There are 100 different forms that an autoimmune disease can present as, and I know that so many of you suffer. And even if you’re not currently suffering, I recommend taking preventative steps now. Also, catching one of these diseases early can stop it in it’s tracks. And one of the most powerful things you can do is to begin to include important foods for autoimmune diseases into your diet.
80% of people who have auto immune diseases are women. No one really understands why our the immune system can suddenly start attacking healthy cells. Some think it’s genetic. Whatever the cause, it’s especially bad news since autoimmune illnesses are on the rise. In the past 50 years the incidence for autoimmunity in the U.S. has tripled.
The really upsetting thing is that aside from the often debilitating symptoms, many autoimmune diseases (including RA, Celiac, Addison’s, and Thyroid issues), can cause weight gain. I hear this time and time again from women who are trying to live a healthier life, but just can’t shift the unwanted pounds.
The evidence-based science seems to suggest that a whole food plant-based diet is the best way to go for almost everyone, including those of you suffering with autoimmunity. However, there are important foods that you need to include in your diet. And, of course, there are foods that you probably need to eliminate. This is why I turned to my trusty mentor, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, to ask him how he helps to heal patients with autoimmune disease. We did a Facebook live stream last week, but the sound was really bad, so I thought I’d collate the salient points here. Please share with any of your friends who may need this information. And, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Fuhrman’s new book, Fast Food Genocide.
G-Bombs: I love Dr. Fuhrman’s daily G Bombs, and try to include them in my diet daily. G Bombs are: Greens (raw), Beans (cooked), onions (raw), mushrooms (cooked), berries (raw), and seeds (raw). So out of these 6 foods, the only two that are cooked are beans and mushrooms. I can handle all the raw choices easily (one salad and a serving of berries does it), but the raw onions are not my favorite. Luckily I have a get-around by making a slurry. I simply chop up a small onion and pop it in my nutri-bullet blender with a couple of tbsp of water. Then I add the slurry to any cooked dish once I’ve removed it from the heat. For example, if I am making a Marinara sauce, I prepare it without cooked onion (just garlic, tomatoes, etc) and then add slurry just before eating. You can do the same with soups. Or cook as you usually would with the onion, and add extra raw onion slurry at the end.
Beans: Evidence-based science is pretty conclusive now about the fact that beans are strongly correlated with health and longevity. But many complaint is the bloating and discomfort that eating beans can sometimes cause. Dr. Fuhrman explains that you need to slowly build up the bacteria in your gut that will digest the beans properly. This takes time, and so beans should be added very slowly. He recommend no more than 1/4 cup a day (with a meal), for a few weeks to begin with. Then you can slowly build up to 1/2 cup a day.
Gut resistant starch: Gut resistant starches are found in beans, sweet potato, rice, legumes and certain grains. They will help build up the good bacteria in your gut. Dr. Fuhrman recommends his G-bombs along with gut resistant starch because these foods will form a robust/thickened bio-film in across the villi in across your gut wall. This protective film will slow the absorption of sugars, which lead to inflammation. This film will also help heal a leaky gut.
Fruit in moderation: You should only eat 3 fruits a day if you have an autoimmune disease, and always as part of a meal.
I know you already know, but gluten needs to be avoided! This is one reason why even those who suspect they may be genetically predisposed to autoimmune issues should probably go on a gluten-free diet. Healthiest grains would be millet or quinoa. Unfortunately Dr.Fuhrman pointed out that white rice will spike your blood sugar so is a NO! And most brown rice is too contaminated with arsenic to be considered a health food (bummer). You can shop around and find heirloom rice brands that may not contain so much arsenic, but it takes a great deal of research.
Less animal products: Research is showing us that a plant-based diet may help to heal certain autoimmune diseases, especially RA. I like Dr. Fuhrman’s approach a lot because he promotes a 90 – 95% plant-based diet. I guess the wriggle room could be a little chicken or fish if you’re not veggie/vegan. But, do what works for you. I’m finding that more and more readers and friends are moving toward a whole food plant-based diet for a myriad of reasons. It’s all good, but I support baby steps.
At the end of the day, it’s now pretty common knowledge that a diet full of processed foods, sugar, additives, and animal protein won’t lead you towards being the healthiest version of you. If your health is already suffering, you know this. The great news is that healing is at hand. And one of the first places you can control and aid that healing process is by understanding the most important food you need to add to your diet. And, of course, those that need to go!
And for check out some of my plant-based recipe ideas.