As amazing as JERFing is, for those of us with leaky gut or auto immune disease, sometimes it’s just not enough. It’s a common story to start eating paleo/primal expecting miracles to happen and when they don’t, hands get thrown up in the air and we wonder why we bothered. This was me several times over before I found out what I’m about to share.
Unfortunately, many of the most innocent and natural foods can cause a flare up of symptoms: inflammation, nausea, stomach pain as well as achy joints, insomnia, skin reactions, headaches, digestive distress and mood disturbances. Often times we are so used to feeling like crap we don’t even recognise that we are having such reactions. Certain compounds in foods cause the body to go into overdrive, recognising these compounds as invaders, it attacks. Not only the offending compounds, but eventually its own cells too – that’s how leaky gut, if left untreated, can progress to an auto immune disease.
Enter, The Autoimmune Protocol.
This starts with a traditional paleo diet - taking out all grains, including so called health grains like quinoa, all flours and gluten free treats. Ditching legumes (and probably a lot of extra gas), taking out all dairy as well as anything in a package with a long shelf life and a whole list of weird ingredients you can’t pronounce. This is strict paleo, no cheats. But wait, there’s more, those offending compounds I mentioned? Let’s explore…
Potato, tomato, eggplant and sweet/hot peppers (including paprika and chilli powder)…These bad boys belong to a family of foods called nightshades. There are over 2000 plant species in this family but the list here is so small because most of them are poisonous, deadly nightshade and tobacco being two common examples. Nightshades should be avoided due to their high content of lectins (a sugar binding protein which is a protective mechanism in a plant that resists digestion), saponins (a glycoalkaloid that stimulates an already overactive immune system) and capsaicin (a very strong stimulant - ever rub your eyes after cutting chillies!?)
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds have a few things going against them, lectins (mentioned above), pyhtates (which are binding and effect digestion), they’re high in omega 6 (too much omega 6 without omega 3 is inflammatory) and they’re commonly known as one of the top allergens (people with leaky gut and auto immune disease are more prone to allergic reactions and food sensitivities). Many nuts are high in FODMAPS too (see below) which can be problematic for those with ailing tummies. It’s important to note that seed based spices, coffee and cocoa are in this category as they are seeds *sad face*.
Excess Fructose/High FODMAPs
Frementable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols, FODMAPs, are short chain carbohydrate molecules that are often implicated in IBS. Many people with digestive distress have absorption issues with these compounds. They provide a feeding ground for bacteria in the intestine and also decrease the amount of water in the colon. This can result in gas, pain, bloating, cramping and a change in bowel frequency. If the gut is already compromised breaking down FODMAPs will be harder, and the symptoms more pronounced. Here's a great paleo friendly list if you want to explore FODMAPs. Even if you don't have leaky gut, reducing FODMAPs in your diet could help with other digestive issues.
What’s for breakfast? Unfortunately it’s not eggs! Eggs are also one of the top allergenic foods. The egg white provides protection from microbial attack as the embryo grows, and it does a whole host of complicated things to ensure its safety. (If you want to geek out on this process head over here). The main compound is lysozyme, this very easily crosses the intestinal barrier of even the healthiest people heading straight into the blood stream where it binds to other proteins and gets up to mischief.
As if all that wasn’t enough to drive you crazy, you’ll need to ditch the alcohol too if you’re serious about your gut health. Long story short alcohol directly increases your already leaky intestinal wall and damages the gut lining - tough love, no ways around it.
JERFing in a nutshell (Just Eat Real Food)
What is A Leaky Gut
What are Nightshades?
Spices on the Autoimmune Protocol
Pros and Cons of Coffee
FODMAPs Cheat Sheet
Why not Eggs?
The Paleo Mom
Autoimmune Print Out Guides