What you eat makes a difference.
Simple to say, hard to do.
This week we tackle the 2nd of the Five Factors of Autoimmune Disease. Get your eating caps on!
There are Five Factors behind all auto immunity.
Five things that stimulate your immune system.
Five things you can control.
In the previous post we discussed the obvious role that chronic infection and bacterial imbalances in the gut play in over-stimulating your immune system.
In this post, we discuss the way our body can react to foods. Please understand, we are not saying that food sensitivities cause autoimmune problems. Foods are just one of the five factors that can, working together, cause so much accumulated immune system stimulation that our body starts reacting against its own tissues.
One thing that is unique about foods and food sensitivities is that of the five factors, it is the one we have the greatest ability to control. We have total control of what we put in our mouth. And so while the foods we eat may not be the biggest contributor to our autoimmunity challenges, the changes we make in our diet can be the most powerful therapy available to us.
Improvements that come with changes in diet can come quickly. For seventeen years we’ve done a Healthy Eating Workshop in our office. The group setting is remarkably helpful in getting people to take the initial steps to try out a healthier style of eating. In the first weeks of the Healthy Eating Workshop, people eat a diet that does not include any of the foods that most commonly cause a reaction and immune response. After just two weeks eating a diet that contains adequate amounts of water, minerals and essential fatty acids (EFAs), AND no grains, cow dairy, legumes, rice or potatoes and very low sugars and simple carbohydrates, people report remarkable improvements.
When first started, the Healthy Eating Workshop improvements that people reported surprised me more than the participants in the class. For some the debilitating joint and back pains present for years, even decades, disappeared. Not just better, but gone. Chronic intestinal pain in others disappeared. Sleep improved. Sexual functions improved. Mood issues stabilized. Even more remarkable, over the short six weeks of the course, many people saw chronic abnormalities in their lab values like high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides improve dramatically.
And then there is the weight lost. The structure of the Healthy Eating Workshop does not limit how much food you eat, only what types of food you eat. If you need to lose weight, and you eliminate foods that cause an immune and inflammatory reaction in the body, you will lose weight.
It is close to a universal rule.
The essence of the eating plan used in the Healthy Eating Workshop is to eat only vegetables, lean meats, eggs, a few olives and fruit. Also oils, especially oils containing the omega 3 EFAs, like flax seed or hemp oil. There are a few specialized things described in the class, like cran-water, long life cocktail, lemon water and some supplements. There are no concentrated sugars, and no sweeteners except stevia and organic xylitol. There are no processed foods.
There is one trick that is needed to make this all work. When we talk about avoiding foods that trigger an immune reaction, even if it's only for a few weeks, you must avoid them 100%. No exceptions. If there is a food that triggers an immune and inflammatory reaction in you, research shows that all it takes is a tiny amount of that food once every six weeks to keep the fire alive. It is not enough to simply reduce your intake of these foods and expect to see the benefits.
After four to six weeks on an eating plan that 100% eliminates foods likely to cause a reaction, the plan advances allowing the gradual reintroduction of the foods that had been avoided. Often in this process of reintroducing these foods it becomes especially apparent how inflammatory those foods are for you. We had one man who had arthritis in his hands that troubled him for over ten years. The problem disappeared two weeks into the class. As he reintroduced foods, it was clear that the problem in his hands was a reaction to the proteins in cow dairy. Even a bit of cream in his coffee, or some whey or casein in a processed food is enough to inflame his hands. Ultimately he needed weeks of avoiding all cow milk products needed for the inflammation to calm itself.
The goal in reversing auto immunity is to remove as many of the things as possible in your life that are stimulating and over-stimulating your immune system. Your diet may not be the root of all your auto immune challenges, but you have control over what you eat. Changes in your diet can be the change you make that brings the greatest benefit. You'll never know till you try. Just try it!
Next time we look at the Third Factor – Toxicity. Again remember that each of these Factors work together to cause greater issues. Understanding is essential for things to change. Stay encouraged. Change is always possible.
To Your Health.