Recently I have been experimenting on myself with a Paleo diet. Why you may ask? Well here is a little history about me. I have had mild psoriasis mostly on my scalp my whole life. Throughout the last few years, whether it be from climate changes, hormonal changes, lifestyle changes, etc., the number of psoriasis lesions on my head has increased, and about a year or two ago I started developing them on my knees, chest, and face. Also, I was diagnosed with an enlarged thyroid and have developed increasing joint pain; all of which are autoimmune in nature. I am using Paleo as a natural way to care for my autoimmune issues.
What is Paleo?
Paleo is not really a diet, but more a change in the way you eat and live your life. Paleo is a way of eating, stemming from our caveman ancestors, and includes meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Further, the lifestyle stresses the importance of time with family, time to play, proper sleep, and a healthful environment.
How Paleo addresses autoimmune issues?
The Paleo diet is gluten-free, grain-free, and for some dairy-free. Over 90% of your immune system stems from your intestinal tract. Within your intestinal tract, irritation and inflammation can result from sensitivities to things such as gluten, found on grains and in many everyday products we consume. This in turn can lead to a chronic state of inflammation which can damage the intestinal lining. Let me tell you, chronic inflammation anywhere in the body is not a good thing. The digestive system works to balance your nutrients and energy within your body. Any disruption to this balance can alter a body’s normal function. Autoimmune diseases are diseases in which a part of your body attacks itself. Inflammation plays a big role in most autoimmune conditions. By eliminating gluten and other food sensitivities like dairy, you remove the agent being taken into the body daily that is causing a sensitivity and putting your system into an attack mode, thus it is like removing the fuel source from a fire, thereby putting a stop to the reaction. Overall this would decrease or eliminate the reaction leading to increased inflammation within a part of your body that is largely responsible for a healthy and normal responding immune system.
A Reduction in Autoimmune Symptoms
Now back to my story. I cannot say that my symptoms are 100% gone. However, I can report that the psoriasis lesions on my knees, chest, and face have healed, my joint pain is decreasing, and I am experiencing less thyroid symptoms. I will be honest with you, it is extremely difficult for someone like me who loves bread, pasta, cheese, and dairy to follow this way of eating. But when I am faithful, I have amazing results, and I find I am more energetic, sleep more soundly, and feel more emotionally balanced. Since it is very difficult for me to be completely grain-free, I do occasionally use rice noodles, rice, or other rice based products, plus my husband is filipino (rice is a necessity in his book). For those with autoimmune issues, rice may not be recommended. My suggestion is that you follow a strictly Paleo diet for 30 days, and then add in an item such as rice and watch for any reactions. This is also true with consuming dairy. I enjoy using almond milk as a substitute, and I have found that I quite enjoy almond milk ice cream for that occasional treat.
I also try to live as natural a lifestyle as I can. I am a chiropractor and I receive regular chiropractic adjustments. I exercise on a regular basis. We buy as much organic food and natural products for the household as we can budget. I also use natural or organic make-up and skin products to reduce the reaction caused by harsh artificial ingredients and chemicals found in most grocery store and beauty products. We filter our drinking and cooking water, as well we have installed water filters on both of our shower heads. We also utilize essential oils and supplements.
You will find that many of my other blog posts address the supplements we utilize and the lifestyle changes we have made in our household to treat and heal my 8 year old daughter’s psoriasis (pictures included).
Bottom line…find what works for you. A Paleo diet may not be the right answer for you. I just wanted to share my response to making these dietary changes and the effect they have had on my autoimmune symptoms. There are so many great Paleo cookbooks out there. However, one in particular that I have found very easy to use and the author addresses the whole Paleo lifestyle is Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso. Another recommendation I would have if you are searching for more information would be The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. These are the two books I got started with and that we recommend to our patients. I could not possibly begin to touch on all the many ailments that a Paleo diet can address, and I am by no means an expert. I am still learning, and there is a wealth of knowledge available to you from so many sources. So as always, I encourage you to educate yourself and find what works for you. Just take action, as these conditions can absolutely be managed and treated with a natural lifestyle.
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