Which Diet is Best for You?
Hi. Dr. Connie here.
There are many different holistic approaches to living with Lupus. One key element is through diet.
Why start with the diet?
Because it’s safe to assume that we all have leaky gut and are in need of restoration. Additionally, food is something we have complete control over.
Then the question is, which diet is best?
From autoimmune paleo, Whole 30, plant based vegan, to everything else in between, it is extremely confusing when considering which diet would be best for us.
I’ve tried them all and studied the research behind each of them, and they all have a legitimate basis for their claims.
However, I believe it’s not about fitting into a diet, but it’s about eating the foods that YOUR body needs.
We’ve found that while one diet may work for some, the same diet may not work for others.
We all have individual, genetic differences and have different physiological needs.
Where Can You Start?
What I recommend for those of you who are wanting to alter your diets and begin to use food as medicine is to start with a Lupus Gut Healing Diet.
It’s an anti-inflammatory plan with all potentially offending foods removed from the plan. This is because those offending foods have an inflammatory effect on the body and can perpetuate and worsen the leaky gut.
Stay on the Lupus Gut Healing Diet for 28 days, then add those foods that you eliminated back to your diet to determine if they cause certain symptoms, such as aches, pains, rashes, fatigue, and brain fog.
This is the most economical way to both diagnose and treat your food sensitivities.
You should aim to eliminate gluten altogether from your diet as it’s been linked to worsening autoimmune conditions due to a protein in our bodies called zonulin.
Issues with various experts sharing yet another “diet” to cure disease is confusing now more than ever. They all contradict one another and speak from assumptions that may not apply to everyone.
Assumes that everyone should eat meat. If you don’t you’ll be surprised to find limited options for protein, as the typical vegan protein sources tend to also be higher in carbs.
The Keto camp advocates bacon, sausage, and high fat foods that may not necessarily be good for some autoimmune patients.
We find that while one may lose weight while on this diet, the toxic load can be skyrocketed if you have a compromised ability to detoxify.
It has also been found that the inflammatory markers can be elevated and result in the loss of lean muscle mass rather than the loss of fat.
Many with autoimmune conditions struggle with Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth (SIBO) due to lack of digestive enzymes and HCl.
In such cases, eating a high fiber diet can cause discomfort and pain to the gut, which may have a negative effect on the body.
I’m not saying plant based is bad, but it may be for an autoimmune patient.
And for those with metabolic issues, such as diabetes and insulin resistance, the high net carbs in the diet will increase the sugar rush into the blood stream, which ultimately has a net inflammatory effect.
This is not what we want.
Focus on the Food
Rather than getting lost in the nuances of different types of “diets”, it’s far more productive to tailor the FOODS themselves to YOU.
Yin-Yang applies to all things.
During the summer months, produce tends to be expansive and fast growing. This period of expansive growth represents yang. We tend to eat raw produce during this time, like cold salads and smoothies.
During the fall, things slow down and start to wither in preparation for the winter ahead, so there is a yang to yin transition.
During the winter months, everything is yin, where we contract and hibernate. We crave foods that are cooked, like soups and warm foods.
Then comes spring where the transition from yin to yang takes place and things start to bud and grow again.
It is important to eat what’s in season, as this is how Mother Nature intended it to be.
Download our seasonal produce guide here.
So all things comes down to BALANCE. Why can’t we have the cake and eat it too? That’s been my motto.
A New Way of Eating
Few rules apply as you embark on a new way to eat:
1. Eat whole foods. Simply, if Mother Nature made it, it’s likely safe. Avoid man made, artificially altered foods that involve plastic packaging and processing of any kind.
2. Eat in season and locally. This means that you don’t eat a watermelon in the middle of winter months or eat produce that’s been shipped from New Zealand to the United States. Simply, eat local produce that’s right for the season.
3. Listen to your body. We all have phases where sometimes, we feel under the weather and other days we feel like we can tackle the world. So tune into your body.
4. Be mindful when you eat. Taste and feel the texture of food in your mouth and connect to the nourishing nutrients being absorbed.
5. Listen to your feelings. When feeling anxious, frustrated, angry, or sad, refrain from eating as you’re not in the best position to make smart choices with food.
6. Practice fasting for up to 15 hours. If you ate dinner at 6 pm, don’t eat breakfast until 9 am. 15 hours between dinner and breakfast is a simple way to give your gut a break.
7. Eat the rainbow. We are habitual when choosing foods, so eat a variety of colors and try to think rainbows. Foods with colors provide much needed nutrients and antioxidants to help us regain our health.
8. Choose vegetables at every meal. For lunch and dinner, let vegetables be at least 50% of the plate.
9. Go easy with the fruits. While they are considered nature’s candy, they do contain fructose, which is sugar. When eaten, they can spike up sugar levels and give you an insulin surge, which is highly inflammatory to us with autoimmune conditions.
I would recommend that you cultivate self awareness by owning your body. This means, paying attention to your feeling when eating, how it makes you feel, and the effect it has on you.
Begin to tune into your senses to understand what your body is trying to tell you rather than relying on the so called “experts” to dictate this diet or that, which may not be what YOU need.
You, my friend, are your best doctor. Give yourself some credit and let’s start owning our health.
Have a great week and I’ll be back with more next week!
About the Author
Dr. Connie has suffered from Lupus for the last 16 years. As a result, she discovered that a holistic minded approach to health was most beneficial for herself in battling Lupus and for her patients, who battle everything from Autoimmune Disease to Weight Loss. Dr. Connie holds a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and a Masters in Public Health (Nutrition) from the renowned Loma Linda University School of Allied Health Professions. She is also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian in the State of Georgia. Additionally, Dr. Connie is a Functional Medicine Practitioner (Certification Pending 2017), a Registered RYT-200 Yoga Teacher & School (Yoga Alliance) and Certified Pilates Teacher (Pilates Method Alliance).