FOOD: The autoimmune protocol 101
Autoimmune disease is caused by the immune system losing the ability to differentiate proteins belonging to your own body with proteins belonging to a foreign invader (like a bacteria, virus or parasite). As a result the body will start attacking it’s own proteins, causing damage in cells. Depending on what exact cells/proteins are being attacked it will result in a different autoimmune disease: In Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the thyroid gland is attacked. In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the tissues of your joints are attacked. In psoriasis, proteins within your skin are attacked and so forth.
While one third of your risk will be determined by genetic predisposition aka unlucky genes, two third however is determined by environmental factors being diet, infections, exposure to toxins and hormones etc.You can’t change your genes but you can however change your lifestyle and diet.
Now be aware that an autoimmune disease cannot be cured: once your body learns to attack itself, it cannot unlearn this. You can however put the disease into (permanent) remission. The Autoimmune Protocol is a diet appropriate for everyone with diagnosed autoimmune disease or who suspects autoimmune problems. On this diet you won’t be missing out on any nutrients and it is appropriate to follow for the rest of your live.
it’s good to know that the most important contributor to autoimmune disease is nutrition deficiency on top of that leaky gut, which is directly related to diet and lifestyle, is involved in every autoimmune disease. The Autoimmune Protocol is designed to help heal the gut, regulate hormones and address micronutrient deficiencies.
The first recommendation is to follow a strict Paleo diet with absolutely no cheating. This means: no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no refined sugars, no modern vegetable oils, no processed food chemicals. In this diet even grass fed ghee is eliminated because it can have traces of lactose in it.
in addition you should completely avoid:
– Eggs (especially egg whites)
– seeds including cocoa, coffee and seed based spices
– nightshades (goji berries!)
– potential gluten cross reactive foods: Rye,Barley,Spelt, Polish Wheat,Oats (2 different cultivars), Buckwheat, Sorghum, Millet, Amaranth, Quinoa, Corn, Rice, Potato, Hemp, Teff, Soy, Milk (Alpha-Casein, Beta-Casein, Casomorphin, Butyrophilin, Whey Protein and whole milk), Chocolate, Yeast, Coffee (instant, latte, espresso, imported), Sesame, Tapioca (a.k.a. cassava or yucca), Eggs
– no more than 20g of fructose a day
– non-nutritive sweeteners, including stevia
-emulsifiers, thickeners and other food additivis
– NSAIDS like aspirin and ibuprofen
These products are excluded mainly because they can cause gut irritation and other gut problems.
There is also some evidence that hormonal birth control can contribute digestive hormone dysregulation, leading to inflammation and immune activation.
While eliminating the above will help restore the gut and keep it healthy, it is also important to deal with your nutrient deficiency. The Autoimmune Protocol does this by focussing on eating more of the following products:
– organ meat and offal ( 5 times a week)
– fish and shellfish (3 times a week)
– vegetables including sea vegetables (8-14 cups per day) , avoid spirulina and chlorella, they are immune stimulators
– quality meats: grassfed, pasture-raised, wild
– quality fats : pasture-raised/grass-fed animal fats, fatty fish, olive, avocado, coconut,..
– fruit but watch the fructose intake
– probiotic foods: fermented veggies, kombucha, kefir, …
– glycine-rich foods (anything with connective tissue, joints or skin, organ meat and bone broth)