What to do after no negative symptoms upon wheat reintroduction?

Answered on October 11, 2016
Created October 06, 2016 at 8:04 PM

Hi folks,

I've been following the Perfect Health Diet version of paleo, which looks like this:

  • 20-30% carbs (mostly white potatoes, some white rice and sweet potatoes)
  • 15% protein (grass fed beef, pastured eggs, salmon/sardines/anchovies, liver once a week, shellfish once a week)
  • 60-70% fat (eggs, fat from meat, grass fed butter, olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, occasional nuts)
  • 1 tbsp fermented sauerkraut with each meal
  • Plenty of varieties of leafy green and colorful veggies with each meal
  • Elimination of all grains (except white rice), legumes, sugar, and processed foods
  • Perfect Health Diet supplementation regime, which includes iodine, vitamin c, vitamin k2, magnesium, b complex and various b vitamins, vitamin d via 30 min sun exposure

I haven't experienced any noticeable changes, positive or negative, from this diet change. It's been about 4 months now. I had some white bread and pasta recently as a test and experienced no obvious reaction. Where should I proceed from here? Is it possible that some people are just more genetically adapted to grain and wheat consumption and tolerate them to the point where exclusion is unnecessary?

Really appreciate the input on this one. Thanks :)

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

9 Answers



on October 08, 2016
at 07:56 PM

A strong gut reacts to and defends against these toxins so you may have improved that line of defense. In fact the gut is there to defend you against all injuries from external chemical or biological agents. I think it is normal to not react to wheat anymore after a prolonged period of paleo-like diet. Will that last? We will see. I  know my limitations, I appreciate that past injuries have left some weaknesses, and I limit myself to beans, natto, rarely potatoes, and small amounts of brown rice every few days. My main carbs are all vegetables (beets, carrots, cabbage, green beans, greens etc). But as Giu says, there are millions of people out there in good health eating wheat every day.



on October 11, 2016
at 09:33 PM


I´m not a fan of grains. If you read some of my earlier posts you will quickly see this. I do include some just to be accustomed to it, given that we live in a world where everyone eat grains.

Paul Jaminet´s «the perfect health diet» - which the OP question was partially about, includes white rice, and it seems many people here include some grains as well as dairy, even though these foods are not really paleo.

My idea of acid/base is similar as Loren Cordain´s. It is related to the minerals, not the pH of a food. You can read more about the acid/base balance here: http://thepaleodiet.com/acidbase-balance/ It is also discussed in Cordain´s book «the paleo diet». It is of course possible that Cordain is wrong and Kresser is right, it´s not like we have definitive answers to any of this. The "paleo diet" in Cordain´s view is based mostly on an analysis of the diet of 229 groups of hunter gatherers. And he then arrives at some sort of diet which is typically 19-35% of energy as protein, 22-40% carbohydrates and 27-47% fat, and generally very high in potassium (above the 4700 mg RDA). There are some population groups that eat more fat and very little plant foods. Maybe this is fine and leads to a long and healthy life. Maybe not. But if you want to obtain the RDA for potassium, you would need an additional 2-3 pounds or more of plant foods on top of the 1 pound of meat you´re eating.

Note that organ meats are much higher in phosphorus than muscle meat. 1 pound beef liver is approx 1700 mg phosphorus plus 1400 mg potassium.

High phosphorus can be a problem, as discussed in this article: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/phosphorus But it is uncertain to what extent the problem relates to non-paleo phosphorus rich foods like whole grains and dairy products.

Here are some exerpts from the article.

«High serum phosphorus concentrations have been associated with increased rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality in subjects with or without kidney disease. Abnormal deposition of calcium phosphate in soft tissues may predispose individuals to vascular dysfunction and cardiovascular disease.»

«daily phosphorus intakes in excess of the RDA have been linked to an increased risk of all-cause mortality in healthy individuals»

«Observational studies suggest that a low calcium-to-phosphorus intake ratio may be detrimental to bone health, especially in women at increased risk for osteoporosis.»

«a recent study found that daily phosphorus intakes more than twice the RDA (i.e., >1,400 mg/day) were significantly associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality»


Update: In case you didn´t notice, I have already removed the stuff about Chris Kresser not having a PhD and not having published anything found on pubmed. I agree, this is not a good type of argument. Although in the definition you mention it does say «Appealing to authority is valid when the authority is actually a legitimate (debatable) authority on the facts of the argument.» - and it could be argued that Loren Cordain is a major figure, even founder, of the modern paleo movement, while Kresser is not. I also greatly expanded on the original post and added a link to video from a paleolithic diet seminar in Sussex, UK, earlier this year, dealing with the acid/base balance and in particular how it relates to kidney function. This woman also held talks at the ancestral health symposium in the past. And she would admit there are many uncertainties regards this issue. Also there seems to be all sorts of views regards grains, beans, dairy etc within the paleo movement these days. Some of the featured speakers on the last Paleo (fx) conference, even on the Keto summit, are grain and dairy eaters. Kresser himself now seems to endorse legume consumption, as does Sisson and many others, while Cordain does not.




on October 11, 2016
at 07:32 PM

Apologies for the retarded formatting that PH is using now.

From http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/3768/2

Here's the minerals in 1lbs of beef:
Amounts Per Selected Serving %DV
Calcium 27.2mg 3%
Iron 8.8mg 49%
Magnesium 86.2mg 22%
Phosphorus 762mg 76%
Potassium 1338mg 38% <<<---
Sodium 236mg 10%
Zinc 14.3mg
95% Copper 0.3mg 17%
Manganese 0.1mg 3%
Selenium 73.9mcg106%

Here's one 300g cucumber:
From: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2439/2
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Calcium 48.2mg5%
Iron 0.8mg 5%
Magnesium 39.1mg 10%
Phosphorus 72.2mg 7%
Potassium 442mg 13% <<<----
Sodium 6.0mg 0%
Zinc 0.6mg 4%
Copper 0.1mg 6%
Manganese 0.2mg 12%
Selenium 0.9 mcg 1%
Fluoride 3.9 mcg


1lbs of beef/day has as much potassium as about 3 cucumbers. So you are getting some potassium there and 10x the phosphorus.

This is paleohacks, we don't do grains here, so please remove the "a diet high in grains" qualifier - if you're eating grains such as weat, you're not doing paleo.  There's plenty of bad effects from grains outside any acid/base issue, which is the core issue of this side-discussion.

That said, we do eat plenty of veggies - many cases paleos eat more veggies than vegans; few of us eat just meat, though you could as long as it was nose to tail.

Note the RDA of phosphorus is just 75% for that steak. Way under the RDA requirement for the mythical average person. So that's not actually considered a lot of phosphorous either.

So how much meat would you need to eat to overdose on phosphorous?

More importantly what exactly are you claiming that meat has in it that is acidifying? If anything we use up stomach acid HCl and enzymes such as pepsin to break down that meat and digest it. Most of it doesn't make it past the small intestine, it's broken down into a bunch of aminos and those are absorbed in the SI. Considering that we use up quite a lot of acid to break it down, the meat itself is therefore alkaline in relation to the stomach acid.

So what in the meat causes your body to acidify? And what part of our bodies does it acidify exactly?

I'm certainly not advocating replacing potassium in the diet with magnesium, far from it. I'm pointing out that you can't substitute one mineral for another and that's why the acid/base balance argument is a myth - if it was an actual thing you could substitute potassium with say ammonia (which you get plenty of from protein digestion, yes, that's right eating meat produces an alkaline substance!) - after all both ammonia and potassim are alkaline.

Clearly you can't, and free ammonia in your blood is toxic - which is why we detox it out to urea.

I pointed to magnesium in the sense that we require magnesium for many enzymatic processes, much of it is used up when consuming pure sugar sources that have been stripped of their original minerals, as an example.


The main point being that health is not about acid/alkaline balance - if it was you could substitute any alkaline with any other alkaline (or any acid with any other acid) and you'd be just as healthy.

Similarly potassium and phosphorus are also used in lots of metabolic processes. It has very little to do with acid/alkaline balance, and while I agree that we need enough of each mineral and not too much, this isn't about pH.

Also I dispute your reasoning that Chris Kresser shouldn't be listened to because he doesn't have a PhD.  If someone is telling the truth, it doesn't affect his statement if he lacks a specific degree.  This type of logical fallacy is called an appeal to authority. see: https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/21/Appeal-to-Authority

If I trained a parrot to say "Water is wet" it would not make the parrot's statement false just because it came from a bird.  Similarly, if a doctor or someone with a PhD makes a false statement, it doesn't make their statement true because they said it.  If Dr. Cordain says something that is false, it doesn't make it true just because he's got a degree.  Further, science is updated all the time.  

Scientists are allowed (and encouraged) to look at new data and change their hypotheses.  People who stick to their words in the face of new contrary evidence aren't using the scientific method.

I don't disagree about our potassium requirement - I totally agree with it.  I do, however, disagree with vague over simplifications such as "meat is acidifying" and "vegetables are alkalinizing."  Such things are very much like new age woo, astrology, and vegan myths and that going into ketosis will kill you (because the word sounds like ketoacidosis.)

Let's stick to science please (and astronomy, if you're into that sort of thing).



on October 10, 2016
at 04:47 PM

I am finding that, although my insulin is dropping precipitously, it is still not optimal. I have had a semi-paleo diet for several years, but not until I went low carb did I get insulin decreases. I am minimizing rice, fruit, and potatoes (most important, I have eliminated snacks), but it appears that beans (similar to potatoes in K) are OK for me. I do plan to go back to higher carbs eventually.



on October 10, 2016
at 03:32 PM


I find it most practical to just eat more potatoes and less grains. 1 lb cooked skinless potatoes = 1700 mg K. Carrot juice can be an emergency solution, 1 cup = 700 mg K. Carrot juice has been used traditionally to alleviate digestive problems (constipation, diarrhea etc).

Our ancestrors may have obtained 5000-10000 mg potassium/2500 kcal, but human milk is less than 2000 mg. The RDA of 4700 mg, in between, seems a good and safe amount. If phosphorus intake is low, maybe less is ideal.



on October 10, 2016
at 01:30 PM

concur with Giu. Potassium is a major problem in a low carb diet (paleo or ketogenic). I see that for the most part concentrations in plant foods are about 2mg/g. Thus at least 5 lbs of plant material should be ingested every day. Few do that. or one should embrace the idea that the RDA is overestimated, but pre-paleo considerations (how much K we were ingesting a million years ago) tends to point in the opposite direction.



on October 09, 2016
at 05:09 PM


The acid/base is a central issue in the paleo research literature. It is devoted much attention in Loren Cordain´s books for example, also Staffan Lindeberg, Lynda Frassetto and others. 


As regards the traditional inuit diet, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inuit_diet, gives a good overview. The article suggests the traditional inuit diet provided 30-35% protein, 50% fat and 15-20% carbohydrates. It also included some roots and berries. Ketosis was never detected. It is mentioned that they had «abnormally large livers» to assist in the process of turning protein into carbohydrates. So it was in practice not a low carb diet when accounting for this. They would also get some calcium (alkaline) from bones. In general protein can be used by the body to make the alkaline compounds. So from an acid/base perspective, perhaps this makes meat a better choice, even in large quantities, than whole grains. I would think acclimatization to the diet from an early age would also be an important factor in thriving on such a diet.


Lynda Frassetto points out in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E44yCNpP8bs, that the body has a number of ways of coping with an acidic diet (which Kresser and you would mention), but it comes at a price, and this could be shorter lifespan and over time suboptimal health, including perhaps digestive problems. And inuits have been known to be short lived and look 20 years older than Europeans at similar age. Even slightly lower pH or phosphorus within the normal range (and thus not even considered a problem by people like Kresser), seems to cause many health problems.


In practice it is mostly about potassium, which is the major alkaline mineral (and phosphorus, which is the major acidic mineral). And no, this is not similar as things like copper vs zinc because those are found abundantly in the diet and can be found in vitamin supplements, but potassium is not unless you eat non-grain plant foods. On a true paleo diet, the sources of carbohydrates (with the exception of honey) - fruits, roots, vegetables - would also supply a lot of potassium. A grain based diet would not, but using only refined grains (as Italians or Japanese do) so as to avoid the anti-nutrients found in the bran, and supplying extra vegetables would get an overall balance more similar as those foods.


Anyway, the RDA of potassium is 4700 mg, and it is not possible to get this as a supplement, you would need 2-3 pounds of plant foods plus some meat to obtain this. It is however possible to take large dose magnesium and vitamin D supplement, which perhaps can alleviate some of the problems with suboptimal potassium intake, but this would come at a price with a set of other problems, and it´s not a natural thing to take supplements in the first place.




on October 09, 2016
at 04:10 PM

@giu, dude, quit the acid/alkaline stuff, that's one of the things that you can use to detect quaks.

Our bodies handle that balance perfectly - that's what our kidneys and parathyroid glands are for.

Yes, things like apple cider vinegar are wonderfully healthy and they are acidic.  And baking soda can be useful to add to the diet in certain cases.

Meat was never the culprit.  People have survived on a pure meat diet (Inuit for example), not just survived but thrived - as long as they ate nose to tail and included all the organ meats.

And things like carbs can be ok to eat, even sugar can be ok.  It's absolutely true that too much refined foods are problematic because they lack the minerals that we need to properly deal with them, and to eat them in this stripped form causes us to deplete our mineral reserves, which is why they are problematic, it's not due to an acid/alkaline balance issue at all - that's just an oversimplification.

And yes I agree that calcium and magneisum and zinc and copper must be balanced, but this isn't about acid vs alkaline, it never was.  It has more to do with cell receptor signalling and enzyme needs.

see: https://chriskresser.com/dispelling-the-acid-alkaline-myth/




on October 08, 2016
at 02:31 PM

Maybe do nothing?


The wheat consumption per capita in Italy is about 50-100% higher than in the rest of Europe/US, yet they don´t seem to suffer much from the wheat related diseases. In fact they have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Is this only due to genetics?


An acidic diet - one high in grains, dairy, meat etc, but low in vegetables - has been suggested to cause food reactions, inflammation, pain, fatigue etc (and also seems to reduce lifespan, i.e. high hosphorus intake increases mortality, high potassium reduces mortality). The mediterranean diets were traditionally very high in vegetables, but now this is changing. 


So substituting grains (acidic) for potatoes (alkaline, high potassium) may perhaps help such conditions like food intolerance over time.


Vitamin D and magnesium could also help this problem, but they are not good solutions compared to potassium rich foods, in my opinion.


A problem with «the perfect health diet» is that it often sees nutrient in isolation. And so for example research suggest that on the average (unhealthy) diet, higher magnesium is better than lower magnesium, while lower calcium is better than higher calcium. The problem is that research also suggests that < 1.7 Ca:Mg increase mortality when Mg is above the RDA, and the ratio on PHD would be well below this as it seems to recommend everyone to supplement 200 mg Mg. On your diet the ratio would likely be even lower as I don´t see any calcium foods.


Also PHD is «only» about 55% of energy as fat, well below your 60-70%.


Answer Question

Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!