By Be Well Health Coach Megan McGrane
Are you eating healthfully and watching your diet as a way to manage your autoimmune symptoms, but you just don’t know why you continue to have symptoms such as bloating, upset stomach, joint pain or rashes? Although you are eating foods you believe to be healthy, here are five foods that may be triggering your autoimmune symptoms and keeping you inflamed, despite your best intentions.
You may already know that avoiding gluten is essential to your health if you have an autoimmune disease, but did you know that even though corn does not contain gluten, it can be almost equally as irritating to the gut lining? This is because corn can look like gluten to your body and cause what is known as a ‘cross-reaction’. Your body actually thinks the proteins in corn are gluten and sets off your immune system. Many believe this is because corn has been genetically modified and cross-bred for decades, altering its genetic structure. Additionally, corn is a higher glycemic index vegetable, meaning it readily converts to sugar in the body. We know that any foods rapidly converting to sugar will cause an insulin response and can contribute to inflammation.
While nuts are a convenient snack that can provide quick energy, eating too many nuts could be hindering your healing. While nuts contain anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids, they are also high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory. Striking the right balances is critical and over-eating nuts can actually cause increased inflammation. Nuts are also high in phytic acid which is known as an ‘anti-nutrient’. Phytic acid binds to essential minerals in digestive tract and can prevent the minerals from being absorbed. While having nuts or nut butter on occasion is great, overindulging can hinder your healing.
Goji Berries are part of the nightshade family, which includes vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, white potatoes, and peppers. Nightshades often cause inflammation and joint pain in patients with autoimmune disease. While goji berries are loaded with antioxidants and super food qualities, they may not be a super food for you if you suffer from inflammation and joint pain.
“Gluten Free’ Foods
While maintaining a gluten free diet is essential to repairing your gut and lowering your inflammation, eating packaged and processed “gluten free foods” may be hindering your healing. Processed foods, even if gluten free, often contain preservatives, sugar, additives and chemicals that will not support your healing. As I tell patients, if the product has to tell you on the label that it is gluten free you probably should not be eating it. Consider it this way: organic protein, fruits, fresh vegetables and healthy fats do not have labels announcing that they are gluten free. Sticking with whole foods, and eliminating processed foods like packaged “gluten-free” items will help minimize your inflammation.
Organic, grass-fed eggs are a fantastic food for quick and filling protein that is high in amino acids and nutrients. Unfortunately, if you are dealing with gut inflammation, leaky gut and autoimmune disease, eggs could be making your symptoms worse. Egg whites tend to be particularly troublesome in autoimmune inflammation because they can permeate the gut lining and cause the immune system to react even more. Luckily, this does not mean that eggs are off of the table forever. Often times patients find that once they heal their gut and cool off the inflammation in their bodies, they can return to having eggs in their diet. Removing all eggs for two to four weeks can help you identify if they are troublesome for you.
By focusing on a whole foods diet, eliminating processed foods and also watching out for these five trigger foods, you can begin to heal your gut and decrease your autoimmune symptoms.