“Autoimmune disease is a result of the interactions between your genes and the environment-a perfect storm of factors that cause the immune system to be unable to distinguish self (you) from invader (not you).” – THE PALEO MOM.

Autoimmune disease cells

The truth is that there is not one known etiology for autoimmune disease. However, there may be environmental triggers such as toxins, bacteria, viruses, and fungus. There are environmental factors that can trigger autoimmunity as well, such as diet, sleep, and stress. Gluten sensitivity is a huge component to autoimmune disease. Gluten contributes to what is known as intestinal hyper-permeability, aka “leaky gut.” Our intestines are slightly permeable, in order to let nutrients pass through the junctions in the gut. However, gluten and other large proteins such as dairy and soy contribute to making these junctions more permeable, and this leads to leaky gut. With a leaky gut, toxins and proteins can pass into the bloodstream, causing a heightened immune response. The body mounts an attack on these invaders, but may also attack good tissue as well. For example, with autoimmune thyroid, the body mounts an attack on the thyroid. According to the PALEO MOM, leaky gut is present with every autoimmune disease.

man holding belly autoimmune disease

What are some specific Autoimmune Diseases?

There are hundreds of autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis to name just a few. There are also several conditions associated with autoimmune disease, such as chronic fatigue and FIBROMYALGIA. If you struggle with frequent pain and fatigue, there is a good chance you are also struggling with autoimmunity.

Some common Autoimmune Diseases:

Celiac Disease:

CELIAC DISEASE is a condition in that gut that causes weight loss, anemia, and gut inflammation. The etiology is an immune response from gluten (a protein found in wheat and some other grains). Although the exact trigger of celiac disease is unknown, there is a gene that genetically predisposes certain people to celiac disease. Currently over 3 million Americans struggle with celiac disease.

Graves Disease:

GRAVES’ DISEASE is an autoimmune condition that is associated with the overproduction of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism). Autoimmune conditions like Grave’s cause inflammation, which in turn makes cells less receptive to thyroid hormone.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis:

HASHIMOTO’S THYROID is an autoimmune condition where the body mistakes the thyroid as a foreign invader, and the thyroid is attacked.  With Hashimoto’s  thyroid the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, gradually destroying it. This results in inflammation, and eventually leads to an under active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), and may cause an enlarged thyroid, also known as a goiter.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS (RA) is an autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation.  Inflammation from this condition primarily affects the small joints of the hands and feet. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the lining of the joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. Often times with rheumatoid arthritis the individual will have large nodules on the joints of the hands and feet. The symptoms wax and wane based on flare ups.

What Is The Autoimmune Protocol?

The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol is a specific nutrition and lifestyle plan, that is beneficial for healing. Many people find relief from their symptoms by eating paleo. However, an autoimmune protocol involves removing all difficult to digest grains and dairy from the diet, as well as nightshade vegetables including potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers (certain vegetables/spices that many people with autoimmune condition react to). The focus should be on increasing nutrient dense, quality foods such as fatty meats that have been pasture raised, bone broths that have been simmered for a minimum of 24 hours, and vegetables, including fermented foods. The diet would need to be low in inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids, such as those that come from vegetable oil, soy oil, and highly processed oils. The diet should be high in Omega-3 fatty acids, and monounsaturated fatty acids, and include some saturated fats as well. For a complete list of approved diet items check out our AIP FRIENDLY MENU.