142: Paleolithic Porridge

On this episode: documentary & book recommendations; more archaeological evidence of Paleolithic grain consumption; GMO potatoes approved in America; Low-Fat vs Low-Carb Study turns into Dr. Ornish vs. Gary Taubes. Also, a Shinrin-Yoku update, a Moment of Paleo, and an excellent After the Bell talk featuring the author of Sapiens.

Links for this episode:

Sponsored by eMeals (Visit emeals.com to sign up for the Paleo meal plan and make sure to choose “Podcast” from the drop down in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section to help support the show).

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Episode 354 – Stephan Guyenet PhD – The Hungry Brain

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For scheduling reasons we actually have 2 podcasts this week! On this episode of the podcast we have Dr. Stephan Guyenet. Stephan holds a PhD in neuroscience, and is one of the key people in the totality of the paleo/ancestral health scene. He is the author of The Hungry Brain, and used to blog at the well known Whole Health Source. Join us as we talk all about neuroregulation of appetite, how your brain regulates how much food you eat, and much more!

Download Episode Here (MP3)

Guest: Stephan Guyenet PhD

Website: StephanGuyenet.com
Twitter: @whsource

Book: The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat




30 Day Guide to the Paleo Diet

Want some extra help? Have you been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? We’ve created a getting started guide to help you through your first 30 days.

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The Foundation for Good Health: Species-Appropriate Diet + Species-Appropriate Microbiome

The Foundation for Good Health: Species-Appropriate Diet + Species-Appropriate Microbiome







By Eirik Garnas, http://darwinian-medicine.com/

Your health is shaped by the interaction that takes place between the food you eat, the microbes that colonize your body, and the genes inside your human cells. Of these things, food and microbes are the ones you have the most control over. You can’t physically change the structure of your own genome, at least not without meddling with things you probably should leave alone; however, you can change your diet and microbiome, and thereby alter how your genes express themselves.

Together, these things form the foundation upon which your health is built. On top of this foundation are all of the other factors that affect your health, chief of which are sleep, socialization, chemical exposure, stress, sun exposure, and physical activity. The reason these things are found on top of the foundation, as opposed to below it or in it, is that they all depend on the foundation below to achieve solid footing. If the foundation is weak and unstable, so will be the things on top.

If you eat an imprudent diet and your microbiome is compromised, your athletic performance and quality of sleep will also be compromised; your ability to detoxify harmful substances and convert sunlight into vitamin D will be impaired; you will be prone to develop feelings of stress and anxiety; and your desire and ability to socialize will be reduced. In other words, everything falls apart if the foundation is not solidly built.

A relationship with deep roots

The relationship between multicellular organisms such as ourselves (i.e., macroorganisms) and smaller organisms that can’t be seen with the naked eye (i.e., microorganisms) was sculpted over billions of years. Co-evolution has tied man and microbes together with firm ropes secured with tight knots. Untying these knots is not an option, as it would mean severely compromising our ability to digest food, ward off pathogens, and think and concentrate.

Rather than trying to cut the ropes or untie the knots, we should seek to strengthen and maintain the integrity of the connection. In order to achieve this objective, we first need to collect as much information about the connection as possible: what type of rope that’s used, how the knots are tied, and what the elasticity of the whole structure is like.

If we don’t get a hold of this information, we’ll likely end up causing a mess of things. We may be unable to re-tie complex knots that have started to come apart, or we may end up exposing the components of the bond to substances that diminish their durability. In other words, we could end up changing the connection in unprecedented ways; strengthening our bond with some microbes and weakening our bond with others. In our confusion, we may also attach ourselves to microbes that our bodies have rarely or never encountered before, while de-attaching ourselves from ones that have been a stable member of our tightly knit communities for millennia.

A large body of evidence shows that this is what’s happening today (1, 2, 3, 4)…

Our relationship with microbes has had its ups and downs

It’s not a novel occurrence that the relationship between man and microbes changes. This relationship has always been fluid: it’s changed over time as a result of changes in the larger environment in which the co-evolutionary processes of man and microbes have taken place. At times, such as during the Agricultural Revolution, the relationship was particularly rocky, due to the fact that we humans went from living together in small hunter-gatherer bands to grouping together in larger, unsanitary communities, thereby exposing ourselves to a range of new pathogens. Moreover, a lot more starch and sugar was incorporated into our diet, something that caused a shift in the microbiota of the mouth and gut (5).

However, while intense, it could be argued that these changes fade in comparison to those that have taken place over the past centuries. Today, we don’t have the same problem with infectious disease as early farmers did; however, we have other, perhaps equally great, or even greater, problems. Widespread use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs have triggered the rise and spread of superbugs, and via our modern lifestyle practices, we’ve altered the structure and composition of our microbiotas (1, 2, 3, 4, 6).

We have lost touch with some organisms – including many bacteria, worms, and fungi – that have been attached to our species for hundreds of thousands of years, while at the same time invited new microbes into our immediate surroundings, some of which seem to be troublesome houseguests (1).

Basically, we’ve stepped into a microbial world that differs markedly from the one in which our pre-agricultural forebears found themselves.

A large body of evidence suggests that these changes have contributed greatly to the rise in type-1 diabetes, obesity, chronic depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other chronic diseases and health problems that have spread like fire in dry grass over the past decades (1, 2, 7, 8). In order to stop and reverse this unfortunate trend, we first need to acknowledge that the human body didn’t evolve in isolation, but rather, in the company of trillions of other creatures.

Then, I would argue that we need to examine the evolutionary path that got us to where we are today. Only then can we understand how to best go about fixing the tangled mess that is now the ropes and knots that bind humans and microbes together.

A healthy diet will only get you so far

The obvious first step towards reshaping our relationship with microbes is to change how we eat. The microbial ecosystems that were present on the bodies of our ancestors were partly shaped by the foods that our ancestors consumed. The human genome and the microbiome both evolved in response to changes in the nutritional milieu.

This is important to acknowledge, because it implies that the development of a microbiota that flows well with the human physiology is dependent on the consumption of a diet that has characteristics similar to that of the diets that were eaten by humans in the past, during the time when the human biology evolved into its present form.

The type of microbiome that is produced by an ancestral, whole foods diet looks very different from the one that’s produced by a modern, processed diet (9, 10, 11, 12). The former microbiome will be a much better match for the human genome than the latter microbiome. Some time ago, I coined the term “genome-microbiome mismatch” to refer to the state that arises as a result of environmental changes and differences in the rate of change of the human genome and the human microbiome.

When the environment of a larger organism changes, its microbiome quickly changes as well, at least if the organism’s diet is altered; however, the structure of the organism’s own genome is not going to adapt overnight. It may take tens or hundreds of generations for major changes within a species’ genome to occur, at least if the selection pressure is quite weak.

If the environmental changes are only subtle, the organism’s health and evolutionary fitness are probably not going to be majorly affected; however, if the environmental changes are profound, they probably will be. This is when a genome-microbiome mismatch may develop. The new conditions of life in which the organism finds itself may produce a microbiome that matches poorly with the organism’s genome. The novel microbiota may produce and shed a range of substances (e.g., lipopolysaccharides, bacteriocins) that trigger adverse changes in the gene expression of the host; microbes the host depends on for proper immunoregulation may diminish in prevalence or disappear completely; and some opportunistic bacteria may get a chance to proliferate.

This is what’s happening inside the body of the modern, doughnut eating human. He is, via his diet and lifestyle, selecting for a microbiota that is making him sick. A person who eats a prudent, fiber-rich ancestral diet, on the other hand, is via his diet, enforcing a nutritional environment in the gut that is compatible with his biology.

That said, by itself, eating a healthy diet may not be sufficient to make this latter person healthy. If he doesn’t harbor the complex diversity of smaller organisms that H. sapiens, over evolutionary time, have come to depend on, he will not achieve good health. If this is the situation, he also has to manipulate and diversify his microbiome; simply adhering to a healthy lifestyle is likely not going to cut it.

Here’s the key thing to remember: A species-appropriate microbiome can’t exist in the absence of a species-appropriate diet, since the consumption of a species-appropriate diet is a prerequisite for the development of a species-appropriate microbiome. However, a species-appropriate diet won’t necessarily produce a species-appropriate microbiome. If the microbiome is very degraded and/or dysbiotic, simply eating healthy most likely won’t be sufficient to salvage the microbiome.

Microbiome restoration

I’m frequently contacted by people who are sick and tired, despite the fact that they eat a healthy diet, exercise, make sure they get plenty of sleep, and do “all” of the other things that are generally recommended as part of a healthy lifestyle.

If I do an initial screening of these people’s symptoms and medical history, I typically find that a genome-environment mismatch is at the root of their problems. It may not be the only cause, but it’s typically the major one. Hence, I proceed to give them advice on how to repair their dysbiotic, species-inappropriate microbiota.

At present, it’s not firmly established what constitutes the best course of action for repairing a damaged microbiota. Moreover, capsules and drugs containing broad spectrums of microbes that are adapted to live in the human gut are not yet easily available to the public. That said, we do have a general understanding of what it takes to build and maintain a microbiome that is compatible with the human biology.

My understanding of this issue was born out of the evolutionary health model. I firmly believe that this model is the guide we should put our faith in when we set out to reconstitute our damaged microbiomes. I typically recommend a variety of different strategies, treatments, and tools to clients who harbor a dysbiotic microbiota. The types of interventions that I recommend vary depending on the client’s symptoms.

Whereas someone with a severely damaged microbiome may have to perform several microbiota transplants in order to see marked improvements in his health; someone who “only” has a mild-moderate damage to their microbiome may get away with occasionally eating small quantities of a diversity of fermented vegetables and exposing himself to bacteria associated with pets, plants, and other humans.


Last words

Before we wrap up, there are three things I wanted to point. One, a species-appropriate microbiome is not synonymous with just 1 very specific microbiome. Homo sapiens didn’t just evolve in one specific type of milieu, but rather in many different types of environments. Our microbiomes, which could be considered to be a part of our environment, evolve in response to what goes on in the larger environment. Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that no two humans carry an identical microbiome.

With that being said, there are certain key physiological functions that are needed across the board; functions that we depend on the microbes that colonize our bodies to carry out. I use the term species-appropriate microbiome to refer to a microbiome that falls within the parameters of what could be considered a fully functional human microbiome. In my mind, a species-appropriate microbiome is synonymous with a microbiome that provides the key genetic capabilities that over evolutionary time have been integrated into the biology of Homo sapiens.

The second thing I wanted to point out before we wrap up is that it’s not just microbes that are important in all of this. Larger organisms (e.g., helminths) also seem to play an integral role in human health.

The third and last thing I wanted to mention is that it’s important to remember that evolution doesn’t care about health, unless the health condition of the organism in question affects its reproductive success. We can’t automatically assume that the environmental conditions that predominated x number of years ago were ideal in the context of optimizing human health.

That being said, there is little doubt in my mind that when it comes to microbiome restoration, the evolutionary approach is the best approach. Only by acknowledging that the relationship between humans and microbes have deep evolutionary roots can we understand what it takes to build a fully functional Homo sapiens.



erik-garnasEirik Garnas is a nutritionist, magazine writer, blogger, and personal trainer. He’s written for several different health & fitness websites and magazines, including Paleo Magazine. He is also the founder and owner of www.Darwinian-Medicine.com, a website dedicated to ancestral health, nutrition, and evolutionary medicine. Over the years he’s helped clients of all different ages, body types, and fitness levels build a healthier, stronger body.




Wired-to-Eat-RenderDon’t forget, Wired to Eat is available for pre-order now!

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143: Nature Deficit Disorder

This episode’s News & Views segment features a new study that suggests eating iron-rich food makes us hungrier; the results of Denmark’s trans fat ban; the WHO is set to make controversial recommendations about eating meat; and even more reasons to dislike the GMO industry. Plus, we have a Shinrin-Yoku update, a Moment of Paleo, and After the Bell segments, too. We kick things off with documentary and book recommendations. Join us at the crossroads!

“As long as we have our senses, even just one, we have at least the possibility of accessing what makes us feel human, connected.” —BJ Miller

Links for this episode:

Sponsored by eMeals (Visit emeals.com to sign up for the Paleo meal plan and make sure to choose “Podcast” from the drop down in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section to help support the show).

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PMR #148 – Deep Nutrition with Dr. Cate Shanahan

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Healthy Human is more than just a hydration company, we are a lifestyle firmly planted in the healthy living space.


We’ve talked to many people who have dealt with serious health conditions, and many of them have been frustrated or stymied by the conventional medical system and the care they’ve received from doctors, but what happens if you are the patient and the doctor? This is the situation Dr. Cate Shanahan found herself in when she experienced a mysterious and undiagnosable pain in her knee that made it difficult for her to walk and almost cost her her job.

After trying multiple treatments and experiencing numerous dead ends, she came across a book called Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil, which, in her words, “opened a crack in the darkness.” In Spontaneous Healing, Dr. Cate learned about the significance of omega three fatty acids and it set her on a path to uncover the “dark calories” that have infiltrated our food supply and how traditional fats, and an ancestral diet in general, can provide a way out of many modern diseases. She was inspired to write her ideas down, and these notes provided the basis for her best-selling book Deep Nutrition that she wrote along with her husband Luke.

Deep Nutrition was originally released back in 2008, and since then, she has been busy building her medical practice, speaking at conferences across the country, and working as a dietary consultant for the LA Lakers. Obviously she’s learned a lot in the process and is now taking those lessons and using them to revise, update, and expand her book.

The updated version of Dr. Cate’s Deep Nutrition is now available, and on today’s show, we discuss:

  • The dangers of intergenerational malnutrition.
  • The superfood she used to help Kobe Bryant recover 100% faster from an ankle injury.
  • Why oxidative stress is the ultimate disease maker.
  • How free radicals can create an explosion of inflammation in the body.
  • Why good fats taste better.
  • The right questions to ask when you go to a restaurant.
  • How she gets professional basketball players to eat healthy.

CLICK HERE for the full transcript.

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The XPT Experience

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Photos Couresy of XPT

It’s not everyday you get a chance to learn about fitness, recovery, and healthy lifestyle practices from some of the best and most recognizable athletes in the world—so when I had a chance to participate in XPT’s first East-coast experience in Montauk last summer, I jumped at the chance (and jumped underwater with dumbbells, and jumped into the ocean, and jumped in a tub of ice…but we’ll get to that).


XPT – extreme performance training – is a program developed by big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, former pro volleyball player Gabrielle Reece, and author and endurance expert Brian MacKenzie. The three-day experience covers a range of workouts and recovery techniques including heat and cold therapy and breathing exercises. The program started out of Gabby and Laird’s Malibu home (they’re a couple, in case you haven’t seen their extremely impressive and very naked photographs in the 2015 ESPN Body Issue) and cap out at around 15 people, so participants get plenty of one-on-one attention as they try stand-up paddle boarding in the ocean, surfing, a range of bodyweight workouts in varied settings, pool workouts involving underwater breathing and plyometric movements with dumbbells, and testing your mental fortitude in a tub filled with ice.

“It’s gonna hurt….but how you deal with it and react to it is everything.”

“XPT is an exploration in performance training; it’s a philosophy about fitness and lifestyle and wellness, allowing us to continue to learn ourselves while we teach other people,” explains Laird. The program, which is relatively new, isn’t fixed, he says, and will continue to evolve and change as they learn and try new methods. Approaching performance and health from a holistic point of view, the program delves into all aspects of wellness, including breathing, recovery, nutrition, and exercise. “This is a glimpse at a lifestyle that we have developed over years of exploring, and now you can take some pieces of that with you,” he says. Bottom line: all the activities you try during the XPT experience are things these guys are doing anyway, everyday—now, they’re just sharing it with the rest of us.

The pool workouts involve dumbbells and instruction on controlling your breathing as you work your way through weighted jumping squats, lunges, and pistols. Participants also learn how to swim underwater on one breath while carrying a dumbbell. Although the workouts are challenging and fun, they’re more about learning to control your breathing and stay calm; knowing you have more air even if your brain is telling you to drop the weight and give up; and understanding that much of the stress and challenge in working out—and in life—is about how you react to that challenge. And, the intense circuit training doesn’t take place underwater just just because it looks cool: “It’s a way to work hard without beating yourself up, especially as you get older,” says Gabby, who recently underwent a complete knee replacement but breezed through the water workout with us. “At this point, it’s less about training to compete and more about training to keep up with my children and with Laird, and to have everything functioning correctly. I don’t want to lose my health in order to appreciate it.” Another workout included a 30-minute circuit workout led by Gabby made up of 30-second sets of movements from kettlebell swings and snatches to traditional bodybuilding dumbbell exercises; yet another simple but effective workout involved burpees, beach sprints, and swimming.


Ice therapy was one of the more challenging aspects of the experience. Sitting and remaining calm in a tub full of ice goes against everything your mind and body tells you is a good idea—which is one of the reasons the XPT team practices it. Besides the benefits in enhancing mood, reducing depression and stress, and assisting in muscle recovery, it teaches you to strengthen your mental tools in dealing with physical discomfort. Laird believes that being able to override your initial impulse to avoid discomfort reaps huge results in your mental and physical health. “It’s gonna hurt,” Laird says in a sincere and matter-of-fact approach that makes you both trust him and almost forget he’s famous. “It’s hard, but how you deal with it and react to it is everything. I like to give myself a mantra while I’m in there: ‘this is my house. This is where I live.’”

One of the major components of the XPT experience is enjoying yourself and connecting with nature, and the people and world around you. One way we did this was through a breathing exercise developed through a mix of ancient techniques, the Wim Hof method, and the personal experience of the founders. The breathing exercises, which lasted from 20-40 minutes at a stretch, involved deep belly breathing, timed inhales and exhales, and breath holding, and depending on the timing and sequencing can be used for increasing exercise performance or relaxation, mostly through improving co2 retention. “Breathing is a down-regulator that helps you relax,” says Gabby, and as someone who doesn’t generally enjoy meditation or yoga, I found this practice incredibly useful. The breathing is practical and easy to follow without getting distracted since it is a more cyclical, athletic form of breathing than, say, traditional yoga techniques. Within twenty minutes of this cyclical breathing, the class was asked to collectively hold our breaths, which we were able to do calmly and easily for up to three minutes. At the end of these sessions the participants were left invigorated, focused, and relaxed. These breathing exercises took place on the grass; our workouts were on the beach, in the pool, and in the ocean; we chatted and ate in the sun. “We look at nature as this extreme thing, and we’ve removed ourselves from it, even though we’re just as much a part of nature as anything else,” says Brian.

“XPT is an exploration in performance training; it’s a philosophy about fitness and lifestyle and wellness, allowing us to continue to learn ourselves while we teach other people.”

The group ate well throughout the experience, with plenty of fresh vegetables and seafood and snacks, but there wasn’t a feeling of strict rules. While the three leaders eat mostly Paleo, it’s more a byproduct of their simple goal to eat real, unprocessed foods. There’s not much macro counting or carb obsession going on—just enjoyment of real fresh food when you’re hungry, fasting when you’re not, and more than a little fat-fueled coffee. “The most important part of diet for me is variety; in fitness, too,” says Laird. “I like plants and animals; it’s what I eat.” The ideal diet is personal for every individual, adds Gabby: “It’s important that people figure out what works best for their system.” For Brian, who eats a mostly Paleo (plus cheese) diet and whose wife is a former Olympic rower, it seems that common sense—without the obsessive rules—is the best practice. He mentions things like generally avoiding booze, focusing more on plants, good fats, and proteins, and avoiding excessive carbs (“there’s no such thing as an essential carbohydrate,” Brian says)—and if you’re looking to lean out or are just busy surfing all day, think about incorporating fasting (with the caveat that men are physiologically better suited for it, and that it’s often a more gradual process for women who wish to go that route).

“If we all just ate when we were hungry, we’d be better off,” says Laird. “We are all overeating. In the old days, you had to go work and find your food, now we have stores full of it everywhere.” Brian reiterates: “We are all addicted to food, it’s just how we eat and react to it that makes the difference.”

At the end of the weekend, you aren’t given a test or a booklet of guidelines on how to live and eat and exercise. What you are given is a set of tools to incorporate how you see fit into your own lifestyle, a kick-start of fun and excitement that makes you want to learn more, treat yourself better, and try more things that scare you just a little bit (like jumping in a tub of ice, for instance, or getting on a surfboard for the first time). As the program grows, XPT will train other instructors and offer more experiences at different price points to reach an ever-wider audience. Laird also assures us that the experience is not just for “super athletic guys. Anyone can benefit from it, regardless of genetics and background.” Certainly, a willingness to try something new is a more important requirement than your fitness level.


While it may not be possible to fully incorporate the XPT lifestyle—we can’t all live in Malibu—it’s more than feasible to take at least a few lessons back with you to improve your fitness, health, and overall wellness. I was happy to get a sunny glimpse into how some of the best athletes in the world train—not just for their sports, but for life: Gabby, Laird, and Brian all emphasized that their approach is about training to be healthy and happy, and to live life to the fullest. And if you want to live like Laird Hamilton, you have to have energy, work ethic, and more than a little sense of adventure. “They say you can never have too much fun, but the part you have to remember is, you have to be in pretty good shape to do it!” he laughs. “It’s not an option; it’s part of my existence.”

To find out more, check out some videos and tutorials, or sign up for an experience, visit xptlife.com.

The post The XPT Experience appeared first on Paleo Magazine.

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PMR # 149 – Getting the Skinny on Diet Soda with Zevia CEO Paddy Spence

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According to Zevia CEO Paddy Spence, fighting for smarter food options for consumers against large, established competitors is the riskiest career move he ever made, but he’s not one to shy away from a fight, or to let fear of failure prevent him from taking a risk.

Growing up with a single mom who struggled to make ends meat, but always made a point to feed her kids the best food she could buy, Paddy knew that he wasn’t going to get any handouts and any success he had would come from dedication and hard work.

He studied Greek and Latin in high school and used his unique specialization to get the interest of the college administrators at Harvard where he paid his way by delivering boxes for UPS. After graduating from Harvard Business School with his MBA, he went on to work for companies like Kashi, and Levlad, a personal care manufacturer that makes natural shampoos and soaps. He also founded SPINS, a health and wellness marketing firm.

While working at Levlad, Paddy came across a stevia sweetened soda called Zevia, and was inspired to find out more about the company. He ended up buying the the small startup and has since led Zevia to over $100 million dollars in annual revenue, and that’s with products that are artificial color free, artificial flavor free, corn syrup free, GMO free and naturally sweetened.

On today’s show, we are joined by Paddy Spence to discuss his career, his life, and how he’s trying to revolutionize the diet soda industry.

CLICK HERE for the full transcript.

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The post PMR # 149 – Getting the Skinny on Diet Soda with Zevia CEO Paddy Spence appeared first on Paleo Magazine.

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