2

votes

How can people get sick while eating 100% Paleo?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created January 15, 2013 at 7:09 PM

I have noticed that I never ever get sick if I follow 100% strict Paleo. The only time I get sick is when I add a few things I should not, i.e. a bottomless serving of ice cream (sigh), cheese, chocolate, whatever. Yes, I am just a human.

But if I eat well, I never ever get sick, even if everybody around me is sick and coughing. Maybe eating whole foods builds immunity or helps our bacteria to build that immunity, not sure. But for me the connection is very obvious - I start sneezing after one lousy dose of sugar. I also noticed that eating more vegetables is worse for my gut, but better for my immunity.

I have noticed that sometimes people ask what to do if they got a cold. How can you possibly get a cold following Paleo? Is it because they eat 80% Paleo? Or because they eat canned or packaged foods? Or because they allow themselves a snack here and there?

Not sure. Please enlighten me.

35deaf0f101526bb113ea69f79934f2b

(436)

on January 16, 2013
at 07:15 PM

Flu strains may not discriminate but my health can affect the intensity of my symptoms. When people around me are sick, I will often find myself sleeping more. THis makes me think that I do get the virus but my body is healthy enough that aside from sleeping extra, I have no symptoms.

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on January 16, 2013
at 01:09 PM

i'm talking about our environment...it's impossible to replicate the paleo environment therefore it's impossible that all our 'paleo' foods are truely paleo. I'm sure even grassfed meat is exposed to pollution & toxins not found in paleolithic times.

74786bbe8254844304a33943290c4d6d

(1663)

on January 16, 2013
at 11:14 AM

Holy crap. I guess I was at the shallow end of the gene pool :(

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 07:26 AM

You mean their mothers did not eat well during pregnancy?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:58 AM

Sarah - I was working in close contact with over 120 children per day for 18 years. The only time I got sick when I ate processed/sugary foods. If I ate well, I never caught anything (and they cough and sneeze on you all day long, believe me).

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:55 AM

Not in my experience. When I eat (more vegetarian) Paleo I am like a superhuman.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:53 AM

Chris - sorry to disappoint you but syphilis was known before Columbus in Central Asian regions. I blame everything on white men - they were spreading all kinds of viruses.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:51 AM

Good for you! I only get sick after eating non-Paleo things.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:48 AM

Yes and no. I blame it on my bacteria. When I was on antibiotics, I did not crave anything.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:47 AM

I have started to take extra vitamin D per your recommendation. But this is my third day, so too early to say anything. So far so good. Thanks for your comment.

F15e0bae42dbf0b8cfc71e62902497b4

(2036)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:24 AM

This. Also, some people have genetically crappy immune systems.

88a669ef87f8138d6bbfbdace533a482

(425)

on January 16, 2013
at 12:58 AM

I just have to say my 8-year-old was a preemie, c-section, high-dose antibiotics in the NICU, SAD diet (I'm labeled the family food weirdo, as are many of us), and he rarely gets sick. Kid hasn't missed a single day of school this year.

2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2

(1614)

on January 15, 2013
at 11:58 PM

Syphilis is thought to have originated with the Native Americans. If their diets precluded them from any sickness, how'd that happen??

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on January 15, 2013
at 10:48 PM

Sarah, no need to get defensive. I don't think the OP meant to imply that no one eating a good diet ever gets sick. *Of course* we all have lowered immune function when there are extenuating circumstances. But imagine how much *more* you might get sick if you faced the same circumstances while eating the SAD. That's all.

F25ac7fa62bb88e547ddae69e79f9dee

(100)

on January 15, 2013
at 10:21 PM

very interesting read. thanks for linking.

Aa69579f867333b08158c70e25f7daf1

(1826)

on January 15, 2013
at 10:10 PM

Doesn't matter how cleanly I eat. When my children are teething or getting me up all through the night, I eventually get run down and get sick. It's not always a matter of "having the perfect diet." How many children do you have?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 15, 2013
at 09:32 PM

Everyone at my work and in my family, from all parts of the country, has gotten a similar respiratory ailment without regard to what they ate. Flu strains do not discriminate between SAD, vegan and Paleo.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:54 PM

color of skin has nothing to do with it. If there were no viruses they would not suffer from cold and flu. Their diet did not prevent viruses from developing, their lifestyle (open air, nomadic, etc) did.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:50 PM

Put. Down. The. Cool-aide.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:41 PM

Put down the Cool-Aide.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:07 PM

True. But if there were no white people, they would not suffer from flu and cold!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:06 PM

I can totally relate! Same with me.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:04 PM

VB, there is a difference in *"They did not get sick" because their immune systems were off the charts* and *"Viruses and Bacteria didn't exist back then"*. I have seen lots of anthropological evidence that many of the modern bacteria and viruses are originated by sanitation problems (i.e. masses of rotting food/livestock/people). But look what happened to the Native Americans when the Europeans came over -- Their diet did not prevent them from getting sick!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:01 PM

No, they did not get sick - they did not get colds. I forgot where I read that the Native Americans used to slide across the ice every day wearing close to nothing. Cold and flu is something neolithic. They would get food poisoning and they would get infected from white people, but not from cold and flu.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 15, 2013
at 07:28 PM

plus, in today's world of mutated bacteria no one is safe.

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13 Answers

15
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on January 15, 2013
at 07:25 PM

Do you think that humans in the paleolithic never got sick? They were eating 100% paleo by definition, but people still got sick and died. Paleo is not a panacea for infectious disease, although it does seem to help the immune system.

Paleo is probably more effective at avoiding or battling "diseases of civilization" - Heart Disease, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, etc. that hunter gatherers tend not to get. Even then, just because you eat paleo is no guarantee against heart disease, etc. (Just like there are people who are heavy smokers/drinkers who never get lung cancer or liver disease).

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:07 PM

True. But if there were no white people, they would not suffer from flu and cold!

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 15, 2013
at 07:28 PM

plus, in today's world of mutated bacteria no one is safe.

2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2

(1614)

on January 15, 2013
at 11:58 PM

Syphilis is thought to have originated with the Native Americans. If their diets precluded them from any sickness, how'd that happen??

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:54 PM

color of skin has nothing to do with it. If there were no viruses they would not suffer from cold and flu. Their diet did not prevent viruses from developing, their lifestyle (open air, nomadic, etc) did.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:01 PM

No, they did not get sick - they did not get colds. I forgot where I read that the Native Americans used to slide across the ice every day wearing close to nothing. Cold and flu is something neolithic. They would get food poisoning and they would get infected from white people, but not from cold and flu.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:04 PM

VB, there is a difference in *"They did not get sick" because their immune systems were off the charts* and *"Viruses and Bacteria didn't exist back then"*. I have seen lots of anthropological evidence that many of the modern bacteria and viruses are originated by sanitation problems (i.e. masses of rotting food/livestock/people). But look what happened to the Native Americans when the Europeans came over -- Their diet did not prevent them from getting sick!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:53 AM

Chris - sorry to disappoint you but syphilis was known before Columbus in Central Asian regions. I blame everything on white men - they were spreading all kinds of viruses.

5
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on January 15, 2013
at 10:11 PM

People get sick for all kinds of reasons.

As for the Native Americans being decimated by smallpox and other viruses/bacteria/pathogens, it was mostly because their immune systems hat never been exposed to those organisms and therefore never had a chance to build up resistance to them.

Obviously, it's possible for very clean Paleo eaters to get sick for any number of reasons.

That being said, I've noticed that I (and this is just me) haven't been sick in years. Like the OP suggested, I felt cold symptoms coming on for one day and it was right after I had had a little sugar bender. Coincidence? Maybe. But my money's on not coincidence.

People are constantly sick in my office, yet I haven't caught anything. (Also ride the bus every day, go to the gym where it reeks of BO and God knows what kinds of bugs are floating around that place.) I fully credit my diet and exercise to my lack of any noticeable illness during the last 6-7 years. (Any sick days I've taken off work have been for mental health!) =)

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:51 AM

Good for you! I only get sick after eating non-Paleo things.

5
Medium avatar

(389)

on January 15, 2013
at 07:25 PM

Could be any reason.

100% paleo is a relative term - it is dependent on the user's knowledge and experience of the diet, their body, allergies, etc.

Quality of food is another possible answer. You can be paleo and still be consuming heavy traces of toxic chemicals, poor quality meat, etc.

Exercise could also be a factor. Over-exercising can definitely be a catalyst for sickness. Throw some poor sleep in and a high stress job and catching a cold is definitely possible!

4
0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

on January 15, 2013
at 09:32 PM

it's literally impossible to be 100% paleo

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on January 16, 2013
at 01:09 PM

i'm talking about our environment...it's impossible to replicate the paleo environment therefore it's impossible that all our 'paleo' foods are truely paleo. I'm sure even grassfed meat is exposed to pollution & toxins not found in paleolithic times.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:48 AM

Yes and no. I blame it on my bacteria. When I was on antibiotics, I did not crave anything.

4
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on January 15, 2013
at 07:54 PM

The vast majority of viruses & cooties which plague the modern world (pun intended) developed due to the practices of animal husbandry and close living quarters during the Agricultural revolution. Did Paleo man get ill? Certainly. But probably far less often than people typically do today, and they were probably able to shake it off by treating symptoms with herbal remedies rather than having to be hooked up to IV's and treated with antibiotics for secondary infections because the strain was so virulent the body could not cope.

4
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 15, 2013
at 07:31 PM

Perhaps "getting sick" is simply a purge or housecleaning in which you are actually working with certain microbes to improve your health?

http://philipincao.crestonecolorado.com/index_htm_files/Infection.pdf

F25ac7fa62bb88e547ddae69e79f9dee

(100)

on January 15, 2013
at 10:21 PM

very interesting read. thanks for linking.

3
Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 15, 2013
at 09:21 PM

In the late 1820s the coastal Salish population in the lower Columbia drainage was literally decimated, most probably by malaria. They were eating a diet very close to ancient paleo based on roots, seafood, nuts and berries and game.

While they could survive cold much better than we can they had no natural resistance to a virus. I would infer that the same applies with influenza today. Paleo can impart health and hardiness which can help for survival but it does not confer immunity.

2
74786bbe8254844304a33943290c4d6d

on January 16, 2013
at 12:46 AM

My immune system sucks from years of being on antibiotics. I was born pre-mature, and via c-section. I was always sick as a kid.

Eating paleo has helped with many things, but my immune system is still something I have to work on regularly. Paleo is not a cure-all bandaid. It more-or-less lays down perfect groundwork to start introducing appropriate foods to help re-generate our lost bacteria.

Paleo folks can also probably resist the worst of any spreading bacteria. This past holiday season, everyone around me was sick, sick, sick as hell. While I got hit with the same flu, it didn't last nearly as long and wasn't near as bad as I knew other people were going through.

We're also knowledgeable enough to eat especially well when ill to help our bodies heal. We have the interwebs and know how to use it. And we have paleohacks.com :)

88a669ef87f8138d6bbfbdace533a482

(425)

on January 16, 2013
at 12:58 AM

I just have to say my 8-year-old was a preemie, c-section, high-dose antibiotics in the NICU, SAD diet (I'm labeled the family food weirdo, as are many of us), and he rarely gets sick. Kid hasn't missed a single day of school this year.

74786bbe8254844304a33943290c4d6d

(1663)

on January 16, 2013
at 11:14 AM

Holy crap. I guess I was at the shallow end of the gene pool :(

2
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:25 PM

Adults can't get enough Vitamin D3 from food (unless you are happy to eat a LOT of salmon!)

Many 100% Paleo folks do not or cannot get enough D3 from sun exposure/tanning to have sufficient levels for a healthy immune system.

I require supplementation to keep my levels high enough to avoid getting sick, YMMV.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:47 AM

I have started to take extra vitamin D per your recommendation. But this is my third day, so too early to say anything. So far so good. Thanks for your comment.

2
A048b66e08306d405986b6c04bf5e8e4

on January 15, 2013
at 08:13 PM

Although eating paleo can boost the immune system, our immune systems are still not perfect and can still fall out of balance.

F15e0bae42dbf0b8cfc71e62902497b4

(2036)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:24 AM

This. Also, some people have genetically crappy immune systems.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 07:26 AM

You mean their mothers did not eat well during pregnancy?

1
35deaf0f101526bb113ea69f79934f2b

(436)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:05 PM

I am the same... I recovering from a cold at the moment and you know why I got it? Friday my sister was in labor and my only food option was donuts, which someone had brought us. I gave in to my extreme hunger and ate 3. THe next day I had a horribly sore throat and a cold. Also, I only slept 2 hours that night because I was awake with her.

I am the same as you. This is my first time sick since starting paleo (5 months ago). Everyone I work with has been sick basically all winter. I go out with them and have even shared drinks with them. I don't get sick though... I can even afford a small cheat each day without getting sick if I try to push it. It takes a day/night like Friday to get me sick.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 15, 2013
at 09:32 PM

Everyone at my work and in my family, from all parts of the country, has gotten a similar respiratory ailment without regard to what they ate. Flu strains do not discriminate between SAD, vegan and Paleo.

35deaf0f101526bb113ea69f79934f2b

(436)

on January 16, 2013
at 07:15 PM

Flu strains may not discriminate but my health can affect the intensity of my symptoms. When people around me are sick, I will often find myself sleeping more. THis makes me think that I do get the virus but my body is healthy enough that aside from sleeping extra, I have no symptoms.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 15, 2013
at 08:06 PM

I can totally relate! Same with me.

0
089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on January 16, 2013
at 01:53 AM

it's not like paleo is a superhuman diet haha everyone is always susceptible to some sort of illness no matter what you eat.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on January 16, 2013
at 03:55 AM

Not in my experience. When I eat (more vegetarian) Paleo I am like a superhuman.

0
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on January 15, 2013
at 07:27 PM

Viruses and Bacteria can and will infect you regardless of what you eat. I have been much healthier since I started eating this way (pretty close to 100% other than a couple of beers a week and the occasional non-organic meat). But I recently had a bout with the flu virus.

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