How to tell if you have an Autoimmune Disease?
There are hundreds of different autoimmune diseases and they all have one thing in common: leaky gut. If you have one or more of the below symptoms you may be struggling with leaky gut and potentially an autoimmune disease as well:
Achy joints or arthritis
Brain fog and headaches
Regular gas and bloating
Chronic constipation or diarrhea
Skin rashes like eczema, rosacea or psoriasis
What’s Leaky Gut?
When our guts are functioning properly, they act as a filter between the outside world and our bodies. As we digest food, it’s broken down into tiny particles of nutrients that are allowed through the gut barrier and into our blood stream. If our gut barrier is damaged (which is the case with leaky gut), microtears in the small intestine are able to let other substances cross into our bloodstream. Undigested food, bacteria, toxins and other waste makes it through the barrier. Once in the bloodstream, the body sees it as a foreign invader and goes into protection mode. The immune system is ramped up and starts to attack the foreign particles.
If we’re genetically predisposed to autoimmune disease, our immune system produces autoantibodies when it’s responding to a threat. When leaky gut is present and foreign particles keep seeping into our bloodstream, the immune system is always firing and producing lots of autoantibodies. As time goes on, these autoantibodies cause damage to different parts of the body and that’s when autoimmune disease develops.
What causes leaky gut?
There are several ways a gut can become leaky, but below are some of the top contenders.
Eating lots of fast food/packaged foods that cause inflammation
Prescription drugs (like antibiotics, birth control and antidepressants)
Regular use of NSAIDS (like asprin)
Regular use of proton pump inhibitors (acid suppressers)
Infections (like h-pylori, norovirus and strep)
Regular exposure to toxins
Heavy alcohol use
Whether or not we develop autoimmunity comes down to three major factors:
Genetics (thanks mom & dad)
Diet & Lifestyle
Today we’re going to focus on the diet & lifestyle piece. One thing nearly all autoimmune diseases have in common is something called intestinal permeability or “leaky gut,” which can oftentimes be reversed through diet and lifestyle changes.
AIP is the best way to heal leaky gut
The best way to get started healing leaky gut and reversing your autoimmune symptoms is by removing potentially inflammatory foods from your diet and increasing the amount of nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods you’re consuming. The diet I use with my autoimmune clients to help heal and seal the gut is called the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).
AIP is a relatively new method to healing autoimmunity but is gaining traction in the mainstream health space. Recently, a study was done that points toward AIP as a healing modality for those with inflammatory bowel disease.
Foods to remove on AIP:
Grains (including pseudo grains like amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa and chia)
Beans with edible pods (green beans and snow peas)
Processed veggie oils
Processed chemicals, preservatives and food stabilizers
Processed sugar and sugar alcohols
Foods to Include on AIP:
Grass fed and pasture raised meat
Wild caught seafood
Vegetables (besides nightshades)
Adequate amounts of water (click here to find out what that amount is for you)
I know the list of things you can’t eat is pretty overwhelming and that you might be thinking, “WTF, Whitney, how do I do this?” Lucky for you, I’ve dedicated a lot of blog space to helping people heal through dietary changes. At the end of this page you’ll find a free AIP meal plan, plus there’s an entire section on Autoimmune Protocol recipes and an AIP store.
If you look this over and still feel like you need extra help getting started, you can apply to work with me for six weeks and make this transition easier.
Autoimmune disease doesn’t have to be a hopeless diagnosis. It’s possible to reverse your symptoms and live an incredible, full life. You just have to commit to making some changes. I believe in you!