Early Dietary Treatment for Celiac Disease: The Banana Diet
In Honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, Gluten Free Watchdog will be posting a series of articles (the goal is one per day during the month of May) related to the gluten-free diet–currently the ONLY treatment for celiac disease.
The Early History of the Diet for Celiac Disease (excerpted from The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide by Tricia Thompson, McGraw-Hill, 2008)
“The gluten-free diet has not always been the treatment of choice for celiac disease. Before the 1950s and the identification of wheat gluten as the culprit in celiac disease, the thinking was that people with celiac disease could not properly absorb carbohydrates and/or fat. A particularly interesting dietary treatment used during this time was the banana diet, made popular by physician Sidney Haas.
This diet restricted both carbohydrates (with the exception of ripe bananas) and fat. In his famous paper, “The value of the banana in the treatment of celiac disease,” published in 1924, Dr. Haas presented the following foods as a typical diet for a child with celiac disease: albumin milk, pot cheese, bananas (as many as the child would take, usually four to eight each day), oranges, vegetables, gelatin, and meat.
In his paper, Dr. Haas makes the following observation: ‘Of interest in connection with the present paper is the statement that in Porto Rico (sic) the town dwellers who eat much bread suffer from sprue, the farmers who live largely on bananas never.’
It is interesting to note that the farmers’ health was credited to bananas and not the lack of bread in their diet.”
Tomorrow’s article: “Banana Baby: A former patient of Dr. Sidney Haas tells her story”