Hans Selye

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“Stress is not a specific reaction.  The stress response is, by definition, not specific, since it can be produced by virtually any agent.” 
-Hans Selye 

Long overdue, I finally got my hands on some Hans Selye, recently picking my way through The Stress of Life. I had always heard interesting and positive things said about Selye over the years, and became particularly interested in him after repeatedly being exposed to PUFA-basher Joe Blair’s screen name: HansSelyeWasCorrect.

In a general sense, Hans Selye was correct, and his work has tied up a bunch of loose ends and re-affirmed the direction I’ve been heading in over the past year.

That direction is one in which the stress response of the human body, in which cortisol is the primary star player that I tend to focus on, is the primary instigator of the general degeneration process – from impaired glucose metabolism to low body temperature to poor immune system to a rise in weight set point to you name it.

When I first began my health exploration, it seemed pretty clear that diet was far and away the most pivotal element in the development of all these modern diseases, as human races all over the globe had tremendous physical fortitude and disease resistance as catalogued by the likes of Weston A. Price, Denis Burkitt, Hugh Trowell, Robert McCarrison, and others. And a change in diet from unrefined, nutritious, primitive, unprocessed foods to the white stuff and vegetable oil brought about massive degeneration. No one was spared, and all races of human beings worldwide have since received tattered and torn genetic hand-me-downs. We don’t even have 32 straight teeth anymore. Degenerates I tellz ya!

And this still holds true in my belief system. When citizens of the globe get half of their calories from refined sugar and starch and an ever-greater amount from oxidized, PUFA-rich seed oils, it’s hard to blame their maladies on “high stress levels” without first addressing what is a known and thoroughly-proven root cause of the entire unraveling of good health.

Still, I’ve been fascinated to study how germs can cause type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disease… How dieting can cause infertility… How death of a parent can cause a model to gain 60 pounds in a year… How carbohydrate restriction can cause a dude’s balls to shrivel up to the size of raisins or a woman to suffer from severe panic attacks… How a vegan diet can rot your kids’ teeth out even if you are breastfeeding them… How undersleeping can cause diabetes… Or how running marathons can trigger autoimmune disease or stop a woman from menstruating.

In fact, because so many people are engaged in doing some of these things, many cases in the name of health, it has become my primary focus to tell everyone how stupid they are (which comes natural to me anyways – I got pretty poor grades all throughout grade school and junior high and was repeatedly called a dumbass, quietly, as I hit puberty way before anyone else and was the biggest, strongest, and most physically dominant guy up until high school when my dwarf friends all outgrew me by a foot. So, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, I like to call other people dumb now). These are often much MORE harmful than eating a crappy diet built around nutritionally-devoid foods, especially when we are all in a weakened state due to our bum genetics and pansy, fragile endocrine systems.

But what Selye offers is simply a unification of ALL those things under one umbrella. His career and research all funneled into the idea that the human being, and all mammals, have a generalized stress response – or General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). And any stressor, whether it’s nutrient deficiency, omega 6 overload (more significance on this to come), gluten allergy, a toxic substance in the environment, too much exercise, sleep deprivation, drug use, endurance exercise, psychological distress from a traumatic event, injury, infectious illness, dietary restriction, cold, negative body image, pregnancy, not following your dreams in life, or being in an abusive relationship makes little difference in the overall outcome.

Stress = Stress, and it comes in all shapes, sizes, and in 32 fruity flavors.

What’s poetic about all of this is that, while this response to stress is reliable, general, and alike for us all, the triggers of those stresses and how they translate into physical symptoms of illness couldn’t possibly be more unique or individual. In other words, both commonality and individuality are in a sense fused together.

Selye originally noticed this when he introduced a very wide variety of stressors, from toxic chemicals to psychological stress upon lab animals. After autopsy, all of them showed similar pathology. The adrenals were enlarged, inflamed, and congested, and other endocrine patterns were seen that go along with the increase in adrenal activity.

This was exactly what Robert McCarrison observed as well in his laboratory in India. Only McCarrison was producing dietary deficiencies ranging from the exclusion of various B-vitamins to supplying diets with inadequate protein. Yet, the pathological changes were always the same, and were witnessed in everything from pigeons to guinea pigs to monkeys. Swollen adrenals, atrophied thyroid gland, atrophied sex glands, deranged digestive tracts with paper thin digestive walls (Leaky Gut anyone?). Note, he used primarily refined carbohydrates, the staple foods of nearly every current human civilization, to induce these deficiencies.

Highly-recommended for-the-public-audience author Jon Gabriel’s emphasis on the psychological focus that must be incorporated when helping someone overcome obesity or impaired glucose metabolism has helped my comprehensive viewpoint expand even more. It’s no coincidence that two people with long-term weight problems contacted me recently with virtually the same story. They were never fat, and then a close parent died in their teenage years and the pounds flew onto them and never left.

Likewise, I talked to a girl in the area I’m in right now who’s looking to help get military wives back into shape. Seems when the husband goes off to war they start packing on some extra “rations.”

Anyway, that’s a rough introduction to Selye. We’ll be talking about some more specifics in the weeks ahead, which will be great to relieve us of some of our food Nazism as we approach the time of year when relaxed and guiltless indulgence should be our frame of mind… for health’s sake.

If you haven’t done so already, take a moment to review the description of Henry Bieler’s “Adrenal Type” in DIET RECOVERY. It is no coincidence that Bieler found those with the strongest and most resilient adrenal glands to be the ones who, in the face of stress, sickness, or whatever challenges they faced, could resist just about anything (like the healthy “primitives” discovered by Price). That is the ultimate ideal, and something that we’ll go over from Selye’s work pointing in a similar direction in the upcoming posts.


  1. Matt, Any chance you could take a look at this Dr. Datis Kharrazian book in the new year and comment:


    Anyone else read this thyroid book? Any Comments.

    Sounds like this book is heading in the right direction, gut health and flora are part of hypothyroidism problem.

    "The gut-thyroid connection can be a vicious circle as hypothyroidism causes
    poor digestive health, and poor digestive health may cause hypothyroidism."

    I still have heartburn issues once in awhile, this is making sense:

    "Hypothyroidism contributes to hypochlorhydria, a condition in which stomach acid is too low. For someone with acid reflux this may sound like a good thing, but in fact low stomach acid often causes heartburn. When
    hydrochloric acid is low the stomach cannot digest food thoroughly. The food
    in the stomach begins to rot and putrefy. The small intestine attempts to reject this rotting mess, so the putrefied food shoots back up into the
    esophagus. Though the food is not acidic enough for the small intestine, it is too acidic for the delicate tissue of the esophagus and causes painful heartburn. When this poorly digested food eventually does make its way into the digestive tract, it contributes to intestinal inflammation, infection, and leaky gut."

    I think digestive health is the last hurdle for me to get my low basal temp to start responding.

  2. I have read it. I was not blown away by it. But it was the above passage that turned me onto the fact that a low metabolism could cause hypochloridia, which explained why I had heartburn on every diet imaginable pre-RRARF, when my heartburn vanished in 3 days and never returned.

    It's true that digestion is key, but it's hard to separate it as well as the gut flora from the metabolism itself. In my own personal experience, the best results I've had in digestive improvement have come from improving my metabolism, not the other way around.

    Although I do believe that eating craploads of bananas for 2 weeks did something miraculous to my gut flora, enabling me to eat stuff I hadn't been able to eat in years, like beans, without excessive pain, gas, and bloating.

  3. I should add that the Selye post is excellent, those are words to live by!

    Well went through some old comments, to see if Dr. K's name came up which it did. Seems like he recommends standard low-carb approach.

    I do like the idea of improving gut health though. A year of RRARFin is helping, but my digestion still seems off, or not fully healed.

    I think I will try some HCL and digestive enzymes again. To see if they will help things along. My digestion went downhill after the Milk diet attempt, maybe its a casein/dairy issue for me…

  4. Ya I hear you, its like a catch-22, good digestion could heal the metabolism, but a good metabolism could heal the gut… which one first.

    Someday I will get there: Adrenal Type!

  5. Hopefully this Selye series will be helpful to you too my good man.

  6. TEXT received from someone who just finished a marathon on December 5th…

    "Holy shit! I'm really sick. I have 6 cold sores now, fever, worst stomach ache of my life!"

    Ah the wonders of corticosteroid overexposure.

  7. National Geographic did a documentary about stress that I found fascinating and helpful, including some things that can mitigate against stress. It's on Netflix instant.

  8. The hardest thing for folks to understand in my experience is that stress comes in so many different packages, but the result is the same. People don't see the connection between partying all night all the time, working long hours, marathon running, a junk food diet, a vegan diet, or ketogenic dieting… but the body does.

    @Rachelle, I'll have to check that out. I love a good documentary (the trouble is actually finding one!).

  9. Visited an herbalist yeterday, and talked about my health history, which includes a good bit of family stress. Her intuitive reading of me, a reasonably healthy, high functioning twenty something, was that I have a chronic illness. Further perceiving led her to think- no, it's just deep exhaustion.

    She recommends a counselor who's trained in EMDR. More info here: http://www.emdr.com/index.htm It differs from talk therapy in that it often works very quikly, and access the unconscious mind .

    Anyone have any experience with this modality?

    In a bigger sense, I reaally appreciate the point of this post, that stress is a root cause in so much of our un-wellness, and manifests itself in idifferent ways for each of us. I definitely continue to see food as a primary determiner of health- it's what we do every day that has probably the biggest impact on us. But in my experience, and probably others, I realize that unresolved stressors can totally cock-block restoration of health. I think that's why I continue to look toward a broad and integrated approach that can work in many circumstances. Maybe, though, like they say- healing is more an art than a science, and you can't ever have something that's the last word, and comprehensive in an ultimate way.

    (Apologies for the crude metaphor above)

  10. It was hard for me to understand too, but I get it now. I think. Or at least I'm on the right track.

  11. So what we all want to know now is how to overcome the stress…

  12. Thanks Rob.

    In my experience there are many modalities that seem to tap into the unconscious mind. Quantam Entrainment was the most recent one I've heard of.

    But I tend to think of the benefits of some of these modalities as fleeting, precisely because without involvement of the conscious mind you go right back into the same emotionally polarized state that got you there in the first place.

    It's the stuff that taps into the conscious mind that is far more powerful, and I've found the Demartini Method to be unmatched. A close friend of mine is a facilitator and is now involved in a complementary therapy called Meta Medicine. I think these show a lot of promise and may get into this more fringy stuff next year.

  13. Rachelle-

    I think this post will be the beginning of chipping away at that iceberg.

  14. Yeah, yes and umm wahooo!

    I've been saying like forever that a big chunk of the reason that the primitives that Price studied were so robust was their laid back lifestyles. A hunter and gatherer can gather the majority of their food in a few hours and then spend the rest of their time playing games or weaving mats. A fisherman in the Hebrides has no boss to mentally kick him in the nutsack every day. A masai warrior has never had to deal with rush hour, airport security or the 24 hour news networks spewing stressful images at him all day and night.

    Wanna know why none of us had miraculous healing on the milk diet? None of us did the most important part:staying in bed for 30 days.

    My number one priority in the last six months is not anything in my diets, it's getting my eight hours at night. Getting my sunshine and my naps on the week-ends. It's possible that all the healing I've done has been down to that, since I'm never perfect with my diet, and trying to be just stresses me out.

    I've been noticing a preponderance of skinny dudes having heart attacks lately. They all exercise, avoid cigarettes and follow doctors orders? Well on everything except reducing their stress. That one they just ignore cause it's just woo woo shit….Well, you know what, it's all woo woo shit!

  15. Yay Jenny!

    Yeah, the more I just chill out about my diet the healthier I seem to get. Whether that fits in with my belief system or not doesn't really matter. It works.

    More woo woo shit to come for sure.

  16. Oh my dear Matt- you know I love the woo woo stuff! Add me to your list. My mom died in my senior year of High school. After that I started gaining weight and only starvation/drugs could hold it in check.

  17. Matt: Nail has been hit on the head, ok, the hammer of the adrenal fatigue monster has gotten through my thick skull. I want to know more about this Han's fellow, he seems like a pioneer.
    The first books I read as a teen were Henry Beiler's Food is your Best Medicine and Adelle Davis's books. I still read Beiler from time to time. good stuff.

    just powered down a yam after yoga class. Yes, it was cold, yes it was plain , just a bit of salt. Yes it was delicous.

  18. Susan-

    I know, and I apologize for not putting more emphasis on this as the causative agent in many cases of metabolic problems in the past. I'm slow, as described at one point in the post.


    Were those books or were those written on scrolls or stone tablets? I thought regular bound books were invented after your teenage years and after the invention of the printing press.

  19. Hey Matt,

    I remember you mentioning Demartini before- I'm curious about the conscious/unconscious mind distinction. What you're saying is opposite of what I've read. From reading and listening to Bruce Lipton, 'Biology of Belief' guy, he says that the unscious is far more powerful, and is running 90-95% of the show. And I've read a bit about the so-called 'zombie mind' that takes over most of your actions, allowing you to concentrate on the small bit of processing you need to do actively. That way, for example, you don't have to consciously contract and release your leg muscles every time you get up to walk somewhere, and can focus instead on something else.

    Anyway, Lipton says that most of our beliefs lie in the unconscious mind, and that's hwy simply being conscious of what we do or think doesn't alwsys change our lives or our patterns, and that instead we need to re-write that internal script of the unconscious mind to keep its read-out from overriding our conscious intentions. He likes Psch-K, and other folks use EFT, which seems to work similarly. Maybe Quantum Entrainment is another.

    Real fascinating stuff, anyway. Definitely looking forward to seeing what sort of impact some of this can make for me, and also your writing to come.

  20. i don't have the time or mental capacity for a long comment, but i am truly intrigued by this post and the ones to follow b/c in one of my many searches for the cause and cure of the Reynaud's syndrome that i have had for as long as i can remember, only one source said it was caused by excessive emotional stress. i sort of dismissed it b/c every other source said it was due to diet and/or genetics. when i evaluate my upbringing starting with the immensely stressful way i actually came into this world, this seems right on. i would believe i had a constant stream of cortisol flowing through my brain beginning as a newborn and pretty much continuing off and on throughout childhood and into adulthood. well, hopefully i will gain more insight on how to resolve my issues and improve my health that i have been trying to do for over 5 years with results not being as great as they probably could be.

  21. It's true that the subsconscious mind is in more control of our conscious thoughts and behavior. I guess what makes Demartini unique is that he goes back consciously into past events and beliefs that shaped our subconscious mind, analyzes those events, and helps take you to where you need to go with "x" traumatic event to rework your subsconscious mind.

    In other words, if, in your subsonscious mind you have polarized beliefs about a person, place, thing, or event as being "bad," then when you encounter like circumstances you will experience great distress. If you thought such a thing was really great in your subconscious mind, you would experience the same circumstance as highly pleasurable.

    So how we perceive the things we encounter on a daily basis depends upon what we see as good and bad in life based on memory, beliefs, etc.

    His method is a very simple and straightforward approach to bringing highly polarized emotional states, memories, etc. out of strong postive and negative polarities and into balance. He calls this "equilibrattion." Because you are a conscious participant in the re-working of your subconscious mind, it sticks in a way that bypassing the conscious mind simply cannot.

  22. Interesting- I'm all for ways to make that conscious re-evaluation and re-calibration stick. In my own experience, I know that I haven't had much success with it on my one. I'm sure there's something about his process that facilitates it, and would be curious to learn more about it.

    I know that I can think of some traumatic events and be able to see them as not 'bad' persay, maybe even see them as meaningful in the story of my life. And yet, I can't shake the seemingly reflexive responses that Ihave to them.

    It's real interesting, though- I wonder if this is why I have the sense that non-violent communication is so potentially powerful therapeutically. It can help supercede 'good/bad' thinking, honoring pain and grief, and at the same time, not stay entrenched in a pattern that produces no lasting satisfaction. Right on.

  23. I am trying really hard to stay the course on raising my metabolism, but at around 3000 calories a day, I've put on 15 pounds in 15 days. I am female, 5'8, and now 315 pounds. It's pretty discouraging to gain gain gain. I've been doing the "Eat Fat, Lose Fat" regimin for a while and only held steady, not lost. Seems like I have to drop below 1200 calories a day to lose. I'd rather low carb to lose weight, but it makes me feel tired and lethargic, weeks into it.


  24. You mentioned "holiday season" in your mailing list e-mail about this post, Matt, and I think that's really indicative. Holidays are of course supposed to be the time to relax and chill out, and we all know it. But modern society and its cult of stress have even screwed that up.

  25. Actually, I was able to read the books through a series of carrier pigeons and smoke signals. Back about 10000 BC (Before C D's) that's how the cool kids did it.
    It's fun to read while you run around trying to create stuff like the wheel.

  26. Also, my favorite part of this post is the cartoon butt checks }

  27. Just so we're all on the same page, the effects of "inescapable stress" is something Ray Peat talks a lot about– something that unfortunately hits close to home for me. http://www.raypeat.com

  28. Jon Gabriel's method of reprogramming is really simple. You listen to his half hour relaxation thingy before bed every night for a month, then you do a daily meditation that takes about ten minutes after that. I've found it to be helpful with all sorts of things that I stress out about. He's all about figuring out your roadblocks and then reprogramming to get around those. I think it really has worked for me. I actually look at old pictures of myself where I used to only see flaws, now I see the positive aspects and try as I might I can't see the flaws anymore. So weird, but it actually works.

  29. Hey Matt. Love your stuff, always keeps me thinking. On low carb, is it ok if I eat some potatoes (2-3) a couple of days a week (PWO) and stick to non-starchy veggies on the other days? I feel great on low carb but I'm worried that it might just be the adrenals kicking in. I'm probably around 75-100g of carbs a day at 195 lbs. I only do strength lifts and gymnastics movements 3-5 days a week. My clients and I have seem nothing but great things since removing met-con workouts a.k.a. Crossfit. Thanks

  30. On to Selye now my friend? Making progress grasshopper. :-)

  31. @ Jenny: I have the same 'disease'. for example, my wedding photos, I thought it was just ok, now it looks spectacualar.. and my husband has way more hair that I thought :)
    @Mark: Low Carb =Stress= eat some tatey's and enjoy life :)

  32. Michelle-

    I would highly recommend Jon Gabriel's work and being dedicated to feeding yourself well and letting the chips fall where they may (including in your mouth, lol). Dieting of any kind is not going to take you to some place of salvation. I just haven't seen it happen except in the extremely rare individuals.


    I'm on to you next. I heard about your hilarious-sounding Bruce Banner post. Can't wait.


    It is hard to get to on your own because we naturally try anything and everything we can do to uphold our beliefs about things.


    Funny. Don't worry, I won't become a positive thinking guru. I'm a big fan of negative thinking as well.


    Yeah, that reinforcement is probably really important. I think most people here are like "Duck Fiets" and then 2 days later they are like, "Wow, Berkhan is looking really lean on IF. I think I might try that." Curiousity killed the cat as they say.


    If you are going to do low-carb I think it's a good idea to eat carbs periodically like that recommended by Rob Faigin in Natural Hormonal Enhancement. To me this is the only potential way to slip by without really causing trouble down the line in anyone but the most resilient.

    Crossfit + low-carb = Huge waste of time

    And it can be harmful.

    Bringing a low-carb diet to a Crossfit workout is like bringing a spoon to a wood-chopping contest.

  33. What a timely post Matt. For the past three months I've been working with a nutritional therapist and we discovered through hair analysis that my adrenal glands are exhausted. I went on a diet very similar to the one in your free book, just lower in grains with starchy veggies replacing them. I lost almost no weight at all and saw almost no changes at all in my state of health.

    We concluded that I am too stressed out. That has to be it- so stressed over getting the diet etc. right and everything else I have going on. (4 little ones and so on) So, even on a very healthful diet, one that was rebuilding the cells in my body, still didn't help as much as I thought because my body is still in stress mode/famine mode.

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think it's safe to say that my body just feels safe where it's at. It has NOT budged in about 8 years. Maybe rearranged some, but otherwise that scale hasn't changed. No matter what.

    I noticed it when I had a traumatic birth and special needs baby- I couldn't get enough bad food. SUGAR! And the circumstances since (pregnancies, c-sections, a child that needs lots of specialized help,miscarriage,long term sick husband, many moves…) have been increasingly stressful, so I've just stayed there.

    Thanks for researching everything to death. I've greatly benefited from it :)


  34. Keep in mind what Mephistopheles, the truth-telling devil told Faust about how to stay young:
    “There is a natural way to make you young…
    Go out in a field
    And start right in to work: dig, hoe,
    Keep your thoughts and yourself in that field,
    Eat the food you raise…
    Be willing to manure the field you harvest.
    And that’s the best way – take it from me! -
    to go on being young at eighty.”

    Faust, being an intellectual, was horrified to have what he perceived as such a narrow life, so Mephistopheles replies:
    “Well than, we still must have the witch.”

    It was known a long time ago, how to live an healthy life. We just don't like the prescription! Oh dear, we might get bored.

  35. Matt first off…I was bugging that you look just like Scott abel's partner in your speech videos.Looking good and pumped from the insulin and full glycogen storage.Here is a tip that will enhance the high carb diet in relation to workouts…..hydrate like crazy.I have kidney problems so it may be more noticeable but the pumps I get in the gym are ridiculous if I consume around a gallon of water before hitting the gym.If I drink alot of coffee before and do not overhydrate I feel lackluster in gym by large margin.

    As for your style of foods…I am really loving eating this way I must say.I eat to appetite and only go low carb at first meal since as you pointed out the cortisol connection with morning meal its best to eat lower carb.Today I had

    Breaky…6 eggs with 2 tbsps butter and 2 corn tortillas and a thick slice swiss cheese.

    Lunch is usually Subway 6 inch sandwich with extra meat.

    Dinner is a bag of frozen soup veggie mix,2 cups cooked rice and a good chunk of some type of meat(just this meal alone is 120gms carbs and perfect for the nighttime)

    If I am hungry later I take a good chunk of Italian bread and a thick slice of Swiss cheese.

    I have cut caffiene to one cup per day now and feel alot better for it.Again I may be more susceptible but I started noticing,after some hints from your blog,that on an empty stomach and I drink a caffienated drink I get the severe hypo nods.

    @undertow….about your digestion issues…do you drink a large amount of liquids?I ask this because I do in the gallons per day quantity due to kidney disorder.I started wondering if this candida I have had my whole life is due to this heavy water consumption.First yrs back I theorized that the huge amounts of chlorine in NYC water killed off all the good bacteria in my guts….lately I wonder am I constantly diluting my intestinal track of its acidity.I notice that I get severe indigestion and feel that is from the heavy liquid consumption making my stomachs acid level too low to digest the food properly in where the stomach contents start to leave undigested and rot and ferment the gut.Hard for me to stop the water consumption since I lack the hormone that regulates the kidneys telling them to stop making urine.Caffeine being a strong diuretic is high on my list to cut not to mention all the other adrenal issues it causes.

  36. Thanks Jessica. Just keep on keepin' on. Your diet is just one less thing to worry about.


    That statement certainly wouldn't jive with Selye, who said:

    “Fight for your highest attainable aim.

    But never put up resistance in vain.”

    He also was a firm advocate that it's not necessarily the stress but how you take it that determines the severity of its impact. Some aging is necessary. Some stress is required for health.

  37. How did you know I tried to use a spoon to chop wood? Darn it Matt Stone, you know everything.

  38. Oh Boy, I need this series of blog posts too. I'm with Annatheart, stress is stopping us. For me, it's lack of sleep, which could be all those issues I don't believe I have :).

    So… to sleep… This week I started my version of uppers by day and downers by night – isocort and melatonin. No effect on sleep yet, but despite poor sleep last night, I'm not dragging today. After six months, food isn't doing it, so I'm taking the plunge with pills. I've been doing protein breakfasts and carb dinners, and it helped some, at first, but my stress levels are still too high at night.

    Digestion – I didn't think I had problems, but I started taking the Betaine HCl (I decided it's supplement time!) and it makes a huge difference.

    Stressing about food – yeah, I quit soaking and sprouting and all that weeks ago. Now we have pretty monotonous food (which is it's own kind of stress) – the healthiest sausage I can find with a bit of potato or oatmeal for brekky, fruit-/smoothie/something for lunch, a little meat or broth and lots of tubers or rice for dinner. But we don't like rice. It's just for variety. Bleah. We have bread occasionally, but I've not made up my mind about wheat yet. I have 3 kids and a hubby, so no matter what I make at least one person is complaining, which shouldn't be, but is, highly stressful.

  39. On Jon Gabriel – I was looking for his CD on Amazon after Jenny's latest comments and found a way to download it for free. Since it presumes you've bought the book, I feel like I'm pirating if I tell you exactly how to do it… but there it is. So I listened to it, even though it's 3 in the afternoon, and it made me feel safe… relaxed… I am comfortably numb… wait, that's not what he said. Still, that's what I kept hearing, which freaked me out a little.

    My question is, he keeps telling me I'll feel less hungry, but I don't want to feel less hungry. I'm ok with my food intake. I just want my body to use it better. So will my subconscious think he's right and make me eat less? I'm not into woo-woo (as you can tell by my issues I'm pretty sure I don't have), so I don't know these things. Other than that, I'm fine with most of what he said.

    After reading Wilson's Adrenal book, I know I need to work on stress… but if the number one stress is my oldest kid, I can't very well remove it. I have to visualize it away or something…

    Jenny, I used to bruise really badly and don't since RRARF. In fact, that's the first thing I noticed. So maybe it will be better for you too at some point. But we don't eat much wheat, I'm not sure how much you eat.

    Mercola has a big new anti-carb article http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/12/06/cutting-carbohydrates-from-your-diet-can-make-you-live-longer.aspx. My question is, what was the sex life of those roundworms like? I know that is the most recent improvement since RRARF (as in, my poor hubby was running away last week – turnaround is fair play)! This is major.

    Now if I could just get the big pregnant belly to go down a bit… I took your advice Jenny and bought a few new items of clothing. You're right, it does help!

  40. Back to the bruising thing – I have never been anemic, so I know it wasn't that.

    Undertow, do you know about the castor oil treatment for acne? Just started my kid on it, since he gives new meaning to pizza face (WTF? There is no teen in N America who eats as clean as he does except maybe some Amish kid). Even my hubby wants to put him on Acutane, it's so bad. It's gone down some since he's oiled up his face 3 times now, but I was wondering if you'd tried it. Of course, the first step was getting him to even clean his face at all (just w/ warm water, he wouldn't do it… did I mention my biggest stress is the kid?).

    Anyhow, I think that's all my thoughts for the last few days! Oh, my temp was 99.2 one morning and I was all excited, but then it was 97.2 again the next day. Sigh…

  41. I will read up on castor oil, I just wash with water only and apply EVCO in the mornings for now. Thanks

  42. Undertow.
    I have found the best HCL supplement is Hulda Clarks liquid 5% HCL, which is cheap and lasts a long time.
    Also you could try adding a squeeze of lemon to 4oz of water and sipping that while you chew your meal very slowly. But don't try the lemon if you have low blood sugar levels as it can lower them further.

  43. 'I think most people here are like "Duck Fiets" and then 2 days later they are like, "Wow, Berkhan is looking really lean on IF. I think I might try that." '

    I literally laughed out loud when I read that because I've had just that thought. :-)

  44. I dont want to push this beyond the relevance of this Selye stress piece – but for what its worth – regarding conscious, subconscious and unconscious thought, this all becomes irrelevant once one can 'see' now. The whole idea of a meditation technique is to help an individual to 'see'. Initially a technique is used, but, as time goes on the technique (which is just a tool to satisfy intellect) becomes redundant and one just 'sees'. In 'seeing' there is no division of mind at all and thought arises as and when needed to serve some functional purpose, then burns up of its own volition, back into 'seeing.'
    In 'seeing' the organism functions as it does but many of the thought induced tensions and stresses cease to have any power whatsoever.
    'Seeing' is not an intellectual endeavour and once 'seeing' has taken root, it happens without having to do anything at all.
    'Seeing' is not a method of thinking or a visual endeavour, but neither does it exclude the eyes or any sense.

  45. Excellent post Matt. Selye & Sapolsky have greatly influenced my career.

    The majority of people I see have long term stress (from several sources).

    The greatest challenge I have working with clients is people with too much stress, for too long, from too many sources, who then believe crazy shit like working out hard will somehow magically erase all of this. Its totally neurotic.

    There are 6 sources of stress & 7 physiological changes from stress – cortisol disruption being the core issue resulting from any of them. This leads to a whole host of health problems.

    It can start when we were in the womb, our mothers can be stressed, esp in the third trimester, and they will steal our hormones to stay healthy. Babies are often born with adrenal stress.

    Then, the way most children are raised in this culture is stressful, in many ways, so cortisol issues are a long time in the making.

    From my experience, I think its safe to say 99% of New Yorkers are in some sort of adrenal dysfunction.

    The NatGeo documentary mentioned above is called 'Stress: Portrait of a Killer' – it features the work of Robert Sapolsky (Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers) which is one of my all time favorite books.

    It's as fascinating a documentary as Guns, Germs & Steel – I've seen them both more times than I can remember, not as much as The Matrix or Napoleon Dynamite, but close.

    I'm glad you mentioned Demartini's work. I've worked with women who have been in therapy for 10 – 15+ yrs with NO resolution. Much like nutrition and dieting, much of modern civ is controlled by conformity & mesmerized by shit that simply doesn't work. I'm a big fan of Demartini and his method.

    Mental/emo is a primary stressor for most, esp when you wake up early every day to a job you don't love (corp America) – this is usually coupled with 3-4 cups of coffee per day & enthusiastically looking frwrd to 'happy hour'.

    But there are also physiological stressors & they can be a bitch – mold, parasites, digestive issues, liver dysfunction, thyroid, etc. and it all usually comes back to long term cortisol disruption which makes the body susceptible to infections and dysfunction. Then you get these problems furthering more cortisol issues.

    As per the heartburn …

    Many peeps with heartburn have hypochloridia, often from H pylori infection… H Pylori typically infects the parietal cells disturbing acid production.

    Vegan/vegetarian diets can create low acid production since they don't encourage acid production from not eating meat (which is why we have acid).

    What actually happens is the acid is produced at the end of a meal, and since it sits on top of an undigested or slowly digesting bolus, the esophagus feels the burn.

    It's often mistaken for too much acid & the docs put these people on Pepcid AC (or whatever), which basically means they are on meds for life since it doesn't address the infection.

    Much of the H pylori testing done by docs can be ineffective, esp the most expensive ones, missing the actual infection site. I believe (last I checked) the 55 – 65 % of global population is infected.

    Anyway, I'm really inspired by your blog – I think its one of the best (next to Cracked.com) and think its fantastic that so many people comment in such intelligent, supportive & meaningful ways … and the fact that you write so often is great!

  46. undertow: Thank you for that text about hypochlorhydria-hypothyroid relation. That was exactly something I've been suspecting lately.

    BTW, some one quite interesting study about stomach acid (and rheumatoid arthritis):

    "The relation between the basal and stimulated gastric acid secretion, plasma gastrin, and the gastric microflora was examined in 45 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Sixteen patients (36%) had basal achlorhydria…"

    Quite a high percent!

  47. Has their ever been a study done that compares the life expectancy between people that enjoy life and eat junk food and those that get stressed out trying to eat the most optimum diet?

    The irony is, it doesn't matter.

    Now it is pretty obvious food can improve and decrease health to a degree, the problem with many of these health blogs and with any other kind of hobby…people are always looking for a magic bullet. One sooper dooper magical thing that will change everything forever! (It does not exist.)

    Could you imagine a hungry kitavan running to an internet forum to research if eating that banana will give them fructose overload? It's nuts! (and it's bananas!)

    Did wheat cause an initial downturn in human stature cos of gluten or was it because of the stress of the thought of having nothing but spiky ugly weeds to eat?

    What I like about you Matt is that you are not narrow minded into thinking that diet IS the puzzle, rather one small piece of it.

    To be honest what more needs to be said about diet other than to eat simple whole foods that you enjoy?!?! Eat the food and enjoy life!


    Everything is overcomplicated / overstressed / overcortisoled! in this world.

    I'm sure that of all us people who are stressed over their diet, that diet is far from the least of our problems!

    I guess diet is something seemingly so easy to self manipulate, something so easy to cloud the mind of that their is something much deeper to address.

  48. I am very much not into the woo but I don't think the mind-body connection is woo-woo at all. It's just exceedingly complex and hard to pin down. Gabor Mate recently wrote a book on this subject: When The Body Says No — it's fantastic.

    Aside from all the problems with dieting that you've mentioned, Matt, dieting is above all STRESSFUL. I think a lot of our good intentions to improve our health are completely undermined by our stressing out about it. We join a gym to work out, nag at ourselves all day to make sure we go after work, spend a half hour in horrible traffic to get there, worry about how bad we look in our workout clothes, run on the treadmill worrying how we're going to get dinner on the table in time for someone's soccer practice…. etc.

    After several years of being a SAHM and organic gardener and general layabout, I recently took a part-time office job. I honestly like my boss, but she's demanding and touchy and I have to spend my work day carefully navigating the narrow channel between various ways of pissing her off. (And just this minute I realized that I've been eating cookies for the first time since, like COLLEGE.) Being an employee is a perfectly normal, practically invisible source of chronic, low-level stress, more or less unrelieved by pleasure or joy. It's the American way!

  49. personally I think some stress is beneficial. I think about stress the same way I think of exercise…HIIT is far superior to long slow cardio and some stress (like our ancestors would have had encountering a sabre-toothed tiger) keeps our heads on straight. I think the key is to avoid chronic stress.

  50. NUFF-

    That is NUFF said. Acute stresses can strengthen us, especially if we are enthused to be engaged in whatever acute stressful activities we are engaged in. And Selye showed repeatedly that major stresses could clear up minor conditions. But he was always mindful of "how you take it." That's why I put so much emphasis on not doing any "unwanted" exercise. Wanted and unwanted exercise are two diamtetrically opposed actions.


    Brilliant. You said "Right?" and I say "Right!"

    This is one of the more outstanding comment threads, and this was one of the highlights.

    Eating a fairly "clean" diet has some association with longevity, but the greatest association with longevity and some lifestyle, diet, personality trait is quite simply that serene, happy-go-lucky attitude (not necessarily sickeningly uppity or "positive" but just laid back and engaged, following the excitement in life).

    Of course, many of us just don't possess this quality, and I don't think it's something we can just Eckhart Tolle ourselves into. But there is no doubt that we do have some power over how we perceive our life circumstances.


    Just added Sapolsky to my Amazon cue about an hour ago. I think you'd like The Potbelly Syndrome by Russ Farris, as he gets into the self-perpetuating vicious cycle of cortisol that you hinted at in your comment.

    Living in NYC, it's no wonder that stress management has emerged as your specialty, and one that I fully appreciate now. The list of things that can cause chronic cortisol overexposure are endless, for example, noise raises cortisol. The more noise, the more cortisol.

    Light raises cortisol, and cities are much brighter at night when cortisol is supposed to be flatlining than elsewhere.

    The list goes on.

  51. "Yeah, that reinforcement is probably really important. I think most people here are like "Duck Fiets" and then 2 days later they are like, "Wow, Berkhan is looking really lean on IF. I think I might try that." Curiousity killed the cat as they say. "

    BMFB (brilliant Matt, friggin brilliant). I don't think I waited a whole two days though.

  52. Yeah, as a life-long midwesterner I found walking down the street in Manhattan to be completely overwhelming and exhausting. There was just so much stimulus everywhere. Noise, smells, sights and the constant physical jostling of people and traffic. I had friends who were from the midwest who stuck it out there a few years and then moved. Though they were young and should have been healthy they were both suffering chronic headaches and respiratory issues.

    I agree Matt that personality type seems to be a big determiner of when you will die. You can have a dozen guys in the same profession, with the same environmental factors and their mortality will spread out into clumps. One group will die in or around their 60th birthday. Another will make it into their seventies, to near the average lifespan and another group will inexplicably outstrip them. The long-lived ones always seem to be the ones that adapt to stress well, never get too bent out of shape, etc. The ones who die young seem to be those who internalize stress or deal with it by drinking or other forms of self-medication. My grandfather lived to be 100 and he was a terrible worrier. He was famous for it. But he didn't internalize it. He told everyone all the time. It was like he was free to go about his day, after he'd worried about you getting a chill or bitten by a dog or something. He was also one of the kindest and most sweet tempered people I've ever met. I never saw him get mad and I lived with him for 10 years. You are so right, Matt you can't manufacture that. It's either in your nature or it's not. I think you can do things to try get there (eating lots of potatoes, thinking positive, etc.) but for some people it just is the way they are.

  53. "Being an employee is a perfectly normal, practically invisible source of chronic, low-level stress, more or less unrelieved by pleasure or joy. It's the American way!"

    Amen sister! Is Matt hiring, I wonder?

  54. I've been thinking a lot about the stress this cold weather has on my biochemistry. I eat well, do my stretching/yoga/breathing/relaxation but the cold tenses me up and makes me miserable to the point that my muscles hurt no matter how much relaxing I do.

  55. I've been reading through The Potbelly Syndrome myself and it's been making an impact on me on just how big a factor stress is. The book is focused on chronic infections, but I think the list goes beyond that.

    As for feedback loops, The Potbelly Syndrome identifies a couple:

    The infection-cortisol loop: Chronic infections cause inflammation, which release cortisol, which ultimately helps the infection.

    The fat-cortisol loop: Adipose tissue converts cortisone to cortisol and cortisol promotes more fat storage.

    Granted I don't think any positive feedback loop is the whole story since once it started there would be no end, and that is obviously not the case. Russ Farris mentioned the possible existence of tipping points, and I think they may exist. I think it's an overall combination of factors.

  56. To all you stressers, especially those who find the cold difficult, I gift thee this seasonal link; http://vimeo.com/17406812
    WARNING!:contains nudity.
    And if you need more laughter then I gift thee again (excuse the thees, I don't know where they're coming from), http://vimeo.com/17426438. For all you British on the forum, the above link is especially topical. Beat the X-Factor to number 1!!!

    Slightly more sensibly, I have always enjoyed Dr.Mezmer's (of Dr.Mezmer's Blog of Bad Psychology) take on stress. We're talking primarily the psychological sort but if I try to repeat it, I will get it wrong. So I'll let the man himself explain.

  57. Johnny,

    I'm totally hiring. I pay the same as an Idaho egg farmer…

    "Forgot my checkbook, hope you don't mind I pay ya in change."


    Come to Florida. Then we'll swim to Cuba together.


    What I find more compelling is the ideas proposed by Joe Blair, in that it's not the stressor or the infection or toxin or whatever, but the immune system's response to it that is the key. In his view, our bodies being spring-loaded with AA causes a hyperinflammatory response to everything, which causes too much collateral damage, which causes too much cortisol, which basically just ages you faster while leading you to higher probability of metabolic disease at a progressively earlier age.

    After all, the healthiest person I know lived by far the most stressful life of anyone I know, but came out of it unscathed and can still run 100 miles per week on crappy boxed food and blue Powerade without missing a menstrual cycle or getting so much as a cold. The difference was that she was not raised on SAD, never touched a vegetable or a fish oil for that matter, but was instead raised primarily on fresh fruit, greens, corn, beans, rice, raw grassfed dairy, organ meats, and meat and fat from ruminants.
    She is also the leanest woman I know, and the only person with 32 straight teeth. She did not touch a toothbrush until age 18.

    Here's Joe Blair's interesting theory, which is more congruent with how Ray Peat sees things…


    We'll be discussing this theory in some future posts, as this theory is a game-changer suggesting that the damage done by stressed is caused by the fatty acid composition of our cells, not the stressor itself. The above link is also good further reading for those interested in H. Pylori mentioned above.

  58. What a nice little treat to read this blog post this morning. I totally appreciate the direction you're going in. I agree 100% with this. I think that stress and difficult emotions are the basis in my own health disaster. I'm a survivor of child abuse so for me the stress started early, so did my first physical symptoms like allergies etc.

    I'm currently reading a new book called "the Divided Mind" by Dr John E Sarino MD. (cause I've got the flu so there's not much else to do….oh yes and watching the Twilight trilogy over and over….) He's talking about how the mind can produce real physical changes as an attempt to protect us from unconscious conflicts. The idea is that the physical issues will keep us so focused on dealing with them that we become distracted from the real emotional conflicts. We need to be distracted in order to avoid being overcome with those difficult emotions. It makes a lot of sense to me. I hope his book will offer some clues in how to solve these inner conflicts. He's talking about how these inner conflicts are universal. Just that they are stronger in some.

    Looking forward to more blog posts on this issue!

  59. "as we approach the time of year when relaxed and guiltless indulgence should be our frame of mind… for health’s sake."

    I've been Tweeting and Tumbling this quote all over the place!

    I swear when I'm stressed I gain a few pounds that go away as soon as the pressure is off me.

    People say that I'm eating more because of the stress and therefore that's why I put on weight. But, But, But….I don't eat more when I'm stressed!! No one believes me.

    Glad you're getting some good information out into the world on this one.

  60. Thanks Lisa,

    Jon Gabriel brings this up too and uses some funny key analogy… like if you can't find your keys and you're pretty sure they are under the bed you'll look everywhere else for them first to avoid having to bend over (I didn't say it was a good analogy).

    But that's what he's getting at.

    Still, this doesn't answer some of my bigger questions, like why is the healthiest person I know someone who got raped and beaten over 100 times before age 10 and spent 2 years in the wild sleeping in hand-dug holes hiding from lions at age 12 while only eating nuts, berries, and tree bark?

    In coming posts we'll talk about some things that can make our stress reaction more harmful and disease-causing, and it rhymes with vegetable oil :)

  61. Thanks Sarge! I think that's a good name to distinguish you from Lisa E.

    My mom just mentioned to me recently that she's gained 10 pounds twice in the last few years, while maintaining a constant weight the rest of the time. She noticed no changes in eating habits whatsoever during those two bursts of weight gain. So what happened when she gained that weight?

    She started a new job. The 2 times she started a new job in the last few years she gained 10 pounds in the first month and then went over a year without gaining another ounce.

    Stress raises the setpoint.

  62. Sarge is good! I always think you're talking to/about me when you say Lisa so it's useful to have a distinction….one that makes me feel like a commander..rhymes with in-charge!

    I'm going in to the hospital for total knee replacement on my right knee on Monday. I know I can be as calm as the Buddha but there's no denying the physical stress caused by such a surgery.

    I'll just have to rest through it and hope for the best. I hate to lose ground on my RRARF.

  63. Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the link. I will look into that. I've been wondering exactly how bad the vegetable oils are for you.

    Lisa E,
    That's an interesting theory. I think it's very hard to get in touch with our true thoughts and feelings and live in an authentic way. These are ideas I spend a lot of time thinking about. You might like the book Real Time Relationships by Stefan Molyneux.


  64. I was introduced to Seyle by reading Mike Mentzer and he applied it to bodybuilding. He made the analogy of stress and response like this…"if you rub your hands together a few times, nothing happens (no response), if you rub your hands together for a short time every day, your body will respond by producing callouses (a response to the stress), but if you continually rub your hands together, your skin will blister and bleed (an inability to adapt to the stress)." Mentzer used this analogy as to building muscle and undertraining (not enough intensity) and overtraining (generally too much volume, but could also be too much intensity). I think this applies to everything. If you never stress your body, it will just shrivel up and blow away. Stress your mind with puzzles and your muscles with activity but allow enough rest in between. It's the constant stress that'll kill you.

    Very nice post, Matt.

  65. @The Real Will

    Nice analogy. Mentzer was definitely a rebel like Matty boy. Gotta love him.

  66. Great comments! Especially that subconscious/conscious stuff, which I am a sucker for.

    However I am not sure whether I agree that you cannot achieve that so calles happy-go-lucky mentality if you are not "born" with it. Sure, just trying to think positive and eating dem taters aint gonna cut it, but I still don't think it is unattainable. Even though it probably much easier, the younger you are, because there simply is less "rewriting" to do on your hard drive.
    And even if it would be impossible, believing that it's possible probably still would bring you further than not doing so.

    Very interesting comment, J.R..

    Oh, and Matt. Nice try with that tater song, but it still doesn't beat the LotR-song imo.

  67. Kash: Boosting your metabolism will help you totally pwn winter. I've really felt mostly impervious to the cold this year. I'm still wearing my fall jacket even though the temps are single digits. In years past I'd already be wrapped in every piece of outerwear I have. I still tense up when I first go outside but I try to stop myself. It sounds corny but think warm thoughts. Force your shoulders to relax, don't hunch up. If your metabolism isn't quite there yet, don't worry, you can imitate it by dressing warmly in layers, taking lots of hot baths (in winter's past I would take two a day). Eating to appetite before you go outside helps alot. You get that bump in body temp so that it actually feels good to be in cold fresh air. Failing that you can cheat like Matt and fly South for the winter. Just kidding Matt it's the jealousy talking. Also, LOL at swimming to Cuba.

  68. Yeah, Madmuhh, it's optimism like that which makes me think you were born with the happy-go lucky thing. Having said that, I have seen people mellow with age in a good way. Maybe it's the hormone poisoning easing up, maybe it's going to therapy, being in a decent relationship for once or something else, but I have seen stress monsters become much happier and therefore healthier people.

  69. Here is a recent study suggesting that making it to 100 yrs old has more to do with attitude, perception and ability to adapt more so than physiological factors.


    Matt – Im really interested to hear the story of the person you mentioned

  70. MadMUHHH,

    "Even though it probably much easier, the younger you are, because there simply is less "rewriting" to do on your hard drive."

    age is no impediment to possibility. There are individuals who have awakened to what is popularly termed 'enlightenment' at young, middle and even on their deathbed in old age.
    It is a neurochemical phenomenon, not some intellectual trick or thinking in a certain manner.
    For what its worth, yes re-wiring does take place.

  71. Hey MadMUHHH,
    I like the hard-drive analogy. I was thinking of a very similar analogy the other day. A computer that isn't rebooted (or re-installed) for a long time can get bogged down and it gets harder and harder to clean up. Until you just do a clean swipe or reboot that is. Living organisms can't do that. The only way that happens in life is when a new life form is born. So whatever experiences we have leave their imprints on us. That being said, I believe it's possible to remove any piece of mental or emotional baggage. It just won't necessarily be easy.

    Wow Jenny, only a fall jacket in these temps? I've been doubling up the gloves and hat already and already broke out the long-johns, although I used to be like how you describe. I've been doing the hot baths too.

  72. Madmuhhh-

    Improvement can definitely be made. I used to have all kinds of crazy mood swings and tantrums my whole life until I started eating well. And it didn't turn me into Mr. Sunshine or anything like that, but just made me even keel enough to wake up in the morning and get busy doing the interesting things in life. It was like a big weight lifted.


    I agree. Then again, Metzer and his bro didn't exactly live long, prosperous lives :)

  73. I'm really getting a lot out of this post and the comments – and a long reading list! I have often wondered why Price didn't consider the stress the natives would have experienced by having 'powerful foreigners' taking over their world – I mean perhaps if they had come up with white flour and white sugar themselves they wouldn't have had such bad health – how much of their change in health could be put down to refined foods and how much down to the psychological stress of having their lives turned upside down?
    As others have noted I think our ability to handle stress starts with our mother's lifestyle/diet/health – this might explain why some people can handle stress so easily and live stressful lives and yet be healthy – perhaps if they are female anyway, their children may not be so healthy.
    Has anyone read the junkfoodscience blog. I found it quite helpful in making me just relax about food – lots of readers here won't like it – she puts down the whole Weston Price style eating for example and its hard for me to agree/believe some of what she is saying – but still its an interesting perspective. She also has great articles on what she calls the obesity paradox. Mysteriously however something unfortunate seems to have happened to her ….
    Lately I've been considering being hypnotised to stop me worrying about food and what I eat – I would love to just forget everything I have read about nutrition and just eat what my body wants too – even if it is chocolate cake everyday. Is that a crazy thought?
    And one last thing, Undertow, I follow your comments because I seem to have a lot of the problems you do and thought I would mention that my skin is back to normal after giving up probiotics – they really seemed to give me (mild) acne.

  74. Great post Matt. This is a diffucult concept to understand without constant monitoring of our glucocorticoid and what not stress hormone levels. I wonder what my cortisol levels are while I constantly study at school, for subjects i'm not entirely interested in.

    I'm sure you've heard of Dr. Hamer? Got cancer after a couple family members passed away. He was shocked, but then cam to the conclusion that almost everyone's illnesses are emotionally based. Neuroscienctists or neuropsychotherapists often heal patients through emotions. Another great work that changed my views on this was "Anatomy of the Spirit" by Caroline Myss. It's out there, but its a good read if you haven't heard of it

  75. Avishek-

    I think the one unifying theme of cancer and many diseases is not "emotions" or "pathogens" which are two seemingly-opposed paradigms, but the identical internal response to both and other forms of stress.

    For example, removing infected teeth often makes cancer disappear almost overnight. Overcoming some kind of emotional burden can do the same.

    But it's the body's response that I believe is causing all this disease, of which there are endless potential triggers of that response.


    Junkfood Science is awesome and I was going to quote some of it in an upcoming blog post on the 180metabolism blog soon.

    However, I will say that the one theme repeated not just in Price's research but outside his research was that food really was the thing most central to the onset of modern disease.

    It's quite likely that a fault in nutrition changes the immune system somehow to make it hypervigilant and overly destructive in response to stressors. Hence the epidemic of things like allergies, food allergies, asthma, autoimmune disease, and other overtly inflammatory disorders.

  76. Dinosaur, good call there, my skin is somewhat clearer now that I have stopped all supps/vitamins and went back to what I was doing when I started HED/RRARFin some 15 months ago. "Eat the Food"

    I suspect vitamins and supps in pill form or whatever could cause stress or imbalances, since its not coming from real food. Maybe wrong, but I seem better without for now.

    I am sticking with HCL and digestive enzymes for now though, they do seem to help my heartburn and digestion.

    Pip, thanks for the HCL recommendation.

  77. Hey Matt!
    You forgot to factor in Karma! Forgive me…I live on Maui ;)

  78. I recently read a book and now have the DVD for this process called TRE or trauma release exercises.
    Basically the theory goes like this.
    That we are the only mammal on the planet that doesn't shake after a traumatic experience.
    Any wild animals and even cats and dogs will involuntarily shake after trauma but this mechanism has been shut down in humans. I totally remember my mother getting me to shhhhhhhh when I cried and was upset.
    Think about when something shocking happens many people reach for a drink to calm thier nerves rather than experiencing the feelings.
    David Berceli is the guy that wrote the book and he studied how health deteriorated and how peoples moods changed permantely after spending many years in war torn countries. When he introduced these exercises peoples moods and health changed as they released the trauma from the nervous system.
    He found that talk therapy was the least useful in helping people release trauma but people reported deep peace and calm from using his process.
    The involuntary shaking is induced by various weight baring exercises and works on the limbic system

  79. I am loving this post and the comments!

    What I also find interesting, is that my mum and I was on the same diet, last summer -veggies and fruit. It was very low calorie. My mum lost weight quickly, I did not. Even though my mum has slightly better temperatures than me, they are not great and she always wears more clothes than me. After the diet, she resumed to more normal eating. She even tried RRARFing recently and overall is eating more now than she ever has. She has NOT gained any weight back. She actually lost a little more at some point. On top of that, I would say that my mum has a lot more stresses than me but it doesn't seem to affect her, like stress for instance affect me. I spent a weekend with my depressed brother (eating the same)broke out (pimples) and had crazy water retention. It has taken me more than 2 weeks to calm that down. Before this blog post, I couldn't tide the knots as to why I had such a reaction but now I understand that my brothers condition was stressing me. It's stressing my mum too but she has no physical sign what so ever.
    I will add that my mum has actually lowered her weight set point, as she was about 10kg heavier 5-10 years ago.

    Moving on to my grand mom, she is 86 years old. She has worse temperatures than me (yes they have all been giving the 180 health check)She smokes. She eats so poorly and less than people from a concentration camp. Half a piece of rye bread with honey in the morning. A warm meal (tiny snack for normal eaters) at lunch -if she has visitors she eats a few biscuits or a piece of cake with coffee instead of lunch. At dinner she eats a piece of rye bread with cheese or what ever, if she is not too stuffed from lunch. She is constipated and her spine is slowly deterring. She had no idea about this until her doctor made her aware. He was stunned that she could even stand up! As soon as she came aware, she became a little more "delicate" but all in all, she never have back pains, only when she needs some compassion. Give her alcohol and she jumps around and dances, like a teenager, is quick witted and full of life. With all that said, she often tells us (my family) how she wishes God will take her soon. So she doesn't have the greatest will to live on a daily basis but she is not easily knocked out despite her poorly life style. She is a people pleaser -which normally are people who worry a lot about what other people think but for some reason, her body seems to adapt well to stress.

    I do everything "right" but I react to everything.
    It's an interesting puzzle.

  80. I can't wait for more articles on pufa's. I'm starting to think it's even underestimated by people who are in the know. When diet comes up in conversation, it's clear people know how bad sugar is but will look at you like a retard if you say saturated fat is healthy. It may be the most important factor in health deterioration.

  81. Have to agree with Kirk. People know that omega 6 is bad for them but continue to eat and promote nuts/seeds, Avocado, flaxseed oil etc just because they are "natural" and supposedly this makes things fine…. I even had someone telling me palm oil is Omega 6 because it is processed? would like to hear some views on that…….
    Also Matt what is your opinion on the best way to counterbalance PUFA's in the diet (restaurants etc) is it Vit E supplementation or some Omega 3?

    Stress is a great topic you have brought up Matt, something that definitely needs a proper 180 breakdown. Hadn't heard of Hans but I am planning to pickup "the stress of life" looks like a classic.

    Also thanks to those who recommended Stress Portrait of a Killer. Managed to cop a torrent of it, will watch later and report back but looks like an excellent documentary.

  82. Pip-

    I hope to address this at some point. Peter Levine was the first to my knowledge to acknowledge this stored trauma in his book Waking the Tiger, which I read about a billion years ago.

    I've had trauma release done on me before, as well as seen a dog release trauma after surgery – which was freaking awesome. The entire apartment building vacated to come see what the hell was going on (this was at Pi'ilani Terrace in Kihei BTW lunchwithoutED!).

    Pretty sure these traumas get stored in the mircotubules in the fascia surrounding the muscles. John F. Barnes and his version of myofascial release is pretty amazing from what I hear, as that is what I had done on me and had me a nice trauma release over that missin' appendix-o-mine.

    I also think that this has a lot to do with the huge difference in how people process emotions, which Jon Gabriel loves to talk about. Those who externalize emotions seem to dissipate stresses in a short flurry that is easy to recover from. Those who internalize it get into that pattern of chronic stress, which just piles on. Hi Sheila!

    Kirk and Chris-

    We'll definitely go there, and you're right. Just look at the WAPF. They say seed oils are the devil incarnate and then their followers immediately proceed to increase their PUFA intakes beyond what it was when they were eating the SAD.

    Just the other day Croxton was like, "The only unhealthy fats come from factories!" and got a jillion likes on Facebook.

    Paula Owens who I recently did a review of was like, saturated fat rules! I love walnuts and avocado!

    That's why Peat and Joe Blair are superior researchers in my opinion. They topple the idea that unsaturated fats are essential in the first place, and go about taking them to a low level across the board as a specific dietary strategy to overcome a century of accumulated imbalance.

    I don't think supplementing with omega 3 is really a good overall strategy either, although it is clearly the lesser of evils compared to being AA-overloaded.

    Eating a predominantly carbohydrate-based diet (50% or higher) with a high ratio of saturated fats is probably the smartest way to going about displacing not just omega 6, but omega 3 as well, which from what I understand is like going for a grand slam instead of a base hit.

    We'll see if this holds up. I've been low-PUFA for a year and cannot jump over tall buildings in a single bound yet. But I don't have anything negative to say about it, and I surely haven't died from an essential fatty acid deficiency yet.

  83. Speaking of Africans with pearly whites as well as great documentaries available on Netflix Instant View, check out the recent doc "Babies". It shows the first years of 4 babies around the world, in San Francisco, Japan, Mongolia and Africa. The WAPFers must love it. The SF baby goes to baby yoga, the Japanese baby is overwhelmed and frustrated by all her toys, the Mongolian baby wanders around naked and gets his face cleaned with breast milk, and the African baby lies face down in the mud playing with sticks. He is the happiest, healthiest looking baby ever, and develops a gorgeous set of teeth.

  84. Ha ha! Whatever Gazelle! The WAPF must hate it as the African kid is only seen eating some starchy white staple and not cow brains and goat balls and is never shown doing a Crossfit workout. Not a single one!!!

    Ha ha. I love being hilarious. I'm just so damn good at it! Chirp, chirp, chirp…

    That Mongolian kid is pretty awesome though. She (I think it's a she… I thought it was a he until the end of the movie), gets into so many situations that would make the typical mom screech in horror!

  85. @J.R.:
    Yes, I was actually thinking about how "enlightment" seems to strike people of all ages, probably even more the older ones than the young ones.

    But this is not necessarily what I am talking about. I don't think that all those people who have a great attitude and outlook on live, love to do what their doing and get to be 100 years old even while eating rather great amounts of chocolate cake or doing other things considered unhealthy are necessarily "enlightened".
    It's really just the attitude I am talking about and I think this is mainly determined by your beliefs and self-image. And the older you get, the more time you will have had to possibly reinforce negative habits or beliefs. That's at least the way I would see it. "Enlightenment" on the other hand probably is more or less a game changer as I would agree that it is independent from age.

  86. The Mongolian kid is definitely a boy because there's that awesome shot of him lying on his back on the bed and just peeing into the air…

    I love how he almost gets trampled by goats like, three times.

  87. I wouldn't underestimate the ability of food and lifestyle habits to change someone's nature or personality to at least some degree. Good food and good sleep can make a worrywart suddenly carefree. Bad food, lots of stress and bad sleep can turn Pollyanna into a monster. Trust me, I've been on both sides of that one.

  88. While we're busting on WAPF for a while I want to throw this one in there. Yesterday I got a Christmas recipe from a WAPF blog for sugar plums. I actually thought about doing this as an alternative to the bad evil, white flour, white sugar cookies my kids wants to make. Then I looked more closely at the recipe. It's basically a paste of waltnuts and dried fruit. So chemically its pufa and fructose! That's no more healthy than buying Pilsbury freezer cookie dough, which is what my kid really wants to do. I do have issues with corporate processed food like that, politically, but the politics and the nutrition should be separate imho. Otherwise, I'd be a raw vegan mofo or something.

    I did a quick wiki search on Hans-y boy and he died at around 78. So not the greatest for longevity. Not that longevity is much of a goal anyway. Quality of life is far more important to me than quantity.

    Another centegenarian tale, my friend's grandma just turned 102, just moved into assisted living, because her oldest kid, who is 78 is having health problems and can't do the daily check in any more. Hilarious. She was born in Northern Minnesota in a polish community and had an excellent nutritional base, all the benefits of Eastern European traditional foods without actually living in Eastern Europe! Best of both worlds there. She also still has her own teeth where her kids do not. Yeah, if I could be 102 and live like Agnes and still go fishing in a boat then yeah, sign me up, but my Grandfather's last five years were pretty miserable and undignified. No thanks.

  89. Thanks Liz-

    I have seen dramatic changes take place repeatedly in myself and others. Where it seems to be most dramatic is in young kids who don't have that on/off switch for displaying emotion. They are slaves to their food in terms of their emotional state.

  90. Jenny-

    Yeah, there's no doubt that heredity plays the biggest role in the level of people's health. Both in terms of propensity to gain weight, age rapidly, and so forth. What some old grannies apparently get away with often shows up in their kids, who definitely can't get away with the same food and lifestyle habits. Degenerates I tellz ya!

  91. Hey Matt,
    I finished reading the link you provided:

    I liked this quote:
    "The bacteria [H. pylori] are found everywhere in the world, but are especially prevalent in developing countries, where up to 80% of children and 90% of adults can have laboratory evidence of an H. pylori infection–usually without having any symptoms."

    It's concept I got I think from Campbell McBride as well. The bad bacteria don't really go away, it's just a matter of internal environment and how your body is reacting.

    I was thinking about this while reading The Potbelly Syndrome. Russ Farris just seems to give up all hope in terms of the chronic infections, but I think he's missing some important information.

  92. Very nice indeed I’ll probably download it. Thanks

  93. MadMUHH

    "I don't think that all those people who have a great attitude and outlook on live, love to do what their doing and get to be 100 years old even while eating rather great amounts of chocolate cake or doing other things considered unhealthy are necessarily "enlightened".
    It's really just the attitude I am talking about and I think this is mainly determined by your beliefs and self-image."

    Of course. The point I make however is that with so-called 'enlightenment' this whole situation no longer matters, that is, to such a person whatever happens in life is no problem.
    Its not that an 'enlightened' person is deliriously happy all the time, but rather any emotion from anger to sadness, any experience at all, simply runs its course and burns itself out.
    The great problem for many individuals lays in the fact that inner conflict is an ongoing occurence. Everytime some 'unpleasant' experience, or emotion not to an individuals liking arises, there is an automatic effort at trying to be rid or change the experience.
    That IS the conflict. Prolonged inner conflict is a great neurological stressor on the organism.
    Anger or sadness, whatever, is not the problem. Trying to be rid of anger or sadness, or whatever – and conversely -clinging to the 'sweet fruits' of life, IS the problem, and creates the inner conflict.
    Sometimes this surrender occurs with an ill person – say cancer – and the whole situation changes, not necessarily that they are cured as such, but rather go into long or very long remission. The inner conflict has ceased and one of the stressors on the organism has been markedly reduced.
    Of course sickness is not a prerequisite to this occurence.
    And of course, some folk may not undergo complete surrender, but nevertheless inner conflict is reduced and they become far more comfortable, mostly, with what happens in life.

  94. Matt! OMG Trauma release in Kihei??? oh oh it was a dog ok…sounds more like a Haiku event to me (the spectator part) ;)Be sure to let me know if you and your gal come back to the island. I'll have you over for lunch (without ed) of course.
    Aloha~ Gina nourishingbyheart,com

  95. I just wanted to express my appreciation for your last few posts. I like the relaxed attitude.

  96. Wow J.R. You sound like you could be giving a Buddhist lecture. Emotions are simply knowledge and when we have space they no longer control us. Have you ever heard of the concept of "one taste"?

  97. Thanks Andrew, and you'd be proud of how much milk and bananas I've been eating this past week. You'll also like the upcoming Peat-centric post I hope to do as a follow-up on Stress vs. Stress Reaction, and the role the excesses of PUFA play in determining which is the most important aspect of stress.


    Yeah, I harrass old man Farris all the time. I probably gave the guy the stroke. The follow up post to this one should be a beauty. The question prodded will be, Is it the Stress that causes the disease, or the Reaction to Stress that causes disease?

  98. "Wow J.R. You sound like you could be giving a Buddhist lecture. Have you ever heard of the concept of "one taste"?"

    Hi AaronF
    thanks for comment.
    Yes, Buddha Nature, Silence, Natural State, One-taste – that which has no division – goes by many names.
    This subject matter I spend much time with in working with folk, but I endeavour to keep comments here as relevant as possible to the post at hand.

  99. I am a total copy cat and have been at the bananers this week.. but the GREEN ones. Seems that of all the starchy foods, the only edible raw one is green bananas. I have to say I have missed their good filling qualities, but it is quite a different thing than ripe, mushy brownish ones. One is enough and keeps me happy.

    On Stress: The thinnest times of my life have most of the time been the highest stress. I tend not to eat, not to sleep, be very anxious and full of adrenaline as well as mentally and emotionally drained. The last time was when I was caring for my mom, pretty much alone, after she had stroke after stroke.. for five months until she passed away.

    So stress is not all the same and reactions to stress are probably a bit like fingerprints. No one has the same reaction as you do.

    my two pennies
    deb xo

  100. Yeah Deb,

    Some people gain weight with stress, others lose it rapidly, but not necessarily in a celebratory way but a very unhealthy spiraling into collapse mode kinda way.

    What's up with green bananas? Everybody's telling me they are eating green bananas. I mean sure, you don't have to go 30bananasaday and make sure they're oozing out of the peels, but the green banana eating thing seems a little weird.

  101. Great post, Matt! And so timely! Love the comment about "duck fiets," and oooh IF sounds good because that is so where I was. Thanks for talking me down!

    Stress is definitely a biggie for me. The last four years have been absolutely crazy starting with my house burning down. Then there was moving six times, two babies born, a miscarriage, a broken arm requiring reconstructive surgery while pregnant, deaths in the family, my husband being unemployed for a time resulting in us being broke and having to borrow money from family. . . just to name a few. Anyway, things are fairly normal now. I am learning how to not let all that effect me, as well as the stresses of everyday life and live more "chilled."

    Looking forward to more on this subject!

  102. Just to be clear they are not glow in the dark green, but green tinged, so they are not all.. starchy on the tounge?
    Anyway, they contain a butt load of resistant starch. I read that raw starch is the best kind to eat, and this is the only raw food with resistant starch that you can eat.
    It has like 9 grams of starch per nana! If you look at potatoes, rice, corn etc, they are way lower than that per cup etc.
    Here is the info:

    I guess I learned ya somethin' sonny boy.
    lady haga

  103. Dang, I have told myself a bazillion times not to exaggerate!
    Here is the true resistant starch count: Green Nana's are around 5 grams but still, they blow the others of the water for the amount of food you have to eat.

    What foods are high in resistant starch?

    Natural sources of resistant starch include:

    Cooked and cooled carbohydrate foods such as cold rice (1/2 cup brown rice – 1.7 gm, 1/2 cup white rice – 0.9 gm), cold potato (1 medium – 1.3 gm) and cold pasta (1 cup – 1.9 gm).
    Unripe fruit such as green banana (1 medium – 4.7 gm).
    Cooked lentils (1/2 cup – 2.5 gm), beans (1/2 cup cooked kidney beans – 2.4 gm), oatmeal (1/2 cup – 0.7 gm).
    Intact wholegrain cereals, seeds and nuts, such as wheat, barley, corn, oats, semolina.
    Wholegrain bread (2 slices – 0.5 gm).
    The number of times the procedure of heating the starch and then cooling it again is repeated, the amount of RS goes on increasing. Further, cooking done in microwaves and iron vessels converts more starch into resistant starch than any other method or medium.
    Note the odd info on nuking the food.. hmm.. got no microwave no mo.

    Natural sources of resistant starch include:

    Cooked and cooled carbohydrate foods such as cold rice (1/2 cup brown rice – 1.7 gm, 1/2 cup white rice – 0.9 gm), cold potato (1 medium – 1.3 gm) and cold pasta (1 cup – 1.9 gm).
    Unripe fruit such as green banana (1 medium – 4.7 gm).
    Cooked lentils (1/2 cup – 2.5 gm), beans (1/2 cup cooked kidney beans – 2.4 gm), oatmeal (1/2 cup – 0.7 gm).
    Intact wholegrain cereals, seeds and nuts, such as wheat, barley, corn, oats, semolina.
    Wholegrain bread (2 slices – 0.5 gm).
    The number of times the procedure of heating the starch and then cooling it again is repeated, the amount of RS goes on increasing. Further, cooking done in microwaves and iron vessels converts more starch into resistant starch than any other method or medium.

    Look under the paragraph titled "What foods contain the most resistant starch?"

    Read more: http://www.lifemojo.com/lifestyle/resistant-starch-the-healthy-carb-for-weight-loss-8151968#ixzz17fjNv7uV

  104. arggggggh sorry about the double message on the resistant starch.. guess it bears repeating!

  105. Golly Ghee Willikers Mrs. Y, you sure do know an awful lot about bananas!

  106. This is a totally fabulous post and comments. Needs to check out the links and film. Matt you are genius!
    JR I did love your comment about it wasn't the emotion but how you react to it and just let it run its course. I found this way of looking at things very helpful in my bereavement, you feel like you feel and its just a fact, don't make matters worse by putting expectations on yourself about how you should feel or be so big-headed that you think you have (or should have) any control over how you feel. I have found some of the exercises in The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent by the Hicks(the teaching of abraham)quite useful in learning how to let go of emotional attachments. But I had studied and practised Buddhism for a long time so was probably primed for success. I know its trite but I think the best stress relief is to count your blessings.
    Is there something wrong with dried fruit? I've just discovered medjoul dates- delish! And green bananas? I've been enjoying eating fruit and fresh (homemade)fruit juice and can't see the harm in it for me.
    Matt what is your theory on why resistant starch has to be cold? Since it works in the gut it would be body temp by the time it got there? And can you feel the effects when you eat it? I think I can but wonder if I am imaging it.
    I have been trying to go 50/50 with the sweet carbs and the starchy carbs, in a casual sort of way, not counting anything, and so far it feel quite good.
    Its been unusually cold here for a couple weeks (UK)and I slipped on the ice. Slow motion forward slide, only a bruised thigh and stiffness but have limited the outings to close to home. Because you really can't stop a slide by deliberate intent-its that icy. Finally made a trip to town and had a full 10 minutes on the sunbed! Heavanly! Even if dr. mercola isn't right about vit d and sunbeds, I think that the cold stress relief is better than even a long hot bath.
    Matt Glad you will be writing more about pufa as I don't feel I understand about that. I make my broth from chicken and pork cause the are the best quality bones I can get (ordered on the net). But you don't like these meats, don't understand why.

  107. Resistant starch does not have to be cold. Just a particular type of resistant starch (RS3) forms when starches are cooled, such as in a potato or chilled bean salad. Hot starches have resistant starch, and raw starches have yet another form of resistant starch.

  108. Debs
    Great info on the raw starch. Very thing I've been wondering, as I make excess porridge and reheat it the next day. It appeared to get starchier. Biggin it up on the resistant starch and not found much info so will check your link.
    My mom used to eat the bananas when they were almost black- grossed everyone out- but I have a slight prejudice toward ripened banana due to this random fact. But really I will eat any banana and they aren't all that ripe from my aldis (but they are organic and fair-trade, virtuous bananas!). So I been getting alot of resistant starch without even trying! Life is good.

  109. Can you cool the starch and reheat it before eating and get the same benefit? Cold oats or potatoes don't appeal to me at all.

  110. deb, I like greenish bananas too, my family thinks I'm crazy but they're slightly crunchy, not as sweet and not mushy and I think they're Great!

  111. I don't know Kirk. My understanding was that the cooling processed formed the resistant starch, but I don't know if reheating it loosens the starch molecules up once again. But one thing is for sure, I wouldn't be caught dead eating cold oatmeal, and nothing is worth eating your food in a less enjoyable state. I will say that chilled potatoes tossed with homemade ranch is pretty much the chronic though.


  112. "I found this way of looking at things very helpful in my bereavement, you feel like you feel and its just a fact, don't make matters worse by putting expectations on yourself about how you should feel or be so big-headed that you think you have (or should have) any control over how you feel."

    Hi Sydney,
    good for you. Feelings, emotions happen. Staying with the feeling without resistance, there is no problem at all. The problem comes with resistance.

  113. Hi Sydney: I wanted to throw out there that sunbathing even in a tanning bed could be really helpful for you right now, especially since its winter and you're grieving. It will help eliminate Seasonal Affective Disorder which you don't need on top of everything. I really got a lot of benefit from trail running when I was grieving and while all the cardio was ultimately bad for my body, all the fresh air and sunshine really helped get me through a tough place.

  114. Hey Sydney and Kirk
    If you look closely at my crazy ass copy/paste comment on Ressistant starch, the article states that the more times you heat and then cool, then heat again the more resistant starch is formed. So triple cook your stuff people!!! Or not.. cold potatos are delish, don't think I could slog through cold oats.Kinda like Goldilocks, I like it just right. :)

    Besistant Starchiness is my bizness.
    the hag

  115. OMG Note to self, don't type without your .99 cent store reading glasses.


  116. Jenny I don't know if I suffer from SAD- maybe everyone does to an extent. Kinda a new idea to me, cold is a stressor- I have a northerner view that it is invigorating- or a least should be to a right-thinking person! now the ice has gone I look for reasons to motivate myself to go outside. Having a dog is quite useful that way.
    Deb Still not got a chance to check your refs or anyone else's. Takes an age to just read through the comments. And bad boy Matts already on to a new topic. I have quite gotten into the cold porridge, though I accept its not very appealing at first. Its odd how some things you can come to like and others get worse over time (eg Matt and his unrefined coconut oil). Between kefir and fruit I am eating alot of sour- I know I wouldn't have been able to imagine liking sour so much in the past.

  117. WTF is resistant starch when it's at home?
    J.R your posts rock. Thanks for the reminder.

  118. Sydney: I live in Minnesota, so pretty far north, but the UK is quite a bit further north still. The amount of daylight you guys get in the winter is pathetically small. A certain amount of SAD is inevitable and probably good from the standpoint of circadian rhythms, etc., but it can just be one more thing to cope with sometimes, is all.

  119. My father did his doctorate under the mentorship of Selye at the University of Montreal (Quebec).
    They (the team) did some fair good of work on the issue. I am glad to see that Selye’s work and research is still of the current.


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