Commentary: Why can't I eat all of the foods I like?

I always laugh when I am at a party, and someone says “You’re a naturopathic doctor? You guys just want to take everyone off all of the foods they like”.

Firstly, I am not a sadist. I would love for everyone to be able to eat what they like all of the time. We all know a number of reasons why this is not a good idea (heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity… to name a few).

As many of the conditions that walk through my door are chronic in nature (inflammatory disorders, autoimmune conditions) there are documented studies that do discuss the possibilities of a more Western-​type diet aggravating those conditions. What is a western diet you ask? All of the major culprits; a diet with emphasis on white flours and bread, sugar, dairy products, meat and meat products (synthetic or not), high fat foods, and greasy foods with little emphasis on fruits and vegetables. Just that food list alone, we can assume that one’s health is not well supported when a majority of one’s diet is carbohydrates (e.g. bread) as an example. You can imagine from a doctor’s standpoint, if I see your diet, I would obviously want to instill balance.

What of the research that you are not aware of for your condition regarding some of your favourite foods? Acne vulgaris as an example has a documented relationship with excessive dairy products inducing further breakouts and redness of the face, as does rheumatoid arthritis. Removal of dairy products (or significantly reducing their presence) clinically and both research studies (including double-​blind placebo controlled studies and randomized-​controlled trials) show this to be efficacious for many individuals (of course, not all). Sugar is one of the worst substances for inflammation, as we know that insulin spikes in sugar interface with the cortisol (a hormone in our system that is actively involved in stress balance) and can cause immune system suppression, leaving us further susceptible to infections, colds and flu, and worsening of inflammatory conditions.

Does it still appear that integrative medical practitioners are “out to get you”? Perhaps we are just out to protect you from yourself.

References

Eswaran S, Tack J, and Chey WD (2011). Food: The Forgotten Factor in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Hvatum M, Kanerud L, Hallgren R, Brandtzaeg P. The Gut-​Joint Axis: cross reactive food antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis. Gut 2006;55:1240 – 1247.

Kurokawa, I et al (2009). New Developments in our Understanding of Acne Pathogenesis and Treatment. Experimental Dermatology, 18, 821 – 83

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