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Apr 18, 2012 09:53 PM

Paleo diet - any experience?

I'm reading a book on the benefits but haven't taken the plunge. I'm having a hard time seeing how I can make some of those changes. Obviously eating more plants is a no brainer but like everyone food is an important part of my life and my famiy's. Is anyone doing this diet and do you have any tips about getting over that initial hump?

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  1. I'm having a hard time seeing how I can make some of those changes.
    which foods will be the most challenging for you & your family to give up? dairy? grains? legumes? if you're going to have to do a complete dietary overhaul you should start by determining the biggest potential obstacles, and tackling one at a time - perhaps starting with the "easiest" one first if you're concerned that big leaps will backfire.

    so how about providing a list of your family's favorite & most frequently consumed non-paleo foods, and we can start to make adjustments from there?

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      I follow the Paleo/Primal lifestyle and have been doing so for over 2 years, although on and off. Right now, game on!

      Never cared much for pasta, so that was easy to let go of. Same for bread. Dairy was a little harder, but I'll still splurge once in a while, though I'm reminded it doesn't make me feel great. Beans and grains - mainstays when I was vegan (and at my heaviest weight!) - easy to say goodbye. Sugar is my main source of downfall, but even that has gotten easier to stay away from.

      What I love about being Paleo, is I don't think about food all the time. I don't obsess about it like I used to do. Oh, I still enjoy it, very much so, but I used to almost agonize over what I would eat, and I don't do that anymore.

      You can do it in steps, like goodhealth suggested, or you can go cold turkey, and commit to it. Try it for 30 days, and see how you feel. In fact, all you need is 3 weeks. I would highly recommend "The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation: A step-by-step, gene reprogramming action plan" by Mark Sisson. Easy read, and it will walk you through the journey.

    2. I don't do paleo because I love cheese and dairy too much. But I have done drastic dietary changes to a very low carb diet over time, to starch and sugar free. GHG's advice and questions are excellent. I worked into my current diet over years, documenting changes, results and adjusting as I went along. I don't miss starches at all any more, but when I could not imagine life without them, I began by pretty much just halving the starch portion of any meal, replacing with veggies or meat... so a sandwich became a twice as fat half sandwich on thin sliced bread... pasta became small side dish servings with the mains being proteins and veggies and salads...

      8 Replies
      1. re: mcf

        Well, actually, I'm more "Primal" than Paleo. Paleo says NO dairy at all, while Primal says dairy is allowed. So, mcf, you COULD be Primal! :)

        I eat a LOT of Kerrygold grass-fed butter...LOVE the stuff. Small amounts of heavy cream here and there. Couldn't have imagined a burger without cheese on it, that is until we had bacon burgers the other night (pound of ground beef mixed with a pound of ground raw bacon (ground in food processor). Those did not need cheese.. I did not miss it at all! The flavor was unbelievable, and the exterior had a crispiness to it. One of the best burgers I've ever had. (Served on lettuce leaves of course!)

        1. re: MarlboroMan

          I've never followed any diet plan by anyone else, though I read quite a few of them. I arrived at my current eating plan by reading a lot of research, and experimenting with various macronutrient breakdowns and documenting with software. Took years to arrive at the way I eat now. I focus on high quality, non polluted fish, meat and dairy, no starches, almost no fruit, no other sugars.

          1. re: mcf

            How easy is it to find non polluted fish? And how does one make certain it is free of pollutants? I am genuinely curious!

            1. re: globocity

              am pretty sure she means avoiding farmed fish. that's what i do anyway. their nutritional profiles are completely different vs. their wild relatives.

              while big fish like tuna may contain some mercury, small, wild, fatty fish like sardines and mackerel are clean super-foods

              1. re: globocity

                I do mean non farmed fish, or only very carefully selected farmed products, but pretty much I avoid them. I buy mostly wild caught fish from the cleanest waters I can, and the size that's least likely to harbor toxins. I rely on non profit organizations' independent testing to make my choices, too.

                1. re: mcf

                  Isn't wild-caught tuna rife with pollutants? I'd also read that sardines are the safest.

                  1. re: globocity

                    I eat very little tuna. Like maybe a couple or few times a year since I stopped eating sushi and sashimi much. Some are safer than others, but larger, fatty fish can store a lot of toxins/mercury, yes.

            2. re: MarlboroMan

              i came here to read about paleo and i'm leaving knowing that i will be making those burgers for dinner tomorrow night. :) THANKS!!!

          2. I'm primal (Mark Sisson) for 3 months now, down about 15 lbs, but I started lactose intolerant, so I dumped dairy along with the grains and legumes. I eat a ton of fruit, probably way more than I should, bananas, orages, apples, berries of every kind. Various veggies with dinner, salads or omelets usually for lunch, most of the time I skip breakfast and try to keep my eating in the noon to 8pm time slot. The one thing that has kept me sane is realizing that if you can do this diet 80-90% of the time, you'll be way ahead of the game, and if you're out, or at a special occasion, by all means eat what you want.

            The other big change for me was cooking oil - I keep olive, avocado, coconut, ghee, and butter in the house, and also consider bacon to be a cooking oil at this point. People can scream about saturated fats all they want, but they just taste better to me. I haven't done the lard/tallow thing yet, but it's coming.

            Good luck.


            10 Replies
            1. re: LennyC

              I am another Sisson fan. I also do primal fitness and find that my body (in my 50's now) responds better to this "philosophy" than it did to "basic" running and weight lifting of years past.

              The Primal diet is also a POWERFUL anti inflammatory diet. I finally kicked chronic pain from a shoulder injury "accidentally" on this diet. I tried everything for three long years to get rid of the pain- I was just about to have surgery- then 3 weeks on a Primal diet and the pain was gone. It only returned when I started eating sugar more frequently on vacation last year. I went back to clean eating- gone again. I am a believer.

              I don't eat much fruit. I just stick to mostly berries and only a few times per week. Like you-I eat this way about 80- 90 percent of the time. Weekends I tend to be fairly free with my choices, but after a few years eating this way, I find my choices are changed- and I tend to still pick lower carb options! At least, most of the time.

              Who da thunk.

              1. re: LennyC

                I'm not interested in a diet that makes me give up so many things at once... but to me, bacon fat IS a cooking oil! You just use it in moderation. A tablespoon of bacon grease goes a long way and tastes oh so good. :)

                1. re: LennyC

                  This is exactly what I've been doing for about a month now. Initially I just wanted to give intermittent fasting a try to lean up. I workout quite a bit and I just wanted to really get lean. Working out in a fasted state was difficult for me as a Type 1 Diabetic because your liver starts spitting glucagon when you're working out on empty and so I have to stop and take insulin a few times during my workout. However, I have to say, I have more energy in my workouts and my blood glucose has been nearly perfect. I was a very well-managed type 1 diabetic before intermittent fasting (IF) but now my #'s are amazingly on point. I haven't had a low blood sugar in days, when before I would have 1-2/day (a trade off w/ tight control).

                  I love IF and i'm leaning up quite nicely. I occasionally eat unrefined grains (sprouted grain bread) or some cheese, but all in all, this is a great way to live. Oh yea, and I do the 16+ hour fast w/ a 6-8 hr feeding window.

                  1. re: lynnlato

                    As a rule, women tend not to respond to IF as well as men do, but it can work wonders for insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance in some people. I'm so happy to hear how well you're doing! Keep it up :)

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Thanks GHG! My results have been less so than my husband, who is also doing it. He's shedding those hard-to-lose pounds so quickly. I'm jealous! But, like I said, the blood sugar benefits are really great and I'm thrilled. I highly recommend it for diabetics and I plan on bringing it up at my next JDRF Type 1 meeting . :)

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        I always say, "your body, your science experiment" and you've learned something important about your own. And about how unfair life is when it comes to male/female weight loss rates!

                        1. re: mcf

                          Well said mcf!!! Ha! You're so right though, I enjoy the experimenting part of it. I learn so much when I tune in, log my food, and try new approaches with diet and exercise... and reading this board and others.

                        2. re: lynnlato

                          Are you forgetting that I've seen you? I don't recall noticing any excess weight on your little frame, so don't be jealous of DH - any changes you make to your body composition will be subtle in comparison to major weight loss, and more difficult to achieve. In the meantime, just enjoy the health benefits that come with the diabetes management.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I just saw this post of yours! Don't worry, I'm so over the IF. My DH is still doing it though and it's worked wonders for him. He loves it and he has managed to lean out in ways he couldn't before.

                            I'm back to my regular maintenance mode. I have no aspirations to be a fitness model and I love food too much. :)

                        3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          i had read this too, even though it has worked for me. upon further reading, it would seem women eating higher-carb have trouble with if. higher-carb in this instance being relative to the sad of course.

                          mine are generally under 50 and most days under 30.

                    2. Thanks guys these are all super helpful replies / the idea of biting off one chunk at a time is good. I'm actually in the process of reading the primal blueprint so those comments are helpful. I guess what sounds hard to me particularly is rice, pasta, and sugar. Buy really the whole idea is scary to me. In my family I'm the one who gets questions about food, ingredients , etc so it feels a little like changing my persona. Yes, I know that sounds silly - I'll just learn new recipes/methods etc. still open to any and all suggestions. I'm already pretty big on the grass fed, local meats, poultry eggs so at least part of the work is done(for lack of a better word). Thanks again!

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Bean Counter

                        Bean, another similar diet to consider is the Perfect Health Diet (URL is the same, without the spaces), by Paul Jaminet and his wife. He's a former astrophysicist, she's a molecular biologist. Similar view as PB, but with the addition of rice and potatoes. I have a friend on Facebook, she lost 130 pounds eating this way.

                        My wife is a pasta lover, despite having celiac disease. However, she found she can eat rice pasta with no problems.. so there is rice angel hair, penne, lasagne, and even mac & cheese. I'll eat this stuff occasionally (and of course when I have a big bowl of pho!), but it's not like I miss pasta. I do like rice occasionally. White is actually better than brown for some reason (not to mention lower in carbs!)

                        Perfect Health Diet is also a book... VERY technical as to the how's and why's. I found it to be a little dry, but at least the author is readily available to answer your questions online.

                        1. re: MarlboroMan

                          Will definitely be checking this out...

                        2. re: Bean Counter

                          There are a lot of resources out there that can help you and your family make the transition to Paleo. I have two favorite and The Whole 9 site is one of the best resources out there to answer your questions about transitioning to a paleo life style and TCMTG has some of the best recipes out there.

                          When I transitioned to paleo, I had some of the same concerns you did and I read up on things like you wouldn't believe. Robb Wolf, Sisson, Nom Nom Paleo, Everday Paleo (Sarah Fragoso)...and then I tried it. Even though I wasn't sure if I could sacrifice the foods I thought I needed, once I cut the gluten, grains, and sugar from my diet I felt so much better. So if it is one thing I recommend, it is trying it and tracking how you are feeling...are you less bloated, sleeping better, have more energy, etc.

                          Try it... :-)

                          1. re: Bean Counter

                            You can easily rice cauliflower in a food processor. Eating Primal and I don't have to give up my curries!

                            1. re: TeeBeeinSD

                              Can you describe the way you do this? I've seen a couple methods and am still a little skeptical about the texture -- I've been eating my curries et al. without rice which is a bummer and I'd love to think this cauliflower "rice" thing would hit the spot!

                              1. re: LauraGrace

                                it's super simple. just break the raw cauliflower into florets (or cut into manageable pieces), toss into the FP, and pulse until it resembles grains of rice or couscous. saute in a hot pan with a little butter or oil and your preferred seasoning until tender. (if you like a "fluffier" texture, cover the pan for a few minutes.)

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  Yep, takes about the same amount of time as preparing rice. I will occasionally sauté some onions first, they give a nice flavor addition. I've also tossed with lime juice and cilantro afterwards, etc.

                                    1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                      Alternately, you can steam the cauliflower until tender, drain well, and then run through the grater blade on your FP.

                            2. I'm thinking of trying the Primal Blueprint system, too. Can anyone familiar with this program tell me if things like legumes are totally out of the question on this program, or are they OK as long as the carb count is kept in check? And does Sisson subtract fiber grams from the carb grams when assessing daily intake? I've noticed some programs call for that and some don't. Thanks very much.

                              41 Replies
                              1. re: ninrn

                                Sisson doesn't do the whole fiber grams/carb grams thing. He doesn't even count calories.

                                For me, legumes are out. They make me terribly gassy, and I just don't miss them like I thought I would. Occasionally, I'll have a dab of peanut butter, though (made from, yes, a legume, not a nut).

                                Sure, you could include legumes. But I think you'll find after following his regimen for a while, that you just don't want or need to include them anymore.

                                LOTS of free information can be found on his website:

                                To sum up Sisson's position, however:

                                Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, etc.) aren’t, by any means, the worst thing you can eat, but they don’t make the ideal meal either. In my estimation, legumes fall into the “O.K.” category with wine, chocolate, cheese and other dairy, etc.

                                Read more:

                                1. re: MarlboroMan

                                  actually, he does have a carb curve and for anybody wanting to lose weight suggests staying under 50 carbs per day, to get into ketosis and run on fat-burning, instead of carb-burning for energy.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    100 grams per day will initiate ketosis, but 50 or less is necessary typically after 3 weeks or so in ketosis. But if doing cyclic or targeted ketogenic, one may not need to go that low.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      am simply stating sisson's rec's.

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        I understood, I just noted that the thresshold for ketosis is initially quite a bit higher, until the brain has adapted to running mostly on ketones, lowering the threshold to stay in it.

                                2. re: ninrn

                                  Primal eating or "primal living in the modern world" like the line on Mark's Daily Apple, is more a philosophy than a strict diet. My feeling is that if you are getting most of your nutrition from a Primal diet- your weight is healthy, your energy is up, muscles are noticeable, inflammation is gone, and lab results are stellar- then occasionally- eat some hummus, drink some wine, have some dark chocolate and add some peanut butter to your satay! That is very different than to start adding back in potato, pasta, rice in an average meal or different than beginning to snack on cheeto's, chips or kettle corn.

                                  In my experience, after eating this way for several years, my body will tell me when I have consumed foods that are not so good for me or when I have "pushed the envelope" and need to clean it up.

                                  For me, I don't really "count carbs" but I pay attention to baked items that have carbs in them (breads, crackers, chips) and choose the lowest carb and highest high fiber content items. I eat them sparingly.

                                  1. re: sedimental

                                    I make my own "paleo crackers." They come out quite well.

                                    I know what you mean about "pushing the envelope", though. A few weeks back I was at a surprise birthday party and decided to have a couple of beers. I was not drunk, but I felt horrible for about a day and a half afterward. Oh yeah, beer is grain based. Still didn't think it would affect me like it did. Now I know to stay away.

                                    1. re: MarlboroMan

                                      Yikes - I'm not a big drinker at all but I work at a brewery so a few times a month I have one or two. Yes, I am capable of socializing without drinking so sparkling water I guess will be bigger in my future ;)

                                      1. re: Bean Counter

                                        Better stay away from beer; it's the gateway to grains. Some argue that beer production was the start of agriculture and civilization. To produce beer in any sort of consistent fashion our ancestors had settle down and grow grain. Simply gathering wild seeds did not work.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Well, beer works for some people, I guess. If you check out, today's post (there's a "testimony" posted every Friday) involves a man who eats Primal, yet still enjoys his beer (and brews his own).

                                          I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. The same goes for many other "foods."

                                          I used to be a big time sweets eater. Also used to drink a lot of soda. Now I make fridge tea, and drink it unsweetened. Huge change for me.

                                      2. re: MarlboroMan

                                        MarlboroMan, could you share that cracker recipe, please?

                                      3. re: sedimental

                                        I did a highly modified primal approach a couple years ago. Yes, I am a lapsed primal person. My rule was no pizza, no pasta and no bread for a month. I love all of the above. I still ate the occasional french fry. I did drink a few ounces of milk with espresso on most days, I had a small bowl of ice cream most nights and ate cheese, but for me the low-bar approach worked. My appetite and energy levels were much more even. I lost weight. My body responded very favorably to the Crossfitting I did at least two times a week back then. But then I slacked off, went back to indulging in my beloved pasta and pizza too often.

                                        Later, after regaining some of the weight, I tried a much more complete primal/paleo approach and failed. My example is nowhere near perfect, but my experience was good, and my aim is to my 3Ps policy. My body felt and looked better. And as a result of my primal experience I eat more of that stuff our grandparents called food; organic when I can and it's a superior product, but not always.

                                        Check out blogs like It and others like it give us permission not to worry if not every meat we eat is not grass fed.

                                        I'd be interested to hear what go-to foods primal and paleo folks eat. For me fast hearty salads like Salade Nicoise with oil packed tuna (Starfish has an inexpensive brand; some versions are seasoned with lemon and other stuff, but I prefer the plain) and Thai Beef Salad -- lean, spicy strips of beef over salad greens served with tomato, cucumber and red onion with an oil-less dressing containing fish sauce, lime, chillies and other yummy stuff -- helped me through, especially since I could whip up the first salad quickly and the last was a carry-out call away. What do you folks eat? I'm looking for recipes!

                                        1. re: Nichele

                                          "And as a result of my primal experience I eat more of that stuff our grandparents called food;"
                                          'paleo' is not the same as 'retro', unless you are talking about great... great grandparents, the ones who were still debating whether to come down from the trees or not. It's not about eating less processed food (vegetarians can do that), but about eating fewer grains and things that started us on a long down hill slide since the start of agriculture.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            I took her comment to mean that as a result of eating more paleo foods, she/he learned to eat and prepare more "real" foods- not rely on processed foods -like many other diets. If you go low fat or low cal to lose is really hard to NOT eat processed foods. Vegetarians often eat highly processed foods like fake meat, cheeses and a variety of processed protein products -as well as high sugar content foods.

                                            Almost all the foods that are reduced fat or calories are filled with sugars.

                                            1. re: sedimental

                                              "Almost all the foods that are reduced fat or calories are filled with sugars."

                                              Veggies are not, neither are lean proteins. There's no reason for low fat/low cal dieters to eat crap, other than good marketing and bad habits.

                                            2. re: paulj

                                              Exactly right, sedimental. Closer to the ground, as some say. Paleo has as many definitions as there are authors of paleo and primal lifestyle books. As I said, I was partly primal for a while and when I lapsed I retained the lower-to-the-ground approach. And as I said above, I never achieved paleo status. paulj, I disagree with you. It is certainly about eating fewer grains and other fruits of agriculture. But the lifestyle also discourages Spam and powdered eggs -- processed versions of once paleo-friendly foods. Playing the paleo playground caused a small but significant shift to eating fewer processed foods in general, is what I'm saying.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Wow, look who's talking up low carb. :-)

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  Arguing in favor of an ancestral diet is not the same as arguing for a low-carb diet.

                                                  "Carbohydrate came from uncultivated fruits and vegetables, approximately 50% energy intake as compared with the present level of 16% energy intake for Americans.... Fibre consumption was high, perhaps 100 g/d, "

                                                  and regarding salt:
                                                  " Vitamin, mineral and (probably) phytochemical intake was typically 1.5 to eight times that of today except for that of Na, generally <1000 mg/d, i.e. much less than that of K."


                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    PaulJ, this makes sense. I think the misreading by early 1900's scientists of cave paintings as hunting scenes (and four decades of watching The Flintstones) have made people think early man ate big honking hunks of meat all the time. I read a few years back that recent excavations show that, except in times when there was nothing but big animals to eat, those people subsisted mostly on small birds and fish, insects and loads and loads of plant matter. Besides, all the animals that are most like us eat carbs all day long, just not grains, beans and sugar cane.

                                                    1. re: ninrn

                                                      Anthropologists are starting to look at the question of what the introduction of cooking did to the diet and nutrition. Without some sort of cooking or preparation (such as sprouting and fermenting), grains (and most seeds) provide little nutrition to us non-ruminants. Even meat is changed when cooked. And many roots and seeds that hunter-gathers ate required grinding and leaching.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        Lectin is another reason to avoid grains- a natural toxin plants use to discourage their seeds being eaten. Leaching and soaking can remove some, but it is still a negative nutrient.

                                                        1. re: Zennia

                                                          Lectins are also an issue with peanut butter, which my husband has a serious Jones for...

                                                    2. re: paulj

                                                      I guess it depends upon what you call low carb. My meals are high carb by volume because I eat so many veggies and salads, but by % of calories, very low carb.

                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                        I wonder what that 100g/d of fiber translates to in modern vegetables and fruits.

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          That's a fair point... I don't eat fruit for the most part due to diabetes control with no meds. But by documenting my diet for years on fitday, I can tell you that veggies, avocados, nuts, etc. add up to way more fiber from way less calories than grains do. I also think that it's very likely that non grain eaters don't need as much fiber, since the healthiest part of a grain is the part you don't digest, but that's not the case with colorful, high fiber or leafy veggies.

                                                          It's true that today's fruits are hybridized to be larger, year round and loaded with much more sugar than natural and wild ones, much to our detriment.

                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                            and usda rec's for fiber are based on typical high-carb/grain-fueled diet. while i track my food almost daily, i never worry about fiber intake. i eat plenty of avocado, leafy greens and cruciferous veg, plus about 60-70% of my cals from healthy fats. everything moves along just fine.

                                                            as to the op: white sugar and sweeteners were never an issue for me, but i eliminated those, plus all grains and legumes, about 2.5 years ago. within days my sleep improved. my energy was on an even keel all day, without the constant spikes and crashes i'd suffered before. my nails are stronger and grow like crazy. my hair and skin are baby-soft.

                                                            for my entire life, i'd had severe colds, allergies and bronchial issues most of the year. hacking coughs to the point of bursting blood vessels in my face. i thought this was "normal." since changing my diet i have not been sick once. not a sniffle, not a tickle. when bugs go around at work, or my b/f gets sick, i remain fit as a fiddle.

                                                            as for dairy, yogurt and grass-fed cheese are on my menu a few times per week. kerrygold butter almost everyday.

                                                            i also lost 25 pounds without ever feeling like i was "on a diet."

                                                            i will never go back.

                                                            lots of folks try the whole30. give it a shot!

                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                              I am not at all sure the 'high fiber is good for you, the more the better.' I've seen too many already inflamed digestive systems set on fire with a moderate fiber diet. My belief is that it is a way to sell what was, until the 80s, an unsaleable product. Our puritan history of cleanliness and Godliness doesn't help. Also have to wonder if much of the benefits ascribed to fiber don't actually come from the other nutrients in high fiber foods like vegetables?

                                                              1. re: Zennia

                                                                No, I think the benefits of fiber, which disappear in some studies, are due to grain based eating; the best part is the part you can't digest. :-) I think folks who eat all those grains are eating far fewer veggies. I know when I gave up grain, my veggie intake, like most low carbers, even on Atkins induction, went way up to make up the diff.

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  as a low-carber, i eat waaaaaay more veggies than i did as a vegetarian.

                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                      And me... I remember reading an article decades ago about the Quaker Oats company having so much oat bran that they were selling it for horse bedding. Then the fashion for large poops came around and they got rich!

                                                                2. re: Zennia

                                                                  < I am not at all sure the 'high fiber is good for you, the more the better.' I've seen too many already inflamed digestive systems set on fire with a moderate fiber diet.>

                                                                  Right on. Despite the hype, it's definitely not true for everyone across the board. I'm on a restricted fiber diet to control heartburn, and having too much can definitely cause discomfort.

                                                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                    Is that true of fiber from all sources, including vegetable? I agree that one size fits all reccos are silly, and I think it's quite possible that folks who don't eat much grain may not need as much fiber.

                                                                    With grain, the part you can't digest is the healthiest, but other foods don't cause the same problems grains tend to promote.

                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                      For this particular diet, it depends somewhat on the type of fiber. Norm Robillard in "Fast Tract Digestion: Heartburn" writes (and I hope he won't mind me quoting a small passage), "Most fiber fermentation occurs in the large intestine and is generally considered normal and healthy. But consuming too much fiber can also cause excess fermentation in the small intestine. This can lead to serious gastrointestinal problems. Excessive fermentation increases the presence of bacterial endo- and exo- toxins as well as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane gas. Symptoms can include pain, bloating, distension, gas, reflux, cramps, and diarrhea (and in some cases, constipation, especially in the absence of sufficient water)."

                                                                      The worst types of fiber for someone with heartburn/reflux, IBS, and other gastro issues are thought to be beta glucans, fructans, and gums. Stachyose, raffinose, and verbascos are medium on the scale of fermentability. Pectin, cellulose, and lignin are low-fermentable and safer forms of fiber. Hemicellulose is considered variable.

                                                                      Suffice to say, it's complicated, but the fiber fermentability issue has to do with the chemical makeup of the fiber itself as well as the amount and kinds of bacteria present in both the small and large intestines.

                                                                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                        Thanks for all the info, I have known folks with bad reactions to all kinds of fiber. Having had severe symptoms from small bowel bacterial overgrowth in the past from excess probiotic usage (cured by antibiotics from the first dose) reading that made me wonder if this happens in some folks due to the presence of microbes that shouldn't be there in the quantities they are, possibly due to biochemistry that's awry?

                                                                        The reason I asked about grain vs. veg is that, anecdotally, years ago when the low carb forum on usenet was incredibly active, two things folks noted almost always when going low carb were sudden and complete remission of IBS/GERD and also asthma, as in no longer needing inhalers at all. Immediately. I know the endocrine reasons for that happening in terms of reduced inflammation and increased availability of endogenous steroids, but did not know about the fiber connection as much.

                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                          <reading that made me wonder if this happens in some folks due to the presence of microbes that shouldn't be there in the quantities they are, possibly due to biochemistry that's awry?>

                                                                          Exactly! So whereas foods high in these types of fiber might not cause the average person any trouble, if someone's balance of bacteria in the small and/or large intestine is out of balance, they might experience the IBS/GERD symptoms you mention. Asthma is really interesting, because in addition to being part of systemic inflammation, there's also the possibility that SIBO/bacterial overgrowth in the digestive tract actually plays a part. Some people with GERD have low stomach acid or take stomach acid reducers, which reduce/eliminate one of the key barriers to intestinal bacteria working their way UP the esophagus from the small intestine and stomach into the lungs. Check out the book if you're interested---it's really fascinating.

                                                              2. re: paulj

                                                                RE: "I wonder what that 100g/d of fiber translates to in modern vegetables and fruits."

                                                                Well, dark leafy greens, berries, carrots, and even fibrous roots like burdock, average about 1 gram of dietary fiber per ounce, so it would be about 6.25 lbs a day, raw, of any combination of those. That would be about 200 to 500 grams of carbohydrate, depending on the proportion of fruit (and I would think foraging people would go for fruit over leaves at every opportunity).

                                                                I think it would be an interesting experiment to try to eat 100grams of non-grain, non-pulse fiber a day. Of course, especially raw, it might take all day to eat.

                                                                1. re: ninrn

                                                                  Of course, especially raw, it might take all day to eat.


                                                                  our close primate cousins indeed spend most of the day chewing and digesting.

                                                                  fire and cooking freed us from from having to consume such ginormous volumes of food.

                                                            2. re: paulj

                                                              Paul, earlier in that abstract it says "The best available estimates suggest that those ancestors obtained about 35% of their dietary energy from fats, 35% from carbohydrates and 30% from protein." I think with the 50% they mean that uncultivated fruits and vegetables, not carbohydrates, accounted for 50% of energy intake, because carbohydrates account for far more than 16% of the energy intake in the US, it's about 50%. The whole thing is worded poorly, since uncultivated fruits and vegetables are rarely eaten in the US. 16% energy intake from cultivated fruits and vegetables would make sense though.

                                                              I would like the read the rest of that article but it seems like only the abstract is available. It doesn't seem like they would have much to base estimates on, other than traces of foods found in burial sites or in the stomachs of preserved humans. It would be interesting to see how they arrive at those estimates.

                                                              It is also hard to imagine how hunter gatherers would manage to find enough plants for that kind of carbohydrate intake, especially in cold climates. If I walk through the woods here I rarely come across much. Some berries, mushrooms, wild garlic, wild leeks, paw paws, purslane and other greens. That's about it, and most of those are very low carb, and most are non-existent 3/4 of the year. Most of the fruit and vegetables we have today are barely recognizable in their wild form and are often tiny and low in sugars or fruit poorly. Even though they were no doubt very good recognizing edible plants and spent a lot of time on it, it's hard for me to imagine them finding that much.

                                                        2. re: Nichele


                                                          I eat a big variety of dishes for dinners...sans carbs! I love to cook so leaving out "white foods" is actually pretty easy. If I have a grilled meat, I have a cold or room temp salad of some kind in addition to a cooked vegetable. I like my dinner plate to be really colorful. Sometimes I like to serve an appetizer at home like a snack tray of seedy crackers, cheese, picked veg, olives, etc. or sometimes I serve small bites on spoons. The other night I made up a "northwest bite" with hazelnut, huckleberry and goat cheese. Served with a Lillet vermouth cocktail with club soda...really fab and healthy. This way of eating doesn't have to be boring.

                                                          But my daily "go to" breakfast and lunch foods are salads, roasted chickens, game hens, natural meats, nuts, a variety of soups (everything from cream of broccoli to chicken shirataki noodle) roasted veggie salads, seeded crackers and cheese or spreads/pesto's, sandwich wraps with low carb tortillas, cottage cheese with veg or sunflower/hemp seeds sprinkle, egg salad/deviled/scrambled, mapo tofu, kimchee and fermented veggies, and black soy bean chili.

                                                          I hope this helps.

                                                          1. re: Nichele

                                                            My go-to paleo dishes are a mix of meat and veg and not always the leanest. I like the fat, it fills me faster and keeps me full longer. Leaner cuts tends toward dry and chewy. I'm not strictly paleo/primal (love my dairy), but losing the grains and starchy veg was easy. Eating out is difficult - the sides are alwaysalwaysalways huge portions of fries/mashed/beans/rice and getting a double side of the veg of the day, I have had to pay extra for that, so we eat in more often than before. Adapting recipes - so many seem to call for unneccesary flour or thickener or sugar. Really, once you give up the grains, you lose your sweet tooth.

                                                            Back to the meals - I get a lot of recipes from We had his Shrimp and Faux Grits last night made with rutabaga instead of celery root (it has parmesan and I use butter).