paleo Landscape in Real Food Starches, Resistant Starch, and “Nutritional” Ketosis

A few days back I somewhat reluctantly called out Nora Gedgaudas for what, in my judgement, is a resistance to various revelations that have come to pass over the last few years and been widely adopted in the general Paleoish community: Juxtaposition: Dallas & Melissa Hartwig vs. Nora Gedgaudas.

Since I’m very busy with a complex move (I’ll be splitting time between three places) I thought I’d just toss up some of my favorite smart comments on that post, comments that deserve to be on the front page for a while. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did. There’s an editing touch here & there, but nothing material to the message.


Tuck, you might do well to stop and think for a moment and look at the nutritional profile of wild game that wild carnivores actually eat: Bison, water buffalo, kudu, springbok, giraffes, impala, deer, ducks, fowl, etc., etc. They’re all TOO LEAN to support ketosis!

Mind you animals don’t eat the fatty parts and walk away. They and their families devour the entire lean and fresh animals—a relatively small amount of glycogen and huge quantities of protein. But, not nearly enough fat, period.

~ Marie

…Mentioning the fact that NK is proven useful for certain diseases addresses its therapeutic effect in special cases up to now, without any accounting of long-term physiological impact.

An extreme example of this issue : Arsenic is also very useful therapeutically. That doesn’t make it a desirable for broad, life-long use.

Specific therapeutic effects do not change the fact that long term NK does not have any analogue in nature nor any long history in civilization and has a small patient set of data—data which in fact show adverse effects in many cases (epileptic children studies).

So long term NK is by definition “a modern experiment.”

There’s nothing wrong with that, btw. Nothing.

It’s just that nature or evolution cannot be presented as evidence that long term NK is desirable for anyone. It may be, I surely don’t know, but the point is no one does. So, caveat emptor—given which, I’m all for n=1, especially if someone monitors well and shares info.

~ Bret

But when looking for science-based (and not opinion or anecdote-based) baseline

Anecdotes aren’t the worst thing in the world. A “science-based approach,” while necessary and useful in many ways, still has holes.

Two come to mind primarily:

  1. Most of the time we aim for a clinical study, the gold standard of science. But you can’t test everything you need to test in order to establish clinical proof of a dietary/lifestyle tenet. Life is simply too complex. Gary Taubes enumerated this frustrating complexity in [easyazon_link asin=”1400033462″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”fretheani-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Good Calories, Bad Calories[/easyazon_link] when musing about the quandary of trying to design an effective and conclusive clinical study. For instance, if we reduce carbohydrates in a diet, do we increase calories in fat and/or protein? Which one? Or both? If both, then how much of each? And regardless of which we choose, what makes the difference in teh final result? The absolute reduction of carbohydrates? The decrease in carbohydrate relative to the other macronutrients? Or something else that we have not identified? With even one such study being prohibitively expensive, you could not test multiple studies in parallel either. The quagmire is endless.
  2. You can opt instead to use observational science to piece together “markers” of health. But this approach is not flawless, either. Selecting which markers to measure reincorporates the element of bias, which science is supposed to avoid (and as we know from Taubesian research et al, rarely does in practice). How do you decide what to measure? What if some indications contradict others? Are you going to conclude “good” or “bad” based on majority rule? If so, how do you know that certain combinations of these markers don’t result in different longevity of life and/or vibrancy of health than others? The danger here is a false sense of security, where you have this enterprise that you implicitly believe lacks bias, but in reality is full of it. Anecdotes, on the other hand, can be much more useful than we often give them credit for. Where experimental studies may give us a decent starting point, individual experiences can help fill in the gaps. Take Tom Naughton’s experience illustrated by the following comment, whereas he had previously been highly skeptical of “safe” or resistant starches:

I’ve heard from people who say their energy flagged on a very-low-carb diet, but they felt great when they added 100 grams or so of “safe starches” back into their diets as prescribed in Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet. I believe them.

Those anecdotes clued him in that there might just be something to this starch thing. Take Richard’s recent remarks in a discussion debunking the pursuit of a (fictional) sterile avoidance of bias in human life:


The Synthesis then becomes the new Thesis, and the process repeats ad infinitum; not in circular fashion, but rather, a spiral fashion where each cycle represents more knowledge, better understanding, get’s a little closer to the truth. As such, I never have to worry much about someone’s bias. Let them be as biased as they like and then synthesize new understanding from competing bias. Someone’s comment on a post of mine might be 90% logical fallacy—or just mostly bullshit—but 5%, or 1% decent antithesis from which which a synthesis might emerge and in turn, a new, more complete thesis.

…Or, you can waste endless hours debating who’s right and who’s wrong; who’s biased and who’s impartial; who’s cognitively dissonant and who’s consonant. Or, you could be making progress recognizing that in all likelihood, you’re both right, both wrong; both biased; both living in some measure of dissonance and contradiction—in different proportions, contexts and perspectives—and there’s a synthesis dying to get out if you could both simply embrace intellectual honesty.

But nothing is settled, ever. I prefer it that way.

And not only is the journey (rather than the end goal) preferable—it is an inevitability of life. We’ll never know all the answers. Not even in a thousand years (presuming our descendants are still here).

To corral up all my rambling and return to your original point, I think we have good reason to combine anecdotes with “rigorous science.” Be especially careful of that latter concept…you have to bore deep holes of scrutiny and skepticism into every study that comes out before you can trust it as an oracle. Chances are, since it was designed by humans, it will contain the same flaws and biases that plague all of us humans. I’m not saying they’re worthless. Just don’t let them give you a false sense of security.

~ Duck

Well, he spent $300,000 and 10 years biohacking himself and he still can’t tolerate a side of french fries. This suggests that he has some extreme gut issues that even money can’t easily solve.

Meanwhile countless others are making more progress with about 0 in probiotics and prebiotics. So, at least he acknowledges that starch is working for many and I think that’s certainly better than turning a blind eye to it.

However, Dave couldn’t help patting himself on the back as he claimed that the collagen in his bulletproof coffee [see correction on that from Duck] ferments to butyrate at the same rate as RS. I’d love to see a citation for that. I don’t think that’s true.

I distinctly remember seeing a study about Cheetahs fermenting SCFAs from consuming collagen, skin and other grisly bits when digesting whole animals, but I was the one who uncovered that study a few months ago, and Table 3 clearly shows that hardly any butyrate is fermented from collagen:

And as best as I can tell, that’s the only study to look into the SCFAs fermented from animal fibers, and collagen does not appear to be a significant source of butyrate whatsoever.

~ Melissa Hartwig

I always have just the tiniest feeling of dread when I see this many pingbacks to our site from your blog. This one wasn’t so bad. Thanks, Richard.


[Laf — Ed]

~ Duck

Nora said: “To quote Bernstein, you can have an amino acid deficiency, you can have an essential fatty acid deficiency, but there is no such thing in any medical textbook on Earth as a carbohydrate deficiency. There is no such thing as a glucose deficiency….per se.

Well, I don’t know about you, but nobody in their right mind gets nutritional advice from “medical textbooks.” And those same medical textbooks also say some unkind words on dietary saturated fat.


The Joint Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization Expert Consultation on Human Nutrition stated in 1998:

From: Carbohydrates in human nutrition (Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation, Rome, Italy, 14-18 April 1997). FAO food and nutrition paper 66. World Health Organization. 1998. ISBN 9251041148.

“One of the major developments in our understanding of the importance of carbohydrates for health in the past twenty years has been the discovery of resistant starch.”

Nora, Nora, Nora… The evidence for the role of carbohydrates and Resistant Starch in human health isn’t just there. It’s overwhelming.

~ Duck

From: Bulletproof Executive : Podcast #136

Nora Gedgaudas: There’s too much credence being given to the whole “safe starch” idea, that I don’t necessarily consider safe at all. You know, nightshades are certainly not what I think of as safe.

Dave: I don’t do nightshades. […]

Nora Gedgaudas: And these are anything but paleo foods. These are very, very, very new foods to us…

Hard to believe that someone with “expertise” in “paleo” foods never heard of Tiger Nuts.

While Nora comes off as the Sarah Palin of paleo in that clip, their conversation highlights the wussification of paleo.

What Nora and Dave don’t seem to realize is that some of the very plant toxins they fear have also been shown to have health benefits. For instance, nightshade toxins have been shown in studies to exhibit the following properties…

  1. Antiallergic, Antipyretic, and Anti-inflammatory effects
  2. Blood sugar-lowering effects
  3. Antibiotic Activities against Pathogenic Bacteria, Viruses, Protozoa, and Fungi
  4. Destruction of Human Cancer Cells

Source: Potato Glycoalkaloids and Metabolites: Roles in the Plant and in the Diet 

For those who are curious, the paper documents all the known harmful effects and beneficial effects of nightshade toxins, and concludes by saying…

“Food and biomedical scientists, including nutritionists, pharmacologists, and microbiologists, are challenged to further define the beneficial effects of the glycoalkaloids against cancer, the immune system, cholesterol, and inflammation, as well as against pathogenic fungi, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.”

Not so black and white, eh? How about so-called toxic saponins?

Nora and Dave are afraid of them too. But, would it surprise you that virtually all indigenous cultures make an effort to consume toxic saponins and tannins? They are nearly always found in bark and bush teas that are consumed by nearly every culture, including the Inuit. Take the Masai for instance. Turns out if you actually take the time to research their eating habits, you find that they eat toxic Acacia nilotica bark extract, with virtually every meat-heavy meal. The bark is rich in saponins and tannins. The saponins are believed to lower cholesterol and heart disease incidence (National Geographic, Oct 1995).

What about the Inuit? Labrador Tea was a major component of their diet. And guess what? It’s really freakin’ toxic. From: Wikipedia: Labrador Tea

[Labrador tea] has been a favorite beverage among Athabaskan and Inuit people for many years…Labrador tea has narcotic properties. Evidence suggests that excessive consumption of the plant may cause delirium or poisoning. Toxic terpenes of the essential oils cause symptoms of intoxication, such as slow pulse, lowering of blood pressure, lack of coordination, convulsions, paralysis, and death. It is apparently safe as a weak herbal tea, but should not be made too strong.

Oh, and Labrador tea has saponins and tannins too. Definitely not “bulletproof” tea. Are Nora and Dave are oblivious to this, or just willfully ignorant?

At any rate, hormesis from “toxic” plants appears to be a new frontier for health research. Tim shared this very cool article on nutritional toxicology that was published just a few days ago.

Fruits and Vegetables Are Trying to Kill You

Warding off the diseases of aging is certainly a worthwhile pursuit. But evidence has mounted to suggest that antioxidant vitamin supplements, long assumed to improve health, are ineffectual. Fruits and vegetables are indeed healthful but not necessarily because they shield you from oxidative stress. In fact, they may improve health for quite the opposite reason: They stress you.

That stress comes courtesy of trace amounts of naturally occurring pesticides and anti-grazing compounds. You already know these substances as the hot flavors in spices, the mouth-puckering tannins in wines, or the stink of Brussels sprouts. They are the antibacterials, antifungals, and grazing deterrents of the plant world. In the right amount, these slightly noxious substances, which help plants survive, may leave you stronger.

Parallel studies, meanwhile, have undercut decades-old assumptions about the dangers of free radicals. Rather than killing us, these volatile molecules, in the right amount, may improve our health. Our quest to neutralize them with antioxidant supplements may be doing more harm than good.

If one truly makes an effort to research what indigenous cultures ate—and it almost certainly appears that Dave and Nora do not make that kind of effort—one will find that consistent consumption of plant toxins were a major component of their diets.

Given what we are learning about the microbiota, it appears that a healthy gut biome may be required to tolerate these toxins—as these toxins can often be metabolized by our gut bugs. I don’t doubt that Nora and Dave have their gut issues and perhaps can’t tolerate any plant toxins. I understand that toxins can be hard on the weak, modern gut. But, to profess to the world that all plant toxins are bad just isn’t supported by the scientific literature. Nor is it supported by the dietary habits of indigenous cultures. Not by a long shot.

The dose makes the poison. Don’t eat tons of plant toxins. But, avoid them at your own peril.


Alright, that should wrap it up for today. It is true that now, my role has shifted from blog writer to blog writer and publisher to a greater and greater extent. I think that makes a far better experience for you readers.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Jimmy 4 Jesus on July 25, 2014 at 18:35

    Are you familiar with Charles Poliquin’s work? I see similarities between his work and yours. This is good I think.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 26, 2014 at 08:00

      I’m familiar with the name but have never looked into it. Is he one of the ones who came up with the anabolic diet where you cycle between LC and HC refeeds on the weekends, of am I thinking of someone else.

    • Johannen on July 27, 2014 at 12:03

      There is no similarity whatsoever between Poliquin and FTA. (unless you mean cause Poliquin has now started to mention the gut biome and RS from time to time? So has every other health and fitness blogger on Earth.)

      Richard: you’re thinking of De Pasquale, the “Metabolic Diet.” (Add legumes, and you get the Slow Carb diet. You’ll also notice Ferriss mentions being on the Metabolic Diet in the 4 Hour Body, tho he doesn’t mention it by name)

    • Johannen on July 28, 2014 at 14:42

      Poliquin’s site and articles are pretty much always about strength and size, usually for athletes. Pretty much every article is about that.

      As part of that goal, he’ll often address diet, which he recommends paleo (often by name). And sometimes he’ll talk about stress, sleep, etc. especially as it related to cortisol. Again, all of that, to build muscle and enhance athletic performance. Recently he will occasionally mention gut-health, and a few times, has mentioned RS.

      Here are his main sites:

      Search for “resistant starch” on Strength Sensei. Not even 1 hit. On the other site, nearly all the articles are from this year.

      Every health and fitness blogger on the planet is all about RS now. All are experts all of a sudden. Any similarity between FTA and Poliquin are laughably superficial at best. But you know this. Play all the word games you want, argue argue argue, say whatever ya want just to try and “be right,” but you can’t change the fact that there is no significant similarity between the two, especially when compared with countless other sites that ARE far more similar to either. (or at least many sites far more similar to Poliquin; FTA is a bit unique)

    • Logical on July 28, 2014 at 05:50

      Johanen, you’ve contradicted yourself. J4J’s statement holds true by your own evidence.

    • Johannen on July 28, 2014 at 10:21

      Why, cause he happened to mention RS?

      Then I guess they’re also similar, in that they’re both white males.

    • Logical on July 28, 2014 at 11:26

      Just to be clear, J4J only sees similarities between their work NOT their skin colour or gender.

  2. Jane Karlsson on July 26, 2014 at 03:01

    Very impressive, Richard.

  3. Russell on July 26, 2014 at 04:59

    Argentina’s love of Yerba Mate is and has always been correlated -in my mind- with the fact that we also love to eat big loads of meat and offal. (Mate is loaded with tannins and saponins as it turns out).
    The original Gauchos did the exact same thing for centuries as well as the indigenous cultures before them.

    Nice painting of Gauchos drinking Mate while having an asado (you will notice the kettle next to the fire, and the Gaucho with the blue “poncho” drinking mate from the gourd )

  4. Russell on July 26, 2014 at 05:09

    A cool comprehensive and comparative review of saponin and tannin content of Yerba Mate (and other teas) and its biological activities and health effects, in case anyone is interested.

    It has always been consumed in groups of friends or acquaintances (out of the same gourd and using the same straw).

  5. James on July 26, 2014 at 07:11

    What’s a good, easy, and most likely safe option for consuming such plant toxins?

  6. Tuck on July 26, 2014 at 07:19

    “They’re all TOO LEAN to support ketosis!”

    Richard, wild carnivores don’t go to the supermarket to get their wild game, they have to hunt and kill it. Sometimes they miss the kill and go without. Large carnivores like a lion or a wolf thus regularly undergo ketosis for a week or more, as they look for the next meal.

    This is normal, calling it “starvation” suggests you’re missing the point that it’s a regular part of their metabolism.

    Lions that are fed on a regular schedule get sick, putting them on a diet that has them on a feast/famine profile (thus regularly into ketosis) is more healthy. John Durant covered this in his book, as I recall.

    I don’t think that it’s necessary to be in ketosis 100% of the time for health, but I do think that being in ketosis regularly is necessary for health. This can easily be achieved by exercising in a fasted state, which also promotes autophagy at the same time, of course.

    Demonizing ketosis at the same time you’re promoting resistant starch is just bizarre. Butyrate seems to be metabolized into the same ketone body that’s the “super fuel” that’s produced during ketosis: thus resistant starch consumption is simply a way of inducing nutritional ketosis, the same condition you’re saying doesn’t exist naturally and isn’t healthy.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 26, 2014 at 08:31

      You must be thinking of someone else, Tuck, or you’re erecting a strawman. I have been very clear in my support of episodic ketosis via short periods of VLC, IF, and fasted workouts.

      But there simply exists no evidence anyone can find showing wild humans or animals remaining in chronic, perpetual ketosis or “nutritional” ketosis (a name that has scam written all over it, by the way).

    • Duck Dodgers on July 26, 2014 at 10:47

      Lions that are fed on a regular schedule get sick

      Virtually all captive animals are fed non-fresh chunked meat (like Westerners) — rather than the fresh whole still-barely-alive animals that they are used to eating in the wild. Totally different ballgame in terms of the glycan/enzyme composition of the raw meat and so there too many variables to pin it down to just “schedule”.

    • Tuck on July 28, 2014 at 09:28

      From your second link:

      “Although much is known about the biochemistry of the conversion of carbohydrates into SCFAs by the bacteria composing the microbial community, there is paucity of data on the production rates of SCFAs by the gut microbial community as a whole. This is largely due to the inability to sample the large intestine of man. Therefore, and as discussed in the previous section, the supply rate of SCFAs to the host remains enigmatic. There is a pressing need of measurement of true production rates of SCFAs, and the degree by which specific carbohydrates and microbiota influence mass and composition of SCFAs.”

      This sums to “we know very little”.

      You say: “These SCFAs affect glucose metabolism in the body via so called intestinal gluconeogenesis (discussed here many times) just because glucose is the main fuel the body cells are waiting for.”

      Your link says: “The scarce data available on the effect of SCFAs on glucose metabolism reveal a decrease of plasma glucose levels possibly via multiple mechanisms.”

      This is your evidence?

      Favorite part of that link:

      “In agreement with earlier studies, the latter also reported an increase in total fecal SCFA concentrations in obese humans.”

      You’d better look out, too much RS will make you fat…

      But to sum, we don’t know enough yet:

      “An ever increasing detail in our understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms, however, does not yet allow to understand paradoxical results in physiological studies. Partly this is caused by the lack of human data, since not all results obtained in rodents can be directly translated to humans. More fundamentally, the field is severely hampered by the lack of data on actual fluxes of SCFAs and metabolic processes regulated by SCFAs.”

      Full-text is here, btw:

    • Bret on July 28, 2014 at 00:17

      …resistant starch consumption is simply a way of inducing nutritional ketosis, the same condition you’re saying doesn’t exist naturally and isn’t healthy.

      Except for the whole host of differences between the two strategies.

      People are reporting cold hands, dry eyes, low energy, and weight creep (to name a few) as symptoms associated with chronic nutritional ketosis. Not to mention insulin resistance, as illustrated by the chart that Richard has posted several times showing what happened to the Inuit’s blood sugar a few days into a fast.

      Resistant starch, on the other hand, has lowered people’s blood sugar response to some high-carbohydrate foods, without all of those side effects above.

      Despite the common utilization of butyrate, the evidence, anecdotal though it may be, does not point to chronic ketosis as the ideal goal.

    • Gemma on July 28, 2014 at 00:56

      cc Bret

      “…resistant starch consumption is simply a way of inducing nutritional ketosis, the same condition you’re saying doesn’t exist naturally and isn’t healthy.”

      Tuck, you are fighting your nutritional ketosis dogma no matter what. Feeding resistant starch to your beneficial gut flora (if it is there) results in creating of SCFAs (metabolites of the fermentation process). These SCFAs affect glucose metabolism in the body via so called intestinal gluconeogenesis (discussed here many times) just because glucose is the main fuel the body cells are waiting for.

      Microbiota-generated metabolites promote metabolic benefits via gut-brain neural circuits.

      The role of short-chain fatty acids in the interplay between diet, gut microbiota, and host energy metabolism

    • Bret on July 28, 2014 at 02:22

      Tuck, you are fighting your nutritional ketosis dogma no matter what.

      No doubt about that. Tuck, I can just see you reading these posts/comments that are critical of ketosis and immediately going to work whipping up an explanation for why ketosis is still superior.

      I think you should ask yourself why exactly you are doing that. Have many well respected ‘experts’ told you so? (I’ll bet I can find more ‘experts’ that will tell you animal fat will give you heart disease. Experts are often wrong.) Or is it just too demoralizing to confront the possibility that you might not still have all the answers? That there might be more information, even (gasp) contradictory information?

      No doubt Nora is going through the same process, albeit with some extra motivation for confirmation bias vis-à-vis concern over career and reputation.

      With all due respect, stop being such a chickenshit. Look into this stuff, and give it a chance. Stop trying to figure out how you can defend ketosis as a rule of thumb, and instead have the balls to admit you might not know everything in the world. Embrace your childlike curiosity. Ditch the religion-like dogma.

    • Gemma on July 28, 2014 at 02:29

      Oh, my English.

      Should I have written: “fighting for the nutritional ketosis dogma”?

    • LaFrite on July 28, 2014 at 02:58

      Hello all,

      I’d say: unless you really have to monitor your metabolic state for X or Y sickness, why should we care at all that we reach ketosis or not ?

      Fast for 2-3 days, you reach this state, which allows you to survive quite decently for a little while, so that you can find foods without dying on the way :) Isn’t it neat :D

      Once you feed (carbs, proteins, fats), why would you care that you are out of ketosis ?? Just fast regularly if you like to be in ketosis, that’s all. But really, it is absolutely irrelevant.

      Actually, the whole nutrient partitioning is (to me) totally irrelevant. Stick to real foods from plants and animals, including all sorts of carby tubers, fruits, etc. Rotate all this according to taste, fast once a in a while for cleaning yourself. And most of all, live! leave the dogmas, they’re bollocks.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2014 at 07:21

      Perfect, La Frite.

    • Gemma on July 28, 2014 at 13:04


      Oh, I admit I have made a mistake. I wrote “resistant starch” by copying rather blindly from your comment. It should have been FIBER.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 28, 2014 at 06:02

      More nails in the coffin for those who think that it’s possible to stay ketogenic while consuming wild game:

      From: Energy Source, Protein Metabolism, and Hunter-Gatherer Subsistence Strategies

      Our concern is with periods of high lean meat (i.e., high protein) consumption, when carbohydrates and animal fat would have been scarce or unavailable to hunters and gatherers as sources of calories…

      …It should be pointed out, however, that the few minimum values that do exist for wild ungulate meat may nevertheless tend to underestimate somewhat the actual amount of fat available to hunter-gatherers in a carcass, because the values do not include subcutaneous and visceral fat deposits, fat in the bone marrow, and so forth. On the other hand, as will be discussed more fully below, many of these fat reserves may become largely or totally depleted during the winter and spring, bringing the available fat levels more in line with the values for meat alone

      ……Second, hunter-gatherers may augment their supplies of storable fat through labor-intensive activities such as rendering bone grease. Preparation of bone grease involves smashing the bone, heavy limb elements as well as lighter vertebrae and ribs, and then boiling the small pieces of bone in water until the grease is extracted. Grease is skimmed off the water and placed in skin containers to harden. Among nomadic groups lacking pottery, the laborious boiling process is accomplished by heating rocks in a fire and transferring them to a perishable container such as a skin bag that contains the broken-up bones (see Binford 1978 for a description of grease rendering). Commonly, the rendered fat is mixed with an equal proportion of pulverized, jerked lean meat to make pemmican, an energy-rich food that can be stored for several years if kept dry (Stefansson 1956:179, 188).

      Interestingly, the study points out how carbohydrate starved cultures would often trade fat for carbohydrates:

      From: Energy Source, Protein Metabolism, and Hunter-Gatherer Subsistence Strategies

      Trade for fat or carbohydrate with other populations provides another widely practiced alternative. For example, Nunamiut Eskimos who relied heavily on caribou for subsistence annually traded for fat and seaweed with coastal-dwelling Taremiut (Gubser 1965; Spencer 1959; Eidlitz 1969:50). The same situation obtained for inland Athabascan groups who traded skins, blankets, and tools to Eskimo and Northwest Coast populations in return for seal, whale, or oulachen oil (Olson 1936; Birket-Smith and de Laguna 1938; People of ‘Ksan 198089ff.; Kuhnlein et al. 1982).

      The study goes on to conclude…

      From: Energy Source, Protein Metabolism, and Hunter-Gatherer Subsistence Strategies

      In this paper we have focused on alternative strategies open to hunter-gatherers to cope with nutritional deficiencies which occur seasonally in environments where ungulate meat forms the principal available resource in late winter and spring. In environments where alternative, fattier species such as beaver, raccoon, or migratory waterfowl are normally available in the spring, heavy reliance on lean ungulate meat and its associated nutritional problems might nevertheless occur periodically during “bad” years in which the number of smaller game animals is significantly depressed. It is also possible that such reliance may occur chronically in areas of the subarctic where caribou constitute the primary, year-round subsistence resource (cf. Burch 1972). Thus, while the emphasis of our discussion has been on the consequences of recurrent, winter – spring reliance on ungulate meat, the susceptibility of populations to the deficiencies discussed above actually ranges over a continuum from periodic to seasonal to chronic, depending on the frequency with which lean ungulate meat constitutes a major part of the hunter-gatherer diet.

      In addition, these same arguments may be extended to situations in which climatic, environmental, demographic, or other changes lead to long-term reductions in available energy. Under such conditions, selection may favor a permanent shift in the subsistence strategies of hunters and gatherers toward greater emphasis on carbohydrate resources. The apparent increase in reliance on plant foods in many parts of the world following the end of the Pleistocene might profitably be explored from this perspective. The greater protein-sparing capacity of carbohydrate under conditions of marginal calorie or protein intake may also help to explain why hunter-gatherers in the early Holocene began to invest time and energy cultivating plants, despite the meager returns many of these cultigens would have provided in their early stages of domestication. Similarly, a long-term increase in the availability of carbohydrates, due, for example, to the introduction of a cultivated plant species, may alter the importance to hunter-gatherers of animal fat, and may lead to permanent changes in the animal species they procure, the parts they select during butchering and processing, the importance of marrow production and grease rendering, and the season of the year they hunt or trap. The inadequacies of a lean-meat diet and the noninterchangeability of fat and carbohydrate clearly open a number of interesting avenues of research that remain to be explored in detail.

      As we can see, game meat is just too lean to support ketosis. The idea that you can stay in ketosis from eating wild game, when food is scarce, isn’t supported by the scientific literature.

      And for those who are still not convinced, here’s a study showing how little fat can be extracted from reindeer/caribou:

      From: Body growth and carcass composition of lean reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus L.) from birth to sexual maturity

      Body growth and carcass composition were measured in lean reindeer during the juvenile growth period between birth and 3 years of age. Mean carcass weight in these lean reindeer was 56 ± 4% of body weight and the deposition of body muscle and bone mass was linearly correlated with body weight after the 1st month of age. The weight of the brain relative to body weight and carcass weight declined, while the relative changes in heart, liver, kidneys, parotid glands, and tissues of the gastrointestinal tract were small after the neonatal period. The extractable fat content in carcasses increased from 4.4 to 11.4% of wet weight or approximately 100g fat at birth and 3.5 kg fat in adult reindeer. Fat-free dry matter represented a constant percentage (18–20%) of wet carcass weight independent of body weight after the neonatal period, while a significant inverse relationship between carcass fat and body water was found.

  7. Tuck on July 26, 2014 at 07:25

    “Mind you animals don’t eat the fatty parts and walk away.”

    They start with the fatty parts. If they’re well fed, they’ll eat the fatty parts and walk away.

    “How to tell if a lion or coyote killed a deer”

    Wolves do the same:

    “Wolves typically commence feeding by consuming the larger internal organs of their prey, such as the heart, liver, lungs and stomach lining. The kidneys and spleen are eaten once they are exposed, followed by the muscles.”

    • Duck Dodgers on July 26, 2014 at 19:52

      Good point, Gab. Bears will engage in “high-grading” (eating the fatty parts and discarding the rest) but only when food is in abundance. It’s not a common practice as salmon are only abundant at certain times.

      Salmon are a high calorie meal for a bear. A sockeye salmon contains about 4500 calories, but the fattiest parts of the fish contain the most calories proportionally. Bears know this and prefer to eat the skin, brain, and eggs—the fattiest parts of a salmon—when fish are in abundance. This is an ephemeral behavior, however. When salmon are not abundant or hard to catch then bears will not be as selective and will most often eat the whole fish LINK

      North American Indians were documented to have done this with caribou (in mid July), but only when caribou were everywhere. It just shows a preference for fat. It doesn’t demonstrate a commonplace behavior.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 26, 2014 at 10:54

      They start with the fatty parts. If they’re well fed, they’ll eat the fatty parts and walk away.

      Actually, you’re wrong. They start with the soft gut and eat the stomach contents and the liver — which is the glycemic equivalent of a cupcake.

      “Wolves typically commence feeding by consuming the larger internal organs of their prey, such as the heart, liver, lungs and stomach lining. The kidneys and spleen are eaten once they are exposed, followed by the muscles.”

      Thanks, Tuck. You just proved my point. They eat the glycogen-rich organs and stomach contents first. They eat the carbs first. Well done.

      Oh… and wolves hunt in packs. So, all of the pack members usually end up devouring the entire kill.

      Honestly, I don’t know how you think they stay in ketosis while eating glycogen-rich livers from extremely lean animals. The numbers just don’t add up.

    • gabkad on July 26, 2014 at 19:03

      Duck, what about grizzly bears eating only the skin of sockeye salmon? I was watching one of those nature shows years ago and that’s all the bears ate. What’s in the skin that makes it so delectable to bears?

    • Gemma on July 26, 2014 at 22:54

      @Duck Dodgers

      Grizzly Bear Diet – Salmon

      “When salmon is very abundant the skilled grizzly bears who catch lots of salmon will start only eating the fattiest parts of the fish – the brains, eyes, and skin. They then drop the discarded salmon into the water where it is swept downstream to be eaten by smaller or less experienced bears, gulls, foxes, eagles and other scavenging animals. ”

      So they eat also the eyes together with the skin, and the eyes are not really fatty.

      Are the bears selecting only skin, brain and eggs when the fish are in abundance mainly after fat soluble vitamins (A, D, K) – just to have them all TOGETHER in the right proportion, and DHA in the brain, which in turn affects vitamin B metabolism? (HT: Asklipia)

      Random search, enter Chriss Kresser:
      Separating fact from fiction on cod liver oil

    • gabkad on July 27, 2014 at 05:17

      True, Duck. Hungry bears eat the whole fish. The ones in the video were ‘replete’ and just stuffing themselves because they could. The voiceover stated that the flesh of the salmon is important for fertilization of the ground so trees grow better.

    • gabkad on July 27, 2014 at 05:19

      Gemma, those damn bears must have read the book! LOL!

      Probably to them these parts taste best.

    • Tuck on July 28, 2014 at 09:49

      “eat the stomach contents and the liver”

      You didn’t read the links. Cats remove the stomach and avoid it, wolves (as you quote) eat the lining, which is not the same as the contents.

      “[Wolves] will generally consume all but the hide, some of the large bones and skull and the rumen (stomach contents of ungulates) of their prey.”

      Stomach contents of an ungulate is grass, btw, not “carbohydrates” in the sense that you mean.

      28g of liver has 1g of carbs… 2x that amount by calorie of fat, and loads of cholesterol. The alpha’s eat the fatty parts, like the liver, and the weakest members get the protein-rich parts (muscle). Surplus kills have only the liver eaten, they leave the rest.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 28, 2014 at 16:37

      28g of liver has 1g of carbs

      Please. There is considerably more glycogen in a freshly killed liver. You’re using the USDA nutrition data for that bit of data. It’s not correct by any means, for the simple reason that a wild animal does not extract a liver sample and take it back to a lab to analyze it a few days later.

      All USDA nutrition data uses a “subtraction” method, where they attempt to determine fat and protein in a sample and assume the rest is carbs. It’s an approach which is mostly for determining fiber, not monosacharride equivalents.

      See the “ERRORS IN THE USDA NUTRITION DATABASE” section here:

      In other words, if you want to sample the amount of glycogen in a liver, you don’t use USDA data. Rather, you would need to use direct analysis methods of a freshly killed animal, and to my knowledge, very few people have ever taken that kind of measurement — particularly since most scientists do not slaughter animals in their lab for nutrition data.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2014 at 17:07


      You need to start dismissing Tuck as a fucktard.

      Not worth it.

      Get this, he Tweeted out to the world that there’s a lot of “confirmation bias” going on here. Wonder which of the gurus who make his nose brown came up with that.

      He’s a fucktard. Leave it alone if you want.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 28, 2014 at 17:25

      True. What am I wasting my time for? I suppose only a fucktard would think that their 3 pound human liver has only 48g of carbs in it.

      Everyone knows that there’s about 100g of glycogen stored in an average human liver — while 400+g of glycogen in stored in the entirety of the muscle. You’d think this would be common sense for someone who relies on their liver to make their glucose.

      …Meanwhile a single cupcake has only 27g of sugar.

      Bunch of fucktards.

    • Duck Dodgers on July 29, 2014 at 11:07


      I find the VLC reaction to “animal fiber” to be rather comical. Just a few days ago, Dave Asprey declared in an interview that, “Fermenting collagen in the gut can make as much butyrate as fermenting resistant starch”. And that would be wonderful it were even remotely true.

      But, Asprey completely pulled that out of his ass. From what I can tell, Asprey read Bill’s article and totally misinterpreted what Bill had published.

      Bill had posted data from this study — one of the only studies to ever measure SCFA production from animal fiber — and if you actually read the study it shows that collagen ferments to only a teeny amount of butyrate.

      Actually the study shows that most animal fiber seems to ferment to Acetate. And, in fact, it shows that collagen ferments as much Acetate as FOS does. But, no, it does not show much of any butyrate in any way.

      It’s that kind of carelessness that seems to run rampant in the keto camp. Asprey confuses his polysaccharides and his SCFAs (and it’s not the first time). Tuck thinks that Apples don’t grow in Alaska, or claims that livers don’t contain much glycogen (both are false). Dr. Mike claims that Caribou are somehow fatty animals and that an Eskimo can create enough body heat in the Arctic with only 2,500 calories per day (both also false). Or that it’s somehow difficult to eat a lot of raw meat in a day (not true either). Or that indigenous people discarded excess protein on a regular basis (again false, as it was only done rarely, during times of surplus).

      But, it’s all bullshit.

      At first I found their arguments to be distasteful and clearly deceiving. Then I realized they were all just full of shit — which is ironic since some of them barely eat enough fiber to form a decent turd.

    • Bret on July 28, 2014 at 22:01

      Get this, he Tweeted out to the world that there’s a lot of “confirmation bias” going on here. Wonder which of the gurus who make his nose brown came up with that.

      Speaking of which, my long, critical comment, which I reproduced here, is still “awaiting moderation” over at

      I’m sure it’s low on the Dr.’s to-do list, given all the red carpet rolling, worshipful mouth breathers he has to attend to there.

    • Gemma on July 29, 2014 at 00:39

      Tuck may be a “fucktard” (your words, not mine) but he would definitely profit from the ideas promoted here (and he does, sort of).

      I just would like to remind him that it was DuckDodgers who discovered the significance of the “animal fiber” and shared it here, which was later on adopted by many other people, without even acknowledging Duck.

      Reading Tucks blog:
      “In my twenties I got really sick; lying in bed for 5 days, bleeding from the lower part of my digestive tract: not pretty. I didn’t see a doctor at the time because I had no health insurance, so I have no idea what the diagnosis might have been.
      Delirious days later and ten pounds lighter and I was recovered, except for one problem: I had diarrhea for the subsequent 14 years. That’s right, 14 years. ”
      “I like reading things that make me smack my forehead and think, “You idiot: why didn’t you think of that!”

      This is one of those posts:

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

      Read the whole thing, but this explains why populations that don’t eat much or any plant fiber, like the Maasai warriors or Eskimos of yore, do perfectly fine.”

      So, Tuck, are we getting somewhere or not?

    • Duck Dodgers on July 29, 2014 at 10:19


      At the bottom of his “confirmation bias” article you’ll see he ignored Jennifer Jones, Ph.D too, and never published her comments. Such a pity he censors his comments like that.

      It’s almost like he doesn’t want his readers to be exposed to conflicting viewpoints. ;)

    • Bret on July 29, 2014 at 10:47


      Evidently, the wise doctor believes confirmation bias applies to everybody but him.

      Having watched that process unfold from start to finish, I must say I am coming away without much of any desire to read that person’s blog or another of his books ever again.

      If his goal was to turn readers away by being the same kind of hypocrite he has criticized over the years, then he certainly has a success story in me.

    • gabkad on July 29, 2014 at 13:31

      “At first I found their arguments to be distasteful and clearly deceiving. Then I realized they were all just full of shit — which is ironic since some of them barely eat enough fiber to form a decent turd.”

      LOL! Thanks Duck.

    • Tinkerer on August 10, 2014 at 12:06

      Tuck, Your own comment refutes your argument: “The alpha’s eat the fatty parts, like the liver, and the weakest members get the protein-rich parts (muscle). Surplus kills have only the liver eaten, they leave the rest.”

      The liver is not the fattiest part of an animal, it’s the starchiest. The fattiest accessible parts of large game are the adipose fat depots and subcutaneous back fat (on those animals that have it). I haven’t seen any reports of carnivores going for the pure fat first instead of the liver and other organs, even though there is visceral abdominal fat surrounding the organs.

      The liver is not even the fattiest organ. Heart, kidneys and lungs are all listed as fattier at Nutritiondata, though the heart and kidney figures depend on how much of the surrounding external fat was trimmed.

      One the most contradictory things about arguments for “carnivore”-type diets is when carnivores that prize the starchiest part of an animal are cited as a reason to avoid starch/carbs. Ironically, it smacks of confirmation bias.

      (Note: my response is not intended to condone the the insults directed at you.)

  8. rs711 on July 26, 2014 at 07:47 “Gut Microbial Metabolism Drives Transformation of Msh2-Deficient Colon Epithelial Cells”

    – “Butyrate has been shown to have antiproliferative and anticancer properties, likely through its action as an HDACi. However, at lower concentrations, butyrate stimulates colon epithelial cell proliferation”

    – “The discrepancy on the effects of butyrate on CRC has been termed the ‘‘butyrate paradox.’”

    – “butyrate has been shown to modulate canonical Wnt signaling, and depending on the status of b-catenin activity, colon epithelial cells respond differently to butyrate”

    1) What are you takeaways from this study?
    2) Did I miss it in your compilation of research on RS & butyrate?

    • Gemma on July 26, 2014 at 13:11


      Funny you are asking this question, as it fits nicely to the topic.

      As usual, the circumstances and the concentration matter. It is rather complex.

      My take:

      Read the study cited in the study you linked:

      “The Warburg Effect Dictates the Mechanism of Butyrate-Mediated Histone Acetylation and Cell Proliferation”

      We are speaking tumour cells, not healthy cells.

      Butyrate concentration differs in proximal / distant colon, and its significantly lower deep in the crypts, where the neoplasmatic cells are formed. TOO LITTLE butyrate does not inhibit proliferation of a tumour cell, it is rather used up as fuel. Increase butyrate, and the proliferation is inhibited. Especially increase butyrate content at the distal part of the colon, where most of the colorectal cancer starts. (No, it won’t happen by eating more butter).
      Haven’t you already heard it here?

      In other words, if there is already a tumour cell at the bottom of the crypt and there is too little butyrate reaching it, there is no inhibition.

      “Butyrate is an attractive candidate for chemotherapy or chemoprevention because it selectively inhibits tumor growth and has minimal adverse effects in clinical trials (Pouillart, 1998). However, the efficacy of butyrate as a chemotherapeutic agent has been limited by its rapid uptake and metabolism by normal cells (resulting in a half-life of 6 min and peak blood levels below 0.05 mM [Miller et al., 1987]) before reaching tumors (Pouillart, 1998). More stable butyrate derivatives such as tributyrin have also not been successful on a consistent basis (Pouillart, 1998). A fiber-rich diet might be more successful for chemoprevention because it delivers mM levels of butyrate (via the microbiota) to the correct place (the colon) before the onset or at an early stage of tumorigenesis. Evidence for this idea comes from recent human studies demonstrating lower levels of butyrate-producing bacteria among the gut microbiota of colorectal cancer patients compared to healthy participants (Balamurugan et al., 2008; Wang et al., 2012), and studies showing an inverse correlation between fecal butyrate levels and tumor size in colorectal cancer (Boutron-Ruault et al., 2005; Monleón et al., 2009).”

    • Gemma on July 26, 2014 at 23:02

      Yes, everybody was reading this cover article on the study:

    • Richard Nikoley on July 26, 2014 at 13:56

      Thank you, Gemma dahling.

      I’ve been asked about this a dozen times in various channels and while I’ll probably take a closer look once I’m not asshole and elbows with this move, my brief take was:

      Unbridled deconstructionism.

    • GTR on July 27, 2014 at 06:52

      @Gemma – notice also that SCFA inhibied cancer development only in non-genetically damaged cells.
      “The growth arrest induced by the SCFA was characterized by an increase in the expression of the p21 cell-cycle inhibitor and down-regulation of cyclin B1 (CB1). In p21-deleted HCT-116 colon cancer cells, the SCFA did not alter the rate of proliferation. These data suggest that the antiproliferative, apoptotic and differentiating properties of the various SCFA are linked to the degree of induced histone hyperacetylation. Furthermore, SCFA-mediated growth arrest in colon carcinoma cells requires the p21 gene.”

      The article you linked is also based on anrticle that concerns effects of genetic mutations:

      “Greater than 10% of all CRCs in humans harbor lesions in both APC and MMR genes (Poulogiannis et al., 2010), and ∼1/15 individuals will get CRC in their lifetime in the western world.
      Hence, we administered sodium butyrate directly in the colons of antibiotic-cocktail treated mice by rectal instillation. This experiment revealed that 50 μM and 0.5 mM of sodium butyrate, which represent concentrations of butyrate found in the distal part of the colon […], stimulated proliferation of colon epithelial cells in APCMin/+MSH2−/− mice but not in controls […]. In contrast, consistent with its action as an HDACi, high concentrations of sodium butyrate (i.e., 10 and 100 mM) did not increase colon epithelial cell proliferation in APCMin/+MSH2−/− mice .”

      These genetical vunerabilities have been known for a long time:

      “Inherited syndromes

      About 5% to 10% of people who develop colorectal cancer have inherited gene defects (mutations) that cause the disease.
      FAP is caused by changes (mutations) in the APC gene that a person inherits from his or her parents. About 1% of all colorectal cancers are due to FAP.

      People with FAP typically develop hundreds or thousands of polyps in their colon and rectum, usually in their teens or early adulthood. Cancer usually develops in 1 or more of these polyps as early as age 20. By age 40, almost all people with this disorder will have developed colon cancer if the colon isn’t removed first to prevent it.
      HNPCC, also known as Lynch syndrome, accounts for about 2% to 4% of all colorectal cancers. In most cases, this disorder is caused by an inherited defect in either the gene MLH1 or the gene MSH2, but other genes can also cause HNPCC. The genes involved normally help repair DNA damage.
      The lifetime risk of colorectal cancer in people with this condition may be as high as 80%.”

      Other large fermenting mammals are more protected from cancers in general in than humans?

      “Chimpanzees and humans share a common ancestor, and even today 99 percent of the two species’ DNA is identical. But since the paths of man and chimp diverged 5 million years ago, that one percent of genetic difference appears to have changed humans in an unexpected way: It could have made people more prone to cancer. ”

      Kind of looks like reproductin vs. longevity? Also perhaps starving – increasing apoptosis despite weak genes – might work – is periodic enough or persistent one?

      “There has been a lot of research into the p53 gene. It is perhaps THE most widely researched gene ever. We know what base pairs make it, how it folds, what many mutations do to it, that certain toxins cause mutations to it and that not only does it keep cancer from going crazy, it also has a major role in aging and pregnancy implantation. […] One of the first discoveries was that elephants have more than 20 copies of p53. Dr. Schiffman also found that the elephant’s copies of p53 are retrogenes. […] this means the copies of p53 were not there at some point millions of years ago and then during evolution the elephants used the p53 protein the gene coded for- but then made more copies of the gene.”

      ” Apparently they have evolved to have 23 pairs of the p53 gene with is the major tumor suppressor of the genome. They have ‘super suppression’ of cancer. Their DNA takes care of what their immune system cannot. This phenomenon has given rise to “Peto’s Paradox’ and is similar in whales. The paradox is that much larger mammals, having many more cells that can mutate, would be expected to have even more incidence of cancer, yet they don’t. They also reproduce less frequently, which may have offered them some protection over the course of millennia.”

      Going back to carbs, and glycoproteins that come form them – they make you younger and even decrease chances of getting cancer, but when you already have cancer – make it worse. So maybe rules are different for those with bad genes or having cancer already?
      “Andrei Seluanov, who led the study, suspects that the larger hyaluronan physically cages potential cancer cells, preventing them from breaking free and growing into tumours. But it also allows cells to stop each other from growing if they become too crowded. This is called ‘contact inhibition’—it’s why healthy cells form a flat layer if they’re grown in a dish but cancerous ones pile on top of each other.

      Based on an earlier study, Seluanov’s team suspected that naked mole rat cells are protected against cancer because they’re especially sensitive to contact inhibition. Now, they’ve shown that large hyaluronan is responsible. The rodents’ cells are very receptive to the sugar; as they get close, hyaluronan sticks to their surface and triggers a genetic programme that stops them from growing.”
      But if cancer is already there:
      “Role in cancer metastasis
      As shown in Figure 1, the various types of molecules that interact with hyaluronan can contribute to many of the stages of cancer metastasis, i.e. further the spread of cancer.
      nteraction of HAS produced HA with receptors such as CD44 or RHAMM promote the cell changes that allow for the cancer cells to infiltrate the vascular or lymphatic systems. While traveling in these systems, HA produced by HAS protects the cancer cell from physical damage. Finally, in the formation of a metastatic lesion, HAS produces HA to allow the cancer cell to interact with native cells at the secondary site and to produce a tumor for itself.”

    • Gemma on July 27, 2014 at 12:58


      ” SCFA inhibited cancer development only in non-genetically damaged cells.”

      — it makes some sense, because p21 deletion is not observed normally:
      One gene lost = one limb regained? Scientists demonstrate mammalian regeneration through a single gene deletion

      “This experiment revealed that 50 μM and 0.5 mM of sodium butyrate, which represent concentrations of butyrate found in the distal part of the colon […], stimulated proliferation of colon epithelial cells in APCMin/+MSH2−/− mice but not in controls […]. In contrast, consistent with its action as an HDACi, high concentrations of sodium butyrate (i.e., 10 and 100 mM) did not increase colon epithelial cell proliferation in APCMin/+MSH2−/− mice .”

      — again, it was too little butyrate to induce inhibition, see:
      The effect of sodium butyrate on the growth characteristics of human cervix tumour cells.

      “Sodium butyrate has been shown to affect cell proliferation, and, at concentrations above approximately 0.5 mM, to cause cell death in some tumour cell lines.”

      “These genetical vunerabilities have been known for a long time:

      — I tend to think that these genetic mutation DO NOT CAUSE the disease, that they only predispose, not predestine.

      “Other large fermenting mammals are more protected from cancers in general in than humans?

      — a nice find!

      “Going back to carbs, and glycoproteins that come form them – they make you younger and even decrease chances of getting cancer, but when you already have cancer – make it worse. So maybe rules are different for those with bad genes or having cancer already?”

      — naked / blind mole rats have more mechanisms that protect them from cancer (p53, low metabolism rate, resilience to low oxygen environment, and the special HA, yes).

      Do not forget that their HA is different from yours!

    • GTR on July 27, 2014 at 07:00

      @Richard – it also means that some popular slogans like “moderation is the key” can lead some vunerable people to colorectal cancer. Here the best options are either lots of butyrate, or no butyrate – extremes. Moderate butyrate increases helps cancer.

    • Gemma on July 27, 2014 at 07:14


      Please, think it over again.

      Colonocytes need a lot of butyrate to live on a healthy life. No butyrate, no healthy endothelium.

      Copying from Wiki:

      “Butyrates are important as food for cells lining the mammalian colon (colonocytes). Without butyrates for energy, colon cells undergo autophagy (self digestion) and die.[1]

      Short-chain fatty acids, which include butyrate, are produced by beneficial colonic bacteria (probiotics) that feed on, or ferment prebiotics, which are plant products that contain adequate amounts of dietary fiber. These short-chain fatty acids benefit the colonocyte by increasing energy production,and cell proliferation and may protect against colon cancer.[2]

      Butyrate is a major metabolite in colonic lumen arising from bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber and has been shown to be a critical mediator of the colonic inflammatory response. Butyrate possesses both preventive and therapeutic potential to counteract inflammation-mediated ulcerative colitis (UC) and colorectal cancer. One mechanism underlying butyrate function in suppression of colonic inflammation is inhibition of the IFN-γ/STAT1 signaling pathways at least partially through acting as a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. While transient IFN-γ signaling is generally associated with normal host immune response, chronic IFN-γ signaling is often associated with chronic inflammation. It has been shown that Butyrate inhibits activity of HDAC1 that is bound to the Fas gene promoter in T cells, resulting in hyperacetylation of the Fas promoter and up-regulation of Fas receptor on the T cell surface.[3] It is thus suggested that Butyrate enhances apoptosis of T cells in the colonic tissue and thereby eliminates the source of inflammation (IFN-γ production).[4]”

  9. rs711 on July 27, 2014 at 08:14

    [a cross-post from a back-&-forth with Gemma @ Dr.Ayers blog]


    Thanks for suggesting I read both studies, “Microbial Regulation of Glucose Metabolism & Cell- Cycle Progression in Mammalian Colonocytes”
    & “The Warburg Effect Dictates the Mechanism of Butyrate-Mediated Histone Acetylation & Cell Proliferation”.

    They really helped clarify why the “Gut Microbial Metabolism Drives Transformation of Msh2-Deficient Colon Epithelial Cells” study makes some sense in the larger context.

    Our body really likes its fat. It likes it so much, it uses carbohydrates to fulfill a lot of the same functions fat does (& vice-versa?).
    Redundancy & mechanistic diversity is a true evolutionary treat.

    – Colonocytes seem happier using butyrate for fuel (see first 2 studies mentioned) with the latter mentioned study introducing the caveat hinging on particular ‘metabolic milieus’.

    – Astrocytes & “neurons within the brain preserve information by their continued existence. This is best done by burning LACTATE or KETONES. NOT glucose and, of course, not FFAs” [Peter@Hyperlipid;

    – A ketogenic* (or ketogenic-like**) diet generally appears favorable in terms of generalized oxidative stress load (see “Modulation of oxidative stress & mitochondrial function by the ketogenic diet” as an e.g.)

    It seems to me that a ketogenic diet*/LCHF with a diverse & plentiful intake of fibres from fruit/veg/animal tissues would likely satisfy all 3 criteria just mentioned (or gets us closer to them, at least).

    *ketogenic in the sense that ones metabolism is good at living off its fat – **but which might accommodate for a ‘substantial’ amount of absorbable dietary carbs [your mileage may vary]

    • Gemma on July 27, 2014 at 12:28


      I think we should be carefully focusing on the topic, we are speaking gut endothelial cells with a very high rate of turnover (3 days). So no wonder the nature created a clever system to control their growth, number and health with butyrate.
      Colonocytes do not only seem happier using butyrate for fuel, if they do not have it, they die.

      In germ free mice, the colonocytes took glucose but metabolised into lactate? In other words, into acid? To keep their environment acidic?

      “Considering that GF colonocytes are in a suboptimal energetic state, it is surprising that they metabolize glucose to lactate rather than oxidatively to CO2.”

      “These results indicate that although GF colonocytes are competent to undergo oxidative metabolism (based on the short-chain fatty acid butyrate), they metabolize glucose primarily by glycolysis rather than oxidatively via the TCA cycle and oxidative phosphorylation.”

      In other words, they behave as cancer cells?

      “Modulation of oxidative stress & mitochondrial function by the ketogenic diet”
      – as a short term measure to starve bad gut flora, yes. Long-term, with no proper seeding, feeding and weeding (read Dr. Grace), no good.

      What is “a ketogenic diet*/LCHF with a diverse & plentiful intake of fibres”? Are we in consesus here or not?

  10. CT on July 27, 2014 at 01:55

    Spot on. My belief is that the concept of hormesis really come into play when it comes to food “toxins”.

    In the general paleosphere there seems to be very simplistic view when it comes to food toxins. Find one study saying “This is toxic” -> End reasoning -> Avoid toxin. Unless it’s ketosis or coconut-things, then there’s all kinds of complicated reasons to buy coconut supplements and stay in ketosis.

    • GTR on July 27, 2014 at 07:13

      @CT also some parts of the coffee world also told us to avoid tannins as undesirable, and so we should use espressos that contain less of it.

    • Guttural on July 28, 2014 at 20:51

      Tannins are undesirable because they taste bitter.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 28, 2014 at 20:55

      I enjoy bitter, sweet, sour, hot, and savory.

      Sorry you’re such a…

  11. Mart on July 27, 2014 at 19:09

    “…Parallel studies, meanwhile, have undercut decades-old assumptions about the dangers of free radicals. Rather than killing us, these volatile molecules, in the right amount, may improve our health. Our quest to neutralize them with antioxidant supplements may be doing more harm than good…”

    So that super-antioxidant amla powder blogged about awhile back may not be so great after all? Or what? Personally, I take it for the blood sugar mitigation it offers, and in my family we have almost zero history of cancer.

    • Wilbur on July 27, 2014 at 19:34

      For myself personally, I have decided to make a distinction between foods that contain antioxidants and man-made supplements that contain antioxidants. I use amla powder. It is a food, albeit dried and ground. I also use baobab, which is even closer to the actual fruit. I eat lots of berries and colorful fruits. If that’s going to hurt me, well something is screwed up.

      OTOH, a lot of supplements give you quantities of antioxidants and other things that would be hard to get in nature. I recently became interested in polyphenols, actually taking a supplement. It gave me diarrhea. In researching it, I learned it provided the same amount as 50 lbs of vegetables. That’s not natural to me. I think the same is true for others like reservatrol. A pill that provides the same amount as, say, 15 bottles of red wine is simply not natural to me.

      Just my personal take.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 27, 2014 at 20:51

      It’s a dried berry, Mart. Not a pill. I have never taken an antioxidant pill or multivitamin/mineral.

    • Mart on July 28, 2014 at 12:03

      thanks Richard, Wilbur. I guess in the small doses – like 1/4 or 1/2 tsp this stuff is fine as it is the equivalent of maybe a berry or two or three

  12. James on July 27, 2014 at 10:41

    If I’m consuming a lot of RS and fiber, would it be bad for my health or my gut biome to be consuming 100g+ of sugar from fruit and 100g+ of sugar from honey every day?

    (I can’t eat starch and don’t want to be in ketosis)

    • RobJ on July 27, 2014 at 23:38

      If you maintain good body comp, health markers and you feel good. Why not? If negative symptoms arise then re-asses.

  13. John on July 28, 2014 at 07:08

    Glucose deficency most certainly exists. If your blood glucose falls to too low a level, the resulting conditions include coma and death. I guess it’s up to the indivdual to decide whether it’s best to get this glucose from dietary carbohydrate, dietary protien, or from catabolizing your own muscle and vital organs.

  14. ChocoTaco369 on July 29, 2014 at 11:50

    This is a great article, Richard. The health properties of plants come from the hormetic effects of their mild toxicity. Of course, ANYTHING consumed to excess is bad – that’s why it is called “excess.” Too much water, sunlight and oxygen will kill us all, but I think we can all agree water, sunlight and oxygen are essential to our health, right?

    The more I research, the more I consider most things being blamed for modern disease not really all that awful.

    Sugar? Nope. There is nothing toxic about sugar. If you’re nutrient deficient and overweight because you’re consuming 20% of your calories from refined, white, micronutrient-poor sugar that does nothing to satiate you, that doesn’t make sugar bad. It makes your choices bad. Consuming 20% of your calories from coconut oil would be equally as bad a decision.

    Gluten, peanuts, milk and other common allergens? They weren’t so common decades ago. These food intolerances are a pretty new thing. But why?

    My theory is the huge amount of polyunsaturated fat, particularly from the PUFA-laden vegetable oils, that are causing the issues. As we all should know, our bodies do no produce polyunsaturated fat. It is unstable at human body temperature and prone to oxidation, so it clearly makes little sense for us to produce something so volatile under living conditions, so this makes a lot of sense. Eating a very low fat/high carbohydrate diet would have our bodies carrying a very low PUFA content in our tissues thanks to our endogenous synthesis of SFA and MUFA. However, a diet like the American diet – very high in polyunsaturated fat and relatively low in saturated fat – is very problematic because our bodies assimilate the fat we consume into our tissues. Human tissue should be around 45-50% saturated, 45-50% monounsaturated and around 5% polyunsaturated (including oemga 3 AND 6), but Americans have a PUFA content of ~25% in their tissues thanks to all the liquid vegetable oils and margarines in our diet. What does this do?

    Fish oil is rich in EPA and DHA because they remain highly liquid at near-freezing ocean temperatures. If fish had the fatty acid distribution of cows, they’d be immobile and stiff as a board in cold water. Similarly, nuts and seeds are rich in omega 6 LA, AA and omega 3 ALA because the fats need to say liquid underground for germination in cold, late winter/early spring temperatures. For a HUMAN to have the fatty acid distribution of nuts, seeds and fish would be detrimental to our health because at 98.6 degrees, these fats are so liquid they offer our cells little to no protection from free radicals. Our bodies need SFA’s and MUFA’s to keep our cellular membranes stiff and protect our precious, precious cells and DNA. Having a high PUFA diet creates liquid, porous cellular membranes that leave our cells open to damage from free radicals.

    The end result: high levels of autoimmune diseases.

    This is my theory as to why we are now allergic to seemingly everything – pollen, dust, dogs, cats, lactose, casein, gluten, peanuts, shellfish…you name it and we’re allergic to it. When you factor in extremely weakened cellular membranes with damaged guts from a bolus of insoluble grain fibers and a deficiency in fermentable fruits and quality, soluble starch, you have the perfect storm of disease.

    But what do I know? It’s just some guy.

    • gabkad on July 29, 2014 at 18:11

      John, some autoimmune diseases have been around (especially for women) long before PUFA. Not saying that PUFA is a good thing. Just saying that there’s more to autoimmune disease. I don’t know the answer. Nobody does. It might be stress plus low iron, low B12, low folate, low vitamin C…… low vitamin D……. nobody knows. It might be bacterial and/or viral/ immune system defect. Might just be too many disparate genes or epigenetic dysfunctional changes during life. Autoimmune diseases remain a mystery.

      In the past before there were any treatments or even diagnostic tests, people died or had really horrible quality of life. We expect better and it’s our expectations that are the ‘big deal’. This goes for treatments for autoimmune disease and cancer and whatever.

    • john on July 31, 2014 at 02:54

      That’s right, your just some guy leaving an ill informed post on a blog. Your theories might sound reasonable and intelligent to yourself but they are just that, theories. Perhaps every vegetable oil gets eliminated from the worldwide food supply tomorrow. Let’s say it’s replaced with butter and lard. Would you think the general population would become healthier?

    • Duck Dodgers on July 31, 2014 at 08:27

      There are probably a hundred different theories out there. Here’s one. If we evolved with pressures on our immune system (from parasites, pathogens, plant toxins, fungi, etc.) what if we need some consistent exposure to those pressures to keep our immune system functioning optimally?

      Watch: Reshaping the immune system: Moises Velazquez-Manoff at TEDxCibeles

    • Gemma on July 31, 2014 at 08:40


      Oh yes, homeostasis matters. See the position of Pasteur (1822-1895) against Bernard (1813-1878).

      From: The Causes of Disease: The Great Debate

      “Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), chemist and microbiologist, put forward the germ theory, according to which diseases are caused by infectious microbes, that impair the functioning and structures of different organ systems. This paradigm is the basis for the use of antibiotics to destroy these invasive microbes and vaccines with low doses of the microbe to challenge the body’s immune defenses and thereby prevent systemic infection.

      Pasteur’s contemporary and friend, the physiologist Claude Bernard (1813-1878), argued instead for the importance of balance in the body’s internal environment – what he called le milieu intérieur. “The constancy of the interior environment is the condition for a free and independent life.”

      Bernard thought that the body becomes susceptible to infectious agents only if the internal balance – or homeostasis as we now call it – is disturbed. After all, there are billions of microbes and bacteria inhabiting our guts, our blood, our whole body. Why do we sometimes sicken from them, sometimes not? When a bacterial or viral agent is “going around,” as we say, why do some people sicken and others remain healthy ?”

      There is an apocryphal story that Pasteur renounced his germ theory on his death-bed, saying that “Bernard is right. The microbe is nothing. The environment is everything.”

      The renowned 20th century French-American microbiologist René Dubos (1901-1982) agreed with Bernard’s principle: “Most microbial diseases are caused by organisms present in the body of a normal individual. They become the cause of disease when a disturbance arises which upsets the equilibrium of the body.

      Today, Pasteur’s germ theory of disease provides the rationale for the pharmaceutical industry’s billions of dollars research and sales programs for ever more potent anti-bacterial and anti-viral drugs, the use of these antibiotics as a feed-additive in the disease-prone, overcrowded environments of industrial farming – with the predictable consequence that bacterial evolution is out-stripping the discovery rate of effective antidotes.”

    • Duck Dodgers on July 31, 2014 at 08:48

      Great quote at the end of that video, after explaining how modern humans are all but missing their prehistoric flora, parasites and pressures, he uses the following analogy to describe a possible doctor of the future:

      Moises Velazquez-Manoff said:

      Let’s imagine that you are some kind of space alien doctor that evolved in outer space and went to medical school in outer space. All you’ve ever known is weightlessness. You come to those astronauts and see that they have bloated faces, wasted bodies, and brittle bones. And you say, “What kind of virus is causing this problem?” And you take all the intergalactic technology and throw it answering that question.

      Now imagine that you are on planet Earth. You’re looking up at the problem. You’re aware that human beings have evolved on planet Earth. You’re going to have a very different take. You would say, “There’s nothing causing that. There’s one thing missing. Gravity. They need to be rescued from weightlessness. Bring them home, and all those symptoms will resolve.”

    • GTR on August 1, 2014 at 01:19

      @Duck Dodgers
      “what if we need some consistent exposure to those pressures to keep our immune system functioning optimally”

      On the other hand exhaustion of stem cells that produce immune cells = death, so you don’t want to pressure your immune system.

      “Once the stem cells reach a state of exhaustion that imposes a limit on their own lifespan, they themselves gradually die out and steadily diminish the body’s capacity to keep regenerating vital tissues and cells, such as blood.
      In van Andel-Schipper’s case, it seemed that in the twilight of her life, about two-thirds of the white blood cells remaining in her body at death originated from just two stem cells, implying that most or all of the blood stem cells she started life with had already burned out and died.
      The other evidence for the stem cell fatigue came from observations that van Andel-Schipper’s white blood cells had drastically worn-down telomeres – the protective tips on chromosomes that burn down like wicks each time a cell divides. On average, the telomeres on the white blood cells were 17 times shorter than those on brain cells, which hardly replicate at all throughout life.”

      This topic of anti-aging via optimizing length of telomeres seems to be some a hot one now, and commercially successful. I subscribed to Al Sears (previously a promoter of HIIT excercise program called PACE, now a huckster for anti-aging supplements) newsletter and I get e-mail bombarded about his telomere optimizing products.
      Ingredients of one of the products:

    • Duck Dodgers on August 1, 2014 at 07:39


      I think we are talking about two different extremes. As the video suggests (did you watch it?), if you never gave your immune system any pressure, it probably wouldn’t know what to do. It would just be a bunch of dumb immune cells.

      The research suggests that trace exposures teach and remind our body how to keep ourselves in optimal health. Obviously you ain’t living to 115 if you can’t stave off infections and chronic diseases. And as the video shows, there seems to be measurable benefits in exposure to various pressures. I doubt it’s a coincidence.

      One can either choose to live in a bubble… or one can look at the fact that all cultures exposed themselves to trace amounts of organic toxins and immune pressures, constantly, and then consider why. Something tells me that Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper didn’t sit around worrying about the toxins in a legume.

    • GTR on August 2, 2014 at 02:44

      @Duck Dodgers
      “As the video suggests (did you watch it?), if you never gave your immune system any pressure, it probably wouldn’t know what to do.”

      Contemporary people typically took or even take vaccines, and they are clearly designed to pressure immune system – while most people are deficient in vitamin D – the immune system modulator… And live indoors, where air pollution is up to 10 times higher than outdoors.

      Isn’t this enough? Or do you see the need to specifically target/teach the part of immune system that resides inside the digestive system?

    • Duck Dodgers on August 2, 2014 at 20:32

      I can’t say I know what the best way to stress the immune system is, but I’m not sure that sniffing glues and paint fumes would be my first choice of stressors :)

      Maybe we need to get back to more ancestral stressors? I propose an ‘Ancestral Stress Symposium’ to figure it all out! LOL.

  15. eddie on July 30, 2014 at 13:30

    Hello all Richard etc,

    I have been adding some starches back in –only slowly few here and there, no problems so far I havent gotten crazy and done RS in spoons but no problems—-2 years ago- I could say hell no no way

    I have had somone who reached out to me(from here)…who pretty much failed so far doing the RS.. I say a 10 percenter as I call it. Like myself( of the PAST). Seems to have had some similar experiences. Hes working on removing RS right now , attacking yeast and some bad bacteria….. then flooding the system with bacteria , prebiotics sources veggies, fats etc then hopefully RS . His story may be simular to mine in the end…and able to comsume RS-(with out the GI problems he had) if hes like me , Im hoping hes like me in the end reversal(GI issues) of gluten intolerance and milk…. as well starch .. I lay my money he will in the end be eating RS in a year….. in the end loss of good bacteria —rise of yeast and bad bacteria the down fall
    GET it right and get your health back

  16. Gemma on July 31, 2014 at 08:59


    I wonder if you have heard / had experience with Symbioflor (Enterococcus faecalis and Escherichia coli, in inactive form)?

    The treatment protocol is here:

    • eddie on July 31, 2014 at 11:34


      No I havent , looks interesting to read
      My gut has been great , I appear to be able to eat anything now (except SOY) not that I really want to eat it thou…

      My last great plan test showed the following
      4+ Bacteroides fragilis group
      4+ Bifidobacterium spp.
      3+ Escherichia coli
      NGLactobacillus spp.
      NGEnterococcus spp.
      4+ Clostridium spp.
      NG = No Growth
      NO yeast and ZERO micro yeast
      I eat large doses of lacto fermented foods and take good amounts of probiotics with lacto yet you see NG I suspect they stay in the top end of my system now.

      the bacteria above rose from when I was sick
      2 to 4 Bacteroides
      3 to 4 Clostridium
      I now also have some
      Commensal (Imbalanced) flora and some Dysbiotic flora
      I suspect my Clostridium strains to be good ones…as in my OAT testing markers for HPHPA other pathogenic clostridia species DROPPED.
      The tons of micro yeast are gone too. My yeast markers DROPPED as well , all my regular GI tests normal…and standard tests normal.

      I think my flora is more balanced now with bacteria / multiple strains of different things ( listed as good and some bad….yeast is gone

      all problems are gone — PH is good things are steady , able to get in some more RS , eat my tons of inulin, veggies, eggs meats fats — LIFE is good

      been testing the effects of my diet on cardiac , calcium scan, ultra sound , scores etc — cholesterol particles etc

      leaky gut, = cardio disease and auto immune health problems to me loss of diversity mix is the kiss of death…..

    • eddie on July 31, 2014 at 11:38

      loss of diversity , causes yeast overgrowth —- which eats , sugar carbs etc contributing to loss of gut barrier, add in gluten , milk soy at this stage and antibiotics your in for a ride of your life.,…..

      Just my personal experience of becoming gluten , milk and starch intolerant and back

  17. Woodwose on July 31, 2014 at 02:31

    @eddie, I would strongly recommend Prescript assist. first probiotics that has helped me. RS + prescript assist + more starch so far seems to fix my IBS and problems with fatigue. It also feels like each change works synergistic with each other.

    • eddie on July 31, 2014 at 06:16


      He took that —–didnt help- two soil based and it didnt help him… hes already started testing like I did in the past…. reveling so far high yeast and bad Clostridia species ( VERY high markers) Similar to my past experience . I suspect these Eating the starch .. and by his volume he cant switch the balance alone with SOIL based probiotics. Did you know what you had that gave you IBS??? again I think this guy is a 10 percenter like me. I now seem to handle the RS ok… before not so good

      time will tell— he running other tests right now , and his system seems to be flushing out from taking certain things to target both.

    • eddie on July 31, 2014 at 06:35

      as DR GRACE says

      some may need weeding—first and feeding second depending how bad you are —this guy has had problems 10 years anddocs f-ing with him with antibiotics etc

    • Duck Dodgers on July 31, 2014 at 07:39

      I think this guy is a 10 percenter

      Eddie, I don’t think 1 out of every 10 people have such extreme gut issues. 90% seem to be able to tolerate RS. 10% seem to need some general gut support (probiotics, weeding, etc). But, I think you guys are a subfraction of that 10%.

      It’s not like 1 out of every 10 people commenting here have such extremely challenging gut issues. That seems a bit high.

    • eddie on July 31, 2014 at 08:43


      I mean maybe more of 10 percent of the population that maybe high maybe 3 to 5 percent — some of the bad gut people jump place to place,,,site to site looking for answers, because there local hospital / or GI banged them up pretty good with heavy rounds of antibiotics .So many on here have suck great – info yourself- inulin lean meat , Rs etc etc veggies –what to eat what not to eat. It helps greatly – the stats the facts the journals , the medical reports. I have used many of these things to my advantage .As well many tests people dont think to highly of. Its worked for me, I ve taken a good liken to this fellow, – he seems to be in the same sinking ship i was in. I ve given him some advice — tests etc , and so far hes matching up pretty close to the me of the past. Hes having strange things happen to him weekly. Stuff that happen to me. It appears the few like the me of the past — need more guidance and order with the probiotics , weeding feeding and RS. The order may be different for extreme people to get the RS . Time will tell , but I hope to drink a beer and eat a potato with him in the future ….Had my first big potato on the weekend in 2 years—no problems

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