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Viruses and Autoimmunity

If you are a human, living and breathing on this planet, then you have already discovered that viruses are everywhere.  

Sometimes you get sick from them and sometimes you don’t. Have you ever wondered why?  

Some people can clear these viruses out of the body easily after their cold or flu, while in other’s the virus can persist and run amok causing problems like autoimmune disease. How does that happen?  

This issue is important whether or not you have an autoimmune condition because persisting, active viruses can cause ongoing symptoms like fatigue, too.  

Let me explain.  

We are all exposed to viruses.  

A healthy immune system should be able to respond to the infection and take care of business, clearing out the virus after a self-limited short illness. I think of a robust and well functioning immune system as the product of good “soil” within your body.  

Another name for the inner soil that grows your immune system is your terrain, which is part of a larger ecosystem that determines the functioning of, well, every system in your body..  (note the gardening metaphors).

If you have good inner terrain, you will “grow” normal functioning immune cells that can clear out the viruses. If you don’t, then they can persist. We believe there is a genetic predisposition that allows viruses to persist and trigger autoimmunity.  

But that’s not all that’s going on. Twin studies have shown us that two people with the same genetics and the same triggering virus, can have two completely different responses, all because of their terrain.

By the way, you can repair your immune system terrain with me LIVE beginning Tuesday, October 16th → The Immune Recovery Challenge Begins!

How do Viruses Trigger Autoimmunity?

When viruses linger in the body (again, most often because of terrain issues), it is called “chronic persistence.” This leads to an ongoing antiviral immune response, which can trigger autoimmunity in a few ways.

First, the chronic antiviral immune response at some point moves from being focused on the virus to targeting your own tissue. This can be because the immune response becomes less specific and it spreads to other tissues.

Second, autoimmunity happens because the virus is inside your cells or damaging them and your immune system appropriately is attacking the cells to get at the virus.

And finally, as the virus continues to spread its “proteins” around your body, there is mistaken identity as these proteins can look like your own tissue. We call this molecular mimicry.  

But you can see, no matter the mechanism, to prevent and treat autoimmunity that has been triggered by viruses, you want to make sure your immune terrain is functioning well so that the viruses are cleared out and not allowed to become chronic persisters.

Here is how to improve your terrain to create a robust and healthy immune system to clear out viruses:

  1. Nutrition:  
    1. Anti-inflammatory diet: whole foods rich in antioxidants, low in sugar, animal and processed fats;  elimination of foods that trigger inflammation including gluten and gmo foods. Less animal, more vegetable.
  2. Balanced hormones:  
    1. Stress system and adrenals are balanced and resilient
    2. Sex hormones:  good estrogen metabolism; adequate androgens to balance estrogens
  3. Healthy Gut:  
    1. Intestinal ecosystem:  adequate beneficial bacteria, good barrier function
    2. Digestion:  stomach acid, bile acids, pancreatic enzymes
  4. Well functioning liver:
    1. Maintain a low toxic load
    2. Clean up environment and make sure biotransformation pathways through liver are working well
    3. Support Estrogen detox pathways

Remember, you can’t avoid viruses! They are everywhere. Instead we work on creating resilience in the immune system so that the viruses don’t become chronic. To do this, we focus on the terrain of the immune system, which leads to the 4-step Immune System Recovery Plan, the focus of my first book on autoimmunity.

How You Can Repair Your Immune System with Me

I am teaching the Immune Recovery Challenge online beginning next week. It is the step-by-step companion to my book, The Immune System Recovery Plan. During the course, you will follow the 4-Step Immune System Recovery Plan together with me LIVE, using video and live coaching. It is a wonderful opportunity, and I hope you’ll join me!  

>>Yes, I Want to Repair My Immune System LIVE With Dr. Blum<<

If you haven’t read The Immune System Recovery Plan, you can find it HERE. In print around the world, it has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of people including my patients in my private practice.

 

References:  

Vieira et al.  Diet, microbiotia, and autoimmune diseases.  Lupus 2014 23: 518

Getts, D, et al.  Virus, infection, antiviral immunity, and autoimmunity.  Immunol Rev. 2013 September; 224 (1): 197-209.

Vanderlugt, C, and Miller, S.  Epitope spreading in immune-mediated diseases: implications for immunotherapy. Nature Reviews Immunology 2, 85–95 (1 February 2002)

 

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Summer Green Smoothie Instead of Coffee? You Bet!

Like most of you, I really love my morning coffee (my morning fuel of choice is espresso).  The nespresso machine in my kitchen has been an attractive nuisance since I bought it, making it way too easy to have one or two shots as I am revving up to start my day.  As August rolled around, I decided to do an experiment to see if my espresso was affecting how I felt, good or bad. To do this, I decided to kick the habit, and substitute my espresso for black tea (which also has caffeine), followed by a green smoothie made from contents of my garden. Yummy live food that I whipped up in my Nutrabullet.  And here is what I discovered.

It took a few days to adjust, but by day 3, I noticed that I was sleeping deeper and longer.  Since I was having my espresso only very early in the mornings, it shocked me that it had such a dramatic effect on my sleep so many hours later. I always thought that because I wasn’t having caffeine or coffee after 10 am, it wouldn’t make a difference.  Boy was I wrong!

I found myself sleeping later in the mornings and remembering my dreams.  If you are having any sleep issues whatever, I strongly recommend quitting coffee and see what happens!  It has been about 4 weeks now, and I am still sleeping great, feeling more rested in the mornings.

What I Learned About Green Smoothies

I used to be more of a berries-in-the-smoothie girl, but I switched to a more tart, savory drink instead of sweet.  You will see my recipe below. After my live, green, smoothie breakfast, I am zipping to work and buzzing with a better energy than I used to get from espresso!  I decided to write this blog to inspire those of you that read this, to try this experiment. The good news is that you can get greens triple washed and ready to use, making this smoothie super easy to make each morning.  I usually go out to the garden and add fresh parsley, rosemary, basil, or mint, in addition to the kale and spinach. You can customize this to your taste.

Here are the nutrition facts:

Total calories:  265;

Fat: 12.9 grams; Carbs: 34.6 grams; Fiber: 7.2 grams: Sugar: 17 grams; Protein: 11.2 grams

Green Smoothie Recipe:

½ apple, skin on

½ banana

½ cup Baby Kale

½ cup Baby spinach

1 TBL fresh lemon juice

1 TBL fresh lime juice

2 TBL organic Hemp seeds

1 cup cold filtered water

Optional:  A twig of rosemary and a handful parsley from the garden, or other herbs of your choice like a few leaves of mint or basil.

Put all ingredients in the Nutrabullet and enjoy!

 

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Dr. Susan Blum Sits Down with Dr. Frank Lipman and Talks “How to Be Well”

A pioneer in functional and integrative medicine, Dr. Frank Lipman is the founder and director of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center and a New York Times best-selling author. In his four decades of clinical experience, Dr. Lipman has helped thousands of patients heal and change their lives with his unique blend of ‘good medicine,’ which combines the best of modern medicine with the best of alternative and complementary medicines, and integrates essential elements from Chinese and functional medicine as well as nutrition, acupuncture, meditation, yoga and more.

In his newest book, How To Be Well: The Six Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life, Dr. Lipman gives readers the ultimate cut-to-the-chase, at-your-own pace, total wellness toolkit with which to build a lifetime of vitality, resilience  and good health.

Recently, Dr. Blum sat down with Dr. Lipman to talk about the new book. Here’s what he had to say:

You talk about a Good Medicine Mandala in the book, Explain?

For the book, I created my “new map for a new era of medicine” around a unique organizing structure: The Good Medicine Mandala. A mandala is a symbol used in many wisdom traditions of the world. Almost always a circle, it represents wholeness, potential, and the infinite. It represents the unknowable and the eternal and suggests a cosmos or even a universe; it depicts continuity—one ending is another beginning—and captures the wheel-like turning of time, seasons, and of course, our own human life.

As such, it is used as a tool for establishing sacred practice, especially in Eastern traditions. They deploy it in practices of meditation as a focal point of contemplation to help you gain awareness of the totality of your Self—from the rudest physical aspect of your human body to the immeasurable and expansive nature of your spirit. At its most fundamental level, the mandala is a symbol that restores order.

The Good Medicine Mandala is a circular system in which you, not a doctor or any other authority figure, stands at the center. It is an antidote to old-school linear thinking (which often, just boxes you in). Six rings surround you, representing the six spheres of life that, as an integrative physician trained in modalities of East and West, I know to be the pillars of long-lasting health. When you restore and/or optimize all these spheres, you lead the pack in terms of your standard of health and enjoyment of life.

Each of the six rings contains the blueprints for an abundance of small actions you can take, beginning right now, to improve and strengthen your resilience and functioning. In an echo of a traditional mandala, the Six Rings of Good Medicine ripple outward from the most material aspect of health—the food we eat—to the most subtle one—our sense of connection to the world at large. The Six Rings are:

How to Eat Well – mastering the very building blocks of life: food

How to Sleep Well – re-prioritizing and restoring one of your most fundamental needs

How to Move Well – supporting the body to move in all the ways that nature intended

How to Protect Well – mitigating and preventing the invisible assaults of everyday toxins

How to Unwind Well – consciously switching off to allow for complete mental and physiological reprieve

How to Connect Well – awakening and enhancing a sense of belonging and meaning

Within each ring, you will find the instructions for the essential habits, routines, and tactics that boost resilience and improve functioning. These are universal by design. The way you use them however, is personalized. You can navigate through these rings in several ways, depending on your personality and your individual preference for changes—deep and focused, or gradual and gentle.

What do you want readers to take-away from How To Be Well?

My goal is to show people the extraordinary power of ordinary actions, both small and large, done on a daily basis. Even just one new habit can have a surprisingly wide reach when it comes to the interconnected system that is our human body. Once established, each new habit creates a ripple effect, making the next new habit easier to embrace and ingrain. I want readers to have the tools they need to develop the habits that will, over time, ensure life-long vitality – looking good, feeling good, dodging dysfunction – and enjoying life!

To pre-order your copy and receive some free gifts, visit HowToBeWell.com/preorder and begin your How to Be Well journey!

 

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The 3 Must-Do’s to Heal Your Arthritis

Did you know that about one in four people have arthritis at this very moment? This number one cause of disability worldwide affects an estimated 54.4 million Americans, which is about 22.7% of the population. The biggest misconception is that it’s a disease that only old people get. It is, I believe, the 21st Century epidemic.

This rise in arthritis is why I’ve been spending the better part of two years studying arthritis and writing a book, Healing Arthritis. You see, over the past two decades in my private practice I have seen more and more people suffering with arthritis. Learn More about Healing Arthritis 

Why So Many People Have Arthritis

  1. Evidence clearly points to environmental changes. Simply put, the food you eat and your exposure to microbes and toxins are the likely root of arthritis as well as other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as autoimmunity, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers, and cancer.

    Scientists believe that disease and inflammation are probably the result of a mismatch between our genetics and our environment. In other words, the changes in the environment are relatively recent in the history of mankind and our genes haven’t had a chance to catch up and adapt!
  2. Your gut has not adapted to the changes in the environment. This is very important because thousands of research studies and articles have been published in the past decade proving the gut-arthritis connection, and showing us how system-wide inflammation begins deep inside your digestive system.

    Your gut microbiome, the 100 trillion or so bacteria that live within you, are key players in the health of your immune system and a healthy gut is mandatory for preventing and treating any inflammatory disease. It’s clear that healing the gut to heal the joints is a valid, scientifically supported approach to treating arthritis.

The 3 Must-Do’s to Heal Your Arthritis

  1. The single most important influence on gut health, and arthritis, over the long term is the food you eat. Hands down the most potent step you can take is eating an anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritis diet. The foods you eat have a direct impact on your gut, your immune system and your arthritic symptoms. It’s important to eat loads of vegetables and fruits, and incorporate high-quality fats and oils, (like avocado, olive oil, nuts & seeds), and to choose high-quality, grass-fed, non-GMO animal products. After all, everything an animal eats, you eat in a more concentrated form!
  2. Heal Your Gut. There is no doubt that the gut bacteria are involved in the onset of inflammation and pain in arthritis. By addressing the root cause of inflammation with food and supplements, and building resiliency to stress, you can repair your gut, reduce inflammation and alleviate the pain in your joints. In my practice we remove known inflammatory foods, such as sugar, white flour, and low-quality processed foods to allow the gut to heal in combination with gut-healing supplements, like curcumin, and l-glutamine. 
  3. Build Resiliency Against Stress. The impact of stress and trauma have serious consequences on the gut, the immune system and your arthritis. Stress can be sudden, or it can be chronic and under the surface. Even good things, like getting married, can cause a stress response in the body. Learning a new way to respond to stress before it takes hold protects your whole body, your immune system and ultimately prevents your arthritis from flaring. Strategies could include anything from mindfulness meditation to hanging out in nature or dancing to invigorating music!

The great thing is you can do this yourself!

In my new book, Healing Arthritis, I present the exact 3-Step Protocol that I use with patients in my private practice. You will learn the best food plan for arthritis, the precise supplements and dosage I recommend for an arthritis-free life, how to build resiliency so that life’s stressors won’t affect your health, and what your gut has to do with your arthritis symptoms. In essence, I give you all the tools you need to fix your gut and heal your arthritis. Get The Book Now

Another Way to Begin Healing Your Arthritis

When I discovered I had arthritis, (yes, I had arthritis!) I couldn’t believe it.  I had been treating arthritis in my clinical practice for almost two decades with great success using Functional Medicine, but never thought it would happen to me.

I decided to make it my personal mission to bring healing to the millions of people suffering with this condition.

In fact, I recently interviewed the TOP EXPERTS in arthritis, gut health, nutrition and mind-body medicine, including Amy Myers, MD, Aviva Romm, MD, David Perlmutter, MD, James Gordon, MD, and Jeffrey Bland, MD. See Who Else I Interviewed 

And I’m bringing everything I learned from them to you for FREE!

Join my FREE Arthritis Summit, a week-long series that consists of interviews from the top experts in Functional Medicine, nutrition, integrative, and mind-body healthcare. Join Now

The summit will cover the functional medicine approach to finding the triggers of the inflammation, with a focus on the research looking at the connection between the gut, your microbiome and arthritis, including specific treatment approaches with case studies. We’ll review exactly the best nutritional advice for reducing inflammation and keeping your gut healthy, and also the connection between stress and inflammation and what you can do to make yourself more resilient to the effects of stress in your life.  Yes, I Want the FREE Interviews

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Why Arthritis is the 21st Century Epidemic

arthritis

Several weeks ago I sent a survey to my entire email list asking “What do you want to know about arthritis?”

The results stunned me! Hundreds of people took the time to share their concerns about arthritis — a topic near and dear to my heart.  

You see, I’ve been spending the better part of two years studying arthritis and writing a book, Healing Arthritis. Why? Because over the past 10 years in my private practice I have seen more and more people suffering with arthritis. Learn More about Healing Arthritis.

Mark my words … Arthritis is the 21st Century epidemic.

One in four people have arthritis at this very moment. This number one cause of disability worldwide affects an estimated 54.4 Americans, which is about 22.7% of the population. The biggest misconception is that it’s a disease that only old people get.

And here are what my readers told me, overwhelmingly, are their top concerns:

  • I experience pain and uncomfortable symptoms.    62% of respondents
  • I want to learn how to create healthy habits.             62% of respondents
    that help my symptoms.
  • I want to know exactly how to heal my arthritis.      60% of respondents
  • I want to know which supplements and herbs.        59% of respondents
    and how to take them, to heal my arthritis.
  • I want to improve my quality of life.                          59% of respondents
  • I am afraid my arthritis will get worse.                     57% of respondents
  • I need an easy, step-by-step plan to follow.             56% of respondents

This is exactly why I wrote my latest book, Healing Arthritis. And, I can relate!

When I discovered I had arthritis, (yes, I had arthritis!) I couldn’t believe it.  I had been treating arthritis in my clinical practice for almost two decades with great success using Functional Medicine, but never thought it would happen to me. Over the years, I discovered the exact steps needed to treat and heal arthritis, and after using these steps to heal myself, I decided to make it my personal mission to bring healing to the millions of people suffering with this condition.

I have learned through my own clinical experience, working with thousands of patients in my private practice, and through personal experience, just how debilitating arthritis can be.

The great news is: There is something you can do about it!

Here are two ways you can get started on healing your arthritis for the rest of your life:

  1. Join my FREE Arthritis Summit! I am excited to share that I am hosting the Arthritis Summit, a week-long FREE series that consists of interviews from the top experts in Functional Medicine, nutrition, integrative, and mind-body healthcare.  Sign up now.  

    The summit will cover the functional medicine approach to finding the triggers of the inflammation, with a focus on the research looking at the connection between the gut, your microbiome and arthritis, including specific treatment approaches with case studies. We’ll review exactly the best nutritional advice for reducing inflammation and keeping your gut healthy, and also the connection between stress and inflammation and what you can do to make yourself more resilient to the effects of stress in your life. 
  2. Order my new book, Healing Arthritis! It is the exact 3-Step Protocol that I use with patients in my private practice. You will learn the best food plan for arthritis, the precise supplements and dosage I recommend for an arthritis-free life, how to build resiliency so that life’s stressors won’t affect your health, and what your gut has to do with your arthritis symptoms. In essence, I give you all the tools you need to fix your gut and heal your arthritis. Get The Book Now

It is my intention to bring relief and healing to the millions of people suffering unnecessarily with all types of arthritis. I’ve healed my patients, I’ve healed myself and now I want to help you and your loved ones.

And, I am grateful to everyone who took my survey. If you didn’t take it, and you want me to know what’s important to you about arthritis, there’s still time.  Take The Survey Now 

Honestly, if you do any one thing right now, join my FREE Arthritis Summit. I have interviewed the TOP EXPERTS in arthritis, gut health, nutrition and mind-body medicine, including Amy Myers, MD, Aviva Romm, MD, David Perlmutter, MD, James Gordon, MD, and Jeffrey Bland, MD. I learned so much about arthritis in these interviews and you will too! –> Join For FREE Now

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The 5 Most Common Food Sensitivities And How to Avoid Them

Trigger Foods

Food sensitivities result when undigested food slips through gaps in an unhealthy (leaky) gut and triggers an immune response, which can cause inflammation, pain, and swelling in the joints. Food sensitivities are extremely common, though little known, in those with arthritis, autoimmune disease, and chronic ailments.

Since food sensitivities activate the immune system they can aggravate and even cause symptoms in chronic conditions. Thus, eliminating certain foods prevents a great opportunity to reclaim wellness.

In My Practice, I’ve Identified 5 Major Culprits

Gluten

You need to read food labels and look at the ingredient lists for the words wheat, barley, kamut, rye, or spelt. For example, did you know that soy sauce is made from wheat?  Or that beer is made from barley?  Probably not and you’re certainly not alone. Because it is not possible to list all the foods that contain gluten here, reading food labels is key. Oats are only okay if the label says “gluten free oats.”

What to Eat Instead: Look for grains made from quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and rice.

Dairy

This includes any milk product made from cow, goat, or sheep such as yogurt, cheese, milk, kefir, and butter. Often after doing an elimination diet test, many patients realize that milk is causing other symptoms that go beyond their stomachs. These include chronic congestion and sinusitis, post nasal drip, ear infections, and more.

What to Eat Instead: almond, rice, hemp, or coconut milk.  These milk substitutes are also made into yogurt, kefir, and cheese so you can get your fill, without having to settle for dairy.

Corn

When I say corn I don’t just mean corn on the cob. It is used for other purposes, like making an ingredient called high fructose corn syrup that is used in many, many foods because it tastes sweeter and is cheaper than sugar!  Remember, you need to remove whole corn whether on the cob, in a can, or frozen, and popcorn, too. You also need to be careful about reading labels, look for the word corn, which can often be found as corn starch, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, and high fructose corn syrup.

What to Eat Instead: Look for natural sweeteners or stevia (though, keeping sugar consumption down is a good idea too!).

Soy

Soy is on the list here because it causes digestive upset and inflammation for many people, something I’ve seen in my practice over and over. Soy is also used as an additive in many foods, especially packaged processed foods so you must read labels and avoid anything that lists soy protein, soy lecithin, or soy oil in its ingredient list.  When you start reading labels looking for these words, you will be shocked at how many foods contain them!

Eggs

Eggs are usually the food that people are the most upset that they have to give up!  Unfortunately, eggs have proteins that are common allergies and that’s why they are also common triggers for food sensitivities, too. Eggs are often found as ingredients in other foods, and again, you must read labels to make sure you eliminate it completely.

To read more about how to do an elimination diet see my article on conducting an elimination diet.  

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Leaky Gut and Food Sensitivities

Did you know that your biggest exposure to the outside world every day is through your mouth?  That’s why 70% of your immune system lives in your gut, lying in wait to protect you from anything that seems foreign to the body (called antigens because they stimulate the immune system), which believe it or not includes food and the toxins and microbes that ride along with the food that you ingest while eating.

Your gut, which starts in your mouth, travels through your stomach, small intestine, colon or large intestine, and ends in your rectum, is supposed to be a closed tube – with the intestinal lining creating a barrier that separates the inside of your body and immune system from these outside exposures.  When you digest your food, the intestinal lining can then selectively choose what can enter your body by opening and closing special gates called tight junctions.

In functional medicine, an intestinal barrier with damaged tight junctions that isn’t keeping antigens out of the body is known as a leaky gut.  Studies have increasingly found that a leaky gut is associated with arthritis, autoimmune disease, allergies, and food sensitivities.

Causes of leaky gut vary, but the most important is dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in the bacteria in the gut, also called the gut microbiome.  Dysbiosis can be an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeast or parasites, or not enough good bacteria, and is commonly caused by a poor diet, a course of antibiotics, frequent use of antacids, and stress. These gut bacteria are important because not only do they interact with your immune system to keep it healthy, they also turn the food we eat into healthy compounds, especially something called short chain fatty acids which heal the tight junctions between your cells and protect the integrity of the gut barrier.  This is why food is so important, too, because the food you eat determines which bacteria will thrive and what kinds of compounds they will make when they digest your food.  

But why is leaky gut associated with inflammatory disease like arthritis? When the contents of your gut, which includes pieces of food and gut bacteria, “leak” into your body, your immune system is activated creating inflammatory chemicals that travel throughout your body and cause system-wide inflammation, especially in the joints. And this happens non-stop until your gut microbiome and lining are repaired.  

The good news is that you can rebuild your microbiome and repair your gut. Food has the most influence on the diversity of the microbiome, and that’s why you should always start with changing your diet by increasing fruits and veggies, especially those rich in polyphenols, bioflavonoids, and fiber because these tend to increase the good bacteria that make short-chain fatty acids and heal the gut. Also, you need to remove foods from your diet that feed the bad bacteria like sugar, processed flour products, alcohol, and too many animal products.  You also need to test yourself for food sensitivities and remove sensitive foods such as gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs and the nightshade vegetables. Our elimination diet explainer shows how to do this.

The next step is to treat your dysbiosis. At Blum Center for Health we start with cleansing herbs like berberine, grape seed extract, black walnut, and oregano that can clear out bad bacteria and yeast. In fact, we created our own custom herbal antibiotic mix called Gut Cleanse. Once you have eliminated the bad bacteria and yeast, probiotics and the right food can help you rebuild the good stuff, repair the gut lining, reduce inflammation, and eliminate food sensitivities.

For more, please review the video above.

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How to Effectively Navigate an Elimination Diet

Perform an Elimination Diet

Elimination diets are the cheapest, most effective way of identifying the foods that trigger inflammation and disease in your body. For many, elimination diets hold the key to conquering chronic pain and I use one with arthritis patients as outlined in my book Healing Arthritis.

The great news, is that elimination diets are generally short and easy to follow. My elimination diet requires just two main steps.

Step 1:  Remove Gluten, Dairy, Corn, Soy, Eggs and Sugar From Your Diet For 3 Weeks

Gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and eggs represent the most common culprits for food sensitivities. Eliminating them makes it likely you’ll be cutting your problem foods from your diet. Sugar is also removed because it is a trigger for inflammation and removing it will help you learn to avoid processed foods, which usually include the common culprits, too.

A lot of times my patients ask me why we are removing all five foods at once, and whether it would be better or just as good to remove one at a time.  However, first you have to remove the foods and feel better, and then you can reintroduce each food one at a time to see if you feel worse.  If you only removed one food, you might not feel better because you are still eating another problem food.  It would be hard to complete the experiment because you might not notice you feel worse when you reintroduce the food, because you never felt better in the first place!

Continuing the diet for three weeks will give your immune system a chance to quiet down without the food triggers around.  More importantly,  it should reduce your symptoms and help you feel better.

Step 2:  Reintroduce Each Food One at a Time

Good job on making it three weeks without eating gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs and sugar! Now, you begin the second, and final, step, which is the reintroduction of each food, one at a time.

This is when you will gather all the information about whether the food is good for you or not and you’ll uncover some food sensitivities.  Use this symptom chart to help you keep track.

Symptom Chart - Blum

For each food that you reintroduce, think about the symptoms on your list and use none, mild, moderate, or severe to describe your reaction to it in the boxes provided. This will help you remember later when you look back.

After the three weeks on the elimination program, do the following. Introduce one food at a time:  It doesn’t matter which order you choose to reintroduce the foods.  I usually tell my patients to choose the food you miss most to go first. Eat that food at least twice each day, for two days, noticing how you feel.  On day three, don’t eat the food, but continue to observe how you feel. If you have no reaction to the food, you are ready to move on to the next food on day four.

If you do have a reaction – such as headache, rash, brain fog, fatigue, digestive reaction, or other symptoms – stop eating it, and write it down in the above table so you don’t forget later.  [Once you know a particular food isn’t good for you, remove it again.]  The food reaction should go away within a day or two, but for some people it can take longer.  Try the next food: Once that reaction goes away, it is time to try the next food.

Finding out if you are having a noticeable reaction to gluten is important. If you don’t have a reaction and don’t have an autoimmune disease, you can add it back into your diet.  However, keep in mind that gluten is known to damage the gut, and so we still recommend eating it in limited amounts.

Be patient, because it will take you another two weeks or so to reintroduce all the foods you have eliminated. At the end of those weeks, you should now know whether gluten, dairy, corn, soy, or eggs are creating an immune reaction in your body.

Once you’ve identified your triggers you can successfully avoid them. But the better news is that it may not be permanent. Some people, after an additional period of healing, can reintroduce the foods and be symptom-free. In my own experience, I have been eating a diet 95% free of these foods for more than ten years, my reactions when I do eat them are minor compared to what they once were. They are still there, but it’s much more pleasant than it used to be!

Looking to make your elimination diet successful? Sign up for the email list (on the bottom right of this page) to stay up to date on our next article “5 Things To Know Before Starting an Elimination Diet”!

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Eliminating Food Sensitivities To Treat Arthritis

 

Having just finished a book on arthritis, arthritis is really on my mind! There’s a lot of confusion around arthritis, so let’s start with a definition. To have arthritis you must have evidence of inflammation with redness, pain, swelling, and heat in at least one of your joints. Typically if you have arthritis you can see it.  If you have pain in a joint but no swelling, we call that an arthralgia.

To begin to understand arthritis, the first step is to realize that there are a number of categories.  As I explain in detail in my book, Healing Arthritis, it is important to know what kind of arthritis you have so that you can target your treatment.  This is especially true if you have arthritis from an infection (for example lyme, a virus like parvovirus, or a bacteria like mycoplasma and prevotella), because treating the infection is always the first place to start.  It’s a good idea to ask your doctor to test you for these infections and treat what you find.

Most people with chronic, painful arthritis fall into one of these two categories:

  • Inflammatory Arthritis – which includes rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and arthritis from autoimmune conditions.
  • Osteoarthritis –  also known as degenerative joint disease

Although they seem to be different on the surface, both are inflammatory in nature, and that’s why the foundational approach to both is to seek out and treat all the triggers of inflammation in your body, typically these are food, stress, and gut health. The first two factors (food and stress) have a direct effect on inflammation, and they are also the biggest influences on your gut health, too. There is an enormous amount of evidence and research now proving the gut-arthritis connection, and this research also shows that healing the gut to heal the joints is a valid and successful approach. That’s why we always start our treatment programs with eating an anti-inflammatory diet.  And the first step for this is to identify and remove foods that are triggering arthritis symptoms, often referred to as food sensitivities.  

How does food trigger joint pain?  Those with arthritis tend to have damage to the tight junctions in their intestinal lining, causing holes or gaps that allow foreign looking food particles and pieces of gut bacteria (collectively called antigens) to slip through the lining and enter the body (a condition called leaky gut).

Once these antigens enter the body they start an immediate immune reaction, which ends up in your joints leading to inflammation and pain. This is also a process that can lead to food sensitivities! Often, the food you eat isn’t really the problem, instead, the problem is the leaky gut is allowing food particles to pass through. This is why you will continue to have food triggers and symptom flares if you eat sensitive foods while the gut is still damaged.  The good news? After you heal the gut you can often eat these foods again.

To get started treating your arthritis with food, the first step is to identify your food triggers and remove them from your diet.  Then you can focus on healing your gut.  Sadly the standard American diet is abundant in foods that can damage the gut and also cause food sensitivities like:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Processed foods
  • and especially for arthritis sufferers, the Nightshade Vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers)

Try removing these foods for 3 weeks, and then reintroduce each one separately for a few days, one at a time, to see if you experience any symptoms.  If you do, then remove the food for 3-6 months while you work on healing your gut.  

Removing food sensitivities is the first part of an anti-inflammatory diet.  The second part is to follow a sensible, basic, food plan, and my recommendation is a Mediterranean Diet.  I have dedicated an entire section of my book to reviewing the different diets and explaining exactly what foods you should eat for reducing inflammation and promoting good gut health and why.

For more please review the full Facebook Live video above, or join my Healing Arthritis Challenge.For 12 weeks, I will host live, 1-hour interactive classes with Melissa Rapoport, my Lead Health Coach at Blum Center for Health. We will provide personalized coaching based on my 3-Step Arthritis Protocol from my best-selling book, Healing Arthritis.  

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FODMAPs Chart for treating SIBO and IBS

FODMAPs Chart for IBS and SIBO

As I discussed recently on Facebook Live, Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) is an all too common gut ailment that can lead to many uncomfortable symptoms like chronic diarrhea or constipation, bloating, lots of gas, and abdominal cramping. SIBO is caused by an overgrowth of gut bacteria in the small intestine, crowding this area in high numbers where they don’t belong (only 10% should be in the small intestine, and 90% in the large intestine) and is particularly common in those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Because all your nutrients are absorbed in this part of your gut, SIBO can cause malabsorption and lead to deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids. Fortunately, herbal supplements and dietary changes can provide quick relief.  For instance, our Gut Cleanse Packets are designed to clear out the overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast, but dietary changes can help, too, and may be necessary especially if you have lots of symptoms.

One category of food should stand out for those with SIBO and IBS – Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides And Polyols (FODMAPs). FODMAPs are foods that are fermented by the bacteria in your bowels. When you have SIBO, there are lots of bacteria that are exposed to these foods very soon after you eat, and the fermentation creates excessive amounts of painful gas. Thus, foods high in FODMAPs are more painful to digest and foods low in FODMAPs are easier to digest for those with this condition.  

But, temporarily eating a restricted FODMAP diet won’t just reduce your digestive symptoms, it also reduces the gut bacteria’s access to food and thus assists in rebalancing your gut microbiome for optimal health. If you have IBS and aren’t sure if you have SIBO, you can often diagnose yourself by following the low FODMAP diet.  If you feel much better, then you likely have SIBO.  So what is the low FODMAP food plan? The food lists won’t necessarily be intuitive. Bananas and blueberries are some of my favorite low-FODMAP foods, while delicious fruits like apples and mangoes can actually cause acute pain!

Rather than trying to guess what foods should be high or low in FODMAPs, use this handy FODMAP Chart.

Once you’ve taken a moment to review the chart you may be shocked at how many foods could pose a problem for you. A FODMAP diet is a very restrictive diet, that’s why I don’t recommend it as a long-term solution. But, switching to a FODMAP diet could give you quick relief and the control to permanently improve your gut symptoms. Then once you’ve got a handle on your symptoms you can begin to progressively introduce foods back into your diet seeing what works for you.