The Immune System Recovery Plan

Author: Susan Blum, MD
Publisher: SCRIBNER
Book Publication: 2013

Conventional treatment of autoimmune disease is mainly done with powerful immunosuppressive drugs. Unfortunately these don’t always work and are known to have serious side-effects. In her new book, The Immune System Recovery Plan, one of the most sought-after experts in the field of functional medicine, Dr. Susan Blum, offers the millions suffering from autoimmune disorders an option – one that is safe, effective and meant to not just manage the disease, but eventually cure it.

At its core, The Immune System Recovery Plan is about how our immune system works, and what you can do to fix it if it’s not functioning optimally. Researchers studying the different causes of autoimmune disease (which is the medical equivalent of friendly fire where the immune system turns against the body and attacks its own healthy cells and tissues) suggest they all have a lot in common. Microbes, environmental toxins like mercury, allergens to foods such as gluten, stress and poor diet are all associated with several different autoimmune conditions. The aim of Dr. Blum’s four step plan – using food as medicine, understanding the stress connection, healing the gut, and supporting the liver – is to remove these root causes.

The Immune System Recovery Plan is divided into four parts to correspond with the four step plan, with each part broken down into three chapters: explanations on how the immune system is affected (i.e. how the immune system responds to stress or how digestive health influences the immune system); a workbook with assessment tools and treatment guidelines; and recipes that show you how to use food as part of your personalized treatment plan. In the section ‘Using Food as Medicine,’ Blum clearly explains why food matters, and how certain foods may act as triggers for autoimmune diseases while others can positively effect your particular body chemistry. The take-away here is that we should be choosing our food based not just on calories, but how it affects us on a cellular level. For Blum, the most important food to look at in connection with autoimmune diseases is gluten. Based on research from her own practice, Blum makes a gluten-free diet a mandatory part of all her treatment programs (ditto for processed sugars and trans-fats).

The workbook portion of this section introduces Blum’s food elimination and challenge program to explore any food sensitivities one may have to gluten, dairy, soy and corn. An “eliminate and replace” chart is included for easy reference. Once the three week elimination is finished, reintroduction of the four foods mentioned begins, one at a time. With each reintroduction one self-assesses the symptoms that may arise (bloating, headache, joint pain, hot flashes) using the chart provided.

There is an abundance of valuable information, suggestions, and tips throughout the book such as: identifying foods with the highest hidden sugar content and ideas for substitutions; sources for heavy metal and other toxins; correct supplementation with vitamins and minerals for immune support; ways to reduce stress; mindful eating strategies, and a pantry shopping list. Additionally, and perhaps one of the more appealing features of the book, is the inclusion of a variety of yummy-sounding recipes meant to help you create “tasty, satisfying, gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and corn-free meals that are calming to your immune system.”

This program requires considerable changes to diet and lifestyle so it is fitting that Dr. Blum shares her own, as well as a number of her patients’, inspiring stories of recovering from their autoimmune disease(s) following her plan. Another real plus of The Immune System Recovery Plan is Dr. Blum’s keen ability to explain all the medical information without being overwhelming or condescending.

If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and want to balance your immune system and transform your health without taking a pill that just masks problems and could be potentially dangerous, then you will want to pick up a copy and get started on Dr. Blum’s recovery plan.

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Susannah Kent is a Toronto area Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Instructor.

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