Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Sweet Chestnuts

with 11 comments

Unlike some of the pseudo-foods we eat today, chestnuts are a food that has been eaten widely as a staple for a number of centuries. Though they first appear officially in the food timeline in the 1st Century, broken chestnuts shells have been found in large quantities at palaeolithic sites.

In the mountainous areas of the Mediterranean where cereals would not grow well, if at all, the chestnut (Castanea sativa) has been a staple food for thousands of years (Jalut 1976). Ancient Greeks and Romans, such as Dioscorides and Galen, wrote of the flatulence produced by a diet that centered too closely on chestnuts and commented on the nuts’ medicinal properties, which supposedly protected against such health hazards as poisons, the bite of a mad dog, and dysentery.

Moving forward in time to the sixteenth century, we discover that “an infinity of people live on nothing else but this fruit [the chestnut]” (Estienne and Liébault 1583), and in the nineteenth century an Italian agronomist, describing Tuscany, wrote that “the fruit of the chestnut tree is practically the sole subsistence of our highlanders” (TargioniTozzetti 1802, Vol. 3: 154). A bit later on, Frédéric Le Play (1879, Vol. 1: 310) noted that “chestnuts almost exclusively nourish entire populations for half a year; in the European system they alone are a temporary but complete substitution for cereals.” The Cambridge World History of Food

There are many different cultivars of chestnuts and distinctions are made in France between the common châtaigne and the better marron – known as the Spanish chestnut in English. There are American, Japanese, Chinese, and European varieties. They are not the same as horse chestnuts (conkers), which are poisonous without considerable processing to remove the tannins. Castanea sativa.

Despite having some medicinal properties, chestnuts have not been studied in great detail by science. I am sure that chestnuts help me to relax, ease my back pain, and make my skin look better than normal. During a brief spell of recovery prior to discovering the failsafe diet, I had reduced my vegetable consumption and I was eating a lot of chestnuts. I do not know whether they are merely failsafe, or whether they contain a beneficial polyphenol (like milk thistle), or whether they contain essential sugars, or some other substance.

At this time of year you can find roast chestnuts for sale from small carts in most city centres in the UK and Europe. I have always adored chestnuts and can never get enough of them! They can be bought from farm shops and farmer’s markets and some supermarkets. I do not know how commonly they are seen in the US and Canada but I would be interested to know.

I have a very good tolerance level for chestnuts, I am sure that I tolerate them better than I tolerate the equivalent quantity of Brussels sprouts. Chestnuts have not been tested for salicylate content and do not appear on any lists of safe/unsafe foods. I had hoped to donate some money in order that they and some untested seeds/grains would get tested as I believe they may be failsafe or near-failsafe, but instead the Food Intolerance Network selected some strange non-calorific amine/glutamate containing foods that included seaweed, persimmon wine, and yellow tomatoes… a list of foods I refused to pay for! Perhaps I will approach them again and request to ‘buy’ the tests once my house sale goes through and I have some money.

I am currently eating about 100 grams of chestnuts most days and getting on with them relatively well for me – better than I would be with lentils, Brussels sprouts, beans or garlic – all allowed on the elimination diet. I also seem to tolerate the châtaigne variety better than the marron, which seems ever so slightly aromatic.

Does anyone on failsafe want to trial sweet chestnuts and give me some feedback on how well you get on with them?


Written by alienrobotgirl

14 November, 2007 at 4:50 pm

Posted in Failsafe Foods

11 Responses

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  1. Welcome back to blogging! Hope the dog is doing OK.Sorry – I’m not on Failsafe, but I did have some chestnuts in a game stew on Friday. Very nice.


    14 November, 2007 at 11:22 pm

  2. I’ll give it a go if they’re not too expensive.


    15 November, 2007 at 9:53 am

  3. Just cutting a cross in the bottom and roasting them on about 220C for 25 minutes.


    15 November, 2007 at 3:32 pm

  4. How are you preparing them, out of curiosity?

    Mother Nuture

    15 November, 2007 at 3:20 pm

  5. Your blog is brilliant. You HAVE come a long way.One point I’m confused on…aren’t poly-phenols the enemy if you’re pheno sulfo-transferase system is not working?I am not able to tolerate the majority of foods on failsafe…many of them contain poly-phenols. Chayote is the only vegetable I can tolerate.The book “Staying Healthy with Nutrition” details phytonutrients, including various poly-phenols and lists the phytonutrients in most common foods. This made it clear to me why I am unable to eat lentils and all grains except millet; they often contain quercetin and various other poly phenols. I notice that many people on Failsafe are not able to eat a lot of the ‘failsafe’ foods.Thanks so much for all the wonderful information you have shared.


    16 November, 2007 at 4:57 pm

  6. Hi Anon,Beneficial polyphenols are few and far between, but I think they exist. Milk thistle (silymarin) is one, as it raises glutathione levels. That’s not to say it doesn’t have side effects. Quercetin is interesting because although it wreaks sulphation, it also suppresses leukotriene production and relieves a lot of the inflammatory problems of failsafers. I can only take around 175mg of milk thistle – more than that gives me brain fog.


    16 November, 2007 at 9:03 pm

  7. I’ve discovered your blog through random googling on salicylate intolerance (and also amine issues) and was going to post comments on some of your posts, but realized some were from early last year, so I thought I’d post some really random comments here.At one point you mentioned you were going to try kombucha and/or sauerkraut. It’s my understanding that at least sauerkraut is very high in amines. I was taking raw sauerkraut to help increase friendly bacteria, but am wondering if it made my itching and other symptoms worse…Also, fish oil was mentioned. I read elsewhere that it too may be high in amines.Re vitamin K (and also your post on bicarb of soda for sals): As you probably know by know most foods high in K are high in sals. That’s where I think that high-dose and high-quality probiotics may be part of the answer. First they help make the natural vitamin K we need — esp if we aren’t getting it from foods, and second, they create an acidic environment that helps control the bad bugs and yeast or fungal issues that may be a big key to all of this. Bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda) alkalizes (sp?) the gut…probably not a good thing, at least long-term. Fungal and yeast infections thrive in alkaline environments, hence the reason magnesium may cause candida to grow faster…Finally…do they sell No-Fenol and/or Phenol Assist in the UK? I’ve tried them off and on before w positive outcomes, but haven’t been able to afford to take them on a regular basis. Products like No-Fenol help break down phenolic and salicylate foods, I think by helping to separate the carb portion(?), and many with AS and/or autism and/or just plain old anxiety have reported improvements that sound too good to be true, but again, when I took them (also Peptizyde, which helps digest casein in milk and gluten), my anxiety went so low that I thought I could quit my klonopin cold turkey (which of course I didn’t). Medicaid pays for klonopin (clonazepam) but not digestive enzymes or probiotics…I’m rambling…I’ll shut up. Just wanted to add my two cents.Thanks for creating this blog!Dan


    30 November, 2007 at 9:19 pm

  8. One post for the whole of November! I’m missing your wisdom!Seriously, hope you are doing OK and that the dog is being fun.


    1 December, 2007 at 9:25 am

  9. Sorry I cannot help with the test of chestnut (= chataigne in French, right?)because I am kind of healed from salicylates trouble now (mainly via my sticking a few months at least to Optimal Nutrition, which is my personal best bet). I will try and find in my students files who would be ready to try. Alas, we have not that many failsafes-to-be over here. They generally do not have to go that far and get better in a more simpler way, with my “true food” programme emphasising on uncooked wholesome fat. Happy to read you again. You are one of the few I regularly readbut I can understand that being confronted with religious beliefs is hard to someone who is fact-oriented. I had the same feeling but had a chance to give so many conferences and seminars in the last 12 years that my will to share was fulfilled. I am leaving that field too. Finishing the next 12 books (true! no writer’s block on my part) in the next 12 months (they are introduced on I will then start a project (kind of “docteur aux pieds nus”) teaching African women to cultivate spirulina in their backyard for complete nutrition. Or work with horses. Or paint. But will not stop blogging because I need it to feel structured.Sorry this is getting too longCiaoTaty


    2 January, 2008 at 8:02 pm

  10. Hi DanI’m aware that kombucha/sauerkraut/fish oils contain chemicals. I try to be open minded about vaguely plausible alternative therapies at least until I’ve tried them. In this instance, probiotics were a resounding failure that did indeed give me many problems. I don’t regard probiotics/bad bugs/candida/etc in the least bit relevant to food chemical intolerance. This reflects the feedback from probiotic trials done by hundreds and thousands of failsafers in Australia, who also found them irrelevant.Vitamin K – only K1 foods are high in salicylates. Vitamin K2 is found in animal fats and fermented foods and is actually more potent. I prefer to get my K2 from animal fats. Having done multiple trials, I don’t think K2 is very important. It acts as an anti-glutamate, that’s about all.I could get hold of No-Fenol and Phenol Assist if I wanted to. But I’m not really interested in them as the chemistry of what they do makes me think they’re a placebo. They turn one kind of phenol into another kind of phenol. This doesn’t have much to do with salicylates or polyphenols. We don’t even know if single phenols per se are reactive. Peptizyde for opioid peptides is probably more useful.

    Alien Robot Girl

    30 January, 2008 at 1:55 pm

  11. […] Solanine can be a problem for failsafers and for the general public. Solanine levels tend to rise in potatoes that have started to sprout or go green, though the green colour itself is chlorophyll. Different varieties of potatoes seem to have different levels of solanine. Solanine symptoms are usually gastrointestinal – consisting of hiccups, acid, nausea, and stomach upset including cramps. Solanine can also give you heart palpitations. For the first couple of years or so that I was on the failsafe diet I thought I didn’t tolerate potatoes. I thought that perhaps baking potatoes formed glutamates because of the strange symptoms I was having. Actually, I eventually figured out it was the solanine content. Now I am more careful, I tolerate jacket potatoes very well. I have experimented with a few varieties of potatoes. I definitely don’t do well on generic potatoes packaged as ‘baking potatoes’ – particularly ones with that peculiar creamy flavour – I get heart palpitations and hiccups. Potatoes with too much solanine seem to be the only food on earth that can give me hiccups. However, I do very well on Maris Piper potatoes. I think my Autumn carb staples are going to be potatoes and sweet chestnuts. […]

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