How a super food can make you sick
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
We can probably agree that there’s not one diet that suits everyone. But what is the right therapeutic diet for you?
There’s no quick answer to that question but there are certain clues I like to explore to help choose the best fit for my clients.
Some pointers come from new clients who tried certain dietary strategies to help their health because they heard about the latest ‘super food’ – only to find they got worse, or it triggered new symptoms.
For example, there’s plenty of good news spreading about the use of super green smoothies packed with ingredients like spinach, kale, beetroot/beets, parsley, mango to sweeten it, and a few nuts for protein. Next thing they have aches and pains in their body that they never had before, or it got worse. The clue – oxalates!
While this smoothie may be rich in vitamins and minerals, it is also high in oxalates. So a low oxalate diet is a good place to start. But, we need a healthy gut with a good microbiome to process oxalates, so that’s another clue to look at gut health.
Is there ‘leaky gut’, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), or allergies? We need to test to verify the above-mentioned symptoms. But while waiting we can start with the low oxalate diet to see if symptoms improve.
Talking about kale smoothies, I have observed an increase in the number of hypothyroid clients. Kale and spinach are also goitrogens, which are antagonistic to this condition.
The old saying that one man’s poison is another man’s medicine is so true, so you do need to be aware of what you are consuming that could be adding to your health issues. Keeping a comprehensive food and mood journal can be very helpful.
Another classic I have seen is the craze for fermented foods and drinks. Don’t get me wrong, they are awesome for those that need them, but there are many who ‘think’ they need them, but really shouldn’t. To explain…
Say you have gut issues, bloating, varying bowel habits, indigestion, cramps, or smelly gas/wind. You read how friendly bacteria are good for us and fermented foods and drinks help to feed them. So the natural thing is for people to assume that adding friendly bacteria will help them.
For some this is true and they feel great for making the decision to add more fermented foods and drinks into their diet. But…if they have SIBO and it’s quite likely they do, then eating and drinking fermented foods will actually make them worse by feeding an overgrowth of bacteria in their small intestine.
They actually need to stop these foods and also restrict all fermented foods, sugars and some types of fibre by going on a SIBO diet, while at the same time treat the bacterial overgrowth with various herbs etc. Then when the bacteria are back in balance, fermented foods can become gold.
Now to share a little about ‘Bone Broth’. Amazing stuff and great for healing leaky gut, BUT what about those with histamine sensitivity or SIBO? There’s that SIBO thing again! Things like bad bacteria and parasites actually secrete histamine so if someone is trying to heal ‘leaky gut’ and it gets worse, then think about histamines and also treating SIBO.
By now you probably realise that everything comes back to the gut. Well, you are right! Good gut health should be the foundation to any healing program.
As you can see, it’s important to see your medical or health care professional for qualified guidance about the therapeutic dietary approach that is suitable for your body.