I have modified my approach to illness multiple times since I became sick. I believe that diet can heal the gut and calm down inflammation. It can take away triggers for chronic illness. People who are actively inflammed with illness can try adding dietary changes in addition to their traditional medications. I do not advocate coming off of medications that you are on already but rather, suggest using diet as a supplement that will hopefully allow you to come off of medications. Disease is not homogenous--it is not the same for everyone. People have had illness for different lengths of time and different organs have been affected. Therefore, the response in each person will be different. Please don't come here looking for a cure to all illness. Come here to learn how to heal, get better from your illness and avoid illness. There is no magic pill. Every day, we must perservere and practice adherence to keep inflammation down. It is a lifelong journey. No one is perfect but we have to be pretty darn good. Take a chance, adhere, persevere and see how good you can feel.
The approach requires three main steps. First is ELIMINATION. You cannot heal the body without taking the toxins out of it. Often the toxins are foods we take in. They are also sometimes stress, lack of water, cigarettes, pollution, excessive sun. Find ways to avoid these toxins. You cannot only add back good foods. People often want to eat their toxins and then add back some anti-oxidants. It doesnt work that way.
Second step is the ADD BACK. After eliminating the toxins, we have to nourish the body with healthful foods, rest and relaxation, exercise and sleep. We have to add back all of the highly potent superfoods, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory foods. This is key.
Third step is SUPPLEMENTS. I am not a multi-vitamin fan because most of us don't need half the stuff in a multi-vitamin. Then, we have difficulties absorbing the nutrients from a pill. Most of what we need comes from the foods we eat and do not need to come from a pill! The only pills that people who are eating a plant based diet will need are vitamin B12 and maybe vitamin D (depending on how much sun exposure you are getting and where you are in proximity to the equator). Supplements that I take are a variety of spices and natural probiotics. I eat turmeric, kim chi, sauerkraut, ginger, cinammon, green tea, mango powder, pomegranate powder. NOT PILLS: FOOD. People often ask what form I eat my supplements in. I eat them as part of my food. No capsules, Just FOOD. We can get it all from the foods we eat!
Here are some more detailed points:
Eliminate red meat, chicken and eggs
If you are going to cheat, make it after the six weeks and only once every week. We know that TMAO is produced by the gut when we eat meat and eggs. We know that TMAO causes plaque in the heart arteries.
Eliminate all dairy
That includes milk, CHEESE and yogurt. I know a hard one! We know that dairy is inflammatory. There is suggestion that dairy is linked to cancers such as prostate. It is a trigger for many autoimmune diseases. We know that increasing milk consumption does NOT decrease your risk of fracture. Therefore, you do not need dairy for your protein or your calcium. Most of Asia and Africa does NOT drink milk and their fracture risk is not nearly as high as we see in the Western World.
Eliminate processed foods
Most foods are processed to some degree because they are changed from the original. But we are talking about all the foods that have artificial sweeteners and preservatives to increase shelf life. That is most things that come in a bag. That is all the breads that never mold because of the preservatives that increase shelf life. That is all the artificial sweeteners that are inflammatory and actually make us gain weight. These sweeteners are also associated with chronic illness. This is all the bags of chips and chocolate bars. This is everything that comes out of a vending machine. This is all the food that comes out of our fast food restaurants. These are foods that have high fructose corn syrup and genetically modified ingredients such as corn, soy and canola. This is most of our cereals.
I would like to see you eliminate all sodas, including diet ones. Artificial sweeteners are not better than the original. I would like to see you eliminate all chips and microwave popcorn. I like air popped popcorn instead where you put a little in the pan and then the kernels. Look at the labels. If there are more than six ingredients on the label, it is probably overly processed . if there are items on the ingredient list you don’t know, you probably don’t want to eat it. If the label says “may include one of the following” and gives like five options, you probably don’t want to eat it. if it has the words partially hydrogenated, you don’t want to eat it. See my blog on reading nutritional labels for full details.
Add in beans and legumes
That is any kind of bean. That is lentils. Have as many as you want. Have them ten times per day. Put them on top of rice or quinoa. Eat chick peas, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans. Make a soup. Make a burrito. They are filling and have many essential ingredients such as potassium, magnesium and iron. They are full of calcium and protein. They are resistant starches which are important for gut health and likely have a role in decreasing colon cancer.
Add back the greens and fruits.
Eat them often and much. Focus on getting seven servings per day. Add kale to your lentil soup or to a bean chili. Add red peppers to veggie sloppy joes. Make sweet potato and oatmeal burger. They are full of fiber, vitamin A and C, iron, potassium, magnesium and many are full of calcium. Turnip greens, mustard greens, kale and bok choy are high in calcium. Kale has alpha linoleic acid in it which is converted to omega 3 fatty acids which are potent anti-inflammatories. They are rich in phytonutrients (plant based nutrients) which help with eye health (lutein) and dilation of blood vessels (flavonoids) and may help against aging (reservatrol).
Add in nuts and seeds
Not too many. But a handful a day can be good because they are filling, calorie dense. Walnuts have alpha linoleic acid which is a omega 3 fatty acid precursor. They are also full of nutrients. They should be unsalted and no more than a handful per day.
Add back spices
There are so many spices that I love. Turmeric may be my favorite and should be eaten often and much. I love ginger for its anti-nausea effects. I love garlic as an anti-viral and for its heart benefits. I love pomegranate powder for its cholesterol and heart benefits. I love rosemary for its anti-oxidant effects. Spices should be sprinkled into all of our foods. They should be potent and fragrant. They have so many anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Drink Lots of Water
We don’t know how much. We do know more is better. It helps lubricate and nourish the body. It is filling. It flushes our kidneys. Without it, we cannot survive. Drink it often and much. Try to drink enough so that you are urinating every two hours.