Thursday, September 1, 2016


When I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease about 15 years ago, I was given very little information.
I was told:

  • Crohn's is an autoimmune disease, which means your immune system is attacking itself
  • There is no cure
My standard line when asked was "Crohn's is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. It causes......symptoms." And depending on how well I knew the person depended on how graphic I got in my explanation of symptoms. 

As a 16 year old who was just diagnosed with an incurable disease, I believed the doctors and did what they told me. I took the medication. As long as certain foods didn't bother me, I was told I could eat what ever I wanted.

Now 15 years later, 10 months after having surgery, I am painfully aware of how I wish I had been told more when I was diagnosed. I have done much research and reading this last year and am so thankful for voices like The Paleo Mom, Against All Grain, and Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt from Autoimmune Paleo. 
This is one of the best explanations, from The Paleo Mom of autoimmune disease I have read and helps me better explain why I have changed my diet. Its not just a fad (as I have heard people say). Its my life. 

Autoimmune disease is caused by the immune system losing the ability to differentiate proteins belonging to your own body with proteins belonging to a foreign invader (like a bacteria, virus or parasite). What causes symptoms is the build up of damage to cells, tissues and/or organs in the body–damage caused by your own immune system attacking those cells. Which proteins/cells are attacked is what separates once disease from another. In Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the thyroid gland is attacked. In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the tissues of your joints are attacked. In psoriasis, proteins within the layers of cells that make up your skin are attacked. However, the root cause is the same.
Genetic predisposition to autoimmunity makes up about one third of your risk of developing an autoimmune disease. The other two thirds of your risk come from environmental factors, which include: diet, lifestyle, infections (both prior and persistent) exposure to toxins, hormones, weight, etc. While you cannot control your genetics or whether or not you had mono as a kid, you do have an immense amount of control over your diet and lifestyle (and the extent that these affect hormones and weight and even toxin exposure). By removing the foods that contribute to a leaky gut, gut dysbiosis (the wrong numbers, relative quantities, or types of microorganisms typically growing in the wrong locations in your gut), hormone imbalance, and that stimulate inflammation and the immune system, you can create the opportunity for your body to heal. By addressing important lifestyle factors and changing your focus to eating nutrient-dense foods that support optimal gut health (and optimal health of your gut microorganisms), that restore levels of important nutrients and provide all of the building blocks that your body needs to heal and properly regulate the immune system, that help resolve inflammation and support organ function, you create an environment in your body conducive to healing.
This is not a cure (once your body learns to attack itself, it can never un-learn this), but you can put your disease into remission, often permanently. Depending on how long you have had your disease and how aggressive it is, there may be permanent damage (which might, for example mean that you need to take organ support supplements such as thyroid hormone in the case of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis for the rest of your life), but you can stop your immune system from attacking your body and heal substantially.
This diet is appropriate for everyone with diagnosed autoimmune disorders or with suspected autoimmune diseases. It is very simply an extremely nutrient-dense diet that is devoid of foods that irritate the gut, cause gut dysbiosis and activate the immune system. You will not be missing out on any nutrients and this diet is absolutely appropriate to follow for the rest of your life. If you have a specific autoimmune disease that causes extra food sensitivities, those should be taken into account with your food choices. Because I get asked this question more than any other question: yes, this diet will help you.
One of the most important contributors to autoimmune disease is nutrient deficiency (which of course, is built right into the Standard American diet, which while being rich in energy is very poor in actual nutrition). Even if you have been following a paleo, primal, GAPS, SCD, or WAPF diet for a while, it is likely that you have not corrected nutrient deficiencies (if you had, you probably wouldn’t be reading this page).
Gut dysbiosis and a leaky gut are believed to be involved in all autoimmune diseases (and are present in every autoimmune disease which has been tested). The presence of gut dysbiosis and a leaky gut are directly related to diet and lifestyle (the foods you eat, the foods you don’t eat, how much sleep you get and how stressed you are). The diet recommendations are all designed to help heal the gut, to restore normal/healthy gut microorganisms, to reduce inflammation and to regulate the immune system both through healing the gut, regulating hormones and addressing micronutrient deficiencies. Read the rest of the article here 

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