Autoimmune Diet Guidelines

Autoimmune diseases are disorders in which the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system and they are on the rise affecting every system of the body.

What is going on and what can we do to protect ourselves and reduce the symptoms of autoimmune diseases?  Eating an anti-inflammatory gluten-free diet is key.

Here are some statistics about autoimmune diseases:

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH estimates up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease and that the prevalence is rising.
  • Women experience autoimmune diseases 3X the rate of men- some like lupus effect women 9X the rate.
  • Researchers have identified 80-100 different autoimmune diseases and suspect at least 40 additional diseases of having an autoimmune basis. These diseases are chronic and can be life-threatening.
  • Autoimmune disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in female children and women in all age groups up to 64 years. of age.
  • A close genetic relationship exists among autoimmune disease, explaining clustering in individuals and families as well as a common pathway of disease.
  • Celiac disease, a digestive autoimmune condition triggered by the consumption of gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye and barley) is 400% more prevalent today than 40 years ago.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and deformity of joints, is on the rise among women after decades of decline. The list goes on: type-1 diabetes, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and ulcerative colitis. A growing body of evidence suggests that virtually the same trio of factors underpins most, and perhaps all, autoimmune diseases: an environmental substance that is presented to the body (in the case of celiac disease the trigger is gluten), a genetically based tendency of the immune system to overreact to the substance, and an unusually permeable gut. Celiac disease is the only autoimmune disease with a known trigger (gluten) and a known cure (a gluten-free diet).

All autoimmune diseases tend to share one characteristic: They can go through periods of a flare-ups and remission. Although specific treatments will depend on the particular problem, following a diet that promotes a healthy immune response might help.

Dr. Green’s Autoimmune Food Protocol

A restrictive diet is important to treating autoimmune diseases.  The goal of eating this way is to promote change through the removal of foods that are, in any possible way, inflammatory.  If you cheat, you are only making this process slower.  The worst foods to cheat with are gluten (wheat, barley, rye, malt, spelt), dairy and soy proteins.

Basic Guidelines (Not Specific To Any Food Allergies)

  1. Eat 4-6 small meals per day.
  2. Make sure you eat within 30 minutes of waking in the morning.
  3. Always have a carbohydrate, fat and protein with each meal.
  4. Eat twice as many vegetables as fruit over the course of the day.  Raw vegetables are best if you want to lose weight.
  5. Remember that eating this way will be new and sometimes a challenge to achieve.  Preparing single servings of food that can be frozen will save you from having to cook meals when life gets busy.
  6. Meats (from best to worst):  fish, wild game (venison, bison), chicken, beef, turkey, pork.  4-5 servings of fish a week is recommended.  Avoid farm-raised fish.  Smoked salmon is acceptable.  Vary the other meats you eat in frequency.  Cured meats like ham, bacon, and sausage can be eaten but not as an everyday staple.
  7. Vegetables:  fresh veggies are best.  Multiple colors are even better.  Eat at least a couple of servings of raw veggies per day.  This is where you get most of your really good minerals and vitamins.  Focus on what is in season.  No veggies in cans.  Kale is versatile and works well in salads, saute’s and soups.  Sweet potatoes are okay but skip the white potatoes.  Avoid rice but try quinoa.  It is a grain with a nutty flavor and works well as a substitute for rice and potatoes.  Spaghetti squash is also a good idea.
  8. Salads:  choose dark, leafy lettuces like kale, spinach or spring mix.  Avoid iceberg lettus altogether.  Use many different veggies in your salads and always top with some protein (grilled chicken, fish, beef, shrimp).  Nuts and fruits are great in salads.  Avoid bottled salad dressings.  Make your own with vinegar, oil and seasonings to spice up your salad.  Juice from 1/2 lemon or orange also make a great dressing.
  9. All fruits: 2-3 servings per day.  Keep in mind that fruits are a sugar source and sugar addicts can easily eat too much fruit.  Frozen berries are okay, but in small amounts.  Diabetics should be very careful here.  Wash all fruits prior to eating.
  10. Drinks:  water with lemon should be the drink of choice.  Have a 32-ounce bottle filled in the morning and drink it by lunch.  Repeat this in the afternoon.  Seltzer water and herbal tea is also permissible.  Avoid coffee and all alcohol.  Almond milk (unsweetened, if you are diabetic) and coconut milk are good replacements for dairy milk.  If you need a sweetener, try Stevia.
  11. Cooking Oils: Sauté with Olive Oil. If you need to use higher temps, use Coconut Oil. If I let you eat dairy, then butter is ok, not margarine. Canola oil, vegetable oil, corn oil and soybean oils are BAD.
  12. Spices: All are ok. Keep salt to fewer than 1500mg if blood pressure is an issue.
  13. Supplements: Make sure anything you are taking is passed by me first. Any liquid or powdered supplements can be added to your morning fruit smoothie.
  14. Medications: Never stop your meds unless you have discussed it with your doc. Many meds can be eliminated or reduced having gone through my program.
  15. Desserts: Coconut ice cream is a special treat and should be savored. Baking fruit like apples and peaches are fabulous alternatives to processed desserts. Use spices to add flavor.
  16. Snacks: Hummus with carrot and celery sticks is a favorite. You can purchase pre-made brands or make your own with garbanzo, black or Northern white beans. Organic almond or cashew butter is a better choice than peanut butter but as long as it is organic and natural, peanut butter is fine. No processed brands like Skippy or Jif. Whole food snack bars like Macro or Kind may be eaten as a snack ½ bar at a time, no more than one bar per day.

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