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The influence of nutrition on autoimmune conditions

nutrition and its connection with autoimmune diseases
Written by Flavia Giardino

Since I began this journey in learning more about nutrition and food intolerances, I came across many interesting pieces of research on how the foods we consume are essential to maintaining the balance of our body, mind and soul. Nutrition is so important to our health and wellbeing. Yet we are so badly advised on our diets. Why is that so?

When I was about 13 years old I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroid disease. At that time, I was too young to understand the impact of that condition on my body, and I was told that I would have to take supplemental thyroid hormones for the rest of my life.

All those years I thought that the only way to control my thyroid was through medication. I was never advised of other lifestyle factors such as certain foods I was consuming, could influence the progression of that condition and the development of other autoimmune diseases.

When I came to a period of my life where I was trying to understand why I couldn’t heal the allergies that suddenly appeared in my eyes, nose and ears, I consulted with many specialists and doctors to seek help and answers. All they did was try to heal the symptoms, which helped for a little while but would soon all come back again.

I never believed much in natural medicines, but that was my last resource to try and understand what was happening with my body. I then learned that focusing on the problem, is not the best course to find the effect. We have to take a holistic approach and look at our body as a whole, following the signs to find the actual cause or causes of a symptom.

The fact is – most medical schools offer a bare minimum of nutrition training. And this is just one of the reasons why we are so badly advised on our nutrition. The focus of medical practitioners is not in investigating how our lifestyle options are influencing diseases. Instead, much of their focus lies in treating the symptoms which quite often suits us because it is easier than changing our diet and lifestyle.

Even though you want to keep following the same habits, it is important to understand the implications of your current diet on the condition you may be suffering from. With the increased consumption of processed foods and GMOs, it’s never been so critical that you pursue this knowledge for your own health and wellbeing.

After so many years living with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, it only came to my attention that certain foods can interfere with the thyroid function. The dark green leafy vegetables that I have on a daily basis such as cruciferous vegetables and cabbage family vegetables, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, collards and kale, have substances called goitrogens, which can interfere with thyroid hormone production. Cooking, steaming or fermenting the vegetables is recommended when consuming these vegetables as it diminishes the goitrogenic activity.

Additionally, I came across many studies which discuss the connection between autoimmune thyroid disease and gluten intolerance. The article by Chris Kresser on The Gluten-Thyroid Connection quote some of the studies and explains in a very straightforward way, why people with an autoimmune thyroid condition should eliminate gluten from their diet.

Personally, after being diagnosed with coeliac disease and suffering from leaky gut, I wish I came across these studies before. But I never question these things until nothing else I tried in conventional ways worked for me.

From my own experience, during this journey towards improving my health and healing my body, I was relying on others to give me the answers I needed to help me carry on with my life. However, what I have learned through all of this is that I am the only one who can help myself to get better. If I am not committed to making improvements to the way I live my life, what I eat and how I deal with my emotions, then no one else will be able to help me.

If you suffer from an autoimmune condition or know anyone who does, I would love to hear your story and thoughts on this topic. Leave a comment below or email hello@movedbywellness.com.au.

About the author

Flavia Giardino

Journalist, wellness enthusiast + nutritional medicine student. I am constantly looking to expand my knowledge of the principles of life and living. After being diagnosed with several food allergies, I have changed my lifestyle completely and have been experimenting new plant-based recipes, which are featured in the recipes section of this blog.

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