The Dr. K diet is aimed at treating autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, primarily, but also any autoimmune disorder. This diet is recommended by Dr. Datis Kharrazian DHSC DC MSNeurosci, and corresponds with his book, Why do I still have thyroid symptoms? Dr. Kharrazian, or Dr. K, as he is known, is considered one of the leading experts in non-pharmaceutical applications to chronic illnesses, autoimmune disorders, and complex neurological disorders.
The stated goal of this dietary program is to decrease gut inflammation, reduce pathogenic bacteria in the gut/restore healthy gut bacteria, and repair leaky gut. Dr. K states that, “by calming inflammation in the gut, you will be able to better calm inflammation throughout the body and brain, including autoimmune flare-ups.”
What foods are eaten?
What foods are given up?
A primary recommendation is to eliminate gluten and all foods which can cross-react with gluten, for those who do not find relief with just eliminating gluten. These foods include dairy, chocolate, coffee and sesame. Grains and legumes are eliminated for a few reasons. First, they contain lectins, which are protein-based compounds that have been shown to damage the GI tract and can bind to both insulin and leptin receptors.
Insulin and leptin are both hormones. Insulin is critical to proper blood glucose metabolism and is the primary hormone regulator of both carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Leptin regulates appetite and sends the signal of satiety, or being full. The two hormones also work together in appetite regulation. Since lectins bind to these hormones’ receptors, they are can disrupt normal function of insulin and leptin, leading to insulin and leptin resistance, which contributes to excessive appetite, weight gain.
Excessive weight gain and insulin resistance increases inflammation, which is counterproductive to restoring health and down-regulating autoimmunity. There is also an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s/dementia with insulin resistance.
Dr. K also advises that grains and legumes contain saccharides (sugars) that feed harmful intestinal bacteria, which contribute to increased intestinal permeability. Intestinal permeability is a problem for those with autoimmunity and is even thought to be a cause of autoimmunity, since it allows whole proteins and food antigens to pass through the intestinal barrier, leading to an inflammatory immune response and therefore food sensitivities that contribute to, perpetuate and/or cause autoimmunity. Dr. K includes corn as food to exclude, as the gluten protein in corn is similar to gluten from wheat and can evoke an immune response.
Meal frequency/portion sizes:
No specific recommendations given, although Dr. K is an advocate of blood sugar management via snacking and eating balanced meals and snacks. He recommends not letting oneself get too hungry, which leads to a blood sugar crash and subsequent over eating/blood sugar spike.
On his website, Dr. K discusses modulating nitric oxide and supporting the integrity of the glutathione pathway through nutrient supplementation. He gives names of supplements, however no dosing. One would need to work with a qualified health practitioner to direct dosing and administration. The supplements he lists for modulating nitric oxide, in order to quiet autoimmunity by dampening the TH-1 and TH-2, TH-3 and TH-17 immune pathways and have them behave appropriately. They are as follows:
Dr. K uses these compounds synergistically in an emulsified, drinkable solution, along with glutathione recycling, which he does not elaborate on. Again, consulting a qualified health practitioner who is knowledgeable about such a program for autoimmunity is highly recommended.
There is no pre-packaged diet food, per se. Dr. K recommends a high quality diet. Meat should be free-range or grass fed, with no antibiotics or hormones. Fish should be low mercury and ocean caught. All vegetables, fruits and other plant foods should be organic. Much of the food will require shopping at a grocery store which provides mostly organic food. The noodles recommended will require going to an Asian market. Eating naturally grown, organic/chemical-free is more expensive than eating conventionally, however, one must contemplate the value of avoiding the pitfalls of conventional animal products and produce, regardless of and especially with autoimmunity. With diet being the most important aspect of healing or calming autoimmunity, food must be a priority and adjustments must be made.
Cutting out grains and replacing them with vegetables is typically more expensive. Grains are cheaper than vegetables and are very filling, so the absence of these will be noticed on many levels, including financially. However, it can be very beneficial to increase vegetables, and eliminating or at least decreasing grains can help clear the path. If this way of eating brings relief and restores health, one can and should find ways to make it work.
Dr. K’s diet for autoimmunity is similar to:
All of these diets place an emphasis on high quality meats, animal products and produce and recommend elimination of grains and legumes to protect and restore gut health and support optimal glycemic (blood sugar) control. They are all similar as well to a comprehensive elimination diet for improving gut health, decreasing inflammation/autoimmunity and supporting detoxification/biotransformation.
About the Author
Angie King-Nosseir MS, RD is an Integrative and Functional Registered Dietitian, with a passion for walking with people along their path toward health transformation. Angie has a Master’s degree in Nutrition, is a Certified LEAP Therapist, corporate wellness health coach, freelance nutrition and wellness writer, and certified yoga instructor. She is trained in Functional Nutrition and Medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine and in Food as Medicine through the Center for Mind-Body Medicine.
This blog post was originally published by AutoimmuneMom.com, written by Angie King-Nosseir MS, RD, and first published on Oct 5, 2012.