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The Muddle of Diets for Gastrointestinal Disorders

Robert M. Donaldson Jr., MD
JAMA. 1973;225(10):1243. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220380055018.
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What should the patient with a common gastrointestinal disorder eat? Only casual perusal of any hospital diet manual is needed to recognize that neither patient nor physician has any clear answer. More than a decade ago a detailed report by the AMA Council on Foods and Nutrition pointed out that diet therapy for most afflictions of the digestive tract is based on unsubstantiated opinion and tradition and that there was an urgent need to learn "exactly what foods do within the human digestive system."1 Unfortunately, the situation today remains as muddled as ever.

Dietary treatment of peptic ulcer provides a good example of the problem. Those who advocate dietary restrictions for ulcer patients2 urge that only "bland" foods be allowed. In general that restriction has been implemented by presenting the patient with foods of a particular color (white), consistency (soft), and taste (mild) that fit the physician's or


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