Tag Archives: diet

A Stay-At-Home Mom’s Diet Enters Medical Research

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When I used to work as a physician, I wondered what it’d be like to stay home with the kids full-time. Some moms would say, “I HAVE to work. My kids drive me crazy.” I always thought to myself that I’d still like to try it and see. Maybe crazy is a state of bliss that I’d like quite a lot.

I did get to stay home, and to my chagrin, I did fall into crazy. Crazy nutrition. At first, I honestly did wonder if I had taken neurotic to its pinnacle, but I kept reading and reading. And over the short four years since I began having any interest in nutrition at all, other than having the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, there have been some major upheavals in medicine regarding nutrition, particularly regarding fat and cholesterol. But I know there will be more.

One upheaval that intrigues me, because I swear real food is pixie dust, is doctors using a real food diet to throw inflammatory bowel disease into remission without medicine. At Seattle Children’s Hospital, researchers are reversing serious cases of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease using the exact same voodoo, or pixie dust (if you prefer), diet that Elaine Gottschall, a stay-at-home mother of two, used in the 1950s to save her 8 year-old daughter’s life from near-terminal ulcerative colitis. The diet, called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), was the last hope that Elaine had for possibly saving her child’s colon, maybe even the child’s life itself. Permanent poop collection bag? Death? How about we try this weird diet.

Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas’s Stodgy, Misinformed Diet

The SCD is not a new diet. It has been around in some form since approximately the 1920s, when Sidney Valentine Haas, MD was using it on his celiac and severely afflicted gastrointestinal patients.  At this time, there was no known celiac disease and gluten connection. Dr. Haas, using close observation skills and taking good patient histories (all things falling into disfavor in today’s medical climate), felt that starchy carbohydrates and table sugar were bad for his patients. So he developed a diet which removed starchy foods and sugar, making it inherently gluten-free and grain free. He found that his patients did fine with fruit, and he strongly encouraged bananas, and he even thought there was something special about the banana.

His “banana” diet was pretty popular and was used to manage celiac disease until the gluten connection was verified. Then, Haas and banana diets fell into disfavor, ridicule even. However, Dr. Haas, a reportedly kindly man who lived into his 90s, never acquiesced that gluten elimination should be the sole treatment of celiac disease. He remained adamantly suspicious that most starchy carbohydrates were problematic and needed removed for a time (not a lifetime). He genuinely believed in his diet, and if you read closely, he is scorned for never succumbing completely to the hypotheses that gluten is the sole problem for celiac patients.

(Now, I don’t know whether he was right or wrong about gluten. I DO KNOW that there are celiacs who follow a STRICT gluten-free diet, never eating away from home, and I know they still have abdominal issues. So, perhaps his intuition is not as laughable as it seems. Perhaps, as time passes and we learn more, we will find facts that make him more right than wrong. I don’t know. History repeatedly shows genius in ridicule, and maybe there’s more to treating celiac than just taking away gluten.)

A Doctor -Shopping, Stay-at-Home Mom
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This photo of Elaine Gottschall came from http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.com, the official Breaking the Vicious Cycle and SCD website.

 

The SCD would  have probably stopped right there if it hadn’t been for Big Magic (you really should read the book by this title, very good). Elaine Gottschall (now deceased, 1921-2005) called herself an ordinary, happy, stay-at-home, 1950s’ mom. She had two young daughters. One of her daughters, Judy, began experiencing incapacitating gut issues and was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the tender age of four years old. Little Judy was so sick and malnourished by the time she was 8, she had stunted growth and even her neurological system was shutting down. Elaine and Herb were told their daughter had two options: colon removal or death. Elaine wouldn’t hear it and refused to take death or colectomy (colon removal) as an answer for her daughter if she could do anything about it.

So she did what all desperate patients do (or parents of patients), she doctor shopped. After much doctor shopping and no hope in sight except surgery, an acquaintance of a friend pointed her to an outdated, nearly ancient physician. She finally landed in the arms (figuratively) of our now 92-year-old Dr. Sydney Valentine Haas. He started her daughter Judy on his version of what is now the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Her daughter improved dramatically within days and even more in the months that followed, living a full life, even being able to eat a very diverse diet eventually.

Humiliating Success

Dr. Haas died within two years of meeting the Gottschall family. Would his diet die with him? No. Elaine Gottschall made it her mission to understand that man’s diet, even going back to school and earning degrees in biology, nutritional biochemistry, and cellular biology. If this diet helped Judy live and get her life back, she wanted to know why and share it with the others who were sick. Many times she wanted to give up, but her husband was convicted that the world needed this information that would be lost without Dr. Haas, and he knew Elaine was just the woman to do it.

Herb encouraged Elaine to write a book eventually called Breaking the Vicious Cycle, do health consults, and speak. She functioned at a grassroots level, and she touched thousands of lives, helping people turn their health around with the SCD. But, sadly, she could never break through to medical circles. Her daughter said: “She also wanted the acceptance from–if not approval of–the medical mainstream, which she never got. She was told stories by mothers who said their doctors would refuse to treat their children if they followed her diet…”

Doctors refusing to treat patients if they tried this diet? A diet that has now entered the halls of medical research with initial success? Elaine’s diet brought success to many suffering patients, but the patients’ doctors wouldn’t have it. How could a simple diet help? How could a stay-at-home mom know what she’s talking about? Who was she to challenge medical management?

Because of Elaine’s tenacity and courage (and ability to persist despite medical contempt), people today may have an opportunity to try diet over drugs. Some doctors are listening to patients and trying the SCD in clinical research. (See my last post.)

Elaine, Herb, and Judy (their daughter), thank you.

Closing

The SCD studies are small and sparse, but they’re pretty remarkable, especially in kids, whose healing capacities are always amazing. IF diet makes a difference, then I think Elaine Gottschall is right, the only way it’s going to get to medical doctors is if patients keep showing them. Dr. Suskind’s studies from Seattle are shedding some light, but they’re so small. With just a snap or a new successful medical discovery, his work will be trampled over forever, as Dr. Haas’s almost was.

Did Dr. Haas have it ALL right? No. Did Elaine Gottschall? No. Does the doctor named Natasha Campbell-McBride (who has taken Elaine Gottschall’s work further in her clinical practice, renaming her diet GAPS)? No. Does Dr. Suskind, a researcher using SCD in his studies? No. But continuing to cut out colons and continuing to prescribe immunosuppressants without ever trying significant dietary modification such as the SCD is irresponsible and, to me, unethical. Medical doctors maliciously, scornfully, and condescendingly name-call and ridicule diet theories they don’t agree with like pompous elitists. And guess what! When we do that, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and the public follow along. Then, we end up in a big mess. Like Days of Our Lives. Please stop the division.

You are never too small. You are never too insignificant. You are always enough. Your experience is for you. Your experience is for others. Live boldly with love and compassion.

Even your cooking can change someone’s life.

Ciao.

Terri

Sites and links I followed for information, which should always be verified before you even think about trusting anything…

Frontiers in Celiac Disease, pages 5-7: https://books.google.com/books?id=gqaDD3jkcfYC&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=haas%27s+banana+diet+celiac+disease&source=bl&ots=pPA2rdAt9_&sig=tgEgHivZWbdeSKX5j1Dajx243Iw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi1xNTukc_RAhVG4IMKHdtmBKo4ChDoAQglMAI#v=onepage&q=haas’s%20banana%20diet%20celiac%20disease&f=false

http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/p/about-the-author/

Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet by Raman Prasad

Cleaning the Kitchen

398px-gray_vacuum_cleaner-svgCleaning up your health (and life) is like cleaning up the kitchen.

If my kitchen is a disastrous trash-dump mess, and I only unload the dishwasher, is the kitchen clean?

No.

If I proceed to sweep the hair and crumbs off the floor but leave the watermelon sticky-juice, is it clean then?

No-ooo.

Well, what if I wipe the bacon grease off the stove top, too? Then is it clean? I mean, come on! I have swept the floor, unloaded the dishwasher, and now the stove top is clean.

How much more must I do?

Counters? Tables and chairs? Mop? The inside of the refrigerator? Sort through those bills and catalogs I’m never really ever going to look at?

Gee. Slave driver. I’d hate to live with you.

Deep Cleaning

People frequently tell me, “I’m trying so hard, and I just can’t [insert phrase such as lose weight, feel happy, be nice to my husband].”

Stop.

Think of the kitchen. Have you “cleaned the kitchen?”

When it comes to something you really want, you can leave no stone unturned. No refrigerator door left unopened. No backsplash unwiped. The kitchen isn’t really clean till you’ve opened every cupboard, wiped down each sticky light switch face plate, put the shoes all away.

If you’ve not reached your health goals (or life goals), then ask yourself, “Is my kitchen really clean?” Is there an area I’m leaving unchallenged?

Sleep. Check.
Eating vegetables and fruits. Check.
Avoiding sugar and processed foods. Check.
Outdoor activity. Check.
Strong relationships. Check.
Forgiveness of yourself. Forgiveness of others. Check.
Minimizing alcohol and caffeine. (And cigarettes and other substances Mother Teresa might frown on.) Check.
Acceptance of an area in your life. Check.
Sunshine and fresh air daily. Check.
Getting your sweat up every now and then. Check.
Taking alone time daily if needed. Check.
Minimizing your schedule. Check.

And so on.

Warning: The Closet Effect

Don’t get sidelined by the closet effect.

Sometimes, as changes are made, things feel temporarily worse. It’s like when you clean out the closet. (I know it’s time to clean a closet when things fall on my head. You know that feeling when everything in your house seems to be falling on your head? I hate that feeling.)

Have you ever cleaned a closet and torn everything out of it? There are piles all over the place, and somehow, cleaning the closet made THE WHOLE HOUSE a mess! How does that happen? Some things to Goodwill. Some things to your sister. Some things to the trash. (Ooh, I’ll keep this Def Leppard tee-shirt.)

In order to REALLY clean the closet, you’re guaranteed to make a bigger mess. Guaranteed. Why in the heck did you decide to clean the closet, stupid? (Because of that breathless sense that makes your heart sing when you open the door, not to chaos, but to competency and efficiency and order.)

So when the going gets hard, when you feel like you fix one thing only to have another break, don’t despair! Slowly, like a gutted closet or a nasty fridge, things will come around if you persist and seek the right things.

When it comes to health, the body cleans out a closet, only to make a mess downstream. So you have to help it out in that area too. It’s like tailoring a suit to fit you. Nip and tuck.

Norwex Power To You

Today, whatever it is, I encourage you to not give up. Motivation. Attitude. They count. They are truly the difference between success and failure. As you move through challenges in your diet, life, exercise plans, relationships, look for those little areas you can clean up a little.

Then, scrub on. (Anyone use those Norwex cleaning cloths?)

Keep it whole. Keep it real. Keep it simple.

Terri

Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gray_vacuum_cleaner.svg

 

 

 

Is It Autoimmune?

Zugspitze von der Alpspitze aus gesehen. Links...

Zugspitze von der Alpspitze aus gesehen. Links der Jubiläumsgrat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A friend asked the other day, “What would you recommend diet-wise for an autoimmune disorder, such as lupus?”

Good question.  However, allow me to change the question a little bit, yet not really.  Because this blog is about my story.  And I don’t have lupus.

“What would you recommend diet-wise for an autoimmune disorder, such as CONSTIPATION or IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME?”

Now we’re talkin’. Could I have an autoimmune disorder?

Does Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Dysmotility Have an Autoimmune

Origin? (Neurogastroenterol Motil 2011;23:1000-1006, e459)

Jeong Eun Shincorresponding author

Do you have an autoimmune disorder?  I personally have been playing around with an autoimmune diet (while continuing on this thing called GAPS diet).  I definitely notice a difference in how I feel, but I find the autoimmune protocol very challenging.  I am no expert on any of this.  I’m just a medical doctor who has the opportunity to explore nutrition as it applies to her own issues and the issues in her immediate family.  I don’t know how this all fits together scientifically.  I can’t wait to find out.  Seriously.  I have to forge my own path.  Maybe you do, too.  But still make sure and get real medical advice and guidance.  But don’t sit around waiting.  Move.  For today, let’s say I had to pick two sources to send my sister to regarding addressing an autoimmune disorder, any autoimmune disorder, and nutrition.  I’d send her here:
  • Terry Wahls’, MD “You Tube” video regarding her “curing” her multiple sclerosis:  This video is A MUST WATCH.  Just totally told me what I knew deep inside about food–it’s for the function of my body–not whatever else I or society tries to make it! Terry Wahl’s is a medical doctor who reversed her severe, debilitating MS.  Basically, her nutrition was very similar to diets called GAPS/Paleo/SCD/Whole30, with a few tweaks here and there. Amazing story.  She now has her own book, website, etc.  I have heard the book is a bit outdated and she has made some changes.  I am on the list for when the new edition rolls out.  Can’t wait to read it and compare it to all I am learning.
and here:
  • Paleo Mom:  She has a PhD in medical biophysics and has deeply explored an autoimmune diet for her health.  She tries to base her posts on science as much as possible, yet she does so in a completely understandable manner for lay people.  She had to take her diet down to autoimmune paleo to achieve results she needed.  Her recipes all look awesome, but be careful signing up for her Facebook page.  She rolls out all the sweet dessert recipes there.  Kills me.  Kills me.
Good luck in all you do!  Eat right!  You keep healthy so you can get down on the floor with your grandkids.  Hike in a Costa Rican forest with them.  Or just climb the bleachers to their ballgames.  My grandma made one ballgame of mine that I can remember.  One.  She was an awesome smart woman, but diabetes, vascular disease, and obesity made it exceptionally difficult to navigate the likes of a high school sports event.  I want to climb mountains with my grandkids.  See you at the top!
Terri

Part 2: A Success Story In Using the GAPS Diet to Stop Absence Seizures!

If you subscribe to my posts or check-in regularly, you know I am following this unusual (poorly scientifically supported) diet called GAPS.  For me, it started out solely to fix my beyond slow, almost-to-stop, GI tract that NO medicine, activity, or dietary change was helping.  Over the year, on what I call my “dietary rehabilitation” program, I’ve seen lots of improvement in my GI situation, and I have observed (incredulously) the effect that foods, even “healthy” foods, has had on my family and me in many ways I never dreamed of.  These foods include dairy, wheat, eggs, chicken, and fruit:  “healthy foods.” Although I follow GAPS in a self-experiment, my blog is to encourage awareness that food treats the body like any drug, with good and bad effects varying in different people; most doctors don’t know or adhere to this.  I wouldn’t either, was I not living it.  Food culprits ought to be considered in many more illnesses.  I want to raise awareness that diet needs to be scrutinized and a dramatic change may help where no medicine or surgery does.  I am talking dramatic food changes, and some [most] people just aren’t willing to go there. Starting with a  traditional medical doctor is the correct place to start; I go to get new symptoms checked out, even for myself.  Bad problems exist, and I don’t want to miss them because I was blinded by nutrition or alternative health treatments.  My blog is not written to be a source of medical information, medical diagnosis or medical treatment, and I am no expert in nutrition or different types of diets, including GAPS.

Today, I am continuing to publish the Kinder Family’s story about how they feel nutritional intervention cured their son’s seizure disorder.  The story is unedited, despite the fact that I would have have perhaps explained things differently or sought help in different ways.  To me, the important thing is they recognized that food matters and they were willing to change.  Thank you, Dan and Tammy, for sharing:

Part 1 of “A Success Story in Using the GAPS Diet to Stop Absence Seizures!”

Part 2:  A Success Story in Using the GAPS Diet to Stop Absence Seizures!

by Dan and Tammy Kinder

…The ENT immediately recommended surgery and stated that he does dozens of sinus surgeries every month. Not wanting to go through surgery unless absolutely necessary, we started researching and reading alternative ways to resolve the chronic sinusitis. We came across lots of information that may potentially help. We read about changing our eating habit and avoiding certain type of food like dairy which causes the body to produce excessive mucus. We read about washing your sinus cavities out with salt water called a saline nasal flush. We read about many other things like supplements and other treatments, but these two made the most sense to us. So my husband stopped eating and drinking dairy products, he continued drinking carrot juice and started doing saline nasal rinse 3-4 times a day. He found out very quickly that the nasal rinsing worked was very effective. These rinses could turn a sinus infection that would normally last three or four week in to one that would last only three or four days. A sixty-nine cent can of salt was all it took to resolve the sinus infection each time symptoms appeared. Changing what we ate eventually gave his body the ability to prevent the infections from even appearing. As time went on the sinus infections disappeared altogether. This long drawn out experience with 13 different doctors contributed greatly to our decision to steer away from conventional doctors that would only give us their best guess and the best known drug at that time to try to resolve our son’s epilepsy, which leads me to my son’s story.

At about four and a half years of age, one of my sons started having what looked like staring or day dreaming episodes. When I first notice the episodes, my husband was convinced they were only day dreams and nothing serious. In fact, the episodes were so infrequent that he did not see one for himself until several months after they started. But as the months went by, the episodes came more and more frequently. They also became more pronounced in their characteristics and duration. The length of the episodes seemed to be mostly random, but would last anywhere from a fraction of a second up to as long as about eight seconds. The characteristics of our son’s body during the episodes also seemed to change as time passed. These characteristics included half-way drooping eye lids, the dropping of his arms to his side, looking towards the ground, staring at or through the person talking to him as though he was in his own world and ignoring his immediate environment. Along with these symptoms he also experienced reoccurring stomachaches. Early in this process we did not relate these stomachs to the episodes, but looking back over the years we now realize that his body was screaming for help yet we did not recognize or listen to what his body was trying to tell us. Another symptom was that certain foods would make him feel “weird.” Sometimes he would tell us that his head felt like it was spinning or vibrating. As he got older, it was certain foods he ate that made his head have these weird feeling or his body feel strange. Sometimes these odd feeling would cause him to want to do strange things. I recall one time that he told us that his body was telling him to scratch his fingernails on the concrete. That thought leads me to another symptom that was very strange. At times, he would tell us that his body was telling him to do things. On occasion he said he would hear voices telling him to do certain things. The older he got, the better he was able to elaborate on how he felt and and how he thought certain foods made him feel weird…

Part 3 to follow soon…