How Improper Digestion Can Lead to Autoimmune Disease

Since the gut is the location for approximately 70-80% of our immune system, it’s fairly obvious how an impaired digestive system can lead to an autoimmune disease. Let’s start with the northern most point of the digestive process to connect immunity with digestion. To me, this is what we put in our mouths, our food. What are you eating? A properly prepared nutrient diet is best. Processed foods, pharmaceuticals, refined foods and alcohol can cause inflammation, allergies or intolerances. There are whole foods that can cause these issues as well. Since we’re all individuals, it’s important to listen to your body to see what might trigger your signs and symptoms. After you put food in your mouth, are you taking time to chew and enjoy it? This is the main reason we are blessed with these pearly whites, to mechanically break down food. There are also enzymes in the mouth that start to break down carbohydrates. Food starts to break down in our mouths and when it doesn’t spend enough time there, the stomach has to work overtime.

The food arrives in the stomach and since it’s hopefully spent adequate time in the mouth, the brain has prompted the stomach on what’s coming. The stomach then works to pump out the proper acidic cocktail to aid in digestion. What if your stomach isn’t producing acid either from diet, stress, lifestyle and/or medications? YOUR’E NOT PROPERLY DIGESTING YOUR FOOD! Sorry to yell, but it’s important to know that we need stomach acid because it helps the stomach fuel it’s main purpose, chemically breaking down food. It’s typically not too much but too little stomach acid that causes problems but more on that later.

When undigested proteins and microbes move into the small intestine, they cause damage to the intestinal wall. These undigested food particles feel the need to act like digested food particles, try to squeeze thru the intestinal wall and this wall is only 1-2 cells thick. When this happens, the cells get pulled away from one another and all kinds of stuff starts leaking out (hence leaky gut) into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, these particles are supposed to be digested and serving purpose as amino acids (building blocks of proteins), fatty acids (broken down fats) and other important nutrients necessary for survival. If it’s undigested food (say teeny pieces of steak or black beans instead of amino acids, fatty acids and vitamins), the body sees it an invader and starts the immune attack.

If these undigested food particles happen to make it to the large intestine, they conquer the healthy and necessary flora (bacteria), leading to the overgrowth of Candida, parasites, fungus and undesirable bacteria. The gut has this flora army to aid in its protection. It cannot do all the work on its own. Beneficial microorganisms swallow up viruses, toxins, bacteria, fungus and various dead tissues and destroy them. What happens when we lose this line of defense? Yep, you guessed it. They body starts attacking itself and this can lead to an autoimmune disease.

As you can see, it starts with what we put in our mouths. I truly believe that almost everything starts from what we swallow, whether it be our food, beliefs or emotions. We have the power to be healthy and stay that way. Now is the time to take control of your own health, one bite and at a time.