Chronic Illnessescan only be understood if you get the big picture
You can attribute half of all diseases that lead to premature disability and death to people eating too much of the wrong food and exercising too little. Cancers often arise from repeated prolonged carcinogen exposure, delivered in air and food. Smoking cigarettes is an example of personal, indoor air pollution that causes cancer. The air we breath contains chemicals and complex aerosols that can cause disease.
Many believe that the practice of medicine perches on revolutionary threshold as we develop insights into the molecular mechanisms controlling our biological function. The new medicine is fascinated with genetics, molecular biology, manufactured molecular probes and controller molecules. However, our activities alter the environment that sustains us. We spoil our own nest and then pretend that everything is fine. As the new biology gains momentum in research facilities, our biological and social environments deteriorate, bringing us closer to catastrophes that no vials of magic potions will resolve. We live in a civilization that can produce illness faster and on a grander scale than it can ever hope to solve.
All is not well in the modern, civilized world. Despite an impressive growth in biological knowledge and biotechnology, health care costs continue to grow, cancer incidence remains high, bacteria continue to develop antibiotic resistance, HIV and other viral illnesses continue to spread, environmental degradation continues, the weather changes erratically, and the wellness quotient of the average world citizen deteriorates.
Professional medicine is studied and practiced with a blinding bias toward drug treatment. Patients often believe that drugs can rescue them from all their misadventures. Modern medicine is a folie a deux with patient and doctor locked into this delusion of cure in a pill. The relatively new marketing of "natural medicine and alternative therapies" repeats this delusion. It is hard to imagine that single agents such as drugs or herbs, singly or in combination will ever solve our major health problems. The money spent on prescription drugs is largely a temporary effort to relieve symptoms or counteract the negative effects of a disease-producing lifestyles. Drug therapy also produces illness through side effects, allergenic effects, inappropriate use, and by encouraging neglect of the primary cause of disease.
There is media hype suggesting medical progress and miracle cures but the reality is that most common health problems are self-inflicted, many remain unexplained and treatments for virtually all the chronic diseases are disappointing. We have made little progress in such basic matters as pain relief. Surgical procedures and the rescue of injured people get primetime TV attention, but all of this surgical activity, despite benefits to a few lucky individuals, is just a finger-in-the-dike holding action that has little or no impact on the health status of the nation.
The less glamorous, but profound significance of air and water quality and food selection, as daily molecular manipulation of body function, needs to be better recognized. Major degenerative and disabling processes in our society are often related to problems in the food supply and abnormal food-body interactions. These problems include diseases generally acknowledged to be diet related, such as atherosclerosis, alcoholism, obesity, cancer and diabetes. The Surgeon General’s report refers mainly to arterial disease, diabetes, and cancer as causes of death. Other common disorders are not generally acknowledged to be diet-related, and official advice ignores these problems.
Food and ingested liquids are selected by socioeconomic and cultural factors more than biological factors. Food selection is part of more complex behavioral patterns, often determined by the advertising and availability of junk and fast foods. Common abnormal eating behaviors include cravings, compulsions, binge eating, and excessive food intake with obesity, food addictions, aversions, and anorexia. Chronic ill health is associated with eating the wrong foods and drinking the wrong drinks. Often, indulgences, food rewards, treats, and recreational eating cause the most suffering.
Interactive Nutritional and Environmental Concepts
Biologists think in terms of populations, food supply, seasons, weather, and social-behaviors, and do field studies that reveal patterns of adaptation to specific environments. The biologist sees every living creature connected to and interacting with his/her environment. Anyone who has worked with animals or fish in closed environments knows how critical environmental conditions and diet are in determining both the behavior and the physical status of the residents. When a fish in an aquarium displays psychotic behavior, you do not call a fish psychiatrist; you check the oxygen concentration, temperature, and pH of the water. You have to clean the tank and change the fish diet.
Each person interacts with home and work environments that determines his or her biological fate. In industrialized countries, the microenvironment of each person is controlled by human constructions and is generally polluted by toxic substances. The extent of this is seldom measured, and the effects are poorly understood. As environmental problems multiply, new ill-defined illnesses will increase. When one person develops cancer, for example, the disease is treated as a personal problem and not as a manifestation of a societal problem. The cause is often not determine and the treatment is often punitive and unsuccessful.
Impermanence and Adaptation
Since the environment and the human body changes continuously, humans are required to adapt continuously. When the change is too great or too sudden, a failure of adaptation occurs, with malfunctioning of mind/body as a consequence. Any interaction between individual and environment which produces symptoms can be called "stress." Any event, agent, or component of the environment that causes a maladaptive response is called a "stressor".
The biological meaning of the word "stress" is often lost in popular usage. Emotional responses are not stressful, nor are emotions necessarily symptoms of stress. Hard work is not always stressful. The most stressful events are those changes in your environment and food which control systems in you can neither control nor predict. Events which cause unstable changes in body function require adaptive responses. If responses work, the instability is reduced and no stress occurs. If the responses do not work, then body systems, seeking balance, become confused and maladaptive body-states and maladaptive behaviors appear. A healthy person copes with a remarkable range of physical demands and adversity and emerges intact, whereas a sick person cannot cope with the ordinary transactions of daily life.
Wrong food ingestion is likely to be the most common body stress that you suffer. If food input is neither predictable, nor controllable, major body stress occurs with all its negative consequences. Consider this principle as you move from the hamburger stand to the pizza outlet, to the Greek restaurant, the steak and beer barbecue, the bourbon, peanuts, cheezies, and the lasagna dinner with wine, coffee, and cheesecake for dessert. If you were a body-input manager, how would you feel about this chaotic supply of raw materials? Would you be able to create normal function reliably everyday, no matter what assortment of raw materials were swallowed?
Biological stress (unpredictably changing body input) is reduced to a minimum by doing the same things every day. Food selection has the greatest impact on basic body states and regularity in food consumption may be one the simplest methods of reducing biological stress. Improper food choices and problems in the food supply are not minor issues but should be the most important concerns of health maintenance programs. Millions of patients have delayed patterns of food allergy and do not know why they are ill. These well-concealed food allergy mechanisms cause common disorders such as chronic rhinitis, eczema, asthma, hives, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, migraine headaches, chronic fatigue, Fibromyalgia, arthritis, and depression.
Common illnesses in children are caused by food allergy and are associated with learning and behavioral problems. Young Children with food allergy often have recurrent middle-ear "infections", for example, and make repeated trips to their family MD and take many antibiotics and then they go for tube insertions, sometimes repeatedly. It is possible that many of these costly interventions can be prevented by changing the child’s food supply in a timely and appropriate manner. The cost of ignoring food problems in children goes well beyond the medical bill for futile interventions; add the extra school and long-term suffering and societal costs of millions of people who did not do well in school and are still chronically ill.
Shift to Better Understanding
We postulate that modern living conditions create a cascade of mistakes in food processing that cause our common endemic diseases. While most attention is focused on food components, especially sugars, salt and fat, the role of food-body interactions is usually ignored.
We have focused on two basic and ignored mistakes in food processing;
The concept of delayed patterns of immune response ("food allergy") to food materials provides both a theoretic and practical basis for interpreting symptoms of patients with non-specific syndromes. The presence of food allergy (as a pathophysiological mechanism) is concealed in a variety of diagnoses such as migraine headaches, asthma, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, depression, panic disorder, and arthritis. Patients with these problems tend to have two or more manifestations concurrently in a matrix of non-specific symptoms. A grand theory of hypersensitivity disease explains these illness complexes as expressions of reactive immune networks, responding to food and airborne chemicals and antigens.
The Evolving Nature of Hypersensitivity
The delayed or type III pattern of food allergy is an evolving process over time. Often there is a "background noise" of milder but chronic symptoms, punctuated episodically by more acute events. This may be a life-long process which begins with colic, rhinitis, recurrent otitis media and/or eczema in infancy and progresses through different symptom patterns as the years go by. A typical presentation of type III pattern food allergy involves symptoms emerging in waves of dysfunction.
A typical adult patient will present with recurrent rhinopharyngitis, abdominal pain and bloating, generalized muscle-tension, aching and stiffness with fatigue, weakness, and often cognitive dysfunction Physical signs include flushing, allergic shiners with, butterfly rash, rhinitis, enlarged cervical nodes, edema of hands and feet, muscle and connective tissue tenderness with "trigger nodes", skin rashes, tender costochondral junctions, and spot tenderness in the abdomen.
Staging the Disease By Intensity
If the disease is thought of as a process that is inflected at different degrees of intensity, at different stages of differentiation, then it is possible to develop a grand unified theory of hypersensitivity disease. There is a correlation between intensity and differentiation that should seem obvious - the milder manifestations of hypersensitivity are associated with less differentiated disease. Milder disease may progress over time and become better differentiated. Thus hypersensitivity diseases are a continuum of events over time. The unlucky patient will progress from irritable bowel syndrome and non-specific arthralgias to Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. While this progression is not inevitable, if you follow patients with non-specific milder hypersensitivity for many years, many tend to develop increasingly severe immune-mediated disease as time goes on -unless they modify their diets and reduce other risk factors.
Proceed With Diet Revision
The desire for simple, definitive tests for delayed patterns of food allergy is easy to understand, but difficult to fulfill. The idea of a simple office "test" for food allergy should seem unlikely if you have read and considered other texts at this web site. Food interacts complexly and sequentially with our body with many different consequences. It is unlikely that food allergy occurs in a consistent manner; there are too many variables. No single test will ever reveal the complex nature of this reactivity. Without a well-equipped research laboratory, it will not be possible to actually measure these pathophysiological events. We are suggesting that proper diet revision should always be carried out when food-related illness is suspected.
For thousands of patients we have reviewed over the past 15 years, food allergy or food sensitivity tests have for the most part been an expensive distraction - and worse - misleading, confusing, and counter-productive.
Dr. J. Gerrard, a prominent Canadian allergist summarized the problems of evaluating food allergy:
"... foods can cause not only classical IgE-mediated allergy but also the irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, arthritis, and disturbances of behavior. The identification or confirmation of IgE-mediated allergy is simple, for it correlates well with skin prick tests and radio-allergosorbent test results. The identification of other adverse reactions to foods is more difficult and is sometimes hampered by preconceived ideas both on the part of the patient and the physician.
"To throw light on this problem we have admitted patients, thought for one reason or another to be reacting adversely to foods, to a hostel unit where they have first been fasted for four days on spring or filtered water, and have then been given single foods one by one so that adverse reactions to them might be recorded by both the patient and the physician. The patients studied had for the most part a combination of symptoms which included nasal stuffiness, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, arthralgias, eczema, and neurological problems such as depression and lassitude. 33 patients have been investigated so far. In 6, symptoms persisted unchanged, the presenting symptoms being headache in 3, neuralgia in 2, and asthma in 1; symptoms cleared completely in 12 and diminished to 50-90% of previous levels in 15. When foods were reintroduced the reactions were unexpected, both by the patient and by the attending physician, for neither knew beforehand that foods, let alone which food, were precipitating symptoms. Had the patient been aware that foods were playing a part in causing his symptoms he would have avoided them.
Diet revision is the responsibility of each person who suffers from disease.
Gerrard suggested a four-day fast to begin the process of recovery. We have expanded this idea and developed the concept of a nutritionally-supported fast which lasts at least 10 days. The longer food holiday is required for all symptoms to clear and is made possible by the intake of a complete set of nutrients as an elemental nutrient formula.