Those who deal with an autoimmune condition know that they are suffering from a disease in which their own immune system turns against them. The very thing that helps shield them from disease is the very thing that becomes hyperactive and can wreak havoc on their body. Instead of the immune system’s army finding and attacking foreign cells that make you unwell, the AI system targets your own healthy cells. The jury is still out on why this happens, but we do know that women are slightly more likely to develop an autoimmune disease in their lifetime. Some of the most common autoimmune conditions are celiac disease, hashimotos, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoriasis; the list goes on.
The unfortunate symptoms of AI conditions can include fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, digestive complications and skeletal/muscular pain, as well as other negative effects. While your physician might prescribe medication to address particular symptoms, including inflammation, you can achieve monumental success in controlling and even eliminating these conditions by refining your nutritional profile.
Reducing inflammation is the main goal of such a nutritional protocol. Unfortunately, the standard American diet is riddled with foods and ingredients that work against your body. For many, giving up favorite foods can feel like a major, disruptive change, but the pain of tweaking your diet is more than worth the benefits of feeling better.
Eliminate and Reintroduce
The first step in an autoimmune diet protocol is to eliminate a host of foods that are more prone to contribute to systemic inflammation. This list below is not an all-encompassing list, as certain conditions—and the severity of symptoms—may call for a more or less aggressive approach.
The Elimination List
- Grains: rice, wheat, oats, barley, rye, etc., as well as foods derived from them, such as pasta, bread, and breakfast cereals
- Legumes: lentils, beans, peas, peanuts, etc., as well as foods derived from them, such as tofu, tempeh, fake “meats,” or peanut butter
- Nightshade vegetables: eggplants, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, etc., as well as spices derived from nightshade vegetables, such as paprika
- Eggs: whole eggs, egg whites, or foods containing these ingredients
- Dairy: cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk, as well as foods derived from these milks, such as cream, cheese, butter, or ghee; dairy-based protein powders or other supplements should also be avoided
- Nuts and seeds: all nuts and seeds and foods derived from them, such as flours, butter, or oils; also includes cocoa and seed-based spices, such as coriander, cumin, anise, fennel, fenugreek, mustard, and nutmeg
- Alcohol and coffee
- Processed vegetable oils: canola, rapeseed, corn, cottonseed, palm kernel, safflower, soybean, or sunflower oils
- Refined or processed sugars: cane or beet sugar, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and barley malt syrup; also includes sweets, soda, candy, frozen desserts, and chocolate, and other foods which may contain these ingredients
- Food additives and artificial sweeteners: trans fats, food colorings, emulsifiers, and thickeners, as well as artificial sweeteners, such as stevia, mannitol, and xylitol
This probably seems overwhelming, but the goal is for such a restricted diet to be temporary. As you work through your journey of eliminating these foods, and your symptoms begin to dissipate, you will begin slowly to re-introduce some of these foods one at a time. We say some, because many of these foods are taboo, in general, according to Central Athlete’s nutritional philosophy. By reintroducing foods one at a time, you will be able to see which of them were causing your physiology to deteriorate.
It’s Not All About Elimination
What you do eat is just as important. The imperative is to focus on introducing foods that don’t contribute to inflammation—and those that even help reduce it.
Foods to eat
- Vegetables: a variety of vegetables except for nightshade vegetables and algae, which should be avoided
- Fresh fruit: a variety of fresh fruit, in moderation
- Tubers: sweet potatoes, taro, yams, as well as Jerusalem or Chinese artichokes
- Minimally-processed meat: wild game, fish, seafood, organ meat, and poultry; meats should be wild, grass-fed or pasture-raised, whenever possible
- Fermented, probiotic-rich foods: nondairy-based fermented food, such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, and coconut kefir; probiotic supplements may also be consumed
- Minimally processed oils: olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil
- Herbs and spices, as long as they’re not derived from a seed
- Vinegars: balsamic, apple cider, and red wine vinegar, as long as they’re free of added sugars
- Natural sweeteners: maple syrup and honey, in moderation
- Certain teas: green and black tea at average intakes of up to 3–4 cups per day
- Bone broth
The list above encompasses all the foods that we at Central Athlete consider some of the most nutritious; ideally, they should make up the bulk of our clients’ diets. This is the good stuff that not only will help your physiology reach a peak level to help combat AI, but also will lead you toward symptom-free, holistic health.
If you are dealing with autoimmune issues and have not explored addressing the symptoms with your diet, we strongly encourage it. We know changing the way you eat, even gradually, can be difficult, and that you won't have all the answers and support on your own. If this is you, working with one of our coaches either onsite in Austin or anywhere in the world with our remote professionals is a must. Schedule a Free Strategy Session today to see how we can help you live a better life!