The start of each new year is a great time to make resolutions for healthier life choices. One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2020 is to make sure I eat better. There are a bunch of different reasons to change your diet from the food choices that affect the environment to those that affect your body. This week, I want to focus on the food choices that influence our health, especially for people with diabetes. A healthy diet is particularly important for anyone dealing with an autoimmune disease and anyone who wants to protect themselves from autoimmune disorders. I’m going to highlight a few different autoimmune diet options that you can implement to take care of your body.
This diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, which has been known for showing a lower risk of chronic disease, extending lifespan, and reducing the symptoms of disease like rheumatoid arthritis. This plan specifically focuses on increasing anti-inflammatory foods.
For this health plan, you should eat foods like fish, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It would be best for your body if you can eat ocean-caught fish and keep food as fresh and natural as possible. Also, in this diet, it’s important to cut out dairy, as some people with autoimmune diseases may react to lactose or proteins in dairy.
Gluten is the name for proteins in wheat, rye, and barley, and it can damage the small intestine of people with celiac disease. This diet is a good option to try in case you don’t know if you might have celiac disease and see how your body reacts to excluding gluten from your meals. A gluten-free diet has also been shown to benefit women with autoimmune thyroid issues.
The only way to manage celiac disease is to avoid gluten. In general, for the gluten-free diet, you’ll need to avoid bread, pasta, soups, sauces, salad dressing, and a range of other products. Check each item you’re about to eat to see if it might have gluten. Thankfully, today there is a diverse range of products like bread and pasta that are made without gluten, so you don’t have to completely cut out your favorite foods!
Auto-Immune Protocol Diet A.K.A. Paleo Auto-Immune Protocol Diet
The Paleo AIP diet suggests eliminating foods that might cause inflammation in your gut and eating nutrient-rich foods. It’s based on the belief that auto-immune disorders are caused by altered intestinal permeability, or the theory that small holes in your digestive system cause food to leak into the body. Some medical professionals believe that this causes the immune system to overreact and start attacking bodily tissues in error. If you choose to follow the AIP diet, you should follow it strictly for a few weeks and then slowly reintroduce foods that you have avoided. The goal is to find out which foods might be causing your body to react poorly and exclude them from the food you eat in the long-term.
On this diet, you should avoid all grains, all dairy, eggs, legumes, nightshade vegetables (like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes), all sugars, all oils, butter, and any food additives. Instead, eat meat and fish, vegetables excluding the nightshade group, sweet potatoes, dairy-free fermented foods, and bone broth. Although this diet is very restrictive, it might help you discover foods that cause you the most inflammation in your body. I've tried this diet a few times, and while it's hard to stick to it, I really saw some amazing changes in my energy level and overall physical and mental health. I highly recommend trying this one!
Plant Based Diet
A plant based diet is a healthy choice for everyone, not just people who are living with an autoimmune disease. This meal plan is based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. While it doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out meat entirely from you diet, it does mean cutting back on meat products significantly.
A plant based diet is different from a vegan diet, which might not be best for everyone. Vegans don’t use any animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and sometimes honey. A vegan diet may be difficult for some people to make sure they get all the nutrients they need. It might also include more processed foods with higher sugar content. So, if you’re interested in cutting out animal products from your meals, try a plant based diet first.
Low-Sugar Diet for Diabetes
If you have diabetes or prediabetes, it’s especially important to develop a healthy eating plan that focuses on reducing glucose and controls heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high blood fats. It’s important to watch your blood glucose levels so that they don’t lead to serious problems like hyperglycemia that can lead to long-term complications like nerve, kidney, and heart damage. Actually, keeping a low-sugar diet at moderate amounts at regular mealtimes is also a great and healthy method for anyone looking to lose weight.
The ideal diabetes diet includes foods that are naturally rich in nutrients and low in fat and calories. Better yet, the most important elements of this diet are great for everyone, not just people with diabetes! We should all focus our diets on mainly eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Focus on eating three meals a day that include healthy carbohydrates like fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and low-fat dairy products. You should also eat fiber-rich foods like oats, chickpeas, and lentils because fiber controls how your body digests food and helps control blood sugar levels. Air-popped popcorn is also a delicious high-fiber snack- my favorite! You should also eat heart-healthy foods at least twice a week, like fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are great choices! Finally, include a small amount of good fats like avocados and nuts to help lower cholesterol levels.
Have you tried any of these diets? Which one has worked the best for you? Let me know in the comments!