Since starting my blog about my son and his food intolerances many people have contacted me with articles they have seen discussing theories surrounding nutrition and intolerance. A while back, my Mum also came across a thought provoking article which appeared in the Daily Express.
It was written by their health columnist Jo Willey. She highlighted a recently published report that suggests over consumption of the same foods is bad for your health and could lead to illness.
She quoted a dietitian Helen Bond, who said “Eating the same type of food every day is not only boring but could lead to deficiencies in certain nutrients. It can also compromise the immune and digestive systems and ultimately long term health.”
This is a theory I definitely agree with. I mentioned in an earlier post how food intolerances in many countries seems to vary, and the common intolerances, seem to be the “staples” of those particular countries.
If I think back to my diet as a child, it was much more varied than it was in later years. I know I did not have cereal for breakfast every day, I did not have a sandwich for lunch every afternoon and I did not eat pasta for dinner every evening. Yet by the time I was in my teens and a student, this was the case. I was an adventurous cook, even as a student and loved to cook from scratch, but when I think of my ‘staples’ I know that I over ate wheat based products, which I am sure contributed to the IBS, I suffered with in my twenties.
As a little girl, I often had an egg for breakfast, or a porridge type breakfast, a hot meal at school dinners and a home cooked dinner in the evening. Pasta was becoming more common place but I know we did not eat it more than once a week. Most dinners were a meat, veg and potatoes combination.
So is this the solution? Do we need to start going back to our mothers and grandmothers and getting their cook books out? I visited my Mum recently and borrowed some of her fab seventies cookery books partly for research and partly for nostalgia. My sister and I often look at them for amusement as they are so basic, but perhaps the simplicity is the key. I wanted to see if I could spot the difference between how she weaned us to how I weaned Zac.
Going back a few generations does have an appeal. So many tv chefs are already telling us that the key to healthy and even thrifty nutrition is to be as simple and organic as possible. What with the current meat crisis I am sure there are many who are now changing their shopping and cooking habits and conquering their squeamish side as they venture into the butchers and ask for their meat to be carved or sliced from the carcass hanging in the window. The cost might be hard to stomach, but surely it is easier on the stomach than the prepared horse mix in the gas filled plastic on the supermarket shelves.
There are even some health gurus who tell us to go even further back.
Just this week, a friend told me to look up Robb Wolf and The Paleolithic Diet.
This diet is also known as the caveman diet and is a nutritional plan based on the presumed diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors from the Paleolithic era, i.e. only the commonly available foods, e.g fish, meat from animals that were reared on pasture land and ate only grass, organic fruits, vegetables, roots and nuts.
Robb Wolf actually suggests that we should not eat any dairy, wheat, gluten etc. No processed foods, no salt, refined sugars or processed oils.
This diet is based on the assumption that human genetics have scarcely changed since the dawn of agriculture and that we are just not genetically evolved enough to handle the foods we are presented with in our modern diet.
Obviously, at first glance it does look a bit like a zero carb fad diet and there are as many nutritionists who question it as who agree with it. I am sure there are many people who follow it purely for weight loss reasons, with little interest in the science bit or even the long term alleged health benefits, but it does make a lot of sense to me. It very closely matches some of the advice I have had from dietitians with regard to my son Zac’s condition.
I do not know whether it is by accident or by design but the diet Zac has been left with as a result of our exclusions and his intolerances is almost a perfect match with this and guess what my Mum’s pet name for him is ‘Little Tarzan’ because he looks like a baby caveman! He is so solid and muscular and full of energy. Perfect height and weight for his age. When I tell friends and even medics about Zac’s intolerances they are always shocked and say, “But he looks so well and is obviously thriving”. Well of course he is, since learning what his triggers were we have avoided them at all costs and the result is a very healthy little boy.
At our last meeting with the dietitian and paediatrician both agreed that he should remain on his highly exclusive diet for several more years. I am very happy to do this as his health and wellbeing is everything to me, despite the cost of ‘freefrom’ foods. What will be interesting is seeing how he continues to thrive. Will a detox lasting several years, ‘cure’ him? To be honest, I am not sure I will switch him back, even if he is ‘cured or desensitised’. The more I think about it, the more I think I will switch the rest of the family to his diet and perhaps try out the diet of our ancestors, whether it is our far distant caveman cousins, or just my grandmothers hand me down recipes and shopping habits.