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Autoimmune Disease And The Gut Connection

 

There is a growing body of research that has linked autoimmune disease to the health of the gut, because around 80% of our immune cells are located in the gastrointestinal tract, which means that our gut health is closely linked to immune function and could contribute to the development of an autoimmune disease.

Through research findings, scientists and medical professionals now know that three conditions must be in place to cause virtually all autoimmune disorders:

  1. A genetic predisposition to autoimmunity
  2. Exposure to one or more environmental trigger (such as dust mites, mould, smoking, or climate) and;
  3. Increased intestinal permeability ('leaky gut')

Hippocrates, a Greek physician was known as the ‘Father of Medicine’ in recognition to his contribution to the medical field and how he understood the relationship between the gut and our physical health when he famously stated, “All diseases begin in the gut”. This statement was made over 2000 years ago and in a time when Hippocrates also stated that all diseases were caused naturally and not because of superstition and goods as was so widely believed. In his writings, the Greek physician also explained his understanding of the role of nutrition and how it is therapeutic in its holistic medicine by further proclaiming, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.

What can cause disruption to the gut and the intestinal barrier?

Some things that may have a negative effect on the gut, causing damage and disruption to the gastrointestinal lining and intestinal barrier are:

  • A bad diet - Have you ever heard someone say ‘food can either fuel health or it can fuel disease?’ Well, it most likely does, and it does this by damaging a once healthy gut.
  • Food triggers such as gluten and dairy
  • Dysbiosis (an imbalance of good and bad bacteria)
  • Processed foods and sugar
  • Stress and unresolved emotional trauma - high levels of cortisol (our primary stress hormone) can play a role in damaging our gut, particularly if it’s ongoing prolonged stress. Stress can also affect our brain-gut communication, and it can interfere with the digestive process triggering pain, bloating and other discomfort to be felt more easily
  • Excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption
  • GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods
  • Over consumption of antibiotics and prescription medications
  • Heavy metals
  • Underlying infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, parasites)
  • Smoking
  • Hormone imbalances - Imbalances in the hormones (such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormones) have all been linked to sluggish digestion and slow healing of intestinal damage. If you are finding that your gut health is not improving despite your best efforts, you may need to focus on balancing your your hormones first
  • Blood sugar problems

Supporting Gut Healing

Taking care of your gut is very important whether you have digestive issues or not, especially with an autoimmune disease.

There are things you can and should be doing right now to take care of your gut such as;

Consuming anti-inflammatory foods


Including anti-inflammatory foods helps to heal the gut and manage autoimmune disease symptoms. Anti-inflammatory foods include turmeric, avocado, berries, and Omega-3-rich oily fish such as salmon, herring and sardines.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics are living strains of bacteria that add to the population of good bacteria in the digestive system and prebiotics are special plant fibers that feed the good bacteria in your gut and helps healthy bacteria grow.
Consuming prebiotics and probiotics either naturally and/or through supplementation are an excellent way to increase beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut kefir and apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be an excellent source of probiotics. Prebiotic foods include onion, garlic, leek, asparagus, artichoke and bananas.

Reducing stress


Reducing stress is essential to support gut healing and a healthy immune function, as stress hormones can lead to inflammation which impacts the balance of gut bacteria. Introducing techniques to help manage stress such as daily meditation, prayer, deep breathing or other mindfulness practices will help to calm the nervous system, reduce stress, and help let go of limiting beliefs and any unresolved traumas and emotions.

Staying well hydrated

 

Our bodies are made up of about 70% water, so drinking enough fluids is important for optimal health.
Among its many functions in the body, water and hydration is essential for keeping the gut healthy and the digestive system working well. Water works with the stomach’s acids to break down the foods that we consume. It is required for the absorption of nutrients into your blood, and it also travels through the digestive system, allowing for easier bowel movements and preventing constipation.

Reducing alcohol consumption


Alcohol can have an affect on the microbiome and on the intestinal barrier, which can cause cellular damage and increased permeability. Alcohol also has negative effects on the healthy gut bacteria. Whilst healing the gut, reducing alcohol consumption can allow the good bacteria in the gut to come back and it will also improve your overall health.

Mindful eating

 

Perfect your eating hygiene by eating mindfully, chewing food well, minimising beverages with meals (if you are drinking, make sure that the drink isn’t ice cold as this can impact important digestive enzymes). And, take breaths between bites and eat in a relaxed manner.

Elimination diet


Consuming foods you react to may trigger or exacerbate leaky gut, irrespective of whether it's a typical ‘gut healing’ food. What is gut healing for one person may be contraindicated for another, as we all have different ancestral heritages and come from various geographic areas. Elimination diets can help clear the slate and establish a baseline to discern which foods may cause inflammation for an individual.
Elimination diets typically exclude some of the most antigenic foods for a short trial period, followed by reintroduction slowly to assess tolerance. Some of the foods elimination diets typically remove are things such as gluten, dairy, corn, grains, soy, eggs, and shellfish.

Using natural supplements

 

There are a handful of supplements and herbs that have helped me personally with my gut healing journey over the years.
Some of these are:
- Digestive enzymes
- Probiotics
- Slippery Elm
- Turkey Tail
- Marshmallow Root
- Fennel

One product that I love in particular is ‘Supercharged Food Golden Gut Powder’ by Supercharged Food founder Lee Holmes.
Lee is a Qualified Clinical Nutritionist who after being diagnosed with a non specific autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia, she decided to take matters into her own hands by changing her diet and using holistic natural healing to help improve her symptoms.
The Golden Gut Powder contains a combination of ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, spices such as cinnamon, and ‘Love Your Gut’ diatomaceous earth which can help to improve nutrient absorption digestion and regulation. It can be a beautiful gut-loving addition to your gut healing regime.

You can purchase the Golden Gut Powder online here.

Juicing

 

Consuming juice can up your nutrient intake by providing the body with pure natural nutrition. By putting the most nutritious fuel from fresh fruits and vegetables into your system, it gives your body a break as the digestive system is not needing to use the energy to break down solid foods, and it allows the body to absorb optimal nutrients.

Click here to read our other blog ‘Juicing To Improve Gut Health’.

 

 

Check out some of these gut healing products in our online store:

Gevity Bone Broth Body Glue

Kintra Foods Tulsi Gut Herbal Tea Bags

Evolution Botanicals Turkey Tail

Wonder Foods Slippery Elm Powder

Guthealth 3in1 MultiFibre Prebiotics & Probiotics

Goli Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies

 

Evolution Botanicals, Turkey Tail Immune Protection - Organic
Evolution Botanicals, Turkey Tail Immune Protection - Organic
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$57.99
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$57.99
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Gevity RX Bone Broth Concentrate Natural (390g)
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$35.49
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Goli Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies 60 Pieces
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$34.95
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$34.95
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KINTRA FOODS Herbal Tea Bags Tulsi Gut (25)
KINTRA FOODS Herbal Tea Bags Tulsi Gut (25)
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$8.95
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$8.95
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Supercharged Food Golden Gut Powder (100g)
Supercharged Food Golden Gut Powder (100g)
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$19.95
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$19.95
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Wonder Foods Slippery Elm (150g)
Wonder Foods Slippery Elm (150g)
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$34.99
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$34.99
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