We hope you're finding our Q&A posts from the Paleo Diet community to be useful and informative. We've received several new questions and comments on previous Q&A posts, and encourage you submit yours.
We receive a great amount of feedback, and we are not able to always answer personally. We do read all questions, and are very interested in hearing your thoughts and learning about your experiences with the Paleo Diet.
Q: Dr. Cordain, I was interested in your Sept. 25th issue because of long standing problems (since the early 1980's) with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and also various bowel problems. I have been doing quite well for the last seven or so years (thought I am 70 now) thanks to the Paleo Diet, but am not fully recovered. With regard to your list of foods to avoid, I do avoid, completely, all those foods except pepper with capsaisin. Over the course of a week, I consume 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper. I do this specifically to help with widespread inflammation as capsaisin in known for healing inflammation. I am alarmed now that something I am eating is actually working against my recovery and healing, but I can't understand why a product that reduces the inflammation connected with CFS and bowel disease would be contributing to those diseases. Perhaps you made this obvious in your report, and I simply didn't understand it. But if you could make it more clear to me, in layman's language, I would be very grateful.
A: Yes, capsaicin has anti-inflammatory properties. However, in case of irritable bowel syndrome, capsaicin is able to increase intestinal permeability and this condition can increase the activity of the immune system lining the gut, which means low grade chronic inflammation, despite capsaicin's anti-inflammatory properties. In other words, increased intestinal permeability (and hence inflammation) exceeds the anti-inflammatory capacity of capsaicin. If you didn't have irritable bowel syndrome capsaicin would be an anti-inflammatory nutrient. As you may know, increased intestinal permeability allows increased passage of gut bacteria and nutrient antigens into circulation, and this is associated to CFS (see reference list of the last newsletter).
On the other hand, in the case of intestinal irritability, we recommend the use of several supplements such as Probiotics (6-9 billions/day), Prebiotics (2-4 grams/day, L-glutamine (0,2grs/kg/day), Zinc (25mg/day), vitamin D3 (test your blood levels and be sure to be in the 50-70ng/ml range) and omega-3 fatty acids (4 grams a day at the beginning).
We hope this helps.
Q: I am a personal coach working with some clients on health issues. At a table discussion last week a colleague mentioned that amaranth and quinoa are exceptions in the general GRAIN category and therefore acceptable in the Paleo Diet. I think not, but would like your opinion.
A: You are correct. Quinoa and amaranth are grain-like crops with potential harmful substances namely saponins. Saponins have been demonstrated to increase intestinal permeability which is one of the factors contributing to many autoimmune diseases, as well as irritable bowel syndrome. So, we recommend to avoid quinoa and amaranth, specially if you suffer from an autoimmune disease.
Q: I am not a fan of the taste of shellfish or seafood. Can I still obtain the same benefits of this diet if I only eat the meat and not any of the suggested fish or seafood?
A: There are a lot of crucial substances for optimal health in fish and seafood such as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, selenium, vitamin E, etc. So, if you can't eat it we suggest you to take some supplements, such as:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA+DHA 3-4 grams a day
- Zinc 25mg a day
- Multivitamin/multimineral supplement