Food Allergies and Environmental Toxins May Be Causing Your Autoimmune Inflammation + Day 9 Menu Plan
I did not add food allergies into my original set of principles. Mostly because I believe that before you address this, you need to clean up your existing diet. These changes are meant to be lifelong, not a fad. In order to do so, and remain committed, it is important to take baby steps.
For many of you, the principles I have listed are things that you have already started to do. It is time, then, for you to take the next steps.
Food Allergies are Real and May Be Causing Your Autoimmune Inflammation
There are many skeptics of food allergies. I do agree than many of them have been over dramatized. Not everyone who has a disease is Gluten and Dairy Sensitive! But food allergies are REAL! Even though you do not have food allergies in the sense of anaphylaxis, you can still have different immune reactions to the food we eat.
These immune reactions, if constant, produce in an increased or hyper immune inflammatory response. Food allergies are associated more so with autoimmune based inflammatory conditions because of this hyper stimulation of the immune system.
There are many theories as to why our bodies react to certain foods as foreign and stimulate immune functions to attack.
There a couple of different blood tests available to test for food immune responses. If you have an autoimmune disease: Hoshimoto's, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac's, Asthma, Psoriasis, Addison's Disease, Grave's Disease, etc... I recommend getting food allergy testing.
How Do Food Allergies Cause Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune Disease is, in short, a runaway immune system. The immune system has been stimulated to attack and is in a constant inflammatory cycle. The initial cause of the hyper immune stimulation can be a number of triggers: Allergens, Infections, Toxins, or Stress. In any case, the stimulation is constant. The immune system becomes hyper aware, and begins to response to particles that it would normal not response to, like our own tissues.
What are the Different Immune Responses with Food Allergies
A food allergy is a hyper immune response to the foods that we eat. Most of us think of the immediate anaphylactic reactions associated with peanut allergies. But, many with food allergies DON'T EVEN KNOW THEY HAVE THEM, or confuse them with environmental allergies, there are several different immune response pathways that can be activated in food allergies.
Autoimmune Diseases are now the 8th leading cause of death among women. Many of the medications used to treat autoimmune diseases have a laundry list of health problems associated with them. Rarely is diet discussed. Both IgE and IgG responses can be tested.
There are many other tests that you can and should do if you have an autoimmune disease (we will have to do an entire blog series on autoimmune disease I have a feeling).
Environmental Toxins; Another Cause of Inflammation
Our bodies are constantly bombarded with environmental toxins. From the pesticide used in growing our food. Hormones and antibiotics in our meat. Heavy metals and chemicals in our water system. Even preservatives and plastics in our packaged foods. All of these have an impact on our body.
Pesticides and Inflammation:
The studies on pesticide exposure and disease is limited, but there have been connection found.
Pesticides are foreign. Our body's are not accustom to these chemicals. Constant exposure could cause the body to react to these chemicals as an invader. If the exposure is constant, the immune reaction could become worse. Causing a hyper immune response that then become sensitive to other cells, attacking them and causing inflammation and damage.
Environmental Hormones and Inflammation:
Endocrine mimickers and disruptors are all around us, even in our foods. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that change our body's natural hormone production.
Any imbalance in the body's natural hormonal functions can lead to increases in inflammatory hormones, decreases in regulatory hormones, excessive weight gain, insulin resistance, hypothyroid disease, etc...
Constant Low-Grade Antibiotic Use is Destroying our Gut Flora and Increasing Autoimmune Inflammation:
We've talked about how important our digestive flora (bacteria) is for our overall immune and inflammatory reactions, as well as the availability of nutrients. The constant use of antibacterial soaps, cleaners, and antibiotics in the meat we eat are slowing killing our probiotics. Many studies link this constant barrage with an increase in autoimmune inflammation and allergies.
Chemicals in our Water Deplete our Bodies of Essential Nutrients and Increase Inflammation:
Fluoride and Chlorine are common additives in our water system. To some extent they serve a purpose. We are huge communities and our water is contaminated with bacteria and other foreign contaminants. But the use is high, and these chemicals can cause a depletion in vitamins and minerals. Specifically Vitamin E.
Fluoride is found in most water systems in the US, as well as toothpaste. It is added to prevent tooth decay. This is actually quite controversial, and more evidence points to it having NO effect on the prevention of dental cavities. Fluoride is toxic in high amounts.
Chlorine in the water system is used to clean out the bacteria, and other contaminents in the water system. It does serve a purpose, to keep us from getting life threatening reactions. But there are some risks.
Preservatives in our Packaged Goods Aggravate and Cause Inflammatory Reactions:
Many of the chemicals used in our food supply are essential plastics (BPA, Pthalates, etc…) These are all endocrine disruptors, and mess with our nature hormonal balance, regulation and production.
Other chemicals are used as preservatives, to keep our food fresher longer. You are paying for the longer shelf life. Some of these preservatives are endocrine disruptors too. Other still, directly increase inflammatory responses and disrupt our immune system.
Carrageenan is found in just about everything. From Almond milk, to granola bars, to salad dressings…seriously look for this. Even organic and so called healthy foods use Carrageenan.
Carrageenan is used as a thickener, and is a polysaccharide extracted from red seaweed. You would like to think that because it is extracted from a seaweed source, it should be safe. This is, again, why I feel that extracting things from their natural sources is a bad idea. Isolating compounds removes them from other compounds that can help to reduce and balance their effects, good and bad.
The list of preservatives go on and on. I though I should highlight Carrageenan because I see it in everything, and especially in natural and organic products. For a full list of preservatives and their reactions within the body, click here.
A short list of food additives to avoid:
Artificial and Natural Flavors
Partially and Fully Hydrogenated Oils
Sodium based preservatives (Benzoates, Nitrates, Nitrites)
Breakfast #9: Bananas with Coconut Milk, Cinnamon and Hemp Seeds; Hard Boiled Eggs
This is a perfect example of keeping it simple. Breakfast doesn't have to be elaborate, or fancy. Hard boiled eggs are great to have around and are easy to slice and eat. This banana bowl takes 2 minutes to make.
A couple of random nutritional facts on the popular banana.
Pick bananas that are midway ripened for the best of both worlds.
For Banana Bowl
1 Banana, sliced
1/4 cup Coconut Milk
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Hemp Seeds (or other seed/nut)
Lunch #9: Homemade Protein Box; Apple Cinnamon Vitamin Water
Many coffee shops and restaurants have protein boxes that you can get…my problem with these is that they are often still full of sugars and simple carbohydrates. Peanut butters with added sugar, high protein breads, pretzels, etc…not what you are really needing in a protein box. I like to make my own (using my kids lunch box..shhhhhhh…I should probably get my own bento box).
For Protein Box
Dinner #9: Mini Meatloaf; Mashed Sweet Potatoes; Strawberry, Walnut, Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Dressing
My family LOVES my meatloaf. It is packed with a bunch of veggies, and not bread crumbs (yes it can be done). During the week, I usually do not have time to cook an meatloaf in the oven for an hour or longer before we eat. My trick, make them mini! Make mini meatloaves in a muffin tin. They cook in no time, and are individually sized.
Mina's Favorite Meatloaf
In a bowl mix Ground Meat, Spinach, Carrots, Onion, Eggs, Garlic, and season with Salt and Pepper. In a loaf pan or cupcake pan, add meat mixture.
In a separate bowl, mix Tomato Paste, Dijon, Vinegar and Italian Seasoning. Evenly coat meatloaves.
Cook at 350 until bubbly, 20 minutes for minis, or 1 hour+ for loaf.
Super Simple Mashed Sweet Potatoes
1 pound Sweet Potatoes, diced
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBSP Grass-Fed Butter
In a pot add diced potatoes and salt, cover with water and boil until the potatoes are soft. Drain. In the same pot, add the butter, and with a masher or fork, mash the sweet potatoes and butter together. Done!
Sweet Potatoes are sweet on there own. If you do not find them sweet, you are addictive to and have a strong sugar tolerance. You should be able to eat a sweet potato without added sugar and think it is sweet enough.