Updated: May 22, 2018
Autoimmune disease is an umbrella term for several diseases which include an overactive immune system resulting in chronic inflammation and antibodies that attack the body’s tissues. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are over 80 different autoimmune diseases, which have dramatically increased in incidence and prevalence since World War II.
Considered a pandemic, in the United State it is found much more often in women and is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in female children and women of all age groups. NIH estimates 23.5 million people in the United States have some type of autoimmune disease.
Some of the more common autoimmune diseases include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus, Graves’ disease (hyperthyroidism), Hashimoto’s disease (hypothyroidism), and rheumatoid arthritis. Is there a common thread among some of these diseases?
Let’s start with Crohn’s and colitis. Most gastroenterologists will tell their patients that diet has absolutely nothing to do with their symptoms. Wrong! Why are they telling their patients that? I can only surmise that if their patients knew that their symptoms could be controlled with diet there would be no need to prescribe medications or perform surgeries. How else are they going to make money? Either that, or they are completely ignorant about nutrition. Maybe both.
The truth is, many autoimmune disorders are directly linked to leaky gut syndrome, but doctors don’t really diagnose leaky gut. It’s not even a diagnosis taught in medical school. So, how would anyone know if they have leaky gut? Dr. Weil describes leaky gut as,“The result of damage to the intestinal lining, making it less able to protect the internal environment as well as to filter needed nutrients and other biological substances. As a consequence, some bacteria and their toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorbed may "leak" out of the intestines into the blood stream. This triggers an autoimmune reaction, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes, and autoimmunity.”
Leaky gut happens when tight junctions in the gut, which control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, don't work properly and become permeable. But what causes leaky gut? An overabundance of bad bacteria in the gut causes the immune response of inflammation and over production of antibodies, which contributes to the weakening of the intestinal lining. Consumption of too much chemically processed food is one of the main reasons that leaky gut happens.
Leaky gut is linked to autoimmune disease and digestive disorders, but can be healed or controlled with a very specialized diet and specific supplementation. This includes elimination of certain carbohydrates, sugar, and processed food. It is designed to kill off the bad bacteria while strengthening the intestinal lining. This specialized diet is outlined in the book, Heal Yourself Deliciously, which can be found on Amazon.com.