If you struggle with inflammation or autoimmunity at all, chances are that food sensitivities and inflammatory foods might be a culprit. I used to struggle really bad with Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disease) as well as Hypothyroidism. I always ate really healthy, maybe only having bread or grains about once a month. But then I listened to a podcast from an online summit featuring experts on autoimmune disease, and learned that even one exposure gluten can cause an autoimmune cascade of reactions for 6 months. 6 MONTHS!! So at that time I decided to nix the gluten all together as well as do something called the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (AIP), in which you eliminate all of the most inflammatory foods and most common food sensitivities for a good period of time (I did this for a year!). Over the next year, I went from full blown Hashimoto’s with thyroid antibodies plus hypothyroidism, to no more thyroid antibodies but still low thyroid, to finally my thyroid levels normalling out and no longer even having Hypothyroidism! One of my doctors at the time said “They should be writing a book on what you’ve done, because you don’t just heal from Hashimoto’s”! Well, I’m here to tell you it is possible.
Gluten is a known common link among all autoimmune diseases. For Hashimoto’s, it is specifically not a good thing. Gluten is a sticky protein found mainly in wheat that is very inflammatory. Gluten looks very similar to thyroid tissue in the body, so if the body develops a reaction to gluten, an immune response to the thyroid follows (or Hashimoto’s). For some, just quitting gluten will make huge changes in overall health. Usually with autoimmune diseases there are multiple contributing factors such as diet, nutrient deficiencies, food intolerances, biotoxicities (internal infections), environmental factors and even genetic factors. The good news is, you can do something about ALL of that. Yes, even the genetic. You can’t change your genes, but you very much can change which genes get to express themselves in your body through many diet and lifestyle factors. For me, quitting both gluten and grains are a huge key to staying well and beating autoimmune disease. I happen to have a gene that means I don’t process grains well. I will be offering Epigenetic & Human Potential Coaching soon to help you learn about your genetics and your body’s very specific needs. The same diet is not best for everyone!!
The Most Inflammatory Foods and Food Sensitivities/Allergens:
- Grains / Gluten
- Nightshade Vegetables
- Inflammatory Fats (from highly processed oils like canola, soy, peanut, “vegetable”)
- Highly Processed Packaged Foods
- Food Dyes
Should you eliminate these foods? The answer is very individual. As I mentioned , a huge component is genetics. Another component is what you have going on and what the root cause is. My personal opinion is that anyone struggling with any inflammatory problems and/or autoimmune issues, would benefit from eliminating the above list of foods for a time to see how you do. Then you might be able to add back in some of the healthy foods like organic eggs, nuts and nightshade vegetables. You should work with a qualified health professional before deciding if such a restrictive diet is right for you. And know that the AIP diet is never intended for super long periods of time. It is intended to let the gut and body heal by eliminating sources of inflammation.
With all of that being said, following an AIP protocol diet can be really fun if you learn to experiment with alternative and healthier cooking options! For instance, in the Pumpkin Pancake Recipe I’m sharing below, I substituted coconut and arrowroot flours for your standard inflammatory grain based flours. This substitution makes the pancakes lower glycemic, high fiber and anti-inflammatory (unless you’re allergic to coconut). I used organic coconut milk as opposed to dairy. Dairy is very inflammatory (moreso for certain genetics than others) and contains many toxic chemicals like artificial hormones, antibiotics and steroids. My belief is it is best to avoid traditional dairy for your health. I substituted gelled chia seeds for eggs and this worked out beautifully. If you’re not allergic to or sensitive to eggs, they are a beautifully healthy food. But they are one of the most common food allergens/sensitivities. Chia seeds are a wonderful substitute, as well as a superfood, containing high amounts of protein, fiber and healthy fats! I also substituted organic maple syrup for any processed sugar. Processed sugar is extremely inflammatory and the body treats it like poison! Any kind of natural sweetener (in moderation) like organic raw honey, maple syrup or stevia will be a healthier option.
Anti-Inflammatory Food Swaps for Baking:
Use This –>> Instead of This
Coconut Flour, Arrowroot Flour –>> White Flour, Grain Flours
Coconut Milk –>> Traditional Dairy
Gelled Chia Seeds –>> Eggs
Organic Maple Syrup, Honey or Stevia –>> Processed Sugar, Artificial Sweeteners
Organic Anti-Inflammatory Pumpkin Pancake Recipe
Step 1: Prepare the Gelled Chia Seeds
- 3 tbsp chi seed
- 9 tbsp hot water (prepare this first)
Heat about 1/2 c. filtered water in a tiny sauce pan.
Place the 3 tbsp. of organic chia seeds in a small bowl, then add 9 tbsp of hot water. Stir and set aside as you prepare the rest of the recipe. The chia seeds will gel and become sticky, which will act as a binder for the batter, as well as add GREAT nutrients to your pancakes.
Step 2: Prepare the Pancake Batter
1 1/2 c coconut milk
1/2 c coconut butter
1/4 c coconut oil
2/3 c pumpkin purée
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp organic lemon juice
1/4 c maple syrup
3/4 c coconut flour
1 1/4 c arrowroot flour
2/3 c coconut flakes
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
In a small saucepan, combine all of the wet ingredients. Melt on low heat and stir until combined. You may need to initially melt the coconut butter in a separate saucepan filled with water. I don’t recommend using the microwave, as the EMF exposure is dangerous plus it kills nutrients and enzymes in the food.
In a medium mixing bowl, add all of the dry ingredients, then stir to combine.
Dump the melted wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, stirring to combine (you can use a blender, but don’t have to). Add in the gelled chi seeds.
Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a large frying pan to medium heat. I do not recommend using a non-stick pan for any of this, as the non-stick coatings contain BPA, which is a toxic chemical that is a known endocrine disruptor and carcenogen. BPA has also been indicated for increased risk of miscarriage in pregnant women. I personally used a ceramic coated pan to make these.
Scoop the batter in 1/4 c. measurements into the pan. Allow to cook until solid enough to flip (about 3-5 minutes), then flip and allow to cook another few minutes until golden brown. The batter gets thicker the longer it sits, so you may need to start pressing the batter down to spread it out a little bit.
Makes around 12 2-3″ little pancakes that are DELICIOUS and HEALTHY!!
If not following a strict AIP diet, these are absolutely amazing topped with Manna Organics Hazelnut Cocoa Truffle Butter, some sliced bananas and organic maple syrup!! Enjoy!!