by Dr. Sarah Myhill
There are five aspects of diet and gut function which commonly cause symptoms from irritable bowel syndrome to fatigue. These are:
- High carbohydrate intake - this is probably the largest single cause of modern diseases such as hypertension, obesity, syndrome X, heart disease and cancer
- Food allergy
- Toxins in the diet (lectins naturally present in foods; artificial additives, colourings, flavourings; artificial sweeteners; pesticide residues, plasticiser residues, etc) social chemicals (alcohol, caffeine, tobacco etc)
- Gut dysbiosis (wrong bugs in the gut)
- Poor digestion of food due to low stomach acid (HYPOCHLORHYDRIA - Lack of stomach acid - can cause lots of problems) and poor pancreatic enzyme production.
This diet tries to address the top three problems at the same time, since they often co-exist in the same patient. This is the diet I like all my patients (including me) to eat long term. This is because it is the evolutionary correct diet and by eating this we can avoid long term health problems and postpone degenerative conditions. I would settle for getting my Parkinson's disease when I am 120!
As a general principle it is important to remember that carbohydrates tend to cause fatigue, even in "normal" people. We should be eating protein and fat in the day and saving carbohydrate (CHO) until the evening, when it helps sleep. At present Western diets are completely upside down because we eat cereals and toast at breakfast, sandwiches at lunch and meat in the evening - it makes you feel tired in the day and wakes you up at night!
Food allergy is a common cause of many symptoms such as irritable bowel, asthma, mood swings, headache, arthritis, allergic muscles and of course fatigue. The commonest offenders are grains, dairy, yeast and toxins in the diet.
Chemicals in the diet inhibit enzyme systems and slow up metabolism - this applies to drugs as well as food additives and pesticide residues. Avoid additives, colourings, flavourings etc, avoid plastic wrappings (especially if heated!) on food and try to switch to organic foods wherever possible.
Gut dysbiosis and poor digestion of foods, whereby foods are fermented instead of being digested, can also cause these symptoms.
This diet, therefore, has foods of low glycaemic index (GI) in the day and moderate GI index in the evening, it avoids the common allergens, avoids mouldy foods and foods of high fermentable substrate and is as free from chemicals as possible. Actually, in the long term I see this as a diet for life. My view is that we should be mimicking Stoneage principles - the following is the evolutionary correct diet. Once the diet is established, one does not have to follow it slavishly, but it should make up our staple diet and ultimately the forbidden foods should become treat foods and not staple foods.
The following foods are allowed both in the day and the evening
Any meats: choose from chicken, beef, lamb, pork, turkey, duck, 'game' meats such as venison, pheasant, goose etc. Bacon and ham. Salami. Liver, kidney and offal are fine too.
Eggs - an excellent source of lecithin (eat soft yolks), which reduces blood cholesterol levels.
Any fish: salmon, mackerel, cod, haddock (care with smoked fish which often contains dyes). Tinned fish in brine or olive oil is fine. Tinned shrimps, prawns, mussels, cockles etc.
Any green vegetables
All salads: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, celery, peppers, onion, cress, bamboo shoots etc.
French dressing: make your own from olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard.
Any low CHO fruit: apple, pear, orange, grapefruit (no sugar!). Berries are excellent.
Seeds: sunflower, poppy, sesame.
Nuts: peanut, brazil, hazel, cashew, pistachio, walnut etc.; nut butter spreads, tahini (sesame seed spread).
Use cold pressed nut and seed oils liberally such as sunflower, olive, sesame, grapeseed, hemp. linseed, rape and so on.
Spices and herbs: chilli, cumin, ginger, coriander, pepper, cloves etc
Herbs, salt (ideally Solo - a sodium reduced sea salt), olives, pork scratchings
Allowed drinks in the day Bottled or filtered water
Herbal teas: redbush ("rooibosch", "11 0'clock tea"), rosehip tea.
In the evening you can eat all of the above, plus modest amounts of higher GI foods
Rice and potato e.g. rice cakes or puffed rice from health food shops.
Root vegetables - carrots, parsnip, turnip, celeriac
Specific grains: millet, buckwheat, sago, quinoa.
Some high carbohydrate fruit: banana, avocado, grapes, melon
Dried fruit: sultana, apricot, prune, raisin, fig, date etc
Pulses: lentil, butter beans, chick peas, flagolets etc
Mixture of nuts, seeds, dried fruits
Arrowroot flour: for thickening gravies
Diluted fruit juice: Grape juice, pineapple juice, apple juice, tomato juice - best drunk diluted.
Most foods from packets and tins will have hidden additives, so avoid these. Be careful with sausage which contains rusk. ALL OTHER FOODS ARE FORBIDDEN!!! - this means no tap water, tea, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, wheat (bread, biscuit, cake, pasta, pastry), rye (Ryvita), oats, corn, dairy products (milk, butter, cheese, yoghurt, dried milk), vinegar and sugar. Try to avoid drugs and medicines, many of which contain fillers of corn, lactose, colourings etc.
Getting Worse on the Diet This is almost to be expected. The reasons for worsening are as follows:
- Hypoglycaemia - this is the commonest reason for worsening and may take weeks to settle. There are some nutritional interventions which help greatly (see HYPOGLYCAEMIA - Not just about diet!)
- Caffeine withdrawal - again common. Usually results in headache which clears in four days.
- Food allergy withdrawal may cause many different symptoms. Some people report feeling 'flu like. Typically this last four days, but with symptoms like eczema, arthritis, allergic muscles and fatigue it can take weeks to clear. One patient with prostatism took 4 months to clear!
Bacon, eggs, fried tomato.
Smoked fish (kippers, mackeral with lemon juice).
Nuts and seeds with soya yoghurt (see Probiotics - we should all be taking these all the time and double the dose following antibiotics and gastroenteritis)
Cold meat, fish (tinned fish in olive oil is fine), prawns, salami, smoked fish, rusk free sausage (ie 100% meat)
Salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomato, celery, peppers etc), French dressing.
Green vegetables with nut/seed oils
Home-made soup (made from meat stock, not cubes, only with allowed vegetables).
Nuts and seeds with soya yoghurt
Meat, fish or eggs, potato or rice, any vegetable.
Fruit, soya yoghurt.
Muesli made from rice flakes, millet flakes, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit etc (some health food shops do "gluten free" muesli with the above ingredients). Use soya milk or fruit juice to wet the dry cereal. Puffed rice or rice cakes with soya margarine, nut butter.
Always remember: Breakfast like an Emperor, lunch like a King and supper like a pauper!
What to do if you are no better on the diet
Stick with it! This is the evolutionary correct diet and greatly reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer and degenerative conditions! The three common reasons for not improving are:
- Because of multiple allergies to foods (so that there is something on the diet that you continue to react to). In this case consider a rotation diet, or starting on desensitisation.
- Because of a gut dysbiosis - i.e. the wrong bugs in the gut. Consider a gut fermentation test or Comprehensive Digestive Stool analysis to look for parasites, bacterial overgrowth or yeast overgrowth.
- Poor digestion of foods
"The Complete Guide to Food Allergy and Intolerance" Brostoff and Gamlin, ?9.99.
"Not All In The Mind" - Richard Mackarness
"The Food Intolerance Diet Book" Workman, Hunter and Alun Jones. Dr Atkins Diet Revolution: Dr Robert C Atkins.
The Detox Diet Dr Paula Baillie-Hamilton 0-718-14545-3 from www.penguin.com
If you wish also to lose weight
As a general principle I don't like my CFS patients dieting because cutting calories makes you tired, cold and depressed and you can do without those things! However, if you are extremely strict with CHO, the body switches into a state of ketosis. To burn fats in the body is a two stage process - the first stage is conversion of fats to ketones, the next is ketones to carbon dioxide and water. Both stages release energy for the body to use. However, the second stage requires some CHO - if there is none then ketones are excreted in the breath and in the urine - one literally pees out calories. This is very good for morale when every time you pee you lose calories and weight! To do this diet properly you really need to get the book Dr Atkins Diet Revolution which goes into detail of exactly which foods you need. Also I can supply ketostix which measure ketones in the urine and tell you if you are doing the diet correctly. Atkins permits dairy products but I recommend avoiding these. He also permits various artificial sweeteners which should be avoided.