Tame your autoimmunity

What to do when your enemy… is you?

As the commander in chief of your army, you can plan a strategy to counteract the aggression of a hostile troop. However, when the attack is an unexpected friendly fire (from within and by mistake) the maneuver becomes even more challenging. Depriving your own army of its ammunition seems to be the only effective tactic against it, but it is not.

Autoimmune diseases still keep many secrets. We only know the trigger to one of them, celiac disease. So the ultimate culprits of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Crohn’s or multiple sclerosis are still a mystery. But that does not mean that our only choice is to passively surrender to them.

Friendly fire also needs wood to burn

Autoimmune diseases share, at least, two conditions: low intensity chronic inflammation and intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut. And there precisely lies the potential of nutritional therapy as a strategy to tame their symptoms and delay their progression.

Leaky gut syndrome occurs when the complex mechanism that allows nutrients to pass through into ‘your very you’, simultaneously preventing pathogenic organisms and waste substances from following, loses its effectiveness. The tight junctions of the intestinal epithelium open indiscriminately and your immune system becomes overwhelmed by the unauthorized entry of an enormous quantity of particles (which should not have been allowed ‘in you’, but excreted right at the end of the intestinal tube). Fortunately, you can give it a well-deserved break by reducing these unauthorized openings.

An overwhelmed immune system is more prone to friendly fire

Make sure that your diet is not stoking the flames. Avoid foods such as sugar and refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated fats and refined vegetable oils (such as soy or corn, due to their high proportion of easily oxidizable fatty acids), cereals (especially those containing gluten, as it activates zonulin, the molecule that opens intestinal tight junctions, putting their permeability at risk), legumes (in spite of their good reputation, they contain anti-nutrients in the form of lectins and phytates, which will not help a struggling intestine), dairy (caseins, proteins present in milk, can also activate intestinal permeability) and, depending on your level of sensitivity, nightshade vegetables (i.e. eggplants, tomatoes, peppers or potatoes, also because of their lectin content).

Food is not the only wood that may stoke friendly fire (genetics, infections, stress or exposure to toxins might too), but whether it has access to this firewood is entirely up to you.