Please help! Must urgently explain Paleo/PHD to close friend desperately in need of changing whose gut/overall health is becoming very unhealthy.

Answered on November 18, 2013
Created November 17, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Close friend has gut dysbiosis and is finding "healthy" (actually healthy, not SAD-idea-healthy) confusing.

Previous attempts at Paleo/PHD resulted in too low carb/no energy, or feeling overly restricted. (along the lines of "Non-grassfed meats are bad, pasteurized milk is bad, and no grains, so now what? And, it might be expensive")

Friend works 6-8 hours on weekdays and is starting to develop very unpleasant body odors, a sick "aura" (It is something I can feel -- have known said friend a very long time, and recently something just shifted and felt "very, very off - sick"), and had strong stomach pains ("is probably gas") and lots of burping/gas lately, all of which were uncommon or nonexistent some months ago.

I've been watching (and - very unfortunately - predicted) this progression, with the unusual gut signs being a large warning symptom of systemic health being about to go quite badly. Also - odd snoring and sleep apnea for someone who's been very healthy and fit (internally AND externally, as far as I've known) for years. ...several colds/"flus" in the course of 3 months when before 1 a year or far less was par. Friend is not overweight and has always had an extremely low body fat % (naturally) but is beginning to have unnaturally looking bloated midsection, and extra body fat appearing. Has otherwise been very healthy/resilient for the last couple of decades, but lots of caffeine/sugar, and little physical training recently (1-3 yrs) are beginning to be too much.

The problem is simple: How can PHD/Paleo (probably PHD at first because too low carb will lead to too low energy and failure) & its impacts on gut health, and thus overall heath be explained simply?

How can a diet plan be established simply enough to understand/follow consistently? Cheap/cheaper is extremely, extremely useful for following consistently. For example, waht happens if there was no food cooked during a day?

Most restaurant foods are full of terrible things and additives, and ("cheap/simple") white bread + deli meat sounds terrible (if slightly better than the lots of rampant coffee or doghnuts typically consumed.) ..what to do? How to emphasize the choice of health/fasting (or slightly less food, but much healthier) being so utterly important?

...I do not want this friend's health to be hurt badly.

I understand what the ramifications are of bad gut health. Said friend doesn't have all gut/disease/immunity/dysbiosis dots connected. What should be done? I honestly care very much for this friend. Should we sit down and talk about how gut dysbiosis and health works?

I understand "real food" is a good start for most (eat REAL things, not processed/boxed/etc.), and perhaps recommending the PHD book might be a good place to start (I have not read it myself but will have it soon)...?

Somehow, "no grains" seems like a hassle and stress to friend right now, possibly because of failed or overly restrictive tries at Paleo/PHD before. I understand transitioning gently - or at least more gently than cold turkey - if is stressful, but something must be done, and it seems some change in view/approach is necessary.

I am unsure where to begin. Please help. Your suggestions are very much appreciated. Thank you.



on November 17, 2013
at 12:13 PM

What happens if no food was cooked during the day? In the beginning, I ran out of food a couple times and it suuuucked. Low calorie fight or flight response / insulin crash. Don't let that happen; plan ahead. (Now that I've been at it a while, I could make it work raw if I needed to.) I just made a 4am bison vegetable stew and pot of rice for tomorrow.


on November 17, 2013
at 10:03 AM

...also, said friend is also very intelligent. Not at all a run-of-the-mill conventional-wisdom-drinking "typical American" - just hasn't done remotely as much research into health (or devoted as much time into making it followable and understanding how it really is crucial) as I.


on November 17, 2013
at 09:54 AM

...or an actual understanding of how health/insulin resistance/metabolic dysfunction/gut/brain/etc. works well enough to understand being healthy and what choices to make. As we live nearby, I can also help cook stews. etc. ...but it would seem worse to still be eating grains and processed foods like white-bread/deli-meat, on the principle that it's uncomplicated/cheap at lunchtimes.)


on November 17, 2013
at 09:54 AM

By the way, mundane or "boring" or repeated meals are not a problem - understandable, simple, and consistently followable are key points. (And also no extreme lack of energy on diet - brief sugar/carb/caffeine withdrawl period is probably fine. Better if I can explain the phenomena as a temporary thing.)

(i.e. Either a really easy-to-follow plan/set of criteria that just feeds said friend healthy food ongoingly while the "scientific understanding" catches up,

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3 Answers



on November 18, 2013
at 04:51 AM

I usually don't recommend this but perhaps a visit to the doctor is inorder to rule out any serious condition. But with respect to diet... they didn't get ill overnight so corrections need not be done all at once. Take the easy shots first, baby steps. The following are steps to clean up ones diet and head over closer to paleo / PHD.

As others have posted, this is not an easy diet to adopt... that's why I suggest baby steps.

Pick & chose... they don't all have to be implemented imediately. Satisfying the entire list is a goal, not a starting point.

1. Greatly reduce sugar consumption . This will require reading food labels or greatly reducing the use of prepared foods. Because, unfortunately, sugar in all its various forms are added to most breads, pasta sauces, ketchup, breakfast cereals, sweetened drinks, soda, and “fat-free” products. Processed food removed the fat and replaced it with sugar & food additives. If a processed product has HFCS, I don't buy it. If sugar is one of the first four ingredeients, I don't buy it. If multiple type of sugar (including fruit juice or white grape juice) are present, I don't buy it. 2. Swap “simple” carbohydrates for “complex” ones. Stop eating bread, pasta, wheat products, grains. Choose carbs with more fiber. Choose vegetables with less sugar and more fiber; spinach, kale, chard, broccoli and cabbage over peas and carrots, yams over white potatoes.Non-starchy veggies... eat as much as desired. 3. Limit very sweet fruits (banana, mangoes, grapes) to 1-2 servings per day. Nix dried fruits (raisins, apricots). No fruit juice. Berries are a better choice over standard fruits.

As the above steps reduce carb calories, replace those calories with good fats; eggs, avo, coconut oil, olive oil. Keep protein steady.



on November 17, 2013
at 10:55 AM

Pick your friend up a couple books to read through. That's where I started to believe in it. There's something about physically holding a book in your hand and learning from a person's organized / published thoughts that's often more convincing than thumbing through quick blog posts / comments or one website from some random guy that might conflict with another.

Are you on the Paleo diet? (be the change you wish to see!) Maybe you two could shop / prepare / eat more meals together regularly. It's a good excuse to hang out and do something healthy together.

This is a not an easy diet to adopt, so your friend will really have to want this for him/her self. Good looking out.

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on November 17, 2013
at 10:28 AM

Waw your devotion is quite amazing! I totally understand your concern but I am wondering if you don't take it too much seriously. You are a good observer and give us lots of information about your friend's lifestyle and health, that's a very good point. My first thought was : do you come here because your friend asked you to help him or because you think it is up to you to find solutions for him?

I would first talk to him and explain him your worries about his health. This would be a good starting point, don't you think so?

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