What is the G.A.R.D.?
Through ten years of medical and nutritional research, I developed The G.A.R.D.– an elimination diet for the treatment of most conditions afflicting man and his four-legged companions. The original meaning of the acronym was the glutamate & aspartate restricted diet, being derived from the fact that The G.A.R.D. placed a premium on the elimination of two non-essential amino acids, glutamic and aspartic acid, the parent proteins in MSG and aspartame (NutraSweet), respectively. These two neurostimulating amino acids play a major role in epilepsy, migraines, insomnia, ADHD, autism, fibromyalgia and numerous other neurodegenerative diseases. It was not hard to see that the food sources of these amino acids- grains, dairy, soy/legumes, and nuts/seeds- were also playing a major role in the manifestation of these common medical conditions.
The worst offenders- gluten (from wheat, barley, rye), casein (from dairy), and soy- were also the leading causes of damage to the intestinal lining in sensitized individuals, resulting in villous atrophy of the small intestine, which is the diagnostic lesion of celiac disease. What I came to see was “the big 4” were the only foods that caused our intestinal villi to shrink away, often leading to severe nutrient malabsorption. No wonder gluten intolerants suffered from major deficiencies in calcium, iron, iodine, B complex, C, trace minerals (e.g. zinc, selenium, magnesium), and even severe weight loss. The banishment of these “four horsemen” led to a steady stream of incredible testimonials, as the intestinal tract of these afflicted individuals healed and their myriad of symptoms resolved. The second meaning of The G.A.R.D. was born- the gut absorption recovery diet.
There is no tissue nor any bodily function that cannot be negatively affected by the malabsorption syndrome and direct cellular harm caused by the proteins (lectins) of the “big 4”. As I remind my clients, our bodies do not run on oxygen and water. Although these are critical to our survival, our heart, lungs, brain, liver, kidneys and other organs need nutrients to operate properly. These include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are absorbed by the small intestine and any of which can be rendered deficient by the intestinal damage caused by the “big 4”. Warning signs abound as this process worsens, including heartburn, IBS, allergies, pain, fatigue and memory loss. In reality, there is no long-term symptom or chronic illness that cannot be related to this process, including cancer. This Website attempts to clearly illustrate that point while the testimonials from those who have applied The G.A.R.D. to their myriad of illnesses serve to prove it.
In cases of epilepsy and other “excitotoxin”-related disorders to which the G.A.R.D. can be applied (e.g. pain syndromes, ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, insomnia, and neurodegenerative disorders such as MS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s), the diet is not only a quick Band Aid for the existing symptoms but also a major component of the long-term solution for these conditions, as the more in-depth papers of The GARD section will explain.
The easiest way to understand the rationale behind the diet is to see that most neurological conditions involve diseased neurons and glial cells, the latter being cells that support the neuron and control the level of glutamate at the synapse (e.g. the astrocyte). We know that these dysfunctional cells can’t handle MSG and NutraSweet so it would follow that they would have difficulty dealing with the other dietary sources of these non-essential amino acids. I have proven this to be the case in dogs (which get no MSG or aspartame) and have also shown the interval between consumption of the “big 4” and seizures to be 4-6 hours as opposed to the 30 minute interval seen in MSG or aspartame sensitive people.
If the neurological condition is severe, as many of the sources of glutamate and aspartate as possible should be eliminated at once. In these serious cases, it is clear that the diseased neurons cannot handle the dietary load of glutamate. But, as the individual gets healthier though the elimination of the “big 4” (gluten, casein, soy and corn) and the function of their neurons, immune system, thyroids, pituitary and adrenal glands all improve, they will ultimately be able to handle the secondary sources of glutamate. Once recovery is achieved, these can be reintroduced slowly while monitoring the response.
Here is The GARD in a nutshell:
1) Eliminate all of the “big 4”- gluten (wheat, barley, rye), dairy products, soy and corn.
2) Eliminate all sources of MSG and aspartame (NutraSweet)
3) Restrict the intake of nuts, seeds and beans/legumes until recovery is achieved. (Legumes may be a long-term problem.)
4) Limit the consumption of gluten-free grains (quinoa, millet, flax, sorghum, amaranth and even rice) until symptoms have improved.
5) Limit caffeine intake
6) Limit intake of refined sugar
7) Eliminate all trans fats (hydrogenated oils)
8) Try to eat as organically as possible (to eliminate toxins/pollutants)
9) Drink filtered water
10) Take appropriate supplements (D3, omega threes, B complex, C, magnesium, selenium, magnesium, iodine, zinc, etc.)
What TO eat initially:
2) Fruits and berries
3) Lean meats* and fish (*in reasonable quantities, preferably the “cattle”- lamb, beef, venison, bison)
4) Eggs (nature’s true perfect food)
5) Sweet potatoes
6) Potatoes (well-cooked and if not nightshade intolerant)
7) Limited quantities of rice
Once recovery is well underway, you can add:
1) Gluten-free grain substitutes (millet, flax, sorghum, tapioca, amaranth, quinoa)
2) Nuts and seeds (with tree nuts being ideal)
3) Legumes/beans (if necessary and if desired. Some individuals are completely legume intolerant. I would always avoid soy, however!)
Go slowly at first with these safe (non-damaging but glutamate-rich foods), making sure that symptoms do not recur. They shouldn’t as long as the leaky gut (created by one or more of the “big 4”) has resolved and the neurons have become healthier. But this process takes longer for some than others, especially in highly polluted environments. My worst and most resistant epileptics, for example, always live in the most polluted cities, especially those of the northeast, where vitamin D3 levels will typically the lowest among individuals living above the 33rd parallel.
For more information on vitamin supplements, antioxidants and diagnostic testing to insure your recovery, please see my paper How to Start Treating Just About Anything.
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