Friday, September 25, 2015

The autoimmune protocol diet

I've finally realized that in order to stay functioning with the least amount of pain and cognitive issues, I MUST follow the autoimmune protocol diet. Of course, everyone has to customize to their individual needs/sensitivities.

At the basics for reasons that are best explained in books I'll list below, here is what I now follow in a nutshell:
  1. No sugars, not even artificial sweeteners (which are worse than real sugars) only exception is honey in my tea as a special treat once in a while.
  2. No processed foods - eliminates most inflammatory foods in one fell swoop, including dropping sodium and sugar intake!
  3. No grains (gluten and oats make me dizzy, tired, and a few hours later cause tummy discomfort; rice just immediately causes gas.)
  4.  No dairy (I've learned it is a BIG and immediate source of inflammation for me all over and even out to my skin in the form of a lifetime of acne; my complexion is beautiful now!)
  5. No legumes (soy is a definite problem for me; peanuts, peas and cashews to lesser degrees where I can tolerate them on occasion and only in small amounts. I don't eat beans anyway, so no loss there.)
  6. No tomatoes/nightshades (the exception is potatoes on occasion, which I can tolerate quite well)
  7. Lots of water throughout the day
Sorry, but no matter what I did, I couldn't not eliminate some of those foods. I wanted to keep them, but I found that eliminating them all was the only way to feel like I might have a normal life.

Every other whole food is actually pretty good to me now, although there are some that I must limit, like fermented foods (too high in histamines).

For my specific issues (Hashimoto's), I must also limit iodine. Too much makes my thyroid swell and feel like its crushing my throat.

And to balance blood sugar, I also limit fruits as much as I can to a max of 3/day.

You'll find MUCH greater detail in these two books (which I've read after figuring out my diet):

The Autoimmune Solution
The Autoimmune Solution is a great, general, easy-to-understand overview of what the author refers to as "The Myers Way". She is a licensed M.D. specializing in functional medicine. You'll find her way is identical to many other autoimmune protocols anywhere on the internet. But here it's in one book with a section of recipes at the end.
In The Paleo Approach, Sarah Ballentyne goes into great depth about why we should avoid certain foods and the detailed effects they have on our bodies that make them problematic for sufferers of autoimmune diseases. I'm still reading it but find it extraordinarily helpful. However, it is like a medical textbook in all the details of cytokines, B-cells/T-cells, mitochondria, etc. Be prepared for some heavy reading. I enjoy the details very much, but someone else may not want the nitty gritty minutiae of how our bodies function. In that case, you're better off sticking to the book above.

In addition, I've also discovered this gem of a little book, thanks to research on hypoglycemia (recommended on a forum that came up in my search), which has been an occasional problem for me:
I've tried balancing my diet a few different ways and discovered that this works great for getting a restorative sleep. I've mentioned it in previous posts but want to say that I've learned to eat like this whenever I can.

Here is the basic eating plan I find works best for me, thanks to The Adrenal Reset Diet suggestions of carb-loading:
  • Morning first thing: hot water with lemon (to cleanse the liver and aid digestion)
  • Breakfast: 2-3 eggs/other meat (I love morning eggs!) + a serving of fruit/vegetable
  • Morning snack: nuts/seeds and/or small serving of fruit
  • Lunch: Meat (chicken/beef/other) usually more than the tiny 3 oz. recommended + green leafy vegetable + other veggie/fruit
  • Afternoon snack: tea and/or other whole food like a raw veggie and/or nuts/seeds
  • Supper: all veggies and/or one fruit (depending on fruit prior in the day) depending on how hungry I am by then
  • Before bed: a small snack of veggie/fruit and/or nuts/seeds
I limit fruits to no more than 3/day to limit my sugars and try to consume them in conjunction with a protein or fat to slow the metabolism of the sugars. Berries are the main go-to. However, if I do wake up at 2-3 am (usually warm and wide awake), I'll go for anything that's quick to get my blood sugar back in balance to lower my cortisol so I can fall back to sleep, and it works. I also try to limit my nuts/seeds to small quantities.

As you can see, I don't eat heavy proteins with each meal, focusing them in the morning and early afternoon (the richness of B vitamins usually perks me up, which may be part of the reason I don't want to sleep when I have them later in the day). This is what has proven to lead me to better sleep at night, which the body needs to repair/regenerate itself. No more endless insomnia!

I am continually refining the things in my life that I can do to boost my immune system and decrease inflammation. Keeping a journal has helped a great deal, but these books would have helped me even more had I found them sooner.

I've cleaned up our household in other ways and switched to a wake-up light as recommended in The Adrenal Reset Diet and find them helpful, as well as refined my supplements (most nutrients come from my food now that my digestion is better), but this post is about the diet, so I won't get into the other details. I hope this helps others searching as I did for relief from their symptoms.

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