When food we’ve swallowed reaches our stomachs, it finds an acidic environment. The low pH in the stomach helps to begin digestion—and has been thought to kill the bacteria that hides in food that otherwise could harm our bodies.
However, recent work from the Ackley and Chandler labs in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Kansas runs counter to this idea, instead suggesting lower pH in the digestive tract may make some bacterial pathogens even more harmful.
Their findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Pathogens, could have implications for addressing the crisis of antibiotic resistance in bacterial infections around the world.
The investigation was performed using small, bacteria-eating organisms called Caenorhabditis elegans.
“These wormlike animals are transparent, so we can watch things that happen inside them quite easily,” said co-author Brian Ackley, associate professor of molecular biosciences at KU. “Using pH-sensitive chemicals developed at KU, called Kansas Reds, we were able to monitor the pH inside the digestive system and watch what happens when they eat harmful bacteria, compared to nonharmful bacteria.”
According to the KU researchers, under normal conditions while feeding on healthy bacteria, C. elegans digestive tracts are moderately acidic compared to human stomachs. But these model species’ stomachs also show regional differences within the digestive tract. When they ingest pathogens, they neutralize the acidic environment.
This observation suggested the animals could discriminate between good and bad bacteria, and harmful bacteria prompted a less acidic digestive tract in C. elegans—a result that runs counter to what one might expect if the acidic environment was generated to kill bacteria.
To test this, the researchers used animals with mutations in genes that helped regulate the pH in their digestive tracts.
“When animals had a more acidic digestive system, they were more likely to be affected by pathogenic bacteria—again counter to what one might guess if acidity was useful in killing harmful bugs that might sneak into the body with food,” Ackley said. “Our lab teams were able to show the effect on the animals was specifically due to the pH by adding a base to buffer the digestive tract. We used bicarbonate, the same agent our bodies use to neutralize stomach contents when they pass into our intestines. Neutralizing the pH in the mutant animals reverted the accelerated infection by the pathogenic bacteria.”
The KU researcher said different species react differently when their bodies sense pathogenic bacteria—but some biological reactions are common to many animals.
“A general response involves the creation of chemicals, like hydrogen peroxide or hypochlorous acid—aka bleach—near the bacteria, and then having specialized immune cells eat the dying bacteria,” Ackley said. “To keep our bodies safe, the immune system only deploys these defenses when it’s sure it is being invaded. The work in C. elegans may suggest a way the body can have these defenses ready to go at a moment’s notice—that is, keep the chemical environment in a moderately acidic state where making those chemicals is difficult, then, upon infection, simply neutralize the environment to deploy the defenses.”
Ackley’s KU colleagues on the work were lead author Saida Benomar, Patrick Lansdon and Josephine R. Chandler of the Department of Molecular Biosciences, along with Aaron Bender of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, and Blake R. Peterson of The Ohio State University.
The researchers believe there may be reasons to believe these systems could work similarly in people.
The genes they studied in C. elegans also exist in humans and control parts of the immune system. Further, research in other labs has shown occasions in humans where problems with regulating pH are associated with increased risk of infection. Moving forward, the researchers want to understand the mechanism at a deeper level.
“Our goal is to boost this natural defense system in people as a way to either avoid or reduce the use of antibiotics,” Ackley said. “Right now, our antibiotic use is unsustainable, and bacteria are evolving resistance at an alarming rate. If the system discovered in C. elegans is in fact still present in humans, it would suggest bacteria are much slower to adapt to this defensive strategy than they are to antibiotics.”
ChooseLife : Carey Reams stated that the production and regulation of stomach acid, is firstly regulated by the Liver, and, that primarily it’s production requires Calcium Salt in the form of Calcium Gluconate. Reams often proposed that a diet lower in Protein was better for health, so this may align to this concept, that those eating more meat or plant proteins may have higher stomach acid production, and, hence a generally lower pH. Then becoming more susceptible to these type of infections?
In 1984, as an undergraduate at the University of Stirling, Scotland and while carrying out my first piece of independent research, I watched for the first time a fish, a salmon parr, die from acute aluminium toxicity. The whole process took less than forty-eight hours. Within six hours, the fish showed signs of distress and its behaviour changed markedly. It proceeded to seek out the corners of the tank, pushing its head and body against the side of the tank. After twenty-four hours, it began to move randomly and chaotically around the tank before losing its orientation, slipping onto its back, taking a last gasp, before dying. I was left in no doubt about the toxicity of aluminium. I am recalling this event herein because there does seem to be significant complacency concerning the toxicity of aluminium.
An Aluminium Adjuvant is Acutely Toxic Too
In a recent post (https://www.hippocraticpost.com/pharmacy-drugs/the-toxicity-of-aluminium-adjuvants/) I explained why a single injection of a vaccine that includes an aluminium adjuvant is, akin to the salmon above, also an acute exposure to aluminium. It is acute because the total concentration of aluminium in the immediate vicinity of the injection site is extremely high, in the case of a single dose of Infanrix Hexa vaccine, approximately 8000 times higher than is required to kill a salmon parr within forty-eight hours. Even allowing for some dilution of the injected aluminium adjuvant into body fluids bathing and innervating the tissues surrounding the injection site the total concentration of aluminium in a vaccine is sufficient to cause cell death within hours and perhaps minutes of receiving the injection. This is the definition of an acute response, death (cells or whole organism) within a short period of exposure to a toxin. It is a necrotic form of cell death. It initiates an inflammatory response (redness at the injection site). This inflammation drives and perhaps accelerates the subsequent immune response (https://www.hippocraticpost.com/infection-disease/safety-concerns-aluminium-adjuvants/).
A number of mechanisms bring about remediation of acute aluminium toxicity at a vaccine injection site. These are chemical, physical and biological. The toxic free metal ion, Al3+, forms soluble and insoluble complexes with myriad biological molecules while particles of aluminium adjuvant and other insoluble aluminium compounds are taken up by cells infiltrating the vaccine injection site. All of these processes act to reduce the acute toxicity of aluminium at the injection site by lowering the immediate concentration of toxic Al3+. These remedial processes act to secure aluminium in a number of different compartments. All are systemic and all are potential sources of biologically reactive aluminium to the rest of the body. Many chemical compartments where aluminium is bound in myriad different complexes including simple organic moieties like citrate or more complex proteins like the iron transport protein transferrin promote the transport of aluminium away from the injection site.
These processes can be envisaged as continuous passive diffusion of soluble aluminium away from the injection site. The majority of injected aluminium adjuvant is particulate in the first instance and actively taken up, literally eaten, by a number of different cells infiltrating the injection site. Some particles of aluminium adjuvant are taken up by macrophages and thereafter they are retained at or close to the injection site as a granuloma. Generally, these collections of macrophages are considered as benign ‘cancers’ though such descriptions have been coined for situations where the cellular cargo is not aluminium. For example, macrophagic myofasciitis or MMF is a disease, first described by Romain Gherardi in Paris, in which aluminium-rich granulomas at vaccine injection sites are implicated in disease aetiology. Other cells heavily laden with aluminium do not remain close to the injection site and carry their cargo well beyond where the vaccine is administered, for example visiting local lymph nodes as early stops on their travels. Evidence is mounting that these cells may transport aluminium into brain tissue using both lymph and blood as access routes. Perhaps most worrying, evidence of transport of aluminium into brain tissue across the blood-brain barrier and meninges has been shown in autism (https://www.hippocraticpost.com/infection-disease/aluminium-and-autism/).
An Aluminium Adjuvant is a Significant Exposure to Aluminium
With reference to my recent post, an aluminium adjuvant in a vaccine is an acute exposure to aluminium at the vaccine injection site. However, the aluminium content of a single vaccine also represents a significant exposure to aluminium in an infant. For example, the injection of a single dose of Infanrix Hexa into an infant is equivalent to 164 times the daily dose of aluminium in breast milk feeding. Even allowing for an unrealistically high proportion of aluminium being retained in a granuloma at the vaccine injection site (say, for example 40% of the injected aluminium) the daily dose of aluminium in Infanrix Hexa is 100 times higher than an infant receives in breast-feeding. This is a high exposure to aluminium and inevitably results in aluminium being retained in an infant’s tissues, including the infant brain. This is why we must not be complacent about the use of aluminium adjuvants in vaccines. It is why there should be regulations based upon the toxicity of aluminium that govern how much aluminium is allowed in a single vaccine. This limit should be used to give clear unequivocal advice on the number of vaccines that include an aluminium adjuvant that can be given within a specified period. Aluminium is only toxic (as opposed to essential) in the human body and so we should always take every possible step to reduce exposure and ultimately the body burden of aluminium. Infants, due to increased gastrointestinal absorption, reduced urinary excretion and a developing blood-brain-barrier, are uniquely vulnerable to aluminium. We need to protect them from their future now.
One of our suggestions for the parents of Dyslexics we work with is being sure their kids are physically up to the job of school. They have to work a lot harder than other students that don’t have the same issues with reading, spelling, writing and other school skills. All kids need a good night’s sleep, proper food and exercise but with the mental effort a Dyslexic has to exert to learn and produce in the classroom is like the difference between walking and running. Properly pacing yourself, you can walk all day but if you had to run as fast as you can all day you wouldn’t last an hour. Dyslexics are pushing their mental limits everyday. Sometimes succeeding, some days not at all.
They are coping with using the right hemisphere of the brain to spell, read and write that generally focuses on other things – the left is the language center. They are often also having issues with Dysgraphia, Irlen’s Syndrome, dominant left ear, left/right confusion, understanding instructions and basic arithmetic, concept of time, measurement, how to make a list, remember it and follow it and many other problems.
To make their day more productive and less tiring:
1. A good night’s sleep: You can help to ensure this by avoiding caffeine drinks such as soda and the energy drinks that are full of it. Hours of video games can keep their brain’s overstimulated and making it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Going to bed at an appropriate time for their age regularly is also important. Many children are getting no where near the number of hours of sleep they need.
2. Starting the day with a goodbreakfast: Many children go to school with no more than a sugary cereal or sweet to start their day. Protein and the right complex carbohydrates are very important to give them long term energy and the ability to focus and pay attention. A healthy breakfast for a Dyslexic would have foods like peanut butter, meat or eggs, fruit, vegetables, milk of some kind such as cow, goat, soy or almond and multi-grain breads or cereal.
This should be followed with healthy snacks and a lunch during the day to help a Dyslexic student maintain their energy and stay alert. These should include protein again such as protein bars, nuts (almonds are great) and fruit or raw vegetables.
3. Water: We all need enough water during the day to function. Too often children are drinking highly caffeinated drinks which dehydrates the body. Giving them filled a water bottle for school and encouraging them to refill it during the day is very beneficial. If students don’t drink enough water they can experience headaches and lethargy. The link below for an article on Naturo Doc is very helpful for how much water to drink in a day and how water affects your body.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D:There is a lot of conjecture about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D but from research I’ve done but it seems worth checking into.
“As omega-3 fatty acids were being discovered to have major roles in cell membrane signalling, brain development and functioning, scientists were also finding some differences in the genes, brains, visual, auditory and balance systems of those with dyslexia compared to those without.” ~Dyslexic.com
4. Simple sugars: Sugar is not good for anyone but for a Dyslexic, it can be another straw towards breaking the camel’s back.Fruit is a better choice. “Too much sugar A double-blind study of dyslexic children found that a diet high in sugar caused more erratic eye movements than a sugar-free diet. Researchers at Yale University gave 25 healthy children a drink containing the equivalent amount of glucose found in a can of Fanta. The children’s adrenalin was raised to over five times their normal level for up to five hours afterwards. Most of these children had difficulty concentrating and were anxious and irritable.” ~http://www.dyslexia-parent.com/mag38.html
5. Exercise: Exercise is helpful for everyone including Dyslexics for mental clarity. Often a lot of emphasis focuses on having them sit at a table doing repetitive practicing for spelling, writing and reading without incorporating breaks for exercise or in the daily activities. Also there is mounting evidence that exercise that involves balancing helps a Dyslexic use other parts of their brain more effectively. Here is a link from parents who incorporated exercise and how it helped their Dyslexic children with a program called DORE:
“The Best Thing We Ever Did! – I have a daughter and a son who were diagnosed with dyslexia four years ago, after much deliberation about the cost and geographical problems (we lived 2000km away from the nearest DORE (DDAT) centre, we decided we could not not let our children down. The best thing we ever did was put our children on this program. Yes it was difficult getting them to do their exercises most of the time, but we persevered and saw some changes within the first few weeks of the program, particularly with attention span initially.” “http://www.dyslexia-parent.com/exercises.html
If anyone has other suggestions for increasing mental clarity and stamina for Dyslexics, please add your suggestions.
Americans are undeniably great consumers of added sugar. The average person’s intake is over 126 grams of sugar daily which is way too much. Sugar per se is not harmful but too much of it is detrimental to health. High sugar consumption has long been linked to weight gain, and the development of obesity and lifestyle diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. More recent studies show that sugar can also induce memory problems and neuroinflammation.
A study conducted at the University of Southern California (USC) revealed that intakse of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) at levels similar to those in commonly available sugary beverages can trigger memory problems and brain inflammation. In the study, adolescent rats consuming high quantities of HFCS were subsequently found to have impaired hippocampal-dependent spatial learning and memory when subjected to the Barne’s Maze test. Rats consuming a sucrose solution experienced moderate learning impairment. Adult rats given either HFCS or sucrose did not show any problems with spatial learning, glucose tolerance or neuroinflammatory markers. According to Scott Kanoski, one of the proponents of the research, the brain is vulnerable to dietary influences during critical periods of development, like adolescence. He further explained that a diet high in added sugar can not only cause weight gain and metabolic problems, but also impair brain function and cognitive ability.
This is supported by an earlier study at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) that tested the effects of fructose and omega-3 fatty acid consumption among rats. Two groups of rats were initially trained to find their way out of a maze. The results showed that long-term consumption of a high fructose diet by the rats negatively affected their cognitive function and ability to recall while omega 3 fatty acids were able to counteract those effects. After six weeks, the rats that consumed fructose forgot the previously learned escape route and developed signs of insulin resistance. The impaired learning and memory problems exhibited by this group of rats was attributed to insulin’s inability to regulate how cells use and store sugar.
Sucrose and high fructose corn syrup are liquid sweeteners often added to processed foods and common beverages such as soft drinks and juices. These added sugars are quickly absorbed in the blood where it lowers the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance known to influence the formation of new memories and regulate learning. Individuals with impaired glucose tolerance were found to have low levels of this chemical. Low levels of BDNF have also been associated with depression and dementia.
So before you drink your favorite juice or munch on a delectable dessert, remember that added sugars from such beverage and food items are likely culprits for health complications including poor memory and cognitive damage. Avoiding foods with added sugars will help you stay fit and keep your mind healthy.
The polymeric mucin MUC5B provides the structural and functional framework of respiratory mucus, conferring both viscoelastic and antimicrobial properties onto this vital protective barrier. Whilst it is established that MUC5B forms disulfide-linked linear polymers, how this relates to their packaging in secretory granules, and their molecular form in mucus remain to be fully elucidated. Moreover, the role of the central heavily O-glycosylated mucin domains in MUC5B conformation is incompletely described. Here we have completed a detailed structural analysis on native MUC5B polymers purified from saliva and subsequently investigated how MUC5B conformation is affected by changes in calcium concentration and pH, factors important for mucin intragranular packaging and post-secretory expansion. The results identify that MUC5B has a beaded structure repeating along the polymer axis and suggest that these repeating motifs arise from distinct glycosylation patterns. Moreover, we demonstrate that the conformation of these highly entangled linear polymers is sensitive to calcium concentration and changes in pH. In the presence of calcium (Ca2+, 10 mM) at pH 5.0, MUC5B adopted a compact conformation which was lost either upon removal of calcium with EGTA, or by increasing the pH to 7.4. These results suggest a pathway of mucin collapse to enable intracellular packaging and mechanisms driving mucin expansion following secretion. They also point to the importance of the tight control of calcium and pH during different stages of mucin biosynthesis and secretion, and in the generation of correct mucus barrier properties.
Everybody eats potatoes, which were brought to Europe from South America by the Spaniards over 500 years ago. Potato belongs to the botanical family Solanaceae, which includes tomato, aubergine, peppers, tobacco, deadly nightshade, and many others.Potato has quite often been considered such a bland food as to be included in diets for food intolerance, but I have found that a remarkable variety of serious problems were caused by potato in thirty-nine cases of all ages. Recent research in Finland has established that potato contains several powerful allergens.
Definite allergy to potato is very rare, when being in the kitchen near potatoes being cooked may be enough to bring on a severe asthma. The only case I have seen as sensitive as this was diagnosed as having ‘whooping cough’ as a baby, but the cough persisted along with swelling of the lips, tongue and eyes.Mother finally made the diagnosis by observing that the attacks related to meals containing potato or being near cooking potato. With difficulty she convinced the doctors that if potato was strictly avoided her daughter would remain well. Even a trace of potato on a serving spoon was enough to trigger an attack of asthma, and tomato causes a lesser reaction.Slow reactions, which can cause all sorts of problems anywhere in the body, are not so uncommon, as I have collected thirty-nine cases over the years.. In housewives the commonest sign of a possible potato allergy is sneezing or wheezing when scraping new potatoes because this creates a fine spray of juice from the potato skin, or itching of the hands or worsening of eczema after peeling potatoes. Potato is such a common food that the possible significance of this observation is seldom realised. Pricking through a drop of fresh potato juice produced a very positive skin reaction in thirty two cases.
Potato affected behaviour in seven cases. The first case who alerted me to this possibility was a ten year old girl attending the clinic for seasonal and perennial hay fever, who also gave the impression of being mildly mentally retarded and very lethargic. She had frequent headaches, slept most of the day, and had no initiative whatsoever.
Nine years later she was living away from home at college, cooking for herself, when a sudden shortage made potatoes so expensive that she did without them. Fortunately her clinic visit was at this time, when I was struck by the complete change in her personality. She was quite vivacious and lively, and she told me that that her headaches and lethargy had vanished overnight, after giving up potatoes. Three deliberate open challenges with potato reproduced headache and lethargy each time, and finally an accidental challenge, when she was unaware she had had potato, confirmed the association beyond doubt.
This case heightened my awareness, but the presentations were variable and bizarre. The most striking cases are worth describing in detail because somebody may recognise a similarity with their own problems. The most dramatic case was a boy aged five who had had frightful behaviour since a baby followed by asthma since age three. Mother was blamed for his behaviour, but he also had thirst, bedwetting, and large smelly floating stools. She had observed that if he had a stomach upset and could not eat for a few days he suddenly became a lovable little boy, but his dreadful behaviour reappeared as soon as he began to eat again.
The possible significance of this observation was dismissed out of hand by a professor of paediatrics, but mother demanded he be seen by an allergist. When I saw him he was almost impossible to examine, and a wide range of skin tests were negative. He had a distended stomach, very heavy shadows under his eyes, and severe asthma, so he was put on a diet consisting of only lamb and rice. All his problems vanished in a few days, and he became a lovely little boy who actually allowed me to take blood without complaint! At school he could sit still and concentrate for the very first time, as shown by dramatic improvement in writing and art work. Separate reintroductions of potato, milk, and wheat all reproduced his problems, suggesting he had wheat and milk intolerance as well as potato. He remained well on a restricted diet, but extensive blood tests were all negative for allergy, and for Coeliac disease..
To encourage him his parents also went on the restricted diet, and to everyone’s surprise father’s personality also improved, but when both father and son ate potato they both became nasty and aggressive. Further enquiry revealed that the only time when father ate potato chips was at lunch on Fridays, explaining why by the time he got home on Fridays he was always nasty and aggressive. Milk or cheese would also make both of them miserable and depressed, and the colic and diarrhoea of another sibling aged six months was found to be due to cows milk and wheat intolerance.
Another little boy aged three and a half was described by his mother as having a Jekyll and Hyde personality, and also had severe eczema. After three days on a test diet of lamb and rice both eczema and misbehaviour disappeared. Test feeds showed repeatedly that potato, milk, and orange squash would reproduce tantrums and eczema and he was transformed from a stubborn, resentful, withdrawn, whining child to a normal happy little boy.
Two other children with perennial rhinitis also had behavioural problems caused by potato. One aged sixteen, suffered uncontrollable emotional tantrums on exposure to tobacco smoke, drawing attention to tobacco belonging to the same botanical family. He also had learning difficulties which vanished on avoiding potato, and he rapidly ascended to the top of his class. Challenges with potato reproduced his symptoms every time, but eventually he could tolerate potato without problems.
Andrew was thirty nine, and since. childhood he had had poor coordination, clumsiness falling over, dropping things, and bumping into things, with short attention span, mood swings and a stammer. His daughter aged eleven also had food and dye intolerances, mood swings, and poor coordination, which were sorted out at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Aged 27 he began to have diarrhoea which ceased on avoidance of gluten, and accidental or intentional consumption of gluten resulted in diarrhoea the next day for three days, and although a biopsy was negative the diagnosis was confirmed on clinical grounds. Aged 37 he began to experience episodes of tingling and swelling of lips and sometimes throat, and increased difficulties with coordination, and accident proneness. He had frequent headaches for which he took large numbers of Paracetamol tablets, and mood swings when he would tend to say the silly things to the wrong people in inappropriate situations. These episodes would occur several times a week at irregular intervals. Fish such as tuna or salmon would repeatedly cause him to fall asleep, and had to be avoided because of driving.
He was advised to go on a ‘few foods’ diet, and a month later he reported many changes for the better. The results of deliberate or accidental ingestion of certain foods were remarkable, especially that when he had had eaten the wrong food his wife had noticed that “he walked with his toes turned out, like a duck” but there was no opportunity to show this on a video. Coordination and manual dexterity had improved markedly, as he could type on his computer much faster, and remember programmes as never before. He no longer fell over, dropped things, or bumped into things. His wife was instructed to begin to introduce foods one by one to find out precisely what to avoid.
On review a year later it transpired that potato was the major problem, especially as gluten free breads usually contain potato flour. He also had a very strong craving for potato, and as he had to travel a great deal on motorways he would have an occasional snack. On six or seven occasions he succumbed to the craving and had a packet of potato crisps, and about six hours later he would have the reaction, which was depression, clumsiness, aggressiveness, and headache. He would also have difficulty in speaking, taking in information, writing, and memory. These effects would last for three days from a packet of crisps, terminated by an attack of diarrhoea. His wife observed that giving him potato concealed in soup caused lip swelling, joint pains, and visual difficulties for three days ending with acute diarrhoea, which presumably got rid of the last traces of potato.Tomato had a similar effect, and exposure to the smell of tomato plants in the conservatory would cause a reaction in the lips and throat in minutes. It was not possible to stop him smoking a pipe, so the effect of this is unknown. He had similar reactions to soya, which made his diet even more difficult,
He gave a remarkable typed statement regarding the effects of potato, as follows:-
“I feel good/high on top of the world. This lasts for two hours max. I have a headache, my lips tingle, my mood changes, I come aggressive, depressed, and my vision deteriorates. — devil may care attitude –hang consequences—I may take risks—this will last for about 2-3 days-my stomach swells up—frequent visits to the toilet- I get blotched hands- -it used to be once a week then 2 time a week and now it is all the time, my complexion goes, my writing goes funny, my vision goes blurred, I lose patience, my feet sweat more than normal and I am tired out. I get fed up with life in general, I get clumsy, hot, insecure, anxious,. I get an increased sense of smell and I wake up in the night and early morning.”
After four years it was obvious that there were great difficulties with the diet, and with compliance because of the cravings. He was the only one of the series who smoked, in this case a pipe, but could not stop. It is unfortunate that this was not possible, in view of the effects of tobacco smoke on many potato sensitive patients.
Potato was the sole cause in five patients out of twenty-two with eczema. Two of them always began to itch when exposed to tobacco smoke The oldest was sixty-nine, had had eczema for 52 years. She came because she was worried about the effects of using steroid creams for thirty years, and had noticed that ‘doing the potatoes’ made the eczema worse. The remarkable improvement and healing after avoidance for eight months is illustrated in the section on eczema.
Potato was an important factor in seventeen other eczematous patients aged from 18 months upwards. The possibility was often suggested by using fresh potato juice routinely for a prick testing. Enquiry regarding effects from handling or peeling potatoes sometimes suggested the diagnosis, because the potato juice gets into the skin through tiny cracks in the skin, thus performing a natural skin test.
Other foods were also involved in seven cases, inhalant allergens such as dust mites and pets in six, and both foods and inhalants in four. These findings emphasise that a quick fix by simply avoiding potato is uncommon, because all causative factors have to be defined and avoided simultaneously. Proof by the effects of test feedings could only be clearly established when all the other causes were also avoided.
Potato as a cause of Eczema
Edith was delightful lady of sixty-nine who had had eczema for 52 years. She had been using steroid creams daily for thirty years, and was worried because her skin had become very fragile and thin, and bruised very easily. Even the tips of her shirt collar rubbing on her neck was enough to cause bruising of the skin.
Six Months no potato
Appearance of forearm skin After no potato for six months
The only clue was that she had observed that she could not peel or handle potatoes because of the irritation and itching of the hands which they caused, so she was instructed to avoid potatoes and tomatoes completely. She soon stopped the steroid creams as the itch had ceased, and by six months her skin was as shown looking healthy and showing the scars of healed scratches on the forearm. The extent of healing at her age after the cause of the problem had been removed was surprising after half a century of eczema and thirty years of steroid creams.
Moira was twenty-three when she developed a widespread itchy rash which was so severe that she was literally clawing herself to pieces. A dermatologist failed to find a cause and he suspected scabies or that she was inflicting this on herself, so her GP referred her for allergy investigation. When seen her condition resembled a very similar case who had been referred by a dermatologist to a psychiatrist who then referred her to me, and her eczema cleared completely after avoidance of milk.. Here are the photographs of this second case at her first visit.
The first clue in this case was that her father had had very severe asthma which was found to be entirely due to milk, and that she herself had always disliked milk, so milk was excluded from her diet with some improvement by three weeks,. Milk having been excluded with benefit, she discovered that she would scratch all night if she ate potato, and that tomato had the same effect. Another member of the nightshade family, the Solanaceae, is tobacco, and she had repeatedly noticed that if she was exposed to a smoky pub she would itch severely after about fifteen minutes, and it stopped when she got out and went home where nobody smoked. She also discovered that traces of milk in bread, beef, rice, citrus fruit, and apples all caused itching.
Three months later she had improved remarkably with avoidance of these foods, as shown below.
After six months on a restricted diet she had completely cleared as shown below, and remained well on a restricted diet. Nowadays she can risk an occasional dietary indiscretion, but still has to be very careful, particularly with milk products.
The clue to tobacco sensitivity was that a smoky pub caused severe itching, but avoidance of milk and milk products including beef, citrus fruits, tomato and potato was necessary to bring about complete clearance. She is now aged forty-six, but still has to avoid these foods completely.
MigraineA farmer’s wife aged seventy recently sought advice regarding migraine headaches several times a week for the last fifty years. The clue was that she had a definite craving for potato, and that tomato seemed to cause a headache next day. She has had no headaches since except when provoked by deliberately taking potato or tomato. It seems unfortunate that she had to wait fifty years for the answer!
Another lady aged fifty who had known allergies to antibiotics insisted on an allergy investigation, and was referred with a letter from her GP stating ”I am not really sure what she is hoping to achieve out of her consultation with you”
Her mother had eczema, her brother asthma and eczema, her son had had eczema, and a grandchild asthma. She had had projectile vomiting as a baby and was reared on semolina. She was a wheezy child but grew out of it, and was healthy until a few years ago. With such a family history it would have been surprising had her problems not been caused by allergy or intolerance.
Her complaint was of attacks of burning and intense itching which began on the arms then spread to legs and the rest of the body. Attacks usually came on after the evening meal and were so severe that she was suspected of having scabies. Three years previously she had noticed that a similar problem was triggered by orange juice or red wine, and she had a definite craving for potato.Violent sneezing attacks were triggered by air fresheners and the smell of washing powders in supermarkets even when she was unaware that she was near them. Tobacco smoke provoked wheezing, sneezing, and itching all over after about twenty minutes exposure in a pub.
All skin tests were negative, but with avoidance of milk, potato, tomato, citrus fruit, and tobacco smoke she became completely free from all symptoms except when accidentally exposed.Eating a small amount of potato or a tomato would reliably reproduce all the symptoms after twelve hours. The vital clue was her itchy reaction to tobacco smoke.
One patient with surgically confirmed Crohn’s Disease experienced complete relief with avoidance and suffered no relapse when drug treatment was stopped. Eating potato skins, but not boiled potato, repeatedly caused colic and diarrhoea, and she has remained well by avoidance..
Two patients with chronic joint pain and swelling were completely better on avoidance, and test feeds repeatedly caused a relapse. Another patient who had had allergic rhinitis for twenty years which made her life a misery also cleared completely except when exposed to smoke.
Because potato is so seldom considered as a possible cause of illness nobody knows how many people are being made ill by potato and other members of this botanical family. After this article on the problems which potato can cause was published on the internet I received emails from all over the world from people who had discovered that potato was causing a variety of problems.
The furthest email was from the Australian outback from a rancher who had found that all his serious emotional problems were being caused by potato. Another acute allergy was in a farmer’s wife who was raising potatoes in Idaho, a State in the USA renowned for growing potatoes. A little girl had a passion for red tomatoes which caused eczema, but not green ones. When she got the chance to indulge in tomato sauce, eczema would appear in two hours. Another reported that she felt wonderful avoiding potato, but eating a few would bring on acute depression and weeping.A medical student had a persistent severe itch for years for which she was taking antihistamines which made her sleepy so that study was an effort. She told me that tomatoes caused immediate diarrhoea, which suggested that she could be allergic to potato, although all skin and blood tests were negative. The itch went after 36 hours of stopping potato, she has no need for antihistamine tablets, feels much brighter and can concentrate better. Her immunological tests were all negative, but eating a potato brings back the itch, so there is no satisfactory scientific proof of the diagnosis.
Another response from Pennsylvania USA is of great interest, and demonstrates how an intelligent patient can sort out her problems in spite of failure by all the experts. Christine had chronic sinusitis, rhinitis, and depression from age 11, but no family history of allergy. She is now aged 35, happily married with three boys who are all allergics in one way or another. She was well apart from her nasal problems until age 30, when she began to have severe colicky pains, aching joints, and very severe diarrhoea (25+ visits per day). Her nasal symptoms also got worse, she became allergic to aspirin and similar drugs, and developed nasal polyps. A facial rash and mouth ulcers also appeared, and she was very depressed and lethargic..
In hospital she was tested for all manner of possible diseases, and finally diagnosed as Crohn’s Disease for which she was ineffectually treated for two years. At this point about six months ago further investigation of her bowel revealed that she did not have Crohn’s, but had a polyp, which was removed, and a gross overgrowth of yeast in the gut, possibly as a sequel to having had a great deal of antibiotics.
Christine was given a course of Diflucan, a very effective antifungal drug, which was helpful, took some probiotics, and she decided “to give up on the doctors”. She began to suspect a food allergy, and in spite of this idea being dismissed out of hand by all her specialist medical advisers, began to keep a food diary. She noticed that she had no colicky pains or diarrhoea on nights when she cooked rice or ate pizza, and had no potato, which she had eaten nearly every night since childhood. Although she felt very sceptical she decided to stop potato, and in a day or so all her troubles vanished. She was a heavy smoker but quit a month ago, which may also have helped. She is now well, but has discovered that Doritos and Pringles, ( which she did not know contain potato), and also oatmeal, will also set off pains and diarrhoea, but she can tolerate white bread. Christine hopes she will continue to be able to avoid doctors !!
When should you suspect that Potato might be the Cause of your Problem?
True allergy to potato is very rare, and. the rapidity of reaction will direct attention to the cause, so that the sufferer should take great care to avoid potato and other members of this botanical family. The range of effects of potato I have seen is so wide that it might be worth while avoiding potato, tomato, peppers, tobacco smoke, (and probably smoking, snuff, or chewing tobacco if the subject is addicted to tobacco ), for a week or two to see if the problem, whatever it may be, will be relieved.It is remarkable that I have never found any effects which could be associated with smoking in potato sensitive patients, but I have seen cases where their allergy problems began when they stopped smoking, and this has been reported by others.
The diagnosis depends entirely on awareness of the existence of potato intolerance, and that almost any symptom can be caused by the Solanaceae. There is no diagnostic test except avoidance followed by repeated challenges. A positive skin prick test with fresh potato juice is suggestive, but there are no convenient scientific tests available and little chance that the diagnosis could be made during a short NHS consultation.
It is now proven and accepted that smoking tobacco causes cardiac problems as well as cancer. I remember that many years ago an allergist called Joseph Harkavy presented impressive objective evidence at every meeting of the American College of Allergy that tobacco caused allergic disease of the coronary arteries – but nobody would take his findings seriously! Perhaps his evidence should be re-examined today
Summary: Widespread adaptation of healthier diets would markedly reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and food production. For the first time, researchers have tied the health impacts of foods to their overall environmental impact.
Widespread adaptation of healthier diets would markedly reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and food production, according to new research from the University of Minnesota and Oxford University.
For the first time, researchers have tied the health impacts of foods to their overall environmental impact. The report, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), concludes that foods with positive health outcomes have among the lowest environmental impacts, while other foods, such as red meat, can be especially harmful to both.
“The foods making up our diets have a large impact on both ourselves and our environment. This study shows that eating healthier also means eating more sustainably,” said David Tilman, professor of ecology, evolution and behavior at the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences.
“Normally, if a food product is good for one aspect of a person’s health, it’s better for other health outcomes, as well. The same holds for environmental outcomes.”
The researchers explored how consuming 15 different food groups is, on average, associated with five different health outcomes and five aspects of environmental degradation.
Their results show that:
almost all foods associated with improved health outcomes (e.g., whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and olive oil) have the lowest environmental impacts;
likewise, foods with the largest increases in disease risks — primarily unprocessed and processed red meat such as pork, beef, mutton and goat — are consistently associated with the largest negative environmental impacts;
the two notable exceptions are fish, a generally healthier food with moderate environmental impacts, and sugar-sweetened beverages, which pose health risks but have a low environmental impact.
Researchers concluded that transitioning diets toward greater consumption of healthier foods would also improve environmental sustainability.
The study underscores recent recommendations from the United Nations and others about the environmental impacts of human diets. An August report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended individuals eat more plant-based foods as a way to adapt to and limit worsening climate change.
“This study shows that replacing red meat with more nutritious options can greatly improve health and the environment,” said Jason Hill, bioproducts and biosystems engineering professor at the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.
“It’s important that all of us think about the health impacts of the foods we eat. We now know that making our nutrition a priority will pay dividends for the Earth, as well.”
Financial support for the study came from the University of Minnesota Grand Challenges Research Initiative, the Wellcome Trust, Balzan Award Prize, the U.S. Department of Agriculture , and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.