Autoimmune diseases are a group of conditions in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy tissues. Recent research has highlighted the important role that gut health plays in the development and management of autoimmune diseases. Here are four ways in which gut health is linked to autoimmune disease:
- The gut plays a crucial role in autoimmune disease because it is the site where the majority of the immune system is housed. In fact, up to 70% of the body’s immune cells are located in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT).
- When the gut lining becomes damaged, which can be caused by factors such as stress, infections, medications, food sensitivities and poor diet, it can lead to a condition called “leaky gut.” Leaky gut occurs when the tight junctions between the cells in the intestinal lining become too permeable, allowing toxins, bacteria, and undigested food particles to leak into the bloodstream.
- When these foreign particles enter the bloodstream, the immune system can perceive them as threats and launch an attack, leading to chronic inflammation and autoimmune disease. In autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues, causing damage and inflammation.
- Furthermore, the gut microbiome, which is the collection of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms in the gut, play a crucial role in regulating the immune system. An imbalance in the gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis, can lead to an overactive immune response and contribute to the development of autoimmune disease.
In order to support good gut health and reduce the risk of autoimmune disease, your food must support your body, and this is something that we can work through specifically for you. But in general, eat a balanced diet that is rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods, minimize exposure to environmental toxins, manage stress levels, and avoid the use of antibiotics and other medications that can disrupt the gut microbiome.
Additionally, incorporating probiotics and prebiotics into your diet may help support a healthy gut microbiome and reduce the risk of autoimmune disease. If you have concerns about your gut health, are experiencing autoimmune conditions or are concerned about the risk for autoimmune disease, we are here to help! Book a consult with one of our naturopaths to get you started.