If you suffer from an autoimmune disease like psoriasis, Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, you may be focused on supplements and remedies to help manage your condition. These days, more and more health practitioners are recommending dietary changes as well. The new thinking is that certain foods can help “reset” your immune system and curb the attack that it’s mistakenly unleashing on your body.
Why Change Your Diet?
The Autoimmune Paleo, or AIP Diet, is recommended for people who suffer from autoimmune disease because of its positive effect on the immune system and gut mucosa. In basic terms, autoimmune disease is a condition where the body can’t tell the difference between healthy or unhealthy tissue and launches an attack to try to heal itself. In the process, it damages healthy tissue and disease occurs. These silent attacks can go on for years until a specific autoimmune disease can be diagnosed.By that time, sufferers will feel the full blown effects of their specific autoimmune disease. The AIP diet is designed to lower inflammation in the body which can trigger symptoms and is thought to help with putting certain autoimmune diseases into remission.
My health practitioner recommended that I look into an AIP diet as I’m showing early signs of Hashimoto’s or underactive thyroid disease. She pointed out the fact that perhaps I can reduce the damage my immune system is doing to my thyroid by avoiding certain foods that promote inflammation and adding those that can help reduce it. So off I went to research!
What You Can’t Eat
The list of foods you need to avoid is long…and restrictive. It’s a bit of an adjustment to the diet you may be currently eating, but when it comes to your health, it’s always worth a try. No surprise, chocolate is on the list.
Here’s a partial list of foods to avoid. You can find a comprehensive list at aiplifestyle.com
- Nuts and nut oils (walnut and sesame seed)
- Seeds (flax, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, cocoa, coffee)
- Beans and legumes (kidney, pinto, black and soy in all forms)
- Grains (corn, wheat, millet, buckwheat, rice, sorghum, amaranth, rye, spelt, kamut and oats)
- Alternative sweeteners (xylitol, Stevia, mannito)
- No more than 20g of fructose a day
- Dairy products
- All processed foods
- Nightshade (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, paprika, mustard seeds, all chilies including spices)
- Vegetable oils
Research has shown that all of the above foods irritate or increase permeability in the gut (a condition known as “leaky gut”) which is now thought to be the trigger for autoimmune disease. It was previously thought that infection in the body was the cause. Irritation in the gut lining causes the tight intestinal barrier to weaken and let unwanted molecules like food, toxins and bacteria into the bloodstream and lead to a growing number of auto immune diseases.
What You Can Eat
The AIP diet addresses four key elements that counteract inflammation in the body: nutrient density, gut health, hormone regulation and immune system regulation. The good thing about following an AIP diet is that it’s pretty basic, the bad thing about it is that it’s, well, pretty basic. Here’s a list of allowed foods.
- Organ and grass-fed meats
- Fish and shellfish
- Vegetables (except nightshade)
- Herbs and spices
- Quality fats (avocado, coconut, olive)
- Probiotic and fermented foods (kombucha, kefir)
- Bone broth
It takes about three to four weeks to notice any improvement in how you feel. Eventually you can start reintroducing certain foods to your diet and see how they affect you. It might be an idea to support your system with supplements like Orange Naturals Immune Health, Probiotics for Adults and Zinc Citrate.
An autoimmune diet could be just the thing to kick start your way to wellness. It might be well worth a try.