You will probably hear me mentioning my diet and food throughout my stories and I wanted to give you some resources if you are interested in learning more about it. I am not a success story yet, but I am definitely on my way to becoming one!

After exhausting almost all of the prescription drug options for my condition and educating myself more about autoimmune disease (which is basically any disease where your own immune system goes nuts and starts attacking your own tissue) I began to realize that my treatment plan was not only detrimental to my over-all health, it simply wasn’t working. What I have found most helpful is the very thing that all my doctors have said doesn’t matter: my diet. I have thus far managed to quit three of the four medications that I was taking daily, and one that I was taking intravenously. In spite of many roadblocks, I am starting to feel better. I follow a whole foods diet, modified for autoimmune conditions (often referred to as the AIP, or autoimmune protocol). This means that I don’t eat: grains of any kind, legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds, chocolate, refined sweeteners, alcohol, or dairy. What does that leave? Lots of meat, fish, healthy fats, and tons of vegetables. I have found that I don’t do very well with raw veggies, so I eat them cooked and I also limit my fruit intake to avoid excess sugar. I focus on eating very nutrient dense foods like green vegetables, fatty fish, broth made from bones, and even liver. This means I can’t eat out, and I have had to learn to cook.

The Autoimmune Protocol diet that I follow is described in detail in the book: The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne. You can read more about Sarah’s dietary recommendations on her website: The Paleo Mom.

Many people are turned off by the idea of such a restrictive diet, but I truly believe that giving up pizza is a small price to pay to have your health and life back, especially when you have experienced the suffering of a debilitating disease. By taking out potentially irritating food, we help our bodies heal and give ourselves the chance to absorb the nutrients we sorely need to become healthy again. Autoimmune disease is becoming more and more common. It affects over 50 million Americans and is almost five times more common than cancer. Some Autoimmune diseases that you might recognize are: Celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis, among many others.

Most of the drugs that are prescribed for autoimmune disease are immunosupressors, which means they block our immune response. Unfortunately, there aren’t drugs that can cause our immune systems to stop attacking one part of us. They stop our immune systems from attacking everything, even the bad guys that they should be attacking. One of the drugs I was taking is actually given to people who have organ transplants so that their body won’t reject the foreign organ. Pretty hard-core.

During the past three years I have been hospitalized on three different continents and suffered from double pneumonia, upper and lower urinary tract infections, gastroenteritis, severe anemia, C. difficile infection, skin infections, bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, parasites, as well as countless coughs, colds and headaches. I have also lost and gained back the same 30 pounds several times. At one point I weighed less than I did at 11 years of age. All of this while strictly following my doctor’s orders. Now that I have “gone rogue” the days that I feel good are becoming more frequent and while I still am experiencing setbacks, I can see an improvement in my digestive and overall health. Because of the amount of damage that has been done to my body and its weakened state, I understand that getting healthy won’t happen overnight, in fact it will probably take years. I also want to be clear that while a natural approach is right for me now, these very drugs that caused my immune system to become weak, probably saved my life when I was in the hospital. They are definitely powerful tools and should be respected, but also taken with full knowledge of their potential and inevitable consequences.

For more information about my diet check out:

The Paleo Mom
Autoimmune Paleo
Alt-ternative Autoimmune
Pheonix Helix

For more information about the effects of diet on autoimmune disease check out:

Dr. Terry Wahls

For stories of other people who have healed themselves and share their delicious recipes online go to:

Sweet Potatoes and Social Change
Living Loving Paleo
He Won’t Know it’s Paleo
Against All Grain
Elana’s Pantry

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All delicious things that I made with no processed or refined ingredients!