The Paleo Diet And Behcet's Disease

I was listening to Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution Podcast episode 125 just yesterday, and he answered a question about Behcet’s Disease that captured my interest. Accord

ing to Greg, it’s pronounced “Beh-chet”, which was confirmed here. Here’s a little info about the disease:

“Behcet’s (beh-CHETS) disease, also called Behcet’s syndrome, is a rare disorder that causes chronic inflammation in blood vessels throughout your body. The exact cause of Behcet’s is unknown, but it may be an autoimmune disorder, which means

the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks some of its own healthy cells. Both genetic and environmental factors may be responsible for Behcet’s disease.

The inflammation of Behcet’s disease leads to numerous symptoms that may initially seem unrelated. The signs and symptoms of Behcet’s disease — which may include mouth sores, eye inflammation, skin rashes and lesions, and genital sores — vary from person to person and may come and go on their own.” – Mayo Clinic

If you want to hear the whole podcast, you can download it on iTunes, or listen from Robb’s site.

I decided to quote the whole podcast segment on Behcet’s Disease from the episode transcript, because it is powerful, poignant, and is a typical example of the kind of Robb Wolf rant that I love to hear so much. Take the time to read it, and I think you’ll appreciate the message within:

The Paleo Diet And Behcet’s Disease

Greg Everett:

All right. Dave says, “Hi Robb, I’ve been on the Paleo lifestyle for over a year now and it has been life changing. I work at a very active job as an Heleski guide. It’s a great job but can be hard on the body. No complaints though. My joint pains have decreases as well. I’m more alert and I don’t get sick as frequently as before. Writing you is not for me but it’s for my wife. I’ve slowly been converting my family to Paleo.”

“This first step has been getting the family off gluten. I’m wanting to get some information for my wife on Behçet’s disease where she has been diagnosed with. There’s not a lot of information on it and her doctor is skeptical on the Paleo diet, which is quite frustrating at times. I know there’s information on your site about auto immune disease but I was wondering if you have any specific for Behçet’s such as diet or supplement recommendation asas well as lifestyle, exercise recommendations. She has a lot of questions and I’m happy she is open to Paleo but I want to give her as much information as possible to help with her health. Thanks for everything and hopefully you or somebody can help us out.”

Robb Wolf:

Gosh you know Behçet’s is obviously an auto immune disease so there’s that piece and this is I don’t know maybe I’ll throw this out to the listeners like how do we effectively communicate this idea that in like I’m assuming folks who have read the book I feel like I’ve made this case that there’s a common ideology to all auto immune disease. It’s related to intestinal permeability, there’s a variety of things that can be involved with that - grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, acetaminophen. There’s a bunch of stuff that can feed into permeable gut. There’s the FODMAP’s that leads into a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and that may be a problem in this too but how do we just as a blanket statement or maybe this is something that we just have to revisit again and again these auto immune diseases have a common ideology related to intestinal permeability, the solution appears to in broad brush strokes be keto auto immune protocol Paleo diet.

A Cow…just because everyone loves a happy Cow.

I think episode 68, we had Matthew Malone along and we talked a bunch about that. If you go to frequently asked questions, we have a brief description but it’s completely adequate. It’s brief but it’s thorough of what you want to do to modify it, a basic Paleo approach to make it auto immune protocol. You want to make sure that your vitamin D levels are up, that your sleep is good, that you’re not exercising to exhaustion but my thing with this is that we’re finding the same results again and again whether it’s like scleroderma or whether it’s multiple sclerosis, or whether it is narcolepsy.

All of these things have autoimmune underpinnings to them. If we can get people eating something close to an auto immune protocol Paleo diet, get their vitamin D levels up, maybe take a little bit of fish oil, get some

more sleep. We’re finding that this stuff either goes into remission completely or it is dramatically improved and you know like the Dr. Terry Wallace multiple sclerosis talk that she did for the Ted talks.

Like that’s an n=1 but we’re starting to get thousands of people with these responses and so you know for the doctor in this, the whole skepticism of the Paleo diet, I don’t know if I’m just getting older and cranky but I mentioned Dr. Amy Myers on the show last time and she made this point that people who are undergoing -

There are doctors investigating whether or not they are gluten intolerant and the doctor will recommend that they eat gluten so that they can get a positive gluten response on the test and I guess that’s all nice for insurance companies and stuff like that but she made the point that she thought that that was paramount to malpractice because we know how incredibly terrible gluten is for people particularly in this legitimate celiac spectrum and I think is pretty terrible for here and everybody.

And so within all this stuff, if you are a practicing physician and you can’t wrap your head around this evolution via the natural selection, Darwinian medicine being a vector in discerning what the heck is going on with people, it’s kind of a what the fuck point with this. It’s like we need to get a little bit better than this.

This skepticism was born out at a 100% out of ignorance. I know we kind of need to be patient and just keep getting the message out there, and don’t burn bridges and all the rest of that stuff but it gets a little frustrating sometimes. I guess 15 years of hammering, donging on this is kind of like, “Okay folks we can do better on this,” especially if what we’re recommending is a basic nutritional protocol that involves lean, or grass fed meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, it’s like so somebody’s going to die in a month of doing this and you’re skeptical about it?

It’s just – It gets me completely fired up. I’m completely rambling here. For your wife all I can say I’ve been contemplating on a blog post on how do I convince people to eat Paleo? I don’t really know how to convince people to Paleo, like the greasy used cars salesman pitch that we have is give it a shot for 30 days and see what happens.

And if the person doesn’t have some spark of desire to change that is sufficient enough to get them to eat a damn Paleo diet for 30 days then to some degree they are beyond help and for this doctor you know they’re super busy. They don’t get paid as much as what as they were used to. They’ve got to deal with a ton of paperwork and so I won’t say it’s a rare physician that will read this stuff but it’s not you know an everyday occurrence and so this is where you guys just have to take responsibility for your own health and you have to decide if you’re going to try this thing on and really give it a shot.

I would be shocked if you didn’t get some results. I would be really interested to hear what the results are one way or another and for your wife, like again, the greasy used cars salesman pitch is give it a shot for 30 days. How do you look, feel and perform? Track some biomarkers of health and disease before and afterwards and the worst case scenario is that you didn’t eat some cookies, and some French bread for 30 days and you’re no better or maybe you know who knows you’re worse.

We haven’t seen that happen yet but maybe that’s the possibility but 30 days later we’re going to know whether or not this Paleo intervention was good, bad or indifferent for your condition and I guess it just kind of boils down to how motivated are you to actually give that a shot.

I can’t think of much more of the sales pitch than that and then there was that original question, “Do we have something specific to Behçet’s or Behçet’s, what are our standard on this now?”

Greg Everett:

So I think, you’re right. It’s super tough. How do you convince someone to do anything, really? If they don’t want to do it to some degree then you probably aren’t going to convince them without force but I think the 2 biggest hurdles between the lay person and their doctors are getting over the fear of eating that much meat and the fear of not eating healthy whole grains.

Robb Wolf:


Greg Everett:

If you can figure out a way to convince people that 1 month of eating meat and not eating their sprouted wheat toast won’t kill them, then maybe they’ll be a little bit more open to it.

Robb Wolf:

Yes, and within that so here’s what we’re recommending. Instead of eating the sprouted wheat toast which has almost no nutritional content. The main nutrient content that comes from the bulk of that stuff is because it’s fortified like we’re taking synthetic nutrients and sticking it in there because otherwise we end up with a bunch of deficiency diseases.

Greg Everett:

You might as well eat white bread at that point.

Robb Wolf:

Exactly but the insane recommendation that we’re making is eat some yams or sweet potatoes, fruits or vegetables in lieu of eating that.

Greg Everett:

That’s crazy.

Robb Wolf:

I mean that’s the insane recommendation that we’re making. This is something that pops up a ton. There may not be a bunch of broad-brush strokes way of dealing with this but I just want to put it out to folks. If someone has a condition that is known or suspected to be auto immune, again go back to the Google gig like Google Paleo diet and Behçet’s and see if there’s anything.

Robb Wolf:

Chances are there’s not anything yet, like we’re in the beginning, the wild west of this stuff. There are not a lot of things that we have something solid on. We’ve got a little bit on narcolepsy. We’ve got a lot more on lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and stuff like that but I guess my recommendation is once were on that auto immune realm, I would look at it less as a unique snow flake kind of scenario and just understand there’s a common ideology with all this auto immune diseases.

Paleo Balls….Do you have them?

We seem to be experiencing a remarkable improvement in these symptoms of these autoimmune diseases when people follow the standard auto immune Paleo protocol and so what I would I ask you to do is just give it a shot and then give us feedback about what you did and collect much data on this as you can.

Take photos of before and afterwards. Do blood work before and afterwards, and then we’ve then got a legitimate data point. If Dave, if you can rope your wife into doing this for 30 days, track some really good biomarkers and then we’ll know.

Even if this doesn’t work, it’s like okay we’ve got some data point that says, “Okay. This doesn’t work for this person. What did she do?” well then look like she added vitamin D onto the mix.

The next person, we’ll really make sure, we’ll really hammer on them to add vitamin D to the mix and then maybe they get an improved response to that. Is that science and a double plan placebo control, crossover, gold standard means? No it’s not but I think it’s still some worthwhile information. It’s kind of like combinatorial chemistry.

We’ve got a bunch of different reactions going on in a bunch of different vessels and this is a way that we can really accelerate the learning on this stuff and at the end of the day my main thrust on this is just giving people small alternatives for tackling their treatment in an effective way besides methotrexate and the immuno suppressants which will kill you eventually.

You will die from some complication associated with that. Nicky’s mom died from complications due to rheumatoid arthritis about 3 months before I met Nicky and since that point we’ve interacted with literally thousands of people that have put rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis symptoms into remission basically just changing their diet, getting more sleep and taking some vitamin D.

And so my main thrust is just getting people to give this a shot and then they say hey if they bump into somebody who’s got an autoimmune disease. It’s like hey there’s this website. It’s got a free protocol, give it a shot and get the dude some feedback.

That’s all I’m asking here is that we create an alternative, opportunity or alternative view on this so that folks don’t just have to suffer through the conventional treatment, which really doesn’t do anything for them.”

I know that was a long read, but hopefully you appreciated it as much as I did.

The big picture here is that any time a person is confronted with a condition that is known to be an autoimmune disease….or even if it’s only suspected to be autoimmune in nature, the first most logical thing to try, is to eliminate all of the possible foods that could be contributing to the problem. Robb says it all the time….it’s his most famous phrase, “give it a shot for 30 days. How do you look, feel and perform? Track some biomarkers of health and disease before and afterwards”. What have have you got to lose?

The alternative to simply changing the way you eat, and seeing if it changes your life for the better, is to take dangerous and expensive drugs that might…..might…make you feel better, but at what cost? The drugs on the market right now that help with these autoimmune diseases are either of the kind that simply reduce inflammation, and therefore act as a bandaid and never address the cause, or they of the kind that actually reduce the effectiveness of your immune system to reduce the symptoms. No-one wants a handicapped immune system, when the alternative of simply not eating bread and pasta etc might actually make you feel 100% better. A lower immune system means being open to any and every virus and pathogen that comes your way.

I heard someone once say that if a person goes into an emergency room with a knife sticking out of their chest, would we expect the doctor to stitch-up the wound without removing the knife? If the knife caused the wound, doesn’t it make sense to find and remove the cause of the problem, before trying to fix the wound? Autoimmunity doesn’t just happen….it is caused by something, and more often than not, that something is a food that you’re eating.

There’s a pharmaceutical answer for everything, and big-pharma will happily take your money, place a bandaid on one problem, and then sell you more medication for the other problems that are caused by the first drug……wash, rinse, repeat.

Break the cycle….just eat real food, and avoid the things that are making you and your family sick. It’s really that simple. Remember that like most other autoimmune diseases, the Paleo Diet and Behcet’s disease could be a winning combo. Give it a try, and then pass the information on to a friend……Paleo-it-forward!


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Barry Cripps is a Paleo-based, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, who operates out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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2 Responses to The Paleo Diet And Behcet's Disease

  1. Adam Cooper April 18, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    This discussion on Behcet’s Disease, autoimmune conditions, and diet is full of unsupported claims, errors, and bunk. Frankly, any claims so widespread and supposedly curative for multiple diseases are not to be trusted. Especially be wary of any website or huckster trying to sell you something as a treatment for a serious disease.

    If you have Behcet’s Disease (most often pronounced beh-SHETT’s by American patients and physicians), you need to be followed by a rheumatologist, and possibly a dermatologist, a ophthalmologist, a gasteroenterologist, and a urologist or gynecologist. Trying to treat your symptoms with “natural,’ “alternative,” or dietary cures could lead to irreversible organ, brain, and eye damage.

    • Barry Cripps April 18, 2012 at 11:25 pm

      Tell me Adam, what causes an autoimmune condition? Let me guess… knows, they just “happen”, right? LOL