Hi there! I’m Emily Stauch, and I’m here to chat with you again about the benefit of changing your diet after an autoimmune disease diagnosis. You may be on the fence wondering if what you eat really affects your health today and in the future. Well, let me give you some reasons why you should try it an autoimmune disease diet if you have been diagnosed with any type of autoimmune disease.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links which just means if you purchase from the links provided, I may get a small commission at no additional cost to you! At Flawed yet Functional, I only reference products that have real value that I actually use.
Is an Autoimmune Disease Diet the Best Next Step After Diagnosis?
Life-changing medicine aside (I’m looking at you, insulin!), yes, changing your diet to an autoimmune friendly one is a great next course of action after you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Some autoimmune diseases are life-threatening and required immediate medical attention. The purpose of this article is not to convince you to disregard your doctor’s advice and care. If you need medicine to make your body function, then you most definitely should take it! Doctors are experts in their field and fixing acute symptoms. You should take their advice.
However, medical practitioners who are not up-to-date on current nutritional research may miss a vital piece of your healthcare. That is where the internet becomes a great asset in your autoimmune disease management. Look for nutritional solutions. Read medical journal articles about studies of food and autoimmune disease. The information is out there for you to find, digest (mentally), and implement in your life. While your doctor may be skeptical at first, when they see the dramatic improvement in your symptoms, they will (hopefully) be on board!
Many autoimmune diseases are triggered by food (environment, exercise, and genetics also play a role). So there is great gain by identifying the food triggers that are either causing or exacerbating your autoimmune symptoms. You may find that your medicinal needs decrease or subside altogether once your gut is healed and your diet helps you maintain a healthy body.
- Role of “Western Diet” in Inflammatory Autoimmune Diseases
- Autoimmune disease: how an anti-inflammatory diet and regular exercise can tame symptoms
- Diet, Arthritis and Autoimmune Diseases
- Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome
But what is an anti-inflammatory diet and why should I try it?
Why Should I Try an Anti-inflammatory Diet?
Recent research shows that autoimmune diseases may originate in the gut from a phenomenon called “leaky gut.” The villi, fingerlike projections along the walls of the intestines, are tightly lined-up until a food irritant/sensitivity/allergy causes the villi to become inflamed. That inflammation causes gaps between the villi allowing partially digested food, toxins, or bacteria out of the intestines and into the rest of the body.
When food passes through the intestinal walls of the intestines and into the bloodstream it causes an autoimmune reaction. This means that the immune system sees a foreign invader and attacks it. Through reasons I don’t fully understand, the body sometimes attacks more than just the foreign object. It sometimes attacks other cells or organs within the body.
The primary thing an anti-inflammatory diet will do is fix a leaky gut. When you eat food you are not sensitive to then the cell walls can heal and rebuild their tight bond between the villi of the intestines. With the leaky gut cured, the autoimmune reaction subsides and in some cases will be eliminated completely.
- Leaky gut: What is it, and what does it mean for you?
- Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases
- Is Leaky Gut Syndrome a Real Condition? An Unbiased Look
- Leaky Gut Syndrome: signs, symptoms & damage prevention
Massive gains from only changing food
Although we all love our food, changing our diet is really a small thing in the grand scheme of our lives and our health. There are massive gains to be seen by only changing your diet. Imagine having smooth, rash-free skin again. Would you be willing to give up bread to obtain a pain-free existence? What about needing less of an extremely expensive medication, insulin, simply by eating more vegetables?
While I understand a diet change may seem impossible right now, it is possible with some effort. It will give you results you will never believe!
- The Benefits of Eating Healthy Expert Round-up
- I Was Exhausted — Until I Cut Out All Gluten and Dairy
- Inspirational Stories from Phoenix Helix
- AIP & Paleo Diet for Type 1 Diabetes | Interview with Emily Stauch
Less (usually zero!) side-effects
Beyond a bit of gluten withdrawal, the effects of changing your diet are almost entirely positive. Gluten withdrawal is not a medically studied symptom, but there is anecdotal evidence everywhere.
I experienced fairly extreme gluten withdrawal which was similar to withdrawal from a narcotic. I was shaking, sweating, and feeling faint so profoundly that I made my husband take me to the emergency room. The doctors shook their heads and thought I was crazy, I’m sure. They assured me there was nothing wrong with me. All the testing they did came back normal. I thought I was going to die, and everybody just sort of threw up their hands in confusion.
After leaving that ER visit $2,000 poorer and with no answer to my symptoms, I started researching my symptoms on the internet. Bingo! Many, many other people had experienced the same thing I had when they stopped eating gluten. The shaking gradually subsided over the course of 6 days, and it only returns if I accidentally eat gluten.
I do not mean to scare you off by sharing these symptoms. Rather, I want you to be prepared that this side-effect might happen. Otherwise, changing your diet is more of a battle of wills and spending time in your kitchen then heaping on more adverse effects that you might experience from pharmaceuticals.
- FEELING “WITHDRAWAL” FROM GLUTEN
- What Are Gluten Withdrawal Symptoms and What Causes Them?
- Surviving wheat withdrawal
- Gluten Detox: The Whole Truth
Eating whole, natural and unprocessed food is a no-brainer
The premise of an anti-inflammatory diet, like the Autoimmune Protocol or Paleo Diet, is not earth-shattering news to anyone: eat foods that nourish your body and allow it to heal. We all know we should be eating vegetables. Everyone knows cookies are not good for our bodies, and I think most everyone is on board that processed, indefinitely shelf-stable food from the grocery store is not nourishing.
From childhood, we have known what a healthy meal looks like: fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat. Even a child knows that Captain Crunch and pop-tarts are not a part of this complete breakfast. Or at least I hope our children know that!
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) and the Paleo Diet rely on a foundation of whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense food. While grains and sugar do taste good, they do not provide an abundance of nutrients like fruits, vegetables, and meat. The rest of the food in the AIP or Paleo diets is based on nutritious, nutrient-dense food. Shouldn’t nutrient-dense food be the cornerstone of every diet? If you would respond yes, then by matter of logic you should be pursuing a diet based on vegetables, fruit, and meat. Any diet that is based on whole, unprocessed, natural food is better for the body than one based on process prepackaged food.
- NUTRIENT DENSITY AND THE PALEO DIET
- The Importance of Nutrient Density
- The Paleo Diet – This article is actually somewhat against the Paleo diet, but in my eyes it CLEARY wins on the nutritional front. Check out the dietary guidelines comparison at the bottom of the pdf.
- Nutrient density in keto and paleo diets
Some foods can trigger autoimmune disease
Finally, why should you try an anti-inflammatory diet after an autoimmune disease diagnosis? Because while autoimmune diseases are tricky, food is one possible trigger of autoimmune disease and an easy fix in the grand scheme of your life.
The jury is still out as to the exact cause of every autoimmune disease. There are many studies though that link gluten and other foods to triggering autoimmune diseases. Gluten is by far and away the most common trigger today. If you try nothing else to subdue your autoimmune symptoms, stop eating gluten. It is likely you will see huge gains, weight loss, and subdued symptoms simply by eliminating this one food item.
- Top 6 Autoimmune Triggers: Start With Food
- Food intolerance in patients with manifest autoimmunity
- 12 Common Triggers Of Autoimmune Disease
If diet is this powerful and there are clear links to diet and autoimmune disease, then what should you be eating or avoiding?
What Foods Should You Avoid With an Autoimmune Disease?
The most common food sensitivities include gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, nightshades, and corn. While everybody is different as to your sensitivities to specific foods, the best course of action is to do an elimination diet and reintroduce foods one at a time to discover your specific food sensitivities. The Autoimmune Protocol is the elimination diet I have tried myself and highly recommend. Check out the resources below for help getting started.
If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, you need to get to know your body. You need to know how your body behaves when you eat certain foods to know not only what foods irritate your gut but also what foods help you perform optimally. This journey of knowing your body is not a quick one, but an elimination diet plus a food journal will take you a long way.
A food journal is crucial to being able to track your symptoms and how food changes those symptoms. The variety of food we eat every day and the different environmental factors we experience, make it difficult to identify clear patterns by simply trying to remember all the inputs. Check out this article to begin to know your body and to sign up for a free food journal!
- HOW TO KNOW YOUR BODY IN 5 EASY STEPS
- AIP Do’s and Don’ts
- Therapeutic Paleo Approach
- The Autoimmune Protocol e-book
Can You Cure an Autoimmune Disease With Diet?
Autoimmune diseases range dramatically in severity. It is possible to put some autoimmune diseases in remission or even cure completely through diet change. However, there are some autoimmune diseases that permanently damage your body’s organs. Type 1 diabetes, for example, kills the beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. There is some research that the pancreas does still reproduce beta cells, but at very slow rate. But practically, type 1 diabetes irreversibly kills the pancreas.
So while it can’t be definitively said that an autoimmune disease diet will cure your autoimmune disease, it is guaranteed to improve your symptoms, reduce your dependency on medication, and improve your quality of life. Those are still big claims, but I stand behind them! You’ve got to give it a try!
- What Is the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Diet?
- How I Put My Autoimmune Disease in Remission
- Efficacy of the Autoimmune Protocol Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Where Do I Start Changing My Diet?
It all begins with food. There are many free resources out there and different blogs offering free autoimmune protocol or paleo menu plans. Grab a couple of those and give it a whirl. If you like step-by-step instruction, check out The Paleo Mom’s ebook or course. Below are some great books in print to check out for the science behind the diet and where to start. The best thing to do though start today. Eliminate gluten from your diet right now and begin planning when to start your elimination diet!
- The Paleo Approach by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne
- Autoimmune Protocol Lecture Series Intensive
- The Paleo Mom Recommended AIP Resources
- Thriving on Paleo ebooks
Have you been diagnosed with ANY autoimmune disease? If yes, then you should give an autoimmune disease diet a try. With minimal side-effects and huge potential for healing, a diet change is the perfect solution to minimize or eliminate your autoimmune symptoms.