Is there a link between diet and autoimmune disease?

About 8 years ago, I saw a powerful TedTalk by Dr. Terry Wahls, called Minding Your Mitochondria.

Dr. Wahls is a physician who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a degenerative autoimmune disease affecting the body’s nervous system. After undergoing traditional therapies for the condition, including chemotherapy and usage of a tilt-recline wheelchair, Dr. Wahls studied biochemistry and learned about the nutrients that played a role in maintaining brain health.

After noticing a slow down in the progression of her disease after taking nutritional supplements, she decided to focus her diet on consuming foods that contained these brain-protecting nutrients. Only a year after beginning her new diet, Dr. Wahls was not only out of her wheelchair, but she had just finished her first 18-mile bike tour! She went on to develop a dietary regimen for those with autoimmune conditions, called the Wahls Protocol.

So, this raises the question, does diet play a role in the development of (and fight against) autoimmune disease?

There is evidence to suggest that there is a link between autoimmunity and one’s diet. For example, I recently wrote about a study published by NYU’s School of Medicine, in which researchers found that the autoimmune disease lupus is strongly linked to imbalances in the gut’s microbiome.

Furthermore, the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada also released a report detailing Vitamin D recommendations for MS patients, as a result of studies linking Vitamin D deficiency to the disease. Vitamin D is produced by our skin through sun exposure, but also comes from food sources such as fish, dairy and eggs.

Tara Grant, who has a condition called Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), an autoimmune condition of the skin, believes that there is a direct link between autoimmunity and diet, as a result of a concept called leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky gut syndrome, also known as intestinal permeability, occurs when the tight junctions between cells in the body’s digestive tract begin to loosen. This enables substances like bacteria, toxins and undigested food particles to enter your bloodstream. Consequently, your immune system reacts to attack these foreign substances, which leads to the development of inflammation and autoimmune disease.

After implementing a restrictive, dairy-free, gluten-free paleo diet, Tara has found that her HS symptoms have completely gone into remission. She now promotes the paleo lifestle on her blog, PrimalGirl, and even released a book, The Hidden Plague, which talks about her struggle treating HS through traditional means, and her journey to healing.

Now I’d like to hear from you Autoimmune Warriors- has changing your diet impacted your chronic health condition in any way? What changes have you implemented that have worked?

Learn More

To read more about the Wahls Protocol, check out Dr. Wahls’ website, and click here to get her book on Amazon.

To read more about Tara Grant’s journey to being HS-free, click here to get her book on Amazon, and check out her amazing gluten-free dough recipe, here.

4 thoughts on “Is there a link between diet and autoimmune disease?

  1. Lori Weese May 5, 2019 / 6:28 am

    Holy Spirit You Are Welcomed Here! I believe all of this and reading more and more and yes, your key health starts in your gut and we all seem to sabotage r health. My daughter Emma has her labs come back bad on this and it all breaks my heart. She is only 17 and is now in the red to graduate and walk with her class. She has always been an honor student…smart girl. But we all need to understand and yes. Pointing the finger back to me. R diets have been bad and we do cause most of r health problems. My daughter, Emma also had a large mass coming from her pancreas and I do believe she made medical records. It wasn’t cancer, but they removed 40%of the pancreas saying they lifted her plenty. I do believe the body wants to heal it’s self and can function ok, but their is OUR part in it. The diet…teenagers r all about going out to eat and grabbing the wrong stuff. I know how and why this has all happened. Emma at her age see’ s this all different bc she doesn’t want to change things and bc she has always been skinny and thinking she is healthy bc she wasn’t fat. I would always tell her that means nothing. She over ate chicken as her main protein and I would tell her she isn’t suppose to over indulge in the chicken bc of all that is injected in it. I know I totally didn’t model correctly , but never having a weight problem. I’m trying to do better for me and my whole family. She has a bunch of different doctors that they want her to see now and I want her to turn to educating herself the right way….her bodies temple! Prayers that we stay strong and focused on OUR over all health/healing doing OUR part. Thanks, Lori Weese


    • Isabel May 5, 2019 / 9:10 am

      Hello Lori, thank you for your comment. I hope your daughter’s condition improves. Yes, based on the research, diet seems to play at least some role in the development and progression of autoimmune disease. All the best to you and your family!


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