As I put the finishing touches on my forthcoming book on autoimmune disease, I want to say a few words on the connection between autoimmune disease, diet and vegetable diversity.
Medicine, at its essence, is really an attempt to understand the cause of any medical condition in as profound a way as possible. This undertaking is often where conventional medicine fall shorts, as cause and effect become confused. The simplest example I give to my patients is that if you get a splinter in your finger and don’t take it out, soon pus will form around the splinter. In this example, it is clear that the splinter is the “disease” and the pus is the “therapy” for the splinter. If one thinks the splinter is an infection that must be treated, it is clear that the real “disease” (the splinter) will not resolve.
This type of confusion is played out in doctor’s offices every day when a smoker comes in with “bronchitis.” In this case, the disease is smoking and the cough, mucus and fever are the body’s attempt to clear the smoke debris from the lungs. Unfortunately, doctors are trained to stop the bronchitis with antibiotics, leaving the patient with unresolved debris in their lungs. This result could put the patient on the path to chronic lung disease.
In autoimmune disease, a phenomenon whose incidence has sky-rocketed in the past few decades, we are told that the patient is over-producing antibodies, which are attacking their own tissues, causing chronic inflammation and tissue destruction. Conventional medical theory states that the elevated antibodies are the “cause” of the disease and are reduced through the use of a variety of medicines. Unfortunately, as in our splinter example, while the symptoms may temporarily abate, the underlying illness is not addressed and even, at times, is made worse by the attack on the antibodies.
Antibodies are one of the main tools the body uses to protect itself against unwanted invaders. These invaders come in many forms, which I outline in the upcoming book, but they include antigens entering the bloodstream through an inflamed and leaky gut. This process has been well documented in the case of celiac disease and is being recognized as a component of virtually all autoimmune diseases. Physicians of antiquity were accurate when they stated that all disease starts in the gut.
To heal the gut, a number of principles must be followed, one of which is the consumption of only organic foods. Most conventionally grown food in the U.S. is contaminated with the herbicide Roundup, whose active ingredient is glyphosate. Glyphosate increases the zonulin concentration within the gut, which makes the gut more leaky to large proteins, i.e., antigens. The leakage of large proteins into the blood stream stimulates the body’s production of antibodies to neutralize these proteins, initiating the autoimmune process. Anyone dealing with an autoimmune disease must eat only organic, Biodynamic or wild foods.
Autoimmune disease is also very much connected with the health and diversity of the microbiome. Special foods, like leeks, beets and various greens, are particularly helpful in establishing a healthy gut flora. For this and other reasons, people with autoimmune conditions should eat a wide variety of types and colors of vegetables every day. Dr. Cowan’s Garden products can help with this endeavor. By providing easy-to-use, organically grown vegetables, we can help you with a gut-restoration project — an important first step in anyone’s quest to address the root cause of this all-too-common disease for modern Americans.
Tom Cowan, M.D.
During this time of relative uncertainty, we have decided to renew our commitment to gardening. Dr. Cowan’s Garden was originally a place, located in Napa Valley on a plot of land generously donated by a friend. It embodied our ideals and was a sanctuary for growth and learning.
The garden was our muse for new product offerings and for improving existing ones. The garden kept our ambitions grounded to certain fundamentals, as the practice of gardening can be challenging.