I Have an Autoimmune Disease—Here's What I Eat Now for Healthy Immunity
Welcome to our series #CartedByT30, where experts, influencers, and anyone who just really knows how to nail down a grocery list show us exactly what goes in their carts. Tune in to our Instagram to see their weekly haul from their favorite grocery store, farmer's market, or online food retailer and to find out how much it really costs to eat healthily. For this installment, integrative nutritionist and health practitioner, Neeyaz Zolfaghari is sharing her story.
When I was diagnosed with Graves' Disease, it was as if the ground was pulled from beneath my feet. Aside from knowing so little about autoimmune diseases and thyroid health or function, I was given an abundance of information and didn't know how to best process it. After a lot of research, asking questions, and countless doctor visits, it became clear that in order to build a healthy, strong foundation, I needed to shift my focus to the food I was eating.
There is an array of foods that help support healthy immune function and prevent autoimmune disease. My favorite place to shop for produce is at my local farmers market, which always carries a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other delicious goods. Below are 10 of my favorite items to get at the market and have in my kitchen to readily incorporate into my meals.
One of the top causes of autoimmune disease is leaky gut, which in simplest terms is when the lining of your intestines loses its integrity, encouraging bacteria and toxins to pass through. Leaky gut leads to inflammation, which is concerning considering inflammation is what causes autoimmune diseases. Apples contain a flavonoid (pigment) called quercetin that can both reduce allergic reactions and help decrease inflammation.
Artichokes help support the production of bile, which is produced by the liver and encourages healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients. Without an adequate supply of bile, fatty acids and essential nutrients cannot be properly absorbed. Additionally, due to their high fiber content, artichokes can readily reduce inflammation.
Avocados are rich in B vitamins, which are crucial in supporting a healthy immune function. Fatty acids (found in avocados) are also important in helping to balance hormones in a natural manner.
4. Bok Choy
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Bok choy is loaded with vitamin K and polyphenols, both of which contain health-promoting properties essential for healthy immunity and preventing inflammation. Keeping your immune system strong is necessary to prevent any chronic disease, and if you have a thyroid disease, bok choy is incredible for thyroid health.
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Similar to broccoli and cabbage, cauliflower contains glutathione, an antioxidant that helps alleviate autoimmune diseases. They protect against oxidative stress, an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants.
6. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
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Olive oil helps fight inflammation like no other, all thanks to the antioxidants present. There are also certain genes and proteins in olive oil that help mediate inflammation. Be sure to always buy extra-virgin olive oil (or EVOO), as this means that it has not been heated nor chemically processed. I like this one from Nuvó.
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Ginger is a powerhouse in the world of anti-inflammatory foods. Whether you have it fresh or in powder form, ginger has a long list of benefits including cancer prevention, lowering cholesterol, treating indigestion, and lowering blood sugar levels.
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Especially with the coming of spring, allergies can go haywire. When I'm feeling low-energy or attacked by allergy-like symptoms, I eat a spoonful of local honey. Honey is one of the most incredible foods available to us and has a robust amount of benefits. Antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory—honey does it all.
9. Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens protect our bodies against toxins, feed the gut, help to build enzymes, and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Incorporating leafy greens in each of your meals goes a long way to a strong and healthy system overall.
Mushrooms are significantly powerful for your immune system. They help strengthen it and also downregulate it when it becomes too active (i.e. when autoimmune issues are present).
Next up: I'm an Imperfect Dietician and My Key to Eating Healthy Meals Is Convenience
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.