Healing Autoimmune Disease through Diet and Lifestyle Modification
Inflammation is a pathological condition underlying a number of diseases including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and chronic inflammatory diseases".
In recent years, the research has overwhelmingly supported the fact that inflammation is at the root of most autoimmune diseases including but not limited to Hashimoto's thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, etc. By addressing the underlying inflammation through modifying one's diet, one can reverse autoimmune disease and its symptoms.
A diet high in grains, dairy, starches, and sugars can be detrimental to human health because of how these foods and their constituents alter the microbiome in the gut. The human gut has over 100 trillion bacteria and yeasts living within it which help to digest food and ultimately fuel the function of nearly all of the cellular activity that takes place in our bodies. When we consume a diet high in sugar and starches, processed grains and toxins, this creates an imbalance of the "good" and "bad" bacteria in our gut, which can lead to inflammation and a wide range of health problems.
Diet, gut health, and immunity are intertwined.
Leaky gut is a condition that takes place when little holes begin to form in our intestines, allowing food particles to leak into our bloodstream and further creating and adding to widespread inflammation in the body. This process happens over time through destruction of the integrity of the gut lining by way of toxins, chemicals, and antibiotics from the food that we eat, our environment, and the products we use on our skin and in our homes.
(3) Along with diet being a key component of inflammation, mental and emotional stress play a major role as well. Chronic stress essentially makes us sick by feeding the bad bacteria in our gut and impairing the integrity of our intestinal lining. The fewer good bacteria you have in your gut, the fewer positive neurotransmitters you have which help to support our response to stress and elevate our mood.
On the path to healing from inflammation and autoimmune disease, it is imperative to decrease stress both emotionally and physically.
This can be done by calming down our nervous system through journaling, low impact exercise such as taking a walk, meditating, taking a day off of work to rest, watching a funny show, etc. The options are endless. By creating a positive environment for decreasing stress in our lives, we can directly strengthen our intestinal lining and feed the good bacteria in our gut, elevate our mood, and decrease inflammation.
Introducing anti-inflammatory foods into our diet such as wild caught fish and high- quality meats, fermented foods, organic fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fats (Omega 3's) found in nuts and seeds can ultimately regulate our immune system and decrease our negatively programmed inflammatory cascade.
(1,2) At the same time, eliminating pro-inflammatory foods that are damaging to your health such as trans fats, hydrogenated oils, processed and refined carbohydrates, sugar, conventional dairy, and gluten can create a healing environment in our gut.
Lastly, it is absolutely crucial to include a routine of physical activity for a healthy body, mind, and spirit, in addition to decreased inflammation. Aim for 20-30 minutes of exercise per day of your choosing: strength training, walking, running, Pilates, or yoga. A combination of physical activity, stress relief, limiting pro-inflammatory foods, and nourishing your body with whole nutrient-dense foods will set you on a path towards freedom from chronic inflammation and disease. According to Dr. Josh Axe who is a leading expert today in gut health, "the first step to healing yourself is healing your gut".