How Your Digestion is Causing: Autoimmune Disease

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3 Surprising Ways Your Digestive Problems ManifestMaking the connection between a stomach ache and eating something that doesn’t agree with you is fairly obvious.

But did you know that nearly every chronic health symptom can be linked back to the health of your digestion, including the foods you do and don’t eat? Some of these symptoms include:

  • Seasonal allergies
  • Food sensitivities
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Joint pain
  • Skin problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • and a whole lot more...

This series of blog posts will highlight a few of the common complaints I see frequently with my clients, and explain how dietary changes can often be the remedy.

      1. Autoimmune conditions/ Allergies

  First, let’s define what happens during an autoimmune condition, and which illnesses/symptoms are autoimmune in nature.

In simplistic terms, an autoimmune disease develops when your immune system views your healthy cells as foreign, and begins attacking them. Autoimmune diseases can affect one or more types of body tissue. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases including: 

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Celiac disease
  • Psoriasis and Vitiligo
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Addison’s disease
  • Type 1 diabetes 

If none of these resonate with you, great! However, there are many symptoms of immune disfunction that are not quite a full-blown autoimmune disease, yet may still cause discomfort on a daily basis. These include:

  • Allergies
  • inflammation
  • progressive degeneration, joint pain

Do these sound more familiar? I often find that these 3 symptoms progressively get worse with age, and will often be blamed as a ‘part of getting older’.

I refuse to accept that excuse, so let’s go a little deeper into how the food you eat and condition of your digestive system can attribute to these symptoms. 

Intestinal permeability or ‘Leaky Gut’, essentially means that tiny particles of food are passed through the intestinal lining and into the blood stream without being digested. Leaky gut develops over time through repeated exposures of antibiotics, chronic stress, poor dietary habits, consumption of alcohol and use of aspirin and other NSAIDs.  This causes an “attack” of the healthy cells of the immune system and leads to the autoimmune diseases listed above.

The good news is, while certain allergies are inherited, most are a result of digestive problems and dietary stressors - meaning we have the power to improve them or eliminate them completely.

If you are suffering from season allergies, food sensitivities, inflammation or joint pain, a good place to start is an Elimination diet for at least 1 month. This would exclude:

  • Anything processed (cereals, crackers, cookies, breads, etc.)
  • Artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, etc.)
  • Gluten (the protein in grains like wheat, barley, rye, etc.)
  • Dairy (yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.)
  • Man-made oils (canola, vegetable, hydrogenated, etc.)

Want more info on eating real food? Sign up for my free 7 day course below!

Ok, back to gut healing.

During this time you will also want to focus on:

  • ‘healing and sealing’ the gut lining with things like bone broth (homeade is best, or I like this one),  L- glutamine, aloe vera juice (which actually helps the gut lining repair itself- SO cool!), slippery elm, and licorice. (For more digestion tips, go here!
  • If you suffer from a diagnosed autoimmune disease as I listed before, your plan of action will be a little bit more intensive, and also exclude things like eggs, chocolate, coffee, and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes potatoes, peppers, eggplant, paprika, mustard seeds, all chili’s including spices). 

This is not an exhaustive list, and for lots more information on the Autoimmune Protocol check out this website.

The AIP protocol is very restrictive, but if you have a diagnosed autoimmune condition I would definitely recommend following this plan to a T. 

The overall goal of an elimination diet is to allow the digestive tract to regenerate and heal so that you are able to tolerate more foods again without the recurrence of any symptoms.

Let me know if you have any questions about allergies/autoimmune conditions, and stay tuned for Part 2 on mental health!