What is a nightshade you ask? Up until a few years ago, I too had no idea. They are a certain group of foods that have extremely inflammatory properties called lectins. Lectins are known to increase leaky gut (gut permeability) and are highly problematic for many people, but especially if you have autoimmune issues.
Examples of nightshades: tomatoes, eggplant, all peppers, potatoes.
I know. This one is painful. Literally and figuratively. How can eggs be bad for you? They’re so delicious! They’re actually one of the WORST thing you can eat when you deal with any type of inflammation. Specifically the egg white. It has protease inhibitors which when leaked into your bloodstream sends off every alarm.
Nuts and seeds.
Yep, remember how I said the egg one was bad. This might be worse. Leaky gut makes you susceptible to food sensitivities and nuts are a very common allergen and therefore are already a flight risk.
It’s SO inflammatory and your body treats it like a drug, which is why you crave it.
It damages your small intestine, causes brain fog, leaky gut, inflammation, joint pain, fatigue, depression, infertility, acne, irritability… the list goes on. I’ve seen articles that estimate over 3 million people have gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. It’s a very tough diagnosis to get though, so you have to be in tune with your body to see if it’s negatively affecting you.
Has similar proteins to gluten, like casein, so be wary if you are having gluten issues. It also creates a lot of acne issues and digestive problems. It’s also estimated that over 65% of the population is lactose intolerant.
I know. My wine loving heart hurts. Though good news, if you drink organic wine (shout out to my fave: Dry Farm Wines), it removes most sulfites and doesn’t have the added sugar in there, so you should be able to tolerate this once your leaky gut is healed. But think about what alcohol is made from: corn, rye, potato, rice… inflammation station.
Odd to many people. But it’s a major cause for inflammation, which is why many people suffer from headaches. It also affects your adrenals and cortisol which affect your sleep. Take out caffeine, and after about a week of detox, you’re likely to feel way better.
Don’t even get me started. Aside from gluten, this is the other thing I will get on my soapbox for. STOP EATING CANOLA AND SOY OIL. PLEASE!! I could go on to tell you the laundry list of reasons they’re bad for you, but I will simplify it with this: it causes brain and arterial inflammation, kidney and liver problems, it’s HIGHLY processed and colored, and a known GMO. When you go out, ask for olive oil and do not budge. And throw out anything you have with canola oil. It’s TRASH. (steps off soapbox, reluctantly.)
So how do you eat when you cannot have ANY OF THESE YUMMY FOODS?
Though it can be tricky and overwhelming, it is possible to be extremely nourished and full without all of that stuff. I have been following the Autoimmune Protocol as created by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne on and off for the past 5 years. When my body is shutting down, it’s linked to eating a lot of these foods while suffering from leaky gut.
Leaky gut is quite literally what it sounds like. Gut permeability is caused from chronic stress, gluten and other food sensitivities. When you have holes in your stomach and then you introduce these foods, it causes systemic inflammation. The result is your body going into shock: chronic fatigue, body and joint pain, brain fog, headaches, irritability, depression, anxiety and an overall inability to function at all. In the autoimmune world, it is crucial to understand this. If you have leaky gut and never address it, you will NEVER GET BETTER. It’s impossible. And that’s why so many people are misdiagnosed and given bottles of pills by conventional doctors. They don’t get to the GUT of the problem and therefore are stuck masking all of the problems.
So, following the AIP is the very first step. And it’s not a 30 day challenge. It’s not a diet. It’s a LIFESTYLE SHIFT and a complete overhaul of what you currently believe. It’s not for the faint of heart and it’s not something you dabble with. You’re either all in or not at all. If you do 75% of what is recommended, you’re still leaking offenders into your bloodstream and the systemic (YOUR WHOLE BODY) inflammation is on fire. It’s like continuing to feed a fire with drops of gas. It may not be a giant bonfire but thing is gonna keep burning.
I recommend 9-12 months minimum, especially if you are extremely ill. When I follow this protocol strictly, I feel like a different person. I can see clearly, workout, sleep normal hours (7-8 hours without naps), I’m in very little pain, my digestion is working and I have energy to be a human. After being bedridden, having to retire from volleyball and often not sure if I’d live through the excruciating pain, this diet saved my life.
I recommend listening to my interview with Mickey Trescott, to get yourself started. Another great resource is our shopping list! I created it just for you, to include my favorite products and go to’s, to make it all so easy for your shopping needs!