Tips For Managing Autoimmune Disease
Tips For Managing Autoimmune Disease
There’s a classic saying said by many, who may not know any better. “Your diet has nothing to do with your disease”. However, as the science of Nutrigenomics shows, what you eat not only provides you with the energy and building blocks for a healthy diet but also directly affects the expression of genes and upregulating or downregulating as required within the body.
Modern food with its many additives, flavours, colours, extracts, binders and fillers has been introduced as a food source without thought to the science of nutrigenomics. Historically we ate whole foods from nature, but now our foods have many newly-introduced chemicals, and nutrient fortifications, where the consequences are now being seen with the number of lifestyle diseases devastating human health.
Autoimmunity is a disease that is increasing in epidemic proportions. Autoimmunity is an umbrella term for over one hundred diseases including; Hashimotos, Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Coeliac disease to name a few. There are many theories as to the cause of this disease, but in simple terms it is where the immune system attacks body parts. In the case of Hashimotos the body starts to attack the thyroid, and in Type 1 diabetes the immune system attacks the beta cells, which are the producers of insulin. In other words, instead of the immune system protecting the body from the outside, it turns on itself.
Autoimmunity as we know it today requires three factors: Genetics, a compromised gastrointestinal tract (GUT) and environmental factors. Knowing that food can help to heal the gut and feed the microbiome (commensal bacteria), you would think that a change in diet should help people diagnosed with autoimmunity. Understanding the science of nutrigenomics means that every bite you eat can either turn on or off genes. It makes perfect sense that diet can help someone with an autoimmune disease.
Here are some dietary changes I would suggest making:
- Eat organic whole foods – this is so you are not exposed to the herbicide glyphosate. This herbicide is also a biocide and antimicrobial, which means it kills your gu bacteria. Glyphosate not only kills the bacteria but also compromises the epithelial lining in the gut allowing food particles and toxins to move into the blood system unhindered, causing an immune response and increasing the chances of activating autoimmunity.
- Avoid gluten – Gluten can open the gates of the gut lining, allowing for the passage of undigested proteins into the blood system once again mounting an immune response. Every time research is done on gluten and an autoimmune disease there seems to be a link, that when gluten is eaten it can increase the antibodies attacking the particular organ or system in the body.
- Change your diet to a Real Food Diet (historical diet) – Stay away from packaged foods filled with unidentifiable additives. The body has not evolved with these chemicals and the ramifications for the body are unknown, but by association the more of these foods you eat (ultra-processed) the higher your chance of a lifestyle disease, including autoimmunity.
- Consume broths and slow-cooked meats to nourish your gut lining and increase the diversity of your gut bacteria.
- Naturally fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, traditional yoghurt all help the established bacteria in the gut thrive, which in turn increases the integrity of the gut lining, and dampens the immune system.
- Eat food as close to its original source as possible – That means going to your farmer’s market and buying individual ingredients to make amazing foods from scratch. It’s important we get back into the kitchen to feed and nourish ourselves and our family to heal a nation.
- And lastly, get out into nature, walk barefoot on the grass, hike through the woods, get sunshine on your face, move your body and then have a great night’s sleep.
Cyndi O’Meara is an Australian nutritionist and best selling author