Thursday, February 05, 2009

Food, Allergies, Gastrointestinal Distress, Migraines: Hello, Family

Justine Raphael bases her family's eating plan on the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Diet created by a British pediatrician and the similar Specific Carbohydate Diet developed by a Canadian biochemist. Both ban processed foods, all starches, some dairy products and an assortment of other foods, including soy and okra. Both claim to relieve everything from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to autism.

Such diets may seem "really extreme, but it's all relative to the degree of suffering," says Dr. Patricia Restrepo, a physician and clinical dietitian in Miami. "If I'm really suffering with something, I'm willing to go to an extreme to make a difference, to see results, to heal the whole intestinal tract."

Many of Restrepo's patients have endured years of gastrointestinal misery, allergies and migraines. While she doesn't prescribe the GAPS Diet per se, she says winnowing patients off wheat and processed foods "is the only thing that has given us great results'' in many cases.

Raphael reports "some amazing changes'' in her family's health. Seventeen-year-old Eli, whose colitis was so severe she required blood transfusions, "has grown and gained weight. She looked anorexic before." As for Mom, "I don't get colds anymore; the digestive symptoms are gone. . . . My immune system is obviously happy. My husband noticed the same thing -- the digestive symptoms he thought were normal are gone."

None of which is to say that you need to sign onto Raphael's diet in order to embrace her kitchen savvy. Nor do you need pricey kitchen gear, just "a couple of good knives, a cutting board and some pots."

From a good article on food in today's Miami Herald.

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