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Most people who go paleo know to avoid wheat, legumes, dairy products, and processed food. But the foods that make the diet difficult to follow may be the foods you least expect.

Paleo dieters know that certain foods are simply not conducive to diet success. They know to stay away from wheat in all its incarnations. Non-fermented dairy products are a known problem, and soy, beans, peas, and other legumes are obvious deletions from the daily dietary plan.

The foods that cause paleo dieters the greatest distress, however, sometimes appear on the "approved" list. Their effects are more intense when other toxic foods are omitted from daily eating.

And if you have problems with acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, belching, burping, flatulence, diverticulosis, diverticulitis, or any other digestive insult, whether you are on a paleo diet or not, you likely want to avoid these foods.

Amaranth (the green vegetable) and quinoa (the grain)

Quinoa is the seed of the amaranth plant. We all know quinoa and amaranth leaves are among the healthiest of all foods, right? It is true that they contain nearly complete protein and most of the vitamins and minerals we need in a low-calorie package. 

The problem is that they also contain saponins, naturally occurring soap-like compounds, that can trigger or activate bleeding in the gut.

If you have peptic or duodenal ulcers, or if you have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, eating these foods on an otherwise healthy diet can make you miserable, and cause you to give up an otherwise wholesome and healing diet.

Chile peppers

It is a common misconception that eating spicy foods seasoned with chili peppers can cause acid reflux disease. Actually, there is some evidence that chili peppers actually reduce the severity of acid reflux disease and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). The problem with chili pepper for acid reflux sufferers is that they usually eat too much of the chili-flavored food, and it's the volume of food in the stomach that pushes acid upwards. However, the stinging, burning chemical capsaicin in hot peppers can make diarrhea an especially unpleasant experience.

Egg whites

Egg white is addictive. That is due to their especially high content of the amino acid phenylalanine.

Protein foods that are high in phenylalanine tend to result in the formation of hormones that override appetite control centers in the brain. (Seal meat, if you were inclined to eat it, would have a similar effect.)

But egg whites pose another for paleo dieters. Egg whites contain a group of enzymes known as lysozymes, which in nature help the chick break out of its shell. When you eat egg whites in excessive, your muscles may become inflamed by their enzyme content. Don't just limit egg yolks. Limit egg whites, too. And be aware that eating raw egg whites can deplete the body's supply of the B vitamin biotin, which is a cofactor for the enzymes that burn fat.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • Correa AD, Jokl L, Carlsson R. Chemical constituents, in vitro protein digestibility, and presence of antinutritional substances in amaranth grains. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 1986.Jun
  • 36(2):319-26.
  • Naknukool S, Horinouchi I, Hatta H. Stimulating macrophage activity in mice and humans by oral administration of quillaja saponin. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2011. 75(10):1889-93. Epub 2011 Oct 7.
  • Photo courtesy of Sharon by Flickr :
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