Whole food is great. I am for sure one of the greatest cheerleaders for the benefits of eating food in it's most whole and unprocessed form. This is where the healing magic from food comes from- the synergistic properties of phytonutrients working together, for our ultimate health benefit, in ways we will never fully understand.
This doesn't mean we don't try to understand. Everyday there is a new study out about some new compound in a food said to resolve the ailment of the moment.
For the past several years, I have been attempting to gain access to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation's (CCFC) research team to find out how funds raised in the name of a cure are spent- something I would highly encourage everyone to do before lending financial support to any cause.
I have been continually ignored.
Though the mandate of the CCFC is that diet has no impact on the progression of the diseases for which it raises funds (by selling conventional hot dogs and deep fried twinkies), on the flip side, they recently sent me a PDF document outlining new research being done into diet's affect on Crohn's and Colitis. I know- it's a confusing contradiction.
As for this specific study, at first I thought- At last- progress! and then I read the document.
Why You Must Read This
What I am about to explain is relevant to EVERYONE as I work to empower you to make sense of all the studies, news and media that get thrown at us.
This specific study has secured a $350,000 grant and is set-up for complete failure as too many nutrition studies are.
Why is nutrition research set up to fail?
With any type of scientific study, specifically those that relate to nutrition, there are so many variables to consider- everything from specific food intake, foods being avoided, sleep quality, exercise, stress management are all going affect how people digest and assimilate nutrients and how they will be used to heal. There is also the issue of previous studies and outcomes to consider. In the case of this specific study on Crohn's, there is important previous scientific research that is blatantly being ignored.
The Alberta Inflammatory Bowel Disease Consortium, the group supporting this study, are researching the following nutrients- through the consumption of the following foods:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (e.g. salmon, lamb, enriched eggs, canola and flaxseed oil)
- Polyphenolic compounds (e.g. strawberries, saskatoons)
- Glutamine (e.g. barley, wheat, rye)
- Short-Chain Glycerides and Branch-Chained Amino Acids (e.g. butter, cheese)
- Lactobacilli or Bifidibacteria (e.g. yoghurt)
- Soluble Fermentable Fiber (e.g. pulses, oats, barley)
Where does the problem lie?
The foods themselves, though high in specific nutrients that have been previously proven as beneficial, when taken in therapeutic doses, most often required in the form of high dose supplementation- are being offered in scientifically proven problematic foods.
Yes, Omega 3 fats are helpful for decreasing inflammation and boosting nervous system and immune health, but canola oil is incredibly high in Omega 6- which, in this ratio has been shown to be pro-inflammatory(1). Polyphenolic compounds- also incredibly helpful for stabilizing immune response- should not be consumed in the form of berries. People suffering from intestinal inflammation should be avoiding foods with small seeds- like strawberries due to an increased risk of infection.
L-Glutamine has been associated with healing intestinal tissue- but in barley, wheat and rye- you'll also be getting a healthy dose of gluten. Also problematic are the dairy based sources of the short chain glycerides, and branch chain amino acids.
If there are two food groups to be avoided by anyone suffering from digestive disease it is dairy and gluten containing grains.
Although food allergy has long been considered an important etiologic factor in the pathogenesis of IBD, it is only recently that studies utilizing an elimination diet in the treatment of IBD have been performed.2-4 These studies demonstrate that an elimination diet is the primary therapy of choice in the treatment of chronic IBD. The most common offending foods were found to be wheat and dairy products.
Given the foods being tested, I wouldn't need the $350,000 to tell you what the outcome will be. My guess is "No significant improvement over the placebo" or something to that extent.
Their outcome is pretty much written right into the report I was sent.
On page 2 of the 3 page document, in bold type it states: "The bottom line, says Dr. Dieleman, is that probiotic/prebiotic therapies have shown to be beneficial for mild to moderate ulcerative colitis when used in combination with standard pharmaceutical therapies under medical supervision."
So even if the study comes out with diet being on top, they have built in a caveat that no matter what, all treatment options must include medical intervention. Though in many cases, this may be absolutely necessary, the generalization of this statement is forever being proven blatantly false.
I contacted the Alberta Inflammatory Bowel Disease Consortium, but have yet to get a response.
This is just one example of flawed nutrition research- there are many, many more.
Question Of The Day: Do you trust medical research when it comes to the role nutritional therapies play in reversing disease?
1. Shoda R, Matsueda K, Yamato S, Umeda N. Epidemiologic analysis of Crohn's disease in Japan. Increased dietary intake of ?-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and animal protein relates to the increased incidence of Crohn's disease in Japan. Am J Clin Nutr 1996;63:741-745
2. Borok G, Segal I. Inflammatory bowel disease. Individualized dietary therapy. S Afr Fam Pract 1995;16:393-399.1. Shoda R, Matsueda K, Yamato S, Umeda N. Epidemiologic analysis of Crohn's disease in Japan. Increased dietary intake of ?-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and animal protein relates to the increased incidence of Crohn's disease in Japan. Am J Clin Nutr 1996;63:741-745.
3. Jones VA, Workman E, Freeman AH, et al. Crohn's disease: maintenance of remission by diet. Lancet 1985;2:177-180.
4. Shoda R, Matsueda K, Yamato S, Umeda N. Epidemiologic analysis of Crohn's disease in Japan. Increased dietary intake of ?-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and animal protein relates to the increased incidence of Crohn's disease in Japan. Am J Clin Nutr 1996;63:741-745.