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Functional medicine pioneer and specialist, Dr. Susan Blum practices the philosophy of holistic health, looking at a person’s whole health to try and identify the root causes of their ailments.

More often than not, this investigation leads her to the gut, which is being increasingly linked to health problems as diverse as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis.

As you probably know by now, 70 percent of your immune system resides in the gut, which produces bacteria that helps your immune system’s T cells develop; teaching them how to distinguish between a foreign substance and your body’s own tissues. This is an extremely important process, which determines how and what your immune system responds to, is incredibly dependent on the health of your gut. A hiccup in the process, like an overgrowth of bad bacteria, can cause your immune system to start attacking your own cells, the leading cause of autoimmune disorders.

Where’s there’s a dysfunctional immune system, there’s a leaky gut

The gut is also important for regulating the particles that pass through the intestinal lining into the rest of your body. Healthy digestive tracts are designed with small gates that allow digested foods to pass while keeping out larger food particles and other antigens (foreign particles that cause immune reactions). However, many people with arthritis or autoimmune conditions have a leaky gut, meaning the gates in the intestinal lining have become damaged, allowing large food particles and unwanted substances to enter the rest of the body. Once inside, they are treated as foreign invaders and cause immune reactions; triggering inflammation and pain.

When you have a leaky gut, you can become unwittingly sensitised to certain foods. So when you eat soy or cheese, these foods can slip through your intestinal barrier and set off an immune reaction. Continuing to eat these foods can lead to chronic inflammation and pain because the immune system will continue to see these particles as invaders. And then all of a sudden, you’re in constant pain.

Considering it’s role as immune system trainer and internal bodyguard, it’s no wonder that your gut is integral to your overall health. For this reason, those suffering from arthritis or another autoimmune condition that is closely linked to poor gut health, can benefit greatly from healing their gut; sometimes even reversing their conditions. For everyone else, healing the gut can lower the likelihood of developing an autoimmune condition, food sensitivity, or inflammation.

Bin the baddies

When people with arthritis eat foods they have a sensitivity to, the subsequent pain and inflammation is likely to be found in the joints. So it’s important to identify the food that is causing this pain.

The best way to do this is with an elimination diet. Start by removing gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, sugar, processed foods, and particularly for arthritis sufferers, nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and  peppers). The next thing to do is start healing your gut by balancing the microbiome; identifying if your bile acids, pancreatic enzymes, and stomach acid are working correctly; and taking a (prescribed) supplement like l-glutamine powder to repair the gut lining.

Heal your gut to heal your body

Whether you’re suffering from arthritis or an autoimmune disorder or not, healing your gut is crucial to living a healthier, happier life and preventing an array of illnesses. Try incorporate these simple steps into your daily life for the good of your gut:

1. Probiotics

Eat them, supplement them, just make sure that you’re getting them in as they are downright essential for gut and immune health.

3. Eat sprouted vegetables

Sprouted veggies contain far more enzymes than their unsprouted counterparts.

4. Eat radishes, artichokes, dandelions and chicory

Bitter greens stimulate the liver to create bile.

5. Eat demulcents

Demulcents like almonds, barley, coconut oil, figs, parsley, prunes, and sages help soothe irritated or inflamed tissues.

6. Say no to coffee and alcohol

These substances can negatively affect your microbiome (the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut).

7. Butter your bread with ghee

Ghee (clarified butter) has been used for thousands of years in India for it’s gut-healing properties and abilities to treat digestive problems by reducing inflammation.

8. Eat more fiber

Fiber helps regulate your digestive tract and fuels good bacteria.

They say knowledge is power, we say knowledge is health.

Check out next week’s post to find out how you can boost your immune system naturally, without any expensive, commercial medicines.

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