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Can Dietary Changes Help Ease Auto-Immune Conditions?



A Natural Approach: Can Dietary Changes Help Ease Auto-Immune Conditions?


I've had a lot of questions on this recently and more broadly, a number of you seem to be suffering from auto-immune conditions, that I don't hear about until you start a programme with me. Rather than relying on conventional medicine, whilst continuing an inflammatory diet, let's have a deep dive into the topic. Can Dietary Changes Help Ease Auto-Immune Conditions?


In recent times, globally many people are increasingly turning to the "paleo approach" – a more natural way of eating inspired by our ancestors. This trendy way of chowing down emphasises wholesome foods over processed ones and bids farewell to sugars, grains, and other processed goodies. Believe it or not, it's not just a fad; the paleo approach shows some promise in helping people with autoimmune conditions lead a better life. So, let's dive into this caveman-inspired approach and how it can tame those pesky autoimmune conditions.


Autoimmune Conditions: The Immune System Gone Awry


Imagine your immune system as a protective superhero, defending your body against nasty invaders. But sometimes, even superheroes can get confused and start attacking their allies – that's what happens in autoimmune conditions.


This is an over-simplification but when we eat something our body doesn’t like or recognise – think highly processed grains like supermarket breads and cereal, that are a far cry from the field they started out from, as well as foods with a lot of additives, preservatives, thickeners and more - the immune system goes haywire, attacking healthy cells, tissues, and organs, resulting in inflammation and all sorts of trouble.


Let's start with a brief list of some of the most common auto immune-conditions:


  1. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

  2. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

  3. Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

  4. Type 1 Diabetes

  5. Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

  6. Psoriasis

  7. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis)

  8. Celiac Disease

  9. Sjögren's Syndrome

  10. Myasthenia Gravis

  11. Graves' Disease

  12. Vitiligo

  13. Ankylosing Spondylitis

  14. Autoimmune Hepatitis

  15. Pernicious Anemia

  16. Polymyalgia Rheumatica

  17. Addison's Disease

  18. Guillain-Barré Syndrome

  19. Dermatomyositis

  20. Alopecia Areata

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and there are many other autoimmune conditions that exist. Each condition involves the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy cells and tissues in the body, leading to a range of symptoms and health challenges. If you suspect you have an autoimmune condition, it's important to consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and management. And not ALL these conditions can be eased by dietary interventions. But many are worth considering a change.

A More Natural Approach: How Changing Your Diet Can Ease Autoimmune Conditions


In recent times, globally many people are increasingly turning to the "paleo approach" – a more natural way of eating inspired by our ancestors. This trendy way of chowing down emphasises wholesome foods over processed ones and bids farewell to sugars, grains, and other processed goodies. Believe it or not, it's not just a fad; the paleo approach shows some promise in helping people with autoimmune conditions lead a better life. So, let's dive into this caveman-inspired approach and how it can tame those pesky autoimmune conditions.


The Paleo Approach: Embracing the Natural Side


Now, enter the "paleo approach," where we channel our inner caveman and opt for a more natural way of eating. This means filling our plates with whole, unprocessed foods, including lean meats, fish, eggs, vibrant veggies, succulent fruits, nuts and seeds. It's like a throwback to the days when humans foraged and hunted, and processed snacks were nowhere to be found. Pretty simple really. Paleo doesn’t mean knowing on T-bones and eating only berries foraged from local plants.


From the dogmatic approach some take – eating nose to tail and selective fruits and veggies – it can be simplified. In fact, it is one dietary theory (from over 100 I’ve studied) that forms the building blocks of our guides and plans. You may think a ‘paleo’ diet of cave men sounds outrageous and a fad. But I’d ask you to pause and ask your own deeper knowing and common sense, whether a way of eating that simply suggests you cut out (or back on) processed grains and sugar that didn’t exist 100 years ago, is actually that wild? Pun intended.



The Power of Anti-Inflammatory Eating


One of the paleo approach's cool perks is its anti-inflammatory power. By ditching processed junk and sugary treats, we're taming the flames of inflammation in our bodies. For those grappling with autoimmune conditions, this means potential relief from bothersome symptoms and an overall boost in well-being. The days of study on a ‘paleo’ diet specifically are still early, but there is some promising evidence.


Gut Health: The Natural Balancer


A key player in the paleo approach's game is gut health. Those following a more natural approach to eating than the standard western diet, nourish their gut with fibre-rich veggies and fermented goodies like sauerkraut and kimchi. As well as avoiding most potentially inflammatory foods. And guess what? A happy gut can be a game-changer for the immune system, potentially calming down those autoimmunity shenanigans.


A Bounty of Nutrients


When you go paleo, you're stepping into a world of nutrient-dense delights. Say hello to vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that pamper your immune system like a day at the spa. These natural goodies can be a real boost for folks grappling with autoimmune conditions, offering extra support in the battle against inflammation.


Paleo and Autoimmune Conditions: A Beautiful Friendship?


While the paleo approach doesn't have a magic cure for autoimmune conditions, it certainly has incredible potential. Picture a buddy who's got your back, supporting you on your journey to a more balanced and natural way of eating.


It’s not about following a diet, but rather cutting out most of the highly processed (or even many simple) grain containing foods that can trigger inflammation. These foods include things you would consider staples like bread, cereal, crackers, pasta. Unlike losing weight anti-inflammatory tactics should be a little more stringent on the foods that you restrict.


The Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Solution, also known as the Autoimmune Protocol, is a specialised dietary approach designed to help individuals manage autoimmune conditions by reducing inflammation and promoting healing. It is an extension of the Paleo diet that focuses on eliminating foods that are known to trigger immune responses and exacerbate autoimmune symptoms.


The AIP Solution involves removing potential inflammatory foods such as grains, legumes, dairy, processed sugars, processed oils, nightshade vegetables (like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants), eggs, nuts, seeds, and certain food additives. Instead, the diet emphasises nutrient-dense whole foods, including lean meats, fish, vegetables (excluding nightshades), fruits, and healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil.


The goal of the AIP Solution is to give the immune system a chance to reset and reduce its hyperactivity. After a period of strict elimination, some foods may be gradually reintroduced to identify individual triggers and sensitivities. The AIP Solution is not meant to be a long-term diet but rather a tool for identifying problematic foods and calming autoimmune symptoms.


Conditions That May Benefit A More Natural Style of eating:


Rheumatoid Arthritis: By easing inflammation, the paleo approach could help reduce those achy joints.


Lupus: Inflammation be gone. The paleo approach might bring some sunshine to lupus symptoms. There is no magic cure, but if following a diet that lowers your inflammation has been shown to seriously improve symptoms in many cases.


Celiac Disease: Sayonara gluten. The paleo approach naturally avoids gluten-containing grains, a true win for those with celiac disease. Taking this one step further, nearly 6 in 10 of us are slightly intolerant to gluten or other grains. It’s not about going out and buying gluten free cakes and muffins.


Multiple Sclerosis: Those antioxidant-rich goodies and omega-3s in the paleo approach may give some TLC to folks with multiple sclerosis.


Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD): Kick those trigger foods to the curb. The paleo approach's whole-food goodness might lend a helping hand for Crohn's and ulcerative colitis.


Embrace Your Inner Caveman (or Woman)


So, if you're intrigued by a more natural way of eating and seek solace from the woes of autoimmune conditions, consider giving the paleo approach a whirl. Remember, it's not about finding a cure-all but exploring a wholesome and balanced way of nourishing your body.






Any questions on this topic, please do let me know.


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@amysfitnessandnutrition







References:

Ghaedi, E., Mohammadi, M., Mohammadi, H., Ramezani-Jolfaie, N., Malekzadeh, J., Hosseinzadeh, M. and Salehi-Abargouei, A., 2019. Effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular disease risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Advances in Nutrition, 10(4), pp.634-646.

https://www.amazon.com.au/Paleo-Approach-Sarah-Ballantyne/dp/1936608391

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/paleo-solution-robb-wolf/1100639557

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