When “Dogtor J” talks, smart people listen!

Just a few weeks ago, as I was searching for specific information relating to gluten, I came across a different kind of website by a vet who calls himself “Dogtor J.” The address is www.dogtorj.com.

The design of this website is intriguing, with the top of every page showing an attractive picture of a dog – quite a treat for a dog lover like myself! It took me a while to understand why this site would even have come up on a Google search for amino acid content of gluten, but then I realized that it was no mistake because the site is actually full of pertinent information.

It’s easy to get lost in the site as there are pages upon pages of information on a broad range of pet and human conditions linked to food intolerance, and other philosophical dissertations on diet and the history of food. Since I was about to leave town to attend a conference in Boston I decided to print a few pages and read them on the way. I ended up printing more than fifty pages, but they made for great airplane reading!

Even though the site does not contain biographical notes on the author, after reading a bit it becomes clear that the good Dogtor J is a vet who at one time suffered personally from all of the following and more:

• Chronic pain diagnosed as fibromyalgia
• Irritable bowel syndrome manifesting mostly as diarrhea
• Clinical depression
• Chronic fatigue
• Severe airborne allergies

The author refers to these conditions as “pestilences” afflicting the human race to an ever-greater extent. The term pestilence may sound unusual or archaic, but Dogtor J clarifies that in its biblical use this term refers to a condition for which there is no known cause or cure.

After a great deal of pain and suffering and drugs to cover up his symptoms without much success, Dogtor J heard about the site www.celiac.com and as he read the description of gluten intolerance there, he felt as though he was reading the story of his life. I am not familiar with this site, but I find that the book “Going Against the Grain” by Melissa Diane Smith also conveys this information in a powerful manner and I know several people who recognized themselves in Ms. Smith’s descriptions. If, like Dogtor J, you feel you have many seemingly unrelated health problems, you may think of picking up a copy.

In any case, once Dogtor J eliminated gluten from his diet he experienced the first partial improvement in his health. As he continued to research and read, he discovered that as many as 50% of the people who are intolerant to gluten are also unable to tolerate casein, the protein in milk and other dairy products. After eliminating casein and a few other foods he also found to be problems, particularly soy and the additive MSG, he felt completely healthy for the first time in his life.

Even his allergies cleared and this led him to come up with the same take on allergies that I’ve been explaining to people for years. Allergies are like a pot that overflows. The overflow is the allergy to pollen, dust, pets, and so on, but it is eating foods that we can’t tolerate that causes the pot to start overflowing. Eliminate the offending foods, and as the pot stops overflowing the allergies will also disappear, although I have found that some cases are a bit more complex.

From here on it seems that Dogtor J was a changed man. He started to apply his newly acquired understanding of food to – you guessed it – his dog patients. And (no surprise here) they got better too!

It appears that dogs suffer from most of the very same chronic diseases that afflict humans, from chronic pain to allergies, arthritis, hyperactivity, autoimmune disease, and cancer.

Conventional vets are taught that these problems are a result of “faulty” breeds, just like our trusted human doctors tell us it’s our genes that are to blame. But Dogtor J found the real problems to be elsewhere. When he removed gluten, casein, soy – and sometimes corn, rice, or any other food dogs were allergic to – their health almost always improved.

However, Dogtor J does not claim that diet is a universal panacea and he recognizes other possible causes of ill health. One such cause is chronic viruses that the body is not able to clear, and one way in which the viruses get in dogs’ bodies is through repeated vaccines containing live viruses. Dogtor J states that there is plenty of statistical evidence that when dogs are given yearly vaccines containing live viruses they have a much higher rate of auto-immune diseases than when they don’t get these vaccines. It seems to me that our nation’s health policy makers should look more closely at statistics from veterinary medicine before deciding which vaccines are safe for our children!

Seizures deserve a special mention because apparently they’re common in dogs, and so many of the children I see are also afflicted with this condition. Dogtor J found that 100% of the seizures cleared when the diet was fixed, but it took work and time. I have seen the same type of thing happen in children, except the level of compliance hasn’t always been very good. It seems that changing the human diet presents challenges Dogtor J may not have had to contend with.

One thing I find disheartening is when parents go through all the trouble of eliminating gluten and casein from their children’s diets, but when they don’t see improvements after a few short months they decide that the old junk food diet was OK.

The problem is simply that they didn’t do enough, but they’re usually very close. It’s not that their children don’t improve because gluten and casein are fine for them – in almost every case the problem is that they’re sensitive to something else as well.

Dogtor J embarked on a broad research project to understand how the human diet could have gone so wrong. Again he found fascinating data, including the fact that ancient wheat contained no more that 5% gluten. This means that ancient breads would literally have broken or crumbled and could not have been sliced easily or used to spread peanut butter (for example). But humans discovered a certain feature of wheat that made it more pliable than other grains and, without knowing it, they started a centuries-long endeavor to increase the gluten content of wheat, now estimated at more than 50% (of the protein in wheat).

What’s the problem with gluten anyway? It is a glue-like substance that makes stamps and envelopes sticky, as gluten-sensitive people know only too well. It is also used in some industrial binding agents. In the human digestive tract it does not lend itself to complete digestion and irritates the intestinal tract to varying degrees, depending on how well different groups of people have adapted genetically to it. For example, we know that in parts of the world where wheat has been consumed the longest, gluten intolerance is rare. At the other end of the spectrum, Ireland, where wheat was introduced only a couple of thousand years ago, has the world’s highest rate of celiac disease (gluten intolerance).

Casein was virtually absent from the human diet until the Middle Ages when dairy farms became established. Before that time, dairy in the human diet came from goat or sheep milk, which contain a different kind of casein from cow’s milk that is far easier for the human digestive system to break down.

In a more philosophical vein, Dogtor J theorizes that the great plagues of history did not just happen by accident. He believes that the infectious agents that caused the plagues had been with humanity all along but flared up only when detrimental changes in the human diet, such as the introduction of casein and high-gluten wheat, resulted in a weakened collective immune system. The plagues then were nothing more than natural selection at work eliminating those who were less able to adapt to the new foods.

With the widespread introduction of soy protein and our modern society’s shift to mostly packaged foods, humans have made another major negative shift in diet, comparable to the introduction of gluten or casein. I hope this doesn’t mean we’re getting ready for another plague!

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