HOW TO MAKE SENSE OF INCONSISTENCIES AROUND THERAPEUTIC DIETS: A LOOK AT LOW STARCH DIETS
There are so many therapeutic diets out there. Many have overlaps and they all have inconsistencies.
Because they're choosing what to include and what to exclude based on the filters that they choose. And you can only make lists of foods to Include and Exclude using so many filters at a time.
Here at the lab, we can use these different dietary approaches like a Swiss Army knife, understanding how they work and selecting them for a particular purpose. And then as you heal, transitioning to include more variety, and more options.
Many people find that eventually they can even eat regular, crap food on occasion and not feel terrible afterward.
The reason why the Whole 30 appears to be inconsistent when it comes to starch is because it is. This is because it is not using starch as a lens for selecting which foods to exclude; it's using grains, amongst other things.
So potatoes (not a grain) are allowed and rice (a grain) is out. For some people, this is a valid distinction. For others, like for those whom starch feeds inflammatory pathogens, the distinction is arbitrary.
But if memory serves, there's more to the story. I've been using the Whole 30 in my practice for about a decade and I think that they actually used to have potatoes on the No list.
But then people complained. They argued that potatoes could be healthy & helpful, that the exclusion was too rigid. That it could be a good source of nutrients and not necessarily counter-productive for gut healing. So it was moved from the naughty to the nice list.
But here's where some distinctions are helpful. Potatoes are one of those foods that have wild variations in how it effects individuals. Part of this is to do with the fact that how a food effects us has more to do with our current microbiome composition than the food itself.
The other is that there's a huge genetic variation in the number of copies of things like salivary amylase that people have (from 2 to 16). In short, if you evolved to eat starch, then it can potentially feed a healthy microbiome. And if you didn't, it's unlikely to.
But we really don't want to get stuck in the weeds here. We want to keep our focus on dietary patterns for ecological restoration more than individual food items and not sweat broccoli stems. And I don't believe you need a genetic analysis to figure out what to eat. Especially as part of an experimental exclusion on a 2-4 week timeline to terraform your gut microbiome.
The recommendation for the Whole 30 is for people who are new to the area of human nutrition in general and exclusion diets in particular. Especially folks with blood sugar issues but not necessarily autoimmune issues. For this group, the Whole 30 has been transformative for health and also for raising awareness of what you're actually eating.
If you've been on a restrictive diet for 20 years, this is likely to be a lateral move at best.
We know that people with many autoimmune issues, like psoriasis, inflammatory arthritis, colitis and ankylosing spondylosis, tend to also have pathogenic levels of Klebsiella in their guts, which is a good enough reason to try a low-starch diet if you haven’t before and see how it goes.
When it comes to all things Low Starch, if you want to get into the details so you can better understand some whys (and it may potentially be helpful, as long as you don't use it as a form of procrastination or allow yourself to get overwhelmed), the Keystone Approach is a very helpful, up to date take on the Low Starch diet.
The author has put together recommendations 3 food lists for 3 levels of low-starchiness, which may be helpful to look at so you can see and compare the recommendations around carrots, broccoli stems, potatoes etc.
But here, my sincere advice here is to 80:20 it. Do not become an expert in the minutiae of this. Her book is excellent and well researched but also with a lot of blindspots due to coming at it from a Western nutrition lens.
What you're already achieving here going through the process outlined in this program is more sophisticated than what she outlines in her book.
And remember that the goal is not to become an expert in a Low Starch Diet. The goal is to become healthy enough to not need to follow one anymore.
As you are not relying on nutrition as your principle lever, you have more of a margin of error of fuzziness around broccoli florets vs broccoli stems.
So if you think that your head might spin comparing and choosing Keystone levels vs GAPS vs AIP vs whatever, then you may find that Carni just cuts out the noise and achieves the goal of not feeding overgrown bugs including Klebsiella while you perform your ecological restoration. It's the simplest option and simplicity may be the trump card here.
Or you could follow the Carnivore approach and then add some foods from the low-starch list for variety. When you understand how to read your microbiome and how to use diet as a way to shift it in healthy ways, you don't need to follow one plan so prescriptively.
You can skim over and compare the lists from Keystone or other low starch approaches to get a sense of the lay of the land - but do not ask which one is right! Nobody fucking knows, trust me. Just look for overlaps and trends and then make a plan for 2 weeks and execute on it.
You may even give yourself a start date now and decide ahead of time how much time you're going to allocate to research and figure out what to eat. Set it as a challenge to come up with the plan within a certain amount of research time. Here, you will quickly hit diminishing returns if you spend too much time thinking about it before executing on something reasonable and then seeing how you respond.