It is very sad to see talented Robin Gibb looking so gaunt, having to cancel a meeting with David Cameron after suffering inflammation of the colon, particularly after seeing his equally talented twin brother, Maurice die of an intestinal illness in 2003.

That this can strike down pop icons is a sobering reminder to the rest of us that the West is currently suffering a pandemic of digestive disorders during the last few decades. It is no co-incidence that this has happened since the US and then the whole of the West adopted the very politically correct low fat, high carbohydrate diets epitomised most by vegans such as Robin Gibb. Unfortunately this problem will only become worse if government succeed in taxing and regulating saturated fat. The vegan diet wreaks havoc with digestion for a number of reasons, which can be resolved by the introduction of nourishing, traditional foods.

Animal Fats

Animal fats and cholesterol provide strength to our cells unlike the fragile polyunsaturated vegetable and seed oils prevalent in a vegan diet, which produce trans-fats and free radicals when cooked with and processed into products like margarine. These, consumed in excess, cause cell walls to loose their structural integrity. It should therefore be no surprise that a diet low in animal fats can exacerbate inflammation to the gut wall. Animal fats are also very easy to digest. Raw egg yolk in particular doesn't require any digestion and has all the nutrients the body requires.

"Good broth will resurrect the dead," S.American proverb

One of the saddest absences from the vegan diet are the traditional sauces seen in all traditional cultures, made from boiling up bones to make nourishing broth, soup and gravies. Not only does broth avoid waste, but it provides exactly the nourishment required to repair a damaged gut by providing all of the building blocks necessary for the rapidly growing cells of the gut lining. In particular, gelatine in broth has a very soothing effect and aids digestion. Unfortunately, commercial stock cubes do not have the same affect.

Too many carbohydrates

The low fat diet is unfortunately very high in carbohydrates. This is a particular problem for those with intestinal disorders because excess carbs, particularly if processed and refined, feed pathogens such as candida. Treatment often requires a complete absence of starchy carbohydrates.

Soy Alert!

Many vegans are told to replace animal protein with liberal quantities of soy. Unfortunately, soy contains trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and physic acid which inhibits the digestion of minerals, stripping the body of them. In addition, non-organic soy is often genetically modified to tolerate extra pesticides, which also damage digestion.

Soy, in the east, is traditional fermented for between 1 and 3 years to make it digestible, and even then, it is consumed in small quantities, fermented and raw as a probiotic. I only know of one company in Britain producing soy in the proper manner, called Source Foods.

Too many poorly prepared whole grains

Similar to soy, all other grains, pulses and legumes contain phytic acid. However, these can be removed by soaking, sprouting and fermenting them. That is why grandma soaked her porridge and muesli over night. Sourdough bread is an example of an appropriately fermented grain product. Unfortunately, many vegans and vegetarians are consuming copious amounts of whole grains, legumes and pulses without knowing that failing to prepare them properly will cause great harm to their digestive tracts.

Raw Veganism

A major fashion in the vegan world is to have as much of your food raw. Unfortunately vegetables, salad and temperate fruits are very low in digestive enzymes and provide little to no probiotics. I have met many people who have caused untold damage to the digestive tract consuming copious amounts of raw vegetables, even consuming raw root vegetables.

But there is good news, vegetables, if they aren't cooked, can be fermented to make them digestible and potent probiotics, such as sauerkraut, which can do wonders to any digestive disorder. In fact, utilising the gut, brain connection, < Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride > gaps.me > uses them along with broth and natural animal fats to effectively treat mental disorders, from autism to depression. I know of an artisan producer of fermented vegetables called Cultured Probiotics.

Natural animal fats and saturated tropical fats like coconut oil complement probiotics when treating the gut because they are anti-microbial.

Raw Milk

Most of the lactose intolerance suffered today is caused by pasteurisation because it destroys the probiotics and digestive enzymes naturally occurring in raw milk, as reported earlier this year in Radio 4's The Food Program episode about milk aired earlier this year. Raw whole milk, cream and butter from grass fed cows provides the body all it requires and there are examples of people living solely on it!

In fact, Dr Weston A. Price found primitive Swiss villages thriving on diets almost entirely comprised of raw milk products in the 1930s. Visit realmilk.com to find a local source of raw milk.

The ethics of consuming animal

Animal consumption is a fact of life for health and ecological reasons. Whenever we banish animals from our farms, turning our backs on traditional crop rotation, we make ourselves dependent on artificial fertiliser and don't provide our soil the periodic grazing periods it requires to regenerate. In addition, animals only provide us liberal quantities of vitamins and the proper omega 3 – 6 balance if the animals are eating their natural foods outside, exposed to sunlight. Our health, the health of the soil and the health of our environment are therefore dependent on healthy free range animals and high standards in animal welfare.

Philip Ridley is the London Chapter Leader of the Weston A. Price Foundation. (www.westonaprice.org/london)

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