Eating healthy should be a way of life for everyone. But healthy for one person is not always good for another. Many studies have been conducted to research the effect of diet on autoimmune diseases, but most experts will agree that there is not enough fact-based evidence to reach a conclusion. The difficulty comes because people who have autoimmune diseases often tend to have a crossover to other health issues.
One thing studies have shown is that those in the western hemisphere tend to have more illnesses and diseases. There is a general opinion that diet does play a role, or is even the main factor, in increasing incidences of cancers, coronary heart disease, and autoimmune diseases. The reasoning is that our diet consists of more grains, red meat, refined sugars, saturated fats, dairy, and processed foods than those living in other countries. Fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, fish, and legumes are not as prevalent in a westerner’s diet.
If your autoimmune disease is Crohn’s Disease, or one of the other Inflammatory bowel diseases, the organ affected is the gut. Diet can play a huge role in helping to keep flare-ups from occurring. You may have heard that nuts and seeds, raw fruits and vegetables, popcorn, greasy/fried foods, coffee, alcohol, carbonated beverages, dairy and whole grain foods, are all not good for a person with a digestive problem.
Studies have also shown that Multiple Sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis patients should stay away from milk, high animal fat products, and red meat. Sugar, gluten, refined grains, and sodium can also cause flare-ups. Leaving out one or all of these foods may help a person feel fewer symptoms of their diseases.
One of the most followed diets is the Autoimmune Protocol Diet. This is a stricter version of the Paleo diet which eliminates grains, dairy, and processed foods. Go here for a more detailed list of foods to avoid and ones that you can enjoy.
Nightshade vegetables have been placed on the do-not-eat list for those people on a paleo autoimmune plan. Nightshades include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and sweet and hot peppers. These vegetables contain alkaloids, also found in spices like paprika. Stopping the intake of nightshades may help calm inflammation in some people. There is no research that shows that nightshades are harmful, however they contain lectins which is a molecule which tends to stick to the sides of the small intestines and can aggravate a gut.
It seems like yet another complication for those suffering with autoimmune diseases, but if it might help alleviate pain and flare-ups, isn’t it worth a try? Swap cereal for smoothies for breakfast, switch from sandwiches to salads for lunch, and then have stir-fry instead of pasta for dinner. You may find that you don’t feel so overwhelmed by a disease you will have to live with forever.
Whether it is the Vegan, Gluten-Free, the Paleo Diet or a mix of the above, experiment and eat the foods that make you feel your best.