The Epilepsy Diet Made Simple
The Epilepsy Diet Made Simple
by Dogtor J.
Many of you have expressed the need to have this work simplified, especially health professionals trying to make sense of my recommendations. I do understand and will vary from my stated philosophy, that being that I do not believe in fast-food medicine and that the more you understand, the better you will be able to apply these principles. We do live in a world with the fast-food mentality and this has reduced our time, patience, and the mental energy needed to really deal with the vital issues that face us. Sad but true.
So, here are the nuts and bolts of “the G.A.R.D“….the glutamate/aspartate restricted diet…that has helped so many pets and people with epilepsy, ADHD, insomnia, fibromyalgia (pain syndromes), chronic fatigue/depression, IBS/heartburn, and much more. It should make perfectly good sense. If not, once again, I have not done my job….yet.
1) There are 4 known “foods” that can induce villous atrophy of the duodenum*: gluten, casein, soy, and corn. The gluten comes from the gluten grains: wheat, barley, and rye. Casein comes from cow’s milk products and is mostly absent in goat’s milk. The absence of casein in goat’s milk is what makes it the “universal foster milk.” (*The duodenum is the first section of small intestine after the stomach. The villi are the tiny, finger-like projections that absorb nutrients. Atrophy is the wasting away/destruction of these villi.)
2) Adhesives are made from these four foods. Powerful, industrial-strength glues are made from gluten, casein, and soy. Corn is also used to make adhesives but those made from this food are weaker, used for paper/cardboard products whereas those made from the other three can be used to make glues capable of holding metal together. The glycoproteins from these foods are clearly VERY adherent.
3) Simple-stomached animals (non-ruminants) are incapable of completely breaking down these “glues”. Celiacs are the proof. These troublesome glycoproteins DO adhere to the duodenal villi after passing from the stomach, surviving the acid designed in part to break it down. This is the known pathophysiology of celiac disease. This adherence and the ensuing immune response causes serious damage to the duodenal and even jejunal villi.
4) The duodenum is responsible for the absorption of calcium, iron, iodine, B complex, vitamin C, and many trace elements (zinc, boron, manganese, lithium, magnesium, and more). In fact, 95% of the intestine’s vitamin D activity (involved in calcium absorption) takes place in the proximal (first) one third of the duodenum. (Here’s the rub: I have yet to meet a doctor…veterinary or human…that knows or remembers this simple truth concerning the absorption of nutrients taking place in the duodenum. In fact, I have had a number of doctors look me in the eye and tell me that it absorbs “nothing”. This is unfathomable to me, although I did not know this either, until I began my research. Therefore, I am NOT throwing stones here. But I am very disappointed in the educational process that we as health care providers go through if basic truths like these are lost.
5) The official number now being published by the medical profession (Johns Hopkins University and Mayo Clinic) is that 1:122 Americans have celiac disease (gluten intolerance). This is a staggering number and a vast change from “a rare disorder affecting less than 1:5000 people” that was being purported at the time of my diagnosis 5 years ago. BUT remember: wheat is only one of the four gut-damaging foods and is only the number two human, dog and cat allergen. Cow milk is number one. Casein intolerance is bound to be even more prevalent.
6) The allergies to these four foods (gluten grains, cow’s milk, soy, and corn) are formed at the time the damage to the gut is taking place. These four foods are the top human, dog, and cat allergens for a reason. They are the PRIMARY allergens- those that do harm to the gut and elicit an immune response in the process. All other foods allergens are SECONDARY to this damage, drawing an immune response as they pass through the damaged gut. This is called the “leaky gut syndrome” and this is the accepted pathophysiology of adulthood food allergens in celiac disease, not a theory.
7)There are antibody-sized glycoproteins that we derive from foods that are now termed “lectins”. It is crucial that we understand these dietary proteins and the potential harm they can do. There are good and bad lectins in our food components, with the most damaging being from the same four foods listed above. For a great paper on this subject and a good discussion of their involvement in immune-mediated diseases, click on this link (http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html).
8) Glutamic acid (glutamate) and aspartic acid (aspartate) are two NON-essential amino acids. Our bodies manufacture all of the required amounts of these two amino acids from other proteins. Glutamate is one of the principle neurotransmitters in our brain. The amount of glutamate at the synapse is regulated by the adjacent glial cell (astrocyte), which removes excess glutamate from the synapse to prevent over-excitation of the impulse-receiving neuron. Glutamate is not only neurostimulating, it is potentially neuro-lethal. Excessive glutamate at the synapse is the described pathomechanism in Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), with that excess leading to the death of that neuron. Similarly, the “glutamate cascade” is the known cause of brain death regardless of the cause of our bodily death. Therefore, it is clearly very important for the synapse to have the proper level of glutamic acid present at any given moment. Excessive glutamate can lead to overstimulation of neurons (e.g. seizures, reduced pain threshold, sleep disorders, and emotional disturbances) or neuronal death (e.g. ALS).
9) Glutamic acid is the parent protein in MSG (mono sodium glutamate). MSG is used as a neurostimulator, acting to sensitize the open-ended nerves in our taste buds so that food will taste better. MSG is a KNOWN trigger of seizures, as is its sister amino acid, aspartic acid- the parent protein in artificial sweetener in aspartame (Nutrisweet). Both are neurostimulators (and “excitotoxins”, as Dr. Russell Blaylock terms them) and the very proof lies in the purpose for their use in the food industry.
10) It has been commonly held that blood sources of these two neurostimulating amino acids do not cross the “normal” blood brain barrier, that layer of cells that protect the brain by limiting the passage of certain blood components into the brain. This contention is only partly true, as there are areas of the brain that are not protected by the normal blood brain barrier. Also, the key word in the above contention is “normal”. The question is whether we have normal barriers any longer. Air pollution, hydrogenated oils, and normal immune/allergic responses are known to alter the permeability of the blood brain barrier. Therefore, with 90% of prepared foods containing trans fats, with most of us living in highly polluted environments, and with huge populations of us experiencing significant allergies, it is reasonable to question the integrity of our “normal” blood brain barrier.
11) Wheat gluten is 25% glutamic acid by weight. Casein from cow’s milk is 20% glutamic acid by composition. Soy protein has much more glutamate than either of these two. Corn contains the least amount of these two non-essential amino acids but it DOES potentially do harm to the intestinal villi and IS a very common food allergen. This has become even more of a problem as we have genetically modified corn, the evidence of which came in the recent news concerning Starlink corn (CRY9C), the culprit in the “Taco Bell shell” fiasco a few years back. The reader should really search out the complete story.
12) 70% plus of the calories of the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) come from dairy and wheat alone, the number one and number two food allergens in humans, dogs, and cats. Remember: The damage they do to the gut is the root cause of the allergies. These foods are loaded with glutamate. Allergic reactions affect the blood brain barrier. The products made from these foods are often very high in refined sugar and hydrogenated oils.
13) Cow milk products, wheat, and soy are the leading sources of dietary estrogens. Dairy products have been related to breast cancer, prostate cancer, endometriosis, and polycystic ovaries. Dairy and soy have been both incriminated in altering the onset of first menses in our children, with dairy first bringing that age down from 15 to 12.5 years and soy bringing it further down to 8 years of age (in 16.7% of our little girls). Estrogens are both inflammatory and immune suppressive. Their role in breast cancer is well documented, setting the stage for the viruses that cause breast cancer. (Put “virus, breast cancer in your search engine.) Estrogens play a role in catamenial seizures (inflammatory), PMS (obvious), and in the immune suppression that helps unleash the opportunistic viruses that we have acquired over our lifetime, including Epstein Barr and others that occupy our brain. Put “virus, seizure” or “virus, epilepsy” in your search engine and read about the viral agents known to be involved in seizures.
14) The damage to the duodenal villi results in a chronic, progressive malabsorption of the nutrients it normally absorbs. Again, those nutrients include calcium, iron, iodine, B complex, and vitamin C along with numerous trace minerals. Evidence of this malabsorption is everywhere you look in this country- osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, thyroid diseases, folate deficiencies, and immune incompetence. Celiacs represent the worst of the worst, acting as a “who’s who” of what goes wrong with humans, dogs, and cats. Growth abnormalities, juvenile bone diseases, dental issues (cavities) , and iron deficiencies are obvious evidence of the malfunction taking place in the duodenum. In veterinary medicine, the most food allergic breeds have the worst juvenile bone disorders and suffer the worst cartilage failure as adults (intervertebral discs, heart valves, and supportive ligaments such as anterior cruciate ligaments). The evidence of the chronic malabsorption of calcium and vitamin C…the building blocks for our skeletal system (collagen) is EVERYWHERE once we see this KNOWN process is taking place. What we can’t readily see is how normal enzyme systems (e.g. those in the liver, kidney and brain) that control blood and neuronal glutamate levels suffer from the deficiency in those vitamins critical to the function of that enzyme. What we DO see is the consequences- the effects of the excess glutamate in the brain in the form of seizures, pain syndromes, insomnia, and neurodegenerative diseases. Another element that is difficult to accurately measure is the competence of the immune system. But you do not have to be a doctor to know that an individual that is not getting adequate levels of vitamins and minerals would have a less than perfect immune system. Celiacs stand out here once again, leading the pack in immune incompetence (e.g. fighting mono, shingles, and herpes), immune-mediated diseases (lupus, rheumatoid disease, etc), and cancer (e.g. a 50 fold increase in colon cancer). Put “cancer, virus” in your search engine.
NOTE: In April of 2006, I came to understand something very important about viruses, their role in nature, and their place in what we call diseases. I encourage the reader to examine my newest section, Viruses-Friend or Foe. I am now thoroughly convinced that much of what we call “disease” is simply the reaction of viruses that are in situ (some of which are known to be embedded in our very DNA) to noxious stimuli, some of which we term “carcinogens” when they are powerful enough to cause these viruses to form tumors, their ultimate adaptation. As in cancer, I believe the virus(es) involved in epilepsy cause seizures because it is the right thing for them to do in order to protect the neuron. Excessive glutamate is not only neurotoxic but potentially neurolethal, as illustrated by Lou Gehrig’s Disease and by the glutamate cascade that causes the death of our brain regardless of the cause of our bodily death. I believe that seizures help prevent neuronal death in the epileptic by disposing of excessive glutamate. AND, I believe that the viruses that take up residence in the glial cells “know” exactly what they are doing by making this occur in that it is a form of adaptation to the conditions (malnutrition) and insults (lectins, excitotoxins, chemicals) with which they are faced, just as other viruses form tumors to protect themselves and the cells they were designed to protect from the carcinogens we keep throwing at them. Adaptation…which is what viruses were designed and created to do.
15) The G.A.R.D. is primarily an elimination diet. It is “simple” but not necessarily easy. It is certainly much more easily accomplished in our pets tat in our own lives. In the dogs and cats, it can be a simple as changing from pet food “A” to pet food “B” after checking the ingredients. However, eliminating snacks and treats seems to be just as hard for some pet owners to do as it is for them to do in their own lives. What to eliminate becomes quite obvious, dictated by the condition being treated and degree of affliction. The “worst of the worst” require the strictest elimination, often showing marginal recovery without doing so but demonstrating significant improvements when enough is done right. Once the molecular nature of the immune system is understood, the reason for the variation is response is very clear.
16) The first to eliminate are the “big 4″ (or the four horsemen of the apocalypse, as I like to refer to them)- gluten, casein, soy, and corn. This shuts off the damage being done to the duodenal villi, a step of paramount importance in the full recovery from any condition imaginable. Logic should dictate this to be true…and it does. This also eliminates the top four primary food allergens and main sources of glutamate, estrogens, and lectins. Could this step be any more important???
17) The next step is to eliminate the “crack cocaine” versions of these non-essential amino acids…MSG and aspartame. This can be difficult in the human diet and often requires intense research for the hidden sources of MSG. There are MSG and migraine support Websites that deal specifically with this issue. Diet drinks must be eliminated immediately. Put “aspartame syndrome” in your search engine and believe the testimonies that you read.
18) Eliminate the other sources (listed in the following article) of glutamate. Peanuts, for example, are VERY high in this non-essential amino acid, being soy’s closest cousin. All legumes are rich in glutamate as are the bean family (not green beans), which include garbanzo, lima, black, kidney, and navy. Lentils are also rich in glutamate. Certainly, these foods are nutritious in other regards, but for those battling excitotoxin-related disorders, they should be limited until full recovery is attained. Then, perhaps as the body functions (enzyme systems, blood brain barrier, neuronal sensitivity, and tissue health) return to normal, these can be eaten again. Perhaps not.
19) RUN from hydrogenated oils. For an incredible read, click here for David Dewey’s Hydrogenated oils- The Silent Killers (http://www.dldewey.com/hydroil.htm). You will see how these trans fats- one of man’s worst creations- play a vital role in atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, and in neurodegenerative and immune-mediated conditions. Learn how they kill an American every 3.5 seconds. In the context of our discussion, they damage the blood brain barrier, disrupting enzyme systems, and allowing excess glutamate levels to build in the brain by preventing their exclusion. Thankfully, pet foods do not contain appreciable amounts of these deadly fats. But after reading David’s article, you may have a clue why pet’s do not suffer from clinical atherosclerosis…yet.
20) In summary: The G.A.R.D. allows the gut to heal, thereby reversing the malasorption of nutrients that are vital to the health of all tissues and systems, including the brain and immune system. It is also naturally hypoallergenic, which relieves symptoms and improves the function of the blood brain barrier. It is low in dietary estrogens, which in turn reduces inflammation and improves immune function. And mainly, the G.A.R.D. is low in the non-essential amino acids glutamate and aspartate, which clearly ARE crossing into the brain in the same fashion as their concentrated forms (MSG and aspartame), causing over-excitation of neurons. The elimination of the offending foods has resulted in phenomenal improvements in seizures, pain syndromes, insomnia, ADHD, bipolar disease, and even MS and ALS. Because these foods are also the primary food allergens, their restriction also relieves numerous symptoms such as nasal congestion, asthma, heartburn, IBS, skin allergies, ear problems, and more. And when the immune system recovers from the malnutrition and over-stimulation from which it has been suffering (being over-worked and under-paid, as I stated in The Answer), it can better handle the viruses, bacteria, mycoplasms, and air pollution it faces everyday. As we learn more and more about the role of viruses in cancer, immune-mediated diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases, we will easily see how our food choices have contributed so greatly to our downfall. Imagine an immune system capable of not only fighting off these opportunistic organisms but also even being capable of eliminating many of the ones that we have harbored for years.
Sound too good to be true? The bottom line is that this elimination diet works! And, it should make sense…. perfectly good, common, everyday horse sense. If it doesn’t, then………yes……..I haven’t done my job….yet.
Here are a couple of great sites for looking up the nutritional profiles of food, including their glutamate and aspartate content:
Simply click on the food you are inquiring about, then scroll down toward the bottom of the page until you see the chart in the Nutritional Profile section. There is a click-on link after that chart (just above the References section) that reads “In Depth Nutritional Profile for (chosen food)” . Click on that link and then just scroll done to the aspartate and glutamate listings. Make note of the serving size at the top of the chart so that you’ll be making an accurate comparison. You will quickly see the huge difference between the glutamate/aspartate content of healthy fruits/vegetables versus items such soy, wheat, barley, and the bean family (with the exception of green beans).