Food isn’t like medicine. Food IS medicine.
— Mark Hyman, MD, Functional Medicine pioneer, and 13-time NY Times Bestselling Author
How F.I.G.H.T.S.™ Can Help Safeguard Your Health
With the trifecta of viruses swirling all around, this is a great time to help our immune systems function at their peak. We can do this by embracing healthy daily lifestyle choices. In my book, Beat Autoimmune, I share a powerful framework of the major root cause categories we can control called F.I.G.H.T.S,™ which stands for Food, Infections, Gut health, Hormone balance, Toxins and Stress. It turns out that you prevent or reduce the likelihood of viruses like COVID-19, the flu, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) much in the same way you can reverse or prevent an autoimmune condition:
Start with Food
Food is a BIG root cause category of autoimmune conditions. On the flip side, people with autoimmune issues often heal 60% to 80%, and sometimes 100%, just by changing what they eat! When you eat inflammatory foods or foods you have developed sensitivities to, your immune system goes on high alert, creating antibodies (missiles) to attack foods (protein molecules) that have breached the gut barrier. When your immune system is distracted by fighting foods, it is not optimized to fight infections like COVID. Food is not just what you eat, it’s how often you eat, which supplements you take, and whether you’re getting harmful pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals with your food and water. Now’s the perfect time to dial in your food, water, and supplements. These are my top autoimmune-beating and immune-strengthening food strategies:
Eliminate all inflammatory foods (e.g. grains, dairy, sugar, processed foods)
Gluten creates a leaky gut in anyone who eats it; 1 Effect of Gliadin on Permeability of Intestinal Biopsy Explants from Celiac Disease Patients and Patients with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, Hollon, J. et. al., Nutrients. 2015 Mar; 7(3): 1565–1576, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377866/#; and a leaky gut is the fast path to autoimmunity. Most people who are sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to casein, the protein in animal dairy. In addition to promoting obesity and diabetes — both risk factors for autoimmunity and COVID-19 — sugar and processed foods block the immune system from functioning for up to 5 hours after eating it. 2Sanchez, A., et al.; Role of Sugars in Human Neutrophilic Phagocytosis; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Nov 1973; 261:1180-1184; http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.abstract
Filter your water
While the EPA sets guidelines for allowable limits of contaminants in drinking water, there is no guarantee that those standards are being met. Our local county public water supply is treated with fluoride, and may also contain any number of 2,100 known toxins commonly found in water, like lead, pesticides, bacteria, iron, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, and copper. Many of my clients and students who use Alexapure or Berkey stainless countertop carbon block water filters have reported the reduction or complete elimination of migraines and increased energy. Don’t forget to add a pinch of sea salt to each glass of water to make sure you’re getting essential trace minerals and absorbing the filtered water.
Remove all foods you are sensitive to
Beyond the usual suspects, gluten, dairy and sugar, it turns out I’m also sensitive to eggs, soy, corn, grains, almonds, and vanilla (argh). I got confirmation on this from a recent finger prick blood spot IgG test. This is not a life-sentence on all these foods, it just means that I need to remove them for several months to give my immune system and chance to calm down and stop fighting my foods so it is available to combat real threats. For help in finding your food sensitivities and addressing all of the inflammatory F.I.G.H.T.S. factors that must be explored to reverse autoimmune disorders, consider giving yourself the gift of Beat Autoimmune Academy.
Supplement to strengthen your immunity
Eating a Paleo template diet is one of the best strategies to reduce obesity, diabetes, and beat an autoimmune condition. Unfortunately our soils have become depleted of key nutrients and we simply can’t expect to get all the necessary nutrients we need through food. Supplementing with targeted nutrients long-term is one of the best strategies to replenish your depleted stores and defend against COVID-19. I take a number of supplements known to improve resilience to infection, including 1 ml liposomal methyl B-complex; 2 – 3 gr corn-free vitamin C; 5K IU liposomal D3 + K2; 30 mg zinc carnosine; 200 mcg selenium + vitamin E; 1 ml liposomal glutathione; 300 mg Co-Q10; 200 mg R-lipoic acid; 500 mg curcumin; 500 mg resveratrol; and 3 mg timed release melatonin before bed.
Fast more, eat less often
Intermittent fasting, also known as “time restricted feeding,” reduces inflammation, strengthens the gut barrier, and helps you move from being a sugar burner to a more metabolically flexible, fat burner. Beyond metabolic benefits, fasting has been shown to rejuvenate the immune system through a process called autophagy, which clears out old, “senolytic” (damaged) cells, making way for new, more robust immune cells. I typically stop eating at 6 pm and don’t eat anything until 10 am or later for a 16 hour fast, also known as 16:8, for the 8 hour eating window. A couple days per week extend the fast by skipping dinner, and a couple of days I eat breakfast earlier to ensure my body knows it’s safe and not starving.
Take infection-fighting herbs
Herbal antimicrobials and coconut-based compounds are safe and effective for infections of all types, and are often more effective than antibiotics.3 Liu Q, Meng X, Li Y, Zhao CN, Tang GY, Li HB. Antibacterial and Antifungal Activities of Spices. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18(6):1283. Published 2017 Jun 16. doi:10.3390/ijms18061283; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5486105/ I love simplicity so select herbs that cover all the bases. To deal with lingering Lyme co-infections, reactivated Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), and potential candida overgrowth I take and rotate Lauricidin’s pure coconut-based Monolaurin, Karuna or Pure Encapsulations’ Olive Leaf extract, and Designs For Health’s GI Microb-X, a powerful infection-flighting blend of herbs including wormwood, black walnut, bearberry, barberry, and berberine.
Get your D levels up
This one is the easiest way to fill up your immune system reserves and protect against autoimmunity, dementia, and viral threats. Experts argue about optimal levels. Personally I get my D levels tested twice a year and optimize my level to 70 – 100 ng/ml, often with sun exposure, but also with 5K IU Quicksilver Scientific’s Liposomal D3 + K2.
Organic produce has up to 60% more antioxidants—protection against autoimmune disease and viral infections—and up to 100 times lower pesticide residue than conventionally farmed produce.419. Baranski, M., et. al., Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses, British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 112, Issue 5 14 September 2014, pp. 794-811; https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/higher-antioxidant-and-lower-cadmium-concentrations-and-lower-incidence-of-pesticide-residues-in-organically-grown-crops-a-systematic-literature-review-and-metaanalyses/33F09637EAE6C4ED119E0C4BFFE2D5B1 I try to eat 100% grass-fed, organic meats, oils, and veggies — basically, everything I eat and drink. By going all organic we massively reduce our consumption of chemicals. Remember, you are what you eat ate!
Go keto periodically
By emphasizing healthy fats, moderating protein intake, and restricting carbs (roughly 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbs) with the ketogenic (keto) diet, energy soars, brain function improves, inflammation is lowered, insulin resistance can be reversed; and the ketogenic diet might be protective against viral infections like the flu. Yale University published a recent study showing that mice fed a ketogenic diet and infected with the influenza virus had a higher survival rate than mice on a normal, high-carb diet.
Prevent Infections and Beat Autoimmune with F.I.G.H.T.S.™
The threat of viral infections may be worse during these winter months. For those of us with underlying health conditions like autoimmune challenges, the risk for worse outcomes with COVID-19 continues to be real. The time to take proactive action to safeguard your health is right now, and the best place to start is with food.
You have the ability to control your health outcomes largely by choosing what you eat and drink, and when. Your daily food, water, and supplement habits are highly consequential. A choice to just give in to sugar and processed food is a choice to block your immune system from functioning for up to 5 hours after eating it. Can you afford to take that risk? Or, you can choose delicious, nutrient-dense food like the 35 Paleo recipes I include in my Amazon #1 bestselling book, Beat Autoimmune and know you are both beating or preventing autoimmune and preventing COVID and other viral threats.
This is arguably one of the best times to prioritize your health and I invite you to use this time wisely. As you see positive results, you’ll find the motivation to address the other F.I.G.H.T.S. factors like gut health, toxins and stress, until you’re living the life you deserve, one of resilience and vibrant health.
When you implement solid strategies to safeguard your health and get your immune system in good fighting shape, you’ll also be protecting your loved ones, neighbors, and the broader community. And that’s a mission worth fighting for.
What’s your experience healing with food?
Take good care!
P.S. Want to beat autoimmune without doctors, drugs, or drama? I did and reversed a two-decade course of MS. In this FREE, 4-Part video training series I teach you all I know about how to heal completely so you can get on with your best life as soon as possible. Sign up and watch Video #1 right away: https://beatautoimmuneacademy.com/free-video-training/