Testimonial – “What if this is bad?”: Proof that Paleo Works

I started the paleo diet in February to try to help with lymphocytic colitis (it worked).  As I kept my body happy with coconut oil, grass-fed beef, vegetables and all the other paleo goodies, there was still a little voice in the back of my head saying, “what if this is bad?”  I’d always had great blood work, and now I was worried that, regardless of biochemistry and physiology, maybe the USDA and food pyramid were right.

In addition to my work here as a science writer, I also teach yoga.  I am surrounded by vegans, vegetarians and raw foodists.  By practicing the paleo lifestyle, I am definitely an outlier (pretty sure I couldn’t get a nutrition article into the Yoga Journal).  What if they were right?  I know when I tried those eating styles my belly went into full revolt.

Well, I got my answer today.  There was a free cholesterol screening on my work campus – a little finger prick with results in 5 minutes – and I blew the machine’s mind!

HDL – mine was greater than 100 but the nurse doesn’t know how much because the testing device only goes up to 100 (my number was really unusual, she said).

Triglycerides – mine were less than 45 but the nurse unsure of the exact number because the testing device only goes down to 45 (this, too, was really unusual, she said).

LDL – not available on this testing device because it requires the triglyceride number to calculate and my triglycerides were too low (but we do know it is at least lower than 95 given the number totals, and in the optimum range).

Total cholesterol – 200, higher than my standard 160, but this is because of a substantial increase in HDL. I’ll have to have my blood tested again through a regular lab if I want to get my actual LDL (might be interesting).

Blood Glucose – 79, well within normal

After puzzling over my results, the nurse (who was very overweight), stated that I must be eating the “right things” and showed me the American Diabetes Association nutrition guide.  I nodded and smiled as she went through the need for whole grains and legumes, dairy and low-fat foods; then I told her that, actually, I was eating all the wrong things.  Lots of saturated fat, vegetables, avocados, coconut oil and meat, no whole grains or legumes, no dairy, lots of healthy animal protein, and dark chocolate.  Of course, she had never heard of the paleo lifestyle so I gave her a brief overview, the title of your book, and suggested that she might help more people battle diabetes with your book than with all the nutritional insanity of the ADA diet plan.

I’m pretty sure she won’t, but, hey, all you can do is plant the seed. Thanks so much!

-Carol B.


Categories: Announcements, Blood work, General, Healthcare, Paleo Testimonials


Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation

Have you heard about the Paleo diet and were curious about how to get started? Or maybe you’ve been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? Then Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation is for you.


  1. says

    Good for you for sharing. She may not look into it, but then again she may. Individually the least we can all do is try to educate (without being pushy) one person at a time and hope that they do likewise. I started a blog concentrating on trying to live Paleo with a local feel (tips on where to find good grass fed beef, coconut milk without guar, etc) for a similar reason.

  2. dave says

    I typed a bunch then accidentally reloaded the page before sending. so the following will be a mere shadow of what I originally typed…

    Do the numbers really matter? If so which ones do matter? I heard tests for the particle size were accurate and couldn’t really be dependable. If the numbers don’t really matter they why use it as a paleo proof?

    Doesn’t ______ affect the result? weighloss, saturated fat amount in diet/macros, niacin, sunlight- type or choleterol conversion to vit D, supplemental vit-D, dietary cholesterol- I understand no, recovery?-hormone precursor when hormones need to be made, level of inflamation- due to???, etc.)

    How can we game the insurance physical/blood/cholesterol test as it’s based on a 1970’s based dogma. So we can continue to eat our healthy ancestrally simulated Rx.

    • Carol Borchert says

      The proof of Paleo for me is in how my body feels and functions (which, by the way, is fantastic). The numbers are simply fun to know and something I thought others might find interesting.

  3. M says

    Even if she doesn’t check it out right away, it migiht sit there in the back of her mind until she hears about it again and again and gets the urge to look into it. At least, that’s how it worked for me. I thought the first person who told me about Paleo was crazy. But after hearing about it a few more times I eventually went and checked it out for myself and now I’m a die-hard fan 😀

  4. says

    Good for you, my friend. I have a similar concern. My annual exam is coming up and I will know then if the diet I’ve been following the past months works for me. Fingers crossed. This would be great news.

  5. Linda says


    My story is very similar to yours. My numbers have been fantastic. Like you I just feel better. I come home from work and have energy. I can exercise again. Not a favorite thing, but enjoy a little.
    I suffer fmo fibromyalgia and psoriasis. All have improved immensely. I won’t go back

    Keep up the good work.

  6. Scott says

    My mother was recently diagnosed with Type II diabetes, and the nutritionist/dietician gave her a diet regime which included ‘lots of healthy grains’ and plenty of fruit. In fact, no word of a lie, it had a list of ‘Healthy Snacks’ that included Peters Vanilla Low Fat Ice Cream. W.T.F?

    • Carol B says

      I’ve never been one for conspiracy theories, but on diabetes, you really have to wonder. Look at the American Diabetes Association’s recommended diet with its hefty helping of grains (almost guaranteed to worsen diabetes and require the patient to take ever more medication) then look at some of the ADA’s top donors (to join the ADA’s Banting Circle, companies must donate a minimum of $1 million annually). The list includes Abbott, Amylin, BD, Lilly, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Takeda, and Boehringer Ingelheim. When you hear “Big Pharma,” these are the companies people are talking about.

      The medical cost of diabetes runs $116 billion annually in the United States(according to the ADA) — that’s a lot of money and a lot of conflict of interest. Who does the ADA serve? Where do they get their money? Are these companies more concerned with curing diabetes or keeping it a “manageable condition” with lifelong drug intervention? Which is more profitable? Does the ADA do some good work? Probably. But a man cannot serve two masters.

  7. stone temple paleo says

    Good stuff.

    Stories like these realize make one realize that we are doing the right thing in staying healthy and thriving.

  8. Sigi says

    Hah! A similar thing happened to me too. Our workplace offered a free health check (part of a government-funded initiative) and my HDL reading was too high for the nurse’s little machine to cope with. All my other readings were normal/perfect. The nurse looked confused. Nevertheless, I still got the lecture on eating lots of low fat dairy on lots of oat bran cereal to bring down that cholesterol…

  9. Dave, RN says

    I’d be willing to bet that she won’t check it out. Overweight nurses are the “elephant in the room” that we in the industry don’t talk about… Yuo can tell ’em you cured a blood sugar problem (like I did) and they won’t care because they are mostly interested in parroting the ADA. I work at a cardiology specialty home health agency and we still spew the low fat dogma because that’s what the cardiologists want us to teach, and we all know how much they know about nutrition… Most nurses really don’t think for themselves and are just good at parroting dogma. Of course there are some exceptions 😉

  10. Stinna says

    loved the Paleo way of life however due to my failing health; I have been forced to reevaluate my diet. I have been doing a lot of reading on the blood type diet and as an o negative, foods such as coconut (oil, milk, etc) and avocadoes are to be avoided at all costs. I am worried that my 6-8 months of ingesting these items on a daily basis as well as raw kale and spinach (extremely bad for thyroid issues) may have damaged my body.

    Does anyone have any feedback to offer? Also are there any safe sweeteners? I have been using Stevia however I have now found that it causes low blood pressure and infertility. Having just had a pacemaker installed at age 33 for a resting heart rate of 28 as well as a possible diagnosis of premature ovarian failure, I am scared to touch the stuff again.

    • Amy Kubal says


      I encourage you not to give up on paleo! The blood type diet is not necessarily a sound approach and paleo can be adjusted to fit your health needs and goals. I would love to help you get a plan together that will help you get healthy – http://robbwolf.com/consulting/amy-kubal-consulting/ Let me know if I can help!

      As far as ‘safe’ sweeteners – not really. Use honey and/or maple syrup as ‘treats’, but as an ‘everyday food’ there are really no ‘safe’ choices.

      • Stinna says


        Thank you! I have actually visited your sited several times and have contemplated soliciting your nutritional counseling. I sought the advice of a nutritionist in the spring. She advocated a can of coconut milk a day in addition to many supplements for the support of what she believed a failing thyroid and adrenal gland based on a hair sample nutritional analysis. My health continued to fail and now here I sit back a square one. My husband and I spent countless amounts of time and money on this effort to improve my health and we are now going to turn to the services of an endocrinologist at a last ditch effort save my health. I fear that many years of dieting and eating disorders have destroyed my body and ruined my chances of having children. I am going to book mark your site and hopefully convince my husband to give the nutritional route another chance! I really do not know what to eat anymore. I believe I will be sticking to honey as my sweetener despite all the hype of stevia. Thank you again!

          • Stinna says

            Thank you! I just orderd the 30 Total Transformation in a last ditch effort to get my body as prepared as I can for an IVF treatment in December. I plan to be strict with the exception of Thanksgiving and the occasional glass of wine! I believe the meal plans will give me the variety I need. 8 months of eating the same thing (a shake made of veg.-mostly kale and spinach) all day every day may have had negative effects on my system. Wish me luck! Off to the grocery store tomorrow and putting my faith back into Rob Wolf!

      • Melanie says

        Amy (and Stinna)

        Wait, wait, wait!! Do you have any thoughts on Stinna’s pacemaker? And Stinna, do YOU have any thoughts about why your HR dropped so low?

        The reason I even found this post was a search for the term “pacemaker”. And why, (you might ask) would I be searching such a thing? Because last year, right before I turned 38, tired as hell all the time, I would up deciding to go ahead and get a pacemaker because of a resting heart rate in the 30’s. I’ll spare you both the long long tale, but essentially I’ve been active and athletic my whole life, but to the point that I think I pretty well trashed myself. Add to this a massive dose of long-term emotional stresses, and I think that’s why I started circling the drain. Stinna, your post got my attention because I caught a hint that maybe you’ve been under huge stress for a long time, too.

        I’m actually going to do a consult with Chris Kresser on this very topic, but my theory is that such incredible long-term physical and emotional stress is what caused me to start slowing down. Amy, I’m just curious, have you had any experiences with this sort of thing before? And Stinna, forgive me if I’m putting words in your mouth and imagining that your situation is like mine.

        • Amy Kubal says

          I definitely think that a combination of your fitness level and your adrenal health are playing into your very low heart rate. You may very well have passed a state of adrenal fatigue and broken into adrenal insufficiency and an overall hormone slow/shut down. Also, have you had a EKG to confirm your heart rhythm is in check or had your sodium and potassium levels tested? I have seen some cases in athletes with very low heart rates having long QT syndrome and low blood sodium levels. I would love to hear what Chris K. has to say! And feel free to email me – I’m interested in hearing the ‘long, long tale – amyk.rd@gmail.com ; I’d really like to learn more about you and about cases like this!

          • Melanie says

            Hi Amy,

            Yes, on both counts-I’ll tell you what Chris says (I’ve got my consult tomorrow afternoon), and I will certainly send you an account of the whole story. And sorry I started jumping up and down when I saw Stinna’s post; I’ve just gotten so tired of having doctors and nurses look at me like I have an arm growing out of the top of my head when I tell them I have a pacemaker…I got all excited when I ran across another young person with one, and am very curious about the circumstances.

    • Carol B says

      I’m O-negative as well and, while one person a study doesn’t make, I eat coconut oil and avocadoes every day with no issue. I’m a born skeptic, have researched the blood type diet, and (for me, anyhow), the physiology and biochemistry just don’t add up.

      As far as goitrogenic foods like raw kale, if you’re on thyroid replacement hormone (and still have your thyroid), these should be limited as they can act as an antithyroid (though cooking seems to minimize the goitrogenic potential by destroying the responsible enzymes). I had Grave’s disease many years ago, am on thyroid replacement therapy, and limit these in my diet (once or twice a week).

      For sweeteners, first, I greatly reduced the amount of sweeteners I use overall (I used to have a wicked sweet tooth). Second, each sweetener has its disadvantages, so I just like to spread my physiologic responses across the board and not stress one system too much. When something just needs a touch of sweetness I use stevia, pure maple syrup, or honey.

      You are the best judge of what is happening in your body, but good dietary counseling will help you discover the right combination of healthy foods to create a healthy life. I second what Amy says, it might be very beneficial to work with her to create a sound approach, particularly given your medical concerns. Good luck!

      • Stinna says


        Thank you for the information! I really miss avocadoes and I am going to slowly start incorporating them back into my diet. I tried to follow the O-negative guidance in attempt to feel better but it has not seemed to work so I am going back to at least eating what I enjoy!

        I am not sure what my issue is with my thyroid, or if there is one at all. The doctors are at a loss right now. I hope they can figure something out soon though because I ready to just feel better!
        Thank you again! By the way, do you use any vinegar?

        • Carol B says

          I use a little bit of balsamic vinegar for my salads, but other than that I really don’t have it anywhere in my daily diet. It’s not that I avoid it, I’ve just never used much vinegar in my cooking and eating.

          • Stinna says


            As an O-neg do you find the coconut products and avocadoes bother you? These are staples in the Paleo diet and I really don’t want to do anything that is going to hurt my body any further. I am just not sure how much merit the blood type diet deserves.

            I was using a TON of vinegar, esp. in my salads. I thought it was supposed to be good for the body. I use apple cider vinegar when I have indigestion but other than that I am trying to eliminate it.

    • Cindy says


      As a “veteran” of the Blood Type Diet (and every other one out there), I won’t lie to you. It made me feel better than any other diet I’d tried (up to that point, 1997) and helped me get back into shape after quitting a 20-year smoking habit. That being said, unless you just absolutely LOVE dairy, potatoes, bread and rice MORE than you love salads, fresh fruits and veggies, Paleo wins hands down. I am not allergic to gluten, but it does affect my energy level and digestion. On Paleo, no issues. I’ll take a monster salad with avocado and coconut oil over a plate of rice or scalloped potatoes every time . . . well, maybe not on Thanksgiving . . . but every other time!

      • Stinna says


        Thanks for the info. The research I found on my blood type (O-neg) indicated that anything coconut related was detrimental to my blood type. It also said that avocadoes were to be avoided as well. Having consumed coconut milk on a daily basis (at the advice of a nutritionist) for nearly 4 months, I feared I done damage to my body and conditions. I was also told that I may have sensitivity to night shade vegetables. At the end of the day, there was hardly anything left for me to eat! I LOVE LOVE LOVE vegetables. I tend to lack variety in my choices and almost poisoned myself with the amount of kale and spinach I was eating!

        With that said, and in an effort to eat a large variety of foods, I have downloaded the 30 day transformation. I am going to give coconut and avocado another shot despite what the blood type diet says.
        I am also going cold turkey on any sweeteners! No stevia or honey for me! Wish me luck!

  11. says

    This is great just more evidence for the mounting piles which will soon be high enough all governments will have to sit up, listen and respond with actions consistent to the well being of all and not just the select inner circles.

  12. says

    I am a yoga teacher who has moved toward a Paleo diet too. Trying to force my body into a vegetarian/vegan/raw lifestyle (yes, I tried all three) nearly killed me. I’m glad your numbers are so good and happy to hear about another outsider–and yes, we ARE outsiders!–who is leading by example, not by proselytizing. Keep up the great work!!

    • Carol B says

      Hooray, a fellow yoga teacher! It’s a tough culture in which to be Paleo, but I’m making inroads with my students through my own example. I’ll never forget at one workshop last year (pre-paleo) the teacher telling us that if we want health and enlightenment, first we must become vegetarians. I tried, and it nearly killed me, too! Oh well, guess I’ll have to settle for health without the enlightenment.

  13. Kim says

    Perfect! This is just what I needed because all of the same thoughts were running through my head. My husband and I plan to get blood testing done in a few months. We’re still new to paleo! One question, though. How often should we get blood tested?

    • Amy Kubal says

      It’s not necessary to get blood tested often unless you have major health issues. If you are ‘generally healthy’ once a year is plenty!

  14. Kristy says

    My husband had double bypass two months ago at the age of 54. A friend loaned me The Paleo Solution and I am intriqued, and scared to try it. The doc gave us the standard heart-healthy diet, low-fat, etc. Scared to play dietician with his health this way, flying in the face of conventional wisdom. Is there really a one-size fits all to any diet? Shouldn’t some people be exceptions?

  15. Cindy says

    That is awesome, Carol! I was at H20 aerobics this a.m. and the instructor, a vegan friend, was complaining that she is just “hungry all the time” and yet noticing her belly getting bigger. To her credit, she does teach about 12 classes a week and needs to keep up her strength. She knows I’ve been Paleo for a few months now and has watched me shed 28 pounds, yet mentioning that she might need a good steak would have made her turn green! 😀 To each their own and in their own time.

    • Carol B says

      Thanks Cindy,
      I love the practice of yoga and work with some truly wonderful people, but I will tell you that many of my fellow yoga teachers suffer from a variety of maladies, despite living what many would assume to be a very healthy lifestyle. GI problems are prevalent (go figure) and surprisingly, to me anyhow, so is the use of anti-depressants. I really think so many of my fellow teachers would benefit from the introduction into their diet of some healthy animal-based essential amino and fatty acids (and ditch the grains and legumes, standard fare in the yogi diet). Their brains and bellies would thank them!

      • Stinna AKA Chrisitine says


        Thank you for the insight. I was just afraid that the coconut and avocado which are “forbidden for O – negative” would cause me damage. I got to the point where I was down to about 10 foods that I thought fit my dietary protocol…needless to say I over killed those ten foods and my taste buds.

        My feet have been swelling a lot lately and diabetes runs in my family so I am going back to the Paleo ways and limiting sugar and fruit. I hope and pray the coconut and avocado do not have adverse effects on me!

  16. Jenny says

    I’ve seen an article in YJ about a teacher who was suffering on her vegetarian diet, listened to her body and started eating meat, and voila she feels healthy. I recommend you DO try to write an article for them about your journey to paleo and doing what is clearly the healthiest thing for you and how you balance that with your yogi lifestyle. I think your story is awesome and would love a longer, more detailed read, maybe with any spiritual/moral lessons you learned too. Good job doing what is best for you and congratulations on your health!

    • Carol B says

      Thanks for the suggestion, Jenny. I can always send in a query to YJ and they can always say no, but maybe they’ll say yes. For many yoga teachers, the ethical precept of ahimsa (non-harming) doesn’t seem to square with a paleo diet. At its root, however, I believe ahimsa is also about not harming yourself.

  17. Michia says

    It’s important to testify, even if it’s just a brief comment. I’ve been going to the same conventional but supportive GP for many years. In recent years I have made sure point out when discussing my lipid panel (same very high HDL, very low trigylcerides as Carol B.’s) “this is the lipid profile of someone on a high fat diet”. (The fact that I am also maintaining a 100-pound weight loss gives me extra credibility.)

    By “testifying”, maybe, over time, I can help shift this one good doctor’s understanding of what real “healthy eating” is and what a powerful tool it is for improving and maintaining health.

  18. Sarah says

    Great job!

    I got my cholesterol down by eating right also – well, wrong according to that darned pyramid – and my doctor’s reaction was “I don’t know what you’re doing but it’s working better than my pills” as I went from his prescribed 20mg to 0 (statins) in under 6 months :)

    What strikes me in your post, other than the good news and great numbers, is your comment about the nurse being “very overweight” – why is it that so many health professionals look anything but healthy? Yet they claim a right to lecture everyone else on health?

    I have walked out of a doctor’s practice for that very reason :) just moved to a new town and went to a local Dr for the first time; the nurse was close to obese, and the doctor himself had greasy hair (ok, maybe a bad hair day), dull eyes and lifeless skin. I walked out. They would have nothing to contribute to my health.

  19. Carol B says

    Thanks Sarah! It is somewhat mindnumbing to look at health professionals today and see so little, well, health. My neighbor is a sweetheart, a nurse, and struggles with her weight. She’s talked with me about it but has pretty much given up because she has a high-stress job (strike one), works the night shift (strike two), and grabs/eats/runs rather than planning a healthy meal(strike three). She has the opportunity to impact the lives of many people through her work at the hospital, but she has to be ready to make that change herself. As we say in the yoga business, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear (maybe in the form of The Paleo Solution at her doorstep).

  20. Kristy says

    How do you explain the apparent good health of a large group who eat lots of gluten and no meat- the Seventh Day Adventists? Do they not have very good numbers on their side of the argument, documented over many years?

    • Carol B says

      Hi Kristy,
      Epidemiological studies are tricky because it’s impossible to factor out all the variables. Seventh-Day Adventists are particularly tricky because many published reports come from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, a Seventh-Day Adventist university (always consider the source). And, there are some huge misconceptions about the percentage of Seventh-Day Adventists who are actually vegan or vegetarian. While recommended by the church, vegetarianism is not required.

      Seventh-Day Adventists avoid alcohol and smoking, they exercise regularly, and have strong social communities. These all positively affect health outcomes. Plus, there are major differences among members with some being vegan (less than 3 percent), some lactovegetarian, and 55.3 percent (according to the most recent numbers) being ovo-lactovegetarian (eating eggs, dairy, seafood and poultry). Others eat meat with meat being divided into “clean” and “unclean:” beef is clean and pork being unclean (not sure why the God in multiple religions hates bacon so much).

      Can you eat grains and legumes and be healthy when all your other choices are healthy? Maybe, for some; that definitely wasn’t the case for me and I can only speak to my own experience. Sometimes we just have to listen to the physical intelligence of our own bodies rather than accept what is preached from on high — whether that be paleo or veganism, vegetariansim or raw foodism, or any other food “isms.”

      If you feel fabulous as a vegetarian, good for you, go for it. If you don’t, leave preconceived notions and PC diet dogma on the side of the road and try out something else. Life itself is an experiment!

      • Kristy says

        Thanks Carol. I am reassured to have a response. I am not a detractor, but it is a huge committment to change. One that I am attempting, at least to some degree. I think what is suggested makes a lot of sense, and so does your response.

  21. says

    Funny you mention the campus health screenings. I actually avoid these so I don’t have the desire to bang my head when they tell me I overweight based on my BMI and provide nutritional advice like you mentioned. Guess I could use this as a teaching opportunity like you did. For me seeing the numbers don’t really matter I know they are great.

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