Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Archive for July 2006

Diet intolerance

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This is a condition suffered by individuals in reaction to logical dietary choices on the part of others, which they the sufferer cannot comprehend.


The condition is characterised by violent knee-jerk reactions to dietary choices that contradict the individual’s existing world-view of what is and is not ‘healthy food’. Scientific and nutritional understanding of the constituents of food and their biochemical impact on the body do not figure in this disorder, which is purely emotional.

‘Healthy food’ is by definition a politically-loaded term that evokes varying reactions in the afflicted individual ranging from disgust, horror, shock, judgementalism, self-punishment, and guilt, through to approval, admiration, and smugness. The afflicted individual does not react based on the taste of the food being judged, for example, revulsion, nausea, salivation, hunger and enjoyment do not figure in this disorder.


An individual suffering from Diet Intolerance can come from any walk of life and regard any diet as ‘the correct diet’. They can often be identified by their use of the following erroneous and loaded statements:

  • Any diet which cuts out a whole food group is not healthy
  • You should not cut out carbohydrate because your body needs it for energy
  • Cutting out fruit and vegetables means you will miss out on all of those wonderful “phytonutrients” and “antioxidants”
  • Meat makes you aggressive
  • All that fat and cholesterol are going to give you heart disease
  • Fruit is nature’s candy
  • Cutting out this food is unnatural
  • How can you eat that greasy food?
  • Vegetarians are much healthier than meat eaters
  • You should focus on eating a ‘sensible’, ‘healthy’ diet to lose weight, instead of following ‘fads’
  • If we didn’t eat any food that was supposed to be bad for us we would all starve
  • There must be something very wrong with you if you can’t eat a healthy food like that
  • Go on, just a little bit won’t hurt
  • Focussing on diet is not resolving your ’emotional issues’
  • You know this is all in your mind don’t you?

The condition is characterised by judgementalism, patronisation, and sneering. Sufferers typically look down on others as inferior human beings and regard them as being in some way mentally impaired for failing to agree to the sufferer’s terms of what constitutes ‘a healthy diet’. They may:

  • Be prone to judging other’s physiques and finding them lacking
  • Obsess about their own physique
  • Themselves suffer from a real or imagined weight problem or problem with their figure
  • Regard severe restriction, dieting, or self-punishment as admirable
  • Regard the enjoyment of food as a form of gluttony
  • Regard those who are overweight as having ‘no self-control’

Furthermore, sufferers are unable to distinguish between their own choices and other individual’s choices. For example, a sufferer who hears about another’s diet which contradicts their own way of thinking will often assume that the other is judging them for failing to follow a diet identical to their own. The resultant feeling of inadequacy can result in unprovoked attacks against the other’s diet or lifestyle.


Many, many individuals suffer from a very mild form of this disorder which manifests as flippant bitchiness, or regarding others as ‘a bit bonkers’. Whilst this is not in itself pathological, it can become so under certain circumstances when the sufferer feels under pressure (real or imagined) to acknowledge that they may not have an ideal diet, figure, weight, personality, or the mental capacity to understand why this may be so, despite their determined efforts to produce perfection.


Treatment consists not of pointing out the sufferer’s affliction and inadequacy, but instead focusses on demonstrating to the sufferer that no one else actually cares how much they weigh, what they look like in jeans, or what they like to eat. Once individuals realise that they are not in themselves being judged, they are usually able to stop judging others in return.


Written by alienrobotgirl

27 July, 2006 at 12:53 pm

Dermatitis and oxalates

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I happened on this very old article by a dermatologist, written in 1929.

All sorts of dietetic regulations have been laid down as part of the treatment of acne and seborrhoea, mostly useless. The patient must of course avoid overeating and drinking, food which upsets the stomach, and food containing much oxalates. The importance of the latter restriction is not generally appreciated. I may mention the ease of a dermatological colleague who suffered from seborrhoea. In conversation with him over a case, he laughed at my fad in telling the patient to avoid altogether rhubarb, spinach, pineapple, and to only take moderate amounts of beans, cauliflower, and tea. Last summer he told me he was converted to my opinion, as he had personally found that after eating rhubarb he had an exacerbation of his seborrhoeic troubles. My attention was first directed to this many years ago. I was consulted about an epidemic of skin trouble in a large school for girls. The cases were so numerous that it was thought to be some infectious disease; the school infirmary was overflowing with cases. I found them to be all acute seborrhoeic dermatitis. Of course, this is not uncommon among adolescent girls, but in this school it was beyond all normal proportions. I was a little puzzled to account for this but when I left the infirmary by the back door, I came upon one of the biggest plantations of rhubarb I had ever seen. Investigations about the diet demonstrated that the school authority had a theory that lots of rhubarb was good for health. The girls had rhubarb jam for breakfast and tea, rhubarb pies or stewed rhubarb for dinner and supper. Acne and seborrhoea were common in the school at all times. I advised a no-rhubarb diet, with almost immediate good results, and the great rhubarb plantation was scrapped. After clinical experience and observation, my opinion is amply confirmed. Always investigate what oxalic foods the patient is taking, and if much oxalate of lime is found in the urine, treat your patient for a time with small doses of hydrochloric acid with meals and magnesia between meals. SOME DERMATO-THERAPEUTIC NOTES by A. W. WILIAMS, Can Med Assoc J. 1930 June; 22(6): 821–825 [PDF]

An interesting and amusing anecdote!

Written by alienrobotgirl

18 July, 2006 at 11:32 am

Bloating and weight gain

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One of the interesting things I’ve read in “E for Additives” which I didn’t know about is that most of the E100 azo and coal tar dyes are known to cause oedema (bloating), and angioedema (swelling under the skin, welts). A number of them have also been found to disturb the thyroid and adrenal function of rats and other test animals. Some have been found to cause anaemia (including ones regularly used to colour vegetarian meat substitutes!). Some cause loss of protein in the urine and a reduction in lean body mass – something I can relate to. My lean body mass crashed during my most reactive period.

Last week I had another case of the “magic 2 lb weight gain from nowhere” after eating a small quantity of children’s party food at a family get together (it was either eat it or be rude and starve) that contained colourings and flavourings. Having accounted for calories and glycogen, there is no other explanation.

One thing that happens during these bloat/weight gain reactions is bloating at the top of the stomach. There are a lot of women in this country who are afflicted by the “three months pregnant” look, but they are usually binge-drinking ladettes! My instinct is that this kind of bloating is related to the adrenal glands, but I could be wrong.

Here’s a pleasant thought:

When BHA is used with BHT, twenty times the usual amount of BHA is stored in the body’s fat. Maybe this is why undertakers report that bodies take longer to decay these days. “E for Additives” p. 163

I had not considered that a number of these chemicals are fat soluble, and will be stored in the body and released during weight loss! I wonder if they cause ongoing problems?

Written by alienrobotgirl

17 July, 2006 at 11:57 am

E for Additives by Maurice Hanssen

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“E for Additives” by Maurice Hanssen is an essential guide to E-numbers. Information on each E-number is presented individually, including potential toxicity. It is a British book first published in 1984, and revised and reissued in 1987. Despite its age the contents are not out of date and it continues to describe the situation with E-numbers pretty accurately. Everyone should own a copy of this book.

The book includes sixty pages of information at the start covering everything from the hidden additives in beer and wine, to the reason battery farmed egg yolks are yellow and farmed salmon is pink. One interesting thing to note is that white bread usually contains the undeclared flour bleach, benzoyl peroxide, a chemical to which the salicylate sensitive will react in a high enough dosage.

Included is a very useful chapter examining the connections between hyperactivity, misbehaviour and poor academic performance in children, and additives in food. The Feingold diet (the precursor of failsafe) is discussed, including the illuminating results of a study (Schoenthaler SJ, Doraz WE, Wakefield JA, International Journal of Biosocial Research, 1986, 8(2); 185-195. “The Impact of a Low Food Additive and Sucrose Diet on Academic Performance in 803 New York City Public Schools”), in which a first-phase Feingold diet resulted in a 15.7% increase in mean academic ranking over and above the national average. The diet did not eliminate amines or salicylates, and obviously meals eaten at home were beyond the control of the study. One wonders what would have occurred on a strict elimination diet!

Written by alienrobotgirl

17 July, 2006 at 11:21 am

Posted in The Science of FCI

Colour not to be sneezed at

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The “Feedback” page of this week’s New Scientist (15th July 2006) contains the following observation:

AND on the subject of drugs… a reader’s son was recently diagnosed with allergic rhinitis – hay fever to most of us. The family GP prescribed a modern antihistamine, desloratadine, in the form of a bright orange, bubblegum-flavoured syrup.

Dad, a chemist, was interested to read the list of ingredients. These include the colorant E110, also known as Sunset Yellow FCF or Orange Yellow S. According to the European Union website, E110 is (by virtue of its “E”) a regulated food colouring agent. Its list of rare but known effects includes hives, rhinitis (runny nose), nasal congestion, allergies, hyperactivity, kidney tumours…

Obviously, dose is all when it comes to toxicity, but surely the manufacturers could find a colourant that doesn’t cause the same symptoms as the problem the medicine is supposed to treat. Dad insists his 10-year-old would take his medicine whether it was bright orange or not. As it is, if his symptoms persist, how will the GP know what to blame? New Scientist

It’s great that the New Scientist is pointing out these very stupidly obvious facts to the public, but they aren’t going far enough. One has to question the morality and motives of medicine manufacturers who package the cause of the illness in with the cure.

Considering around 30% of asthmatics react to azo dyes – which serve no purpose except as cheap colourants for the advantage of the manufacturer – and 17% of adults suffering chronic urticaria and/or angioneurotic oedema react specificially to the dreaded E110 Sunset Yellow, the likelihood of a reaction in a child suffering allergic rhinitis is hardly “rare but known”, in fact, based on these figures one could easily make a ball-park guess of a one in five chance of a specific reaction to the medication. “Obviously” dose is all when it comes to toxicity: tolerance being close to zero in a significant chunk of the population, particularly children.

Written by alienrobotgirl

17 July, 2006 at 10:56 am

Egg deficiency

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Eggs are a Paleolithic food.

I have a very, very slight allergy or idiosyncratic histamine reaction to eggs. The reason I know I have an allergy or histamine reaction to eggs, is because if my immune system is having a busy day, eggs will make the back of my throat itch within seconds of eating. When my sister was small she had an allergy/reaction to eggs that was more pronounced, she would get a rash around her mouth and an itchy throat. This is the same way I react to my genuine allergies – to dust mites, animal dander and pollen. This is also how I know that other vague reactions to wholefoods like milk and grains are NOT allergies! If they were allergies, I would get allergic symptoms!

I may react to many forms of sulphur and to folate, but I’m very fortunate in that I don’t really react to eggs, in fact organic eggs are one of the few foods that I can eat which I can guarantee is completely safe for me.

I’d like to speculate that much of the planet is suffering from a dietary egg deficiency.

The interesting thing about eggs is that they contain a perfect ratio of the amino acids required by the human body.

The reason that eggs smell sulphurous when they are old or rotten is because they are comparatively very high in the sulphur-containing amino acids, methionine and cysteine, as well as containing a few free thiols.

In fact, though meat is as near as we get to another perfect protein, all meat is much lower in methionine and cysteine than eggs. Beans are even less perfect and extremely deficient in methionine. Occasional strange foods like Brazil nuts are high in methionine (but not cysteine), but these foods are very few and far between. In short, if you want to get enough sulphur-containing amino acids on a restricted protein diet, you need to eat eggs! Any protein that you eat which is not eggs is deficient in methionine and cysteine.

Unlike muscle meat, eggs also contain goodly amounts of folate. The interesting thing about folate is that it is required for DNA methylation. This is the mechanism by which a folate deficiency can cause neural tube defects in the unborn. However, folate is difficult to acquire in the diet. It is actually present in tiny amounts in “foliage” (another case where “eat lots of fruit and vegetables” is poor advice), and large amounts in liver and beans, but pregnant women are being scared away from eating liver, and no one eats beans.

However, the folate path is not necessarily required. DNA methylation is also performed by methionine, whereupon it is converted to homocysteine. Choline is converted to betaine (TMG) and can act to take homocysteine back to methionine without the need for folate at all!

I feel safer eating eggs, which contain some folate and plenty of methionine and choline, than I would if I were eating my RDA of folate alone. Methionine and choline decrease folate and B12 requirements!

It is extremely impractical to eat a diet containing the inflated US RDA of folate (400mcg compared to 200mcg in the EU) from wholefoods alone – which would have to consist largely of wheat germ, lentils, beans and liver. Isn’t it about time health authorities stopped scaring pregnant women away from eating eggs and started tackling neural tube defects head-on by promoting egg consumption instead of such unreasonable demands?

Written by alienrobotgirl

12 July, 2006 at 1:34 pm

Posted in Vitamins

No we don't eat more protein

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It seems there isn’t a day goes by when someone in the media is making an ill-informed remark about the Atkins diet.

Women’s magazines in particular, really have the knife out. They seem to spend half of their time ripping “celebs” to shreds for being on diets designed to make them skinny, and the other half of their time printing pictures of overweight D-listers and laughing at them, presumably designed to make their readership feel better.

Women’s magazines just can’t figure out whether they want us to be fat or thin. One minute all attempts at weight-loss are unhealthy and anorexic, the next minute they’re giving some poor girl a slagging because her bum is too big.

The thing is, if you are a skinny or an overweight celeb, you are guaranteed to get in a woman’s magazine. Pick up any woman’s magazine, and you have an almost 100% chance of finding pictures of poor, anorexic Nicole Richie (her of the chihuahua-look), Posh Spice (who opted for a bizarre pineapple diet in order to go skeletal for the world cup), Britney (who is sporting the most unattractive pregnancy), and Charlotte Church, (who is only there because she eats junk food and is gaining a stone a year). The other person guaranteed to be found is Jennifer Aniston, who is “still in love with Brad”, and variously has “lightened up and relaxed her strict low-carb diet”, “gained a beer belly since she met Vince Vaughn”, and “stressed and thin and unable to get pregnant because she is on Atkins”.

Every week the same magazines have a new celebrity diet along the lines of “how I lost 10 pounds in only 5 days by eating salads and exercising”, or “how I lost weight sensibly by doing exactly what Weight Watchers told me to”. The same magazines, when they analyse a celebrity low-carb diet, invariably employ a bogus nutritionist like “Dr” Gillian McKeith to find it lacking. “We require carbohydrates for energy and can’t live without them!” is the pat reply she invariably trots out.

This kind of fluff might be alright for the pasta-eating masses, but a quick search of BBC News quickly confirms the anti-Atkins bias is still alive and kicking in the more reputable end of the media. According to recent news reports from the BBC:

  • High meat diet ‘can stress baby’.
  • Following a low carb diet could cause serious health conditions, doctors have warned.
  • Girls ‘diet for pop star bodies’ (this is Atkins’ fault)
  • The New Year may be diet prime-time, but more are opting for balanced eating plans instead of ‘trendy’ diets.
  • Low fat diets ‘as good as Atkins’
  • The controversial Atkins diet is to come under government scrutiny amid growing concern over obesity figures, it is reported.
  • Critics of the Atkins diet claim it can have consequences such as kidney damage, thin bones and high cholesterol.
  • The potential long-term consequences of high-fat diets are still unknown, they warn, and are likely to include a higher risk of diabetes and early heart attack.
  • A recent study warned that the diet might also reduce woman’s chances of conceiving.

These claims of dire consequences for health were all addressed by Anthony Colpo before he took down his site. One of the most interesting aspects of these claims is they largely relate to isolated studies of high-protein diets, largely on rodents, and largely performed with artificial foods like soy protein isolate. However, human beings are not rats, and meat comes with a number of vital fat-soluble cofactors missing from soy protein, which is high in oxalic acid (chelates calcium out of the body and causes gallstones and kidney stones) and phytic acid (reduces mineral absorption), and phytoestrogens (which act as contraceptives).

This really is a dreadful situation. The Atkins diet is ironically being blamed for the ill effects of soy protein consumption!

Real world studies of Atkins dieters find they have better bone density, lower cholesterol, and perfectly functioning kidneys. Numerous diabetics attest to the Atkins diet reversing their high blood sugars and helping them to normalise their weight. One of the most ludicrous aspects of this media assault is that studies have found that Atkins dieters really don’t eat any more protein than the average person! The real differences in the diet are the reduction in carbohydrates, not an increase in fat and protein. Meat consumption across all industrialised countries stands at around 7.4 ounces per day, and in America it stands at around 12 ounces per day. I defy anyone to eat more than that!

How about the BBC spending more time getting doctors to quote on the largest source of calories in the American diet, sugary soft drinks? Going through pages and pages of sugar related articles on the BBC, I find only six on health: four negative but solely related to the use of soft drinks in schools, and two positive! According to the BBC, “sugary snacks cut stress”, and heparin (inappropriately labelled “sugar” in the title), may help reduce cancer.

Heaven help us. The BBC won’t.

Written by alienrobotgirl

12 July, 2006 at 9:33 am