Autoimmune Diseases & Gut Function

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Autoimmune Disease and Gut Function

There’s been a lot of emerging evidence in the last 10 years or so to show that there may be a connection between gut function, autoimmune disease and even mental health problems. If you have read the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet book by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, you will have read that a poor gut microbiome can cause and exacerbate symptoms of autism, dyslexia, ADHD, schizophrenia, anxiety and depression. (To learn more about GAPS, please visit But what I’d like to explore further today is the connection between gut function and autoimmune disease.

So, what is autoimmune disease? 

Autoimmune disease is an umbrella term for a group of conditions where the body’s antibodies attack the body’s tissues. Autoimmune conditions can include the following:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Asthma
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Hives
  • Raynaud’s syndrome
  • Type 1 diabetes

How do you contract an autoimmune disease? 

The premise of what causes autoimmune diseases to develop include the confluence of 3 factors:

1. Genetic predisposition
2. Exposure to a trigger (eg specific antigen or protein)
3. Intestinal permeability

The majority of orthodox treatment for autoimmune disease involves immune-suppressant drugs and symptomatic management. Unfortunately this does not address any of the causal, driving factors of the autoimmune issue and therefore never fully resolves it.

How can fixing my gut help with autoimmune disease?

Considering that intestinal permeability is likely to be one of the driving factors for autoimmune problems, fixing this may help resolve a lot of your symptoms.

Leaky Gut Syndrome is the official term for intestinal permeability problems. It is a disorder where the cells of the intestine become permeable and leak substances into the blood stream that are toxic. LGS seems to be a common denominator for a number of diseases, not just autoimmune problems and is diagnosed with special urine tests and microscopic examination of the gut lining.

How can you develop LGS and what are its symptoms?

LGS can be triggered and caused by GIT infections (fungal overgrowth, parasitic infections), certain drugs, Crohn’s disease, Celiac, Ulcerative Colitis, excess alcohol consumption, strenuous exercise and food allergies.

The symptoms of LGS can include:
• Bloating
• Candida overgrowth
• Constipation
• Ongoing diarrhoea
• Gas

So, if I do have LGS, how do I get treated? 

Treatment for LGS includes dietary control, elimination of anti-inflammatories and alcohol, supplementation and probiotic treatment.

If you think you may have LGS symptoms or you are suffering from an autoimmune disease, it is worthwhile seeing a Naturopath who can aid in your diagnosis and treatment.

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