If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, you know how it can impact every aspect of your life. And Sarah D. Ballantyne, Ph.D, knows as well: She fought her own battle with that condition. Now she's sharing how she reversed her autoimmune disease and healed her body with the Paleo diet, which can also help you effortlessly lose weight. It's all detailed in her new book: "The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body" (click for details).
"The most profound way that a Paleo diet can help those suffering from autoimmune disease is by addressing micronutrient deficiencies that are contributing to immune dysfunction," Sarah told us in an exclusive interview.
"The immune system requires a vast array of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) in order to function properly, including many that tend to be very deficient in the typical Western diet (like vitamin A, vitamin D, copper, selenium, and zinc)."
Because the Paleo diet is "much more nutrient-dense diet than the typical Western diet," those following it "are consuming enough of the vital nutrients that the immune system needs to function normally."
Sarah gives the following examples:
- Selenium deficiency has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disorders, pemphigus vulgaris and lichen planus. By eating plenty of seafood (which is selenium-rich), the Paleo diet corrects selenium deficiencies.
- Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to alopecia areata and multiple sclerosis. By including food sources of retinoic acid (the animal form of vitamin A), like seafood and organ meat, the Paleo diet corrects vitamin A deficiencies.
- The Paleo diet is also a diet that includes a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, which is required for the immune system to function efficiently and normally.
- Supplementation with fish oil to bring omega-6 to omega-3 ratios into balance has been shown to be beneficial in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis.
- By cutting back on food sources of omega-6s while eating grass-fed and pasture-raised meat as budget allows as well as seafood, the Paleo diet is naturally balanced in omega-6 to omega-3 intake (no fish oil supplements required!).
- The Paleo diet can further help regulate the immune system because it avoids foods that contain compounds known to stimulate the immune system and foods known to contribute to gut dysbiosis (where the wrong kinds or numbers of microorganisms are growing in the wrong parts of the digestive tract), which itself can lead to immune dysfunction.
Sarah based her recommendations in her book "from hundreds of clinical trials and basic science research that evaluate the effect of single components in foods, isolated nutrients, and isolated hormones, each on the functioning of the immune system or on specific individual autoimmune diseases."
She notes that "clinical trials using a paleo diet to reverse multiple sclerosis are ongoing but the early data is extremely exciting."
Sarah emphasizes that the key to her approach to the Paleo diet "is nutrient density." You'll learn how to regulate your immune and hormone systems, while "fostering digestive health, all through a nutrient-dense diet and constructive lifestyle changes."
As far as weight loss: "One very handy side-effect of doing these things is that people who are overweight tend to lose weight (without additional effort or modifications)," she says.
Worth noting: The book contains a preface by Robb Wolf, the iconic Paleo diet author of "The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet" (click for details).