By Dr George Samra, MB, BS (Sydney), FACNEM
From Chapter 17 of Dr George Samra’s book
“The New Hypoglycemic Connection”
The notion that food and disease have an intimate relationship is nothing new to traditional Chinese medicine. The food and disease paradigm is a new way of thinking about chronic illness. There appears to be a pattern of food and disease symptoms that are common to sufferers.
The food and disease paradigm argues strongly that rather than using drugs as a first line of treatment, a diet change based on common food triggers should be tried first with or without other treatment modalities including lifestyle change and natural supplements. For example with migraine sufferers, patients should be taught to avoid chocolate, cola drinks, oranges, peanuts, cow’s milk products, green beans and peas, and MSG (code 621). With Asthma, patients should be taught to avoid dust mite, cow’s milk dairy, as well as beef and veal.
The food and disease paradigm argues strongly that this is a safe treatment modality, the patient has nothing to lose and that a reasonable trial for one month should be considered. The food paradigm aims to cure disease by avoiding the cause, and argues when food avoidance has a positive effect on a chronic illness this is the preferred mode of treatment. Little is lost by waiting a month or so before commencing drug therapies. In chronic illness where drugs are used it is likely that they will be used for many years, so patients and doctors need not be in any hurry for the prescription approach.
This chapter lists and explains the foods that may be involved in various chronic conditions. Food substitutes are also recommended to replace the foods that are being avoided.
Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that food is medicine. The notion that food and chronic illness have an intimate relationship is nothing new to traditional Chinese medicine.
A paradigm is a shift in one’s way of thinking. The food and disease paradigm is a new way of thinking about chronic illness, whereby there appears to be a pattern of food and disease symptoms that are common to sufferers. As far as food is concerned Western medicine tends to be dismissive. Frequently patients tell doctors of food relationships to their symptoms, merely to be dismissed with a cynical grunt from their highly educated medical practitioner attending their illness. A patient might tell a doctor, for example, “every time I eat chocolate I get a headache.” Common sense would dictate that the doctor should respond by saying, “Well in that case don’t eat chocolate!” So entrenched is the dismissive view in Western medicine to food and symptom suffering that such a vital clue offered by a patient is carelessly abandoned.
The human machine is fuelled by food. Logic would dictate that anything we put in our mouths could go one of three ways in it’s consequences:
- It could be good for us
- It could be neutral
- It could be bad for us
This is true for all foods consumed. For the most part foods are good for our human machine, or they may be neutral, however, the third possibility is very real as well and some foods are bad for some individuals. Some children have been known to die from sudden severe anaphylactic allergic reactions to peanuts – even very small quantities. Foods are not necessarily good for everybody.
Hypoglycemics react to sugar, simple carbohydrates (including honey and glucose); people with food allergies react to specific foods.
What we put into our mouths can be bad for us! Not just allergy foods! Imagine, for example, drinking a glass of kerosene – no doctor would argue that this would be good for you, but those same doctors would have problems believing that foods could cause any reactions at all to the sufferers.
It is time for a paradigm shift. The food and disease paradigm argues strongly that rather than use drugs as a first line of treatment, a diet change based on common food triggers should be tried first, with or without other treatment modalities including lifestyle change and possibly natural supplements.
Migraine and Headaches
The following foods should be avoided:-
- Cola drinks
- Cow’s milk dairy products
- Green beans and green peas
- MSG (code 621)
Substitute products could be tried as alternatives, carob can replace chocolate. Clear lemonade can replace Cola drinks, and apple juice replace orange juice. Soy and Goat’s milk and cheeses replace Cow’s milk dairy products.
Asthma and Airway diseases
The following should be avoided:-
- Cow’s milk dairy
- Beef and Veal, and Beef byproducts
- Patients should be taught how to avoid dust and dust mite
Substitutes for Cow’s milk include; Soya milk, Soya cheese and goat’s cheese, white meats such as chicken, fish and seafood can be used instead of beef products. For small-goods things like chicken sausages and turkey loaf maybe used. Asthmatic patients should wear a protective mask if doing house work. The bedroom should have shiny floors with tiles, lino or polished floorboards. Patients should purchase special dust proof pillowcases and mattress covers, and should avoid having feather pillows, feather doonas and woollen blankets on their beds using knitted cotton blankets and cotton or synthetic doonas.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Stomach Disorders
Foods to be avoided include:
- Onions, which includes shallots, chives and leeks
- Nuts and nut-pastes
Substitute foods include: Pine-nuts and pine-nut pastes, as well as fruits and vegetables not in the list above.
Eczema, Dermatitis, and Skin Conditions
- Cola drinks
- Cow’s cheese
- Cow’s yoghurt
- All nuts
Substitutes include: Carob for chocolate, lemonade for Cola drinks, pears and bananas instead of oranges and apples, soya milk products as well as pine-nut and pine-nut paste.
Arthritis, Rheumatism, and Muscle and Joint Problems
- Beef and Veal
In cases of severe disabling disease whole food families should be avoided. The family of tomatoes is known as Nightshades and includes potatoes, capsicum, chilli and eggplant. The family of oranges is known as Citrus and includes oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, and passionfruit. The family of beef includes other red meats and includes lamb, pig meat and all the byproducts such as ham, bacon and salami. Approximately 25% of severe arthritic patients are allergic to gluten which is wheat protein.
Substitutes: Sweet potato or yam, and pumpkin can be used to replace potato. In many cooking dishes pureed carrot can be used to replace tomato, apples can replace oranges, white meat can replace red meat, and non-Nightshade vegetables can be used freely. Where gluten appears to be a problem rice bread, rice noodles, rice biscuits, and rice flour can replace wheat and rye products.
Neurological Disorders, including Neuralgia, Parkinson’s Disease, and MS
The Legumes food family includes beans, peas, nuts and lentils. It also includes soya bean products such as soya milk, soya sauce, tofu, as well as including bean sprouts.
Vegetables can be used that are not related to beans and peas. Pine-nuts can be used to replace nuts, cow’s milk or rice milk can be used to replace soya milk. In these conditions it may prove wise to avoid all of the foods listed under migraines and headaches also.
Fatigue, Mood-swings, Depression
- Honey Glucose
- Yeasted or fermented foods, particularly alcohol and bread
Substitute foods can be purchased from supermarket and health food stores that are free from sugars and yeast.
Auto-immune diseases including Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjograns, etc.
Avoid the food families of:
- Mammalia which includes all animal milks, cheese and yoghurts, as well as all red meat such as beef, veal, lamb, pig meat and all their byproducts including ham, bacon, salami, corn-beef, and Devon.
- Gluten includes all the products from gluten grains which are wheat, rye, oats, barley, malt, and occasionally some strains of corn or maize.
Substitutes include: Soya cheeses, rice milk and soya milk, as well as rice bread, cereals, noodles, and biscuits.
Auto-immune illness is a massive topic. In a book of this size one can only hope to skim through some basic dietary instruction.
THE FOOD DISEASE PARADIGM
The food and disease paradigm argues strongly that this is a safe treatment modality and that the patient has nothing to lose from a reasonable trial of avoidance. A minimum trial would be at least for one month. Unlike what is offered with drug treatments, the food paradigm aims to cure disease by avoiding the cause. This new way of thinking hopes to bring Western medicine into the 21st Century, where food treatments replace drug treatments and where lifestyle changes encourage the notion that prevention is better than cure.
When avoidance of certain foods has a positive impact of chronic illness, this is a preferable mode of treatment. There is nothing to lose by waiting a month or two before commencing drug treatments. In chronic illnesses once drugs are used, it is likely that they will be used for many years and perhaps forever. In the case where food has been unsuccessful in changing the course of a chronic illness, it is no crime to pursue the conventional prescription or drug approach.
EVIDENCE FOR THE FOOD DISEASE PARADIGM
Elimination diets have been used by allergists in the past to unmask allergies. The patient is placed on a limited variety of low allergy foods for usually 7 to14 days. Many allergy sufferers improve dramatically in their health on this limited diet. Typical foods allowed in an elimination diet include: boiled rice, pealed pears, chicken (no skin), pumpkin, carrots, olive oil, a whole range of rice products including rice milk, rice noodles, rice cakes, rice cereal, other bulbous vegetables including sweet-potato, marrow, zucchini, choco, and fresh beetroot. Only filtered water is used for drinking. The elimination diet varies slightly in the hands of different allergists.
It is reasonable to assume that someone whose health improves remarkably on an elimination diet has food allergies! The next step is to bring back foods one at a time, usually one day at a time, to identify offending foods. Patients are asked to keep a record of symptoms as each new food is returned. Responses from over 200 of my patients were used to help create a computer program which can function in two directions. From a list of symptoms and severities the program can reveal the most likely offending foods, but equally with any given food the program also is able to show the most likely associated symptoms. This is how I became involved in the food paradigm, because invariably with chronic illness the list of offending foods show a great degree of overlap. Hence the list of foods to avoid can be defined.
Dr. Preslav Trenchev works in an Immunological Laboratory in the outer-city suburb of Kemps Creek. He performs auto-antibody and other immunological testing. These have been used to cross correlate auto-antibody mechanisms and food relationships. It is no surprise now to find that patients with multiple joint arthritis have high Synovial Membrane antibodies and/or high Cartilage antibodies. Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome often have high Colon cell antibodies or high Parietal cell antibodies. When Parietal cell antibodies are elevated a Gluten free diet almost always works well to alleviate symptoms. Dr Trenchev tests for an extensive list of tissue antibodies and an understanding of the food and chronic disease paradigm not only helps to lower elevated antibody levels with the passage of time – this in itself is evidence of the food and disease association. The tissue antibody levels fall with correct diet and this helps to undo the symptoms of the illness.
Dr Chris Reading practicing in the Northern Sydney suburb of DeeWhy has also conducted extensive food allergy and auto-antibody testing in thousands of his patients. His conclusions are very similar to those that have been found in my practice.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
If it is possible to do, have allergy testing performed (particularly for foods.) These can include Rast testing, and Cytotoxic Food Allergy Testing. In good hands Cytotoxic Food Allergy Testing is about 80% accurate, but this is good enough as it is a lot better than guess work. If you have a chronic illness then avoid the foods listed, use the substitute foods, and if possible have food allergy testing performed through a good laboratory. It must be emphasised once again that the food and chronic disease paradigm aims to cure disease by avoiding the cause. Surely if food can stop the symptoms this is vastly superior to using drugs as therapy.