The FODMAPS diet

The FODMAPS diet

Over the past couple years I have heard practitioners and patients refer to the FODMAP diet as a way to resolve chronic gut issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In a nut shell, the FODMAP diet refers to the reduction or elimination of foods that contain various long-chain sugars found in foods such as cereals, pulses, root vegetables, and fruits (see this list). Specifically, the term FODMAP is an acronym devised by researchers at Monash University in Australia, referring to foods that contain "Fermentable Oligo-saccharides, Disaccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols". According to proponents of the FODMAP restriction diet, as well as similar diets such as the Specific Carbohydrate and GAPS diet, many of these sugars aren't properly digested. As a result, they are utilized instead by some of the bacteria that naturally inhabit our intestines, leading to their enhanced growth and fermentation, causing symptoms such as gas, bloating, colic, and diarrhea. Many people following a … [Read more...]

Meat: A Benign Extravagance

Meat: A Benign Extravagance

Recently I was given a review copy of Simon Fairlie's new book entitled Meat: A Benign Extravagance, published by Chelsea Green (2010), right around the same time I wrote what some might consider a rather controversial blog on the subject of meat on urbandiner. The issue of eating meat is a touchy one, especially here in Vancouver - a trend-setting city that has more than it's share of anti-meat advocates, who inspired by films such as Forks Over Knives, have come to equate meat-eating with everything that's bad in the world: from agricultural run-off and global warming, to cardiovascular disease and cancer. And it is a media campaign they seem to be winning, as everywhere one looks the idea of eating meat and especially red meat is thoroughly denounced. The problem with these claims however is that when they are examined more closely, they begin to fall apart. For example: the much promulgated but nonetheless erroneous notion that saturated fat consumption is associated with … [Read more...]

Herbs for teeth and gums?

Herbs for teeth and gums?

A reader asks: What are your favourite herbs to support healthy teeth and gums? I have a number of recommendations to promote healthy gums and teeth, and chief among these is to avoid eating sweet foods and drinks, attend to good digestion, and avoid stress, alcohol, smoking and coffee. The teeth and gums do well when there is a healthy oral ecology and the mouth is slightly alkaline from sufficient saliva production. So things like stress, which inhibits digestion, or substances like coffee, alcohol and smoking, which dry out the mouth and inhibit saliva production, are a definite no-no. In Ayurveda we recommend cleaning the tongue with a tongue scraper every morning, followed by a procedure called gandusha, or oil-pulling, which is rinsing out your mouth with sesame or coconut oil. No need to do it more than 2-3 minutes at most... there is no additional benefit from doing it longer, as some people that have no training in Ayurveda sometimes claim. Following gandusha is the use … [Read more...]

Q&A: Why don’t some people heal?

Why don't some people heal, even though they do all the "right" things? Sometimes the right thing for one person isn't the right thing for another - so part of the problem is the "one-size-fits-all" approach that modern marketing uses to sell their products and services. In traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, everyone is seen as an individual, and so when someone is unwell, a specific plan must be created to address their specific health issues. In a related fashion, sometimes the problem is that what is being recommend as the "right" thing isn't right at all. This is more a problem of ignorance or not knowing. For example, some people are sold a product or a service that claims to be helpful when it is not. Likewise, sometimes people continue to engage in behaviors or activities that are counter-productive to good health, but aren't aware of this. Another issue relates to the staging of the disease, and depending on how far the condition has progressed, different … [Read more...]

Food As Medicine

Food As Medicine

This year (2011) marks 15 years in clinical practice since I graduated from college, and over this time I have worked with hundreds of patients, in both Canada and the United States, as well as India and the Caribbean. During this time, as I have worked to help my patients discover and resolve their health problems, one of the issues I most frequently encounter is just how confused people are on the subject of diet. After acquiring a chronic GI infection while traveling in India in 1990, I left behind a promising career as a film and television actor and immersed myself in the field of Ayurveda and natural medicine, devoting the last 22 years of my life to studying, practicing and teaching the knowledge of food. I have spent thousands of hours coaching my patients and students, striving to give them effective tools they can easily use to optimize their diet, only wishing I could reach more people with this knowledge. In 2000 I started writing a booklet for my patients called "How To … [Read more...]