Is your makeup bag the most likely cause of your autoimmune disease? Environmental toxins.

The Autoimmune disease series.


Long ago I watched The Autoimmune Disease Summit and watched a talk given by Aristo Vojdani, PhD, who is focusing his research on environmental triggers, which include toxic chemicals, infections, dietary proteins and peptides, in complex diseases.

Vojdani has found  that toxic chemicals account for around 50-60% of autoimmune diseases.  He implies that this is the most important area to consider when treating such a disease.

He says that 30-40% are caused by dietary factors and 10% by infections.

The words resounded in my ears so much that I kept my notes and have to bring them to you today:

“Autoimmunity is the body fighting back”… It is a “protective adaption”.

This might seem to be really unhelpful right now…to hear that your body is actually doing the best it can with what it has to deal with.  But when you understand the mind boggling numbers involved in this, you may start to see this in a whole new light.

He explains that it takes the body about 1,000 years to adapt to a new environment.

In the last 100 years we have seen a chemical explosion.

The very air that we breathe is tainted, with clouds of toxic chemicals shadowing our lives.  Mercury is pumped into our air at a rate of 6 million pounds per year.

Toxic metals have become a pervasive threat and can be hard to eliminate from your system. Amalgam fillings (mercury), bridges and braces (nickel) in your mouth and vaccinations are laced with these hazardous metals.

Our water supplies are also heavily polluted and we are often encouraged to drink more water to stay healthy.   Our seas are also taking a huge pollution hit.  Eating fish now carries a health warning, with children advised against eating tuna, marlin and swordfish, as levels of mercury are concentrated higher up the food chain.

Professor Chris Exley is a world specialist in aluminium.  He explains how pervasive this neurotoxin is:

It is in cosmetics, sunscreens and antiperspirants, as well as being used as a buffering agent in medications like aspirin and antacids. It is even used in vaccines. We know aluminium can be toxic, yet there is no legislation to govern how much of it is present in anything, apart from drinking water.”

“When the amount of aluminium consumed exceeds the body’s capacity to excrete it, the excess is then deposited in various tissues, including nerves, brain, bone, liver, heart, spleen and muscle,” he explains. “We call it the ‘silent visitor’ because it creeps into the body and beds down in our bones and brain.”

There are more than 80,000 chemicals in our commercial products with around 10,500  ingredients used in personal care products, according to the Environmental Working Group.  Parabens, pthalate esters, sodium laurel sulphate, chlorine, fluorine.  These things are in our soaps, lotions, toothpastes, deodorants and even in the water that we drink.

“Fragrance can often be behind many adverse reactions to traditional beauty products, causing skin rashes, asthma, and even headaches,”

“Fragrances are considered to be among the top five known allergens, with one in every 50 people suffering possible immune system damage, according to the EU’s Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-food Products.”…

Dr. Lipman, An Integrative & Functional Medicine Physician and founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center.

Mascara may seem fairly innocuous and an unlikely source of fragrance ingredients, but they’re often used in makeup to cover up harsh chemical odours. Certain fragrance compounds can cause issues such as  headaches,  and asthma.  Some mascaras also include retinyl palmitate and parabens, which  can mimic estrogen and disrupt your endocrine system.

Most of the time we have absolutely no idea what we are slapping on our faces or under our armpits.

Arsenic, mercury, aluminum, zinc, chromium and iron have all been found in cosmetic products such as foundation, nail varnish, lipstick, eyeliner and mascara.

But even when we have left the house there is a new arsenal to consider;

In addition to this the acidity levels in  fizzy drinks can cause leaching of such phenols from its plastic container or the lining of the aluminium can that it is in.

Packaging and it’s plastic chemicals is another source of problems.

Even if you feel that your autoimmune disease has no basis in such a toxic soup, this daily assault on your body is going to divert valuable resources from your body, hampering its efforts of healing your already compromised body.  This persistent lethal cocktail is not going to help you in any way and so doing everything that you can to minimise your risk of exposure can only be a benefit.

If you feel like you may have chemical issues and sensitivities then Cyrex labs offer tests (array 11); that test for responses against 12 of the most common environmental chemicals.

So ten things that you can do to reduce your risk of chemical exposure:
  1. Keep an eye on your dental work – minimise your risk.
  2. Make your own beauty products.
  3. Get a water filter and consider an ioniser/air purifier for your home.
  4. Use glass drinking bottles (or stainless steel – although you need to check the quality as aluminium can even be in these)
  5. Ensure pipework to your house is ‘safe’.
  6. Cut fish from your diet.
  7. Eat organic to avoid pesticide, fungicide, herbicide and GMO ridden foods.
  8. Re-consider the pesticide fed meat source that you use and it’s antibiotics and hormone use.
  9. Ensure that you minimise prescription drugs – another source of disruptive chemicals (check out the side effects)
  10. Swim in the sea rather than a chlorinated swimming pool.
Want to get started?

Click here for some ideas on making your own toothpaste.

This might seem overwhelming to you right now…(so just imagine how it feels for your body!).  Just start small and introduce changes when you can.

Next week I’ll be looking at ways of getting this stuff out of your system, gently.

With love

Gemma x

A Butternut Squash Seedy Dip

The Autoimmune Disease Series


This dip is divine, my whole family declared it a winner.

I have never been one for making dips.  I find them a bit fussy and get overwhelmed by the work needed to create an array of tempting dishes that then need to be set alongside meticulously crafted crudités.

This recipe has been born from a collaboration with my friend Kay.  We are putting together a cookbook to support people with Autoimmune and other chronic diseases.

Let me assure you that this butternut squash seedy dip is absolutely worth the work involved and is actually very straightforward.

I aim to try it again, leaving the skin on the squash and then that will make the preparation much easier.

Kay has perfectly balanced the sweetness of the squash with the earthy tahini and the tangy acidity of the lemon juice.  Try it and love it.  Do let me know your thoughts on this in the comment section.  It would be great to hear any ideas from you.

Avoid this recipe if you have a sensitivity to  sesame.

Butternut squash seedy dip

  • 1 large butternut squash, (leave skin on) – cut in half or into smaller chunks to cook quicker
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 30g tahini
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 small clove of garlic crushed or finely chopped.
  • 1 tsp mixed black and/or white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
  • your choice of crudités such as carrot, cucumber, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, olives or fennel.
  • Black pepper


  1. Spread squash in a medium roasting tin, mix with sunflower oil and cinnamon.
  2. Cover with foil and roast for 1-hour stir once
  3. Once cool process with tahini, lemon and garlic until a course paste
  4. Spread on a plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped parsley, drizzle with date syrup
  5. Serve with sliced celery, carrot, cauliflower, broccoli, olives, fennel or cucumber.  Don’t forget some black pepper.

You could also serve it alongside a hummus dip or guacamole.

In this image I drizzled the dish with date syrup, which I think is unnecessary given the sweetness of the dish.

Don’t forget to make up a forfeit for whoever drops their crudités in the dip !

Gemma x

Don’t eat protein?

The Autoimmune Disease Series

All our lives we have been told that protein is necessary for building and repairing the body and that we need a certain amount of it each day to maintain our turnover of cells.  By the end of this blog I hope to suggest that there might be a case for eliminating all protein when you are trying to heal your body from an auto immune or other chronic disease.

For a long time now I have been assembling pieces of this autoimmune puzzle and the thing that I keep coming back to is protein.  Time and time again I keep hearing how it is amino acids, the building blocks of protein that are creating inflammation and triggering disease symptoms.

Dr Ben Kim stresses the need for a low protein diet when treating autoimmune diseases:

“Leaky gut syndrome can cause incompletely digested food to enter your bloodstream. And the most problematic incompletely digested food group in autoimmune illness is protein.”

“My clinical experiences have led me to believe that animal-based protein, especially when cooked at high temperatures, tends to contribute to antigen-antibody complex formation in people with autoimmune illness more easily than plant-based protein.”

“If possible, I even recommend staying away from all animal-based protein for a period of six months to give your digestive tract complete rest from having to digest animal protein. During such a time, it is best to avoid eating large amounts of protein-dense plant foods as well, such as nuts, seeds, and legumes. So long as you eat plenty of vegetables, especially green ones like broccoli, lettuce, and cabbage, you will get plenty of protein for your daily needs.”

There are amino acids in all foods: Dr Tom O Brien, another Doctor that I recently featured here has shown that gluten, the amino acid in wheat is very damaging to our gut wall.  It tears holes in it and that, he states is whether or not you are celiac.  So gluten (among other things) can damage your gut, but then those undigested proteins get through the gut wall and start their damage.

In Unblind My Mind, the Ted X talk that I recently featured on this blog,  Dr Katie Reid, adds to this protein puzzle.  She makes the connection with glutamates being bound in the amino acid chains found in the proteins of wheat (gluten) and dairy (casein),  causing issues when our modern processing methods break down the chains and release these glutamates.  She is particularly concerned with the neurotoxicity and over excitation of the nervous system and organs that is created when these free glutamates hit our system.  Is anxiety, diabetes  or depression one of your symptoms?

Dr Gerson was healing cancer patients.  Here the body needs to completely regenerate.   So surely there must have been huge amounts of protein in his dietary protocol?  No.  This is the Gerson take:

“As we go through life, we become less able to digest animal proteins.  These poorly digested, incompletely broken down parts linger in the body as toxins.”

Healing The Gerson Way, by Charlotte Gerson

The main part of his protocol was juicing, mainly vegetables (oh and did I mention the coffee enemas?).  There is enough plant based protein/amino acids in vegetables to sustain even this intensive healing process.

So far each of the Doctors that I have mentioned have pointed the finger at protein molecules causing inflammation or toxicity in one way or another.

So what if you were to simply eliminate protein from your diet?

What, all protein?

Yes kind of.

Watch this:

Thanks to Raederle Phoenix for this inspiration.  I found this clip on her blog.

For some of you, I might just have triggered a lot of exasperated what? where? how’s?

But for those of you who are really searching for an end to their symptoms, please know that I am just searching for the truth and letting you know what I find.

Now go get juicing!

With love from

Gemma x