Managing Your Autoimmune Condition

Managing Your Autoimmune Condition

In my Sydney naturopath practice I often highlight to my patients, the importance of managing their autoimmune condition. There are many beneficial dietary and lifestyle changes as well as supplements which can help them. It is important to note the following:

  • The importance of their diet,

  • What foods to avoid, and

  • What foods to eat.

 

Diet

Although there is an abundance of food in Western society, unfortunately modern farming and processing techniques have left us with overly processed, nutrient depleted packages on our supermarket shelves. In order to nourish our body’s we need fresh “real foods”. In chronic conditions like Autoimmune conditions, the blood is often high in acid residue.

An overly acid body can lead to inflammation, digestive problems including bloating, flatulence, constipation and diarrhoea, pain and immune imbalance. As a result, it is important to include lots of alkalising foods in your diet. These foods may help reduce pain and inflammation. Try to aim for a diet that consists of 80% alkaline-forming foods and only 20% acid-forming foods within your daily intake. The most alkaline-forming food is enzyme-rich and in its natural state. It is fresh, organic, raw, wild and ripe.

 

What To Avoid

The following foods tend to promote acid in the blood and should be avoided:

  • Alcohol is highly inflammatory and toxic to the liver. It also promotes harmful oestrogens and reduces glutathione which is a potent antioxidant in the body;

  • Coffee: especially non water decaffeinated coffee and instant coffee. Substitute with cacao, dandelion, nettle, burdock, red clover, liquorice and green tea or only drink organic;

  • Cooked foods: especially fried, barbequed or deep-fried, burned or browned food e.g. grilled cheese;•    Cooked foods: especially fried, barbequed or deep-fried, burned or browned food e.g. grilled cheese;

  • Preserved, canned, smoked or dried foods;

  • Foods grown with chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers);

  • Foods kept in cold storage or frozen, rather than fresh;

  • Refined or finely milled, with husks, kernels or other nutritious parts removed;

  • Unripe fruits and vegetables, especially if it was unripe when it was picked;

  • Foods containing manufactured chemicals such as preservatives, stabilizers, flavor enhancers, colors, synthetic antioxidants, artificial sweeteners, thickeners, citric acid or emulsifiers;

  •  Red meats or chicken, particularly hormonally or antibiotic fed animals or those fed on a grains and GMO grain type diets;

  • Farmed Fish raised on antibiotics and fish foods. Particularly ocean trout and salmon.

  • Dairy products, particularly non organic cow’s milk products such as butter, yoghurt, cheese and ice cream;

  • Pesticide treated foods: Unfortunately these are hard to avoid as they are used in the production of most conventional produce. To remove pesticide residue soak vegetables in a couple of tablespoons of apple cider or white vinegar.

  • Processed Soy products: textured vegetable protein, soy protein, soy flour in breads, hydrolysed soy protein in processed vegetarian foods. Note: Miso, natto, soy sauce, tamari, tempeh and organic non GMO tofu are okay

  • Refined Carbohydrates and Grains:

    • Wheat products, especially sweets, cakes, pastries and pies, biscuits, breads (especially white bread), pastas, white rice.

    • Sugars: table sugar, soft drinks, white potatoes, soft drinks, lollies, chocolates, added high fructose and corn syrup.

  • Tap Water due to the presence of fluoride which damages our pineal gland required for the production of melatonin, chlorine, pesticides, rust and other chemical which are damaging to our thyroid;

  • Trans Fats found in:

    • Processed and hydrogenated oils, e.g. all types of margarines, supermarket oils especially genetically modified types like cotton seed, canola and soybean oil,

    • Deep fried foods like battered fish and chips, schnitzels, pies, sausage rolls, potato scallops, hamburgers, hot dogs, food chain pizzas, fried chicken.

 

What To Eat

  • Fresh Real Foods which are unprocessed organic foods where possible. Ideally include a variety of different seasonal foods with a balance of raw and cooked foods;

  • Bone broths to nourish the bones and joints and heal the digestive tract;

  • Fermented foods to promote beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. Include these in your daily diet including miso in the unpasteurised form, dairy or coconut water kefir, good quality yoghurt (use organic milk where possible or coconut milk) and fermented vegetables e.g., kimchi, sauerkraut;

  • Fibre:

    • Vegetables: no matter what type of diet you embark on it should include adequate amounts of fresh vegetables. In fact you should be aiming for the equivalent of 5 cups of raw vegetables per day. My top picks are broccoli, broccoli sprouts, onions, garlic, spinach, kale, asparagus, zucchini, squash, celery, snow peas, rocket, beans and watercress. Avoid starchy vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, corn, peas, sweet potato and pumpkin especially if trying to lose weight or if you are diabetic;

    • Fruit should be limited to maximum around 2 pieces of fruit (less fruit if trying to lose weight). My top picks are blueberries, pineapple, apples and pears and papaya due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects;

    • Psyllium, chia seeds, rice bran, or LSA (ground linseeds, pepitas, almond and sunflower seeds).

  • Fluid intake: Adequate hydration is essential to promote detoxification and promote healthy cells, kidneys and joints. Aim for at least 2 litres daily of filtered or spring water. Avoid tap water;

  • Fat Requirement: Although fats are often frowned upon in Western society as a cause of heart disease and high cholesterol levels, many have anti-inflammatory actions and are also essential for our cells and hormones to function optimally. Good sources include:

    • Omega 3 from deep sea sustainable fish (wild barramundi, snapper, trevally, mullet, deep sea cod, flathead, organic salmon);

    • Avocado, chia seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, hemp seeds. Seeds and nuts are best absorbed and digested if soaked or ground;

    • Cold Pressed Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil (2 tbsp per day), rice bran oil.

  • Juices and smoothies (see recipe section for ideas) containing vegetables such as beetroot, celery, carrot, ginger, lemon, limes, kale, spinach, cucumber, cabbage, pears, green apple, rocket, broccoli, parsley. These are jam packed with nutrients and enzymes and are detoxifying to the body;

  • Sea vegetables are a great addition to our diet as they contain essential minerals for adequate thyroid function, including wakame, kelp, bladderwrack, sea weed and kombu. These may be added to soups and stews or eat as snacks;

  • Super foods are full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and also detoxify the body: My top picks include raw cacao, maca, spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass, barley grass, berries like goji berries and blue berries. These make a great addition to smoothies;

  • Teas: Green tea preferably organic 3 to 4 cups daily. Some other recommendations include tulsi tea, peppermint, fennel, and aniseed to aid digestion, chai green tea, liquorice, lemon balm, dandelion and nettle to aid detoxification;

 

For more information on diet lifestyle or specific supplementation recommendations, consult a qualified health practitioner like myself.