Oct 23, 2007


(For a continually updated look at my most recent diet details: http://anti-itisdiet.blogspot.com/2010/07/what-do-i-eat.html)

A diet is a regular pattern of eating. My anti-inflammation diet is a subset of The McDougall Program diet, which is a very low-fat, low-protein, high-fiber, coarse starch-centered, exclusively plant-based diet using whole, unrefined foods wherever possible. The full McDougall Program diet is primarily a therapeutic diet designed to help recover from decades of eating badly (too much fat, too much protein, and too little fiber). With a daily Vitamin B12 tablet or other source of B12, the McDougall Program diet becomes a lifelong maintenance diet.

For an introduction to the regular McDougall Program diet, start with: http://drmcdougall.com/free.html

My subset of the McDougall Program diet is also very low in fat and high in fiber, but even lower in protein (about 35-50 grams/day, depending on how much food I eat). Likewise, my subset diet is starch-centered, but the starches come mostly from roots and gourds rather than grains, beans, peas, and nuts.

My diet now includes only:
- Starchy roots: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, and rutabagas.
- Gourds: pumpkin and other winter (hard-shelled) squashes.
- Fruits: berries, apples, bananas, melons, olives, and so forth.
- Vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, etc.), including leaves (such as collard, kale, mustard greens, basil [flavoring], tarragon [flavoring], parsley; roots (such as ginger [flavoring], turnips, etc.); and stems (such as celery); but avoiding concentrated seeds (pepper, celery, curry mix, etc.).

My diet now excludes:
- All animal products -- such as beef, poultry, seafood, and dairy.
- All plant foods made from seeds -- such as grains of all types (rice, corn, oats, wheat, quinoa, etc.), nuts, beans, and peas.

In general terms, and summarizing, my diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and starchy roots.

The one nutrient missing from my diet is Vitamin B12. I take a daily B12 supplement (about 50 micrograms, never mega doses). Formerly I took, every few days, a "one-a-day" multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplement (with standard Recommended Daily Allowance amounts of each vitamin and mineral, not mega doses).

Burgess Laughlin
Author of The Power and the Glory: The Key Ideas and Crusading Lives of Eight Debaters of Reason vs. Faith, www.reasonversusmysticism.com/

P. S. -- For a continually updated look at my most recent diet details: http://anti-itisdiet.blogspot.com/2010/07/what-do-i-eat.html


Sheri M. said...

I am interested in trying your diet, because I am at a crossroad in my life. My Rheumatoid Arthritis is unbearable, I get no relief anymore. Everyday I wake up in terrble pain. I've cut out so many foods and when I read your diet, it looks like it would be the one that might work for me.
When did you start feeling relif after starting your diet ? How many days after eating something offensive do you start to feel better? My ESR rate is over 2.30, and I just want something to work.
What kind of tea do you drink? How many fruits do you eat each day? I heard too much fructose can affect the joints.
Thanks for your time, I appreciate it.

Burgess Laughlin said...

My suggestions are based strictly on my own experience, so be cautious in considering them.

1. If someone has arthritis, here are the questions I would first ask: Where is the arthritis? In the knees only, or in other joints too? In all joints constantly, or in some joints sometimes and with the intensity varying?

These questions are important or determining the possible role of poor posture, as well as diet as a possible cause.

For posture discussion: http://anti-itisdiet.blogspot.com/2007/10/addendum-posture-correction-therapy.html

2. My main indicator of inflammation was my skin. Skin problems appeared very quickly after eating certain foods. I never noticed any quick response in arthritis type pains from particular foods during the test phase. However, after embarking on this diet (which I had to develop gradually over a period of a year or more), I did notice a steady reduction in pain -- and then the reduction stopped about half way through the pain scale. I finally realized that poor posture was causing the remaining pain.

How long did it take for me to get max relief in arthritis pain from a diet change? about three months. But I noticed some relief within a few weeks.

3. In the mornings, I generally drink black tea (rather weak: 1/2 t per 3 cups of water, but allowed to sit and steep for 1/2 hour or more). I drink green tea (also weak, but long-steeped) in the afternoons.

4. I eat a lot of fruit of almost all kinds: dried, frozen, and fresh, about two fruits per meal or even more. (I avoid those that are seedy, such as figs and tomatoes, just to be cautious). I have seen no evidence in myself that fruit aggravates arthritis pains or weight gain or any other problems.

If anything I've said isn't clear, please ask again. If more questions arise later in your own experiments, please ask.

Jamie said...

Thank you for your detailed information. I have been following Dr. McDougall's elimination diet for 11 days. I eliminated rice beginning day 7 and have not added any new foods yet. My arthritic symptoms have not changed. I noticed in your addendum C on testing foods that you waited several weeks before testing any new foods. Did you wait because you continued to see gradual improvement of your symptoms? I ask because Dr. M's ED suggests a shorter timeframe. Forgive me if you've already stated this and I missed it. I'm discouraged that I have not seen improvement. I hope I'm interpreting the gray area of allowable vegetables correctly. The only ones I've eaten that are not explicitly listed as ok to eat are yams (in abundance), collard greens, carrots, and a little cauliflower as part of a bag of mixed veg. I'd appreciate any other suggestions you might have for me. I don't want to be the 30% of arthritis sufferers that don't respond to diet!

Thanks very much,
Jamie T.

Burgess Laughlin said...

As I understand the condition, leaky gut syndrome involves several symptoms. (That is why it is called "syndrome," I suppose.)

If arthritis is the only inflammation symptom you are having, and if the elimination diet does not reduce the arthritis within a few weeks, then I would think that diet is not the problem.

I know of only one other possible solution, assuming you are already lean: Posture correction. Unless you have perfect posture in sitting, standing, walking, and sleeping, I would investigate the possibility that poor posture could be stressing the joints in a way they weren't designed to take.

See Addendum B: Posture Correction. I highly recommend a very slow, careful reading of the introductory chapters of Pete Egoscue's book, Pain Free (absolutely not the other, more advanced ones). They will help you diagnose your posture situation as perfect or less than perfect.

P. S. -- I doubt that any of the foods you are now eating on the elimination diet would cause the arthritis. I am basing that on my experience. Even if they were, you should still be seeing some improvement because of having eliminated other, more likely suspects.

Don't be discouraged about not seeing improvement from the elimination diet. It is disappointing because diet is easy to change, but it should not be discouraging. The positive side is that you may have gained "negative knowledge" (the probable cause isn't foods). That will allow you to focus fully on the next suspect, posture.

If I have failed to satisfactorily answer any of your questions, please ask again.

Jamie said...

Thank you for your timely and thorough response! I admit that I didn't review the posture information since my finger joints are those most affected. I feel all my joints when I wake up, but my fingers are the worst. I'm very fortunate that after I move around a bit I have full mobility and no pain...I'd just like to keep it that way (if I can't improve on the initial pain and stiffness in the morning). Again, thank you.

Jamie T.

Burgess Laughlin said...

The concept of "posture" applies to every bone and joint in the body. Pete Egoscue covers proper posture for using one's hands -- e.g., while sitting and typing on a computer keyboard. He shows diagrams of proper posture for that.

The comment about pain going away after getting up and moving around is very interesting. I have experienced the same thing. I apparently clench my hands at night, but they "warm up" as I do my morning chores.

Sometimes, if I have been sitting in poor posture, my knees hurt for the first 10 minutes of my hourly morning walk, but the pain goes away because I concentrate on proper walking posture (toes pointed straight ahead; heel-ball-toe; and head up).

Jamie said...

Thanks for pointing out that posture applies to all joints - I had no idea! I've reserved Egoscue's "Pain Free for Women" from my library since they didn't have the specific book you mentioned. I'm hopeful it will have some of the same information.

I wonder if stiff joints (on waking) are just a part of aging? I'll continue with my diet for a while and read the book. Again, I appreciate your assistance.

Jamie T.

Anonymous said...

I finally found a diet that works for me and releives my terrible pain. The no starch diet releives my horrible low back pain and swollen knees. I had to eliminate a lot of foods to finaly get relief. I eat only chicken, turkey, non starchy fruits and veggies. I test a sample peice of all my food with iodine, if it turns black or blue from it's original auburn color then I don't eat it.
I have kept your blog on my favorites for more than a year becasue I knew someday I would find the diet that would rid me of pain.
ps, never eat a food with iodine on it, it is poisonous. I always test a sample peice and throw it out.
Thank you for your blog, it truly helped me,
Sheri M.

Paul said...

Hi Burgess
I was wondering what brand of B12 you use now?

Burgess Laughlin said...

Paul, sometimes I am slow to respond. I have to check my spam filter file regularly. I have had a lot of spam lately.

I use Kroger's 500 mcg (cyanocobalamin) on Tuesday and Saturday and a similar 50 mcg tablet on other days. So, the total weekly dose is about 1250 mcg, which should be more than enough.

I like the relatively low dose so that I can take it frequently. My general approach to nutrition is "small doses, regularly" rather than megadoses.

The cobalamin form, which is not the usually preferred form, works well for me. I recently had my blood tested for B12, and I was midrange.

Daisy H said...

are you no longer able to eat green peas(frozen)?what problems occurred when you ate them?
Daisy H

Burgess Laughlin said...

I no longer eat green peas. I tested them using the standard two-day test. I got no inflammation reaction in my skin, which is where problems show up first. I continued eating them. My skin gradually became more and more inflamed. I stopped eating green peas, and the inflammation went away.

This is one more incident that confirms my general experience: Eating seeds, in serving size amounts, cause me problems. Hence I now eat no grains, beans, peas, and nuts (except hazelnuts in small quantities).