Autoimmune conditions have grown rapidly the over past years so I have listed some of the most common triggers to be aware of to avoid an autoimmune response which cause devastating symptoms in the body.
There are full-blown autoimmune diseases like Crohn's, Celiac or Hashimoto's disease but also more common "autoimmune spectrum disorders" that people often don’t take too seriously like acne, headaches or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can develop into far more serious conditions later in life if left unresolved.
It's important to learn YOUR personal triggers to avoid turning on an inflammatory-immune response in your body. Every person reacts differently, so it’s down to you to listen to your body and work out your safe-foods and triggers.
Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, spelt, rye and other grains, which is scientifically linked to an increase risk of autoimmunity.
Many people and their doctors believe you have to have celiac disease to be gluten intolerant and when their test results for Celiac come back negative, they are told that avoiding gluten is not necessary. This antiquated misinformation keeps many people struggling with an autoimmune condition sick.
Beware that it’s not only the obvious food choices like bread or pasta that cause damage either. Foods cross-contaminated with gluten can be like gasoline on a fire for many people with autoimmune conditions…
2. Gluten-free grains
Many people with autoimmune problems already avoid gluten, but still consume foods like corn, oats and rice. As well-intentioned as that decision may be, these grains can be just as damaging as gluten because the proteins in these grains are very similar to gluten (e.g. gliadin), so it’s just too risky for autoimmune sufferes.
Just like gluten sensitivities, symptoms do not have to be gastrointestinal in nature; a flare-up of any autoimmune symptom can occur with exposure to grains.
You can have an immunological blood test to work out what you may be sensitive too but be your own detective and listen to your body.
A favourite in the health community, pseudo-grains like quinoa are high in proteins called saponins which can damage the gut lining causing an immune response in the body. Soaking and rinsing quinoa can reduce the gut-damaging effect, but for many autoimmune conditions this is not enough, so it’s better avoided.
Stress has many far-reaching effects on your health; one of them is your immune system. Research has proven that chronic mental stress to be a trigger for autoimmune diseases.
Many people report having noticed the onset of their health problems during a difficult time in their life. Caring for a sick child or parent, the loss of a loved one or an intense breakup can be the trigger point for an autoimmune response.
In the last 100 years or so, our environment has been bombarded with toxins that we were never previously exposed to. Studies have shown that toxins found in every day foods, household products and even in the air we’re breathing. Examples of these include heavy metals in fish and amalgam fillings, toxic chemicals in beauty and self-care products and black mould found in many homes, which have been proven to play a role in many autoimmune diseases and the symptoms that
It should be no surprise that sugar is on this list, but I'm not just talking about the stereotypical junk food. There are many products marketed as ‘healthy’, which contain too much sugar - even if it’s natural/unrefined, sugar is still sugar to the body and will not be good for autoimmune conditions.
Casein, the main protein found in milk and other dairy products can also cause inflammation in the body. Removal of the dairy proteins in ghee or clarified butter can be a safer alternative for some people. Some autoimmunity disorders can also handle fermented dairy, like grass-fed whole yogurt or kefir.
A plant group that consists of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants, goji berries and some spices contains alkaloids in their skin which can cause an inflammatory response in the body. So sometimes, a food that’s a health food to one person could be a health hazard to another.
9. SIBO & Leaky Gut
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), occurs when normal bacteria of the microbiome grow from the large intestines (where they belong) into the small intestines (where they don’t). This can lead to a number of localised autoimmune spectrum conditions such as IBS and acid reflux. Chronic SIBO can also lead to a leaky gut which can then cause autoimmune problems throughout the body.
Functional medicine considers an increased permeability to the gut lining, which is commonly referred to as ‘leaky gut’, a precursor to autoimmunity. All of the aforementioned triggers can lead to leaky gut syndrome which can be both a trigger, but also the effect that proceeds from an autoimmune condition.
When your gut lining is damaged, tears appear and undigested food proteins and bacterial endotoxins can pass through the protective gut lining and into the bloodstream, turning on an autoimmune reaction throughout the body.
10. Weakened microbiome
The majority of your immune system resides in what's referred to as the microbiome. This highly sophisticated gut ecosystem consists of trillions of bacteria colonies. Your microbiome not controls your immune system but your brain, hormones and genetic expression.
Parasitic, yeast and fungal infections have all been implicated in a variety of autoimmune type conditions such as Parkinson's and M.S. It's also important to note that you don't necessarily have to be experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms to be affected by these pathogens.
If you suspect you may have an unhealthy microbiome then you can have a stool sample test to uncover these often undiagnosed factors in autoimmunity. I used a company called Viome.
Become your own detective and work out what your individual underlying triggers might be. This will save you from the years of unnecessary suffering that millions with autoimmune conditions go through.
Speak to a functional medicine doctor and employ a Health Coach to help you implement simple changes in your lifestyle, on and off the plate, so you can get to the bottom of root causes (the ‘WHY’) and successfully prevent or reverse Autoimmunity.
These issues are common and can destroy lives, so I hope this post helps you to be able to work out your WHYs and end your suffering and frustration.
Charly With A WHY x