Tag Archives: autoimmune disease

Anti-inflammatory diet, are 9 servings of vegetables per day possible?

I often recommend a specific diet to decrease inflammation, decrease pain, and improve healing of tissue. I have been asked by patients to post this nutritional plan on my website so here it is (see below). In addition to this post, I will place the diet on a separate page along with recipes for vegetable soup and bone broth.

The recipes (vegetable soup and bone broth) meet the anti-inflammatory diet guidelines and also follow the more restrictive “Autoimmune Protocol”. This nutritional approach provides an array of micro nutrients that fight inflammation, support tissue repair, decrease the risk of chronic disease, and help maintain  a healthy gut flora (good bacteria in the intestines).

When I recommend 9 servings per day of vegetables patients often tell me it is impossible to achieve.  But it is not impossible, nor is it impractical. Every Sunday afternoon I make a large pot of vegetable soup that will keep all week in the refrigerator. I bring  generous servings to work every day for breakfast, brunch, and/or lunch and add some meat or seafood prepared the evening before (left-overs) on the side. The key to eating 9 servings per day is to have a variety of vegetables at every meal. The vegetable soup makes that goal not just achievable but convenient.

The anti-inflammatory diet described below provides ample fiber to feed your healthy gut bacteria and avoids the sugar and refined starches that can produce gut dysbiosis (unhealthy balance of bacteria in the intestines). Vegetables provide five times the amount of fiber per calorie compared to grains. You do not need to eat bread or cereal to get fiber.

So here is the anti-inflammatory diet. it is consistent with the Mediterranean diet as well as an Ancestral-Paleo diet.

Caution: if you have diabetes and are taking medications, this diet reduces carbohydrates and eliminates added sugar so adjustments in diabetes medications are necessary to avoid potentially dangerous low blood sugars. So consult your physician or primary care practitioner.

9 SERVINGS  OF NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES PER DAY, 3 SERVINGS FROM EACH OF THREE CATEGORIES. Organic as much as possible. (Read about the Dirty Dozen here: Dirty Dozen | EWG’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce )

  • Arugula, Beet Greens, Bok Choy, Chard all colors, Chicory, Cilantro
  •  Dandelion Greens, Endive, Escarole, Kale-all kinds, Parsley, Radicchio
  • Radish leaves, Spinach, Turnip Greens, Watercress
  1. Colored vegetables, 3 cups daily:
  • GREEN: Artichoke, Asparagus, Avocado (FRUIT), Cabbage (red and green) Celery, Cucumber with skin, Okra, Olives, Peppers, Zucchini with skin
  • RED: Beets, red cabbage, red peppers, cooked tomatoes (fruit)
  • YELLOW: Carrots, Pumpkin, Squash-summer and winter, Sweet potato,
  1. SULFUR RICH VEGETABLES, 3 CUPS DAILY: Some leafy greens are also sulfur rich so there is overlap in these categories
  • Arugula, Asparagus, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collard Greens, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions red-yellow-white, Radishes, Scallions, Shallots, Turnip Greens, Watercress.

Berries (any kind) ½ cup per day. This can be substituted for one serving of vegetables.

OMEGA-3 rich fish-seafood (at least 16 ounces per week)

  • Anchovies, clams, herring, mackerel, mussels, oysters, salmon, sardines, trout, calamari (squid), saltwater fish should be wild, shellfish farmed OK, farmed trout OK.

Meat ideally grass fed and grass finished, hormone and antibiotic free.

Poultry and eggs free range, any wild game meat or poultry.

Drink only filtered water, coffee, tea, bone broth (homemade is best) and kombucha.

No grains, cereal, bread, pasta, no food made from flour, no oats, wheat, barley, corn etc.

No legumes (beans), no peanuts

No dairy except Ghee for cooking (optional)

No processed food made with added sugar or hydrogenated oils (which contain trans-fats)

No “vegetable oils” (soy oil, corn oil, etc.)

Use only extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and ghee. Limit EVOO to low heat cooking or add after food is cooked. The other oils on this list have higher smoke points.

Do not use store-bought salad dressing which usually has added sugar and inflammatory vegetable oils. Make your own salad dressing with EVOO and vinegar or lemon juice.

For more information about the AIP (Autoimmune protocol)  I suggest you visit these websites:

Autoimmune gut-repair diet – Autoimmune protocol | Dr. K. News

The Autoimmune Protocol – The Paleo Mom

The Autoimmune protocol is more restrictive than the anti-inflammatory diet and is beneficial for individuals with autoimmune disease.

Live clean, sleep well, exercise outside in the sunshine, love and laugh.

Dr. Bob

Don’t eat plastic foam in your food, another reason to avoid bread, bakery and flour foods

I recently came across an article at EWG.org, Nearly 500 ways to make a yoga mat sandwich | EWG

If you’ve planked on a yoga mat, slipped on flip-flops, extracted a cell phone from protective padding or lined an attic with foam insulation, chances are you’ve had a brush with an industrial chemical called azodicarbonamide, nicknamed ADA. In the plastics industry, ADA is the “chemical foaming agent” of choice. It is mixed into polymer plastic gel to generate tiny gas bubbles, something like champagne for plastics. The results are materials that are strong, light, spongy and malleable. “

Turns out, ADA is in nearly five hundred foods including breads, tortillas, bagels, pizza, hamburger buns, various pastries, hot dog rolls, sandwich buns, Italian bread, bread sticks, dinner rolls, croutons, english muffins, focaccia, wheat bread. Not all food producers include ADA in their products but many do, including fast food chains.

“Over the years, health activists concerned about synthetic chemicals in food have attacked the widespread use of ADA, but it did not attract nationwide headlines until Hari of Food Babe circulated a petition demanding that Subway, among the nation’s biggest fast-food outlets, stop using the chemical in its loaves. Subway responded [http://www.subway.com/subwayroot/about_us/PR_Docs/QualityBread.pdf] that ADA was safe, but even so, it had quietly been seeking a substitute over the past year. The company pointed out that ADA is “found in the breads of most chains such as Starbuck’s, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Burger King, and Dunkin Donuts.” Those other fast food giants joined Subway on the defensive.”

So head on over to the environmental working group website by clicking the link above and educate yourself. The reasons to avoid flour foods continue to mount, glyphosate (roundup), ADA, obesity, auto-immune disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, endotoxemia…..

Live clean, sleep well, love and laugh.

Dr. Bob


GMOs are dangerous, no doubt. Roundup and glyphosate are bad players.


I have discussed the dangers of GMO foods and Roundup before.

The evidence continues to mount.

“A peer-reviewed article, published  November 7, 2017, in the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, demonstrates that GMOs are likely taking a heavy toll on our health. And a survey of 3,256 people who avoided them reported astonishing improvements in 28 health conditions.”

You can find a summary of the salient points from this scientific article here.

But I suggest you read the first few pages of the full article here.

The first few pages of this article describe the history of GMOs and how the warnings of  FDA scientists were silenced by regulatory executives who were shills for the likes of Monsanto and other dangerous players in this sad history.

11 genetically modified food crops are currently grown for commercial consumption. The six major crops are soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa which are used to feed humans and animals. Cottonseed and canola are also processed into “food-grade” oils and sugar beets are refined to make sugar.

  • All six major GMOs are engineered to be herbicide tolerant, to survive spray of weed killer (such as Roundup)
  • 89% of GMOs grown in the US are herbicide tolerant
  • The most common herbicide involved is Roundup
  • 94% of soybeans grown in the US are Roundup Resistant (RR)
  • Some varieties of corn and cotton have genes inserted that produce a toxic insecticide called Bt toxin.
  • 76% of corn grown in the US is both Bt-producing and herbicide tolerant, 80% of cotton are both Bt and herbicide tolerant.

Roundup is not only used to kill weeds, but it is now sprayed heavily on crops immediately before harvest as a desiccant (drying agent) and large measurable amounts are found in the foods that you purchase in the supermarket.

In 1998 the FDA was sued by the Alliance for Bio-integrity and forced to turn over tens of thousands of pages of internal memos related to GMOs. FDA scientists repeatedly warned their superiors that GMO foods could create serious health risks such as allergies, toxins, antibiotic resistant diseases and nutritional problems. Michael Taylor, the former outside attorney for Monsanto and subsequent vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Monsanto was the political appointee in the FDA charged with overseeing GMOs!

On May 8, 2009,, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine published their policy paper on GMOs citing animal studies that revealed:

  • infertility,
  • immune dysregulation,
  • accelerated aging,
  • dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis,
  • faulty insulin regulation, cell signaling and protein formation,
  • changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system

The AAEM recommended that the US government implement a moratorium on all GM foods and urged physicians to prescribe non-GMO diets.

But Monsanto prevailed and FDA officials ignored the warnings of their own scientists.

The three general categories of GMO danger include:

  1. consequences of the GMO transformation process
  2. the Bt toxin found in GMO corn and cotton
  3. the herbicides-particularly Roundup, that are sprayed on most GMO foods and consumed by those who eat GMO food.

A study of Monsanto’s RR corn revealed 117 proteins and 91 small molecule biochemicals significantly different from natural corn. Some of those differences “enhance the effects of histamine, thus heightening allergic reactions” and two of the polyamines in the GMO corn have been implicated in the formation of carcinogens (nitrosamines).

The GMO process can produce a host of unintended changes in RNA, DNA,  proteins and genes. And these changes can migrate and hybridize with non-GMO foods when the wind blows seeds from GMO plants into fields planted with non-GMO plants.

Altered Genes (transgenes) from GMO foods may “horizontally transfer” to humans or other organisms including the gut bacteria in humans that control much of our physiology.

Studies of rats fed GMO potatoes demonstrated adverse effects on every organ in young rats. Most changes occurred within 10 days. Disruption of organ growth, immune suppression and damage to organs of the immune system, thickening of the stomach and intestinal lining were noted.

Monsanto’s own data show that GM soybeans contain up to seven times the level of a natural allergen (trypsin inhibitor which also impairs protein digestion) and a doubling of soy lectin which impairs nutrient absorption. These were unintended consequences of the GMO process.

Monsanto’s MON810 Bt corn has 43 genes significantly altered in levels of expression. One of these genes which is normally switched off in non-GMO corn is switched on in the GMO version and it produces an allergenic protein.

Glyphosate is the major antibiotic in Roundup (yes Roundup is classified as an antibiotic). I have discussed the great hazards of glyphosate before. On October 24, 2017 JAMA published a study of the increase in measurable levels of glyphosate in humans.

The researchers compared urine excretion levels of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in 100 people living in a Southern California community who provided samples during five clinic visits that took place between 1993 to 1996 and 2014 to 2016.

“What we saw was that prior to the introduction of genetically modified foods, very few people had detectable levels of glyphosate,” . “As of 2016, 70 percent of the study cohort had detectable levels.”

In July 2017, glyphosate was listed as a carcinogen by California.

A 2014 review concluded that:

Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many
metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both.
Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer.

There are many reasons to follow an organic, GMO-free, whole foods ancestral diet. Contamination with Roundup presents yet another compelling reason to choose your food wisely.

Some folks prefer videos to research articles, so below you will find both.


Here are a few links that will take you to articles related to this topic and quoted above.

Survey Reports Improved Health After Avoiding Genetically Modified Food

Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America

Environmental and health effects of the herbicide glyphosate. – PubMed – NCBI

Glyphosate: environmental contamination, toxicity and potential risks to human health via food contamination. – PubMed – NCBI

Aluminum and glyphosate can synergistically induce pineal gland pathology: connection to gut dysbiosis and neurological disease

GMO crops increase pesticide use

The high cost of pesticides: human and animal diseases

Is roundup the toxic chemical that’s making us all sick

Scientists Back Up WHO’s Classification of Glyphosate as “Probably Carcinogenic”

Food for thought: Are Herbicides a Factor for the Increase in Allergies and Autism?

Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance

Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases III: Manganese, neurological diseases, and associated pathologies

Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases IV: cancer and related pathologies

Glyphosate pathways to modern diseases V: Amino acid analogue of glycine in diverse proteins

GMOs, herbicides, and public health

Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors

Glyphosate‐based pesticides affect cell cycle regulation

Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines

Environmental and human health impacts of growing genetically modified herbicide‐tolerant sugar beet: a life‐cycle assessment

Unidentified inert ingredients in pesticides: implications for human and environmental health

The possible link between autism and glyphosate acting as glycine mimetic—A review of evidence from the literature with analysis

Eat organic fruits and vegetables, avoid GMOs, enjoy better health.

Dr. Bob

The Broken Brain on-line “docuseries” is running now.

I would encourage everyone to watch this series of daily interviews and discussions on lifestyle and brain health. This was organized and produced by Mark Hyman MD, director of the Functional Medicine Clinic at Cleveland Clinic, well known author, speaker and physician, Discussions cover many topics including environmental toxins (such as heavy metals and Roundup), nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress reduction, gut bacteria, and more with specific reference to the effects on your brain and risk for dreaded conditions such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, etc. These conditions can be prevented and when present, they can be treated with interventions not usually employed by modern medicine, unless you are fortunate enough to be working with a Functional Medicine practitioner.

You can sign up to receive a daily email with a link to the on-line video. Each video in the series is available for 24 hours starting at 3 PM PST, 6 PM EST.

Here is the link to get started with the third episode in this series.

Episode 3: Dementia and Alzheimer’s [LIVE] | Broken Brain

To Your Health,

Bob Hansen MD

Great lecture videos available on line

In January I attended the annual meeting of Physicians for Ancestral Health. There were great presentations on many topics related to lifestyle and health. Take a look at the website linked below to learn about many topics relating nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle to health.

Open Video Archives | Physicians for Ancestral Health

I presented a lecture titled “The Lipoprotein Retention Model, What’s Missing?” This discusses many factors (root causes) that contribute to the formation of plaque in arteries and what can be done to prevent this insidious process by adopting a “Paleo Lifestyle“.

Other videos include:

Paleopathology and the Origins of the Paleo Diet. Keynote speaker Michael Eades MD, author of several books and a well known website.

Medicine Without Evolution is like Engineering Without Physics– Randolph M Neese, MD Director of the Arizona State University Center for Evolution.

The Roles of Intermittent Fasting and Carbohydrates in Cancer Therapy– Dawn Lemanne, MD, MPH, integrative oncologist.

 23 and Me: Practical First Steps-Deborah Gordon MD, discusses a practical approach to utilizing information from this genetic test.

Histamine Intolerance-Why (food) Freshness Matters– Georgia Ede MD.


Mood and Memory: How Sugar Affects Brain Chemistry-Georgia Ede, MD.

Systems Analysis and Multiple Sclerosis– Tommy Wood MD, author, blogger and lecturer, frequently interviewed on topics related to exercise and nutrition.

Cholesterol OMG– Jeffry Gerber, MD “The Diet Doctor” in Denver Colorado

Bob Hansen MD




Endocrine Disrupting chemicals in food, containers and environment results “in a range of human diseases and abnormalities.”

The findings of four articles recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism were presented on March 5 at a press briefing held at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, ENDO 2015, Despite the incredible public health implications of these four studies little has been reported in the popular press.

I have previously discussed the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen toxic chemicals | Practical Evolutionary Health as well as the impact of environmental toxins on our epidemic of auto-immune disease Babies born with more than 200 toxic chemicals in their blood | Practical Evolutionary Health .

The press briefing and the findings of these four studies were reported on-line Endocrine Disruptors Cause Range of Diseases; Cost 157 Billion Euros

The estimated health effects of pesticides, chemicals used in personal care products, aluminum can liners, flame retardants in clothing, mattresses, furniture,  etc., included the following

From pesticides:

  • 59,300 infants born with intellectual disability
  • 28,200 people aged 50-64 years with type 2 diabetes
  • 13 million lost IQ points in each EU country

From Phtalates used in food wraps, cosmetics, shampoos, vinyl flooring

  • 24,800 deaths among 55-64 year old men
  • 618,000 additional assisted-reproductive technology procedures to treat infertility
  • excess of obesity and diabetes among women aged 50 to 64

Flame retardants in electronics, furniture, mattresses:

  • 3290 intellectually disabled children
  • 873,000 lost IQ points
  • 6830 cases of testicular cancer
  • 4615 children born with undescended testes

Other estimates from endocrine disruptors included:

  • 316 autistic 8 year olds EACH YEAR
  • 31,200 ten year olds with ADHD

Here are some snippets from the on-line Medscape report.The economic costs are reported in Euros since this was a study of European data. Bear in mind that the European Union has more stringent environmental protection than the United States. As a result, a study using US data would likely show even greater damage.

The papers cover overall costs of selected disorders attributed to specific endocrine-disrupting chemicals, as well as more detailed analyses of costs related to endocrine-disrupter–linked obesity and diabetes, neurobehavioral deficits/disease, and male reproductive disorders/diseases.

“Limiting our exposure to the most widely used and potentially hazardous endocrine-disrupting chemicals is likely to produce substantial economic benefit,” lead author of the overview study, Leonardo Trasande, MD, from New York University, said at the briefing.

The European Union defines an endocrine-disrupting chemical as an “exogenous substance that causes adverse health effects in an intact organism or its progeny, secondary to changes in endocrine function.”

With exposures occurring via pharmaceuticals, industrial solvents, personal-care products, aluminum-can linings, plasticizers, pesticides, and environmental pollutants, chemicals known to be endocrine disrupting include diethylstilbestrol, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) , dioxins, perfluoroalkyl compounds, solvents, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene organophosphate/organochlorine pesticides, and polybrominated diphenyl.

Affected hormones include estrogen, androgen, thyroid, retinol, aryl hydrocarbon, and the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) pathway. In all, 13 chronic conditions have strong scientific evidence for causation by endocrine-disrupting chemicals, Dr Trasande said.

“There are safe and simple steps that families can take to limit their exposure to endocrine-disruptive chemicals. They can avoid microwaving plastic. They can avoid eating from aluminum cans or drinking fluids from aluminum cans. They can eat organic. Or even simply air out their homes every couple of days to remove some of the chemical dust…that can disrupt hormones in their bodies.”

Using estimates based on the literature and established statistical methods adapted from those used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Trasande led a 12-member scientific steering committee, which determined that there was probable causation of endocrine-disrupting chemicals for IQ loss and associated intellectual disability, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), childhood obesity, adult obesity, adult diabetes, cryptorchidism, male infertility, and mortality associated with reduced testosterone.

Using mid-point estimates for probability of causation, the panel calculated a median cost of €157 billion, or 1.23% of the EU gross domestic product, with a lower median range of €119 billion and a high end estimate of €270 billion.

Dr Trasande summarized results from the four papers at the briefing, including these data points:

  • By health effect, the greatest cost was for neurological problems, including ADHD, at €132 billion. By endocrine-disrupting chemical type, pesticides were the most costly, accounting for €120 billion.
  • Pesticides accounted for 13 million lost IQ points in each EU country, costing €124 billion in earning potential. They were also responsible for 59,300 infants born with intellectual disability (€24.6 million), and 28,200 people aged 50-64 years with type 2 diabetes, at a cost of €835 million.
  • Phthalates, used in food wraps, cosmetics, shampoos, and vinyl flooring, resulted in 24,800 additional deaths among 55- to 64-year-old men, costing €7.96 billion in lost economic productivity; and 618,000 additional assisted-reproductive-technology procedures, costing €4.71 billion, Dr Trasande reported. Phthalates also accounted for an excess of obesity and diabetes among women aged 50 to 64, totaling more than €15.6 billion.
  • Flame retardants used in electronics, furniture, and mattresses resulted in 873,000 lost IQ points, leading to €8.4 billion in lost earning potential; 3290 intellectually disabled children, costing an additional €1.9 billion; 6,830 new cases of testicular cancer, at €850 million; and 4615 children born with undescended testes, at €130 million.
  • Other estimates of burden and disease and costs include 316 autistic 8-year-olds each year from multiple endocrine disrupting chemicals, costing €199 million; 31,200 10-year-olds with ADHD (also from multiple endocrine-disrupting chemicals), at €1.7 billion; and BPA used in aluminum-can linings and thermal-paper receipts, being associated with 42,400 obese 4-year-olds at an annual cost of €1.54 billion.

Dr Trasande said that a similar analysis for the United States would be “the logical next step” and that he would anticipate analogous findings, although there are some differences. Brominated flame retardants are more stringently limited in Europe, for example, but levels of phthalates have decreased 17% to 37% in the United States between 2001 and 2010.

Keep in mind that these studies were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. They do not represent a governmental agency report, which is frequently tainted by the influence of lobbyists and scientists with conflicts of interest. Whether the European governments respond to this data in a meaningful way remains to be seen. Given the Republican majority in both the US Congress and US Senate as well as the sad state of journalism in the US it is likely that this scientific data will fall on deaf ears.

Nevertheless, we all have the opportunity to educate ourselves about these dangers to the health of our families and make changes in our daily lives that might limit the damage to our personal health and the health of those we love.

Do not drink water from plastic bottles. Do not drink soda or fruit juices from plastic or aluminum containers. Do not microwave food in plastic containers or store warm food in plastic containers. Eat organic vegetables and fruits whenever possible and avoid especially non-organic produce from the Dirty Dozen

Despite the manufacturers claims to the contrary, BPA used to line aluminum cans is not safe, same for BPA used in thermal paper receipts. “BPA free” hard plastic containers and metal containers lined with BPA replacements will likely prove to be unsafe in the future.

That “new-car” smell and “new-furniture” smell may contain endocrine disrupting flame retardants off-gassing. So open your windows and get rid of those odors, use HEPA air-filters at home. Consider having your old furniture reupholstered instead of buying new furniture. Apply only safe personal care products to your body (visit the EWG website for more information)Consumer Products | Environmental Working Group

Live clean, eat clean.


Babies born with more than 200 toxic chemicals in their blood

The  Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non profit organization devoted to protecting the public from one of our greatest health threats, pollution in all of it’s forms. The EWG supported a study in which newborn infants were tested for known industrial and agricultural toxic chemicals. All of the infants had > 200 and some up to 300 toxic chemicals found circulating in their blood at birth. These babies were not born to parents living in or near toxic waste dumps, or working in dangerous industrial environments. They were born to parents living like you and me. You can read about this and many other issues here.

The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act grandfathered >70,000 industrial and agricultural chemicals already in use as “safe” and provided for no effective standardized testing requirements for the introduction of new chemicals. Heather White, Executive Director of the EWG was recently interviewed for an  Autoimmune Summit. I have attended this health related summit on-line while recovering from my surgery and was shocked to hear and then read about out environmental exposure and lack of protection.

We often think about pollution and environmental toxins as contributing to cancer, birth defects, asthma and similar problems but auto-immunity is another problem with links to our toxic exposure.

During the Auto-Immune Summit Aristo Vojdani, Ph.D., M.Sc., M.T. scientist and editor of a peer-reviewed journal on auto-immunity, estimated that 60% of auto-immune diseases are “triggered” by environmental toxins, 30% triggered by dietary components, and 10% triggered by infectious disease. He distinguished triggers from predisposing factors which represent the physiologic milieu that leads to auto-immunity. This terminology of triggers vs. predisposing factors may seem confusing and arbitrary. In a nutshell, underlying the molecular mimicry theory of auto-immunity is “leaky gut”.  The “gateway to autoimmunity” is “leaky gut” (increased intestinal permeability) which allows foreign substances to cross the intestinal barrier, enter the circulation and challenge our immune system. Leaky gut  has many contributing factors including but not limited to diet, stress, gut dysbiosis and infections.  Although the % of auto-immune disease that is “triggered by” environmental toxins (versus diet and infections) remains speculative, there is mounting evidence that all of these factors contribute to greater or lesser degrees in various patients.

The paleo community has often stressed the importance of eliminating specific foods and replacing sugar laden flour foods with nutrient dense foods. But emphasis has also been placed on eating organic foods to avoid pesticides, herbicides and hormones.

Dr Vojdani has suggested that in addition to the gut-immune related mechanisms of molecular mimicry, environmental toxins, especially heavy metals, BPA and organic solvents,  act not only has foreign invaders stimulating the immune system but also stimulate the immune system by causing tissue damage directly and thereby presenting damaged or transformed tissue to the immune system as foreign. Environmental toxins do not require a leaky gut to enter our bodies. Many are absorbed through our lungs and skin, and many are directly absorbed through our guts even in the absence of a “Leaky gut”. Heavy metals including mercury, lead and cadmium do not require a leaky gut for intestinal absorption, nor do pesticides, herbicides or hormones administered to the animal we consume. They wreak havoc not only by directly damaging our organs but also by altering our immune system.

Dr Noel Rose, Director of Center for Autoimmune Research (John’s Hopkin’s University) and Dr. Ahmet Hoke, Director, Division of Neuomuscular Disease (John’s Hopkins NIMH Center) opine that our rising rates of auto-immune disease are the result of our “unsuccessful adaptation to new environmental agents”. (See Forward written in Last Best Cure | Donna Jackson Nakazawa.)

The  Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the Federal Government’s internal watchdog agency. A GAO report ( U.S. GAO – Environmental Justice: EPA Needs to Take Additional Actions to Help Ensure Effective Implementation) revealed that 85% of the new chemicals introduced into our environment are not accessed for safety. The  Environmental Protection Agency receives 90 days notice prior to the introduction of new chemicals (industrial, agricultural, etc). Industry does not have the burden of proof relative to safety. Instead, the EPA must determine, within 90 days, if a new chemical is “safe”. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Beyond that issue we have the problem of multiple  low grade simultaneous exposures. If a given level of toxin is “safe” based on short term studies of animals or humans, how do we know that a combination of hundreds or thousands of toxins over many years are “safe”. Likewise, if  air concentrations or water concentrations of a single toxin are deemed “safe” how can we possible test the combined effects of hundreds and thousands of environmental toxins in our air, water, soil and food?

The EPA, created under the Nixon administration, was decimated during the Bush administration when budget cuts resulted in the loss of > 50% of it’s senior scientists. With that executive action most of the EPA’s institutional memory was lost and along with it many of the already limited safeguards we had in place.

The concept of “eating clean” minimizes exposure to the potentially harmful effects of anti-nutrients  and immune stimulants (harmful plant lectins and saponins, excess phytic acid, excess omega 6 fatty acids) and more importantly encourages the consumption of nutrient dense foods (lots of colorful vegetables, grass fed meats, wild seafood). But “eating clean” also requires avoiding environmental toxins, including pesticides and herbicides.

To achieve that goal within a budget you can consult the EWG’s lists of foods that have the most and the least amount/variety of pesticides/herbicides. These lists are called the “dirty dozen” and the “clean fifteen”.

To avoid heavy metal exposure (especially mercury) eat seafood that is low on the food chain (less opportunity to accumulate mercury in their tissue). Many people do not realize that most of the mercury in our seafood comes from burning coal. Multiple heavy metals are present in coal. When coal is burned to generate electricity the heavy metals are released into the air and are then washed into our rivers, streams, lakes and oceans where they can accumulate in fish. As the heavy metals work up the food chain they accumulate in tissues. The best/safeest sources of healthy omega three fats are in smaller cold water fish (sardines, anchovies, small mackeral, salmon, trout). And do not forget oysters, scallops,  mussels,  and clams which may have less amounts of omega 3 fats but are safe with respect to heavy metals being low down on the food chain.

The concept of “living clean” involves more than being selective about food and cooking techniques. It involves avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals which can be found in our water (drinking and bathing), air, soil, clothing, furniture, make-up, deodorant, toothpaste and household cleaners. You can learn about these exposures at the EWG’s website. Consumer Guides | Environmental Working Group

Here is a fact that might get your attention, 90% of red lipstick has mercury in it. That’s right, 90%. Every day women around the world are painting their lips with lipstick that has mercury. The average American uses 10-12 personal care products per day which exposes us to 120 or more toxic ingredients. The law that regulates personal care products was written in 1938 (after a woman became blind from using mascara). It needs to be updated and there is much lobbying against better regulation (lots of money in personal care products an make-up). In the meantime we need to be more aware about what we put on and in our bodies.

Our environment is filled with “endocrine disruptors” which mimic and interfere with our hormones. The most common one is BPA (plastic) which has estrogen like effects.

What are our greatest exposures to BPA? Answer: plastic lids on coffee/tea to-go cups, plastic bottles of soda and plastic bottles containing citrus juices. Heat and acid both leech BPA (and probably other toxins) out of plastic into the liquids we drink. The most acidic beverage by far is SODA (as low as pH 2.2). So toxic chemical exposure is yet another reason to avoid soda. Do not serve your guests soda or water in plastic containers at parties. Set an example. Store your foods in glass containers and especially do not put warm or hot food into plastic containers. Get a water filter for your drinking water. Some even go so far as to get a water filter for their showers and baths.

Finally, flame retardants (furniture and clothing) required by law represent major health hazards by filling the air of our homes and exposing our skin to toxic substances. Mothers and toddlers have an estimated 3 times greater risk for this exposure which has been linked to neuro-development disorders, ADHD and endocrine disruption. Firefighters have very elevated levels of toxic chemicals derived from flame retardants. Some patients with a variety of illnesses have seen improvement in symptoms by having their furniture re-upholstered with coverings that do not contain flame retardants (anecdotal reports). Consider getting a HEPA air filter for your home and office. Remember hurricane Katrina? Remember the great number of illnesses reported by families made homeless by Katrina who were relocated to live in temporary portable housing. Those buildings were releasing formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals and produced illness within just a few days.

In my next post I will provide the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists to help you make decisions about organic food purchases if you cannot afford to purchase 100% organic. In the meantime check out the EWG website. Also coming soon is a recipe for tumeric-ginger tea/marinade as an anti-inflammatory alternative to NSAIDs.

Live Clean and Prosper

Bob Hansen MD.