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One Man's Poison (1990) 

“A brilliant piece of work” Professor David Fraser, Professor Animal Science, Sydney University

“A wise, intelligent account” Professor R.Walls Medical Clincial Immunology, Sydney University

“Magnificent family saga” Dr. J.Brostoff Reader in Clinical Immunology, Middlesex Hospital

“Recommended to read” Journal Professional Association of Nursery Nurses UK spring 1991

“A timely question mark “ P.Campbell International Journal of Food Science & Technology V.26 1,
Professor J. Hawthorn Int. Journal of Food Science * Technology V.26 l

One Man’s Poison was written on the insistence of my four daughters as an account of a diet I had evolved for them nearly thirty years before. That diet had worked for their health and behaviour problems, and was now working for their seven children. The diet was original in that it was based on the proposition that the proteins of the cereals wheat, rye, oats  and barley were the main cause, compounded by ‘glucose’ overload from cereal ‘sugars’ and modified cereal starches made from wheat.

I described the symptoms, which varied with each individual, as episodic but pervasive –
of uneven energy due to unstable insulin (high or low)
of behaviour (brief phases of tantrums, crying, obstinacy, irritability even violence)
of concentration (learning, restless play)
of motor disturbance (inco-ordination, eye focus, nystagmus, double vision, even minor seizures)
of allergy (eczma, asthma, hay fever, migraine).

In March 1968, my findings on diet were published in the Australian Journal of the Dietetic Association (Victoria) after they had been brought to the attention of a conference of Australian Dietititans by Mrs. Venn Brown of the Bread Research Institute (C.S.I.R.O.). they were also mentioned in the journal of the American Dietitians Association, Chicago, Vol.51.No.1.

The findings alleged maltose/glucose intolerance in my four daughters (then aged 6-14), enhanced by the prevalent use of ‘glucose syrup’ in processed foods, and sensitivity to grains unless fermented with yeast. These findings were the result of six years of ‘blind trials’ as foods were not labelled at the time.

The official notice of the Dietitians Association was immensely gratifying to me as it lifted my persistent trials out of the category of food faddist. Not that anyone but myself cared. ‘To everyone else but that growing band of industrial chemists, dietitians and a handful of medicos, who had given vital pieces to the jigsaw, I was still just one of those diet freaks who were a symptom of the back-to-the-harmonies-of-nature movements of the exuberant sixties.

The deluge of new diets of this new wave, which ahs grown into ‘health’ food shops had already begun. The Adele Davis diet, the Pritikin diet, the Jarvis diet, and a host of others. The avalanche of books. Low fat. Low sugar. Whole grains. Low tannin. Low caffeine. Best sellers all of them Confusion confounded.

More and more of my friends and acquaintances adopted the new holy writ- the more whole the more wholesome, the more raw, the more nutritious. New fads swept through the community. Sesame seeds, mung beans, germinating alfalfa. Yogurt. Homus. Semolina. Bran. And so forth. The Anglo-Szxon diet of my forebears became unrecognisable. Yet scarcely anyone could define the components of the food they so recklessly experimented with in the do-it-yourself diets, let alone what they gave us.

I found myself putting my feet back in the footsteps of my ancestors by returning to the diet by which I was raised – old-fashioned bread fermented all night, a wider range of non-wheat starches, an uninhibited use of butter and sugar, and well-cooked rather than raw food of any kind. Why? Because I found that my ancestors understood the delicate balance of man to the poisonous potential of plants and learnt to  diminish this factor by fermentation, boiling or baking food before they ate it.

I discovered different races had not necessarily evolved tolerance to foods. The Indians to lactose, the sugar of milk, for example. And some of us, descended from cold climate countries such as  Ireland, Scotland and  Scandinavia which never grew wheat, have not evolved two enzymes to enable them to digest the gluten in its protein (also rye). Nor do we handle the protein of milk (casein) very well.

This book is about my journey back in time towards my British ancestors; This journey had three stages.

1. The years 1972-9 when I developed a working family diet which alleviated the three major categories of symptoms – allergic, behavioural, neurological and hypoglycaemic (uneven levels of insulin stability). I had enormous assistance from industrial chemists and the Bread Research Institute.

2. The years 1987-8 when I resolved the inconsistencies of tolerance to wheat, depending on the level of gluten. For example, it is much lower in wheat flour used for pastry than for commercial bread, and it is altogether removed to produce the residual starch of cornflour.

3. The pursuit of these factors in scientific journals advised by the renowned biochemist, Professor Fraser.

I also asked the question – whatever happened to breakfast? Far too many have a hurried piece of toast, croissant, or commercial breakfast cereals to start the day.    Far too many reject the solid sit-down family meal of my youth when we invariably had cooked dishes with first class protein – fish, eggs or meat such a kidney, lambs fry, kippers etc.

A survey of one primary school classroom a generation ago elicited the alarming fact that more than half the children in one class started the day with a proper meal. What price are these working, or lazy  mothers, exacting from the future generation?

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