Nov 29, 2011

Low Sulphur Experiment is Successful

SULPHUR AS A SUSPECT. I have long suspected that sulphur (sulfur) might be the cause of my inflammation problems. Recently I finally found a list of foods evaluated for their sulphur content. I used that list as my guide in designing a low-sulphur diet.

A PROGRESSIVE EXPERIMENT. For six weeks, I have experimented with a low sulphur diet. At first I tried to eat only foods that contain less than 10 mg/100 g serving (about half a cup). Examples are celery (8 mg) and cherries (7 mg). Many fruits fit this category. Few vegetables fit it. No major starches, except pumpkin (9.5 mg) meet this requirement. I soon realized that I would have a lot of trouble getting enough protein. To do so, I raised my limit to 20 mg/100 g serving. Thus I was able to include sweet potatoes (yellow inside) and yams (orange inside), at 15 mg.

Since I had no problems with any food having up to 20 mg of sulphur, I lifted the bar again, to 30 mg. This expansion allowed me to add potatoes (22 mg), thus assuring me all the essential amino acids -- as well as a tasteful and filling meal.

I am now slowly and cautiously adding foods from an even higher level of sulphur. An example is asparagus (46 mg). So far I have had no adverse reaction.

SULPHUR VS. PRAL? Previously I used Potential Renal Acid Load as my guide for deciding which foods to eat. I avoided foods that tended to produce acidity in the kidneys after digestion; and I ate only foods that tended to produce an alkaline condition in the kidneys. The PRAL standard worked very well, reducing my inflammation problems by 99%. The low sulphur diet, however, is even more effective. It has wiped out the last 1% of the problems I have had intermittently for several years -- particularly the last of the eczema and occasional pain problems.

SULPHUR VS. SULPHUR-BEARING AMINO ACIDS? Have I actually identified sulphur, which is a natural chemical element, as the cause of my inflammation problems? I would say "no." Sulphur load might be only a proxy, confounder, or coincident indicator. The problem might be, not the element sulphur, but certain amino acids that contain a lot of sulphur, particularly cysteine and methionine. I do not know.

REMAINING PROBLEM. So far, I have been using only the amount of sulphur in each food as my guide. I have not been calculating the total amount of sulphur in a particular meal. I do not know which is more important. For the sake of simplicity, I will operate on the assumption that I should have only one higher-sulphur food per meal. That standard is easy to meet. I always eat fruit, which is very low in sulphur; I always eat roots or gourds, which are low in sulphur; and I always eat only about 1 C of vegetable, the one food I would consider at the higher sulphur levels. (I completely avoid all the highest sulphur foods: animal products and "seeds" of all kinds, such as grains, nuts, beans, peas, and especially seeds such as mustard, which has one of the highest sulphur ratings on the list.)

ACCEPTABLE FOODS. For an ever-growing list of acceptable, low-sulphur foods, see "What do I eat now?" -- originally posted on July 15, 2010. There is a link to it in the Key Posts list in the upper right corner of this page.

I will add to this post as I learn more.

Burgess Laughlin