An Interview with Dr. Jill Tieman who is a Certified Nutritionist and Chiropractor, a Chapter Leader for the Great South Bay chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation and Author of Go Grain-Free cooking class
1. How what we eat affects our genetics and is there any connection to autoimmune disease
Most definitely what we eat affects our genetics. In fact, there is a whole new body of research called epigenetics that deals with this subject. Epigenetics refers to changes in gene expression from outside forces.
This is different from a mutation, because the changes are not to the DNA itself but rather to its surroundings — the enzymes and other chemicals that control how a DNA molecule unwinds its various sections to make proteins or even new cells.
Nutrition can dramatically alter the health and appearance of otherwise identical mice. In a study at Duke University scientists demonstrated how mouse clones implanted as embryos in separate mothers will have radical differences in fur color, weight, and risk for chronic disease and autoimmunity depending on what that mother was fed during pregnancy.
It is a fascinating subject. Dr. Cate Shanahan, M.D. is the author of the books Deep Nutrition: Why Our Genes Need Traditional Food. If you are interested in this subject, she talks about it in depth in her book.
There are many genes such as HLA-DR, CTLA-4, CD40, FOXP3, CD25, TSHR and others have been identified to be involved in the incidence of Hashimoto’s disease. However,
Genetics cannot explain all the factors involved in autoimmune thyroid disease.
It appears that multiple genes need to be present to induce autoimmune disease and similarly, multiple exposures and/or multiple environmental factors may need to occur. However,
By eating deeply nutritious foods you give the right information to your genes while consuming the wrong foods leads to illness.
2. Why going grain-free and how it can help people who have autoimmune Hashimoto’s disease to get better?
In my opinion, anyone with an autoimmune disease should not be eating grains. I’ve written a lot about this subject and research shows that gluten and the anti-nutrients in grains in general can irritate the digestive tract and stimulate the immune system.
In any autoimmune disease it is best to calm the digestive system because 80% of the immune system resides there. You want to remove any triggers to the immune system so that it does not attack the specific tissue or organ affected by autoimmune disease.
In short, removing any foods that are known to trigger the immune system such as gluten and grains, will improve the condition of anyone with an autoimmune disorder.
3. More and more women get diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune conditions in their child bearing years. Do you have special recommendations for autoimmune diet during pregnancy? Is grain-free diet safe to use in pregnancy?
The grain-free diet is certainly safe to use in pregnancy. It is essentially a paleolithic diet which was followed for thousands of years in human history. Fruits and vegetables, as well as tubers and potatoes may be eaten and these are all carbohydrate foods.
During pregnancy it is critical to eat traditional foods such as organ meats, animal fats and eggs to support a healthy developing nervous system and to give critical fat soluble vitamins to the mother and child. All these foods are inexpensive and can be easy incorporated in your budget.
4. Many Outsmart Disease readers asked questions about carbohydrates. Low carbs diets can suppress thyroid function and high carbs diets have many negative effects on our overall health. What are your thoughts about carbs and is there a way to tell if you are getting enough carbs for thyroid health?
With any thyroid problem the person has to go by symptoms.
They should keep a diet diary with symptoms to see what foods may affect them and in what quantity. If they go low carb and feel terrible, they may need more. We are each so individual that it is fruitless to say what may be good for some – because it may not be good for others.
I think the most important thing is to stay away from grains and to get carbs from fruits, vegetables, roots, tubers, potatoes, nuts and seeds (properly prepared).
5. How to heal gut and thyroid nutritionally on a very limited income?
Grain-free diet is actually very budget friendly.
One of the best foods for thyroid health is coconut, which is relatively cheap.
Use lots of different coconut products on a daily basis. You can bake with coconut flour, cook with coconut oil, make shakes with coconut cream (also called spread or butter).
Picture by Dr. Jill Tieman: Grain-free Coconut Shrimp
Make plenty of bone broths and drink these daily. Bones are cheap.
If you can tolerate eggs eat lots of them cooked in coconut oil. Buy in bulk when you can and you will save money there. Stay away from goitrogenic foods like soy and uncooked vegetables of the brassica group.
6. We all get an idea that grain-free cooking is different. Many readers asking what exactly is a grain-free diet? For example, are nuts a part of the grain free diet and how do you address mold issues associated with nuts that can cause problems in people with autoimmune conditions?
The grain-free diet simply means that no grain products are used in any food. We do use nuts and coconut. The nuts are prepared to remove any anti-nutrients, lectins, phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors by soaking and then dehydrating them. Preparing the nuts this way makes them much more digestible and people can tolerate them better.
After staying away from grains for a while, people can start to heal their digestive system and may be able to tolerate the properly prepared nuts. Very few people cannot tolerate coconut and that may be used liberally.
In my new cooking class I share my tricks and techniques on how to prepare grain-free meals that heal and give you recipes that are so good that you won’t be able to tell that they are not made with wheat.
Grain-free diet does not mean depriviation and that you have to stop eating your favorite foods such as pizza or lasagne for example. You just need to start to cook it in a different way. You can substitute wheat and other grains that cause troubles to your digestive system with more nutritious alternatives while healing thyroid and staying within your budget.
Picture by Dr Jill Tieman: Grain-free lasagne
7. Many people with autoimmune conditions and Hashimoto’s have multiple food allergies. What is your advice for those who need to cook/bake egg free AND grain-free? What eggs substitutes can you recommend and how can you tell which of them will work in a certain recipe?
Eggs are hard to replace and I try not to unless you have to as they are so nutritious. The first thing I ask is if it is the egg white or the yolk that is the problem. Some people will know this while others may need to do some allergy testing. If it is only one part of the egg then use the other part and double it.
Many times if someone is on a healing diet such as GAPS, after a while they will start to tolerate eggs.
Healing of intestinal damage to the gut lining is one of main benefits of going grain-free.
By adopting a grain-free diet many people with thyroid and autoimmune diseases see dramatical improvements in their health.
Depending on what you are cooking or backing, eggs in most recipes act first as a binding agent and secondly as a liquid. When you are looking to substitute eggs in your recipe very often you can just add a little bit more liquid and then look at what you can use as a binding agent. In general, chickpea flour that is also called Besan flour has good binding properties as also do potato starch, butter and arrowroot.
You can also use the following egg substitutes for cooking and baking:
- Pureed fruit – ¼ cup pureed fruit for one egg.
- Vinegar and baking soda – one teaspoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar per egg.
- 1 teaspoon flax seed meal mixed with ¼ cup water per egg may be used. This makes baked goods heavier and denser.
- 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds whisked with 3 tablespoon water is 1 egg.
Picture by Dr. Jill Tieman: Breakfast grain-free pancakes
There are many delicious grain-free alternatives to wheat that can be used to make a variety of delicious baked goods, snacks, desserts and main dishes. However, many people find that cooking with non-grain flours without using any refined sugars and additives is quite chalenging and just do not know where to start.
To help you to avoid a lot of frustration and save you time and money at the same time I created the Go grain-free cooking class that is designed for people who have thyroid, autoimmune, digestive and many other health conditions where I teach how to adopt grain-free cooking into your life style and start to heal.
For those of you who are ready to get started I would like to offer a special discount for my new Go Grain-Free cooking class to get 40% off on my website.
Use coupon code ANNIVERSAEY2013 but hurry! This offer is only good through March 10, 2013! Otherwise use the coupon code SPECIAL.
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