Autoimmune Healing Diet: Part 2 – A Green Foundation

I used to hate eating veggies when I was a kid!

Apart from carrots and bean sprouts, everything else tasted so horrible that my mother had to chop them up real fine and mix it with other dishes like porridge or eggs before I would consume it.

These days I probably eat more veggies than rice! Or any other food group for that matter.

I eat so much that even my poop has turned green! 🌿💩

Vegetables have been fundamental to my healing and I am certain they will be for you.

Plant foods contain almost everything we need to survive, heal and thrive. Since coming off my meds and finishing the herbal supplements and tinctures from my Naturopath a year ago, they have literally been my daily medicine.

You’ve probably heard that veggies are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. These are the foundation your body needs to fight inflammation – the root cause of almost all chronic diseases. [1] However, most of us are eating just enough to survive, not thrive and heal.

If you are suffering from a chronic disease, you’d be surprised to learn that in order to heal and recover, you should be eating much much more vegetables than you could ever imagine eating.

So long story short, “eat your veggies, and lots of it!”

What kinds of Veggies should I eat?

All kinds!

More specifically, there are 3 major veggie groups that we should all be consuming.

This comes from the research Dr. Terry Wahls, a physician diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis – a neurodegenerative autoimmune disease with no current cure. Access to the best treatments and drugs could not reverse the progression of her disease and in the span of a few years she became wheelchair bound.

Eventually, she reversed her disease when she began researching and adopting a diet rich in the nutrients a healthy human body needs to thrive without disease

From her book and healing protocol “The Wahls Protocol” [2], Dr. Wahls highly recommends the following:

  1. 3 cups dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, watercress, collard, chard, bok choy, kai lan and other asian greens. The darker, the better! This group of vegetables are especially rich in B, A, C and K vitamins.
  2. 3 cups of colours. Colour is a sign of antioxidant. They should be coloured all the way through like carrots and beets, not just the skins like apples. Aim to eat at least 3 different colours daily.
    • Green – celery, green beans, green peppers, asparagus, peas, olives, okra, lime, kiwi, melons, honeydew and avocados
    • Red – beetroot, red cabbage, rhubarb, tomatoes, red peppers, cherries, cranberries, raspberries and grapefruit
    • Yellow/orange – carrots, pumpkins, squash,
      kumara, yellow peppers, lemon, pineapples, papaya, apricots, mangoes, peaches and tangerines ­­­­­­
    • Blue/purple/black – berries (black, blue, rasp- & elderberries), eggplants, grapes, figs, dates, purple kale, olives, plums, various lentils and beans.
  3. 3 cups Sulphur-Rich vegetables – sulphur-rich foods nourish cells and mitochondria, and specifically help the body be more efficient at eliminating toxins. Sulphur is also important for synthesising proteins and collagen production. Therefore especially useful for anyone suffering from joint issues and skin disorders. It will make your skin, hair and nail glow! Some great examples:
    • The Cabbage Family – Kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, radishes, daikon
    • The Onion Family – all types of onions as well as garlic, chives, leeks, shallots
    • The Mushroom Family – some people with autoimmune disorders may be sensitive to mushrooms so if you find you have more headaches, fatigue, other brain symptoms after consuming mushrooms, avoid them temporarily and focus on the many other sulphur-rich foods above, Try again in a month or two.

You’ll realize a few of these vegetables fall under more than one of these groups like Red cabbage and Red Kale. Thus, I often consume these to “kill two birds with one leaf”!

Before cooking

How Much?

In her book, Dr. Wahls recommends eating at least 9-11 cups a day, measured raw not cooked. You can also follow the rule of 2 cups raw = 1 cup cooked.

So 3 cups of each group listed above.

If you aren’t used to eating so much fibre, she suggests starting with 3 cups a day and working your way up progressively.

I’d even add to avoid too much salads and start with mostly steamed or lightly blanched in a soup base when starting out to make it more digestible.

In a typical home cooked meal, my entire plate is normally filled with veggies to the brim. Protein and carbohydrates are always lower priority, topped up after the base of veggies is filled.

After cooking – this was a veggie briyani and soupy ‘curry’

Variety is the spice of life!

Now that you know about the 3 types of veggies you need to eat, don’t just stick to the same 3 types for all your meals! Sure, it’s easy to end up eating kale, broccoli and carrots “all day err day” but that is not natural at all.

Besides, every plant is different and contain different levels of nutrients thus a varied diet is your safest bet of obtaining everything you need!

Source

It is simply not natural to eat something that was picked unripe and ripened as it was flown halfway around the globe to reach your local supermarket. The best fruits are always those that are allowed to ripen on the trees before picking.

Think about the carbon footprint this leaves too.

I also believe there is an added benefit from deriving nourishment from the land we live in.

Look at traditional peoples. Everything they needed from food to medicine to shelter could be obtained from their land.

Therefore when picking your plants, 3 rules apply which I always try to follow:

  1. Local – fresh and as close to home as possible, better yet, grown in your own backyard!
  2. Seasonal – eating with the seasons also forces you to add more variety to your diet
  3. Naturally grownorganic or spray-free produce from your farmer’s market is best!

I admit, going “organic” can be expensive therefore I like to shop at farmer’s markets and support local small-scale farmers who adopt “spray-free” practices but can’t afford the huge investment that comes with an organic certification.

Extras

I love adding these to meals for more flavor or just extra nutrients and anti-oxidants.

  • Sprouts – all kinds from bean to alfalfa, broccoli, snow peas and adzuki. You could also get a home sprouting kit and learn how to sprout your own! I add this to almost everything I eat from toast to porridge. They are convenient “superfoods”, especially when I’m too tired to make a salad.
  • Sea weed – great for some extra iodine in your diet. I usually shred a sheet of nori to my veggies.
  • Herbs – mostly as garnishes like coriander, spring onion, dill, parsley, etc
  • Spices – all kinds, from various cuisines. Pre-mixed curry spices are a great start.
  • Roots and tubers like different varieties of kumara (sweet potato), lotus roots and bamboo shoots!
  • Lentils – boil them in curries or better yet, sprout them yourself! This greatly increases their nutrient bio-availability [3]
  • Nuts & Seeds – I always carry a box of scroggin’ in my backpack for whenever I need a snack.

If you have the space, try starting your own vegetable garden!

Growing your own produce is something magical and gardening is not only a healthy, de-stressing activity, it connects you to our Earth and back to Nature. It is such a delight to have freshly picked vegetables on your plate, straight from the garden!

Should I Supplement?

I honestly don’t think supplementation is necessary if you’re eating this much vegetables as described above.

However, there is a time and place for supplements and herbal medicine too – depending on your health condition now. Do consult with your trusted, qualified health practitioner such as a Naturopath before making any changes to your current treatment.

Summary

  1. For optimal health and accelerated healing, try to consume at least 9 cups of plant foods, according to the 3 categories mentioned above (dark green leafy, richly coloured & sulphur-rice).
  2. Whenever possible, eat fresh, locally grown, spray-free and seasonal produce.
  3. Supplementation may not be necessary when you are consuming this much plant foods. In time, your food and a balanced, healthy lifestyle will be your medicine.

References

  1. Hunter P. (2012). The inflammation theory of disease. The growing realization that chronic inflammation is crucial in many diseases opens new avenues for treatmentEMBO reports13(11), 968-70.
  2. Wahls, T., & Adamson, E. (2014). The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles. Penguin.
  3. Devi, C. B., Kushwaha, A., & Kumar, A. (2015). Sprouting characteristics and associated changes in nutritional composition of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). Journal of food science and technology52(10), 6821-7.
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