Better by Food: No Supplements Required

It is estimated that 75% of chronic diseases are related to diet. So rather than searching for a miracle herb or nutrient, perhaps we need to change what is on our plate. Below are just of a few conditions that have been managed through dietary changes. There maybe more than one dietary change option for a certain condition. Since most of these dietary changes lead to a reduction or elimination of medication, this could mean a big savings in health care costs. It is important to note that before making any drastic dietary change to consult with your nutritionist, naturopathic doctor or other health care provider for guidance.

Asthma patients may benefit by following a vegan diet, which is a diet that excludes all meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. A vegan diet provides antioxidants and magnesium and reduces inflammatory products that trigger allergic reactions in asthma. After one year on the diet, one study showed a 92% improvement in breathing and physical activity. In almost all cases, the need for medications including corticosteroids was eliminated or drastically reduced.

Following a low carbohydrate diet shows promising results for patients with type II diabetes. This is because a low-carbohydrate, combines two approaches that, on their own, improve blood glucose control: weight loss and a reduced glycemic index diet. In one study, after 6 months of consuming less than 20g of carbohydrate a day, patients had improvements in markers of glycemic control, decreased body weight, and increased "good" cholesterol (HDL). Also, 95% reduced or eliminated their need for insulin and oral diabetic medications. Some researchers at Duke believe that this approach could reverse diabetes without adversely affecting lipid profiles.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
The cause of IBD conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's still remains unclear, but the specific carbohydrate diet could shed some light. In some individuals, carbohydrates from some sugars, grain and vegetable starches, and food additives remain undigested in the small intestine and colon. This results in increased fermentation and overgrowth of toxic species of bacteria. Organic acids are then produced, which erode at the intestinal lining and decrease digestive enzymes making digestion of carbohydrates more difficult. This cycle can be stopped by following a diet that includes only carbohydrates that are either predigested or easily digested. So they are virtually totally absorbed in the small intestines. Basically, all disaccharides (e.g. lactose, sucrose), all grain starches (e.g. wheat, rice, corn syrup), starchy vegetables (e.g. potatoes, legumes) and additives such as carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), modified starches, carrageenan, pectin, and xanthan gum are eliminated.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
A low-fat diet enriched with omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fish such as mackerel, salmon, and herring has been shown as an effective therapy in the treatment of MS in a number of studies. This diet slows down the MS disease process, reduces the number of attacks, and decreases mortality. The benefits maybe due to improved neuronal function by decreasing the saturated fat and increasing the omega-3 fatty acids composition of neuronal lipids. In another approach, a doctor was able to reverse her MS by following a modified Paleo diet. Click here to read her story.