About a decade ago, my wife became gravely ill and nearly died (twice), and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men (and the doctors) couldn’t figure out what was going on with her.
It took 3½ years – and brain surgery – to diagnose a very rare autoimmune disease that was attacking the blood vessels in her brain, leaving paralysis and devastation in its wake. The neurologists said they didn’t know what caused her angiitis nor why it would “usually go away” in a few years. They didn’t know why it would sometime recur, and then they said, “Here, please take this fistful of immune-suppressing drugs. Maybe it’ll help.”
During this ordeal, I was doing my own research, ravenously reading everything I could get my hands on. I concluded that there HAD to be an external factor that was causing this to suddenly appear and ravage my wife’s brain. My conclusion? It had to be either toxins or food, and I strongly suspected the latter.
We did our best to clean up our environment – got rid of the non-stick pans, switched to fragrance-free laundry products, stopped drinking soda, and so on. But I was convinced that the real culprit was food. When I told the doctors this, they scoffed at me. “No, it’s absolutely not food. But we don’t know what it is.”
So, I ignored them, and we went on a massive overhaul of our diet. We kicked the Standard American Diet (SAD) to the curb and started eating clean: mostly meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
In six months, eating as much as I wanted (i.e., no counting calories) my body changed:
- I dropped 65 pounds
- My BMI (body mass index) went from 32.7 (obese!) to 23.6 (healthy!)
- My blood pressure dropped to 90/60 (I just turned 60 – not bad for an “old” man!)
- My total cholesterol plummeted to under 120 mg/dL (“normal” is <200)
- My triglycerides plunged to 60 mg/dL (“normal” is under 150)
It was crazy. My primary care physician said, “What are you doing? You have the bloodwork of a teenager!”
Over the course of several years:
- My wife’s autoimmune disease disappeared, and she was able to stop most of the medications
- She went from being wheelchair-bound to using a walker, then to a cane, and now uses no walking aids. This took many years to heal, but her brain HEALED.
- She too dropped weight and all blood chemistry improved as mine did
What exactly is going on here?
The “SAD” Really is Sad
The Standard American Diet which I like to call SAD is killing the people of this country.
In 2020, we spent an eye-popping $4.1 trillion on healthcare, an increase of 9.7%. This is nearly 20% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), yet despite that massive healthcare spending, nearly 50% of Americans have a chronic disease such as hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiac disease, and arthritis. 41% of us are clinically obese. Over the past 15 years, the number of diabetics has more than doubled. The number of overweight children has more than tripled since the 1970s.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is an ongoing national study that surveys Americans about their dietary habits.
In the 2017-2018 data, they show that the average American ate:
- 2100 calories every day
- 16% of the calories are from protein
- 47% from carbohydrates – 22% of which (nearly half) comes from added sugar!
- 36% from fat
The number that should stand out here in glowing neon is that as a population, nearly half our calories come from carbohydrates: sugar, grains, and legumes.
When my wife and I eliminated those as part of our diet (we also cut out dairy which I’ll explain below), our bodies automatically self-regulated and HEALED, and ALL the markers dropped back to what is considered in the healthy range. No pills, no restrictive diets, or anything else. Our bodies just went back to normal. My own severe autoimmune disease, psoriasis, also healed and is now 99% in remission for the first time in my life.
The Food Pyramid Got a Makeover
Do you remember the food pyramid? At the bottom were grains, then fruits and vegetables, then milk and meats/legumes, and at the top fats, oils, and “sweets”, illustrating the amount of each that we’re supposed to be eating to be healthy.
I’m old enough to remember that this has been the mantra of “healthy” eating for a very long time.
However, when we look back in time, we homo sapiens have not evolved to eat this diet. As hunter-gatherers starting 150,000 years ago, we had no access to grains, legumes, or sugar (maybe some honey if we were lucky). Our diets mainly consisted of vegetables, seasonal fruits, and whatever game we could catch. That was it.
When agriculture was developed in Asia about 10,000 years ago, grains and legumes were added to the diet.
Both types of plants produce proteins called lectins, which are designed to prevent them from being eaten. The lectins interact with the lining of insects’ and animals’ (i.e., our own!) gut lining causing the lining to break down and bring on an inflammatory response that causes disease. This is caused by leaky gut syndrome.
You’ve probably heard of gluten. It’s a type of lectin common in grains, and whether or not you’re gluten intolerant, it’s doing damage to your body every time you eat it.
What does our Standard American Diet look like?
- Corn (a grain)
- Fried foods
- Sugary foods
I call them “brown foods”. Granola, which is touted as “healthy”, I call a food bomb: sugar, grains, and dairy.
Cardiac disease, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and a host of other diseases can be directly tied to the consumption of these highly processed simple carbs.
The simple carbs in these foods feed the “bad” gut bacteria in our guts which encourages an inflammatory response from our brain. The brain gets the message that there’s inflammation and it needs to send in the troops.
The T-cells (which are meant to destroy bacteria and viruses) arrive ready to do battle and instead, find nothing to attack. They then attack healthy body parts causing arthritis, inflammation, cardiac disease, diabetes, etc.
Another process called glycation (also called non-enzymatic glycosylation) causes sugar molecules (glucose, fructose, and galactose) to adhere to protein or lipid (fat) molecules in the body. This causes aging of the skin and over time, a lack of elasticity. It’s directly responsible for complications of diabetes mellitus and implicated in other diseases.
The food pyramid got reworked and is now “My Plate“. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and meat, but it still includes grains, legumes, and dairy as part of a healthy diet.
What’s Wrong with Dairy?
When we consume dairy products (milk, cheese, and butter), we’re consuming the milk that is designed to benefit another species – specifically a bovine calf. Milk from mammals is designed to cause leaky gut in the babies to enhance the ability to get nutrients into the growing body – literally to fatten them up as quickly as possible.
It’s not meant to be consumed by adults at all. Dairy is adding to the leaky gut syndrome!
In the USA, most dairy products come from the Holstein Fresian breed of cow. The Holstein has a mutation in its genetic makeup that causes a protein called A1 β-casein. Most European breeds have A2 β-casein.
Human milk and milk from goats and sheep have the A2 variant, not A1. Consumption of A1 β-casein causes gastrointestinal issues which mimic lactose intolerance and lead to internal inflammation.
Reclaim Your Health with Food
When you take charge of your diet, you’re going to see some amazing changes in your body. Food literally is medicine, but you must consume the correct food. Most of what’s in the SAD is not healthy.
Stop eating brown foods. Start eating the rainbow instead: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple!
When I changed what I ate, my body changed, but my shopping habits radically changed too. Now, I ignore 90% of the grocery store because that’s all highly processed, unhealthy foods for the reasons I illustrated here. I only visit the meat and produce sections, so my trip to the store is much shorter too!
With our busy lifestyles, it’s difficult to get an adequate number of fruits and vegetables into our diet. We need 7-10 helpings every day, and depending upon where you live, it may be more difficult to get seasonal foods.
My wife and I have also been using a product called Juice Plus+ for several years now. It’s made of 30 fruits and vegetables condensed into capsule (or gummy) form. I know that it’s giving us tons of nutrition – micronutrients, and phytonutrients – that I wouldn’t get even as carefully as I eat. Their vegan omega blend is a terrific source of omega fatty acids because I can’t stand fish oil capsules (urp).
Thomas Petty has had psoriasis, an autoimmune disease, his entire life and was diagnosed at an early age. After several decades, he became frustrated by the lack of results from traditional options that were offered by his own physicians. He started researching other methods of controlling his skin, and after ten years of reading, researching and experimentation – by healing his gut – he has gotten his skin 99% clear and into almost complete remission.
Coincidentally, his wife became seriously ill (and subsequently permanently disabled) because of a mystery illness that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t figure out. He immersed himself in researching medical conditions, especially other autoimmune (AI) diseases. His wife’s own extremely rare AI disease took the best minds in the field, brain surgery and ultimately over three years to diagnose.
After implementing the changes that Tom had discovered for himself (which the doctors scoffed at), her own AI disease has gone completely into remission and has never returned.
His passion is helping people to get their autoimmune disease into a better state or even into remission.
Thomas lives in the San Francisco Bay Area in California with his wife, Joanne, of over 20 years, and he has two adult step-daughters.
He has been a web designer and online marketer for over 15 years and been involved with technology for over 30 years, including a two-decade IT career at a Fortune 100 company.