Toxins & Hormesis – Episode 173

Performance Menu: Journal of Health & Athletic Excellence

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  1. [4:49] Olive Oil Adulteration
  2. [10:11] Soda Effects On Bone Density
  3. [16:06] Resetting Circadian Rhythm and Meal Timing
  4. [19:37] Strictness Of Paleo Vs. Longevity
  5. [28:12] Cheat Meals With A History Of Cancer
  6. [38:58] Eating Paleo In The Military In Kuwait
  7. [41:38] Minimizing Daily Toxins And Hormesis
  8. [58:15] Malaria Prevention, Doxycycline, And Gut Health
  9. [1:02:36] Liver Spots



1. Olive Oil Adulteration

Geoff says:
Robb and Greg –

Really, what good things are there left to say about you two and your work that haven’t already been said?  Rather than pile on with effusive praise, I’ll keep it simple – you two are great at what you do.  Thanks.

My questions are equally simple:  Is the adulteration of olive oil a legit health concern or just more tin foil hat scaremongering?  If I can’t get to know a local olive farmer, how can I best assure myself that the olive oil I am eating is the real deal?  Are USDA certified organic olive oils less likely to be adulterated than non-certified oils?


2. Diet Coke and Bone Density

Kate says:
Hi Robb and Greg!

Is Diet Coke Paleo?

Just kidding, that’s not my question!  But it is about diet soda.

Growing up my mom was always dieting (meaning eating “less” food -mainly crackers and cheerios) and as a result, only had diet sodas in the house.  In middle school, I got into the habit of drinking diet sodas daily.  Since they didn’t have any calories, my mom and I didn’t mind.  So started a 12 year-ish complete addiction to diet coke.

I have been eating about 80/20 paleo for around a year to great success and have just recently managed to get rid of diet coke — I know many others who are in my boat (they’ve got the food down, but not the diet drinks)

I’ve heard that Diet soda causes bone de-mineralization – so here is my question.  I am now 24 (and bone development is supposed to peak at 25 and start going downhill – I think) –

Are my bones compromised from all my years of drinking diet soda?  What should I prioritize now to make sure I don’t deflate when my bones spontaneously dissolve in a few years?  Should I convince a Dr. to check my current bone density?  Is there something I should eat more of or an exercise I should do more of?

I hope an answer to these questions will help other ladies and gents who have similar pasts with diet soda.

Thanks so much for all you do guys!  I have listened to EVERY podcast though I can’t claim to understand all of it.



3. Breakfast, fasting and circadian rhythm

Elaine says:
Do you know of any research on, or do you have some thoughts about, the role of breakfast in normalizing one’s circadian rhythms? Maybe I’m not searching the right terms, but consensus seems split between skipping breakfast (intermittent fasting style) and eating breakfast immediately (leptin reset style) when it comes to getting your sleep/wake habits back on track.

Do each of these approaches normalize a different sleep problem, or is food less important to circadian rhythms than light therapy?  One mouse study is quoted a lot by popular media, supporting the idea that fasting for 12-16 hours before breakfast in a new time zone may help you overcome jet lag faster.

As always, thanks for being awesome!


4. “Look, feel, perform” vs. Long term health

David says:
Hello Paleolithians,

I am a powerlifting and strongman competitor who has reaped the benefits of the paleo diet over the last eight months. I had no major health issues prior to starting the diet, though I did have depression/anxiety episodes. My motivation for starting the diet was to perform better, but it has had the added bonus of improving my depression/anxiety symptoms too.

I did a few months of strict paleo before I started tinkering.  My observations thus far are:

1) I have no noticeable reaction to dairy, other than the very occasional bit of acne (though I am not 100% sure the dairy causes this).

2) Sugar is fine in moderation. If I go overboard I get some acne and it messes with my sleep.

3) Rice has no noticeable effects whatsoever.

4) Trace amounts of gluten have no noticeable effects, but the time I ate a whole pizza it MESSED MY SHIT UP (literally).

Using these observations, I am quite happily making informed  food decisions, well aware of what the consequences they may have on me. Generally I’ll have some  dairy (usually cheese) 3-4 times per week, some chocolate/sweets/ice cream once per week and rice 3-4 times per week when I’m trying to gain weight. I learnt the lesson with the pizza, so I stay well clear of any major gluten sources, but I’m not worried about foods that may contain a small amount of gluten.

The above diet has me looking, feeling and performing fantastic. Couldn’t wish for more. My question relates to my long term health… If I look, feel and perform well on a not-quite-paleo diet am I more at risk to food induced diseases than if I were on a strict paleo diet?

I guess your answer is going to be yes – to a degree. I seem to remember on a previous podcast you (or Cordain) estimated that the paleo diet may add 10-15 years to the life of someone who would otherwise be on a standard American diet. If someone is looking, feeling and performing top notch, how close does that person come to getting that 10-15 extra years? Is my eating icecream once a week for the next 50 years going to cost me 2 years?

By my math that means each time I eat ice cream I will sacrifice 6 hours, 44 minutes and 18 seconds of my life. Hmmm, sounds worth it to me.

OK scrap the above questions – how about you guys just do a general ramble about how many seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years of your life you’d sacrifice each time you ate your favourite non-paleo food if they didn’t have any negative health impacts on you.


(Sorry for the rambling question)

5. Paleo and Cancer

Dawn says:
I have just finished chemo and have done 5 out of 33 radiation treatments.  My husband and I started Paleo 4 weeks ago and we are loving it!  He has lost 9 pounds and me – 4!  (I was diagnosed when 25-weeks-pregnant so am also holding onto some baby fat.)  Although the weight loss is awesome, my intention of doing this “diet” (it will be a way of life for me) is for the health reasons.  What caused my breast cancer?  Hmmmm…I am inclined to think what man has done to our environment and our food.

With knowing that, I hope I can articulate my questions correctly.  I believe in a little cheat every once in awhile.  I love eating healthy and can do so without much yearning for the bad stuff, but……  every so often, it is nice.  (I love to cook, love food, love good beer, etc).

So…what is your thought on cheating and possibly fueling more cancer?  I think I am getting all worked up and, maybe, for no reason.  We went to dinner yesterday and I had a steak with grilled mush and onions.  But I got a salad with their house dressing (warm bacon) and ate 2 small pieces of cheese bread.  That was my first bread in 4 weeks!

I didn’t cheat horrible, but wondering if even something that little is bad for someone like me, someone who has history of cancer.

Am I making sense?


6. Paleo in Kuwait

Pam says:
Good afternoon from Kuwait!  I just arrived here 3 weeks ago with the military, and I’m having a tough time eating Paleo.  I know the basics, but my issues are finding good HEALTHY fats and I’m about tired of a grilled chicken breast.  Even the eggs are powered, so I opt for egg whites, which are probably processed as well.
Although I am able to get my workouts in, I’m feeling yucky from not getting the nutrients that my body needs.
Any ideas, tips or meal supplements that I can try without paying out the you know what for being shipped to Kuwait?


7. Hormesis

David says:
I’ve heard a lot of paleo folk talk about minimizing toxins in their daily life – almost to the point where it seems like they’re trying to live in a clean room.

While I appreciate wanting to nourish the body, is there a value in hormesis? The Greeks believed that a exposing one’s self to toxins or physical damage in some way could be beneficial (i.e. “whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”).

With that in mind, how much should we really be concerned about toxins in our modern environment? Doesn’t our body have coping mechanisms to adjust and become more adept at handling toxins over time (i.e. Cytochrome P450 enzyme)?

Thanks for everything you do. Love the podcast. You guys ROCK!


8. Urgent, please help!

Mike says:
(Insert praise about the vast wealth of knowledge I have received since I found your podcast here), but really thanks for what you do. I am a service member and I am being deployed to Africa in about a month. My military doctor has given me doxycycline to take for the duration of my deployment (6 months) to ward off malaria. It seems like a smart idea to not get malaria, however I know that the doxycycline is going to wreak havoc on my gut. I have been paleo for a while now and I feel like I have just gotten my gut under control, as I have had candida and other gut issues. I have listened to almost all of your podcasts and I plan on consuming some gluten containing products before the deployment so that I do not have as serious gut issues while in theater. However, would you suggest taking the malaria pills, if so should I take something else to mitigate the damage to my gut? Should I maybe keep an eye on Malaria symptoms and take the doxycycline if I think I may have it? Do you know of any other alternatives to the doxycycline? I know that you are not a Dr. and I am not requesting medical advise, but any help that you can offer would be much appreciated. Thank you again.


9. Liver Spots

Dan says:
Hey Robb

I was listening to episode 73 and you were responding to a letter about someone getting their gallbladder removed and you guys were joking about insulin tans or “tyrosinate’s reaction”.

I’m 27 years old and I’ve had “age spots” “liver spots” “sun spots” at least since highschool. I was told they were sun damage and that’s generally all I find online, but I think that’s bogus because I barely have them on my arms or face, mostly on my back, stomach and chest. Also, I live in Vancouver B.C so there’s not really any sun to cause any damage. My father is covered in them, more so than anyone I’ve ever seen. His back is basically one liver spot. Do I have any chance here to turn this around or am I destined to become One large liver spot. My father is also a sugar addict, he eats a lot of bread and butter, and drinks only coke or lemonade.

Another background for me is that I’ve been aware that I have Candida since maybe 2008, but I may have had gut flora issues earlier than that. I often get red burning eyes which I was told could be a result of my liver, maybe from processing toxins from candida. I also have skin problems, sensitive flushing skin, keratosis pilaris on arms, and dry skin on my face. All of these things have gotten much better but are still present.

I’ve been following paleo loosely since 2011, still drink milk, have cheese, sugar and grains occasionally. I take a multivitamin and probiotic, vitamin d, and cod liver oil, and vitamin C

My Question is:  Could you elaborate more on tyrosinase Reaction, and maybe offer an idea of what’s going on with me. And, could you offer any advice on foods to avoid, and some foods/ supplements that may be able to help with slowing down the liver spotting, and I guess more importantly helping my liver function (if that’s an issue). Thanks.

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  1. says

    Regarding the labeling issue with olive oil. While the “extra virgin” versus just “olive oil” distinction is not well quantified and not easy to resolve; if there are adulterating agents (i.e. non olive oils) then that’s just plain fraud. Of course the litigous retort is going to be “when does accidental contamination cross into adulteration?”

  2. jake says

    Ref: doxycycline. Make sure you take that puppy with food and drink some water. I got in the habit of taking mine after dinner and forgot the one night until I hit the rack. I hopped up, popped it in and took a quick swig of water and went to bed. I woke up with a chemical burn in my esophagus and couldn’t eat solid food for almost 3 days without severe pain. I quit taking it after that, which was halfway through the deployment. Never did see any mosquitos for the whole year I was in the ‘ghan.

    Stay away from mefloquine. Most of the guys taking that had serious issues during sleep. Mostly hallucinogenic dreams that were severe enough to cause them to stop taking it.

    • Stephanie says

      Hey good reply. I just wanted to add a few thoughts as well.

      Is there a chance the doc would let you take malarone? It’s quite tolerable and no worries of chemical burn, just take it with a little fat (milk or something).

      As for alternatives to taking anti-malarial… you could just keep some anti-malaria tablets with you and if you start feeling the symptoms (very high cyclic fever), pop those and hopefully knock out the bug in a few days. If the skeeters have white bands on their legs, they don’t carry the parasite, however, no white bands and you have parasite carriers.

      I would recommend trying the anti-malarial for a few weeks, see how it goes, start being aware of the bugs, and get your hands on the local tablets they use, and then you can see if you feel comfortable enough in your health and surroundings to stop the anti-malarial.

  3. says

    About toxins & hormesis:

    I definitely agree with Robb & Greg about over-sanitizing everything. The kids who are allowed to get dirty, eat stuff that falls on the floor, and aren’t constantly being wiped down with triclosan seem to be the ones who get sick the *least.* I firmly believe in giving our immune system the opportunity to build itself up and learn to fight things off.

    That being said, I think there might be a law of diminishing returns here. I have no studies on hand to back this up; it’s just my own opinion and trying to follow a simple kind of logic. The guy who asked the question specifically mentioned the CYTP450 enzyme system for detoxing and getting rid of toxins. I feel like it stands to reason that if your liver is overtaxed due to having to deal with exogenous stuff (xenoestrogens, pesticides, wacky food preservatives, etc), it might have less energy/resources to devote to doing all the *other* stuff it’s supposed to for a normal, healthy person, like conjugate *endogenous* hormones and other compounds for excretion. (Plus making lipoproteins, regulating blood glucose, and tons of other things that have nothing to do with the detox pathways.)

    I’m not saying we should live in sterile environments and have everything hermetically sealed, irradiated, etc. But it couldn’t hurt to minimize our overall exposure to harmful things in order to free up the liver to focus on other critical processes. No need for the antibacterial hand gel at every turn, but there’s also no reason to slather ourselves in lotions and cosmetics that contain known endocrine disruptors, or saturate our homes with cleaning products that are loaded with heaven-knows-what. (I’m very far from the point of using only baking soda and apple cider vinegar to clean the house, and I eat mostly conventional produce [i.e. not organic] but you know what I mean…little steps to reduce the overall burden.)

  4. newbie says

    How about the written text? Now it is not even an option. Just deleting it from the post doesn’t help.

    • says

      Lots of demands and complaints from someone who neither pays nor contributes. Maybe throw in a thank you for the free podcast before you starting making complaints and demands for more. Maybe you can shoot me over an address so I can send you in the invoice for the transcription? Or a bill for my hourly rate to cover the time we spent recording this episode?

  5. Pete says

    Newbie, why so rude man. Maybe check the way you word stuff. Demands, demands. All this knowledge for free and you act like a wanker because it doesn’t meet your standards. Robb and Greg don’t have to do this but the fact that they do is greatly appreciated. How much is your subscription!? Right, there isn’t one. Relax man. Wouldn’t want to see your cortisol spike.
    Great episode gentlemen. Most of us appreciate it.

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