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.


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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