Should I do a paleo diet? Should I do keto? Those are not different. I will begin by telling you first off is that there is no one diet that is right for everybody. Paleo, keto, Mediterranean – they’re all good. The thing that’s really important, the thing that you really have to understand is that food is not neutral. Food is either going to be non-inflammatory, not going to cause inflammation, is anti-inflammatory, and is nutritious, or it’s going to be pro inflammatory, and problematic. It is different from person to person.
Clinical Pearl: Gluten Is A Classic Example of a Food Trigger for Autoimmunity – The majority of people have some degree of reactivity to gluten. And since so many people eat so much gluten on a daily basis, there is a high probability they’re having an immune reaction to gluten. And if they have Hashimoto’s thyroid, they have what’s called cross-reaction, meaning the immune system cannot differentiate between gluten and thyroid, as strange as that sounds. So if you’re eating gluten and your immune system is reacting to that gluten, causing inflammation, it’s turning right around and going after your thyroid.
One of the things I was speaking about earlier is the leaky gut or the gut permeability. When we eat foods, our stomach is a very acidic environment, and the reason for that is that hyperacidity acts to limit infections like bacteria and maybe even viruses. But the real purpose of the acid in your stomach is to break down proteins. It always sounds strange to patients when I say, “Your body does not want protein.” What it wants is amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. So we need to digest our proteins, break them down into these individual building blocks called amino acids that our bodies put together to form its own protein like your muscles and skin and your bones and for our brains.
Now one of the most common things I see in practice, especially with people over fifty, is that they’re not digesting proteins very well. Again, a protein is like a chain of amino acids. Animal proteins are going to be longer chains and plant proteins are going to be shorter chains. So, it takes less energy to break down and is a little bit easier to break down a plant protein. I’m not advocating vegan or meatless diets or anything. I’m not saying that, but I’m just saying that it’s easier to digest plant proteins because of the shorter amino acid chain.
Regardless, if we don’t really digest proteins well, we’re left with partial chains in the form of peptides. So if we have these partially or undigested peptide proteins and we have that leaky gut going on, if those proteins move through that barrier and get into circulation, at some point your immune system is going to see that and not recognize that it’s friendly. It sees these peptide chains as foreign and your immune system is going to create a reaction against that protein. So guess what you just developed? You developed a food sensitivity to that protein. Meaning, every time you eat that food, it’s turning on your immune system, it’s going to turn on inflammation and give an inflammatory response.
Clinical Pearl: Antibody Testing Reveals Immune Reactions and Food Sensitivities – Now if I have autoimmunity or even potential autoimmunity, if I have antibodies against other tissues in my body – brain, bone, joints, thyroid – you may not even have any symptoms at this point, because unless you have recognizable symptoms and were tested for it, then you don’t know. But if we develop food sensitivities – immune reactions to these food proteins – it can turn on the immune system enough that it’s going to turn on the immune system to go after the tissue.
When dealing with inflammation and trying to get that inflammation down, it is really important that we give consideration to diet. Some foods for some people will need to be out for their entire life. For a lot of people, some foods might come back. When it comes to inflammation, immune system control, controlling autoimmune expressions, a lot of attention has got to be put to food because we’re eating every day. And if we’re eating every day and we’re not giving consideration to this, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.