October 16, 2009

The Paleo Diet Is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet (The Paleo Diet Update v5, #42)

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  • The Paleo Diet Update
    Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
    Issue: # 2009 – 42 / October 16, 2009


    Hello! Welcome to The Paleo Diet Update, our review of scientifically based news explaining how you can change your diet to protect your health.

    Did you know that diseases as diverse as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, allergies, asthma, gout and autoimmune diseases have something in common? These diseases, along with aging-related complaints, are all associated with inflammation.

    Emulating the diet of the Paleolithic period, which accounts for almost all of human evolution, eliminates many of the sources of such chronic inflammation that have been linked to most, if not all, modern diseases.

    In this issue, we take a look at how chronic inflammation can spread damage throughout the body leading to various diseases. We'll also share tips on how to help you transform recipes to be Paleo.

    Thanks to Maelán Fontes and Pablo Martinez Ramirez, this update is also available in Spanish.



    Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

    In This Issue

    Converting Recipes to Be Paleo
        The Paleo Diet Is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet             by Wiley Long

    Each organ, and even the bloodstream, contains a part of our immune system, which uses inflammation to protect us from bacteria, viruses, parasites, molds and foreign proteins as well as to heal wounds. Ideally, such threats are neutralized and the associated inflammation is resolved.

    An unresolved inflammatory response (chronic inflammation), however, can spread damage throughout the body. Researchers from different areas of medicine have independently and repeatedly concluded that inflammation plays a key role in a variety of illnesses.

    “I am a chiropractic doctor working in a multi-specialty setting (with physical therapists, several medical physicians [orthopedic surgery, spine neurosurgery, internal medicine, pain management] and acupuncture). I have been in practice since 1982. I have read The Paleo Diet and The Paleo Diet for Athletes as well as other publications by authors who are generally in concert with what I guess we could call Paleo-principles. My diet is the Paleo Diet.

    For patients who claim to have tried everything in pursuit of chronic pain relief, addressing underlying pro-inflammatory dietary practices can be a fundamental key to recovery. The Paleo Diet can be the key that unlocks the door to sustained pain relief.

    Many of my patients suffer from chronic pain and the principles of the Paleo Diet are valuable as it is essentially an anti-inflammatory diet. For instance, chronic pain sufferers who attempt to combat symptoms without addressing underlying omega-3 versus omega-6 imbalances from over reliance on grains and lack of animal sources of DHA and EPA, are fighting an uphill battle. The same can be said for foods with high glycemic indices that also have a pro-inflammatory effect.”

    Robb R.

    How the Paleo Diet diet relieved chronic pain

    Adopting the Paleo Diet resulted in both pain relief and improved athletic performance for a patient working with Dr. Russell. An endurance athlete in his mid-50s suffered from persistent back pain due, in part, to two degenerated lumbar discs. He was beginning to make some improvement in spinal pain with some specific Flexion-Distraction Mobilization (chiropractic treatments) and exercises.

    Dr. Russell also suggested The Paleo Diet for Athletes as an anti-inflammatory diet based on the patient’s athletic endeavors and the inflammatory nature of his psoriasis.

    The patient’s pain improved more rapidly than expected, and his recovery time was rapid and with far less physical discomfort than he had experienced previously. As a bonus, the patient judged his athletic performance to also be improved.

    Connection between inflammation and Alzheimer's disease identified

    Inflammation is involved in almost every disease process, and reducing chronic inflammation is often found to be therapeutic. Neurologists have also reported an inverse relationship between anti-inflammatory medications and Alzheimer's disease. In 1997, the journal Neurology published findings that people who had been regularly taking anti-inflammatory medicine had much lower rates of Alzheimer's disease.1

    As recently as September of 2009, the journal Gerontology published a study linking neuroinflammation with the development of several central nervous system diseases, including late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.2

    Link between chronic inflammation and cancer found

    Other researchers have also connected inflammation with cancer. The journal Cell published a study that identified a basic cellular mechanism that may link chronic inflammation with cancer.

    The researchers identified a protein called p100 as allowing communication between inflammation and cancer development processes.3 Chronic inflammation might lead to unrestrained cancer development.3

    Chronic inflammation associated with heart attack and stroke

    In 2003, the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a joint statement associating inflammatory markers (such as C-reactive protein or CRP) with coronary heart disease and stroke. CRP is one of the acute phase proteins to increase during systemic inflammation.

    The statement was based on evidence implicating inflammation as a key factor in atherosclerosis.4 That’s the process of fatty deposit build up in arteries. High levels of hs-CRP consistently predict recurrent coronary events in cases of unstable angina and heart attack.4 Higher hs-CRP levels are also associated with the likelihood of an artery reclosing following balloon angioplasty, and lower survival rates.4 High levels of hs-CRP also predict prognosis and recurrent events for stroke and peripheral arterial disease.4

    Leaky-gut syndrome linked to chronic inflammation

    Increased intestinal permeability, also known as leaky-gut syndrome, can affect overall health by allowing passage of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from the intestinal lumen into peripheral circulation.

    LPS comes from the cell walls of resident gram negative gut bacteria, and is one of the most potent pro-inflammatory antigens known.5 Increased passage of LPS into circulation induces pro-inflammatory cytokines (communication proteins of the immune system) leading to low-grade chronic inflammation.

    Dietary saponins from potatoes, beans, and legumes induce a leaky gut,6, 7 as do dietary lectins, alcohol, and NSAIDS. Lectins survive cooking and processing, as well as digestive enzymatic degradation, so they arrive in circulation intact in physiological concentrations to activate the immune system. Lectins are also able to increase E. coli and gram-negative bacteria overgrowth in the intestinal lumen.8

    Why the Paleo Diet is an anti-inflammatory diet

    Returning to the diet that humans evolved to eat addresses many underlying pro-inflammatory modern dietary practices. The Paleo Diet corrects the pro-inflammatory effects of omega-63:/omega-6 3 fatty acid imbalance that can result from consumption of vegetable oils, grain-based products, and a lack of DHA and EPA from animal sources.

    The diet also eliminates other modern food products that have been implicated in the inflammatory basis of disease, such asincluding dairy products, refined sugar, and lectins. Lectins are found in beans, grains, and legumes, which are not part of the Paleo Diet. found in grains and legumes.

    While the diet also excludes processed foods (such as refined or hydrogenated vegetable oils in margarines, potato chips and baked goods that can be pro-inflammatory), it does include olive oil. This highly mono-unsaturated oil can actually reduce inflammation. The high-fiber content of the diet also helps to reduce inflammation.

    In addition, foods with high glycemic indices also have a pro-inflammatory effect. The low glycemic load foods of the Paleo Diet avoids such high-glycemic foodsaddress this , which also helps to lower insulin levels, and help to maintain optimum weight.

    Next time, we’ll take a look at the many aspects of the Paleo Diet that reduce your risk of disease to improve mental and physical function in later life. We'll also share ideas on how to keep Paleo when dining in Japanese restaurants.

              Converting Recipes to Be Paleo             by Nell Stephenson
    One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is ‘what are your favorite Paleo recipes?’ This really catches me off-guard because ALL the meals I cook, whether I use a recipe or not, are Paleo!

    I’m certainly not implying that all the cookbooks out there are designated Paleo books. It’s just that it’s not that hard to convert a recipe to conform to Paleo foods!

    Maybe you can’t use your Mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook from 1953 and figure out a way to make the perfect yellow cake while keeping Paleo, but if we’re talking about main dishes, it’s not so hard to stay Paleo.

    Here are a few tips to help you transform a recipe, which may have some very non-Paleo origins.

    If a recipe calls for butter to sauté, replace that with olive oil. If you’re working with recipes that call for a really high temperature, try grape seed oil because that has a higher burning point than olive oil.

    A recipe utilizing cheese as a topping or garnish is easily changed; too. If it’s a soup or stew, try shredded green or red cabbage on top. The crunch makes a nice balance to the soft texture of a stew.

    If you’ve found a great sauce recipe that seems Paleo, and then realized that you won’t have pasta for the sauce, worry no more. Just use baked spaghetti squash for pasta. It’s delicious with a homemade marinara that includes some diced grilled chicken!

    A recipe using flour as a thickener can sometimes be altered with the substitution of almond meal. Be open-minded because the flavor will obviously be a bit different.

    A main dish that was meant to be served on top of rice or pasta can easily be served over a bed of steamed kale, chard, spinach or collard greens, to name a few.

    Try using coconut milk in lieu of dairy milk in recipes. Again, the flavor and fat content may be a bit different, but change can be good.

    I purposely make each meal different from the last to ensure the most variety in my diet. I’ll prepare chicken one night, salmon the next, bison the following day, and so on, always making enough so that I have leftovers the next day for lunch.

    As I’ve said many times, keep it interesting and literally play in the kitchen! Find what works, what doesn’t, and keep your palate pleased!

              News and Upcoming Events

    • Dr. Loren Cordain to speak in Las Vegas, Nevada: On November 6, Dr. Cordain will address the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) and present “Dietary Mechanisms of Autoimmunity”.

    • Dr. Loren Cordain to speak in Orlando, Florida: On November 10, Dr. Cordain will address the Optometric Nutrition Society. He will be presenting “The Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet: Health Implications for the 21st Century and “Implementing the Paleo Diet with Contemporary Foods”.

    • Congratulations to Nell Stephenson: Nell, our resident Paleo expert, competed in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii last Saturday, October 10th. In the 35/W35-39 age/division, Nell was 7th in her age group with a total time of 10:47:41. That breaks down into Swim: 1:19:13, Bike: 5:36:17 and Run: 3:44:08. Great job, Nell!

    • What would you like to see in The Paleo Diet Update? We’re upgrading this newsletter to bring you the very best, most scientifically valid, cutting-edge publication exploring how diet affects health, and prevents and reverses disease. We’re adding new content, and are planning exciting topics. Here’s your chance to add to the Update – please send your suggestions and tell me what you would like to see!
              Our Recommendations

    • Still looking for a reputable cure for acne among all the acne cures out there? Since Dr. Cordain was the lead author of a 2002 article explaining what causes and cures acne, there have been at least 17 subsequent, peer-reviewed articles showing that diet can indeed cure acne.

      “This book explains how yet another 'disease' can be cured by removing the cause, it has worked for me and loads of others…and it's the very first thing dermatologists should be prescribing. My inflammation screeched to a halt within 10 days and my non-inflammatory acne is getting clearer and clearer as the weeks wear on. Your body needs time to adjust and heal, it won’t happen overnight, but neither do most medications or topicals and they don't get to the root of the problem. If you're suffering, I urge you to buy this and take the first step to clear skin…"


      Even if you’ve already tried every remedy out there, don’t give up. The reason other treatments fail is because they didn’t treat the immediate causes of acne:

      When people have acne, corneocytes (the outer layer of skin cells) will stick together if the cell connectors called desmosomes remain intact. And, this happens because of diet.

      Most people with acne are producing excess sebum, and that is also influenced by diet.

      Plus, everyone who has acne has underlying inflammation, and that too is influenced by diet.

      Based on science and clinical trials, The Dietary Cure for Acne stops the processes that cause acne, and promotes optimum health in your skin and throughout the rest of your body. In fact, most who try it are almost as thrilled with the beneficial side effects (such as weight loss, improved athletic stamina, relief from painful conditions, etc.) as they are with the elimination of their acne, and their new clear skin.

      “If you are a parent or friend of someone who suffers through this condition, you are doing them a disservice by not giving them this…"


    • Can diet replace aspirin and sleeping pills? Here’s a report we just received of how the Paleo Diet put an end to frequent migraines and sleepless nights:

      “About 5 months ago I decided to make the big change in my life. It ended up being a change for my entire family.

      We are a very active family. We all love to hike. I help coach my 8-year-old’s soccer team, and my daughter does soccer and gymnastics. I did not make this change because I wanted to lose weight, although it is a great benefit. I made this change because of the constant battle I have had with migraines. With every child, my migraines became more frequent and more intense. I have done all the food testing, seasoning testing, medicines, etc. I did not want to live like that anymore…It affected everyone in my household. So, after hearing much about Paleo and reading the book, I decided that it was well worth a try.

      After the first week, something major changed for me – I was sleeping. I have had to take meds to sleep for longer than I care to remember. After the second week, something more incredible happened – my energy level was incredibly higher. From there, it was all good.

      I started exercising more because I had the energy. My 5-year-old was taking walks with me 3 times a week. The best part was that my headaches were gone. With no headaches, no migraines, I felt like I was 10 years younger. Ok, maybe that was not the best part – the best part was my kids noticing how much more I could keep up with them.

      Changing our household to eat properly has changed all of our lives. The huge bonus is that I have lost 15 lbs as well. Now, that is the type of bonus I like. Thank you Dr. Cordain – you and your book have changed the lives of my family for the better, for life.”

      Yvonne H.

      Want to see out how the Paleo Diet can help you? The Paleo Diet and The Paleo Diet for Athletes are available at

              Follow Up and Feedback – Insulin Resistance and Fructose

    In this section, we’ll share readers’ concerns and questions about nutrition and the Paleo Diet to help you better understand how to use the diet to optimize your health and fitness.

    We recently received this question:

    ”I read in a recent Paleo Diet Update that if you’re overweight and not active, you may have to limit fruits. Can you please explain more about that?”

    You may need to limit fruit intake due to insulin resistance, which is very common. Besides fruit, many people also eat a lot of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, which upregulate the glucose transporter GLUT 5 and the liver enzyme fructokinase. People with a long history of high fructose intake (especially those who suffer from some of the diseases caused by high fructose like insulin resistance, high triglycerides, high uric acid, etc.) should restrict fructose intake for a few weeks to downregulate GLUT 5 and fructokinase. Then, they can start more normal fructose intake – that’s no more than 40-50 grams/day.

    You can see the fructose consumption of various fruits on our website at

    Although we can't answer every question personally due to the number of letters received, we are very interested in hearing your thoughts, learning about your experiences, and understanding your questions. Many of the questions that we receive will be answered in future newsletters.

    Talk to you next week!

    To your optimum health,

    Wiley Long, M.S., Nutrition and Exercise Science



    1. Aisen PS, Davis KL. (1997). The search for disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Neurology 1997 May;48(5 Suppl 6):S35-41.

    2. McNaull BB, Todd S, McGuinness B, Passmore AP. (2009) Inflammation and Anti-Inflammatory Strategies for Alzheimer's Disease – A Mini-Review. Gerontology, 2009 Sep 10. [Epub ahead of print].

    3. Basak S, Kim H, Kearns JD, Tergaonkar V, O'Dea E, Werner SL, Benedict CA, Ware CF, Ghosh G, Verma IM, Hoffmann A. (2007). A fourth IkappaB protein within the NF-kappaB signaling module. Cell 2007 Jan 26;128(2):369-81.

    4. Inflammation, Heart Disease and Stroke: The Role of C-Reactive Protein. Retrieved September 22, 2009, from American Heart Association Web site:

    5. Maes M, Coucke F, Leunis JC. Normalization of the increased translocation of endotoxin from gram negative enterobacteria (leaky gut) is accompanied by a remission of chronic fatigue syndrome. Neuro endocrinology letters 2007;28(6):739-44.

    6. Gee JM, Wal JM, Miller K, et al. Effect of saponin on the transmucosal passage of beta-lactoglobulin across the proximal small intestine of normal and beta-lactoglobulin-sensitised rats. Toxicology 1997;117(2-3):219-28.

    7. Keukens EA, de Vrije T, van den Boom C, et al. Molecular basis of glycoalkaloid induced membrane disruption. Biochimica et biophysica acta 1995;1240(2):216-28.

    8. Cordain L, Toohey L, Smith MJ, Hickey MS. Modulation of immune function by dietary lectins in rheumatoid arthritis. The British journal of nutrition 2000;83(3):207-17.



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      Posted via email from sl26mi


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