How I cured my AutoImmune Disease

How I cured my AutoImmune Disease

The first thing the doctors tell you is that there is no cure.  They tell you there is little understanding as to why the body suddenly starts attacking itself, causing the myriad of different diseases that fall under the category of Autoimmune Disease.  They tell you that your body’s immune defense system suddenly sees itself as the enemy and starts attacking.  This can lead to thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, Lupus, Sjogren’s, Type 1 Diabetes or others.

 

As a wellness professional, I was distraught to learn that vitamins suddenly getting lodged in my throat and random swollen, irritated eye trouble was caused by Sjogren’s Syndrome (the same illness Venus Williams suffers from).  I was angry and embarrassed.  I thought I was doing everything right.  I ate well, got plenty of sleep, exercised and managed my stress.  I drank tons of green tea for heavens sake!  What was going on?

 

For a couple of years after my diagnosis, I kept the illness mostly at bay.  But during high stress times (after Hurricane Sandy, for instance) my symptoms would act up.  Eye drops were applied about two dozen times a day and I had to make sure to chew and swallow carefully.  It was a nuisance more than anything, but I wasn’t pleased.

 

In April of this year, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a book by Dr. Susan Blum.  Dr. Blum runs The Blum Center for Health, a Functional Medicine center in the town next to mine.  Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease.  A friend was taking a class at the center and recommended Dr. Blum’s new book, The Immune System Recovery Plan. 

 

What I came to understand was that the wheat we eat today is not the same wheat that our grandparents ate.  In the 1960’s through genetic modification and hybridization, wheat was altered in an effort to produce the greatest amount in the smallest amount of space.  While the process “worked,” the new dwarf wheat has double the amount of chromosomes and produces a large amount of gluten proteins.  This new super gluten was barely present in ancient wheat.  Many of our bodies are not equipped to deal with this change and thus the rampant amount of celiac and gluten intolerance that is found today.

 

What Dr. Blum also taught me is that if you have an Autoimmune disease, by definition you have leaky gut.  Leaky gut is when the lining of your stomach gets broken down by the gluten in your diet and particles of what you eat start escaping from your digestive system into your blood stream.  Suddenly these particles become foreign bodies that are not recognized by your immune system.  So what do your defenses do?  They attack.  And there you have it: Autoimmune disease.

 

After I read this, I drew some conclusions of my own.  I now believe that the fat free craze of the 90’s and 00’s is why I developed leaky gut.  I lived on pasta and bagels for more years than I care to admit.  Combine that with the new fangled dwarf wheat and I was just an Autoimmune disease waiting to happen.  Maybe this explains the growing number of Autoimmune cases reported—I certainly wasn’t the only woman who replaced fat with white carbs.

 

Dr. Blum advocates an elimination diet in her book.  When I started, I cut out gluten, dairy, red meat, caffeine, eggs, nuts, soy and corn for three weeks.  I reintroduced most of those foods, but never went back to gluten or caffeine and today I am 90% dairy free (cheese is my downfall).  Gluten will never be part of my diet again.

 

After six months of following Dr. Blum’s plan, I went for blood tests.  Guess what?  My numbers have all come down dramatically.  My CRP, which is a measurement of inflammation in the body is one third what it was and is now only slightly elevated.  My ANA test which is used as a marker for Sjogren’s has been cut in half and falls into the negative category for the disease.

 

Even better, I can easily swallow my vitamin regimen again and don’t need to be toting eye drops around where ever I go.

 

The medical establishment often focuses on cures and band aids for chronic illnesses.  Perhaps if they were to focus on the cause, as Functional Medicine and Dr. Blum do, we would be more likely to regain our health.  In my case, eliminating the cause was the cure.

 

Do you have an Autoimmune disease?  Would you consider cutting out gluten to cure or protect yourself?  Please leave your comments below.

 

Disclaimer:  This is my story. It is 100% true.  I believe that cutting gluten can be the cure for others too.  I do not believe it will work for everyone.  Every case and medical history is different.  My intent is to disseminate information that most people are not receiving from their primary care physician.

 

 

Next week I will discuss how cutting gluten from your diet isn’t as hard as you might think.  I will also tell you the surprise benefit of being gluten free, as well as the replacements and alternatives that I have found to keep meal times enjoyable.  Make sure you don’t miss it—sign up below.

 

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net <http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 
 
 

39 Responses to How I cured my AutoImmune Disease

  1. Allison Davis says:

    i want to cut out gluten but just the thought of it makes me want to cry. I’m obviously addicted. :(:(:(

    I suppose that one day, I will muster up the strength and do it.

    • lornagager.com says:

      Allison–I know it feels overwhelming. And while I think you are kidding a bit when you say “I’m addicted”, you may well be. People have actual withdrawal sometimes when they remove white carbs from their diet(think flu like symptoms). But like any detox, this will go away after a few days and you will feel so much better! Good luck if that is the route you choose.

  2. I’ve heard about gluten danger – but wow! I had no idea about the dwarf wheat and super gluten. Is there any wheat out there that grandma would have eaten?

    Great article by the way. Really enjoyed it.

    • lornagager.com says:

      Thanks Ephraim. Spelt and einkorn wheat are “ancient grains”. They boast less gluten and can often break down more easily in your system. That being said, they are still not a part of a gluten free diet.

  3. Katie says:

    Hi Lorna! Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve had the same experience with autoimmune disease. I was diagnosed with hashimoto’s and tried *everything* to cure it naturally and saw many types of doctors (both allopathic and naturopathic). No one suggested removing gluten– I stumbled across the idea in an article in “Today’s Dietitian.”

    I removed it and had similar drops in inflammatory markers.
    Can’t wait to read Dr. Blum’s book!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story Lorna! I’m glad you’ve been able to cure your sickness naturally. (It’s a really inspiring story!)

    I’m really curious to read your next post. I don’t exactly know what gluten is or if I eat it, but when I eliminate bread I feel much lighter.

    xo

    • lornagager.com says:

      Yes Melissa–gluten is a protein found in wheat, which is in so many staples of the American diet. Bread, pasta, pizza, cereal…the list goes on and on. If you feel better when you don’t eat bread, there is a good chance that your body is gluten intolerant. A huge amount of the population is and doesn’t know it.

  5. Court says:

    Wow! This resonates with me so much right now. Over the summer I was diagnosed with an unspecified autoimmune disease and the moment I was, I was advised to and instantly cut out gluten. My life has totally changed as well. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to the next post on eating gluten free.

    • lornagager.com says:

      Court–I am so glad that someone gave you the heads up to cut out gluten right away. I am curious as to whether it was your doctor? Glad that you are on the mend.

  6. Silvia says:

    Lorna. Great article.

    I’ve been aware of the problems with wheat for a long time now but, as a pasta/pizza/bread/ lover i find it so hard to give it up. Even when I make my own GR dough, it’s not nearly the same. In fact I find most GF flours quite awful. I’m still trying though. My only symptom is bloating but I know it’s not as simple as that. I’m afraid to find out how bad white flour (even organic) really is.

    I’m curious to know if sprouted wheat is just as bad for you. Have you seen any research on this?

    • lornagager.com says:

      Thanks Silvia. I have seen some research on sprouted breads. While the gluten proteins break down better than other products (which helps you digest), there is still gluten present which makes it a no go for those with celiac and gluten intolerance. One of the insidious things about gluten is that 75% of people don’t have noticeable digestive problems (I didn’t) but then get an autoimmune diagnosis. Your bloating issue might be a red flag. I know it is hard to think about giving up these staples of our diet, but tune in next week for some great alternatives!

      • melanie keck says:

        I did an experiment this week. I took some wheat and one part of it I sprouted and dried then ground into flour and the other part I just ground straight into flour. I washed the starch away to obtain the gluten. The sprouted flour had very little gluten that could be extracted. I was surprised at the amount of gluten in the regular wheat flour. I think I am sprouting the wheat before I make flour from now on. It smells wonderful as far as flour goes. White flour is soooooo bad for you. Oh my goodness. As I researched more and more into it the more disgusted I became. They take out everything good, then they process it and process it again drowning the wheat tons of dangerous chemicals(all this after the chemical bath it had while being grown.) If this were not enough they pump this white powder full of chemicals including synthetic vitamins and minerals. They actually have to let it sit for a while to let all the toxic chemical fumes die down before they are ready to sell it, and we eat so much of it. I made white rolls for Thanksgiving last year, and I was disgusted at the anemic looking dough. This year it is whole grain all the way made with a natural yeast, not that synthetic stuff that feeds off the bromaine they add to white flour to elevate the effectiveness of the yeast. I have a friend who has researched extensively into yeast and gluten troubles. You can read about it at http://calebwarnock.blogspot.com/2012/06/natural-history-of-yeast-and-why-it.html

  7. Susan Blum says:

    Hi Lorna,
    Thank you for sharing your story with me and others! Autoimmune illness can be so frustrating for so many because they are given little hope from conventional medicine of curing their disease. Stories like yours, and those i share in The Immune System Recovery Plan, offer hope, as well as a path toward getting better!
    in the best of health
    Susan Blum
    Founder and Director
    Blum Center for Health

    • lornagager.com says:

      Thank YOU Dr. Blum for your book and the work that you do. It offers help where there was none. I am so thankful for Functional Medicine and believe it needs to be the future of health care in our country.

  8. Tamara says:

    I was diagnosed with an undifferentiated autoimmune connective tissue disease as well (and the Dr. is leaning towards Sjogrens). I have been gluten free for 2 yrs (and pale for a year). I have come a long way. I currently only take a fraction of the meds I was originally given. My symptoms are very much reduced. I cannot quit taking all the meds though. I’m still showing unspecified inflammation in my bloodwork and get hives/itchy if I stop taking my meds all together. I’m still working on though and hope to be ‘cured’ as well some day! Glad to you hear you have been cured!

    • lornagager.com says:

      Tamara–I am glad that your symptoms have been lessened. Perhaps if you pick up Dr. Blum’s book you may find some new information? The book is very in depth and has many case studies. I wish you luck. Thanks very much for your comment here.

  9. Cora says:

    Hi there! I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disease) in 2005 and cut out gluten in 2008 and saw dramatic decreases and a normalization of antibodies. I think we’re on to something here ~ thank you so much for getting the word out to others! :)

    • lornagager.com says:

      Hi Cora. So glad that cutting gluten was helpful for you too. I agree, people need to know–we need to spread it from the rooftops.

  10. Cathy says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience Lorna!I have Graves disease and I just finished reading Dr Blum’s book.It is such an amazing book,very easy to read,full of useful information and a great message of hope for anyone with auto-immune disease.I thought I had healthy eating habits but I was so wrong!I am just at the end of the elimination diet and it has been fairly hard(especially because I also have to cook for my two young children and husband too!)but I am very hopeful that it will cure me,and I won’t have to keep on taking pills or go for radioactive iodine!I already feel a lot better (cut my treatment by half!)and my “brain fog” is finally gone!I recommend this book to anyone who wants to feel better.

  11. lornagager.com says:

    The beginning is the toughest part Cathy. My initial switch away from gluten was challenging also–husband and kids were not on board at all. Slowly I have moved us all away (not completely for them). It does get easier and soon you won’t have to think about it very much at all. And it is so worth it. I am glad that you are seeing improvement already. And I agree, the book is fantastic!

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you Lorna, it is encouraging! I am already trying to give my boys a lot less gluten than I would have before I read the book and they are happy enough, as long as they get their beloved pizza and pasta once in a while.I was a real gluten addict(being French….bread and cheese, pizza and pasta were my favorite!) so it is hard at times. But I did find a few lovely alternative (buckwheat pancakes for instance!) and I’m looking forward to discovering even more,so I can’t wait for your next post!I don’t see it as a burden but as some kind of new adventure as I feel so positive now that I’ve realized I can take control of my health!

      • lornagager.com says:

        I love your attitude Cathy! I was an addict too. We are proof that there is life (good life) on the other side.

  12. Silvia says:

    Lorna, I agree that gluten (as it is today) is insidious and we probably don’t even know how bad it really is. I however get frustrated about 2 things.

    !. Can’t find a GF flour or combination of flours that even come close to delivering the taste and performance of the gluten containing ones. I did find one flour that was pretty good but still not satisfied. I’ll keep experimenting however.

    2. Has all the world’s wheat been contaminated or is it that our bodies can no longer stomach any gluten regardless of it’s source?

    • lornagager.com says:

      Silvia–I understand your frustration. Especially being a chef. The GF flour is a true challenge. Most of what gives bread the texture we love is gluten. Many bakers add extra gluten for exactly this reason. I have found different flours (rice, almond, coconut) produce a product that I like. You can’t compare it to real bread, but they have pleasing tastes and textures of their own. It is hard to think of never eating real bread again, but I have chosen health over taste buds in this case. My hand was forced on this one. At least I have the memories. :)

      Spelt and einkorn wheat are both ancient grains. To my knowledge they are still as they always were. They have gluten, but lesser amounts that are easier for your body to digest. That being said, they are not safe for celiac or gluten intolerant individuals.

  13. Kelly says:

    I or shall I say Google diagnosed myself with Gluten Intolerance,when I found the connection between me eating anything with wheat in it, and breaking out in allergic eczema.I had very itchy bumps from my toes to my neck. The dr’s just nodded when I’d tell them, so I finally went Gluten Free(for a while.) A few months. When I did start back eating it, I would still itch a little bit, but even that’s gotten better.I went from itching immediately all over, to maybe itching/maybe not, and only in one spot.I did feel better when I was gluten free, but I wasn’t happy about it. I missed my pasta.Great article.

  14. Christine says:

    Wow, great reading. I was gluten free for a long time, helped my to lose 50 pounds that I have kept off for over 10 years, but slowly after time, I figured what the heck, a slice of pizza or a little whole grain bread won’t hurt. Have had an underactive thyroid for 15 years, and after so many trips to the doctor for fatigue, and even a hemotologist, who was ready to do a bone marrow test, it was FINALLY revealed that I have R/A. I’m only 50, so that was very disconcerting. I have had no problem cutting out starches in the past, don’t do dairy anyway, but I always thought the whole grain, flax bread, etc would be okay. Even my eye doctor could see something in my eyes, apparently, as she asked me if I had gut problems. No more starch of any kind anymore….Thanks!

  15. Teresa says:

    Thanks so much for the information. I stopped eating wheat last year after realizing how much better I felt after eliminating it from my diet for 2 weeks. I have also given up any foods that have corn of any form in it. For me, corn is even worse than the wheat. I can sleep through the night, I lost all of my back fat and 15 pounds, am no longer crazy-hungry, and the lumps in my breasts and arms are GONE!

  16. I think I need to try this approach with my six-year-old who is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, sesame and eggs. He suffers from eczema and asthma as well which I am so tired of treating with steroids. It’s just a big challenge for an adult, let alone a child with so many restrictions already. I think the psychological effects of these restrictive diets have yet to be fully explored. Especially for children who can feel very alienated and anxious as a result.

  17. Shana LaFore says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Lorna. I’s sad that so much of the food readily available to us can be so unhealthy. It’s good to know what options are available, and to hear first hand what has worked for you!

  18. Krista says:

    Wow – thank you for sharing. Eye opening and scary at the same time. I did a cleanse several weeks ago and cut out dairy and gluten and I never felt better! Thanks for this important post

  19. This is SO INTERESTING!!!

    Looking forward to next week’s post. With a sweetheart AND a room-mate who are respectively wheat and gluten-free, I don’t have a ton, but I still do have some.

    I’d love to know your thoughts on things like spelt bread – that has gluten but not wheat.
    (it’s just so much nicer than rice or bean bread!)

  20. Mandy says:

    Lorna, love this. I’m a gluten free gal. It’s one of the best things I could’ve done.

    Once you get used to it, and especially the benefits from it, going back to wheat products just doesn’t feel the same health-wise.

    Thanks for sharing this.
    hugs
    Mandy xo

  21. chel says:

    Love this! Thank you. While there is a lot out there about gluten I found your post on the topic way easier to assimilate than most! I am 100% corn free (allergy developed 7 years ago which causes autoimmune issues) and a “occasional cheater’ on gluten – which causes all sorts of bloating, mood swings, fatigue, and rashes itself.

    I will remember this post the next time I want to cheat with gluten – thank you. :)

  22. Hi Lorna! I love your story :)
    I was diagnosed with HBP and tachycardia a couple of years ago and no one could find the reason. I was always tired, bloated, I had headaches, gut pain. I was told I would be on medication for HBP for the rest of my life. My husband did some research and found that gluten could be the issue. I ran some tests and sure enough I was intolerant to gluten and lactose. I decided to cut gluten, lactose and coffee and my HBP is completely gone! Finding new ideas to cook is a challenge though so I’m eager to see your next post :)

  23. Lacy says:

    Fascinating! My best childhood friend has Type 1 diabetes, and my mother in law has Type 2. Does the book talk about helping those diseases as well? Wondering if I should recommend it to them.

    • lornagager.com says:

      Hi Lacy. Dr. Blum’s book can help with Type 2 diabetes, but not Type 1. Your mom should definitely check it out. Good luck to them both.

  24. […] The cleanse that I chose is from the recently opened Organic Pharmer in Rye Brook, NY.  Organic Pharmer is co-owned by Dr. Susan Blum, the woman who wrote the book that guided me to cure my autoimmune disorder.  If you missed that story, you can read it here. […]

  25. Wonderful to hear!! I was diagnosed with Autoimmune Primary Biliary Cirhosis 15 years ago and recently, Autoimmune Interstial Nephritis. My PBC is controlled with medication but I was told there was no cure for my AIN and I would “have to accept declining kidney function” Very scary. I got to know a wonderful lady who knew my Mother was Coeliac and had seen me go through steroid treatment and told my I must go Gluten Free. My first repsonse was – but I dont have any symptoms like my Mother had and she said – “No, but you don’t know what is going on inside”. She gave me a pack to read about Gluten and the body and I went GF immediately. That was 5 years ago and my kidney disease has been stable ever since. My Kidney consultant completely pooh poohed the idea, of course – But for me it is either Gluten Free or Transplant. No Contest!!

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