December 19, 2008

Have a thyroid problem?

I just found some interesting information regarding foods (mainly if eaten in the raw state) that may effect thyroid function in people with thyroid problems because of a substance called "goitrogen".

Here are some sites to check out about this:
Goitrogen - on

Raw Foods That Hurt Your Thyroid

Goitrogens - on

How to Avoid Foods that are Harmful to Your Thyroid

December 12, 2008

Inflammation Nation: Book Review

Inflammation Nation by Floyd Chilton - Find it on Amazon

I was able to read/skim this book in about an hour. While there is some helpful information in it, the end result of the actual "diet" portion of the plan was nothing groundbreaking, in my opinion. I have been having autoimmune/inflammatory issues for over a year now and have done quite a bit of research and although his initial approach from the scientific side is different, the end result was really nothing new. I was all excited to see his amazing diet tips after reading about his research (which was interesting)...only to find out that I already eat within the parameters of his "breakthrough diet" and still have inflammatory issues.

Yes, more people need to watch what they eat. Yes, eat more healthy veggies. Yes, stay away from foods not made from whole grains. Yes, we need to stay away from high sugar foods. Unless you eat things like chitterlings, pork liver, beef brain, fried everything, white flour everything, cakes, cookies, and no veggies...and if you watch at all what you eat, you may be pretty close to his "breakthough diet" already.

I felt more like the book should have been about wild salmon versus farmed salmon since that seems to be the bulk of his main argument. I do think it is important to note the difference, but can find that out on the internet.

There are a few important pieces of information I believe were pointed out in this book:
-All fish is not created equal. Some fish can cause serious pain and inflammation and some will help you. (You can see his findings about specific fish in a concise list in Chapter 15...pages 172-175.)
-Egg yolk can pose a serious inflammation risk.
-Do not take a GLA supplement without having EPA (in supplement or food form) can cause serious harm.

I did find it interesting that he includes some of the major inflammatory foods (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and citrus) on his "foods to eat often" lists. Personally, I have seen a direct link between these foods and my pain levels and therefore have decided to avoid them, as much as I love them. I would be curious to see more information on why he does not see these as inflammatory foods when they are some of the most common that will pop up in a Google search about inflammatory foods.

I recommend borrowing this book from your library. First, look at the indexes (unless you are very curious about scientific things) from page 165 through 175, maybe make a few lists of what to buy or avoid, and then take it right back to the library for someone else to borrow.

The Lupus Book: Book Review

The Lupus Book (4th Edition) by Daniel Wallace - Find it on Amazon

This book is very informative and helpful. I like that you can get into the technical side as much as you want with the wonderful information provided, or you can use this as a handy reference tool and a well put together overview of lupus. I have not been diagnosed with lupus, but for the past year have been going through some of the signs and symptoms and am just in "medical limbo" until I can get a specific diagnosis. Since lupus is one of the diseases my symptoms and blood work are pointing toward, I asked my library to purchase this book and borrowed it from there. If I do get diagnosed with lupus, I plan to buy this book as it is very informative and definitely worth owning.

I like that this is written by a doctor who cares for lupus patients and not only used medical research but his own knowledge from his personal practice experience. It can get very technical...but you can also easily skim those technical sections. The writer not only discusses things that are common in lupus, but also specific problems that may arise down the road, and I think this is a great reference point for anyone with lupus who may find their disease progressing in one of those directions.

This is a very well done and up to date book. Excellent reference.

December 10, 2008

What is an autoimmune disorder?

Autoimmune disorders or diseases are very widespread - there are more than 80 serious, chronic illnesses and they all have an effect on one or more of the human organ systems or tissue types. In these illnesses, the body that was designed to protect instead reacts by attacking the body.
Commonly, the organs and tissues effected are:

Red blood cells
Blood vessels
Connective tissues
Endocrine glands such as the thyroid or pancreas

A list of some of the many autoimmune disorders are listed here for your reference:

Lupus (SLE)
Diabetes (Type 1)
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Sjogren Syndrome
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Celiac Disease

There is currently no cure for autoimmune disorders, although in rare cases they may disappear on their own. Many people may experience flare-ups and temporary remissions in symptoms, others chronic symptoms or a progressive worsening. Treatment of autoimmune disorders is tailored to the individual and may change over time. The goal is to relieve symptoms, minimize organ and tissue damage, and preserve organ function. (From
Symptoms can vary depending on the person involved and the disease.
Some very nonspecific symptoms will often accompany autoimmune diseases, and may include:

General ill-feeling
Low-grade fever

(Information in this post was taken from Medline Plus and other websites.)

Lab Tests

Autoimmune disorders are diagnosed, evaluated, and monitored through a combination of autoantibody blood tests, blood tests to measure inflammation and organ function, clinical presentation, and through non-laboratory examinations such as X-rays. (From

Here is a link to some information about a blood test that is sort of a generic screen for auto-immune disorders:

It is called the ANA (antinuclear antibody) test. Different patterns in the cells used for the ANA test are associated with different autoimmune disorders.

Other blood tests for autoimmune disorders may include:


Many more antibody tests and conditions that may call for antibody testing are listed here:


In some autoimmune disorders, prescribed drugs may be necessary in order to minimize damage to the body organs or systems. This post is just discussing supplements that may be helpful and may aid in some relief.

Supplements of bromelain (taken from pineapple) are useful for calming inflammation.

Fish oil and flax oil are very good for the joints, and should be taken with Vitamin E for absorption. (Trader Joe's has odorless fish oil capsules, which I highly recommend if you don't want to be burping up fish taste.)

Glucosamine chondroitin is another helpful supplement for rebuilding the padding in the joints.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

When I talk about an anti-inflammatory diet, I am not talking about the typical help-me-lose-weight kind of dieting. I am just talking about the foods we may consume that might promote inflammation (and in the cases of people with autoimmune disorders, inflammation means pain).

Although a diet free of items like wheat, dairy, etc. may be helpful, sometimes such a drastic change may not be necessary as the inflammation may only be caused from allergies to specific ingredients and you may not necessarily be allergic. If you have autoimmune issues, you can get allergy tests done or try a diet that eliminates those foods from the start and slowly brings some back in to see if they are part of the problem.

Here is what I have found personally (I will discuss in another post later some tidbits I have found about supplements):

Lots of doctors try to just dope you up instead of trying to help you. Some major pain-causers are tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers. For most people with an autoimmune diease, you will want to steer clear of those. Staying away from tomatoes can be hard because it is in so many things (pizza, spaghetti, ketchup, etc.), but it is worth it. Also citrus can cause lots of pain. Alfalfa sprouts should also be avoided, especially in people with lupus.

One food that is helpful is pineapple because of its anti-inflammatory properties (mainly from the bromelain found in it).

Here is one resource that may be helpful in information and recipes:

The Anti-Inflammation Diet & Recipe Book

There is a great review for the book that has a condensed version of the information included in it. Here are the basics of the anti-inflammatory diet:

An anti-inflammatory diet should emphasize pineapple, most fruits (though limiting citrus), vegetables, garlic, ginger, turmeric, flaxseed oil, nuts (not peanuts), seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower), flaxseed oil, olive oil, and filtered water. Additional good food choices include: flaxseeds, avocados, fish (wild salmon, cod, haddock, halibut, mackerel, sardines, tuna, trout), whole grains (amaranth, spelt, barley, buckwheat, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, basmati, brown rice, rye), legumes, beans (black, pinto, navy, mung), split peas, curry, and tofu (or better choice fermented tempeh or miso.)

Inflammation-promoters include wheat products, dairy products, corn, peanuts and peanut butter, sugar, fried foods, foods containing hydrogenated oils, processed foods, alcohol, juice, coffee, caffeinated teas and sodas, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, pork, nonorganic eggs, shellfish, and citrus fruits (except lemon). Avoid shellfish such as shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, and mussels.

Staying away from all those fun things is hard, but you can find some ways to kinda work around it. Here are some of the things I have done (I have not yet gone to the extremes of avoiding wheat and dairy, but may end up doing so eventually):

If you like soda a lot but want to cut out caffeine, there are sodas like Hansen's that are caffeine free and don't have high fructose corn syrup. Sure, they still have sugar, but it is better than the high fructose stuff.

Instead of using tomato sauces I make white sauces for pasta and is very easy. A basic white sauce has approximately equal parts milk or cream and butter or oil and then add in some parmesan cheese or flour to thicken it. You can also give it good flavor if you cook some garlic while the butter is melting. (Obviously I haven't cut out wheat or dairy yet...)

Instead of having potatoes with meals, I have started substituting rice. I buy the brown Jasmine rice from Trader Joe's and love it. They also have brown basmati rice, but I haven't tried that just yet.

Staying away from things like salsa is hard for me, but you can make peach or mango salsa without tomatoes if you are wanting some...just chop up peaches or mangoes, add some chopped cilantro, garlic powder, and cayenne to make it spicy.

If you have an autoimmune disease, you can Google things like "anti-inflammatory diet", "arthritis foods to avoid", "arthritis diet", etc. to find out about specific foods to eat or avoid. If you have been diagnosed with a certain autoimmune disease, you may want to check into certain dieting needs for that disease, as some things may be harmful for you that wouldn't be harmful to someone with another disease. Sadly, it is kind of a testing process and can make for some very awful days if you eat something wrong. You may also want to get exercise, but depending on your specific disease needs, too much exercise can also cause lots of pain.

Another website I encountered with Anti-Inflammatory Diet tips:

A new normal...

I have some autoimmune issues, and have been researching anti-inflammatory diets for awhile. Since I have recently shared this information with a few people, I wanted a place to keep it all together. It is mainly for my own reference, but you can peek, too :o)

I am about a year into my "issues", which seems to have been jumpstarted by getting rheumatic fever after untreated strep throat after an allergic reaction to penecillin. It triggered some lupus-like reactions and I am currently undiagnosed (I went to a rheumatologist who said I have something, they just don't know what...that's always a comforting answer and apparently pretty common). Basically I feel achy pains throughout my joints and things on a daily basis (kind of how you would feel as you are about to get the flu)...some worse than others depending on activity and what I eat. People may ask me how I am feeling and I am still trying to figure out how to respond. Sure, I may be in pain...but that is apparently my new "normal" - and I guess normal is good, right?

I am not big on being treated with drugs and I am currently pregnant again which means most of the drugs that a doctor will prescribe you normally are not allowed anyway. When I was diagnosed with rheumatic fever I was treated with a shot and pills of steroids, which worked - but the effects were miserable. I started looking at alternative ways to keep the pain down, and while it is kind of a pain to do, I have seen a difference.

I hope to share various bits of my research and helpful tidbits through this blog. I hope you find it interesting and helpful. Take a look at the helpful links and the labels listed in the right-hand column in order to find information you may be looking for a bit quicker.