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Editorial Issue 46

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 46 - November 1999

It has been exciting to be able to review two outstanding books in this issue (please see pages 5-8), both documenting how nutrition can radically improve our health and even alleviate pain and suffering.

Dr Neal Barnard, MD writes in Foods that Fight Pain from his clinical experience about using dietary changes to relieve a variety of painful conditions, including migraines, back and menstrual pain, endometriosis, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, diverticulitis, Crohn's, shingles, breast pain, kidney stones and urinary infections.

The essence of Dr Barnard's approach is to counteract the causes of the pain in a number of ways: to reduce damage at the site of injury, to reduce the body's inflammatory response, often caused by prostaglandins, to provide pain relief for nerves and even to reduce pain sensitivity within the brain. The surprising discovery that lumbar arteries blocked with plaque contributed significantly to back pain has led to clinical research to demonstrate whether dietary and lifestyle changes could restore arterial blockages and spinal disks to health.

The dietary approach being used by Dr Barnard is to virtually eliminate fat from the diet from all sources – hence no animal products, including meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products including butter, margarine and only a minimum of vegetable oils. The idea is to base your diet upon grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. The results cited for people who had been suffering disabling pain for years was astonishing; however, reversion to their old diet could cause remission of the painful symptoms.

Suzannah Olivier's The Breast Cancer Prevention and Recovery Diet, although a much more general treatise in its consideration of every major nutrient class, also discusses the cancer-preventing properties contained within these same groups of foods – fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, as well as properties of other herbs and nutrients which can help to detoxify the body.

We as health professionals and consumers alike have heard this kind of information countless times, and doubtless have ourselves embarked on numerous "healthy" dietary regimes over the years, probably with success. I have enjoyed various periods in which I followed a macrobiotic, vegetarian or raw food regime, and have certainly reaped benefits and relief from pain.

Unfortunately, the increasing application of chemical poisons into the soil, atmosphere, livestock and crops has produced a world in which the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the household goods we use are tainted with cancer-causing, and nerve degenerating poisons. I am certain that when the history of the latter half of the twentieth century is written from the point of view of health, it will be as obvious that the epidemic of cancer, heart disease and nervous degenerative disorders (Parkinson's, Alzheimer, dementia) we now see, was caused by environmental pollution, as it is to see now that the deaths of tens of thousands of people from asthma and bronchitis in London in 1952 was caused by poisonous smog.

As a scientist who regularly reads the literature, I see the removal of these environmental poisons as the single most important health issue for us all. From this will flow healthier food, cleaner air and water, and thus better health for us and future generations.

It takes a considerable degree of commitment to totally eliminate the above foods from our diet. However, if we are suffering pain, eliminating these foods is probably a small price to pay for the alleviation of our suffering. For the rest of us, we owe it to ourselves and our families to do our best with our diet and lifestyle, for ultimately it is us who will pay the price of poor health.

I have mentioned numerous times that I worked for a decade as an agricultural biotechnology scientist, attempting to isolate and characterise bacterial and legume plant nitrogen fixation genes, with the hope of being able to transfer these in the future to non-leguminous crops, thereby reducing their requirement for added fertiliser. Personally, I eagerly await the development of foods with enhanced cancer- or asthma- or cystic fibrosis-preventing nutrients. These kind of life-saving and health improving benefits may in the long run help to make up for the poisonous mess we now find ourselves in.


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About Sandra Goodman PhD

Sandra Goodman PhD, Co-founder and Editor of Positive Health, trained as a Molecular Biology scientist in Agricultural Biotechnology in Canada and the US, focusing upon health issues since the 1980s in the UK. Author of 4 books, including Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art, Vitamin C – The Master Nutrient, Germanium: The Health and Life Enhancer and numerous articles, Dr Goodman was the lead author of the Consensus Document Nutritional and LifeStyle Guidelines for People with Cancer and compiled the Cancer and Nutrition Database for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre in 1993. Dr Goodman is passionate about making available to all people, particularly those with cancer, clinical expertise in Nutrition and Complementary Therapies. Dr Goodman was recently featured as Doctor of the Fortnight in ThinkWellness360.

Dr Goodman and long-term partner Mike Howell seek individuals with vision, resources, and organization to continue and expand the Positive Health PH Online legacy beyond the first 30 years, with facilities for training, to fund alternative cancer research, and promote holistic organizations internationally. Read about Dr Goodman and purchase Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art.  She may be contacted privately for Research, Lectures and Editorial services via:   and

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