You probably have seen a ton of information about what foods to avoid with autoimmunity, but do you know what foods will help you flourish with autoimmunity?
When it comes to autoimmune conditions, there’s so much focus on food avoidance and not enough on which foods actually will help you manage or reverse your autoimmune condition.
Yes, avoiding highly inflammatory foods is a big part of managing or reversing autoimmunity since they overwhelm the immune system with inflammation leading to the attack of healthy tissues. Eating certain foods such as gluten can even trigger your body to attack healthy tissues even more due to molecular mimicry.
The top inflammatory foods to avoid with autoimmunity include:
- Grains and dairy
- Sugar and soy
- Nuts, seeds, bean, legumes and nightshade vegetables
In addition to these top inflammatory foods, it’s beneficial to sort out other foods that might be causing inflammation for you, specifically by doing a food sensitivity test, such as Cyrex’s Array #10, to reduce inflammation and autoimmune triggers even more.
Once you’ve got your food avoidances down, it’s time to shift your focus to incorporating foods that will help you flourish with autoimmunity. Since autoimmune issues are said to be largely related to a state of leaky gut, this also means you’ve likely got some nutrient deficiencies going on that make it difficult for your body to repair, replenish and recover from an autoimmune situation. A leaky gut means the intestinal barrier is operating sub-optimally, allowing toxic particles into the bloodstream and poorly absorbing nutrients from the foods you’re eating or supplements you’re taking.
The Best Nutrient-Dense Foods
Bone broth is an excellent food to help resolve this situation! It’s jam-packed with nutrients that help to heal leaky gut while providing vitamins and minerals the body needs to flourish with autoimmunity. Bone broth contains vitamin A, vitamin K2, minerals such as zinc, iron, boron, manganese, and selenium, as well as omega-3 and 6. Drinking a cup of bone broth per day can really boost your gut health and nutrient levels. If you have issues with histamines, try a bone broth protein powder. These powders tend to be lower in histamines because of the shorter cooking time it takes to make them.
Vitamin D is a well talked about deficiency related to autoimmune conditions, and while you can get vitamin D from the sun, it’s not always easy to be out in the sun, especially if heat intolerance is one of your autoimmune symptoms or you live in a colder climate. The good news is you can get vitamin D from foods too! Some of the best food sources for vitamin D include:
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
Foods containing B vitamins can also greatly improve how you are feeling since they are essential for cellular energy, immune function, hormones, nerves, circulation, digestion and sleep, which helps your body restore itself every night. B vitamins can be found in a wide range of foods such as:
- Egg yolks
- Sweet potato
- Leafy greens
Are you starting to notice a pattern here? The most nutrient dense and autoimmune supporting foods are typically animal proteins, fish and veggies. While plant-based proteins are nutrient dense too, they also typically contain lectins. Lectin containing foods aren’t always problematic, but they can cause more inflammation in an already inflamed body, and inflammation is a big factor with autoimmunity.
Minerals are also critical to your body’s ability to manage or reverse an autoimmune condition since they play a role in just about every function of the body, including keeping you hydrated. Some of the most important minerals you need include sodium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and selenium (especially if dealing with Hashimoto’s).
Surprisingly, sea salt and Himalayan salt are two of the most abundant mineral-containing sources, and they are so easy to add to any foods you’re eating or even bring zing to beverages you’re drinking! Use these salts as generously as you’d like. It’s the typical table salt that you want to avoid.
In addition to sea and Himalayan salt, an abundance of minerals can be found in most of the foods already mentioned! And if you’d like to try adding in a mineral supplement to ensure you’re getting enough, check out Designs for Health’s Complete Mineral Complex for an all-in-one formula.
Foods That Detoxify
Naturally detoxifying foods can also help you with foods to flourish by boosting liver function and promoting the elimination of toxins. Incorporate these foods to increase your body’s natural detox capacity:
- Dandelion root (try it as a tea!)
Aside from ensuring you’re getting the nutrients you need, balancing the ratio of proteins, carbs and fats in your foods will help you flourish with autoimmunity too. When you eat the right ratios of protein, carbs and fats for your body it will:
- Balance blood sugar to reduce inflammatory factors
- Reduce digestive stress to improve nutrient absorption
- Improve quality of sleep for better recovery overnight
- Positively impact hormones and energy
You’ll know you’re eating the right ratios when you:
- Are able go 3-5 hours or more without feeling hungry or needing to snack
- Have energy for hours and feel recharged
- Can think clearly, feel uplifted and be more positive
Figure Out Your Food Ratios
- Tune into your body 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating
- Notice how it’s responding to what you ate
- Adjust your food ratios until you get the perfect response!
The majority of the population feels better when eating a higher ratio of proteins and fats in relation to carbohydrates. Adding 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to your meals by drizzling it over veggies, meat or salad is an easy way to increase your intake of healthy fats to balance your blood sugar and ratios, and keep you satiated for longer. In fact, Dr. Terry Wahls, one of the pioneers in autoimmune research, frequently talks about the therapeutic benefits of olive oil for everyone and especially those with autoimmunity.
As famous Greek physician Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine.”
Give some of these foods a whirl and let us know how they are helping you flourish with autoimmunity – We love hearing from our community!