Many people believe that plant foods are both necessary and beneficial for human health. However, not only are fruits and vegetable not necessary for human health, they can actually be quite detrimental for some people.
According to Wikipedia… “Salicylates are derivatives of salicylic acid that occur naturally in plants and serve as a natural immune hormone and preservative, protecting the plants against diseases, insects, fungi, and harmful bacteria. Salicylates can also be found in many medications perfumes, and preservatives. Both natural and synthetic salicylates can cause health problems in anyone when consumed in large doses. But for those who are salicylate intolerant, even small doses of salicylate can cause adverse reactions.”
The most common symptoms of salicylate sensitivity are:
- Stomach pain/upset stomach
- Tinnitus ringing of the ears
- Itchy skin, hives or rashes
- Asthma and other breathing difficulties
- Swelling of hands, feet, eyelids, face, and lips
- Bed wetting or urgency to pass water
- Persistent cough
- Changes in skin color/skin discoloration
- Sore, itchy, puffy or burning eyes
- Sinusitis/Nasal polyps
- Memory loss and poor concentration
With a few exceptions, salicylates are present – to one degree or another – in virtually all plant foods. The only way to avoid them in your diet is to avoid the foods that contain them. Here is a list of salicylate content in fruits, vegetables, and spices: http://salicylatesensitivity.com/about/food-guide/ As you can see from this list, most of these common foods and herbs have medium to high levels of salicylates. Meat, however, is relatively free of salicylates – as long as it has not been subjected to preservatives or seasonings.
Since food is one of the most significant ways we can expose ourselves to salicylates, removing salicylate-containing foods from the diet is one of the easiest ways to reduce our exposure. As radical as this may seem, removing all plant foods from the diet is the simplest approach, especially if you have a limited capacity to process carbohydrates as well. After thoroughly researching this subject, Dr. Georgia Ede – who is herself salicylate intolerant – came to the conclusion that human health does not require the consumption of plant foods. Read her blog post on vegetables and watch the presentation below that she gave at the 2012 Ancestral Health Symposium regarding this subject for more information.
Other blog posts by Dr. Ede’s that discuss the downside to plant foods are: 1) Grains, Beans, Nuts, and Seeds, 2) Fruits, 3) Fiber, 4) Carbohydrates 5) Fruits, Vegetables, and Cancer, 6) Whole Grains and Health, 7) Fiber and Colon Health 8) Is Broccoli Good for You?
“Studies of ancient human coprolites, or fossilized human feces, dating anywhere from 300,000 to as recent as 50,000 years ago, have revealed essentially a complete lack of any plant material in the diets of the subjects studied (Bryant and Williams-Dean 1975). In other words, it is likely we subsisted for a very significant portion of our evolution largely on the meat and fat of animals we hunted. Fat was the prime commodity for its concentrated nutrient and energy value… Fat, too, is our most efficient, dense, and prolonged-burning fuel. It is essential for an important multitude of bodily processes, not the least of which is the functioning of the human brain.”
Gedgaudas further delineates,
“Another important limitation stems from the fact that we as a species have only relatively recently developed a universally controlled use of fire. By most accounts, this did not occur before fifty thousand to one hundred thousand years ago…[and the] oldest-known pottery [necessary for certain cooking methods] dates only as far back as 6800 BCE, incidentally. What makes the use of cooking especially significant is the toxicity of most plant species. Wild plants contain any number of toxic compounds that would have made their use as food in any significant quantity perilous. Cooking is the only means by which many of these ‘antinutrients’ can be neutralized. Modern produce has been genetically modified to reduce the presence of harmful compounds to a significant extent. Most wild plants, on the other hand, require extremely careful selection and preparation. Most starchy roots, tubers, and legumes would have been prohibitively dangerous to consume without extensive cooking. Furthermore, the energy expended in the procurement of the remaining types of plant foods easily exceeds their potential caloric value, to say little of their meager, inferior available protein content, which is so critical to our needs. Mass die-offs of mega-fauna following the last Ice Age ten thousand years ago and over-hunting by humans may have lead to an increased dependence on plant foods and ultimately to the development of agriculture.”
Dr. Larry McCleary, in an interview with Jimmy Moore, said that salicylates interfere with mitochondrial function inside the cell which can be a real problem for people with already impaired mitochondrial function, as is the case with illnesses like ADHD, Autism, Alzheimer’s. Mitochondrial dysfunction is also known to be present in people, like myself, with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS/CFS). After examining the above list of foods and their salicylate content, I quickly realized why almost all food seems to make me feel bad! Since I was a vegetarian, and then vegan, for so many years, I was never able to understand that it was something unique to plant foods themselves that was the problem. I had assumed it was just food in general. It did not occur to me that I my body might respond differently to meat and other animal products since I did not even consider them to be a food option.
Most clinicians and scientists who promote a ketogenic diet recommend the use of avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, and olive oil due to their low carbohydrate and high fat profile. But for someone with salicylate intolerance, like myself or Dr. Ede, this is a complete disaster. So, even when you are doing everything right from a ketogenic standpoint, you still feel terrible. This is, of course, very confusing and frustrating. It was such a relief when I finally figured out that there was a common thread link all of my bizarre reactions to food.
Amber Wilcox-O’Hearn whom I have come to know through her blog Empirica has eaten an all meat diet for 5 years now which she describes in the following posts: 1) A Carnivorous Diet; 2) Experiences of a 5-Year Carnivore Part 1 3) Experiences of a 5-Year Carnivore Part 2. Amber is extremely sensitive to fruits and vegetables, and she gains weight if she eat any plant foods at all. Most significantly, however, plant fods – in even the smallest amounts – have a profoundly negative effect on her moods. She was diagnosed with Bipolar II and required medication to remain somewhat stable. She practiced a traditional low carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet for a number of years, consuming less than 20 grams of carbohydrate a day, but she still could not lose weight, and she had difficult time attaining and sustaining a state of nutritional ketosis.
Eventually, Amber decided to eliminate all plant foods from her diet to see what would happen. Not only did she lose her excess body fat, but her mood improved so much that she was able to stop taking her medication. As long as she refrains from eating all plant foods, she remains free of any symptoms related to her Bipolar II condition. In other words, a “zero carb” or “zero plants” diet has put her Bipolar II disordered brain into complete remission. Is her recover due to the elimination of carbohydrates or salicylates or both? Who knows? Does it really matter? She says that she feels so much better eating just meat that plant foods are no longer even tempting to her.
Finally, Dr. H. L. Newbold, author of The Type A / Type B Weight Loss Diet, placed his morbidly obese patients on a very simple meat and water diet. His theory was that some people living in the modern environments of today still possess “old genes” and, thus, have a reduced tolerance for what he called “new foods,” namely grains, dairy, and most fruits and vegetables. While carbohydrates were clearly part of the problem for his patients, he also found that many of them were sensitive to low carbohydrate plant foods, as well as many chemicals in the environment. Exposure to certain foods and chemicals would trigger his patients to go on eating sprees of almost unimaginable proportions. Although Dr. Newbold did not seem to be aware of salicylates when he wrote his book, I strongly suspect that – in addition to carbohydrates – they where the common underlying factor that had such a profoundly negative effect on his patients.
Based on the information and understanding provided by each of these leading-edge thinkers, I decided that eliminating all plant foods, and plant-derived oils, from my diet. It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.