“Let food be thy medicine” – is a famous quote by Hippocrates. A quote that has become one of my “brain tattoos” over the last several years. But, what happens when certain foods aren’t medicine at all, but rather – poison.
There are a handful of foods that have the ability to cause more damage than good. The problem with these particular foods, is that they are constantly taxing our system. Every time we ingest even one of them, our bodies react to them as an “invader”. The results may come in many forms, maybe a headache, or congestion, acid reflux or even diarrhea. All of these things are an obvious nuisance, but people tend to put up with them in order to prevent the much bigger discomfort of changing their diet. The problem with this, is that as the body’s immune system grows tired of fending off these “intruders”, it gets weakened and before long it doesn’t know good from bad and often begins to see everything as an intruder. It no longer knows the difference between an allergen or healthy tissue. This is when the immune system gets all wiggidy-whack, often resulting in auto-immune disorders or other disease caused by a compromised immune system. Once our immunity falters, it opens up the opportunity for all sorts of diseases to creep in.
1). Toss the Sugar.
Yep, that’s right, get rid of the stuff – completely! It is not only acidic in the body but encourages inflammation as well. If that wasn’t enough, for those of you dealing with auto-immune disease, it has been found that eating too much simple sugar can negatively affect your immune system for up to 5 hours after you eat it, according to AskDrSears.com. In fact, an excess of sugar blocks your immune system from functioning properly and diminishes the ability of white blood cells to fight bacteria. In contrast, complex carbohydrates do not have these effects. It is also taking a toll on your energy, raising your blood pressure and contributing to early signs of aging like wrinkles. Booo!
Some alternatives to sugar are stevia (powdered or my favorite, liquid), local organic honey, brown rice syrup, dates can be used to sweeten smoothies and all sorts of yummy desserts.
2). Get the Gluten Out.
I know, I know, we all love our bread, but this incredibly controversial substance seems to cause more harm that good, especially with those of us with delicate eco-systems. Most of us with auto-immune disorders are sensitive to wheat (and gluten), and because we need to provide our bodies respite from more immune system triggers, it is best to adopt a gluten/wheat free diet.
One of my favorite items that helped me kick the bread habit were these crackers. They satisfied my bread craving completely, but watch out, your friends and family will scarf them up too!
3). Quit Caffeine.
Ok, I know, now I’m really treading on thin ice here, huh? I used to rely (rely, being the key word) on coffee just to get me through the day. I was suffering from terrible fatigue and it seemed to be the only thing that would enable me to do what I needed to do that day. What I didn’t know is the damage it was doing to my body at the same time. As it turns out, my adrenal glands were taking a beating after months of caffeine induced adrenaline, which sent my body into “fight or flight” mode every single day. As my exhaustion grew, I drank more coffee, only exacerbating the problem. I was putting my body through undue stress with every sip I took. If you are caffeine dependent, it is best to wean slowly and eventually cutting it completely.
A delicious caffeine-free coffee alternative is Dandy Blend, it tastes so much like coffee that you won’t skip a beat making the transition away from your morning cup o’ joe.
4). Ditch the Dairy.
It is highly probable, especially if you are dealing with auto-immune issues that you have food sensitivities. Dairy is a very common culprit in this department. It is estimated that 40 million Americans are lactose intolerant, the majority of these being African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Jewish, and Native-Americans. There are very few redeeming qualities about dairy, with calcium available in countless plant-forms, and alternative nut milks available, it is one of the easiest things to eliminate that is guaranteed to improve your health. If you are hooked on cheese, you are not alone – you can read more about eliminating one of the most addictive foods here.
5). Abandon the Alcohol.
Alcohol taxes the liver and feeds pathogenic bacteria in the gut. There are very few benefits to consuming alcohol aside from the handful of studies about wine’s antioxidant content (you have probably heard of resveratrol) which you can readily get from other safer sources (e.g., grapes and other plant foods). Drinking alcohol also tends to coincide with other lifestyle factors that may not be as healthful. So, if you are dealing with less than ideal health, ditch the drinks to allow your body to fully heal – once you are free from symptoms, a glass of wine here and there will once again be something you can enjoy.
Some of you will choose to dive in and make these changes immediately. For others, it may take some time to implement changes that stick. Simply, take your time and set your sights on one or two of these this week and stick with it! These steps are doable and you will see improvements in the way you feel quickly. You can check out all the recipes on this site, they all support these guidelines, you will find tons of delicious and easy meals that can make this transition easier. And one more thing, YOU are worth the effort!