Sep 23, 2009

An expanded anti-itis diet?

[REMINDER TO FIRST-TIME VISITORS: Be sure to read the oldest posts first. The later posts, including this one, deal only with minor details. Start with the first post, which describes the problems I faced, and then read at least the second post, which describes my special diet as a solution.]

(For a continually updated look at my most recent diet details:

STATUS REPORT. My skin continues to improve. It is becoming thinner, free of itching, and very slightly oily (not chalky). It remains very sensitive to abrasion. E.g., shaving (with an electric, rotary shaver) still causes inflammation and subsequent peeling if I press too hard or if the razor becomes hot. I continue to be pain-free (no arthritis, tendonitis, or bursitis, except for occasional muscle pains due to posture problems. (My right shoulder still slopes down, but I am working on correcting that.)

EXPANDED DIET. 1. In the meantime, using the standard test, I have reconsidered a few foods that had given me unclear results in earlier tests. I can now regularly eat dried figs and canned tomatoes (diced). I had avoided both because of the prevalence of seeds which I could not conveniently remove.

2. Helena Kloosterman, who is neither a nutritionist nor a physician, has provided a short list of foods, rated for Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL), a subject I have discussed elsewhere. Her list is based on calculated values, not laboratory results. Consequently, I have been reluctant to even test (one serving per meal, six meals in a row) some of the foods she says are alkaline-producing. The list, accompanied by a formula for the calculation of PRAL, appears on her weblog, Bitter Poison, here:

Most of the foods rated as alkaline-producing in her list are not surprising: fruits and vegetables. Others were a surprise. For example, from my own tests of corn, oatmeal, rice, and wheat, I had tentatively generalized that all grains (indeed nearly all seeds of all kinds) were acid-producing and therefore to be avoided. (Production of an acid condition, in the kidneys, is not the cause of my inflammatory problems, apparently, but it has been an infallible "confounder" or "co-incident" indicator or "proxy" predictor of inflammation.)

Kloosterman's calculated list shows the grain quinoa (pronounced "KEEN-wah" or "key-NO-ah") to be alkaline-producing. I hesitantly bought a 26 ounce (737 gram) bag of quinoa from a chain grocery store (Fred Meyer, Kroeger) that carries Bob's Red Mill products. I ran the standard test and got no adverse reaction in the skin on my face. I now eat it regularly, about one serving per day, on average, while continuing to eat most of my starch (the core of my meals) from "roots" (potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas). I note however that Wikipedia lists quinoa as technically a fruit, not a grain. Apparently quinoa grows on a bush, not a grass stalk. Perhaps its "fruitness" is why it is not acid-producing. I don't know. I am ignorant about biochemistry.

The fact that at least one grain (if that is what quinoa is) is (slightly) alkaline-producing, and thus okay for me to eat, does confirm one pattern: There are exceptions in almost every category. For example, generally beans, nuts, and grains (all seeds) are acid-producing; however, green beans (string beans), hazelnuts (Filberts), and quinoa are exceptions to their categories.

Kloosterman's list also shows some beans -- such as pinto beans -- as being alkaline-producing, but she states that for the raw form, which no one eats. Does cooking making them acid-producing? I do not know.

FEB. 25, 2010 UPDATE: In the last few weeks I subjected pinto beans and lima beans to the standard reintroduction test (eat one serving per meal, six meals in a row and look for a reaction -- in my skin, in my case). I got no reaction. I then began eating beans (cooked, about 1/2 C per meal) at two meals per day. After about 10 days, my eczema returned in mild form.

I threw out all the beans and I returned to my regular diet of fruit, vegs, and starchy roots. Within 12 hours the eczema began fading! The beans probably were the cause of the problem. Perhaps they have a long-term, cumulative effect that doesn't show up in the standard two-day test.

This result shows that I cannot automatically trust the Kloosterman list, which shows merely calculated, not lab-tested values, especially where the list says "raw" and I don't eat the food in raw form.

Summary: Limiting my diet to fruits, vegs, and starchy roots (and possibly quinoa) works.

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


Flameys Sacred Trust said...

Mr. Burgess, you are amazing! I have read your posts in various places on the net... here, the McDougall site, and your site. Your story and mine are similar, arthritis, scary iritis, dandruff for my skin problems... I am currently on antibiotic therapy and giving a go to the elimination diet. Today is the toughest with major detox symptoms. I will need to be on the Elimination diet for a few weeks I think before I can start testing foods. God bless you, for your wonderful brain and meticulous documentation! I am praying my results will be as positive as yours. And one more thing we have in common. Pain Free by Pete Egoscue is also my book of choice!


Burgess Laughlin said...

From Kloosterman's list:

Beans, pinto, mature seeds, raw ....... -9.6

In my first reading of the list, I missed the word "raw." I can't imagine eating raw beans.

Does cooking change an alkaline producing food (siuch as the pinto beans above) into an acid-producing food?

I don't know. I may test pinto beans, using the standard test of one serving per meal, six meals in a row.

Burgess Laughlin said...

As I have indicated in my Feb. 25 update, I have tested pinto beans using both the standard test and eating them two meals per day. They seemed to pass the standard test, but seemed to cause an eczema outbreak after a week or two of sustained eating.

So, I am back to what I know works: any fruit, any vegetable, and any starchy root or gourd. Quinoa is probably acceptable, but I need to withdraw it and then retest it.

Burgess Laughlin said...

I have retested quinoa, using the standard reintroduction test (1 serving per meal, 6 meals in a row). I got no reaction. I began eating it regularly, about 1/2 C, cooked, at every meal (for the fiber). I still have had no reaction. I know now that quinoa is safe for me.

Some sources I checked suggested that technically quinoa is not a grain. (Apparently it grows on a bush, not on grass stalks.) If that is true, then that might explain why I get no reaction from it.

sheri said...

"If an allergic food is left out of the diet for 3 months to 2 years. tolerance will develop in moct instances.It is then observed that , if the food is only eaten about every four of five days, this tolerance will be maintained. If the food is eaten more frequently, the tolerance is usually destroyed and an allergic response will result again....The idea of such a diet is that no food is repeated more than every four or five days". From the book Arthritis The Allergy Connection, by Dr. John Mansfield.
I thought you might find the information useful because I read that you ate the beans for a couple of days and in this book it reads one should space foods that might be allergenic.

Burgess Laughlin said...

I don't know whether the advice -- wait a long time before testing an allergy-causing food, and even then eat it only infrequently and in small amounts -- is valid or not for others. It isn't valid for me, using the standard re-introduction test, which is to eat it in one serving per meal for six meals in a row.

I did try reintroducing some foods with the standard test, after not eating those foods for several years. I still got a reaction.

I have several objections to the advice that the quoted book gives. First, my purpose in designing a diet suitable for my inflammation problems is not merely to be free of immediate symptoms, but to go one step further and make sure (as well as I can) I am not being damaged internally, where I don't see the symptoms. My more cautious approach --use the standard re-intro test and ban any food that causes a reaction in those re-introduction amounts -- is more likely to achieve my goal.

Second, I want to eat the healthiest possible diet. I have no interest in trying to "get away with" exceptions. Life is much simpler for me if I know that a particular food causes problems in some amounts and therefore should not be eaten at all.

A third objection to the wait, eat small amounts infrequently approach is that it assumes reactions are not cumulative. Is that true? I don't know. I don't want to take a chance.

I don't want to spend the rest of my life (ten years?) carrying around a food chart for foods I can eat but only every few days and only in small quantities. What would be the point? The issue isn't nutrition. I can get everything I need -- except B12 -- from the foods I know are safe.

If my problem were one dealing with only one particular food being a cause of inflammation, I might consider taking the small-and-occasional approach. But that isn't the case. I know that generally whole categories of foods are problems.

Generalizing and simplifying is my approach. Others are still free to choose for themselves.

I am glad this issue came up. I have not addressed it anywhere else. Thank you for the comment.