Body Belief: How to Heal Autoimmune Diseases, Radically Shift Your Health, and Learn to Love Your Body More
By Aimee E. Raupp
Many people come to the Weston A. Price Foundation because they or a loved one are unwell, perhaps suffering from one of the autoimmune diseases that plague our society. Body Belief stands out by incorporating more than just diet, supplements, exercise and stress relief—Aimee Raupp wants readers to understand that healing requires a radical change of belief.
Raupp looks at autoimmunity from both a Western and traditional Oriental medicine perspective, noting how little Western medicine has to offer. She presents an extensive list of symptoms that—if occurring on a regular basis—may indicate an autoimmune disease. The idea is to follow her program for eight weeks and then revisit the list to assess improvement.
While introducing readers to epigenetics, which explains how we can influence the way our genes express themselves with different lifestyle choices, Raupp emphasizes the fact that our brains hear everything we say to our bodies. Her premise is this: just as autoimmunity represents the body attacking itself on the cellular level, on an emotional level people with autoimmune disease are attacking themselves with toxic thoughts. To be truly well, this must stop. Though beliefs directly affect chemicals in the brain, we can change our beliefs by taking an honest look at what we say to ourselves about our self-worth, relationships and ability to heal. Offering tools to change inner conversations to become more healing and uplifting, Raupp proposes a goal of building new habits of thought.
Raupp’s three-phase dietary plan seeks to heal the gut, which is directly involved in autoimmunity. The plan is quite restrictive, going from “prep” to “purify” and finally to a lifelong “reawaken” phase. Raupp encourages people to dive in at their own pace, however, eventually cooking almost everything from scratch and buying only high-quality foods. Some people may find that the most restrictive phase leaves them hungry, and if they are already too thin, they may lose even more weight.
The book lists healing foods that are allowed as well as foods to avoid, which include dairy, legumes, grains and pseudo-grains, nuts and seeds, nightshades, egg whites, alcohol and coffee. Raupp distinguishes between commercial versus grass-fed, hormone-free and antibiotic-free dairy products but argues that dairy contributes to a leaky gut and isn’t friendly for those with autoimmune diseases. From her perspective, individuals should heal before adding back butter, cream, yogurt or cheese. While this may be true for some, Raupp does not acknowledge that for others, whole, raw and fermented grass-fed dairy products are an important aid in gut healing.
Raupp also lists “foodstuffs” that even healthy people should never eat again, including gluten, soy, added sugars, artificial sweeteners, food chemicals and processed vegetable oils. I understand the rationale for most of these, but is it really necessary for a healthy person with healthy digestion to avoid gluten-containing grains for life? No more artisan sourdough bread slathered with grass-fed butter? Oh, break my heart! I don’t see why people who tolerate gluten-containing grains should not enjoy them, if properly prepared. Raupp does recommend plenty of top-quality bone broth, liver, seafoods, fish roe, pasture-raised meats, egg yolks, sweet potatoes, roots and other vegetables, cultured vegetables, cultured ghee and organic olive and coconut oils. All very wise, for sure. The book ends with recipes that follow the outline of her three-phase healing plan.
Some personal adjustments to the Body Belief protocol may be necessary. However, Raupp’s focus on body-mind healing, deeply and intrinsically nourishing foods and other healthy habits and healing modalities are enough to give this book a thumbs up!