Why No Grains and Legumes? Part 1: Lectins

Recently my boyfriend has been straying from his normal Paleo ways because he feels that grain-laden cookies are more important than his overall health and longevity.  In the meantime, I’m faced with a gluten-free cookie and candy explosion every time I open our cupboard. The smell of them in their consumer-enticing packaging is sometimes more than I can bear when I’m reaching past them to get to my (sigh) bag of nuts and seeds. “Wait, why am I not eating grains again?” The question pops into my head and I suddenly can relate to all of my family and friends who think I’m crazy for eating Paleo. What’s wrong with grains again? Well, this post is dedicated to everyone out there who has the same formidable temptations in their cupboards, and to me, because I need the reminder.

I wonder sometimes if the aroma of boiling rice, the doughy texture of a doughnut and the satisfying squish of a black bean are so tantalizing because I grew up smelling, eating and enjoying them, or because of some genetic predisposition. It’s confusing to me that grains and legumes (all beans – black, pinto, soy, peanuts, etc.) would be so pleasing to us, since they’re basically poisonous, having heavily contributed to the current, overwhelming predominance of heart disease, digestive disorders and obesity rates in this country. There are a lot of reasons for this – grains and legumes contain a sordid collection of “anti-nutrients”.  Some of them strip away your minerals and some cause intestinal damage and immune problems.  We’ll start with the little anti-nutrient proteins called lectins, and in future posts I’ll move on from there.

What Are Lectins?
Lectins are proteins found in animals (including you) and plants – they’re everywhere, especially in grains, legumes (especially soy), nuts and seeds.  They have many protective functions in the human body – everything from recognizing pathogens to controlling protein levels in the blood.  Their function in plants is thought to be protective, too, to the plant, that is.

Lectins are found in the seeds of plants and they’re thought to have something to do with the survival of the seed.  The way they’re believed to protect the seed is that they can cause considerable intestinal distress (diarrhea, nausea, bloating, vomiting, even death) to those who eat the seeds, in hopes of deterring the predator from coming back for more.

Immune Response
Wheat contains a lectin called wheat germ agglutinin, or WGA.  Lectins are sticky little buggers and the WGA goes into your small intestine and gloms onto the brush border.  It then tricks your body into taking it across the border of your intestine intact, where it is seen as a foreign invader by your immune system.  Antibodies are created in response to the lectins, and unfortunately, lectins often look a lot like other parts of your body.  They may look like cells in your brain, pancreas, etc., so the same antibodies that were created to attack the lectin will actually go launch attacks on your own body.  This is where autoimmune issues arise, like diabetes type 1, celiac disease, lupus and multiple sclerosis.

Leaky Gut
To make things worse, on their way into your body, lectins damage the walls of your intestines, helping to create “leaky gut”, so that other large particles can cross the intestinal barrier, enter your blood stream and begin other immune cascades. This is basically how food sensitivities start. Something goes in (like the WGA) and makes some holes in your gut that lets big particles of food into your blood stream. Then your immune system gets VERY overwhelmed and confused and starts attacking things at random – gluten, blueberries, asparagus, olive oil, etc. Symptoms can range from migraine headaches to eczema to weight gain and depression.

Can’t you cook the lectins out of the foods?
Cooking, sprouting or soaking your grains, legumes, nuts and seeds all helps to decrease the number of lectins they contain, but none of those processes completely eliminates the lectins, except for pressure cooking.  Lectins are really heat stable.  They’re also resistant to enzymatic activity, which is partly why they’re so difficult for us (and your dog, etc.) to digest.

Should you not eat nuts and seeds?
You may be wondering (as I did) why we’re told to eat seeds and nuts on the Paleo diet when they, too, house these vicious little molecules. The truth is that it’s always better to soak or sprout your nuts and seeds, and that you should really eat them in moderation.  Think about it: our ancestors probably didn’t have access to a whole bunch of nuts and seeds every day, much less almond butter and other goodies that take a whole lot of nuts and seeds to produce.  I think the reason that nuts and seeds are allowed on the diet but not grains and legumes is that grains and legumes contain a whole host of other “anti-nutrients” beyond just lectins.

To be continued…



  1. Great article and I can’t wait for the continuation.

    I do have a question. In response to “Can’t you cook the lectins out of the foods?”, you mentioned that you could cook the lectins out if you pressure cooked them. Does this mean that if I pressure cooked black beans (as you would when making black bean soup) it would be okay to eat or are there other “anti-nutrients” in the beans that you have not mentioned that would still render the beans unsatisfactory?


    1. Really good question, and I’ll definitely answer it in coming posts. Yes, there are other anti-nutrients in legumes and grains like phytic acid and others. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

  2. … so the same antibodies that were created to attack the lectin will actually go launch attacks on your own body. This is where autoimmune issues arise, like diabetes type 1, celiac disease, lupus and multiple sclerosis.
    – Could you please refer to any scientific litterature that links lectins to diabetes tp 1, lupus (SLE) and multiple sclerosis?

    1. Hello Nils,

      Here’s one on rheumatoid arthritis by Cordain that describes the mechanism of action of lectins on immunity (and autoimmunity in particular). Because all of the diseases mentioned are autoimmune, they’re thought to be influenced by lectins in the same way as RA.

      Here’s a good article with a lot of resources.

      And another article with resources at the bottom.

  3. What’s interesting is the anti-nutrient views on Phytic Acid. While true, that it is able to bond with key nutrients, usually large amounts of it are needed. Only Soy and Almonds have such a large amount that a small serving is worrisom at times. Soy I avoid anyway, Almonds, I try to eat apart from meals or taking vitamins. The downside in reducing total Phytic Acid consumption is that it’s considered one of the most powerful anti-cancer nutrients we can eat, even more than most anti-oxidants. In health circles, it’s often referred to as Inositol and/or IP-6.

  4. Boy, this is all so enlightening and confusing at the same time because of the paradoxes involved, such as with almonds as Mark mentioned.
    WIC (Women, Infants and Children) is a federal government nutrition program which provides Whole Grain, Milk (Soy optional), Cheese, Beans, Peanut Butter and Eggs. With a program like this, why does the FDA/Department of Agriculture promote auto-immune disorders? I’m certain they aren’t ignorant on the studies. The only thing on the above list that is acceptable is the egg, and this is the diet that is being furnished to pregnant and lactating women, babies and toddlers. Why???

  5. Well – people who ave a gluten i tolerance that is something special and needs special attention, however all this summary of thoughts about legumes and more seems very heady….after all there are w hole nations who mainly live on these things and are doing very well – I think it is the general ignorance as to what to combine and most of all how much to eat of whatever, that creates all sorts of funny problems in the western world. More overall knowledge that is what is being called for and not cutting out some sections as a result of half knowledge. As they say – “half knowledge can be more dangerous that ignorance!

  6. So, according to you, what carbohydrates are suitable for consumption? How is one supposed to acquire enough energy for a busy, active life? How is one supposed to attain a prime physique, when all you can eat are veggies, nuts, and seeds?

  7. To add to my initial comment: I am getting at the point of post-agriculture in human history, where we introduced grains, legumes, and roots to our diet, more than 10,000 years ago. You feel that our bodies have made no useful adaptation toward consuming these foods? You think all we can safely eat is meat, nuts, berries, and certain veggies? How is one supposed to live that way in this day and age in the long-term. You need to be wealthy, or forage and hunt, or farm and grow your food.

  8. I’m also confused as to why grains and legumes aren’t okay, but root vegetables like sweet potatoes are fine? They’re both from the same time-era.

    I model my diet after a paleo-esque model. I make it quite a bit simpler than this, though.

    If it comes out of the ground, or is given by nature, your body knows what to do with it and metabolizes it efficiently. If it does not, your body does not metabolize it efficiently.

    Basically, anything our early ancestors consumed. Nuts, berries, legumes, grains (whole, sprouted and organic), roots, meats, dairy (unprocessed), and veggies.

    No bread, tortillas, chips, etc. I believe they lose too much of their nutrients through processing.

    Through this diet, my energy levels have increased to a high degree and within weeks of eliminating almost all gluten from my diet, as well as switching to organic meats and dairy.

  9. There valid explanations as to why not to eat grains and legumes as stated above, not everything that comes from the ground Nick, is healthy. For instance mushrooms come from the ground and some are toxic and poisonous. Another example is the Cassava root which contains cyanide. You must do research on everything, just because something grows out of the ground does not mean it was intended for human consumption, humans are not the only organisms on this planted that need nutrients.

  10. Hi!!! I love paleo!!!! <3 paleo <3 paleo…ok moving on…I was wondering if I could use some of this information in a video? That will convince people about paleo! I'm not going to copy and paste hehe ^.^ I'll put in your link also if you'd like! So that people can read it for themselves :)

    1. Erica – Sure, no problem. Whatever info you use, please just cite us as the source and provide a link where possible. Thanks!

  11. I have a hard time accepting diets or food approaches that have strict limits on real foods. Yes, the obvious should be avoided, like poisonous mushrooms. But to deem all grains bad and say they are to be avoided, ok – fine if you’re talking about highly refined grains like white flour (bread, pasta, pizza, crackers). Old-world grains however have been around for thousands of years and can be healthy for some people when they are prepared properly for absorption (think water and time). Brown rice, steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, millet – yes, it’s a bit more time-consuming but it’s possible to soak and sprout these grains to reduce the inflammatory layer of phytic acid. And common sense should kick in and tell us that if it takes 8hrs to prepare these foods, maybe I shouldn’t be eating them every day. Again, some people do fine with old-world grains, some do not – I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits all. Cleaning out one’s blood and eliminating ALL grains (even corn) for 2 weeks and then reintroducing them one a time when they are SOURCED and PREPARED properly, will present an immune response that allows for every person to find out what works for them.

  12. Discovering that there are foods in our live that make you sick is quite a revelation—a scarey one too !!! many thank yous !!!MJA

  13. Have you read anything like this in the Journal of Nutrition or Pub Med?

    I admit I do not buy into the hunter gatherer diet. Most people are only hunting for files and gathering data; furthermore, 10,000 years ago we were starving for calories and would eat whatever we could find.

    That aside, let’s say I’m wrong. I am not a dietician after all and nobody hear is asking for my skeptic opinion. I understand that. I don’t want to be “the enemy” here. On the other hand, I am doing research for “The Perfect Diet.” I base it on what I find good in many diets. I look to Pub Med and the Journal of Nutrition for much of my research. I also look to University web sites, and, like you, I name my sources…or I will.

    Now, a grain and a legume together form a complete protein, so when I read that you shouldn’t eat them together, I was intrigued. I read the reasons why wondered who the article sourced. I wasn’t surprised when I saw Wikipedia and other Paleo-centric information sources.

    I understand that many people have an allergic reaction to grains, but people are allergic to chocolate and bananas also. Those people need to stay away from those specific foods. That line of reasoning hardly constitutes a rationale for the Paleo diet. I’ve seen pictures of what people on the Paleo diet eat, and there were lots of vegetables on the picture. That’s good, but from the food ratio’s I’ve seen recommended, I’ll stick with my diet.

    Also, people get into whatever they are talking about (Chevy vs. Ford or PC vs. Mac), and it is no different with diet. May I say that this is a single discussion, and wherever people disagree, we all might need each other some time, so peace be with you. I hope your diet works for you nutritionally and for any health issues you may be concerned with.

  14. Nick – Veggies, especially sweet potatoes and fruits with minimal carbohydrates (keep fruit intake low, 2 to 3 apples a day or similar), and eat a lot of healthy fat; butter, coconut-oil, MCT.

    Eat fish and red meat from grass-fed bulls.

    It’s very easy NOT to consume wheat and grains. But a PITA to break the habit :)

  15. This is a really well done article, honest and straight forward. However i didnt see any mentioning of fermentation. Ive seen studies where overnight fermenting of bread breaks down nearly everything you wouldn’t want in you. Which brings up my next point, nut cheeses. I can’t think of a better way to consume nuts than in a fermented cheese form, and you don’t even have to heat anything, the bacteria do all the ‘cooking’ for you. This is what the ancient civilizations found out, if you want to keep the population fed and healthy, you must ferment. (oh and eat bugs, eat lots of bugs, check eattheweeds dot com for his paleo/foraging exploits in that area and more). Bugs, the best protien.

  16. I read the article and posts with interest. There is quite a bit about paleo which is interesting. However, like most zealots, paleo devotees cannot site a plethora of peer reviewed scholarly articles or any type of randomized clinical trials. All that exist are some small case control studies – not the most rigorous type of study on which to base either a diet or a lifestyle.

    All studies of longevity have demonstrated that it’s not the type of diet that promotes longevity. Caloric restriction is the key to longevity and avoidance of “diseases of affluence.”

    And since when was butter paleo?!? Processed dairy? Really???

    Do yourselves a favor and read “In Defense of Food” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.

  17. This is what happens to our over satisfied society. There a few billions people who would love to have more legumes facing with the cruel reality of their hunger. My grandparents have been eating lots of them as well as nuts and meat combined with red wine and yet everything in moderation. They never went to the gym and and my grandfather never goes to the doctor either! He’s 83. I hope lives as long as he’s meant to. Paleo is the next marketing bonanza after Atkins, the South Beach diet and all the other ones that I don’t even remember. In our self-obsessed society where everything is driven by mass media and the hordes of corporate financed pseudo-science and we are mere consumers of whatever they serve us whether it was legume free, low carb, fat free, gluten free and indeed by no means bulshit free! If you want to live long and happy life, take it easy, have good friends, eat your fruits and vegetable whole foods, don’t eat processed, take long walk in nature, laugh and make babies and most of all don’t feel guilty about it. We’re all here temporary so what’s all that fuss about anyways!
    With all my respect.

    1. Chrissie et al – Sometimes I feel like I have an anti fan club with comments like these. The things I wrote in this post are well-documented and these anti-nutrients do indeed affect many people (including myself). When I eat them I feel like crap and when I don’t I feel good. I’m so sorry that there are people in the world who are starving and would give anything for some beans. That’s not me, though, and I’m willing to bet it’s not you guys either. So why not make the most of our resources and live the best life we can eating foods that make us feel awesome?

  18. I really appreciated this article. I gave up eating wheat over a year ago as an experiment in weight loss. I had read a book that suggested that wheat may be the cause of my insatiable hunger despite eating the “right” foods (i.e. healthy whole grains, no refined sugar, etc.) I have lost the weight slowly, but the way I eat has become a habit and a lifestyle. Do you think it’s normal to feel exhausted all the time despite getting a full nights’ sleep? Do you think it’s normal to be obese and to not be able to control your appetite even when eating all of the “health” foods? Do you think it is normal to walk through like in a fog? It’s not.

    Those of you who are arguing against what the author has posted are clearly not willing to concede that the things that the FDA is telling us about how to eat may NOT be the right way to do it for the way our bodies were truly created. Wheat and grains have been so altered genetically that they no longer resemble what they were even 100 years ago. How else do you think they can feed the millions of obese people? High yield crops. They had to genetically modify our food in order to do that. They had to make them more resistant to drought, and to pests, and these are the same foods they tell us to eat more of.

    I have been trying to go more Paleo this past month, and the thing I am having the hardest time taking out of my diet is dairy. I really love cheese. I don’t eat a ton of it anymore, but I really enjoy it when I do. Giving up beans and the rest of the grains has actually been easier than I thought.

    So give it a try, for 30 days. 100% all in effort to go Paleo. You will truly be surprised at the results.

  19. Depends on who your ancestors were. Most Native American groups relied heavily (if not at times exclusively) on nuts available in the forest (i.e. the hickory nut). One size does not fit all, with any diet.

  20. I think the “paleo” diet has it’s virtues but that doesn’t mean I agree with it. I think the best way to eat is to enjoy a variety of available, local, organic foods, supplemented with some high quality imported foods (like coconut, bananas, etc), and enjoy everything in moderation. One site says chocolate is good for you. Others say it exhausts adrenal glands. One site says avoid grains, and another says eat them freely but soak first. As for alcohol, many people consume beer, spirits and especially wine in moderation and easily live into their ’90s. Alcohol breaks down into sugar quite rapidly, so perhaps it isn’t sugar so much as how refined it is. And then there’s dairy. Many cultures eat loads of cultured or fermented dairy and do very well. I strongly believe that the real issue is with refined sugars, refined vegetable oils, over-hybridization and genetic tampering of grains, and pasteurization/irradiation. Foods that could be good for us are now bad because they’ve been transformed into commodities rather than sustenance, for the sake of corporate profit. And look what we have! Less starvation but an overpopulated planet of sick people instead. And it seems like the most sickness exists in areas where refined foods and GMO frankenfoods are the most prevalent.

  21. Neely,

    I doubt you have “antifans” as much as your lifestyle has skeptics. Much of your article is very much your opinion and people will take issue with statements like “since they’re basically poisonous” regarding whole foods which have been staples of societies that remain healthier than eurocentric populations and have for thousands of years.

    None of this is particularly “well documented” and there are certainly contradictory studies indicating that beans and grains, certainly, are beneficial. You admit that you are highly sensitive to some of these foods. I submit that you are in a small minority, that people would benefit enormously from simply omitting highly processed foods and selecting organic wherever possible. Paleo devotees sometimes come off as the sort of handwringing worriworts that wear masks in restaurants, shun digital audio and believe gluten and casein cause autism. Let’s be clear: SOME people MAY be sensitive or allergic to SOME environmental constituents, including certain foods (and some may be obsessive-compulsive hypochondriacs). You clearly state that you feel worse after eating beans and grains–that they make you sick. While I accept that about you, it may not actually apply to your boyfriend. He may tolerate the occasional cookie very well and, assuming his lifestyle includes an abundance of healthy alternatives, exercise of mind and body, adequate rest and limited stress, he may well outlive you by many years. If I, however, happened upon a public article written by my girlfriend and beginning with such a narrow-minded and judgmental opener, it might give me cause to rethink my situation and pack my things. Just sayin’.

    1. Jim O’Donnell – Wow, way to suggest my husband should leave me. That was productive. Please don’t call people who have problems with grains and beans hypochondriacs. It’s disrespectful and ignorant, and there are a LOT of people who have food sensitivities. I know that some people can eat grains and beans without problems. I also know that my husband can not (and so does he) or he feels awful, and that’s why I opened this blog post how I did. So next time you comment, maybe exclude the rudeness and the assumptions.

  22. I unknowingly have been practicing the “Paleo Diet” for some time by simply avoiding the foods that my allergy tests proved to cause an immune system response. The only thing I did not know about was legumes, because they actually are not on the list for allergy testing with my allergist. I am allergic to rice, wheat, corn, oats, casein, egg whites among others, which basically cuts out all dairy and and grains from my diet. I feel a ton better when I am able to avoid these foods long term and I will try cutting out the legumes now too. It’s hard to eat with so many restrictions but as I am getting older, I have no choice as my body is less able to put up with the abuse of eating foods that my immune system is attacking. Good luck everyone. :)

  23. Neely,

    I didn’t suggest your boyfriend (now husband) should leave you and I didn’t call people with food allergies hypochondriacs–I called hypochondriacs hypochondriacs. I have an autistic son, a mom with Wegener’s and a very good friend who’s daughter suffers from Celiac’s. I’m well acquainted with food intolerance and, as I said, I recognize that there are people who are enormously inconvenienced by them.

    My point is that, for whatever reason, Paleo advocates sometimes overemphasize the benefits of the lifestyle and, in their enthusiasm, pass along information that is patently false, i.e., that grains and legumes are “basically poisonous” to everyone. Paleo (and now Paleo 2.0) have been sold as a lifestyle to the general population that is essentially anti-aging. Set aside the fact that its basis (that paleolithic cave dwellers lived longer, died stronger and never ate beans) is nonsense. We have whole civilizations of healthy, longlived people in central and east Asia that subsist on little more than rice, beans and fish. Their success and health is not a product of emulating cavemen–it’s simply that they don’t eat foods that come out of white boxes or polystyrene bags, they don’t smoke tobacco and they don’t drink much alcohol. Macronutrient balance probably the single most important factor in sustained good health. Some paleophiles seem to miss that point.

    1. Jim O’Donnell – I don’t disagree with you on many of those points, except the fact that hunter-gatherer groups are, indeed, often stronger and healthier than most Westerners. And I do still contend that grains and beans are poisonous, in that they contain “poisons” that theoretically evolved to deter humans and other animals from eating their host plants. Some humans are just better at tolerating those poisons than others. I think I make it clear that I believe many people can thrive eating grains and beans (maybe not in this post, but in many others I’ve written). And not to split hairs here, but there are some hunter-gatherer cultures (Kitavans and others) whose macronutrient “balance” is not balanced at all, who smoke, and use other stimulants and their health far exceeds most Westerners’. They don’t eat grains, legumes, OR eat foods “that come out of white boxes or polystyrene bags”. I think there’s something to be said for all of it. We agree that we should all be eating real, whole foods that aren’t covered in poisons. I think there’s just some tedious, sometimes semantic debate about what constitutes real, whole, foods, and that debate is very much dependent on each individual’s genetics and tolerance.

  24. The people who are in their 80’s and up, lived on different foods than we did. They had less sugar, less modified foods, and I wonder if most didn’t grow up on farms with raw milk. When I was growing up, allergies were unheard of and I’m 57. We ate at few fast food restaurants until I was in my 20’s but sugar and white flour was abundant in schools.

    Each successive generation has become weaker due to the foods we eat. The maladies that struck my mother, struck me 10 and 20 yrs earlier. My great grandmother was 96 when she died, my grandmother 77.

    Our foods are covered in pesticides and fungicides..I live in the country next to soybean fields and see them sprayed regularly. Our cows are fed antibiotics and wormers to keep them healthy. In my opinion, we need raw milk and organic foods. But in my case my stomach is so messed up now, my immune system is confused and ill. And what I could eat before, I no longer can.

  25. Cmon let’s not view paleo as some mystery. Seriously eating fresh fruits and vegetables and healthier choices of meat plus the exercising of the paleo toting xfitters. Will no doubt lead to better health and nice physiques. The rest is just wanna be preachers pretending to know it all. There’s not a person on this planet that can say definetivly what early man ate. What we do know is they died very young from a multitude of diseases. Pretty much none of what exsited thousands of years ago is available today. I’ve seen so many paleo recipes with bacon fat! C’mon that’s crazy. Oh wait I forgot about the infamous pigasorous that early man use to kill and eat. Yes that was harsh sarcasm. But the simple fact is dedicated paleo followers do not live longer than other people or cultures that are active and eat fresh fruits veggies and yes legumes. Simple if it comes in a box don’t eat it. If a place with big golden M’s makes it don’t eat it, and if it’s meat (especially red)raised on chemicals avoid it…

  26. You say that Lectins have protective functions in the human body like recognizing pathogens and controlling protein levels in our blood. If we cut out legumes completely will our body make up for these losses?

  27. I’m no scientist, but it’s always been my understanding that the reason seeds were difficult, if not impossible, to break down, in any creature’s digestive process, was for the simple reason that they are designed to be spread from place to place in order to propagate. When they pass through the system, unaltered, in fecal matter, they will then grow again in the place they are passed, complete with their own fertilzer. This is just one of those Darwinesque-survival-of-the-fittest facts of nature, no? Of course, the processing WE do to said seeds with cooking or pureeing or whatever thwarts that process completely so whatever is in the seed DOES get broken down further and enter our systems, for better or for worse.

    So many opposing theories out there and just no way to prove them all, right OR wrong.

  28. I’ve just tried starting this diet yesterday to experiment and it still frustrates me. I hate eating the animals of the earth as I am vegetarian, so all I have now are fish. Those of you who think beans are bad for you, I honestly believe are over reacting. Ive never met a person who eats beans who has has weight issues for that reason. They were put here to eat and have been used for that purpose for years. There is nothing wrong with farming because that’s how produce is created. Beans are not poisonous and there is no need for people to be so defensive over why they’re “so bad for you.” How else will I get my protein? I refuse to eat meat. and generally do not like to eat fish. Cut me a break. I also weight about 115 lbs. Veggie people have no other way of getting protein, and many of us are in shape and in good health. It’s just an opinion thing. No dairy on the paleo diet, and nothing else from farm animals, but you can have eggs?? That doesn’t make sense. someone please explain to me how this is even a fair argument for a vegetarian person who just doesn’t like meat. Give me a way to get protein besides just nuts and then i’ll think about believing this. I do see the perks and how it is working, but it’s going to take a lot for me to choose this over my normal habits. thanks.

    1. Angie – I just want to remind you that nobody is forcing you to eat Paleo :) You can eat whatever you like. This diet works for a lot of people, but if you don’t think it’s “fair” and that you need someone to “cut you a break”, then don’t partake, or modify it as you see fit. Simple as that :)

  29. The most commendable thing about the paleo diet is its’ use of observation for what seems to be healthier, but the scope of “healthy” it examines is limited to just the consumer. If we include others in our scope of “healthy”, there is no diet healthier than a vegetarian diet. I have lived on a diet with almost no protein for six months and have continued to get stronger through a combination of low and high intensity exercises in addition to an active lifestyle. As a vegetarian, I can live without the legumes, although I would have to say that I would probably miss my occasional treat of peanut butter. I don’t eat much wheat, but I do enjoy rice in small amounts when eaten with dishes that don’t really work well without it (ex// curry). What makes a caveman healthy or more specifically strong is more his/her active lifestyle and fasting rather than his/her diet. Isn’t it ironic that a diet modeled after caveman is so picky on what should be eaten and not eaten when the actual diet it is modeled on is probably a diet that ate pretty much anything that was available in order to survive? No offense to any diet a person chooses to practice as it is your body, your environment, and your values that help shape the world we live in.

  30. Angie: I have ethical issues about meat production and factory farming. I did not think anything would ever change my mind.I was a die-hard vegetarian and mostly vegan for years. I thought I was eating really well- nothing processed or refined, all organic, lots of variety, complete protein profiles. However, I was chronically depressed and fatigued and, in spite of being very thin, I had a pooch of abdominal fat that just wouldn’t go away. I read hundreds of nutrition books and articles and the paleo diet really made sense. I tried it. In six weeks I was no longer depressed, had way more energy, skin and hair looked great, and I am happy and motivated. All I can say is try it for 6 weeks. If it doesn’t work for you, try something else.

  31. As a nutrionist/natuopath, I see many people eating in many varied ways. I have also seen many people who only lose weight, improve their mood and energy, fix their gut problems and improve their skin and immunity by going grain free. And vice versa – I’ve seen a number of people (admittedly a smaller group) only improve after they became vegetarian/vegan. In other words, after having worked in this industry for over 15 years, I’m convinced that the only rule that applies – is that one diet DOES NOT FIT ALL. The only common ground I see is that people need to remove the junk, processed meats, refined grains, etc. and then every single person improves.

  32. Okay,
    I am very new to this concept and easing myself in. The problem with me and Paleo, is I’m a vegetarian! I have been since I was a child (Charlotte’s web is to blame!) and I just couldn’t possibly adjust to eating red meat. Not going to happen, the last time I tried, my body fully rejected the uber expensive grass fed beef and I tried again with natural Venison and another bad reaction occurred. I’m on a bit of a budget, so in order to afford a primarily vegetarian (I can get down on eggs and fish eventually) I think it will be so unforeseeable and expensive that I’m resigning myself to a close to paleo- quinoa and organic tofu included diet!
    Will I just gain weight like that?

  33. Dear Neely,

    Don’t pay any attention to haters. Its a diet. What you choose to eat is your business. People can either take it or leave it. Thank you for putting up this post.

    ~To those who found an issue with it, kick rocks and write your own darn blog :P

    All the best,

  34. Hi everyone – I just read thtough this entire blog… And I agree, disagree am confused and enlightened but mostly amused… I LOVE food!! I am a chef and I feed people everyday in all ways… I have the honor of tending to many people’s dietary restrictions, allergies, diets and requests.., I could do a thesis paper on people’s relationships with food as that is what it is.. How one relates… To their food.. Now I had a mother that ate organic, vegetarian, macro blah blah.. She also was obsessed with all of it, at one point had an eating disorder… She died of cancer at 49…now her father( my grandfather ) has drank Vodak and eats more condiments than he does food and just turned 89… He eats like shit.. But he’s not obsessed, concerned or worried about it.., he grew up in a Jewish home and ate a lot of schmaltz ( re Derek’s chicken fat)… What I know about food is if your going to put it in your body, love it, savor it, appreciate and enjoy it… And chose the best if whatever it is… Grown your own when possible, share and relax.. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t eat it… If you “indulge when you feel like it, don’t let it be a reading or negative self talk.. Just a quick thought… Blessings

  35. I have been Paleo for almost a year and will never go back to my old habbits because it works for me. I had very painful knees, sleep problems, bloating, many aches and pains that are all gone. I was a 12-14, now I am size 8-10, full of energy and happy. So at age 62 I discovered a way of eating that makes me feel great.
    The only way to know what foods might be a problem for you is to stop eating them altogether. All most of us Paleonuts are saying is give real, clean,simple food a chance.

  36. I don’t know if you’ve already heard this, I just skimmed through the comments, but the FDA could care less. Along with the USDA. They don’t necessarily look out for us citizens, just the depths of their own pockets.

  37. As I’m reading a lot of these comments, I wanted to pose a question, when you say diet, do you mean as in what you eat, or like a fad? When I think diet, I think of something torturous or depressing, so instead I call it a lifestyle. I don’t want any responses, I just would like you to ask yourself that. Thanks.

    1. Leana – When I say the word “diet”, I think of the food I eat. That is all. No fad involved – just food.

  38. More than anything else, it’s the “food” you feed your “mind” and how you “digest” the world around you that matters most. Stress is the number one culprit of dis–>ease. Emotional fitness and your ability to be proactive versus reactive is key when it comes to a life well lived and longevity. Examine your “belief” system because it is the foundation of your experience, everything is filtered through your beliefs and your personal set of rules. Become aware of who you are and take responsibility for your thoughts,words and actions (or inaction). You can eat the healthiest diet and exercise on a regular basis but if you neglect this aspect of yourself then it’s all naught.

  39. Thanks for your post….to chime in some things and reiterate what has also been shared.
    For those with digestive, allergies and other related GI issues….

    Sprout, do yoga, manage ur stress, use your juicer, take enzymes if you need them to improve absorption, I would look into and get a full Ig Candida Albicans blood work series done to see what, if any, issues related to yeast overgrowth is present in your gut and colon….you will always feel kind of bloated, very limited as to what you can digest without incidence, have diarrhea regularly and be a master of farts… :) Sometimes getting a Candida (yeast) overgrowth issue back in balance allows one to eat a balanced regimen of the foods that Paleo diet contends isn’t always the best…….but I would sprout everything regardless of what eating “theory” one is following…..the germination process breaks down the natural protein enzyme inhibitor in nuts and seeds as to allow the body to absorb better.

    With yeast, all Carbs are broken down into sugar… sugar feeds yeast….1 + 1 = 2. My once “former leaky gut” would surmise that the lectins are the least of your worries, but moreover, it would be the carb content of certain legumes contributing to degree its feeding a yeast issue……. it’s a tricky call, but I would pursue all angles to uncover what the heck is really going on in your gut and colon. That’s why macrobiotic type regimens do well… Meat, vegetables, limited carbs…so it essentially starves off the yeast….. it’s important to be adding that into the discussion as I would investigate that for yourself completely….as it was nearly two decades since the age of 15 I have been on this path and survived…….. Symptoms and allergies can eventually subside once the tissue linings in the gut repair themselves… I know because I lived it….a long story, but I worked hard for my second chance.
    Once you can stabilize the physical issues with a lifestyle and diet that supports you, the real work is emotional layers of stress, childhood traumas and/or anything that has been a

    I cured Crohns, jaundice, leaky gut, multiple chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue, epstein barr, “LBISD” – lazy bastard immune system disorder and a host of other endocrine system challenges…. 7 years 100% raw, organic, sprouted food – no meat…. my underarms smelled like Celery back then……. lol…….I probably had the purest terds in the world…invite me over, I’ll fertilize your garden and prove it.. lol……. heck. I should of started a circus side show act and charged admission…

    “Step right up and see the Super Amazing Terd!…It Talks, It Dances and can help you grow cucumbers twice the normal size! sorry I digress….

    I have no more allergies or symptoms of anything from the past, not a trace….., I can eat anything now… but I don’t,..that would be stupid….. I follow natural living, ayurveda, raw, organic and assess all the various theories.. some have legs to stand on, some don’t……

    When there’s a change in eating habits to support a health crisis or allergy situation….there’s a lot of detoxing that goes on for quite some time when changing to healthier diet and lifestyle programs….REMEMBER:
    The immune system is trying to rebuild itself as the same time it has to doubly handle the detoxification processes…and that is inherently challenging when one’s immunity is already low to begin with for whatever the reason.

    As someone mentioned earlier, how you manage and balance your emotional states is truly a major part in all health related challenges. … especially for people who have severe sensitivities. Yoga, deep breathing as to improve oxygenation of your blood, meditation, sleep, run with scissors, fart in church, developing the curiosity of a child when it comes to taking care of your body and the patience of a saint to deal with the ups and downs related to how the body is trying to find its’ way back to balance.

    Call it whatever you want……
    Paleo, Oreo, Macrobiotic, Raw, Caveman, Fred Flinstone, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Soylent Green Diet…etc..etc….
    Enzymes, Wheatgrass, Sprouted Foods and Stress Reduction practices are some of the key main building blocks of life, organ repair and improving longevity and of course, the occasional George Carlin video works wonders too….. and lets not forget dancing half naked a round a sacred tree to Native American Chants for three days, no food or shower……that’ll set a lot of your emotional $#@! straight….lol..

    Off to the circus now….to share my wonder terds….
    Thanks for letting me share – Dalien… 13 Hands on the web

  40. I have a few comments I need to express. I will try to be realistic without being judgmental.

    Is eating unprocessed foods healthier than processed foods? Almost 99% of the time, yes it is. But why does it need to be dressed up as a “paleo diet”?

    A “paleo” diet in and of itself seems a bit counter-intuitive, as it pre-supposes that human beings as a species were healthier before the introduction of agriculture, a concept that would not really be supported by our current understanding of prehistoric mortality rates.

    True paleo diets would also be feast-or-famine diets, where you might go for 3-4 days subsisting on nothing but berries and tree fruit, and then chase down and eat an entire wild boar over the course of the next 2 days.

    Historical arguments aside, even sticking to pre-agriculture foods in proper quantities and proportions to sustain a balanced diet strikes me as being somewhat regressive. The assumption being made by this diet system is that the bodies of modern human beings have not experienced any form of natural adaptation to agricultural living. Consider that this is a period of over 10,000 years, which translates into roughly 200 generations (or more) of people growing, harvesting, migrating, and intermingling cultures, foods, and genetic material.

    Attempting to craft a diet specific to “the way human beings evolved” cannot be divorced from the places and conditions in which their adaptations took place. Asian peoples, and in particular the Japanese, have very distinctive cultural dietary habits. Consider the quantities of soy (legumes) and rice (grains) consumed by these people, and contrast it with their historical fame for longevity. Their bodies are adapted to the foods that have shaped their culture and lives for millenia, in a fairly homogenous society. Now think about the melting pot that is America, and the diversity of people and cultures that intermingle here. How could a program that professes to focus on the “roots” of the human diet not account for the abundance of different foods available to different peoples in different regions during the course of our evolution?

    People, as all other animals, are products of our environment, even if we have the power to shape that environment. The “paleo diet” seems to begin with what is, in my opinion, the fundamentally flawed assumption that humans as a species were somehow more “perfect” or well-adapted to life on earth before the most recent 200 generations of evolution, adaptation, and indeed environmental (circumstantial as well as climatic) modification. Given the fact that it has been recently found that some North American bird species have been found to have shorter wingspans in areas of high vehicle traffic than their rural counterparts, it would stand to reason that human beings, over the course of many more generations than have elapsed since the invention of the motor vehicle, will probably have made several biological adaptations to account for our newfound abilities to plant and harvest foodstuffs.

    I still applaud all of you who are on this “paleo” diet, as it means you are taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle. Just becoming more conscious of your body and your health is probably a much more important first step than any specific diet plan. Given the wide variety of body types and specific needs, it may be best to simply consult a nutritionist before embarking on any new program for health and fitness, as you will get a program that is much more specifically tailored to your body than any kind of generic plan.

    PS – I am not a nutritionist, nor do I know any personally.

  41. You don’t have any scientific data to support the notion that grains and beans are bad for us We know very little about the caveman and it’s safe to say they didn’t live long enough to die of heart attacks, diabetis or cancer. They were either eaten by a tiger or someone smashed their head in with a rock. However, there is plenty of data to support the fact that eating a diet high in meat does cause certain cancers. Isn’t that a staple of the hunter gatherer diet. Eating plenty of meat?

  42. I find this point to be exaggerated:

    “It’s confusing to me that grains and legumes (all beans – black, pinto, soy, peanuts, etc.) would be so pleasing to us, since they’re basically poisonous, having heavily contributed to the current, overwhelming predominance of heart disease, digestive disorders and obesity rates in this country.”

    Beans and peanuts are “heavily” contributing to heart disease and obesity? It’s not refined grains, flour, sugar, and processed corn product (not to mention processed animal fat and added sodium), which constitute the main inputs for most processed foods, that are heavily contributing to those diseases?

    1. Jeremy – That’s what I said: “grains and legumes”, which includes, as you said, refined grains, flour, and processed corn products…

  43. I have a question, where is the evidence that our ancestors were all hard bodies that live long healthy lives? I would be willing to bet it was quite the opposite. For them I but life was a little harder than that. Spending most of their time scavenging for any type of food they could get their hands on just to survive. I’m not a Dr however; I would even bet they would eat beans and wheat or anything else they could get their hands on. Far be it for you to say they didn’t, unless of course you have evidence of this. If I was hungry enough I would eat just about anything to survive. Possibly even another person. More than likely they were pretty chubby most of the time except for times of short food supply. I’m not saying the items you eat following a paleo diet are bad. But I am saying people may have the expectation to achieve a certain goal from it and never achieve their goal. Simply because the only way is to cook and eat clean, not open a wrapper and eat in only the amount of calories you burn in a day. Simple as that.

  44. Explain please why there are more healthy centenarians (even still hopping about doing martial arts!) in China and Japan than anywhere else in the world, yet they eat 3 meals of RICE every day? Explain please why at the same time traditional hunter-gatherer tribes now living in Africa and the Amazon have a much shorter lifespan than your average obese American does?

    If it were not for potatoes (real ones), rice and grains, human beings would never have had the health or energy to form the modern civilizations, on which your absurdly picky and irrational diet depends.

    Do you actually rationalize to yourself that in the paleo era, the cavemen had a constant supply of squash, sweet potatoes, honey and tapioca flour available in all seasons, as you do for your “active lifestyle” carbohydrate needs? And do you think they just decided to avoid the carbs that *were* available on principle, and instead chose to run from predators and wage war with opposing tribes after having a big breakfast of lettuce and spinach? The entire basis of this paleo movement is absurd. I thought the whole point of this paleo diet was to go back to an era BEFORE modern farming… so where are all these root vegetables and tapioca flour and flax seeds (while supposedly imitating the cavemen) coming from year round for you? Contrary to popular belief, cavemens diets were not supplied by the WholeFoods around the corner.

    They were not picky eaters… unlike wealthy & spoiled modern fad-dieters, they had to eat to *survive*. The truth is paleo people were always hungry, and ate whatever they could get their hands on! They loved delicious, calorie-rich carbs, just as much as we do. And their opportunistic eating patterns are precisely why human beings have evolved to be able to tolerate such an impressively wide variety of foods, and still live to be happy, healthy 100+ year olds. Our bodies are more versatile, self-repairing and resilient than any other species. That is why we can eat what would kill a dog or a cat, with no side effects – and why we can live to be 120, but you will never see a 120 year old dog or cat. So please don’t bother to make the absurd argument that because your dog can’t eat beans (or grapes, or chocolate, or avocado, or corn, or coffee, or alcohol, or raisins…) that PEOPLE can’t (or “shouldn’t”) eat them. That’s a complete fallacy of logic and rational thought.

    To date there is no evidence that a paleo diet improves your lifespan, and there has not been a SINGLE documented case of a supercentinarian (thats 110+ years old) who ate this way. In fact, science has shown in study after study, that your genes have far more influence on your healthspan and longevity than anything you could ever do with your diet…. so believing and promoting the idea that a really unnatural diet consisting of tapioca flour, squash and honey as your primary carb sources is somehow going to make you healthier and longer-lived under the paleo philosophy citing “evolutionary principles” and evil lectins, is pseudo-scientific nonsense.

  45. Hello,
    I really like the article you write and I appreciate the fact that you don’t hide your stance on Paleo. I think there is a lot of value in what you present, but I think what I struggle with your presentation of all the issues that Lectin presents. Like almost every other Paleo site I have looked at, people seem to make broad generalizations about the “dangers,” of certain foods, based on reading other Paleo sites or one singular abstract of a random medical journal. I liked your site, especially because you consistently note that “these are the things that work for you.” However, what I am often concerned with is the wide brush painting these “dangers,” where people will then spout this information as gospel, based on hearsay, pseudo science and broad opinions. Like another reader mentioned, your sources are all slanted, with the exception of one. The one cite from a medical journal was based on Lectin impacts on those with Type 1 Diabetes. I read it, and the other 6 or so associated articles, and they were all about CORRELATIONS between Type 1 Diabetes and the impacts of Lectin or elevated Lectin levels in the system. None of these prove causation and several of them were the observations of a single patient. They were not even controlled studies about the correlation of Lectin and Type 1 Diabetes, but just observations about findings that some patients had who also had Type 1 Diabetes, auto-immune disorders, etc. I guess what I am trying to say is perhaps it wouldn’t be terrible to frame the blog posts with a little more thought about facts rather than opinion. Granted, I know – this is your blog and I can jump in a lake, etc and not read it, but I mostly like your stuff and would like to continue looking at your site. I just feel incorrect or opinionated statements that are passed as fact just damages all the credibility you had carefully already built up for me. Just my two cents and I am not trying to be a troll, I promise!


  46. One more thing to add to my last comment – one of the medical studies cited around Lectin concentrations stated,
    “Although most of the MBL2 SNPs studied were associated with the MBL concentration, no common variations (neither single SNPs nor their haplotype combinations) confer risk of type 1 diabetes or diabetic nephropathy. ” In other words, the study of around MBLs (Mannose-Binding Lectins) showed that for the tested genetic markers, they could prove no enhanced risk of Type 1 Diabetes or Diabetic Nephropathy for control or variable test groups. The study also consisted of 54% sample size with no cases of diabetes or d. nephropathy. I love that you cited medical journals, but it looks like you probably just jumped on the journal cite that proved your point, rather than gave an unbiased look at the risks or impacts associated with lectins, found in legumes. Right now, I am researching diet trends for my husband and I to modify and possibly adapt and am trying to get as much information as possible. I am not trying to poke holes in Paleo lifestyles, but rather make sure I have enough information for my family and I to adopt it in a way that makes sense to us. Also, when you take away something from your diet, no matter what that diet is and suddenly re-introduce it, you will always experience gut reactions. Similar to the person that does not drink for 6 months and then gets drunk from a single pint of beer. This is a natural reaction and may just be correlation and not necessarily causation. Just something to think about…

  47. I am enjoying this free and candid discussion. Following years of personal mind-body healing and then professional training I have moved amongst a variety of dietary approaches. Lately I feel evermore strongly that any definition of my health has to include the health of all and the ecology of the planet and from this point of view a meat based diet is quite untenable. Not only that but the spiritual vibrations of eating less flesh are well documented across all religious traditions. I’ve had to unravel food addictions, obsessions around healthy eating as well as junk food. For me it comes down to a few simple principles which are broadly yogic: maximum green vegetables, including juices and wild greens, high raw colourful low sugar veg (salads), some fish, prepared grains. And a natural hygiene approach to life: food as one aspect of wellness; time under the sun, moon, stars, wild water,fresh air, cultivating peace within and loving relationships, reducing stress.
    We are all incarnated at a challenging and stressful time for humanity; this thread is evidence of how overwhelmed by choice and information we are, and also of the urgency and sincerity of our search for truth. We may be suffering from generations of ancestral ill health and the consequences of accelerated technological advancement and reconstitution of social structures. Many of us in the secular, urbanised west have lost our essential connection to our inner knowing. But we are rediscovering the wisdom that is present in nature and rebalancing us through simply presencing her cycles and the elements,
    May we all find the guidance and advice we are seeking and create health and happiness NOW and for all our children .

  48. Neely , please tell me because I am getting crazy. What other carbs got left after getting read legumes and starch.
    Leafy greens have very little carbs in 100 gr.
    The only carb left is sweet potato but I can’t eat sweet potato every day for my carbs.


    1. Stelios – Fruit, potatoes, honey, also carbs in nuts, nut flours, tapioca flour, plantains, plantain flour, coconut flour, and many more. Plus, of course, all veggies.

  49. this is all very interesting indeed, and i believe there is truth in it and many of the comments written. My Mom raised us pretty healthy … ‘raw milk’, healthy foods vit & herbs., and our health thus far has been great. She taught us to avoid processed & junk foods. We rarely ate out at ‘fast food’ joints. i personally believe that eating as ‘raw & close to the Earth’ is the best way. i do splurge once in a while and have a burger or pizza or ice cream (luv Haagen Dazs) – but the rule here is moderation! My Grandfolks lived into their late 80’s & 90’s, some were farmfolks. one grandmother lived on beans & rice and cooked with lard, and she lived a good strong – long healthy life!

    i do agree with soak & (sprout if you can), healthy variety in the diet … moderation when called for. i know of Humans & tribes like the ‘Centurians’ in Asia mentioned above that live well into late 90’s and into their 100’s living on rice, but i’m sure its natural as well as the rst of their diet and water., i luv this example!. We should not be so consumed & worry bout diet etc etc but just use ‘common sense’ and try and live natural when possible.
    It is very true that our genetics plays the key role in our disposition and longevity, but we can influence and aid that with lifestyle & diet for sure!

    some input i did want to get from Neely and others is Cancer curing’, i know there is the Gerson therapy which believe in as well as Cannabis oil etc etc … i do remember ‘Vitamin B17 Laetrile: Using Apple and Apricot Seeds – Amygdalin’ which has been succesfully used by some most notably the Jason Vale case:



    Horses eat the WHOLE apple seeds and ALL and rarely get cancers ….

    there is much out there for us to learn, plants & herbs were put here for us to use … and it is said that most ALL of our ailments can be cured for naturally, the cures are out there. Of course if we lives as natural as possible, close to the Earth then we minimize the chance of ailments.

    peaCe & luv to all … ; )

  50. First off, great write-up there, Admin.

    However discounting legumes, beans, cereals, dairy, all that…hmmm. Now I love those but neither am I saying we should chow them down like no tomorrow. A slight inclusion of those food might not be that bad, perhaps?

    My 2 cents, perhaps the biggest problem aint’ so much of those legumes, beans, dairy, etc. But rather the STRUCTURE of those food nowadays. For greens , well, you have orgs like Monsanto to thank and dairies, FDA with their ever pious believe on PASTEURIZATION which is the result of HORMONE enhanced bovines, poultry etc and their feeds, man-made virus, bacteria, etc practically making it …. not safe to drink / eat UNpasteurized dairies.Hundreds yrs back there’s ONLY pure unpasteurized raw dairies from healthy grass fed bovine.. How does one explain that?..guessed all our ancestors and it’s generation would’ve been long dead…and we’re practically non-existence ,in this sense. GMO has totally modified these food’s inherent structure. Especially i heard there’s like chemtrails in certain parts of USA (sorry I’m not from US)? Could it also lead to some sort of toxicity in the air and water that, again, might distort the whole plant bio structure? Oh, I don’t know…just guessing :)

  51. based on the worst kind of pseudoscience – teeny bits of “truth” (I said teeny and that’s the key) that are apparently enough to sell books to people who mistrust or do not understand science. Run, people, run. This is dangerous cult crap.

  52. Hi,
    Quinoia is said to be a seed in stead of a grain, yet it is forbidden on the Paleo diet. Could you explain why, and is it really that bad? (I hear it’s super healthy).

  53. Hi,
    I had many digestive problems in the past and they stopped when I went vegetarian. My point here is that I don’t think legumes and grains are bad for you but as with everything in life, the key is moderation. My diet is made of vegetables, grains and legumes and so far I feel great. I haven’t been sick, not even a cold, since I started this “diet” (not really a diet, more of a way-of-living) Also I try to eat everything organic and if I can’t I try to get non-GMO. Don’t get me wrong people, I’m not saying you should stop eating meat, everyone is free to do as they please but I thought my opinion could help some people in here since I eat grains and legumes regularly.

  54. There seem to be a lot of assumptions not backed up in scientific literature in the following two paragraphs, and wondering if you can explain it in terms of medicine rather than euphamisms like sticky little buggers, leaky gut, and glom onto:

    Wheat contains a lectin called wheat germ agglutinin, or WGA. Lectins are sticky little buggers and the WGA goes into your small intestine and gloms onto the brush border. It then tricks your body into taking it across the border of your intestine intact, where it is seen as a foreign invader by your immune system. Antibodies are created in response to the lectins, and unfortunately, lectins often look a lot like other parts of your body. They may look like cells in your brain, pancreas, etc., so the same antibodies that were created to attack the lectin will actually go launch attacks on your own body. This is where autoimmune issues arise, like diabetes type 1, celiac disease, lupus and multiple sclerosis.

    Leaky Gut
    To make things worse, on their way into your body, lectins damage the walls of your intestines, helping to create “leaky gut”, so that other large particles can cross the intestinal barrier, enter your blood stream and begin other immune cascades. This is basically how food sensitivities start. Something goes in (like the WGA) and makes some holes in your gut that lets big particles of food into your blood stream. Then your immune system gets VERY overwhelmed and confused and starts attacking things at random – gluten, blueberries, asparagus, olive oil, etc. Symptoms can range from migraine headaches to eczema to weight gain and depression.

  55. Eat when you are hungry,drink when you are thirsty and Sleep when you are sleepy
    Not because,
    you think you are hungry,it’s tasty,it looks yummy,it smells great,
    someone told you it is healthy.

  56. You Paleo people scare me. Not all lectins are bad. Most plants contain lectins. Plenty of nuts and seeds, and vegetables, that Paleo recommends are full of them. Some lectins can fight cancer. Saponins are denatured by cholesterine in our bodies. Cooking denatures harmful lectins! Neanderthalensis, and probably Erectus, were cooking their foods–and they were even making dough! http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v430/n7000/abs/nature02734.html Humans don’t have the stomach (we have weak stomach acid compared to actual meat eaters), or the teeth (our teeth are herbivorous; not carnivorous [Elephants have k9s, Gorillas have k9s, Horses have k9s…]) necessary to rip raw flesh–our meat must be cooked destroying the proteins (as well as to kill bacteria and such that our stomach acid can’t kill because it’s not designed for it) it contains. Plus, carnivores live shorter lives than omnivores. And omnivores live shorter lives than herbivores. Carnivores also rest longer than both (hibernating animals excluded [most bears are more carnivorous than omnivorous]) omnivores and herbivores. Why you ask?–protein is a huge component of their diet, and protein is NOT what animal cells want in order to carry out cellular respiration! Carbohydrates’–GLUCOSE–main roll in the mammal (whatever is made up of “animal cells” [to include most plants]) diet is cellular fuel!! Go look at the formula for cellular respiration. You won’t find protein, fat, or even most carbs in the equation other than GLUCOSE. When an “animal”, lets just say… a Bengal Tiger, or a HUMAN… doesn’t have enough glucose to use for cellular respiration, the body CONVERTS the protein (human bodies, at least, will go to protein before fat) or fat into something close enough to glucose so the cell can actually use it to make ATP, H2O, and carbon dioxide! The fat version of glucose is a clean burning fuel; not as good and clean as ACTUAL glucose, yet still good. The protein version of glucose is NOT clean burning. It’s like using really cheap gas in a race car for it’s whole life–it will work… but will make the car’s engine fail prematurely! The human brain cannot use anything other than ACTUAL glucose for cellular respiration. It can’t even use fructose converted into glucose–it’s very picky. And in fact, blood is filtered at least a second time before entering the brain! It’s that picky!

  57. And to say that we should eat exactly like Neanderthalensis or Erectus just because they were bigger and stronger is like saying that Pandas should eat more meat like Grizzlies because they are bigger and stronger–it’s naive. Homo sapiens are not Homo erectus or Homo neanderthalensis. The average Neanderthal man is said to be able to bench 3 – 500 lbs!!!! Sapiens aren’t built that way!–never have been! Plus, the food they were eating… DOESN’T EVEN EXIST ANYMORE. And nobody knows FOR SURE what they were eating!! I can guarantee, though, that they WEREN’T eating as much meat as you all want to believe. Plants don’t run away from you!–or attack you!!

  58. Unignoranted: Quinoa (is part of the spinach and beet family), buckwheat, hemp, flax and chia are in fact seeds and do not contain gluten and are not of the wheat family.
    But, you do need to know that eating Paleo has changed my life for the best! I am not celiac or gluten intolerant but I know by experience, that if I eat only half a slice of bread, any kind of bread, I am sick the following day with aching body pain, weakness, swelling, bloating and vision trouble that lasts as much as a week.
    Now about soaking seeds and nuts. This is where I draw the line to certain things I read. I eat raw nuts and seeds and I don’t soak them because, you see in my mind I see our Paleo friends, cavemen, crushing them with rocks to get them out of their shells and eating them as is. Tell me why in the world would they even think of soaking them when they can eat them raw? My point is, if they did go through the trouble of soaking them, then who knows what they did with “grains”? They could have crushed them, cooked them, boiled them or even sprouted them.
    My belief is that because of all the changes to wheat, corn, and legumes (OMG) our bodies are unable to digest them. And in anything, moderation is important but even more important is avoiding anything that is processed, modified and packaged. Eat fresh! Find grass-fed free-range meats. Grow your vegetables, herbs and berries yourself if you can. If not buy bio or directly from farms.
    My plate is 2/3 vegetables, palm size piece of meat (beef or chicken or pork or boar, buffalo, pheasants, goose, turkey, fish, oysters, shrimp, etc) and a few slices of avocado or a drizzle of olive oil and fresh herbs.
    I once read an article that mentioned something that was written on a governmental document stating that because of high population, wheat is used as a “filler” because if it were not for wheat, we would run out of food… for the human race, for our pets and our livestock.
    If you are a vegetarian it’s because you enjoy eating that way for others junk food is what they enjoy.
    In the end, what you eat is your decision and yours only.

  59. Sorry but some of you people’s comments (Unignoranted) are just as full of opinions and unsubstantiated “facts” as you accuse the author’s post of being. I mean seriously do you have 4 stomachs to digest fiber like real herbivores? Do you produce the bacteria in your hindgut to break down fiber like a horse? NO you DON’T!!! That is why we call it INDIGESTIBLE fiber!!! Do you sit around grazing all day like all real herbivores I’ve seen do? I hope not! All herbivores I have seen do is eat. All. Day. Long. Who has time for that? How many slim, sleek, muscular herbivores do you see? When I look at herbivores I mainly see meaty-ness and bellies for days! Some of the animals people like to classify as herbivores to make their point aren’t even herbivores! Like monkeys. They do not eat a strict vegetation diet like real herbivores do. I have never seen a cow or horse go out of their way to eat bugs, insects, or another cow or horse (since monkeys have been known to hunt, kill, & eat other monkeys). And please don’t bring up the disgusting CAFO meat production that forces them to eat their own – this is clearly not by choice. Most people (bless their heart) respond to that by outright lying and saying monkeys don’t eat that or try and buffer it by saying they don’t eat that much of it like that changes the fact that it is a natural part of their diet. You just killed your whole entire argument in my eyes. Turtles, crocodiles, and whales (three VERY well known animals with extremely long lifespans) are not herbivores!!! They do not subsist solely on vegetation like real herbivores do. I wish people would retire the “we are not carnivores because we have some similarities to herbivores” spiel. You have to ignore several contrary biological facts to make your point. Humans also do not contain the digestive enzymes to eat raw grains or beans – so how can one bring up meat that people CAN AND DO EAT RAW!!!! Go ahead and let me know how consuming a bowl of raw grains and beans makes you feel. And those who want to bring up studies? Where are they? Go ahead and post those observational studies that are correlational at best. I bet half of you don’t even have the actual study – all you have is someone supposedly reiterating the results. The studies I have been able to read have not shown direct cause & effect. There are just too many factors and variables that we cannot account for. How can you be considered a vegetarian and you eat fish, seafood, and/or eggs? That’s just hypocritical to me! Yet some of these highly touted “studies” labeled these people as vegetarians when they clearly are not (at least not to me). When I see scientists lock people up in a secure facility, control and monitor their every mouthful and daily habits for years, and record the results of their deaths, diseases, and ability to produce healthy babies like they do with animals studies maybe then they will have a study worthy of talking about. Since that will never happen I will stick with doing my own observations. Like how I observe vegans and vegetarians still getting cancer, heart disease, suffering from obesity and skinny fatness, getting sick or being sickly, suffering from constipation, bad teeth,infertility – this list goes on! I observe them falling off the anti-animal bandwagon when their health and energy stonewalls. Likewise I have observed so many people progress from reducing or eliminating grains, PUFA oils, and heavily processed commercial food. I am one of those people! Do I follow strict paleo? Nope. I like the primal concept by Mark Sisson the best but even then I don’t agree with everything and I strive to do what works best for me. I just know it made more sense to me than the vegan/vegetarian thing did – especially when I see their own people (the non-zealots mind you) telling them how important it is to supplement. BIG red flag to me. I guess we all need to be careful the way we word things so we don’t come off sounding like we have rock solid proof. No one has definitive proof of the “right” diet (aka way of eating) outside of what may or may not work for them.

  60. Neely,

    Interesting article. I’ve always been fond of the vegetarian diet or the vegan diet, as I’ve seen pretty substantial research on meat actually catalyzing cancer cells. Same goes for dairy products. I’ve seen interesting remarks on the vegan/vegetarian diets. For instance, the comment above me mentions a great importance of supplementation. However, I’ve heard very few, if any vegan or vegetarian people claiming you need supplementation. In fact, I’ve heard just the opposite. 3 documentaries I’ve found to be beyond eye opening on that matter are “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” “Forks Over Knives” and “Food Matters”. Now, my venture into the paleo scene is somewhat fresh. But, I find the lifestyle somewhat fascinating. Still, I think I favor the vegetarian diet. But, I will say that I’m not the slightest bit vegetarian. I just see the health benefits from it more so than I do than the paleo diet. It’s my understanding that the Paleo diet is supposed to be somewhat similar to our ancient ancestors who lived during the hunter & gatherer times. However, I think it’s interesting to note that depending on what region you are in, that diet would be vastly different from someone in another region. I think the Paleo diet should be called something a little more specific to which region it would fit best. It certainly wouldn’t be considered Paleo to a bunch of Eskimos for instance. You also mentioned that you feel typically cave-dwelling hunter gatherers were stronger than Westerners. Which, I feel like that be a hard thing to source but regardless, I’d say that seems logical. But don’t you think that a Westerner in a hunter gatherer environment (ie; chasing down food, running from predators, constant exercise) would be stronger than his/her present day self? I think if you could find a source that claimed that superior strength, it’d probably also say that the lifestyle had more to do with it than diet. Love to get an email from you. And, I know I’m arguing with you, but I’d still be open to trying the diet. But, would you be willing to try a vegetarian diet? One more thing for everyone else posting things on here, my 93 year old neighbor used to always say, “Different strokes for different folks”. So, if you don’t like Paleo, that’s fine. If you do, that’s fine too.

    1. Owen – I’ve touched on all the other questions you pose in different posts and comments, so I won’t reiterate here. But I do want to re-state that I was a vegetarian for over 10 years, and that’s how I got as sick as I was. I’m positive of that. I’ve also tried eating raw, vegan, and gluten-free (but not grain-free). So yes, throughout my life I’ve been 100% willing to try any diet that I thought would help my health and the welfare of animals. I’ve landed on a modified Paleo diet (Paleo minus a bunch of “Paleo” items) and I don’t think I’ll be eating differently for a long time due to how good in general I feel now.

  61. Wow. I just read a majority of the comments posted here.
    I totally agree that the FDA and another gov’t entity having anything to do with anything is full of it.
    I’m glad I found Paleo..even though my husband and I will not be able to stick to it completely, the menu ideas are great and we will be utilizing those.
    As to legumes and grains, we plan to eat as little as possible. We tried going vegan and it just didn’t work out. We also do not eat a lot of dairy..some yogurt and some cheese. Never milk because as my sister has pointed out to me… What full grown animal drinks milk? Especially from another species? None, except humans. Ewwww.
    I think all who have said that the key is moderation in everything are right. But for some even that is too much of some things.
    No one will ever come up with the perfect diet for everyone..it’s impossible. We are all different. Obviously.
    When you find something that works for you and you feel great..stick with it.

  62. Really amazed that there are this many people with nothing to do but search the web and attack authors of articles. Boy–if you disagree, just move on. Would you go up to a stranger having a conversation and attack them the way you are attacking this author? If you disagree with this, just move on with the superior knowledge you feel you have.

    I appreciate this article. Two of my seven children are disabled. I “know” what a normal child should be, and I am aware that changing diets has shown improvement. It probably won’t work for everybody but what is the harm in trying it? If my kids were allergic to tomatoes, I wouldn’t give them tomatoes. End of discussion.

    This article gave me more information on legumes that I had been unaware of. Please continue writing!

  63. Hi, just curious, you mention that grains and legumes have “heavily contributed to the current, overwhelming predominance of heart disease, digestive disorders and obesity rates in this country”. I’m from Italy and have eaten grains and legumes all my life and I am not obese, my parents have eaten grains and legumes all their life and are skinny as a bone. The only people that are obese that I know of are the ones that consume a lot of calories. Anyways, not a hater but if you can show some scientific research showing what you claim, that’d be awesome. As far as observational research is concerned, how about the Blue Zones? They consume plenty of grains and legumes (and milk as well, but that’s another story), black beans, soy, lentils and they live to be 100 and more. Can you explain how those healthy centenarian folks of the Blue Zones live to be 100 while eating grains and legumes (and milk) when you claim that these nutrients actually kill you?

  64. I’ve been on your paleo diet for approximately 18 weeks. Feel great and getting great weight results…and good bloodwork results. Documented. Anyone wanting to try it should definitely get a cookbook or two… for those of you who haven’t actually gotten books, through out these books there are suggestions on different methods to try. I’m willing to try new recipes, and I am willing to forget a few. Personal likes and dislikes play a great part in our (my husband is also a great fan) diets. Primarily our changes are less refinements and more cooking from scratch. We accept full responsibility for what we eat. And we are mature enough to make any decisions regarding food groups. Haters gonna hate. Meanwhile I’m 30 pounds lighter, have more energy, and loving life. Try it. If you don’t like it, move on. Kudos to you, Neely!

  65. People, wheat is not wheat. In my own body I noticed huge differences in what bread does in my body when I buy it in for example France or Holland. I have to lie down after eating wheatbread from Netherlands but feel energized for up to 3 hours with wheatbread from France. Also how much water I drink makes a difference.

  66. Having raised beef and pigs I can tell you something very simple. When you want to fatten or marble the meat with fat you feed the animals lots of GRAIN, not meat, vegies, fish, nuts or fruit. Simple.

  67. “all beans – black, pinto, soy, peanuts, etc.) would be so pleasing to us, since they’re basically poisonous, having heavily contributed to the current, overwhelming predominance of heart disease, digestive disorders and obesity rates in this country”
    This is one of the most ludicrous claims I have ever read to do with the science of nutrition. Show me the science and studies which prove this. The U.S has the highest rate of obesity, heart disease and stroke of almost any nation not because of grains and legumes and phytates or gluten but because the average diet is loaded with sugar and fat and far too much animal protein! I’m not sure what your training is or your qualifications but I would be interested to know how you can make the claims you do. I note you do not reply to any of the legitimate questions other people have asked on this thread to question your “science”

  68. Why then is the Mediterranean diet considered to be one of the healthiest diets, one high in legumes, and people from countries like spain, Italy, or Greece don’t have the same heath issues as Americans even though they eat grains and legumes daily?
    Asian and Indonesian diets are based primarily on rice dishes, and their populations don’t seem to suffer the supposed damaging effects of this food..?
    I’m not attacking paleo, I’m trying to understand it’s basis, and having lived in Europe for almost a decade I have a hard time understanding the rules for paleo..

  69. Sorry but Quinoa is not a grain but a seed high in protein low glycemic index. The seeds are harvested from a green plant.

    1. Elizabeth Houser – No, they are not high in protein, which is obvious if you look at any site with nutritional info on quinoa (or on a bag of quinoa in the nutritional info there) and they are a pseudograin that has many of the same anti-nutrient properties of any other grain. They are eaten as any grain would be eaten, as well. So in my eyes, and in the eyes of the people who dubbed them as “pseudograins”, yes, they are in effect grains. Please read my post on quinoa here: http://www.paleoplan.com/2012/07-16/is-quinoa-paleo/

  70. I find ALL of this so interesting! Neely, your article was informative & so were the comments. Its almost a year later and you are still getting comment traffic, which means it matters to people! I don’t see those who disagree with you as being negative. This, to me, is healthy debate…but I’m sure I’m older than you, so perhaps it’s just a tougher skin ;) {or it comes from all the carbs I eat! lol} I plan on trying to change my life & eat waaaaay less carbs & dairy. I’m going to follow most of what you & others say about Paleo because I find the foods and recipes satisfying and I actually believe I will feel better, though I have no complaints…no headaches, arthritis, etc… I just wanna be lean & mean & not starving! Blessings to you & everyone here in the comments who took the time to educate me!

  71. “Man, I sure am fat from all those beans and lentils I’ve been eating.”– said no one ever!!! Are you kidding me? Look, I get why people move to fad diets such as Paleo, but don’t try to tell us that eating fiber rich foods such as beans and lentils which have been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure are harmful. People are obese because they eat too many baked goods and potato chips. Let’s get real here.

  72. My mother has raised me on the meat and potatoes diet, containing as much raw and organic ingredients from local farmers we knew personally. Later I watched her use a more natural diet and juicing to prolong my father’s life after he got cancer. He was stage 4 and should have passed away in 3 years or less (per dr.). He lived 17 years with little decrease in function.

    So I should have been a believer. Not on my life. I ate what I pleased, gained weight, got depressed and found it painful to move. I was so cognitively deficient.

    Out of desperation I turned to a holistic nutritionist. She gave me a eating plan goal. I’ve found it extremely difficult but I’ve been trying to hang in. In a desperate search for recipes I came across the Paleo diet. Call my diet Paleo or something else – no soy, no grains (gluten), no dairy, no sugar and no beans (limited carbs from starches). In 4 weeks, I feel better physically and mentally. I can perform functions of memory and management that had been impossible for years. I’m a fan.

    As for other comments, the average member of the masses needs a label for everything. I’m always amazed how many people are subject to a poster advertising something and then order it as if the idea were their own. We are competitive about everything including all things food. And besides, if I don’t call it something how would you know what I was talking about.

    I have noticed that food in other countries is made from ingredients that are closer to the earth than we do in the States. Recently, I ate bread and jam for breakfast every day and despite my wheat allergy I suffered no ill effects.

    I think any lifestyle should include exercise proportional to ability. There were little old Italian ladies that passed me going uphill toting their groceries and puffing on a Camel. I was ashamed.

    And finally, if you don’t agree with something (beans for example) modify it. I don’t think there’s a one size fits all approach to anything. Life is about the individual experience.

  73. I feel like your blog post has no scientific backing other than how you feel…doesn’t really work…gluten-free foods can be just as bad for your if not worse…

  74. would you please explain how your findings on this issue, square up with the Ayurvedic–age old-regime of eating Kitcari “All traditional East Indian people know that when one is weakened or sick they should eat only kichari for a speedy recovery.The reasons as stated are that kichari is a delicious, light and easily digestible food that supplies all one’s nutritional needs while affording the internal organs the opportunity to recover from dietary excesses and/or deficiencies that are the foundation for disease.further The reasons as stated are that kichari is a delicious, light and easily digestible food that supplies all one’s nutritional needs while affording the internal organs the opportunity to recover from dietary excesses and/or deficiencies that are the foundation for disease.” so i wonder how do we square up both points of view–both claim to be so both maybe from millennium… looking to heal and need more guidance and opinions so i can then make an informed decision.. ta

  75. sorry messed that up–should have read; Syndrome X’ which is a constellation of conditions involving possible erratic blood sugar fluctuations, high blood pressure, overweight, particularly with weight carried around the middle, abnormalities of blood lipids, particularly triglycerides and gout. Kichari ameliorates all of these physical conditions by balancing body and blood chemistry and one of the first notable experiences is a greater sense of inner calm and stress relief. For many, this can be felt in as little as three days after beginning the kichari diet.

  76. Lectins are also found in tomatoes, garlic, avocados, leeks, cabbage, tea, parsley, mushrooms, carrots, blackberries, cherries, cantaloups, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, radish, sweet potatoes, cucumber seeds, eggs…

    And the list goes on…doesn’t make sense to me why these foods are allowed on Paleo but grains are not

    Sounds like a huge contradiction to me and highly discredits Paleo

  77. You’re really not bringing more people to this fad diet with no facts. You literally make no sense. People are obese because they eat too much food in general. Dont say shit about food when in actuality you no nothing. People who eat legumes are gonna life as obese unhealthy people with short lives? We’ll see honey. I don’t even know how you have a job doing this when it’s all based on opinion, dont go around misinforming people. I’m tired of seeing all this paleo shit and I’ll be glad when these sheep move on to the next “hot” diet. You don’t even comment back to the people who put you in your place. Several people have discredited you, bitch.

    1. jane – Wow, congratulations for officially being the rudest commenter I’ve ever had. Well, maybe not ever, but you definitely elicited a strong negative response from me. If you’d been brave enough to leave your email address, I would’ve emailed you personally to discuss the tone of your email and the fact that I think anonymous vitriolic commenters on the internet are one of the banes of our society. There is a list of references at the bottom of this article, as there has been since the day I published it. It is not just my “opinion”, as you would see if you read the references and/or did a simple google search for academic papers on these subjects. As for not commenting back to all the other people who’ve “put me in my place,” as you say, about this article, I don’t have time to write to every single person who comments negatively to me on my blog. I’m very busy HELPING PEOPLE BE HEALTHIER AND HAPPIER, and if people don’t want to get on board with eating real food, and instead feel the need to lambast me online anonymously, I usually don’t afford them my time to try to change their minds. If anyone else has anything negative to say about this article or me, please email me personally at neely@paleoplan.com so we can have an adult discussion about it.

  78. I can’t understand why somebody like Jane is on this site if she is so much against it. Do some people just look on internet to see what they can criticise? It might be better if she spent some time improving her English!

  79. Hi, maybe you’ve answered this before, but I was wondering about the nuts you say are good for us to eat. I know for a fact that the cashews that we get from grocery stores have to go through an extensive extraction process before we get them, so are these nuts raw, that we have to break out of the shell, or can we eat the modernly processed store bought kind, that wouldn’t have been available to our ancestors?

  80. Im sorry people are so selfish as to not realice how generous it is of you to give away what you know. Don’t let these rude people take away from all of us who apteciate your work! Thank you for all the info! As an adult I read this, do my own research and come to terms with my own conclusion. Your truth is very valid to me! Again thank you for your time!! And I’m sorry some people are too upset in their personal lives or live with some kind of resentment to not be thankful for the time others spend to communicate their knowledge.

  81. Hi,

    What about brown rice? Red rice or black rice? I am Asian and eating rice is something we do for generations, should we abandon that?

    As a That, I am interested in going Paleo diet for about a week, what is your suggestion?

    1. Dee – I think it’s interesting when Asians tell me that eating rice has been a part of their culture for generations, so it’s harder for them, as if eating wheat/bread/oats/rye and all foods made from those things has not been a part of my American/European culture for thousands of years as well ;) Just trying to put it into perspective. My answer is no, those things are not Paleo, and yes, if you want to try Paleo you’ll need to give those things up. I don’t know what a That is and I’m not sure why you’d go Paleo for only a week – can you clarify?

  82. Nice website but I disagree with the “facts” about quinoa as it pertains to the negative affect it has on the body; perhaps I am wrong but one thing I am not wrong about it that quinoa is not a grain as this website claims, it is a seed. Furthermore it is so high in nutrients that it is considered a superfood. Surely, there is some type of political agenda (interest) against quinoa in paleo marketing. Aside from this disagreement, I find the paleo diet to be extremely healthy and solid. Thanks!

    1. Pablo – Political agenda against quinoa? Um, no ;) Here’s an article I wrote on quinoa: http://www.paleoplan.com/2012/07-16/is-quinoa-paleo/ It is a pseudograin – not technically a “grain” as wheat is. However, it has many of the same traits as quinoa. And as I’ve said, if it acts like a grain and looks like a grain, it’s a grain to me. And having said all that, if your particular body responds well to quinoa, then by all means eat it :)

  83. I don’t know if you’re monitoring this board anymore, but I was wondering if the immune response you describe here is what causes some people to wake up with puffy faces the morning after eating wheat.


    1. Vanessa – Yes, it very well could be. That’s actually a common effect of gluten and other food sensitivities. That and puffiness under the eyes or dark circles under the eyes are tell-tale signs of food sensitivities. I see it all the time in kids, which is sad…

  84. I am sorry to inform you that saying legumes are poisonous for us is complete BS…

    In fact, the Greek island Ikaria has the longest living people on earth and one of the key ingredients of their diet is legumes (plus fish, fruit, vegetables and tea).

    I am sure the paleo diet has it’s merits since it has so many fans these days, but following by heart, everything the “homo sapiens” did is just stupid. They didn’t eat legumes cause the had’t been able to cook them. It’s called “evolution”. If you are so paleo why don’ t you just go and sleep on a tree…?

    Anyway, my opinion is that everything is good in moderation. All the diet “big secrets” like Atkins, Paleo, etc exist for one reason only. To make some people richer….

    Remember… calories in, calories out. Simple physics…(plus the metabolism quirks)

    Best of luck luck to all of you…

    1. termi21 – Last time I checked, we are all homo sapiens, as it’s the scientific name for humans.

      Also, I’m not really sure if you’ve taken a good look at the Ikarian lifestyle, but in general, they have much lower levels of stress than typical Westerners. I think that the level of stress we Westerners have in our lives now has a lot to do with our failing gut health and compromised immune systems. This is just a theory about the Ikarians, but they and plenty of other traditional eaters have indeed done very well with legumes in their diets. However, if you don’t process and cook them correctly, and even when you do, they DO in fact contain all the anti-nutrients I mentioned in this article. If you compound that with an already high level of chronic stress on your body, you’re likely going to get more of a negative reaction in your gut and immune system to those poisons. That – and the fact that most Westerners don’t take the time to process and cook their legumes properly – is possibly a cause for many people’s lowered tolerance to legumes.

      But either way, I don’t appreciate your tone and I’d like it if you didn’t ever comment on my blog again. Calling me stupid when you’ve just said something that is by definition stupid is not going to win you any fans over here. It is not going to win people over to your “side”. If you don’t want to be open minded about Paleo because you think it’s just a money-making scheme, then that’s your loss, as the millions of Paleo eaters in the world will tell you. I’m tired of reading comments like this on my posts, to be quite honest. “Why don’t you just go and sleep on a tree?” Come on… And everything is NOT good in moderation. If I eat wheat “in moderation” I get heinous digestive issues, eczema, acne, and headaches, and so do a lot of people. If you don’t like the Paleo diet, or whatever you want to call it, then stop reading my blog posts and STOP SAYING MEAN SHIT TO ME. Okey dokey?

  85. More about the Ikaria diet:


    “Dr Christina Chrysohoou, a cardiologist at the university’s medical school, found that the Ikarian diet featured a lot of beans and not much meat or refined sugar. The locals also feast on locally grown and wild greens, some of which contain 10 times more antioxidants than are found in red wine, as well as potatoes and goat’s milk.

    Chrysohoou thinks the food is distinct from that eaten on other Greek islands with lower life expectancy. “Ikarians’ diet may have some differences from other islands’ diets,” she says. “The Ikarians drink a lot of herb tea and small quantities of coffee; daily calorie consumption is not high.”

    Ohhh… the horrors.. they don’t eat much meat, but they do it a lot of beans… And somehow they will live more than any of us :)

  86. I just started Paleo and I am by no means an expert on this lifestyle. I still have lots of questions about how certain grains were decided to be worth of avoidance instead of, say, proper preparation. Nevertheless, I have been following Paleo for a few weeks now and I cannot remember ever feeling this good in my adult life. I am a person who has followed every nutritional recommendation from nutritionists and personal trainers, counted calories obsessively and worked out 6 days per week. Nothing helped me to feel as well as eating Paleo (with no grains). On other diets that included grains, my weight loss was stalled. The more I restricted calories, the more my metabolism slowed and the lower my energy levels were.

    I can’t say that I understand the rational for every aspect of the diet but I can say that it works. I am steadily losing weight and feeling full of energy and focus. One of the best parts about it is that I don’t even crave sweets anymore. It’s amazing. I cannot say enough about this lifestyle. I don’t know what there is to critique really. I think that anyone who doubts the plan should just try it for a month and see how they feel.

  87. I have been raw vegan (90% raw) for 2 years and although your article makes some sense, you can’t say ‘grains’ and have an accurate article. Certain grains are worse than others. And you obviously have to take organic, GM, processed into the equation. Wheat and millet are both grains, but are no where near the same. And you can ‘soak out’ the phytic acid content in foods. I avoid a lot of grains altogether – mainly rice, wheat, corn, multigrain, oats, beans, quinoa. A lot are GM and/or highly processed and/or high in starch or gluten and once cooked, hold little nutritional value. Millet and amaranth (although, some do not class amaranth as a grain) on the other hand, can be use a variety of ways and still hold a lot of it’s nutritional value depending how you use it – plus there’s no gluten and low starch.

    Nuts are also extremely different and can not be classed in the same box – almonds have an alkaline effect on the body; cashews and walnuts have an acidic effect on the body. So almonds are better to eat, than the other 2. And soaking nuts before use also gets rid of the phytic acid content.

    Avoiding anything with gluten, GM, non-organic and high in starch is a non-brainer, but one should not class all grains and all nuts together. They’re all different.

  88. Hello, this is new to me and makes a lot of sense why I haven’t been able to drop weight. (the nuts and seeds and beans for one…my deficiency in mag/iron/zinc/etc all makes sense now) We even moved to Ecuador where fruits and veggies are natural with a million seeds in them, jaja. The cows and pigs free range and basically eat grass. (super lean beef is tough but I learned pineapple an papaya tenderize meats) We have a serious stock pile of chia seeds we got here. Are they also full of phytic acid by chance or ok to eat or are they a grain? They use tapioca in a milk drink they make so I am thinking they just might have tapioca flour here. I have been eating what is assumed to be healthy…even read conflicting reports saying we need yogurt and milk for weight loss and milk tastes soooo good here. Milk on a bowl of ice cream will be my cheat…unless I loose my taste for it. Anyway, I have 20 pounds easy that doesn’t belong on my body and if I think back to thinner years where I looked great…dropping 30 total would be awesome. (the great fruits here and the added variety of tropical fruits and better vegetables will make it easier) I am ready to follow this diet!! :)

  89. I just started the Paleo diet and so far I’m doing great. I have celiac disease, dairy allergies, beef allergies and banana allergies. What I’m having a problem with at the moment is breakfast because I usually take cereal in the morning with rice milk but now seems like I can’t take it and I don’t like salty stuff in the morning. What do you suggest me that I should do?

    1. Kenneth – Try searching “paleo cereal” or “no oat oatmeal”, all of which are made with nuts, seeds, fruit, etc., and you can pour coconut milk (canned) over it to make it very hearty, creamy and delicious.

  90. An extraordinarily easy to find refutation of an above made point and another of your articles:

    “What the Science Says

    Emerging research appears to contradict the idea that saponins from quinoa cause inflammation. Researchers examined the inflammatory effect of saponins from quinoa. Contrary to Cordain’s theory, they found saponins possess anti-inflammatory properties and reduce inflammation by suppressing proteins involved in the inflammatory process, called cytokines. Researchers concluded that quinoa saponins may be useful as functional food components to prevent and treat inflammation. The results were published in the April 2014 edition of the “Journal of Food Science.””

    Not that Livestrong is the worlds most rigorous science journal, but at the very least it is a source that exists outside of the realm of a Paleo-diet-related brand. Sourcing info only from people who have financial skin in the game seems disingenuous (if most of your sources are urls with “Paleo” in the name – I’m not interpreting that as much independent research done from a variety of sources).
    Stating that something worked for you (i.e. anecdote) is a great way to share with people close to you, or in a personal blog, but not a great way to represent scientific consensus out in the public sphere. Obfuscating your actual depth of scientific understanding while also fomenting fear (“…more important than his health and longevity” read: cookies will kill you, you weak willed masses!) by bouncing around between scientific terminology and colloquial language also seems like a suspect way to pass along truly beneficial information. It does seem like a good way to drum up some $90/an hour consultation phone calls though.

    1. Elmer – Whatever you want to tell yourself. But I still insist that if it looks like a grain and acts like a grain, then it is a grain. And furthermore, a lot of people have issues with quinoa, which is why I suggest that if people are trying to eat a Paleo diet and find out what works for them and what does not, they avoid quinoa. I don’t really care what Livestrong has to say about it.

  91. I think the allowance of nuts and seeds in Paleo, even with ‘moderation’ (in a modern lifestyle context, as if that is a quantified reference), is ridiculous. Besides lectins, nuts and seeds are dense with phytates ect. Okay, not as many nuts and seeds are ingested by our ancient food consumer, so what, the net effect is the same as grains and beans due to density. I find it jaw-dropping as to why Paleo disregards numerical fact within a modern context and massages the message with ‘coping’ strategies and rationales in the name of a loosely quantified human or human-like being that lived long ago.

  92. Enjoyed this post, but wanted to let you know that Wikipedia is not actually a “scholarly” reference. It would give more weight to your posts of you found actual research to back your claims instead of relying on the knowledge of whomever decides to write something in Wikipedia.

  93. How long did our ancestors who ate such a healthy diet live? Also the no where in the scientific study quoted above does it refer to the elements of the Paleo diet as the answer to western society ills. I certainly agree that a diet based on natural products and one that eliminates refined products is the best, but I am not convinced that cutting out all dairy and all grains is the answer. The Paleo diet seems too closely related to Atkins revised diet or Dukans diet where protein reigns and carbohydrates are minimised or abolished altogether and in our day so hard to live by because it is so restricitive. Interested to hear comments from the medical world and scientists. So far I have not found a practising doctor who promotes the Paelo diet to someone like ue who does not suffer from diabetes or gluten allergy.

    1. LolA – Based largely on the study of contemporary hunter-gatherer societies but also on dental and other anthropological data, it’s believed that our Paleolithic ancestors who survived the high mortality of infancy and childhood, lived into their 60s and 70s. Here’s an in-depth article in the subject: http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/faculty/gurven/papers/GurvenKaplan2007pdr.pdf.

      Unlike Atkins and Dukan,the Paleo diet is not necessarily low carb and is about maximizing nutrient density and minimizing inflammation. The Paleo diet is a framework from which individual micronutrient and macronutrient needs can be met. To find a paleo doctor, try http://www.primaldocs.com or http://www.paleophysiciansnetwork.com.

  94. I get some major LOLZ at the people who think they’re “disproving” Paleo here, via their “research”, without ever having ever actually tried eating this way!… SMH

    Hang in there, Nealy! Those of us who have actually tried it, KNOW that it works!!! ;)

  95. To the nay sayers and whiners making comments: this is a Paleo diet site. It is for people who have chosen this life style. If you don’t like or believe what is being shared here then go away quietly. Our choice of diet is our business just as your choice of diet is your business. It’s like arguing religion or politics: we all have our own opinions. Let us have our opinions without reproach. Not to be gross but why do you think you need to soak beans before you consume them? The toxins in beans are what cause gas! It’s nature’s way of sayings ‘don’t eat this!’. They cause intestinal distress!

  96. What an awesome article! I was vegan for 2 years and didn’t understand why I had so much bloating, joint pain, acne- you name it. I’ve been eating mostly paleo for just over 2 months now, and holy hell, it’s like night and day. Thanks for explaining this in an easy-to-understand, digestible (haha) way. I look forward to more of your articles!

  97. I have been on a grain , fruit, dairy free diet for 3 years , my new diet consists of grass fed meats eggs veges long boiled .
    After a heart attack I decided to take a biologists advice and take this diet on, included in this diet is Deeks bread a first in the world grain free bread made in Canberra, this bread helped me through the hard times.
    I am now 71 lost 17 kilos in 6 months I was 80 kilos well over my small body size . I am back riding my bicycle and back snow sling. I have tried many diets but none have worked except this one.

  98. Thanks for the encouragement to stay away from legumes, grains and nuts. I recently began eating raw almonds again as I miss the crunch. I also have been more constipated as well. This is something I still live with even after 22 weeks on the Paleo plan. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Susan,

      You probably know that nuts are a big part of the Paleo diet, while grains and legumes are not. Eating raw almonds is great for some, but others have trouble digesting them without soaking them first, although this would take away the “crunch” that you crave. How much fiber are you eating? It can be easy to slip into a high protein/high fat but low fiber existence while being Paleo. I would encourage you to aim for 40 grams of fiber daily, which should primarily come from vegetables. Eating probiotic rich foods, like fermented veggies or drinking kombucha can also help with constipation. If all else fails, take a high quality refrigerated probiotic supplement to help your bowels move better. I personally take 50 billion CFUs daily, but more or less may work better for you. Let us know if you have any more questions!

  99. I understand quinoa is actually a seed not a grain and wild rice a grass, not rice – so why can’t they be eaten on this plan?

    1. Hi Suze,

      Great question! Quinoa and wild rice are pseudo-grains; seeds that have grain-like properties. Although both are gluten-free, quinoa and wild rice are both highly concentrated carb sources. Quinoa contains anti-nutrients including phytates, lectins and saponins that can impede digestion and absorption and damage the gut lining. Wild rice contains phytates. Not everyone will be sensitive to quinoa and wild rice but depending on health status and genetic susceptibility, some will have problems after eating them. The Paleo diet focuses on sourcing and consuming nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory, easily digested and absorbed foods. The high carb content and anti-nutrients in pseudo-grains takes them off the Paleo table. However, if your energy expenditure is high enough to require concentrated carbs and you feel you tolerate these foods, eating them one in a while may not be a problem.

  100. The best argument for Paleo is a simple one: Our bodies are the result of millions of years of evolution driven by natural selection. Grains were not big part of the human diet until we started farming (about 10,000 years ago).

    10,000 years is a very small amount of time when compared to a million years, so it’s not surprising that our bodies are not well adapted to eating grains. In evolutionary terms, our bodies have lived with grains for less than 1% of the period we have existed as a species.

    For processed foods, the issue of mal-adaptation is undoubtedly even more acute.

    On the other hand the use of farm-raised grains is what has allowed the human civilization, as we know it today, to emerge. It’s safe to say that without farm-raised grains, there probably would be no widespread human civilization today. Indeed, instead of 7 billion people, our numbers would probably still be in the 10 million range — or less.

    When I learned about Paleo the first time, I was struck by the fact that this largely goes against what we are being told by the food “experts” in our world.

    The fact is that with our current level of technology, it would not be possible to sustain 7 billion people on the planet using a grain-free and legume-free diet.

    In terms of better health for the human body, the paleo diet is undoubtedly superior.
    Paradoxically, nobody in a position of leadership is ever going to admit this, however, because it is simply not economically sustainable for humanity as a whole.

    The fact that there may be health problems related to the widespread use of grains (and legumes) as food for the “masses,” is probably not deemed to be an issue. Indeed, it seems reasonable to presume that this is assessed to be an acceptable trade-off for furthering the survival of billions of people.

    Perhaps, what we really need is a sustainable paleo diet for the masses (either that, or about 5 billion fewer people trying to survive on this planet).

  101. It has been suggested that a viable alternate protein source is insects. In many primitive societies, insects are consumed with relish. My question: does insect protein qualify as Paleo? If so, who is willing to try some insects to save the planet?

    1. Hi Deb,

      I’m not sure it will save the planet but I am more than willing to try some insects! Yes, insects are Paleo. They provide a sustainable source of protein. Crickets are particularly popular and contain a complete set of amino acids, as well as a lot of other nutrients such as B-vitamins, potassium, omega-3s and iron. Edible crickets and other edible insects, cricket and locust flours and even cricket chips can be found on-line. Check product ingredients carefully to make sure they’re all Paleo. If you try some insects, let us know what you think!

  102. I have had M.S for many years ( I am 52) and was given Interferon injection ever 2nd day to help counteract the symptoms. Over the tears I have also had several operations such as 2 C-sections, one of which I had a medical swab left inside which caused Primary Peritonitis which continued to reoccur resulting in more surgery. I also have had spinal surgery, a total Hysterectomy and I did not gain weight and seemed to be fine. However, last year I started having heart problems, bowel problems and my doctor could not understand why no medication was helping. I ended up in hospital emergency as I had a heart rate of 220/ 110. Within 2 hours I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called ATYPICAL HUS, and was given 3 – 5 months to live. Long story short I was given plasma transfusions daily for 11 weeks, 2 blood transfusions, a week in ICU in induced coma because I stopped breathing!
    The specialists told me I had to boil my food to death and stop eating salty foods such as bread but that was a year ago and I thought I would just eat what I liked because I seemed to be ok. But I have gained a huge amount of weight and can not loose it at all. I also have no body temperature control and an so hot that even my knuckles sweat.
    Would this be due to too much or not enough lectin?

    1. Hi Tanya,
      I’m really sorry to hear about your multi-faceted health situation. With regards to your question about lectins being responsible for your symptoms, it is pretty difficult (if not impossible) to determine this given the complexity of your medical history. MS is an autoimmune disease, which is absolutely correlated with a leaky gut, which is heavily influenced by diet and gut health. Eliminating lectins and other foods that we eliminate on the autoimmune protocol of the Paleo diet has helped many people with autoimmune diseases (myself included) to control their symptoms, and even go into remission. As far as your diagnosis with Cardisil, this is a rare genetic disease that not a lot is known about, however due to it’s relation to the brain, arteries, and stoke-potential, I would HIGHLY recommend reading and seriously considering the work of the neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter. He also recommends the complete removal of grains and legumes from the diet, and recommends a lower-carb and higher-fat approach to controlling neurological and autoimmune disorders. His book (Grain Brain)is well-written and referenced, and I recommend keeping all of your doctors in the loop about any sort of dietary changes that you decide to make. I wish you the best of luck, and the BEST of health!

      Kinsey Jackson, MS, CNS
      Paleo Plan

  103. Excellent read! I’m learning a lot of how the Paleo Diet or eating habits works. It all makes such good sense. I just hope it works for me.

  104. I barely have anything to eat! I am very sensitive to the lectins in grains, they cause me great health problems. But I am also compassionate and sensitive to the slaughter of animals and don’t want to eat them. And no seeds or nuts due to history of diverticulitis. And I am also sensitive to dairy foods. All I have left to eat is organic non-GMO fruits and vegetables and oils. And not together based on the principles of food combining. I will soon have Kwashiorkor’s. Help. I am in trouble.

    1. Hi Dr Anna Nordin,

      It does seem that you are in nutritional trouble. There seems to be very little you are allowing yourself to eat. OK, grains and dairy are problematic physiologically but you are also imposing rules on yourself such as abstaining from meat and not combining fruits and vegetables.

      First, it is totally fine to combine fruits and vegetables especially if they are the two main food sources in your diet. Second, (Please know that I have the utmost respect for your ethics and beliefs but I am coming at this from a Paleo diet perspective) I wonder if you are familiar with the ethical omnivore movement? http://www.ethicalomnivore.org. The following statement is from http://www.go-eo.org/GoEO/Welcome.html, “ethical omnivore (e-thi-kəl äm-ni-vor) : an individual committed to reducing consumption of meat and dairy products and who only consumes these products when they originate from animals fed an antibiotic- and hormone- free diet raised on non-factory farms committed to the most sustainable and humane farming practices.” Ethical omnivorism is perfectly in line with the Paleo diet and it is a way to merge your compassion for animals with compassion for yourself.

      Our nutritionist Kinsey Jackson was a vegetarian for 25 years before she went Paleo, a dietary change that she believes saved her life, https://www.paleoplan.com/2014/10-08/ra-rheumatoid-arthritis-paleo-diet/. If you’d like to speak to Kinsey directly, please feel free to email her, Kinsey@paleoplan.com.

      In health,


  105. The real reason grains are reduced or left out is because they are carb heavy. This diet is a carb restricted diet which caused weight lost because it does not cause an injection of insulin by the body.

    1. Hi Fred,
      Indeed one of the reasons grains are excluded from the Paleo diet is due to their carbohydrate load. Another major reason is that they contain problematic anti-nutrients (i.e. lectins, saponins, enzyme inhibitors, etc.) that are well-known triggers of a leaky gut and subsequent inflammation. There are “carb heavy” foods allowed on the Paleo diet, such as fruit, but we recommend eating these foods in moderation. Thanks for your comment!

      In good health,
      Kinsey Jackson, LMP, MS, CNS®

  106. Why all the pro and con commentary? Just try it and if it works for you great! If not, keep searching for your own cure. I’m going to try it. I’ve lived with such intense muscle pain the last 5 years I’ll gladly try it. Doctors call it fibromyalgia with migrating arthritis and stopped looking for a cure or other diagnosis. All they want to do is load me up with dangerous meds; which I don’t believe in.

  107. First of all, Thank you for sharing. I have 2 questions.
    1. What about recent official new the meat (the most important food in the Paleo diet) is cancerigen?
    2. Where can I find part 2 of your article?
    Thanks once again.

  108. Interesting blog, but I just wish Wikipedia would not be used as a source since there is little reliability associated to it. Students at primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools are advised that Wikipedia is not a reliable source; after all, any of us could create a Wikipedia account and add any “facts” we wished. Therefore, it surprised me that Wikipedia would be used to corroborate an otherwise serious blog site. As a new subscriber, I hope that reliable sources such as journals will be used to substantiate any health claims in future blogs.

  109. It is unfortunate that we have to/need give up so many of the things we love to eat. I was forced onto the Paleo plan due to health issues, among several, was my complete inability to absorb calcium and iron. I had to go cold turkey off of gluten, soy, casein and sugar. Shortly thereafter had to go off of grain. I am only 60 years of age, and I talked all the time about death, because I felt so poorly that this must be what it feels like to be dying. I had an immediate turn around; like two weeks or less and felt well, no more brain fog, lots of energy and honestly became another person. I am completely intolerant of grains, soy, processed sugar, gluten and lactose. When I have small amounts of any of it, I become ill. You could not pay me to eat a dinner roll or slice of bread. Cheese is also a thing of the past. I am a believer of the Paleo plan and it is a new way of living for me. Additionally I lost 12 pounds. I have been on this new way of eating for about 4 or 5 months. Cheers to those of you that get it, and those of you that don’t, perhaps you are just not as sensitive to these things as I am or many others, and all I can say, is good for you. We all have to figure out what works for us and do it. If you are not well, then try Paleo. It might cure you.

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