Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Autoimmune Protocol For Help With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Are you wondering what an autoimmune protocol is? In the Eat To Live book and November 2004 Healthy Times Newsletter by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, he outlines a specific dietary protocol for people with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. I suggest you read the whole book and newsletter, as they are more detailed, but I will outline his autoimmune protocol below.

The key to treating autoimmune illnesses is to obey the
H = N/C formula. Only then can the immune system begin to normalize its its haywire circuitry.
- Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live

Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Autoimmune Protocol in a Nutshell

  1. High-nutrient, vegan diet (no dairy), rich in green vegetables
  2. Blended salads/smoothies and blended soups (utilizing leafy greens) to increase absorption of phytochemicals
  3. Fresh vegetable juice (carrots, beets, parsley, kale, and other greens)
  4. High-dose fish oils or plant-derived EPA and DHA (fish oil is best for autoimmune sufferers)
  5. Beneficial bowel flora (A very potent one he recommends is VSL #3)
  6. Natural anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, quercetin, ginger, and bioflavanoids
  7. Multivitamin/mineral, plus additional vitamin D supplementation
  8. Supervised water-only fasting, used periodically, if necessary
  9. Dietary avoidance of salt, wheat, and oil

(source: Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Healthy Times newsletter, November 2004)

autoimmune protocol

Helpful Autoimmune Protocol Tips

High-nutrient, vegan diet (no dairy), rich in green vegetables

  • This is probably the most important part of the autoimmune protocol. You need to learn and understand the nutrient-density concept: Health = Nutrients/Calories. Read the free article on Dr. Fuhrman's website that explains nutrient density and lists some of the nutrient density scores. Try to eat mostly foods that are above 100 (most fruits and vegetables).

Blended salads/smoothies and blended soups (utilizing leafy greens) to increase absorption of phytochemicals

  • Okay, 'blended salads' sounds really gross. I prefer to say 'smoothies'. Thing is, I add lots of greens to all of my smoothies (usually spinach) and as long as there are "sweets" in there too (including fruits and/or carrots, etc.), they are always delicious. My kids always ask me to make them smoothies. They love them.
  • Blended soups are a terrific way to make thick, "creamy" soups without the cream! I puree 1/2 - 3/4 of my soup, and then add the rest of the cooked vegetables for a nice contrast in textures. You can use the Vitamix for this or you can use a hand blender like the Cuisinart CSB-75BC Smart Stick 2-Speed Immersion Hand Blender.
  • If you are going to do this 100% and eat blended salads/smoothies and soups daily, I HIGHLY recommend investing in a Vitamix. It's so powerful and so fast. You can even cook soups made with whole vegetables in it, the blades spin so fast. It's amazing. I just love mine.
  • There are some free recipes on Dr. Joel Fuhrman's site, and also at FatFreeVegan. If you become a member at DrFuhrman.com, you will have access to a larger recipe database.
  • For seasonings for your soups (you can't use salt), Dr. Fuhrman has his own line of seasonings called VegiZest. I also really like Vogue Cuisine Instant VegeBase Seasoning. I haven't seen it in stores, but you can order it through Amazon or their website.
Fresh vegetable juice (carrots, beets, parsley, kale, and other greens)
  • I usually only juice for my soup bases. If you don't have a juicer (I really like my Breville Juice Fountain, similar to the one shown at the right.), you can usually find vegetable juices (especially carrot juice) in your local produce department. Of course, fresh is always better, and remember to make sure it doesn't have any added salt or sugar in it.

High-dose fish oils or plant-derived EPA and DHA (fish oil seems to work best for autoimmune sufferers if you don't have a food sensitivity to it)

  • Dr. Joel Fuhrman has a lot to say about fish oil. In general, he suggests you get your Omega-3s from a non-fish source to avoid the contamination found in a lot of fish. Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are good sources, and Dr. Fuhrman has developed a vegan product called DHA Purity. However, in his book, Eat to Live, he explains that people with autoimmune disease and "the rare individual who does not convert omega-3 fats into DHA sufficiently," may benefit from fish oil. One fish oil product that he recommends for his autoimmune protocol is Metagenix EPA-DHA Liquid High Concentrate.
  • Dr. Fuhrman notes, "Not all patients with autoimmune disorders are fish oil responsive, and the anti-inflammatory effect should not be expected... without implementing all of the other components of the dietary and nutritional programs."
  • Look for dosages in the range of 1.2 to 4 grams of EPA + DHA
  • Fish oil thins the blood so talk to your physician before taking high-dose fish oil

Beneficial bowel flora

  • Remember, rheumatoid arthritis likely starts in the gut (leaky gut syndrome). Help your body out by taking a quality probiotic - they help block autoimmune reactivity with leaky gut. Get the product with the largest number of active flora you can find. You'll probably have to shop online. Drug-store products (at least my local stores) just aren't strong enough. Dr. Fuhrman sells one called, Favorite Flora, that has 15 billion active organisms per serving. Another one that he has recommended in his forums to autoimmune sufferers, (which is very expensive, but very potent) is called VSL #3. It contains 450 billion live lactic acid bacteria per serving! The best price I have found for it is on Amazon.

Natural anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, quercetin, ginger, and bioflavanoids

  • If you have rheumatoid arthritis, this is so important, especially if you are off the RA drugs. You need to control the inflammation. I always buy organic if it's available. My favorite site to buy organic supplements is mountainroseherbs.com

Multivitamin/mineral, plus additional vitamin D supplementation

Supervised water-only fasting, used periodically, if necessary

  • Get the book, Fasting and Eating For Health and find a doctor who will support your fast and follow your progress. Both my primary care physician and naturopath have agreed they will support me if/when I do a fast.

Dietary avoidance of salt, wheat, and oil

  • Note: Also avoid all your other food triggers, even if they are fruits and vegetables. I have oral allergy syndrome (also called "Pollen-Food Allergy") with symptoms associated with apples, pears, almonds, and some other fruits and tree nuts. My mouth and throat just get really itchy when I eat them, nothing serious or life threatening. But, Dr. Joel Fuhrman suggested that I just not eat them so as not to trigger an immune response. Other food sensitivities aren't so obvious. The best way to figure out what your triggers are is through food elimination test. Through food elimination, I've also discovered that wheat triggers my asthma, so I know for me it's something that I have to avoid. Let me know how you do with this Autoimmune Protocol!!




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