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A Common Dietary Problem: Inadequate Protein and Fats

by Judith Price(more info)

listed in nutrition, originally published in issue 72 - January 2002

Regina looked tired and depressed and could barely support her body as she sat in the armchair in my clinic. I knew that she wanted to feel healthier and had travelled some distance to see me, yet she appeared to find the process tiresome and irritating.

Her main longstanding problems were depression, fatigue, hormonal imbalance and so-called 'irritable bowel syndrome' (IBS). For 30 of her 50 years Regina had suffered with depression and mood swings, and had been hospitalized several times as a result. In her thirties and forties she had severe premenstrual syndrome and was given hormone therapy that was ineffective. Her doctor then advised a hysterectomy and this she agreed to. Ten years later, she still had unpleasant hormonal symptoms such as mood swings, anxiety, nervousness, headaches, dizziness, hot flushes and sleep problems and was taking hormone replacement therapy.

Protein and Essential Fats

Protein is inadequate in many diets today and this was the case with Regina. The body is largely made from protein; the cells, enzymes, immune system and connective tissues are all protein-based. Regina had very weak connective tissues, was producing inadequate digestive enzymes and had immune system imbalance. She had significant mineral deficiencies that I attributed to her low protein diet.

Protein stimulates the stomach to produce hydrochloric acid that starts to break down the food and enables minerals to be extracted from the food and utilized by the body. Regina had severe hypoglycaemia and eating adequate protein plus fat would also help this enormously because these slow the emptying of the stomach and allow the sugars from carbohydrate foods to enter the bloodstream more slowly.

Essential fatty acids are also very important in the body structures, contributing to the matrix of tissues in the body, the cell walls, the nerve coverings and so on. Regina's diet was very low in essential fatty acids. These fats, as the name implies, are 'essential', that is they cannot be made by the body and have to be obtained through food. The main sources are oily fish, nuts and seeds and their oils.

Most people nowadays eat fish infrequently and do not have nuts and seeds (often through fears about nuts being very fattening). When people do consume oils, they are frequently brands that have been highly refined and heated, bleached and hydrogenated. These fats are devoid of vitamins because the heat used in processing destroys them. Lack of essential fatty acids can lead to depression, hormonal problems and eczema to name but a few; all problems that Regina had.

Dietary Therapy

Regina ate a lot of wheat every day and I thought this could be worsening her situation. Not everyone has a problem with wheat, but generally people in the UK eat far too much of it. It contains a large amount of gluten to which many people are sensitive. Then there are the additives, hydrogenated oils, pesticides and herbicides.

Additionally, wheat is acid forming, which means that it affects the body's correct pH balance and over-consumption can lead to depletion of mineral stores in the long term.

I asked Regina to follow a therapeutic organic diet that eliminated sugar, coffee, tea, alcohol, wheat and dairy. All packaged ready meals, fast food, and snacks and junk food were to be eliminated. I envisaged a quality, high fibre, adequate protein and essential fatty acid diet that would make a difference to her blood sugar levels, her hormonal health and her bowel inflammation.

Regina stopped eating wheat and felt much better, but she continued to have a limited amount of dairy as yoghurt and milk in tea without any ill effects. I explained that tea and coffee could worsen IBS and she stopped drinking coffee but felt unable to stop drinking tea and so drank weak Ceylon tea, no more than two cups a day.

The Nutritional Programme

Regina appeared to have low stomach hydrochloric acid and pancreatic insufficiency and so I suggested she take a digestive enzyme with each meal. I advised taking herbal tinctures, such as silymarin and artichoke to benefit her liver and gall bladder. Regina had the start of arthritis and osteoporosis, so required extra calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. Essential fatty acids (from flax or hemp oil) would help this as well as the circulatory problems and connective tissue weakness that also required vitamins C and E, selenium, magnesium and B vitamins. I recommended that she take the following daily programme for an initial three-month period:

  • A good quality multivitamin and mineral to which was added: Extra selenium to make 200iu; Extra zinc to make 25mg; Extra vitamin E to make 400iu;
  • Essential fatty acids from fish, seeds, nuts. Also, 2 dessertspoons a day of hemp or flax oil added to food or made into dressings;
  • Vitamin C at 1-2 grams a day;
  • B50 complex;
  • Calcium and magnesium with vitamin D complex;
  • Acidophilus, twice a day;
  • Dandelion and milk thistle tinctures, three times daily;
  • HCL and pepsin with each meal;
  • I suggested that she could take free-form amino acids if she continued to have a low protein diet.


Three months later the change in Regina's appearance was dramatic. She was much more positive and good humoured. She said she was considerably less tired and depressed, was coping better, and sleeping better. Her IBS symptoms were almost completely gone apart from the occasional 'flare-up' if she went off the diet. She had, with her doctor's agreement, halved the dose of HRT without any problem. She found that she had to avoid specific foods including sugar and wheat. She had 'fallen off the wagon' once but had felt so awful that she returned to her new way of eating and felt so much better on it.

At her last consultation, Regina looked very healthy with her beautiful clear complexion and bright eyes. She retook the zinc test, and this showed that her zinc levels were greatly improved. She said she felt very well, mentally and physically, and believed she would continue to feel better each month. She had developed an awareness of healthy diet and which foods suited her, and she did not wish to return to the previous lifestyle that had made her so unwell. She was a different woman to the one I had met six months earlier and I was thrilled with her transformation.

However, Regina still had a pessimistic view of life; because of her experiences, she had labelled herself as depressive. I suggested that hypnotherapy or cognitive therapy might help her to challenge this notion and to establish some more progressive thought patterns.


  1. Meron Tadesse said..

    what are the common dietary problems?

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About Judith Price

Judith Price R Cert NC, ITEC, RIPHH (Hons) trained in Nutrition at the Raworth Centre and Guildford College. She is a registered Foresight Preconception Clinician, and a qualified hypnotherapist, believing that the body and the mind need to be in balance before healing can be fully achieved. She can be reached on Tel: 01424 436587

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