Category Archives: Mood Disorders and Diet

Mood Disorders in Children and Diet

This is an interesting article on how important traditional fats are to mental health in our children.

‘We’re Not Eating What We Should Eat’

By Agnes Blum

Eat fat, be healthy.

It’s not nutritional advice that one hears every day, but it was the message at the Northern Virginia Whole Food Nutrition Meetup on Saturday Jan. 30. About 40 people braved the impending snowstorm and met at the restaurant Food Matters in Cameron Station to discuss how food can affect mood and health.

Paula Bass, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, spoke to the crowd as they ate a breakfast of local foods. Bass, who has been practicing in Northern Virginia for 30 years, fuses a traditional psychotherapeutic approach with nutritional wisdom.

Drawing on experiences with her patients and her own battles with health problems, she told the audience how a change in diet could dramatically alter health. One theme emerged over and over: we need saturated fat, the kind you get from animals.

“When you take the fat out, you’re taking out all the good nutrients,” Bass said, explaining how saturated fat helps keep the brain chemically balanced. “Without it, symptoms can mimic a psychiatric illness and then you do have a psychiatric illness, because that’s the way you’re feeling every day.”

One little girl, for example, had always excelled in school but had begun having breakdowns and lashing out at friends and family. It turned out this second-grader had, up until recently, been eating a whole-foods breakfast with plenty of fat — pancakes, eggs, bacon — and was now eating sugar-cereal and skim milk because of the morning rush at home. Bass recommended to her parents that they ensure she eat a breakfast full of protein and animal fats. They did, and her problems disappeared.

“Food can directly influence a child’s brain,” Bass said. Many people who suffer from mood disorders today — everything from depression to ADD — can trace their problems to a diet lacking in nutrients and fats, she said.

“The only vegetable I saw growing up was canned string beans,” Bass joked. She traced her own turnaround in health to when she began to follow the principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation, which uses education, research and activism to promote healthy living. Their guidelines are: eat pastured meat, probiotics such as yogurt, organic fruits and vegetables and strictly avoid sugar, vegetable oils, white flour, soy and additives such as MSG. “We’re not eating what we should eat,” Bass said. “And what we are eating damages the manufacture of healthy cells.”

A nutrient-dense, traditional foods diet will go a long way in protecting our children’s physical and mental health. For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

A Serious Look at the Trends of Children’s Physical and Mental Health Today

When considering the disturbing rise in the percentage of degenerative diseases, brain disorders and mental health issues in children today, intuition would suggest that these statistics will not improve without drastic changes in the trends that have lead us to this looming catastrophe. In the book, The Truth about Children’s Health: The Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Preventing, and Reversing Disease, by Robert Bernardini, MS (PRI Publishing, 2003), Bernardini points to the fact that children are far less healthy today than in the 1950s—that we have forgotten what a healthy child is—that diseases have become so common, that we think this trend is not unusual.

Another book, Is Your Child’s Brain Starving?, by Dr. Michael R. Lyon, MD and Dr. Christine Laurell, PhD (Mind Publishing, 2002) makes these profound statements:

  • ADHD, Autism, OCD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and depression have become rampant in today’s kids. What happens when these children grow up? Without real solutions to these conditions, the future of our world is in jeopardy.
  • Think of this: a very subtle downturn in the overall intelligence of our population would have a profound effect on society. If the average IQ decreased by only 5 points, the number of individuals officially considered to be mentally retarded/disabled would increase by 50%, while the number of individuals officially labeled as “intellectually gifted” would decrease by 50% ( The whole course of history could change if such a shift were to take place on a global scale.
  • Although the brain is built to survive and perform under adverse conditions, optimal brain performance requires optimal nutrition. Brain cells are the most sophisticated cells in the body. They need a wide array of nutrients.
  • Junk food, contaminants like pesticides and heavy metals, and a decrease in dietary nutrition cause a deadly combination against the brain.

In a review of Bernardini’s book by Janice M. Curtin, she explains:

Beginning with a report on the status of children in America today, Bernardini asks the question I have raised many times. “If you’re an adult reading this who is older than about 40 years of age, I’d like you to think back to your childhood. How many kids did you know who had leukemia, asthma, diabetes, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, autism or were obese? Chances are, you may have known a few. Perhaps the kid down the street had asthma. Maybe there was a distant relative who had juvenile diabetes. Or you heard on the news about some rare child with leukemia. Now, it seems like everywhere you turn, you read or hear about a child with a serious health problem. How many kids do you know of who are on Ritalin or were diagnosed with a learning disability? There are whole hospitals devoted to children’s cancer. Asthma and diabetes are now considered epidemics.”

Bernadini points out that “we live in a universe of laws. These laws that don’t care if you’re black or white, Japanese or Mexican, 90 years old or still a fetus. These laws are fundamental in the nature of matter and energy and determine how life progresses. If we live in harmony with these laws, we will as consequence live in harmony. If we break the laws, we will become discordant. Enough of this discord will create sickness, disease, and aberrant behavior.” Dr. Price expressed this fact in a similar manner as “Life in all its fullness is Mother Nature obeyed.”

Bernadini explains that whenever a health problem occurs, we must determine what the problem really is and determine the cause of the symptoms. Then we must apply our knowledge and technology in a way that works with nature, not against it, in order to get our children well. A good example of this might be the treatment of ADHD. Bernardini recommends removing the heavy metal toxicity from a child’s tissues and giving him a good diet instead of giving him Ritalin. If you do not remove the cause you never truly get rid of the problem. It may, however, seem to disappear but then surface in a new way.

Bernardini also addresses mental and emotional health and the growth of violence in our schools. “According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the years between 1985 and 1995 saw a 249 percent increase in gun-related murders committed by juveniles.” Bernardini says our kids are going crazy because “they’re not happy. And they’re not happy because they’re not healthy.”

Furthermore, “People are getting sicker younger and younger–physically, mentally and emotionally. And it’s not by chance –it’s because our bodies are not being treated and cared for the way nature intended.” Our children are exposed to environmental toxins which their small bodies cannot handle and they are stressed out and poorly fed.

Bernardini stresses that the diet of pregnant mothers and infants during the first few years of life is critical to their health and happiness later on. He quotes Susan B. Robbers, Ph.D, professor of nutrition at Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston, who says, “As a nutrition researcher, I have spent 20 years studying the importance of healthy food at all stages of life. . . Studies from my own laboratory and others around the world have taught me that the foods my daughter eats during the first months and years of life have long-lasting–and in some cases–permanent effects. Foods make an important difference in virtually everything–from mental and physical developments to vitality, personality and health from childhood through old age.” Bernardini provides extensive information on the foods and nutrients your baby needs, what these nutrients do, and how to get them.

Bernardini’s dietary advice is in line with that of Dr. Price. Characteristic of the entire book, Bernardini is not afraid to tell us that it is important for your growing child to get enough fat in the diet. “Newborns must derive 50 percent of the calories they consume from dietary fat. Fat is essential for normal growth from infancy on, since fats provide fatty acids, the building block children need for critical metabolic programming of brain growth and development.” Bernardini gives specific advice on how to feed your child. He includes our recipes for homemade baby formula and recommends cod liver oil, egg yolks, raw whole milk and liver.

Dr. Bernardini fearlessly addresses an array of controversial topics including birth defects, infertility, baby food and formula, soy, vaccines, and SIDS. He gives extensive advice on what to avoid but also has plenty of support and resources on ways to deal with any problems your child may be experiencing already.

Bernardini does a good job of empowering us to be proactive. He is particularly concerned that we take back responsibility for our own and our children’s health. He gives good advice when he says: “You must scrutinize closely the information you receive from the government and the mass media. Policy decisions, guidelines and laws are oftentimes made not so much for the preservation of our health, but for the preservation of profits. Big money can do big things, including influencing our government. A 1980 study showed that almost half of the leading officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had at one time worked for organizations the agency is mandated to regulate. Similarly, many FDA officials quit to go work for a company in the field they were once regulating. . . . Do some research and ask some questions. Don’t necessarily believe somebody just because he or she is on the nightly news, in the papers or is a so-called ‘expert.’ Make yourself the expert. Learn to seek answers, not just accept what is foisted upon you–for the truth is often quiet and the truth is often hidden. Truth is not in it for the money, it just is. Truth doesn’t advertise.” He reminds us to be wary of the advertisers and be watchful that we do not become brainwashed. We must constantly be aware of the fact that we could lose our health freedoms if we are not educated, aware and vigilant about protecting them.

Although the problems we are seeing today may seem overwhelming in their scope, it is the responsibility of an alerted society to protect future generations of children from the suffering caused by the obvious mistakes and profit-driven decisions that have given birth to a wildly untamed massive power structure and authority that we cannot afford to blindly support. As statistics are showing seriously unfavorable trends in wide areas of health, we have no time to waste in correcting this path, for our children’s ability to thrive depends on our courage to help change this misguided direction of history.

The enlightened work of the Weston A. Price Foundation and the expansive healing information it is providing, which is helping to reverse these trends, must be communicated in exponential proportion to every person by those who understand and have experienced its power. Through understanding the root cause of our mistakes and the proven answers to these problems, we can steer a sinking ship from disaster to great hope for a brighter future for upcoming generations.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Interesting Article on Butter

As you know from my blog by now–raw butter from grass-fed cows is an amazing nutrient-dense food. It is one of the foods that saved my life. It helped to heal my gut and gave me the important saturated fat I needed to be able to absorb the nutrients in my food. Dr. Weston A. Price found that healthy cultures ate plenty of traditional saturated fats–raw butter being extremely common, especially for the people in the Swiss Alps. In fact, raw butter in the spring time was considered a sacred food! Below is an interesting article I received about butter.

Pass The Butter … Please.

This is interesting …

Margarine  was originally manufactured to fatten  turkeys.  When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put  all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their  heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get  their money back. It was a white substance with no food appeal  so they added the yellow colouring and sold it to people to use in place of butter.  How do you like it?   They have come out  with some clever new flavourings….

DO  YOU KNOW.. The difference between margarine and butter?

  • Both  have the same amount of calories.
  • Butter  is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8  grams; compared   to 5 grams for margarine.
  • Eating margarine can increase  heart disease in women by  53%  over  eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent  Harvard  Medical Study.
  • Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in  other foods.
  • Butter  has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and
  • only  because  they are added!
  • Butter  tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavours of  other foods.
  • Butter  has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years .

And now, for Margarine..

  • Very High in Trans fatty acids.
  • Triples risk of coronary heart disease …
  • Increases  total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and  lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)
  • Increases  the risk of cancers up to five times..
  • Lowers  quality of breast milk.
  • Decreases immune response.
  • Decreases  insulin response.

And  here’s the most disturbing fact….

  • Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away  from being PLASTIC… and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT
  • These facts alone should have you avoiding margarine for life  and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is  added,  changing the molecular structure of the  substance).

You  can try this yourself:

Purchase  a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded  area.  Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things:

  • no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it  (that should tell you something)
  • it does not rot or smell differently because it has  no nutritional value ; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weeny  microorganisms will not a find a home to grow.  Why?   Because it is nearly plastic .  Would you melt your Tupperware and  spread that  on your toast?

Share  This With Your Friends…..(If you want to “butter them up”)!

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Bone Broth Soup–A great recipe for one of the best foods in the world

Regularly eating bone broth soup has many wonderful health benefits. There is an old Latin saying, “Good broth raises the dead.” So what are the magical attributes to this slow food that have given it such an honor?

Bone broth is one of the easiest foods to digest. It is loaded with a wide array of easy-to-assimilate critical nutrients like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, cartilage, marrow, amino acids and vitamins. The cartilage in broth will help you heal your own cartilage. Bone broths are also rich in gelatin, which can aid digestion and help to heal the intestinal tract.

In today’s world where everyone seems to have calcium and other nutrient deficiencies, good old-fashioned bone broth is the form of these nutrients that we can best utilize.

Bone broth can be made from chicken, fish or beef bones (for beef and chicken, pastured is best–free-range, organic is next best. For fish–wild-caught.) The most important thing is to add a little vinegar or wine to the water when simmering the bones as it pulls  the nutrients out of the bones and into the broth. Here is a wonderful bone broth soup recipe made from beef bones.

Rich Beef and Vegetable Bone Broth Soup

1 oxtail
1 knuckle bone
several marrow bones
several soup bones
2 T. vinegar
1-2 lb. stew meat
2 -3 large onions-chopped
4 large carrots-sliced
4 large beets-sliced
1/4 lb. Swiss chard-chopped
1 large bunch of parsley-chopped
other vegetables of your choice
2 cups dry red wine
filtered water to cover bones
Celtic Sea Salt to taste

In a large stock pot or crock pot, take the bones and cover them with water and put in the vinegar. Cover the pot and let the water come to a boil. Turn to simmer. When the meat from the soup bones and oxtail is cooked, take the meat off these bones and set aside in the refrigerator. Put bones back into same pot and continue simmering for about 24-36 hours!! (This is how you get nutrient-rich broth.) You may have to add water from time to time. After 24-36 hours, strain the broth and skim off the fat. Add the wine, meat from the bones, stew meat and vegetables. Simmer for about 2 hours. Salt to taste. (For easy lunches take a thermos of soup! Never heat in the microwave–it destroys the nutrients.)

For more information on a healing diet and nutrient-dense foods, see

Best in health,

Kathyrne Pirtle

Concentration, mood and digestion–what’s the relationship?

Artists know very well that the ability to concentrate is critical to both practicing and performing. However all of us need these concentration skills to do well in our everyday lives. In addition mood instability that curtails a sense of well-being may impact our success. Today the cutting edge treatments for working with children who have autism, ADD, ADHD and mental health issues is a dietary protocol based on nutrient-dense foods that also maximizes digestion and absorption. This is because this scientific community has proven that this approach has offered remarkable advances in the reversal of all of these problems. These very same advances for serious ailments in children have a direct relationship on how we can look at what is helpful for optimal concentration and mood in less critical health situations.

When the diet is high in difficult-to-digest foods like high-fiber, complex carbohydrate and processed foods or sugar, digestion can slow down and cause an overgrowth of candida in both the stomach and the intestinal tract. The byproduct of sugars broken down by yeast (candida) is alcohol and acetaldehyde. The byproduct of poorly digested gluteomorphine protein from gluten grains is a morphine-like chemical. Need I say more! That alcohol and morphine would affect both the mood and the ability to concentrate even in small amounts is obvious. Acetaldehyde will bind itself to proteins we consume and make their nutrients unavailable to the body. Additionally, these foods become very addictive because of the chemicals they produce under these circumstances.

Therefore–changing your diet to foods that are easy-to-digest and nutrient rich is the best way to insure that your body and mind are able to function at peak performance.

Optimal digestion requires certain components.

  • The first is good intestinal flora, which helps us to break down our foods and keep the intestinal walls and villi functioning well for optimal nutrient absorption. Foods that enhance good gut flora are old fashioned probiotic, high-enzyme  foods like cultured dairy–whole fat kefir and yogurt; lacto-fermented vegetables–homemade sauerkraut and pickled beets and cultured drinks like kombucha and beet kvass.
  • Second, a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods such as meats, poultry, eggs and dairy from animals eating their natural diets and traditionally made bone broth soups
  • Third, a diet that includes traditional fats like butter, cream and coconut oil which help with nutrient absorption, cell integrity and hormone function.
  • Fourth, adequate vitamin A and D from natural sources like cod liver oil, egg yolks and liver also for nutrient absorption

For more information on healing and building optimal health with nutrient-dense, traditional foods, see

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Do you get hungry two hours after eating breakfast?

If you are getting hungry two hours after eating breakfast, you may be choosing the wrong kind of foods for your morning meal and this may be a sign that you have absorption problems as well. Let’s look at both of these important issues.

First, a breakfast of cereal, toast or a bagel with non-fat spreads and a piece of fruit may not be the breakfast of champions! For years before I got deathly ill with a digestive disorder, my favorite breakfast was bagels, no-cholesterol “buttery flavor” spread and a piece of fruit. Another choice was a bowl of cold cereal. However by 10AM, I was very hungry again. This is not good. A healthy breakfast is not one that would leave you hungry in just a few hours.

Instead, a breakfast with higher amounts of protein and fat from traditional foods will literally nourish you until the afternoon and will offer far greater levels of nutrients. In our book we recommend a few great breakfasts that besides being nutrient-dense, will also help improve digestion. Smoothies made with 16 oz. whole fat kefir or yogurt (preferably raw milk from grass-fed animals), 2-4 raw egg yolks (from pastured chickens–not commercial eggs), fruit and 1 T. coconut oil are a fabulous breakfast. Another is old fashioned bacon (organic, no-nitrate) and eggs (from pastured chickens). Nutrient density is the key to building optimal health and maintaining blood sugar meal to meal. Nutrient-dense foods have ample high-quality traditional fats, protein and carbohydrates.

However, another reason that you are hungry just two hours after eating may be that you are suffering from inflammation in your intestinal tract. Inflammation is usually caused from bacterial imbalances in the gut flora like a candida overgrowth. When inflammation is present, nutrient absorption will be hampered and a person will feel hungry very quickly after eating a meal. After years of malabsorption, malnourishment is sure to follow.

For optimal health we need eat foods that are high in nutrients and also those that will support good digestion. For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Best in health,
Kathryne Pirtle

“All disease comes from malnourishment”–Dr. Weston A. Price

These profound words of Dr. Weston A. Price came as a result of  a 10 year meticulous study of healthy populations worldwide. Dr. Price, a prominent dentist in the 1930’s, was a pioneer on the quest to understand why the majority of  his patients in the United States had crooked and crowded teeth, cavities, facial deformities and degenerative illnesses of all kinds. He did not feel that this was normal and traveled during the summers of a ten year period to see if he could find populations of people with perfect health. He found 14 cultures who had completely different diets that had this perfect health–no cavities, perfect facial structure with plenty of room for the teeth and no degenerative diseases–including TB.

Although their diets were different, Price found certain common key components. First, the diets had 10 times the amount of vitamin A and D from natural sources–like cod liver oil, egg yolks, organ meats, fish eggs and traditional fats–like butter and cream from grass-fed animals–foods that we are largely told to avoid. Next, he found that their diets had ample traditional fats such as butter, cream, lard, coconut oil and meat with its fat. He found that without both adequate vitamin A and D and traditional fats, that a person could not absorb the nutrients from the foods they ate no matter how good the diet. Lastly, he found that their diets consisted of high quality proteins from animals eating their natural diets, and they ate no refined foods whatsoever.

Importantly, Price found that when people from these same cultures moved to areas where they were able to have access to modern foods–white flour, pasteurized milk, refined sugar and vegetable oils–that they developed cavities and degenerative illnesses and in the next generation, the children had crooked and crowded teeth, cavities and poor health as well.

Today, cavities are commonplace, our entire population is exhibiting  crooked and crowded teeth and the percentage of people–adults and children alike–affected by degenerative disease of all kinds, is growing at an exponential rate. Our modern food supply is a large part of the reason this is happening as our foods are highly nutrient-deficient.

If we follow Dr. Price’s work, we will see that the future of the health of our people lies in improving our broken food supply in favor of traditionally raised, nutrient-dense foods. When we correct malnourishment, healing and building optimal health are possible.

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

A “Healthy” High-Fiber/Lowfat Diet may actually lead to digestive disorders and chronic inflammation

The “healthy” high-fiber/low fat diet diet that has been given the greatest press by doctors, ads and news reports may actually be quite harmful for your digestive system and leave you over time with chronic inflammation, allergies of all kinds and malnourishment.

High fiber foods are quite difficult to digest as they are high in cellulose. First, when we eat a high amount of fiber, it can expand in our stomach and cause digestion to last longer. This can lower the stomach acid in the stomach making it difficult for the food to be broken down. As soon as stomach acid lowers, bacteria, viruses and fungi can thrive in the stomach where they normally will be kept at bay. This can cause over time a candida overgrowth.

A  candida-or yeast-overgrowth-in the stomach will pass into the intestinal tract causing bacterial imbalances and dysbiosis. Some of the symptoms of dysbiosis are acid reflux, flatulence and bowel disorders of all kinds like constipation or diarrhea. With a candida overgrowth, our foods are not broken down properly, we cannot absorb nutrients well, our intestinal tract can become damaged and inflamed and we eventually can become malnourished. This cycle can cause systemic inflammation throughout the body as well as allergies.

Traditional fats are essential for nutrient absorption. Dr. Weston A. Price ( found that the diets of healthy populations worldwide included ample fats, like butter, cream, lard and meat with its fat from pastured animals, coconut oil and eggs from pastured chickens. He determined that without adequate fat in the diet, a person could not absorb the nutrients from the food no matter how good the diet. When the Indians and explorers could only find lean meat, they starved to death. Adequate fat from traditional foods is absolutely necessary to good health and without it, good digestion will not be possible and eventually one will become malnourished and have chronic inflammation.

Following the media’s “healthy” diet may not provide you with a life-time of good health. Building health with traditional nutrient-dense foods can offer healing and protection from digestive disorders and chronic inflammation.

For more information see

Autism and Poor Mental Health– “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”


Gut and Psychology Syndrome:
Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., A.D.H.D., Dyslexia, Depression and Schizophrenia
By Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, MMed(nuerology), MmedSci(nutrition)
(Published by Medinform, 2004)

Just as Dr. Weston A. Price was baffled by the amount of chronic illness in his patients and sought to identify the parameters that could foster such a trend, so too does Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride advance our understanding of the underlying factors present in a growing percentage of people who are suffering from brain disorders and mental illness. The latest estimates are that 1 in 150 children is diagnosed for autism alone and 1 in 94 boys is on the autistic spectrum. She states that although genetics is often given as an explanation for brain disorders such as autism and ADD/ADHD and psychiatric illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, genetics could never cause an exponential increase in health or developmental problems—because genetics work much more slowly. As a parent of a child diagnosed with learning disabilities, Dr. Campbell-McBride has boldly sought to identify elements common to people with brain disorders and mental illness and craft an effective approach to improving their condition. When genetics is no longer used as a “scapegoat” for health problems, then and only then will accurate knowledge and solutions be found.

Through studying the health of hundreds of patients with autism, learning disabilities, psychiatric illness and other problems, Dr. Campbell-McBride discovered that in all cases these children and adults had digestive problems, often of a severe nature. Through her research, she has determined that there is a distinct correlation between unhealthy intestinal flora, poor digestion and toxicity from chemicals created by undigested foods that can severely affect brain chemistry. She coins this as “Gut and Psychology Syndrome,” or GAPS.

But if a child develops problems such as autism or ADD/ADHD at an early age, how can that child have already developed poor digestion? This is where Dr. Campbell-McBride so brilliantly defines that the probable source is familial and generational, which moves past genetic theory. Just as Dr. Price ascertained that without adequate nutrition, each generation would produce less healthy children—so Dr. Campbell-McBride postulates that poor intestinal flora and digestion is being passed down from one generation to the next. When a child is born it acquires the flora of the mother during the passage through the birth canal. If the mother has a history of antibiotic or contraceptive use and poor digestive health, her flora will likely be far less than healthy. If she does not breast-feed her baby, the gut flora of the child will be further compromised. The infant will often develop digestive problems such as colic, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, feeding difficulties, intestinal damage and malnourishment very early in life and is typically afflicted by a host of allergies. The child usually has frequent ear infections that are treated with many rounds of antibiotics, which only make the situation worse.

Poor bacterial flora and digestion are at the heart of serious health problems. When children are born with intestinal bacterial imbalances or “gut dysbiosis” they tend to have a compromised immune system and are prone to illness. Dr. Campbell-McBride states that often the intestinal tract of children who have autism is caked with hard fecal material. This terrible condition of course would lead to enormous and serious health consequences. She brings to light the profound statements of Hippocrates (460-370 BC) that, ”All diseases begin in the gut,” and of the father of modern psychiatry, French psychiatrist Phillipe Pinel (1745-1828), that “The primary seat of insanity is the region of the stomach and intestines.”

But what exactly happens in the gut that can upset brain chemistry? Dr. Campbell-McBride provides us with a magnificent explanation of the cascade of events that can occur when digestion is not supported by a healthy gut flora. A child or adult who eats a diet that is high in difficult-to-digest carbohydrates such as grains and processed foods, will continue to encourage the underlying condition of gut dysbiosis. Dr. Campbell-McBride states that people with damaged flora will even crave the very foods that support the survival of the unhealthy bacteria often to the exclusion and refusal of others.

Where most research on poor digestion focuses on unhealthy intestinal flora, Dr. Campbell-McBride’s work uniquely points to many problems with gut flora actually beginning with an unnatural growth of the fungus, Candida Albicans, in the stomach when it is not producing enough acid. She discusses that this overgrowth interferes with the first step of digestion by causing the stomach to produce inadequate amounts of the hydrochloric acid necessary to break proteins into “peptides” before entering the small intestine. For instance, under normal circumstances, the gluteomorphine and casomorphine proteins in wheat and milk are broken down in the stomach in the presence of proper amounts of stomach acid. However, with less stomach acid, these foods in fact begin to ferment in the stomach and are not broken down into peptides before passing into the small intestine. Besides causing an inadequate digestion of foods, the pressure of the gas created from this fermentation can lead to acid reflux, esophageal problems and even hiatal hernias, which are some of the most common digestive problems that people experience.

When insufficiently digested food enters the small intestines without adequate stomach acid, the pancreas in turn does not get the signal to release adequate pancreatic juices. Because people with GAPS lack healthy bacterial flora, they also lack production of enzymes called “peptidases.” These enzymes normally are produced by the enterocytes on the microvilli of the small intestine and will further break down proteins and carbohydrates into usable nutrients. With poor flora, the mucosal lining of the intestinal tract also becomes damaged and “leaky gut syndrome” develops. Therefore, the undigested casomorphine and gluteomorphine proteins, which resemble the chemical structure of opiates like heroin and morphine, are absorbed into the bloodstream unchanged and can cause severe interference with brain and immune system function. Dr. Campbell-McBride states that “There has been a considerable amount of research in this area in patients with autism, schizophrenia, ADHD, psychosis, depression and autoimmunity, who show high levels of casomorphines and gluteomorphines in their bodies, which means that their gut wall is in no fit state to complete appropriate digestion of these substances.”

Undigested carbohydrates, poor digestion and candida overgrowth in turn result in the production of the chemicals ethanol and acetaldehyde, which have profound consequences on brain chemistry and development. With these chemicals, a person can technically be considered “drunk” after a meal of carbohydrates even though they consumed no alcohol. We all know that alcohol is extremely toxic, especially to a developing fetus or a child. Besides reduced stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes, the following are some of the effects of a prolonged presence of alcohol from an overgrowth of candida in the body: damage and inflammation to the gut lining and resulting malabsorption; nutrient deficiencies; stress to the immune system; liver damage; accumulation of toxins, old neurotransmitters and hormones that can cause abnormal behavior; brain damage that can lead to lack of self control, impaired coordination and speech development, aggression, mental retardation, loss of memory and stupor; peripheral nerve damage; muscle tissue damage and weakness; metabolic alteration of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids and pancreatic degeneration.

Dr. Campbell-McBride reveals that there are many other toxins and bacteria created by poor digestion that are routinely found in stool samples of patients with GAPS. Of particular importance are those of the Bacteriods and Clostridia Family. These bacterium are present in all of us but kept under control when a healthy bacterial flora is in place. The Bacteriods are almost always found in infected tissues of the digestive tract, mouth, and gums, lungs, urinary tact, blood, heart valves and in diseased teeth, etc. Members of the Clostridia Family are also usually present in the stools of people with schizophrenia, psychosis, severe depression and those with other muscle, neurological and psychiatric conditions. Although many Clostridium species are normally found in the healthy gut, when gut dysbiosis in present, these bacterium may cause problems. If, for instance, the bacterium that causes tetanus, Clostridium tetani, which generally lives in check in a healthy gut, begins to thrive with gut dysbiosis; the toxins from this bacterium can infiltrate the tissues of the body. Some of the symptoms of the presence of a low exposure to the tetanus infection are sensitivity to light and noises and abnormalities of muscle function, i.e. the extensor muscles and flexor muscles may not function properly. Thus, children and adults with autism may exhibit the behavior of walking on tiptoes and stretching their muscles unusually in self-stimulation.

She also discloses some of the troubles with many countries’ vaccination programs. Where vaccinations in the past may have protected our children from a host of serious diseases, today, a young child with unhealthy gut flora and resulting digestive and immune system problems, receiving vaccinations for multiple diseases such as the MMR and DPT vaccine, may not produce an expected reaction to the vaccine. The vaccinations tend to put an enormous strain on the immune system. She therefore suggests a very cautious use of single vaccinations for a limited number of diseases, given to the child only when their digestive health is improved.

What then are the solutions to helping turn poor digestion into that which can help a person thrive. Dr. Campbell-McBride outlines a nutrient-dense dietary plan that is totally void of grains and at first, dairy, and provides high quality, organically grown meats, poultry, fish, nuts, eggs—especially raw egg yolks, cooked, non-starchy vegetables and fresh fruit with bone-broth soups, traditionally fermented foods, and ample traditional fats. She suggests supplements of cod liver, fish oil, digestive enzymes, a stomach acid supplement called Betaine HCL with added Pepsin and a non-enteric coated probiotic (minimum of 8 billion cultures per gram) to rid the stomach of bacterial growth and help develop healthy intestinal flora. Through a grain, sugar and dairy-free diet, the focus will be on removing foods that either feed the candida overgrowth, cause morphine-like peptides or an allergic response. She advises replacing the grains that most children crave with breads and crackers made from nut flours. After the gut flora is improved, she recommends adding homemade yogurt gradually to the diet and eventually cheeses. Once the stomach acid is normalized, a healthy gut flora is developed, nutrient rich foods take the place of depleted foods, the intestinal tract heals and digestion is repaired, both mental and physical health improvements are sure to follow.

She advises that the earlier these dietary changes are made, the more likely the success. She realizes, however, the difficulties that parents have with making changes to the diet of a young child and thoughtfully provides a method of encouraging new foods with a reward structure in place. She does not cover the challenges of changing the diet of an adolescent or adult, but we feel her information can aid both health practitioners and parents, friends and caregivers in understanding the necessity of helping their patients and loved ones to incorporate as much of this nutritional plan as is possible—certainly, the effort is well-worthwhile. It would seem, however, that the best time to implement Dr. Campbell-McBride’s recommendations is when the child is very young. This would minimize the damage induced by the neurotoxins that are produced by the dysbiotic flora. This would also minimize the psychosocial consequences of the abnormal behavior that accompany the neurotoxic affects on the brain.

Dr. Campbell-McBride makes another important point about the modern, commonly held belief that a gluten-free, casein-free dietary approach will help people with autism. She has found that most people do not improve with this diet because the gluten-free foods on the market are really just another form of nutrient-deficient junk food that foster the growth of candida and contribute to poor digestion. She states that this is also often true for people with Celiac disease. She sites research that even attributes the development of Celiac disease not to genetics as much as to an overgrowth of Candida. In fact she discusses that the best treatment for Celiac, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis and other digestive disorders is a grain-free diet that was developed more than 60 years ago called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, by the renowned American pediatrician, Dr. Sidney Haas. She has used many of the principles of this diet to develop her own program.

While Dr. Campbell-McBride suggests problems with milk, she does not discuss the difference between pasteurized commercial or organic milk and raw milk from grass-fed cows. Within the Weston Price Foundation research, there are abundant examples of the benefits of raw milk in improving the function of people with autism, learning disabilities and mental illness. The pasteurization of milk alters its proteins, making them difficult to digest and of course destroys the enzymes. It seems prudent, therefore, to differentiate the use of raw milk and explore its possible benefits in her plan. Additionally, recommending the use of nuts that have been soaked in sea salt and dehydrated, thereby increasing their digestibility and nutrient availability could enhance her suggestion of replacing grains with nuts and recipes made with nut flours.

After the thorough discussion of her nutritional plan, the book contains a wonderful section of recipes followed by details of important supplements. At the end of the book, she outlines a significant natural approach to treating ear infections and constipation. She also again stresses the need to move away from finding answers to difficult problems with human health by merely turning to genetics.

Through the study of the principles that Dr. Campbell-McBride provides, alternative medicine practitioners, who frequently encounter patients that are plagued with allergies, may want to re-evaluate their approach to treatment. Food allergies are a source of constant stress to a patient’s immune system. Not only do they manifest as dyspepsia, abdominal pain and altered bowel function but they can also result in a variety of non-local symptoms such as headaches, joint pain and eczema, to name a few. In light of Dr. Campbell-McBride’s approach, a thorough review of a patients history and symptoms may lead a conscientious practitioner down a frequently traveled path that has it trailhead nestled between the cardiac and pyloric sphincters.

Although Dr. Campbell-McBride’s pivotal work focuses on the correlation between the often-severe digestive disorders and the development of brain disorders, learning disabilities and mental illness, we must not underestimate that these same digestive disorders are at the heart of the exponential increase of degenerative illness in our country. If we observe the amount and kind of medications that we as a nation consume, we will coincidently find that most of the top 10 prescriptions written in the US correlate to gut and psychological disorders—two were for ulcers and acid reflux, two were for depression, one was for schizophrenia, two for high cholesterol, one for sexual dysfunction, one for anemia and one for chronic pain. It appears that we need a paradigm shift when looking at the cause and treatment of what is ailing us as a nation and that Dr. Campbell-McBride has suggested a starting point.

The disturbing, far-reaching consequences of the mass-consumption of foods produced by the industrial farming industry and inaccurate dietary trends are affecting the health of our entire population. Besides the knowledge that we have gained on the nutritional requirements of optimal health and the nutritional causes of degenerative conditions from Dr. Price’s work, Dr. Campbell-McBride’s thorough discourse detailing the effects of faulty digestion on brain function and chemistry can serve as a template for the further exploration and explanation of the source of a multitude of diseases that plague our modern culture.

Reviewed by Kathryne Pirtle and Dr. John Turner, DC, CCSP, DIBCN
Co-authors, with Sally Fallon, of Performance without Pain

For more informationabout the book and seminars on this subject, see