I recently got a message from a friend asking for advice to give a family member struggling with Crohn’s Disease. In it she asked if I could recommend some of the tops things I did to help heal my gut.
This is one of the most common positions I find myself in as an AIP blogger. People realize that there are things they can do to help heal themselves naturally, but they are too overwhelmed to dive into following the full autoimmune protocol all at one time. I totally get that. My journey to going 100% AIP was a process that took years. I went gluten free first, then paleo with dairy, then paleo without dairy and then AIP. Each step brought about a new level of healing, with the full benefits coming after I went strictly AIP for 6-8 months.
Of course, when I am asked this question I always want to make sure that people understand that in order to achieve full healing through diet and lifestyle they need to commit to following the autoimmune protocol 100% … eventually. However, we have all heard the old adage the journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step and managing an autoimmune disease is nothing if not a long journey, so here are my top 6 tips (and some humor) to help you begin your healing journey:
Eliminate gluten and grains:
I am not going to go into all of the science behind this right now because this is just meant to be a quick start, quick tip, guide. If you want to know more of the scientific explanation behind this click HERE. If you want the way oversimplified version, suffice it to say that grains are not meant to be fully digested. This is the way the plant ensures its survival. As a result, the compounds in the grain that keep it from being digested tear up the lining of our gut and can lead to leaky gut, inflammation, and overstimulation of the immune system.
For the Full Science click HERE. Caffeine stimulates cortisol production and increased cortisol levels over an extended period of time can lead to an over-stimulated immune system and adrenal fatigue. Coffee especially (caffeinated or not) also increases bile production which in an unhealthy individual can lead to damage of the gut membrane. (If you’re looking for an AIP friendly coffee alternative Here is my favorite)
Eliminate alcohol (temporarily):
Alcohol is eliminated for a very different reason from many of the other off limits foods in the autoimmune protocol. As long as the alcohol you’re drinking comes from an AIP friendly source like apples, grapes or agave the issues isn’t usually a matter of intolerance (unless the sugar or sulfite content comes into play) the issue is that alcohol, by nature, loosens the junctures between the cells in the gut lining exacerbating leaky gut issues, immune over stimulation, and making it much harder for the gut to heal (For the Science Click HERE)
Add in lots of probiotics (supplement and ferments):
probiotics probiotics probiotics. Your immune system and your gut cannot function properly if your microflora (gut bacteria) are out of whack. If you don’t have enough of the right kinds of bacteria. Without good microflora the bad bacteria get to take over and have a field day harming the gut membrane (again with the leaky gut) and causing infection. To get enough probiotics I recommend consuming fermented food or drink every day, personally I love making my own kombucha and also taking a therapeutic grade supplement I only recommend a few brands (Bio-Kult, Kirkman Pro Bio Gold, HMF Intensive, or VSL #3)
Add in lots of gelatin (powder and bone broth):
Gelatin plays a key role in healing the gut lining. For the full explanation and how to make bone broth click HERE, but think of it as the caulk that is going to help seal up all those holes in your gut lining. (
NO SOUP FOR YOU!)
Sleep is when your body heals and restores itself. It is also when your body has a chance to try and work on balancing your hormones and if you have an autoimmune disease, you’ve been on and off steroids or you’ve been under chronic stress there is a very high chance that your hormones are out of whack. Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep at night, ideally 9, take a 30 minute nap during the day if you can, and do whatever it takes to enhance the quality of your sleep as well.