Think of your gut as your body's second brain. It doesn't just help break down the food you eat; it produces hormones and communicates with your immune system.
An imbalance in your gut health can significantly affect your overall well-being. One dynamic to be aware of is the connection between an imbalanced gut and the development or worsening of autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakenly targets and damages the body's own cells. There’s been a dramatic rise in the prevalence of autoimmune diseases the past few decades.
If you suspect you're dealing with an autoimmune condition, Dr. Rina Kapoor at ARA Integrative and Functional Medicine in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, specializes in diagnosing and treating these complex disorders.
Here we explore four autoimmune diseases linked to an imbalanced gut.
Recent research shows that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often have an imbalanced gut microbiome. Their gut bacteria tend to be less diverse, and certain harmful strains may appear in higher numbers. These changes can contribute to the inflammation that marks RA.
RA treatment often includes anti-inflammatory medications and immunosuppressants. However, they can cause side effects and may not address the root cause. Addressing gut health through diet and probiotics can relieve and even help with the remission of symptoms.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which affects the thyroid gland, has been connected to gut imbalances. Intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, can allow particles to escape from the gut and trigger an immune response. This immune activation can mistakenly target the thyroid gland.
Hashimoto's treatment involves hormone replacement therapy and may benefit from a gut health-optimized diet like the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet, which aims to heal the gut lining and reduce inflammation.
Studies have found altered gut microbiota in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), and these changes are thought to contribute to the inflammatory processes that damage the central nervous system.
MS treatment often includes medications that modulate or suppress the immune system. However, a balanced gut can support the effectiveness of these treatments. Probiotics and a healthy diet are commonly recommended for MS patients.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Research shows an imbalanced gut can contribute to inflammation, triggering an autoimmune attack on insulin-producing cells.
Alongside insulin therapy, focusing on gut health can play a crucial role in managing Type 1 diabetes. A balanced gut microbiome can improve glucose metabolism and reduce inflammation, making it easier to manage symptoms.
Autoimmune diseases can be complex and challenging to manage. However, a growing body of evidence shows that a balanced gut can lead to better outcomes with these conditions.
If you're struggling with an autoimmune condition, it's time to consider a broad treatment approach that manages the root causes, not just the symptoms. Schedule an appointment with us online today or call our Philadelphia-area office at 610-358-3300.