I have spent two years, studying the work of experts in the field of autoimmunity and have combined what I’ve learned, in 24 steps. I’ll be sharing one step every week for the next 24 weeks, on my website and social media platforms (starting Monday 18 May 2020). This is step 10 of 24.
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STEP 10: HEALING THE GUT BY REMOVING THE BAD
We know that 80% of the immune system is located in the gut. This means that if you don’t have a healthy gut, you won’t have a healthy immune system. Gut health is a critical step in reclaiming your health from autoimmunity.
Functional medicine has developed a very effective method of healing and protecting your gut. The method is called the 5R’s and consists of the following steps:
- Remove the bad
- Replace with the good
- Reinoculate with healthy bacteria
- Repair the gut
In this step we’re exploring the first R of healing the gut: Remove the bad.
The first step is to remove anything and everything that negatively affects your gut or contributes to your leaky gut. There is absolutely no point in investing in expensive gut healing supplements if you do not identify and remove the cause of the problem. The main culprits are foods, infections, toxins, and stress with gluten being the number one cause of leaky gut.
So, before you think of moving to the next step, remove (or limit) the following from your diet and your life:
Gluten causes the gut cells to release zonulin, a protein that can break apart the tight junctions in your intestinal lining, causing leaky gut. (See step 6 for more information on leaky gut.) We highly recommend that you remove gluten form your diet. Always check food labels for hidden sources of gluten.
INFLAMMATORY & PROCESSED FOOD
It is a well know fact that food can be one of your biggest sources of inflammation. Our modern diets are loaded with processed, toxic and inflammatory foods that can trigger leaky gut and autoimmunity.
The top 5 inflammatory foods are:
- SUGAR – High-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, candy, chocolate, soft drinks, diet soft drinks, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, sweet pastries, certain cereals etc.
- ARTIFICIAL TRANS FAT – Fried fast food, microwave popcorn, margarines, vegetable shortening, packaged cakes and cookies, some pastries, all processed food with hydrogenated vegetable oil on the label etc.
- REFINED CARBOHYDRATES – Candy, bread, pasta, pastries, most cereals, cookies, cakes, sugary soft drinks, all processed food that contains added sugar or flour etc.
- PROCESSED MEAT – Processed sausages, deli-meat, most bacon, ham, smoked meat, salami, beef jerky, canned meat, meat-based sauces etc.
- EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL – All types of alcohol.
If you are serious about healing your gut, we recommend that your remove all of the above food items from your diet.
KNOWN FOOD SENSITIVITIES AND ALLERGIES
Have you ever gone to the doctor because you know that every time you eat a certain food, you react to it? Perhaps you feel bloated or get stomach cramps from eating gluten or you get migraines or eczema from eating dairy? You then get tested for these foods and when the results come back from the lab, you are told that you’re not allergic to any of the foods tested.
The reason for this is that there is a difference between food allergies and food sensitivities or intolerances and you were tested for food allergies.
- FOOD ALLERGIES: Your immune system is your body’s defence against invaders like bacteria, viruses and infections. You have a food allergy when your immune system identifies what you eat as an invader, and reacts by producing antibodies to fight it. The most common immune reaction is called an IgE mediated immune response. IgE’s are allergic antibodies and cause an immediate, extreme and potentially life-threatening reaction. It can range from a mild reaction like hives or stomach cramps to a severe reaction, such as anaphylaxis, which can impair your breathing, cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure, and affect your heart rate. Due to the severity of food allergies, you likely already know whether or not you have one.
- FOOD SENSITIVITIES AND INTOLERANCES: Food sensitivities or intolerances generally don’t trigger the dramatic or immediate reactions associated with food allergies, but they’re every bit as real, with varied symptoms like nausea, vomiting, respiratory problems, brain fogginess, and skin reactions such as eczema. It is more difficult to diagnose food sensitivities or intolerances because it triggers a different immune reaction called the IgG mediated immune response. IgG’s are antibodies that cause a delayed and less extreme reaction. It can also trigger a digestive reaction when your body can’t properly break down certain food. For example, lactose intolerance is when your body can’t break down lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. It could take up to 72 hours for symptoms of a food sensitivity to present. The problem with this delayed response is that it’s very difficult to identify the food causing the sensitivity as you probably eat a wide range of foods in the time it takes for symptoms to appear.
Avoid any food that triggers an immune response in your body.
THE REST OF THE FOOD DISCUSSED IN STEP 7
Hippocrates said it best: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine, be thy food.” Food can either fight disease or feed disease, it’s as simple as that. When you have an autoimmune condition, what you eat becomes your most powerful tool in the road to recovery. Food plays a huge role in achieving optimal health, providing essential nutrients to your body and immune system.
As much as food can change everything, food can also be one of our biggest sources of inflammation. Our modern diets are loaded with processed, toxic and inflammatory foods. Certain foods could lead to a leaky gut which could trigger autoimmunity and lead to even more inflammation. See step 7 for a list of the food to be avoided.
According to Amy Myers MD, the most common infections causing autoimmunity are candida overgrowth, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and intestinal parasites. Other infections like Epstein Barr (EBV), Herpes Simplex 1 and 2 (HSV) and E.coli have also been linked to autoimmune disease. Consult with your Functional Medicine Practitioner to get tested and treated for infections. Infections will be discussed in step 15 (you are now at step 10 – keep an eye on your inbox and follow us on social media to ensure that you don’t miss a step).
Stress contributes to the development of all disease. From increasing susceptibility, to the common cold, to being a major contributor in stimulating the immune system in autoimmune disease. If you do not manage your stress or find ways to reduce it, it will completely undermined all the changes you’ve made in your road to recovery. Stress will be discussed in step 17 (you are now at step 10 – keep an eye on your inbox and follow us on social media to ensure that you don’t miss a step).
Do you feel overwhelmed by all the information? I encourage you to join the Autoimmune Way Program. It is a 6-month online program that gently guides you through all the steps over a period of 6 months.
You can now join the Autoimmune Way program from as little as $7. Normally priced at $197.