Autoimmune Diseases Triggered By Leaky Gut Syndrome


Chronic inflammation is the underlying cause of most autoimmune disorders. But for many who suffer from autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, the big question is “What triggers the inflammatory reaction in the body?” “A growing body of evidence suggests that virtually the same trio of factors underpins most, and perhaps all, autoimmune diseases: an environmental substance that is presented to the body, a genetically based tendency of the immune system to overreact to the substance, and an unusually permeable gut,” said Dr. Alessio Fasano, a leading researcher at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (1).

Intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome are terms used to describe an inability of the stomach lining to absorb protein molecules. Instead of being absorbed and digested, these protein molecules circulate throughout the blood stream. Here, they stimulate the immune system, and, in turn, immune system cells react to their presence as they would to any foreign protein by initiating an inflammatory reaction that leads to autoantibody production and autoimmune disease development. Evidence for this theory includes the presence of gastrointestinal tissue damage seen in patients with a number of different autoimmune diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis, and dermatitis herpetiformis. In many of these conditions, a reduction of digestive inflammation correlates with a reduction or remission of autoimmune symptoms. (2)

There are many foods that trigger digestive inflammation. Among the most common foods are wheat, milk, and beef. In order to discover exactly what foods are the culprits, the best approach is an elimination diet of these foods. For more information about neutralizing inflammation in the body read The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook, available at

Recent research has showed that the risk of rheumatoid arthritis is inversely associated with consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (3) and some trials have produced benefits when patients eliminate cereal grains altogether and emphasize proteins rich in polyunsaturated fat, such as fish, nuts and soy. These low-carbohydrate diets may help because they suppress growth of harmful or immune-active intestinal bacteria (4).

I wanted to share this recent research and offer another delicious recipe that contains anti-inflammatory foods rich in omega-3 oils (other than fish and nuts), antioxidants which help reduce chronic pain in the body, and fiber to balance the intestinal tract. Eat this Rhubarb Strawberry Fool for a refreshing dessert that will help reduce digestive inflammation. For more information about soy go to


Yields 2 cups

2 cups rhubarb* (about 2 large stalks), diced in 1–inch pieces
1 teaspoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup strawberries hulled and cut into halves (or use whole raspberries)
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces soft silken tofu

  1. Combine the rhubarb, ginger, orange zest, and juice in a medium–size heavy saucepan. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, loosely cover, and simmer for 4 minutes.
  2. Add berries and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and add honey and vanilla extract. Cool for 5 minutes.
  3. In a food processor, purée silken tofu until smooth. Add in cooked, cooled puree and blend until smooth. Cool in refrigerator.
  4. Serve with Greek yogurt for a very healthy dessert. The fool can be made several days ahead and refrigerated.

*Rhubarb leaves are inedible. Trim the stalks and remove all leaves completely. Then cut off the flat brown part from the bottom of each stalk. String the rhubarb only if the stalks are very large and green.


(1) Fasano, A. (2009). Surprises from celiac disease. Scientific American. 23:21. Retrieved from

(2) Moore, E. (2007). Leaky gut syndrome: using probiotics and digestive enzymes in autoimmune disorders. General Medicine. Retrieved from

(3) Linos, A, Kaklamani, V., Kaklamani, E., et al (2000). Dietary factors in relation to rheumatoid arthrisits: a role for olive oil and cooked vegetables. American Journal Clinical Nutrition. 70(6): 1077-82. Retrieved from

(4) Vanderhoof, J & Young, R. (2006). Bacterial overgrowth. University of Nebraska Medical Center, Creighton University. Retrieved from



  1. February 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    […] Autoimmune Diseases Triggered By AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES TRIGGERED BY LEAKY GUT SYNDROME. Chronic inflammation is the underlying cause of most autoimmune disorders. But for many who suffer from autoimmune diseases such … […]

  2. February 6, 2013 at 9:13 am

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