33

votes

can't wrap my head around one aspect of Robb Wolf's 30-day challenge

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 13, 2011 at 2:37 AM

I'm new to Paleo and in a steep learning curve right now so apologies for my incessant questions. Here's what I'm wondering about now:

The 30-day challenge says that once we eliminate all the potential problem foods for 30 days, it'll then be easy for us to figure out what we can tolerate, since as soon as we re-introduce it, we'll notice if we feel worse which tells us to avoid or limit that food. I just listened to Robb's podcast with Kurt Harris and he talks about this as well - that's he's not "anti-dairy", he just thinks not everyone can handle it, so give it a break for a while, then bring it back in and see how you feel

The thing is, my understanding was that the body produces digestive enzymes according to the type of diet it's being tasked with digesting. I've actually seen research papers on this. So if that's true, then it seems like OF COURSE everyone is going to feel GI distress once they reintroduce wheat or dairy or legumes, because the body won't have had it for 30 days and so will have decreased production of the enzymes needed to break it down.

In short, is it possible that the 30-day challenge gives people "false negatives", i.e. bad reactions to foods that, prior to doing the challenge, their bodies might have actually tolerated perfectly well?

And apologies if this is hugely ignorant. I am not a scientist, just a lowly person with IBS trying to figure this out.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on June 15, 2013
at 06:01 PM

I strongly agree that this is a potential issue, though I want to point out that these would actually be "false positives." positive/negative doesn't refer to whether something is good or bad, it refers to whether you judge that the property you're looking for -- in this case a food intolerance -- is present (positive) or absent (negative). It's like testing "positive" for herpes...

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 30, 2013
at 07:36 PM

The question then is how long must you reintroduce a food before you find out whether it's problematic? 21 days? 28 days? Depends on the food?

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 18, 2011
at 11:30 PM

"Anyone who dramatically increases their veggie intake will experience gas/bloat. Because they aren't yet creating sufficient digestive enzymes for that diet." I disagree. It is supposedly true about dairy but I wouldn't say that it is true about everything. Some people just have problems with vegetables period. I have never had problems with vegetables, fruits, or meat, even after months without any of them on certain dietary experiments.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 18, 2011
at 11:27 PM

It is true for dairy but not necessarily true for everything. I have never had problems with vegetables.

C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

(1371)

on November 18, 2011
at 10:11 PM

dunno....baha the first round of collards when theyre good pickin usually result in a quick exiting...

C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

(1371)

on November 18, 2011
at 10:10 PM

if paleo failed why are you on this site?

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on November 18, 2011
at 09:36 PM

But veggies are good for you, and yet anyone who dramatically increases their veggie intake will experience gas/bloat. Because they aren't yet creating sufficient digestive enzymes for that diet.

80da9f79e2d79978130925702d4c6092

(105)

on November 14, 2011
at 01:00 AM

Agreed. I was vegan for three years, and then I quit by eating a burger and a glass of milk. Didn't feel any different. My milk-digesting enzymes didn't go anywhere (I'm of Scandinavian descent).

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:47 PM

Dairy's good for you; paleo failed.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:12 PM

This of course creates a "false positive" problem. Losing microbes that helped you digest X does not mean you're now or ever were intolerant to X.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on November 13, 2011
at 07:05 PM

Same here. Dosage matters. Small amounts never give me a reaction, but if I continue eating the offending food I begin to get uncomfortable symptoms.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 13, 2011
at 06:20 PM

Yes! There are many things I can cheat with, but wheat and milk are not among them and it's not because I usually don't eat them.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:17 PM

Often hear flora and fauna together so I googled to figured out which one meant plants and which one meant animals. Guess bacteria are plants now. I should know this as a ruminant farmer, but both sounded right to my uncaffienated brain this morning. ;)

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on November 13, 2011
at 03:14 PM

@Matt, the bacteria and fungi in your gut are technically neither flora nor fauna, but are usually referred to as "flora" by convention ( http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-flora-and-fauna.htm ). If you happened to have a worm infestation, that would be "fauna."

De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on November 13, 2011
at 03:29 AM

Write to Robb for the next podcast

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on November 13, 2011
at 03:27 AM

I don't know the answer to your question other than to say that I personally prefer to have some variety in my diet (which I have adjusted to include a moderate amount of dairy) so I'm not wrecked any time I have something outside of my "usual" menu or am in a situation in which I don't control the menu.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 13, 2011
at 02:40 AM

I think it's a great question and there are people here who will have links to relevant info.

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11 Answers

13
Medium avatar

(1240)

on November 13, 2011
at 04:58 AM

I ended nearly three years of a vegetarian diet with a gyro. The only effect I suffered was not pooping the next day. I felt like myself the day after that.

I intentionally ate some cookies the other day, after avoiding gluten for nearly three months, to see just how I'd feel. I definitely felt bad for the next few days, and I recognized that it was how I had always felt being going paleo. I thought that constant mild-to-moderate cramping and heavy feeling was normal for me.

I've definitely gone more than 30 days repeatedly without having any kind of shellfish, and they never cause me trouble when I do eat them.

I don't think I react negatively to all foods I may exclude for a given amount of time.

80da9f79e2d79978130925702d4c6092

(105)

on November 14, 2011
at 01:00 AM

Agreed. I was vegan for three years, and then I quit by eating a burger and a glass of milk. Didn't feel any different. My milk-digesting enzymes didn't go anywhere (I'm of Scandinavian descent).

8
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 13, 2011
at 02:24 PM

30 days is certainly long enough to change the composition of your gut flora so that you may or may not be able to digest something you did before. It seems to me that might be a valid explanation why folks who go paleo seem to develop intolerances to foods that consumed regularly before going paleo (foods that had no prior ill effect, mind you.)

Placebo and nocebo effects probably run rampant through the paleo community as well.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on November 13, 2011
at 03:14 PM

@Matt, the bacteria and fungi in your gut are technically neither flora nor fauna, but are usually referred to as "flora" by convention ( http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-flora-and-fauna.htm ). If you happened to have a worm infestation, that would be "fauna."

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 13, 2011
at 05:17 PM

Often hear flora and fauna together so I googled to figured out which one meant plants and which one meant animals. Guess bacteria are plants now. I should know this as a ruminant farmer, but both sounded right to my uncaffienated brain this morning. ;)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:12 PM

This of course creates a "false positive" problem. Losing microbes that helped you digest X does not mean you're now or ever were intolerant to X.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 30, 2013
at 07:36 PM

The question then is how long must you reintroduce a food before you find out whether it's problematic? 21 days? 28 days? Depends on the food?

5
C4134ed417dbc0a6b79ab2cee32632d3

(1811)

on November 13, 2011
at 08:29 AM

My experience has been that I don't necessarily have a reaction immediately. However, it takes a few exposures to the food (wheat/gluten) and my old symptoms come back.

They're not always necessarily gastric reactions either.

For me at least, it seems that dosage matters too.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on November 13, 2011
at 07:05 PM

Same here. Dosage matters. Small amounts never give me a reaction, but if I continue eating the offending food I begin to get uncomfortable symptoms.

5
66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on November 13, 2011
at 03:39 AM

I do not eat wheat, dairy or legumes and have not for years but 'once in a blue moon' I may have some if I am dining out (which is ultra rare for me) and I do not suffer any GI distress. Same with starchy carbs, I am LC-VLC but if I do decide to feast on roasted sweet potatoes I suffer no ill effects. Just my personal experience.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 13, 2011
at 06:20 PM

Yes! There are many things I can cheat with, but wheat and milk are not among them and it's not because I usually don't eat them.

4
6371f0ae0c075ded1b8cd30aafd4bf16

on November 13, 2011
at 04:06 AM

Robb's addressed this topic several times, however I do think that some stuff you may have some sort of reaction that eventually goes away and other times you'll eat it and not react until some time later. N=1 experimenting isn't always the best because it all depends on the person being able to interpret their own results. Interpretation (especially when you are the scientist and the experiment) can be greatly influenced by personal bias. For a long time I've had an issue with dry itchy skin on my nose and thought it was related to dairy or bell peppers as these things seemed to make it worse. Luckily for you we have this great website that lets you compare notes. I have since discovered that dairy was not an issue and that mint in my toothpaste seems to trigger the dry itchy skin on my face. Robb's method isn't perfect but it can be effect and is cheap and easy. Think about the resistance you get just trying to get people to try paleo and then add to that additional resistance you would get by telling people they got to pay for a bunch of expensive labs and then find someone that will be able to correctly interpret them for you. We'd have very few people on paleo. You would be fine to go out and get a ton of blood work done to find out for sure what foods may be a problem but in the end may or may not tell you any more than just trying stuff and listening to you intuition and your body.

http://robbwolf.com/2011/02/22/the-paleo-solution-episode-68/

http://chriskresser.com/paleo-nerd-a-thon-with-robb-wolf-mat-lalonde

http://robbwolf.com/2010/12/07/the-paleo-solution-episode-57/

3
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on November 13, 2011
at 06:18 PM

After doing it myself, there is a distinct difference between problems due to unfamiliarity and due to some other issue. When I added beans back in, I had a problem for a few hours, with wheat, it is a few days.

1
Medium avatar

on November 18, 2011
at 11:07 PM

There's no account for the role of expectancy in these kinds of input-output questions, and yet almost certainly expectancy is a huge factor. "If I consume X for a long time, and and I feel certain effects, and then I stop consuming X for 30 days, I don't feel those effects in the same way. Lo and behold, when I begin consuming X again, I feel effects that seem consistent with the hypothesis that..."

I continue to enjoy hearing really intelligent types ??? experts, they assure us they are ??? utter this phrase with amused nonchalance that doesn't even come close to masking their hubris: "Well, you see, it was only the placebo effect. Now, let's move on to the important factor."

Whoa, wait, stop. I keep wanting to know more about that easily dismissed belief-related effect, which so often shows up in very tangible, physical forms, correlated with "mere" belief.

That one's tummy hurts 30 days later, is a given. To what extent is the hurt related to the expectation that a return to dairy will indeed cause distress? How much of the distress is explicitly a physical phenomenon.

Not easy to tease this stuff out categorically.

1
B2cadbf43bddfbb523b8a53155656188

on November 14, 2011
at 12:33 AM

I don't have an answer for you but I have definitely noticed what others have: If I go wheat-free for about a week or more, re-introducing high amounts of wheat wreaks havoc on my body. I feel like crap!!!
I don't think this is a wheat-intolerance, since I am fine unless I cut out wheat completely and then try to re-introduce it. Tiny amounts are fine but having something heavy like a bagel is definitely out of the question.

Now, the REAL question is this: would the same thing happen if I went "meat-free" for a month and re-introduced meat? I don't think it would. So do I have a wheat intolerance?

My parents argue that going wheat-free is actually bad for me and I should instead go "low -wheat". This way, I won't suffer so much on the days that I do decide to increase my wheat consumption.

0
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 18, 2011
at 08:51 PM

If these foods are really good for you, you should be able to get right back into them within a few days. I have gone months without pretty much every food. Vegetables, meat, and fruit are all fine even after months, no problems reintroducing them. Dairy takes a few days of mild belly grumbling, and if I eat wheat I feel like I'm dying even after many days. So clearly I have some gluten issues, but probably not dairy or paleo food issues. Maybe if I had kept eating wheat every day eventually I wouldn't have had the response to it, but food that I could truly handle would have been faster.

C471216c9fb4fcf886b7ac84a4046b49

(1371)

on November 18, 2011
at 10:11 PM

dunno....baha the first round of collards when theyre good pickin usually result in a quick exiting...

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 18, 2011
at 11:27 PM

It is true for dairy but not necessarily true for everything. I have never had problems with vegetables.

F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on November 18, 2011
at 09:36 PM

But veggies are good for you, and yet anyone who dramatically increases their veggie intake will experience gas/bloat. Because they aren't yet creating sufficient digestive enzymes for that diet.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on November 18, 2011
at 11:30 PM

"Anyone who dramatically increases their veggie intake will experience gas/bloat. Because they aren't yet creating sufficient digestive enzymes for that diet." I disagree. It is supposedly true about dairy but I wouldn't say that it is true about everything. Some people just have problems with vegetables period. I have never had problems with vegetables, fruits, or meat, even after months without any of them on certain dietary experiments.

0
724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

on November 18, 2011
at 08:43 PM

I think a lot of people who know they're at least a little lactose intolerant would definitely agree that it's something that varies dramatically with exposure. If I don't eat dairy for a long time, eating some definitely gives me very classic lactose-intolerance symptoms (I'm Asian, so presumably I'm predisposed). But if I eat some regularly, then I can pretty much eat as much cheese as I want to, no problem, and I find milk gross, but it won't kill me.

Also, lot of people I know who spent time living in countries where there was no dairy suddenly developed temporary lactose intolerance when they got back and re-introduced it into their diet.

I don't know the science of it, and I can't answer with relation to other food, but I definitely think it's something to consider.

-1
Cf4576cbcc44fc7f2294135609bce9e5

on January 28, 2012
at 08:04 PM

digestive enzymes are digestive enzymes. if you eat paleo or even if you dont eat paleo they are all active. every single one of those different kinds are active. what is different is the chopped up molecules of the different foods you eat. you missed the boat entirely on the theory. while it is true that we are all born with lactase it will go down in most folks with age, and not with diet. take a look at all the known digestive enzymes and tell me of one that disappears on a paleo diet. maybe you studied starvation like myself and learned that the protease enzymes are down regulated, fine. what has starvation to do with a paleo diet?

i visited your page, you said you have irritable bowl i can assume then your gut is irritated from food that your body recognizes not as food but as a dangerous substance and uses the only tools that it has to eliminate the threat. well, for most people that threat is food that our species newly ate and not the food the species always ate. you could be different. paleo diet is a species specific cure and you are an individual. you will have to find the foods that your specific body was programed to see as a threat where as for others it still a food. Paleo is a good starting point for our species, you  on the other hand still have some work ahead of you.

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