If you have ever wondered if there is a connection between what you are eating and your autoimmune disease symptoms, I am here to tell you that the answer is a resounding YES.
Intestinal Permeability or “leaky gut” is recognized to be the genesis of autoimmune disease. Our intestinal lining is what is separating our digestive system from our bloodstream. The tight junctions that make up our intestinal wall are supposed to allow only nutrients to pass through into the bloodstream. When the intestinal wall is compromised by chronic stress, environmental toxins, alcohol, sugar, overuse of antibiotics, poor diet, gluten, and dysbiosis, the tight junctions can loosen, allowing larger molecules to enter the bloodstream. Along with harmful bacteria, viruses and pathogens, larger food proteins can leak into the bloodstream, and the immune system flags these food proteins as a foreign invader. The immune system is doing its job--going to war for you to launch an attack on these food particles that have invaded the bloodstream, and they release mediators, like cytokines, which create inflammation. Remember, inflammation is part of the body’s healing process. When we get a cut on our finger, the area becomes red and inflamed because our immune system is doing its job. Inflammation is a normal, healthy response. The leaky gut is really to blame for creating this confusion for the immune system that thinks is doing its job to fight for you! The immune system is innately intelligent, and once it starts attacking certain food proteins or healthy tissues, in the case of RA, it remembers them, just like it does a virus, so it becomes very hard to reverse.
In an attempt to relieve symptoms, we want to work on healing the gut and removing foods that may be triggering an immune response. You can work with a qualified practitioner who can run lab tests to see which foods your blood is reacting to and to look for signs of patterns that point to intestinal permeability, or you can experiment with food alone. An elimination diet, like AIP, removes common potentially inflammatory foods from the diet for a period of 3 months, and then each food can be reintroduced one by one. This strategy is an attempt to calm the reactivity of the immune response which is, as mentioned above, creating inflammation that can manifest in joint pain, skin inflammation, fatigue, brain inflammation, and more. Gluten is the one of the biggest contributors to leaky gut as it initiates a protein release in the gut called zonulin, which has been implicated in loosening the tight junctions of the intestinal wall. The AIP diet excludes not only gluten, but all grains, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshade vegetables, and legumes. Giving the immune system a chance to calm down can give many autoimmune disease sufferers relief from symptoms. It is meant to be temporary, so that’s why these foods are reintroduced after a few months. We want to give the immune system time to “forget” the foods it is reacting to, and we want to allow the gut time to heal. Probiotic-rich foods like raw sauerkraut and kimchi as well as bone broths can be very nourishing to the gut. Consuming these foods along with an AIP diet can help to provide relief in some people struggling with autoimmune disease.
We have more power than the conventional medical model allows us to believe! With some dietary modifications, many will find symptomatic relief. It takes a little discipline and persistence, but there are resources available, and increasingly more options available for purchase, like EAT G.A.N.G.S.T.E.R. baking mixes which are 100% AIP compliant. Elimination diets can feel frustrating at times and EAT G.A.N.G.S.T.E.R.’s mission is to bring freedom and joy back to those on healing, restorative diets. We see your efforts to do what YOU CAN do to help reverse symptoms, and we support you with our products!