I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.
Nora Gedgaudas is one of my health heroes.
It’s fair to say that I’m a BIG fan of hers.
It all started with her book, ‘Primal Body, Primal Mind – Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life’. It was one of the first books I read about how my diet and lifestyle choices could so dramatically affect my health. And – whether it was because of Nora’s pragmatic style of writing. Or, her ability to pare down convoluted science so that a ‘complex terminology phobic’ (technically – a Hellenologophobic!) type like me could understand it. Or, simply that the fates were aligned and I was ready to really, really hear the message and change the way I live. Or, a combination of all three of these factors – her book has become something of a bible for me.
I continue to dip into it frequently and it is full of high-lighted passages and tabs.
One-size-fits-all is a size that fits no one. (Brent Pottenger, foreword of ‘Primal Body, Primal Mind – Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life’)
Brent Pottenger, who wrote the book’s foreword, sums up the key message of the book in his second paragraph – we are all different in our physical make up. One size definitely does not fit all. And, nobody cares as much about your health as you do.
Because of Nora, I first started experimenting with removing grains from my diet. She was the first person to open my eyes to the fact that grain consumption has been linked to things like allergies, food sensitivities, autoimmune issues, mineral deficiencies, celiac disease, and chronic skin disorders (to name but a few). And, I suffer from a chronic skin disorder.
And, at first it was hard. I was a carb’ queen. It never occurred to me that my love of bread was the equivalent of a sugar addiction to my body. Soy linseed sourdough from Sonoma bakery was my not-so-secret vice. I loved it!
But when I removed grains (and, most importantly, gluten) from my diet, I found that chronic skin issues I had suffered from for decades began to improve. Rapidly. And, when I tried to reintroduce the odd bit of bread back into my diet my skin complaints returned. Within 12 hours.
I don’t care what the sceptics say about gluten sensitivity – I am a believer.
The Thyroid Sessions
(Image from here)
A fortnight or so ago now, I tried to catch a few of the Thyroid Sessions – both because of my Dad’s recent thyroid removal and because our thyroid plays such a big part in the regulation of our hormones. And, of course, Nora’s talk was of particular interest. While her presentation was targeted more towards sufferers of Hashimoto’s (Hypothyroidism), because the disease is autoimmune in nature, much of the information resonated.
Of particular interest to me was Nora’s list of four areas of focus for sufferers of autoimmune complaints. I thought they may be of interest to you, too.
1. Vitamin D (Coupled with Vitamins A and K2)
According to Al Sears, “Vitamin D may be the single most important organic nutrient for your overall health. In fact, if this were a drug, it would be considered the discovery of the century”
Nora reckons our vitamin D levels should sit between 80 to 100 nano-grams per millilitre (ng/ml)* AND that we should also ensure we are getting enough vitamin A (veggies like sweet potato, carrots and spinach) and vitamin K2 (found in grass-fed animal-based products).
Now, in case you’ve forgotten, I live in Sydney. I try to get out in the sunshine every day. But, I still have trouble getting to the recommended levels of vitamin D. In fact, for some reason, my vitamin D levels were dangerously low at one point, which is likely to have been a contributing factor in the development of my autoimmune issues. And – the only way to know if you are getting enough of the sunshine vitamin? – get yourself tested.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
In her book, Nora says “Few people are aware that omega-3 fatty acids, which include ALA, EPA and DHA, are easily the most deficient nutrients in the modern Western diet. Insufficient intake of these vital and essential dietary components is linked with virtually every modern disease process, weight problem, affective disorder and learning disability.” The best sources of natural omega-3 fatty acids are from wild-caught seafood – especially cold water fish – and from exclusively grass-fed meats. It matters that you buy your meat from a butcher that can tell you the provenance of the animal.
Here in Sydney, I buy much of my meat from the team at G.R.U.B. for this very reason.
Apparently, glutathione is the body’s most important autoimmune enzyme. And, I have heard something similar in lectures given by Dr Frank Lipman.
Glutathione allows your body to detoxify itself and helps keep you healthy for the long haul. It’s said to be the ultimate in health-support champions.
The best way to optimise your glutathione levels is to combine a nutrient-dense diet with stress-reduction, exercise and smart supplementation.
Bit like the Autoimmune Protocol, really…
And, along with optimising your glutathione levels, Nora recommends upping your turmeric consumption. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and super-good for you.
Fat Based Ketogenic Diet
Nora is a huge advocate for a fat based ketonogenic diet (coincidentally, again like the Autoimmune Protocol. Seeing a pattern here?).
And certainly, as evidenced in ‘Primal Body, Primal Mind’, there are countless studies showing the benefits of avoiding processed foods, avoiding dietary pesticides, avoiding GMO’s, avoiding refined sugar and refined salt, avoiding gluten, consuming naturally grass-fed meats, consuming unprocessed, organic vegetables and greens.
There is also overwhelming evidence for the benefits of a fat-based, ketogenic diet for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, autoimmunity, diabetes, metabolic disorders.
If nothing else, reviewing Nora’s 4-pronged approach to autoimmunity has reignited my desire to faithfully stick to my autoimmune protocol for another 30 days before reintroducing potential trigger foods…
Nora Gedgaudas is coming to Australia in July. She’ll be sharing the stage with Pete Evans and Luke Hines. If you’d like to know more, check out The Paleo Way through Eventbrite.
I’ll be at the Sydney session with my dog-eared copy of her book… See you there?
*note this is higher than standard recommendations