Kurt Harris coming on the podcast – submit your questions!

March 15, 2011 in Events, Classes & Groups | 39 comments

picture of kurt harrisI’m happy to announce that the illustrious Kurt Harris of PaleoNu will be joining us on Episode 6 of The Healthy Skeptic Podcast. We’ll be discussing his recent series on macronutrients, the role of meditation practice in helping us to face “unsolvable problems”, orthorexia and more.

We’ll also take some questions from you, so make sure to leave them as a comment here. We’re recording this Friday, so please submit your questions by Thursday afternoon (PST). Sorry for the late notice!


Jason March 15, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Hello Chris and Kurt.

I’m confused about caloric intake on a Paleo diet. Some say you don’t need to count calories because the types of food you eat while Paleo will keep you full and naturally keep you at the right caloric intake. But what if, for whatever reasons, you’re still hungry after eating Paleo — perhaps you’re not eating as much as you think? What’s a caloric intake range for someone looking to lose weight, as opposed to maintaining weight? I’m 29, 6’2 and 218 (down from 305 in about 8 months after going Paleo!!). My goal is 170-180 and my trainer says 1700 cals on non-training days and 2100 on training days. I imagine that is based on eating a non-Paleo diet, though.

Thanks for the help.

Beth@WeightMaven March 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Kurt recently talked about where he deviates from Taubes re the chicken & the egg phenomenon re carbs and insulin. He said the reason people have chronically high insulin is because their insulin sensitivity is abnormal and not specifically the macronutrient ratio of their diets. Could he elaborate on what he thinks is causing this? I’m guessing it’s his neolithic agents, but would love to hear more.

Clarissa March 16, 2011 at 8:45 am

I’d second the interest in this question. My husband has been following a PaNu diet for 3 months, but his fasting blood glucose and HbA1C have not changed during this time and therefore remain at a “borderline diabetic” level, despite the complete elimination of the neolithic agents of disease and only 1-2 servings of fruit a day. We are guessing that his insulin sensitivity is abnormal, but what causes this and how to improve it? And also, how long should it take to improve insulin sensitivity with a PaNu diet?

David March 16, 2011 at 10:03 am

Two servings of fruit is around 30g of carbohydrates a day. If his metabolism is broken (like mine – a 26-year type 2 diabetic), he may need to lower his carb intake a bit more for the time being to reverse things. It has taken me two years and two months to achieve a normal blood sugar level. His should reverse much quicker. The key to knowing is to test blood sugars before and 2 hours after each meal. If a food raises his blood sugar higher than it should be, then drop it from the diet. A normal person’s blood sugars are typically in the 80s when fasting and rarely are above the 120′s after meals. Those are your goals. It may take a while.

Victor March 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Hey there. I have been on paleo since thanksgiving and have lost 45 pounds and feeling great!!! My question is for myfather who just turned 70 has been experiencing pain in his legs and the doctors tell him it’s naropathy. I tell him that he needs to stop the grains and lagumes but being his child and not being an expert in diet he really isn’t listening. Do you think diet would help? Any tips would be great.
Thanks so much. Love the podcast

Matt March 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Looking forward to this one.

seems quite a hot topic at the moment and I’m curious to hear Dr Harris’s opinion on the potential long term effects on the adrenals/thyroid from low carb/ketogenic diets.

Are epileptics, type 1 diabetics, or anyone with metabolic damage all going to ‘burn out’ eventually from VLC diets? Are those going low carb for blood sugar/insulin control substituting one problem for another long term?

Also curious on Chris’s thoughts about this.

Todd Hargrove March 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm


Some questions for Kurt:

Kurt’s take on Chris Masterjohn’s recent series on the lipid hypothesis.

A response to comments by Ken and Itsthewoo on Stephan’s recent flu post re the potential negatives of vitamin D supplementation.

Comments on the work of Carbsane – agreements and disagreements, e.g. the NEFA issue.

Looking forward to it!

Mike March 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Dr. Harris –

Do you agree with the notion of an 80-20 (or 85-15, per Cordain) rule, under which most of the benefits of a healthy diet are obtained by usually but not always avoiding the neolithic agents of disease? Or is it more likely that (for example) merely minimizing gluten is not enough — that eating it even once a week or so is likely to have significant gut/autoimmune effects that will not heal because of the repeated (if rare) reintroduction of gluten into the diet?

Jon McCaffrey March 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Dr. Harris,

Everyone is afraid of being stricken down by a heart attack. You flat-out dismiss the relationship between lipid numbers and heart disease. We’re all in search of guidance.

I know that you often advise us to simply eat well and worry less, but how about some guidance for those who want to monitor to the extent possible our risk of cardiac disease?

Thanks to both you and Dr. Chris in advance.

- Jon McCaffrey

Alan Beall March 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I’d like info on this, too.

Douglas Ritz March 15, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Any additional information on controlling acid reflux with a low carbohydrate diet would be most appreciated. Also, maybe some data on rehabilitating your gut after long-term use of PPIs and some timelines you have seen with your patients.

I am really looking forward to this podcast.

Thank you so much!

BSH March 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Hi Kurt and Chris,

This is directed at Kurt. You wrote a recent post about the body not “seeing” the macronutrient and my question related to that is what dimensions of food that we track as data or describe in language do you think the body does see(or experience)?

T. W. March 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Hello Dr. Harris,

I enjoy your blog, and it is one of the few health blogs actually supported with rational arguments.

From following your blog it appears that the essence of achieving the PaNu EM2 is thru food elimination, rather than inclusion. I find this approach workable because of its simplicity. I follow most of your recommendations, but where I diverge is with the conscious inclusion of carbohydrates (i.e. Jan Kwasniewski) and eating very-high/nearly-all -fat foods (i.e. whole cream). It’s not that I’m some ZIOH believer, it’s just that I favor simplicity and convervatism in diet rather than additional complexity, so I seek to eliminate wherever it appears reasonable. So my diet is carnivorous, not very high fat, as it relies only on animal ruminants, typically > 85% lean, grain-fed beef and liver.
It had been argued on your blog that a non-carbohydrate diet with a state of continuous ketosis is less than ideal with respect to our evolutionary experience.
Finally, to get to my question, how much damage am I doing, how less-than-optimal is my health by not making the effort to include carbohydrates, plants, and high-fat foods in my diet? If there were any indicators or lab tests I could take to measure the difference in my health status from say, including starches or not, what tests would you suggest I run?

Is this attention to detail even expected of your readers, or is it generally fine just to follow the 12 steps, and the rest is speculation at best?

Thank you for all the work you’ve done, for the benefit of us all.

Ron March 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm

TW: you might want to tell Dr. Harris what carbohydrates you consume.

Clay Enos March 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm

First off, thank you.

There is always a bunch of time spend on overweight folks or others that show overt signs of metabolic derangement. My attention focuses more on those who eat sugar, grains, drink moderately 4 or 5 times a week and get a fair amount of vegetable oil due to social situations (typical urbanites), yet aren’t overweight, or otherwise markedly in decline. My specific concern is for some friends that I’d like to sway into the “Paleo 2.0″ corner but can’t easily convince.

While many arrive here due to illness and/or intellectual rigor, the vast majority sit on the fence, skeptical, “diet-fatigued,” in denial, or otherwise reluctant to change. While it seems to get easier and easier to make the switch from the SAD to a PaNu-style approach, I was wondering if you two could make a convincing argument for the otherwise “healthy” masses before they become symptomatic.

There is an evangelical-style bent among many converts to this way of eating. I want to avoid that despite the passionate nature of the issue. Simply put, I want my friends to be healthy for a long time. It’s hard to sit by and watch them make what solid science seems to support as poor decisions.

Finally, do you have thoughts on food cravings?

Aravind March 15, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Hello Dr Harris,

Two questions-

1) What are your views on the hormetic benefits of consumption of NADs – fructose, wheat, and vegetable oils? Related to this, I see a lot of energy in the blogosphere regarding hormesis lately. Is this just scientifically validating the conventional wisdom of “everything in moderation”. Cocaine in moderation too? Seems like a slippery slope given the point in the J curve where hormesis stops and badness starts is so ill defined, that even in the case of polyphenols, avoidance is still the better choice. This comment excludes my mandatory red wine at dinner mind you!

2) Any concerns about oxidized PUFAs in the diet, say from eating lots of scrambled eggs for example? Or as long as total PUFA intake is below 4%, no worries?

Screw Travis. Love the blog! Hope to see the Protein post soon :-)


BJ Phillips March 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Doctor Harris – Hi, welcome, and thanks for being here.

My question is about autoimmune diseases (psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis) and inflammation. I am growing increasing alarmed when I hear that it is possible to have internal inflammation, as well as joint/muscle inflammation. I have also heard this causes heart attacks. I am eating Paleo but continue to have psoriatic arthritis – do you think I am in danger of a “cardiac event”? I have not been eating Paleo very long (weeks – not months or years, unfortunately) and while I have experienced some relief, it has not been dramatic. I do not do dairy, except for butter (actually ghee). If I am in danger, what can I do?

TTH March 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Hi Dr. Harris, thanks for the blog.

My question is about Paleo and the healthcare field. Do you think there are real concerns for doctors, dietitians and nurses to avoid mentioning Paleo ideas to their patients? t’s easy enough for me to tell people to avoid sugar and refined flour since it’s well known they aren’t healthy, but I hold back on the whole grains and veg oils. I think there are a lot of us out here who would like to tell people to avoid those foods as well, but we’re afraid of going against the ADA, AHA, USDA, et al and maybe violating terms of our licensure. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Laura in Arizona March 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Chris and Dr. Harris, love both your blogs and appreciate your time and effort.

My question is in regards to vitamin D. Although I jumped on the band wagon and have been supplementing with 5,000 units D3 and do get my levels tested, I am a little concerned with this approach as a practice for a healthy life. I believe we know so little about the complexities of the human body that in our ignorance we usually tend to muck things up. I understand that sun exposure would be best but have a difficult time achieving that, thus the pills. I would like to know:
What are your current recommendations for D3 replacement?
What is a good level of 25(OH)D for general overall health?
Should we attempt to maintain these levels year round or should we strive for higher levels in the summer and allow winter levels to fall, thus mimicking our natural ancestral cycle?

My kindest regards,

garfinkel March 15, 2011 at 10:02 pm

It would be a good idea to thoroughly go through Dr. Harris blog, http://www.paleonu.com. He has written at length about some of these topics.

Daniel March 16, 2011 at 12:59 am

PaNu is an excellent health blog. I greatly respect Kurt’s approach, which is dispassionate, scientific, intellectually curious, undogmatic, accessible and practical. Questions for him:

1. Animal vs. (Good) Plant Fat. You obviously favor saturated fats generally, and saturated animal fats in particular. Can you expound a bit on your view of GOOD plant fats (coconut, palm, olive(?), cocoa butter(?) and to a lesser extent unprocessed nut fats)? Are they comparable to animal fats? A second-best and less than desirable alternative? Use only if animal fats not available? Etc. If one’s main sources of animal fats are not necessarily ideal from a PaNu perspective (e.g. they are not grass-fed), would that change your recomendation?

2. Omega Ratios. In terms of self-monitoring for “paleo compliance”, eliminating sugar is easy, eliminating grains and other carb-heavy foods is relatively easy, eliminating processed vegetable oils is doable although trickier unless you prepare all food yourself. What I have found is _not easy_ is ensuring the proper Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratios. If one is eating a relatively good basic paleo approach, but without consistent access to grass-fed meat, non-farmed fish, etc., do you have any rules of thumb for maintaining good 3:6 ratios?

3. Tea. Do you have any views on tea (including green vs. English) as far as human health?

4. Genetics and PaNu. Do you have any view on diet in the context of different ethnicities / races? Is there any scientific merit to the idea that, say, Chinese are on average better suited to non-gluten grains due to longer experience with agricultural? Put another way, does a study like Cochran and Harpending’s 10,000 Year Explosion provide any “meat” for paleo advocates to chew on as far as evolutionary effects on diet?

I look forward to the broadcast!

Daniel March 16, 2011 at 7:53 am

(A different Daniel)

1. Kurt mentions tropical plant fats in his ‘No Such Thing as a Macronutrient’ post. Plus he has info about coconut/oil elsewhere on his blog. Basically yes, they are acceptable but not necessarily ideal.

2. Kurt discusses at length several times on his blog his views on omega 3:6 balance. Read this: http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2011/1/29/n-3-supplementation-recommendations.html Basically they best strategy for balancing 3:6 is to not eat the 6 in the first place.

Christian Baumann March 16, 2011 at 1:44 am

Hello there!
short question:
Is there any truth behind the idea of restoring glycogen with a cycle diet? I´ve been reading Scott Abel and his approach got me confused. I´ve been on the Warrior Diet for over a year now and I´ve started including knowledge I´ve gained from the paleo diet to my eating habit. I sometimes notice that regeneration is not really so optimal while eating the way of the warrior diet. Not always. – I made an attempt on the cycle diet and the day after I “carbed-out” I felt like new. As if someone had hit the reset button on my system. Could this be because I was glycogen depleted? Or could it be that I´m simply not eating enough and this caloric bomb really hit it where it matters?
Would love to hear from you!

Murph March 16, 2011 at 4:58 am

Why does Dr. Kurt Harris think acid-base balance is a load of crap?

Guy March 16, 2011 at 5:46 am

As a physician, what do you think it will take to persuade your colleagues around the US to give Paleo a closer look. It seems to be quite the uphill battle to even get the MDs I know socially to move more than half a step away from what they either learned in med school, or believe to be true based on common thought.

"Murph" Dillinger March 16, 2011 at 6:22 am

Hello !

The topics I would like to hear Dr. Harris to talk about are the following:

1. Probiotics and prebiotics ? Are they “bunk” ? They only provide ~10 strains which is only a fraction of our total gut population and it seems that they only work when you take them daily. Kefir for the rest of my life anyone ?

Follow up question would be how to repair antibiotics damaged gut flora ?

Careful though, Danone might order a hit if you “expose” their super duper probioticlicious yoghurt being more or less, well yoghurt..

2. Advanced Glycation End Products. Where to watch out, what cooking “methods” might cause them and if they can be form as a result of meal combining higher amounts of n-3/6 PUFA and fructose ?

Thank you very much,


Angie March 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Yes, more on probiotics and prebiotics from Dr. Harris, please. Is there ever a situation/type/dosage when they are helpful? What about fermented foods and drinks? Is any of that “good bacteria” actually making it past the acid in the stomach and to the gut? I know a handful of people on GAPS who are very adamant about either taking their probiotics or at least eating fermented vegetables every day.

Thank you both!

Chris March 16, 2011 at 7:01 am

Two issues for Dr. Harris:

(1) I, also, would like to know what Dr. Harris thinks of Chris Masterjohn’s recent posts on the lipid hypothesis of coronary disease, although maybe this would be better as a post on this blog.

(2) I, also, would like to know how Dr. Harris thinks we can influence the medical establishment to be more open to paleo nutrition.


JoelG March 16, 2011 at 7:21 am

What’s some of the cool stuff you’ve learned over the past few months by diving into the paleoanthropologic data on ancestral diets? Thanks!

Lisa March 16, 2011 at 7:44 am

I’d like to understand more details about food sensitivity testing — why it’s not recommended and alternatives to identify various foods to avoid. I understand there are various methods to identify foods to avoid from Iga blood tests to Vols testing to nutritional response testing (NRT).

Thank you

Brendan March 16, 2011 at 8:33 am

A lot of us were convinced of the validity of “low-carb” through Gary Taubes, including I believe Dr. Harris, and my question is specifically about Taubes’ “carbs. drives insulin drives fat” theory. Focusing on fat and obesity (i.e. forgetting about the anti-nutrients of gluten grains for the moment), do all carbs., including rice, potatoes, tubers, root vegetables, raise insulin and thereby make us fat? Relatedly, Taubes argues against the “a calorie is a calorie” theory and I’ve always wondered if he’s saying that we can eat 10,000 calories/day as long as carbs. are low and we wouldn’t gain weight?

Michael March 16, 2011 at 8:47 am


I am curious as to what your stance is on Toubes’ hypothesis of hypertension. I have only found one study entitled “Insulin’s impact on renal sodium transport and blood pressure in health, obesity, and diabetes,” by Tiwari et al. The information presented seems rational.

Lindsay March 16, 2011 at 8:54 am

Hi Dr. Harris!

This one’s about autoimmunity (I know you have mentioned AS and the other spondyloarthropathies in the past on PaleoHacks):

My father and brother both suffer from undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy, and I came to the paleo diet as a preventative measure a year ago, as I also test positive for HLA-B27. I know that some protocols call for avoidance of eggs and nightshades in the case of severe, arthritic autoimmune disease, but if actual spondyloarthropathy hasn’t been triggered, is it necessary to avoid these foods? I suppose the answer could be an elimination diet, but I was wondering if there’s any evidence for either direction, since I don’t have pain at the current time on a fairly strict, low-dairy paleo diet.

Thank you, and keep fighting the good fight, as they say.

jo March 16, 2011 at 9:10 am

Can you please discuss if Whey protein powder is Paleo, the different types of whey protei being discussed i the Paleo, CrossFit communities as recovery drinks and if any source of whey protein would be suitable for a breakfast replacement if you are tired of eggs, but wish to eat morning protein.

Maggie March 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I’d like to hear Dr. Harris talk about the causes of obesity.

Also, I’m curious about broken metabolisms and being pregnant and having children. My three kids could not be more different in body type! My oldest, 15 is thin as a rail, girl. My middle, 13 is average, boy. My youngest, 11 is pudgy, since birth, girl. I can’t imagine that their diets are much different, since we take the majority of our meals at home. I’ve always thought their different body types are a reflection of my own deteriorating health over the course of three pregnancies & breastfeeding.

Anshu March 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm

What are your recommendations for vegetarians and vegans. I do not eat eggs, soy, corn, wheat and do minimal diary but do use ghee . I have gone glutten free and feel tremendous difference in myself. Being a vegetarian and glutten free my choices are only legumes. If one has to eat is it safe to soak well and sprout the legumes. Thank you

Alan Beall March 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Is there a good way to break through weight plateaus without bingeing? The last time I binged, I had a bacon cheeseburger with fries for lunch and a carb-rich Thai meal for dinner and I gained 5 pounds. It took a full week to lose those 5 pounds, which, in effect, was the same as plateauing for a week.

Alan Beall March 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Would supplementing with Naringenin, a grapefruit flavonoid, be effective for weight loss in combination with a Paleo diet?

Daniel March 16, 2011 at 8:24 am

I was going to write a long and drawn out reply on critical superficiality and narcissistic body-image but it is much easier to just say you are an idiot.


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