Wednesday, April 26, 2006

# 142 DIGESTING THE INDIGESTIBLE

Two or three years ago, I saw a news clip about a child that had an uncommon illness that made it impossible for her to digest foods. And what was most disturbing to me is that the condition was so severe; the Medical prognosis so dire. Doctors were stymied and admitted they were unable to find a cure. Death was imminent. It was such a heart-breaking story. And then, just last week I spoke to a neighbor. She had a bad winter. Her colitis has worsened. Her situation is now also dire and medically there seems to be no place more to go.

The neighbor’s situation brought to mind the news clip and the news clip brought to mind a theory I posted a few years back, but in reviewing it, I found it to be a confusing rant – difficult to read and difficult to cipher. So today I decided to re-post an edited version that is better focused. Take warning, however, that the following is a raw (and somewhat gross) theory that I must warn you will not sit well with those who have a weak stomach. So it’s your choice at this point to read or run.

Now going back to my original thoughts, first I need to refer to what I know about the digestion process. To begin with, it is well understood that saliva begins the digestive process. That it breaks down food in readiness for the stomach’s enzymes. And secondly, because of this, some hold to the conviction, that liquids should be served at the conclusion of a meal rather than up front in order to avoid saliva dilution. (This point may not be relevant to this discussion but it could be an explanation for the ever-increasing plague of digestive problems our current society is attempting to cope with while literally drowning ourselves in 8 to 10 glasses of water every day.)

So now, the next thing I want us to think about is how infant feeding was done in the homes of early settlers and ancient tribes. Have you ever thought about how mothers fed their babies before the introduction of blenders, processors, and Heinz baby food? We might like to think ancient tribes pounded strips of meat between two sanitized rocks, but that was not the case. Or that babies drank only breast milk until they got teeth. That was not the case either.

Babies were fed their first solids in the same way as observed in nature. Women chewed mouths of berries, moose-meat, corn, or other solid foods, until the stuff was warm and well masticated. The mother then planted her mouth over the child’s and pushed the warmed and blended food into the mouth of the child. This is a theory I did not have to research because that is how my mother fed my older siblings. Me too, probably, but I don’t want to think about that. The benefit of this kind of feeding was that babies received foods that were digestible because of the modification and pre-mix of the mother’s saliva.

Is it possible that a similar approach might provide the life-saving cure for the child I mentioned at the beginning of this post who through some quirk of nature was unable to digest and break down the food needed for her to survive? Or that a similar approach might bring relief to my neighbor who is becoming increasingly desperate?

It just seems to me that if mother’s could make infant food more digestible by masticating it prior to feeding, that a similar approach might work to treat conditions such as colitis. Or other critical health situations caused by one’s inability to break down foods such as gluten, proteins, starches, sugars, et cetera.

And no, I’m not thinking of saliva switching among adults. What I am thinking is about the possibility of treating those with specific digestive problems with pharmaceutical elixirs containing the saliva (cloned or real) of animals proficient in digesting particular types of food. For instance, for assimilation of meat proteins, the saliva from meat-eaters, such as bears or dogs. Or for gluten breakdown, the saliva of a sheep or cow.

I know it all sounds quite revolting but is it so different from xenotransplants (animal transplants) for curing other medical problems?

What do you think?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anne said...

My brain is far too small to supply an intelligent response, but have you considered presenting your idea at one of the many sites where these things are open to discussion? Like Edge dot org, for instance. Seriously.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi anne. I certainly appreciate your ability to see the more serious side of this rant. I did check out the site you mentioned but it doesn't seem to fit the bill. I checked out some other ones as well. Hard to find a spot where theories are wanted from a commoner. Most research sites seek input from those with doctorates, and funding from those without. That's about the extent of it.

1:08 PM  

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