July 2018

Dietary Impact on Health

Meet Jeanette, she has lupus. (A chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. This results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs.)

(Jeanette mentions PatientsLikeMe in her video. PatientsLikeMe is a free website where people can share their health data to track their progress, help others, and change medicine for good. It’s an online community with over 2,500+ conditions.)

Now, the rest of the story.

Jeanette says she turned to dietary changes when she stopped taking Plaquenil due to severe side effects, including retina damage. She started logging her food intake for a few weeks, she noticed how some of her favorite foods were causing issues ranging from stomach pains to full inflammation. That’s when she started paying close attention to what her body was telling her and realized she needed to do something about it.

Jeanette didn’t go on any specific diet at first, she started eliminating certain foods like sugar (which was causing major fatigue and pain), garlic (causing major inflammation in her knees), eggplants (fatigue and pain in her feet), bean sprouts (stomachaches) and alfalfa (full inflammation and full flare) — some of the known foods that lupus patients shouldn’t eat [learn more at lupus.org].

Then Jeanette noticed how meat was causing fatigue and noticed inflammation directly in her knees. She gave up red meat for two weeks, felt good and noticed a reduction of pain. Then she gave up chicken the following two weeks and felt even better. “It was so amazing that I decided to give it up for good.” After the first few months without meat, my doctor started noticing my blood work was improving drastically, so she began reducing her medications since she was no longer flaring or feeling pain. After a full year she reduced all medications to zero and even stopped infusions.

(Everyone is different, so these foods and dietary changes may not affect you the same way. Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian about finding foods that work for you.)


Who is administering your COBRA? If it’s an insurance carrier they may not be administering all aspects of the eligible benefits. Read and make notes, better yet verify your COBRA plan is being properly administered. The fines for failing to do so can be staggering.

COBRA provides former employees, spouses, and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates. But you knew that. And most likely you know it covers dental and vision. However, did you know it covers EAP, GAP (group, not individual), Telemedicine, FSA and HRA plans?

The tricky administration comes FSA, the rules are based the 12-month plan year, which might not be the calendar year. If an employee has funds remaining in their FSA account at the end of the plan year they may not be able to use it in the next plan year. i.e. If the FSA is a December 1 to November 30 and an employee terminates on June 5, 2018, if they elected COBRA, that participation would end on November 30, 2018.

HRA accounts can also cause issues. HRA dollars must be available to COBRA participants. Employer’s may not like paying medical bills of former employees, it drives up their utilization rate.
Remember, COBRA was set up to protect employees, not employers.

Thanks to Susan Luskin, Diversified Administration www.div125.com, for her excellent CE class “If we have an Individual Mandate, why do we still need COBRA?” The above is a small, but important, part of her class.


Employee Benefit Advisors provides employee benefits, tax-advantaged healthcare, compliance guidance for ACA and Health & Welfare DOL Audits, and PEO Advisory & Consulting Services.

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