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Doctors Once Thought Bananas Cured Celiac Disease. They Saved Kids’ Lives — At A Cost

Susan Morgan, age 5, binds a garland of bananas in Ponchatoula, La., in 1955. Susan was diagnosed with celiac illness and was prescribed a diet of 200 bananas weekly.

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Susan Morgan, age 5, binds a garland of bananas in Ponchatoula, La., in 1955. Susan was diagnosed with celiac illness and was prescribed a diet of 200 bananas weekly.

AP

The year was 1945, and 2-year-old Lindy Thomson had been given a few weeks to live. She suffered from diarrhea and missile vomiting, and she was so skinny and weak, she could no longer walk. Her relatives had taken her from alloy to doctor. Finally, Dr. Douglas Arnold in Buffalo, N.Y., offering a many surprising prescription: She was to eat bananas.

“At slightest 7 bananas a day,” recalls a patient, who now goes by her married name, Lindy Redmond.

“To whom it competence concern,” a alloy wrote on a medication pad that Lindy still has as a keepsake. Lindy Thomson “has celiac illness (a nutritive disorder).”

The surprising medication that Lindy Thomson (now Lindy Redmond) perceived from Dr. Douglas Arnold when she was 2 to provide her celiac disease: It permitted relocating to purify towering atmosphere and following a high-calorie, banana-based diet.

Courtesy of Lindy Redmond


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Courtesy of Lindy Redmond

The surprising medication that Lindy Thomson (now Lindy Redmond) perceived from Dr. Douglas Arnold when she was 2 to provide her celiac disease: It permitted relocating to purify towering atmosphere and following a high-calorie, banana-based diet.

Courtesy of Lindy Redmond

Arnold permitted that Lindy pierce to a purify towering atmosphere in California and follow a high-calorie, banana-based diet invented by Dr. Sidney Haas in 1924. The diet forbade starches though enclosed countless daily bananas, along with milk, lodge cheese, beef and vegetables. It was so effective in patients with celiac illness that in a 1930s, a University of Maryland permitted a diet, according to pediatric gastroenterologist Alessio Fasano, chair of pediatrics during Harvard Medical School and a dilettante in celiac disease.

“At that time, around 30 percent of children with celiac died. Parents were educated to dump their children off during a sanatorium for 6 months,” says Fasano. If a children survived and thrived on a banana-based diet, a relatives could afterwards “pick them adult and take them home.”

We now know that celiac is an autoimmune commotion that strikes genetically compliant people. It’s triggered by gluten in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. In a participation of gluten, a defence complement of people with celiac illness attacks a tiny intestine, deleterious a precious, fingerlike projections called villi that line it. This repairs can lead to malnutrition, as good as a duds of problems — from gas and bloating to fatigue, anemia, osteoporosis and an increasing risk of certain cancers. The illness is estimated to impact 1 in 100 people worldwide.

A childhood print of Lindy Redmond, who was told she had dual weeks to live before being diagnosed with celiac disease. Doctors treated her with a diet that separated starches though enclosed daily bananas, dairy, beef and vegetables. She suspicion she was cured. Decades later, she found out she wasn’t.

Courtesy of Lindy Redmond


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Courtesy of Lindy Redmond

A childhood print of Lindy Redmond, who was told she had dual weeks to live before being diagnosed with celiac disease. Doctors treated her with a diet that separated starches though enclosed daily bananas, dairy, beef and vegetables. She suspicion she was cured. Decades later, she found out she wasn’t.

Courtesy of Lindy Redmond

But in 1924, decades before gluten was detected to be a culprit, celiac illness was a black box of mystery.

“The diet was unintentionally gluten-free and also impossibly high in calories,” explains Tricia Thompson, owner of Gluten Free Watchdog. “It is implausible what a mothers and fathers did, going down to a docks to accommodate a ships and buy mixed bananas unresolved on branches. So many people were so really beholden to him,” she says of Haas. “He saved their lives.”

Haas arrived during his banana diet by an honest blunder — one that, unfortunately, had critical repercussions for people with celiac disease. In his 1924 paper, he wrote of a city in Puerto Rico where “dwellers who eat most bread humour from [celiac] sprue while a farmers who live mostly on bananas never.”

Haas skipped over a purpose of wheat and focused instead on a outlandish bananas, that he suspicion hold antidote powers. (Not distinct a venerate in that outlandish “superfruits” such as mangosteen and acai berry are hold today.) “Dr. Haas’ approach,” says Fasano, “was formed on a fact that bananas had a best characteristics to blow a cleansing diarrhea that was a standard clinical display of celiac illness during that time.”

Parents and children came to Haas from all over a U.S. He eventually treated over 600 people who had celiac disease. One of his “banana babies” wrote down her memories for Gluten Free Watchdog’s site, recalling how Haas’ “office was filled with children of all ages and many we remember looked like they came from a thoroughness camps … with their fallen eyes and distended stomachs.” Once on a diet, a children recovered.

For a time, faith in a recovering properties of a banana was widespread and extended over celiac disease. Mothers were told to feed their infants bananas starting during 4 weeks. And during Johns Hopkins University, a alloy named George Harrop attempted a chronicle of a banana diet on people with diabetes and found that it helped them remove weight.

“The open went bananas,” says Alan Levinovitz, a sacrament highbrow during James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and author of The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What You Eat.

But Haas’ honest blunder led to critical consequences. As a children recovered, wheat was reintroduced.

“All my life we have told doctors we had celiac as a child,” says Lindy Redmond, “and that we grew out of it. And all my life we have eaten wheat.” It was usually when she was 66 that her alloy gave her a exam and took 7 abdominal biopsies.

“My intestine was really damaged,” she reports. “My alloy pronounced she didn’t know if it would ever recover.”

It was afterwards that Redmond wondered about a probable tie between lifelong, untreated celiac illness and her dual miscarriages, visit bouts of colds and bronchitis, and perpetual constipation. Now 74 and off gluten, Redmond says a colds and constipation are gone.

It was a Dutch pediatrician, Willem Karel Dicke, who initial satisfied that wheat competence be related to celiac disease. He beheld that in a final few years of World War II, when bread was taken in a Netherlands, a mankind rate from celiac illness forsaken to zero. In 1952, Dicke and his colleagues identified gluten as a trigger for celiac disease, and a gluten-free diet was born.

But Haas railed opposite a gluten-free diet and went on compelling his banana-based cure, according to Levinovitz.

“Haas saw these supernatural reversals,” explains Levinovitz, “and didn’t wish to give adult his standing as a trailblazing savior.”

Only a banana diet, Haas claimed, could grasp “a heal that is permanent.”

As a result, says Levinovitz, celiac illness was taken some-more severely in Europe and continued to be “massively underdiagnosed here in a U.S.”

Jill Neimark is an award-winning scholarship publisher and an author of adult and children’s books.