Leaky gut, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, food and your addictive mind  
By Walter Sorochan

Posted August 16, 2018; Updated November 22, 2021. Disclaimer The information presented here is for informative and educational purposes only and is not intended as curative or prescriptive advice.

I started researching about the causes of autoimmune diseases and ways to reverse or eliminate them. What I also found was that the causes of an autoimmune disease like lupus and fixing it are very similar as for obesity and many other health problems. It has to do with colon bacteria, inflammation, leaky gut and the food we eat.

We have a pretty good idea of what is causing our health problems. But while we do not completely understand all the interrelated issues, many pieces of information about what causes us to be sick are beginning to fall into place.  

Scientists have discovered the root cause of all diseases   McCall: Root of autoimmune diseases . Medicine is undergoing a revolution with new information about food, inflammation, leaky gut and how our body works. Food is displacing drugs as therapy for chronic diseases. Psychiatrist Emily Deans reports the enthusiasm of researchers and doctors attending an international Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research convention in 2017 reacting to the hard evidence that diet influences bacteria in the colon that, in turn, affect mental disorders and behaviors.   Deans: Pillars of health

We all have some degree of leaky gut and autoimmune disease. Many think that such diseases are caused by DNA or heredity, but only about 20 to 30 % may be the case. It is modern life that is actually the main cause of leaky-gut, inflammation and autoimmune diseases. There has been emerging evidence for some time that the standard American-Canadian diet, which is low in fiber and high in processed foods, junk snacks, sugar, saturated fats, and stress, may initiate diseases. Major research is now telling us that food is a major contributing cause   McCall: Root of autoimmune diseases . It feeds the organisms in the colon or large intestine. Bad foods like sugar sweets and processed foods feed the bad bacteria that over-populate the gut and this is linked to chronic diseases and many illnesses. This is critical because a good 80+% of the immune system that fights body invaders comes from the digestive system. The second contributing cause of disease has to do with chronic inflammation, autoimmunity and leaky gut.  

Scientists have found chronic inflammation causing many common diseases. The most common symptoms of life, such as aches, pains and fatigue – are all caused by natural inflammation gone wrong. Normal inflammation is our body’s healthy response to fighting disease and injury. But when it gets out of hand, inflammation can become chronic and lead to a whole list of health problems, from autoimmune diseases to cancer. Foods high in sugar and saturated fat are thought to contribute to inflammation, while alkaline-rich fruits and vegetables, like apples, kale, tomatoes and cucumbers, can help neutralize the acid in your body and promote a healthy inflammation level. Chronic inflammation has been linked to leaky gut.  Straub: Chronic inflammatory diseases

Leaky gut is silent and mysterious and almost everyone has some amount of it. Inside our digestive system, we have an extensive intestinal lining covering more than 4,000 square feet of surface area. When working properly, it forms a tight barrier that controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream. An unhealthy gut lining may have large cracks or holes, allowing partially digested food, toxins, and bugs to penetrate the blood beneath it. This may trigger inflammation and changes in the gut flora (normal bacteria) that could lead to problems within the digestive tract and beyond.

The research world is booming today with studies showing that modifications in the intestinal bacteria and inflammation may play a role in the development of many common chronic diseases. As Fasano points out: “leaky gut, starts when a trigger such as toxins, dysbiosis, stress, or food sensitivity creates inflammation, causing a dysfunction in zonulin, which regulates gut barrier function. Zonulin works like the traffic cop of our bodies’ tissues. It opens the spaces between cells in the large intestine, allowing some substances to pass through while keeping harmful substances out.” Fasano Book  

Leaky gut is illustrated below: 

Leaky gut occurs when there’s a breakdown in the function of zonulin, allowing larger particles, such as bacteria, toxins, and partially-digested food particles, to pass through the intestinal walls to the bloodstream. In genetically-susceptible individuals, these substances can eventually elicit an exaggerated or erroneous response, and the body can begin to attack its own tissue. Hence autoimmunity. There are between 80 to 100 autoimmune diseases and these may have two or more links. In other words, you may have lupus or obesity as well as links to other diseases. But …. there is good reason to remain optimistic. A team of researchers from Yale University may have found the underlying cause as well as promising methods of treating illnesses.  

The paper, published in the journal Science, has linked autoimmune reactions to a bacteria in the gut called Enterococcus gallinarum. An autoimmune response, they say, can be triggered when the bacterium spontaneously migrates from the gut to other organs in the body, such as the spleen, liver, and lymph nodes. Researchers used a specific antibiotic to kill the bacteria in muscles. Such therapy approach ignores controlling the bacteria with food and may have limited long-term results.   McCall: Root of autoimmune diseases  Kashef: Bacteria link to autoimmune disease  

The large colon or gut has the immune system to normally keep these particles out of the bloodstream. Under normal circumstances, when you encounter a typical foreign invader, such as a virus, bacteria, parasite, fungus (mold and yeast), or toxin, your immune system perceives it to be a threat to your survival. In the case of autoimmunity, these large particles that have entered the bloodstream through a leaky gut, causing an immune response that causes antibodies to attack the particles themselves and the tissues of your body.  

Another big problem related to health problems like obesity are food sensitivities that are very common in all of those who appear to be healthy as well as those with autoimmunity. The usual causes are gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, and corn, although you can have a reaction to any food you eat, especially those you consume these frequently. Lectins, which are protective proteins usually found in skin seeds of legumes, grains and nuts, also activate the immune system and are implicated in autoimmunity.  

These sensitivities generally arise when the partially-digested food particles enter the bloodstream through a leaky gut.  

Another food allergen is gluten. Gluten is one of the most sensitizing substances we consume, and eating the many related foods can be just as bad, since they elicit the same response. Common related-reactive foods are rye, barley, spelt, Polish wheat, oats, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, corn, rice, potato, hemp, soy, teff, milk, chocolate, yeast, coffee, sesame, tapioca, and eggs. A very recent research found even white chicken meat, in addition to bacon and red meat, causing allergic reactions.  

When you have an autoimmune condition, it is best to eliminate gluten completely and any cross-reactives that are triggering an allergy in you. There’s no middle ground here—it’s all or nothing, because even one little bite will provoke a potentially hazardous flare-up.  

Keep in mind that while this new information about inflammation, leaky gut, sensitivity to lectin and glutin is new and most helpful, there is still a lot we do not know about nutrition and food. For example, sunshine in the nature of vitamin D-3 and iodine [Lugols solution] are two examples that are now viewed as helping to prevent not just cancer but also leaky gut, inflammation and obesity. However, we need more research on these two and other nutrients.  

Having read this information, you are about to blame your problem on eating the wrong food. But food is somewhat innocent in all of your misery. You may be ready to change the food you eat but it is the addictive brain that is rebelling against change in diet. A chemical hormone, leptin, made by fat cells, normally tells the brain that the body is not hungry. But in obese persons, the leptin is dysfunctional and does not work to suppress appetite, leaving the person feeling hungry and wanting to eat all the time. When obese persons are leptin resistant, they are eating more because the brain doesn’t see the leptin and thinks the body is starving.  

Another chemical, insulin, is related to leptin. Insulin reflects short changes in energy intake whereas leptin reflects energy balance over a longer period of time. Both leptin and insulin regulate pleasurable and motivating responses to food and drug addictions.  

An excess of another hormone, cortisol, increases the hunger level. Sarah Ballantyne in her book, The Paleo Approach, presents information that chronic stress can influence secretion of cortisol, causing immune system dysfunction. Chronic stress has been shown to increase susceptibility to autoimmune disease, infection, cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, osteoporosis, hunger and other disorders. Unfortunately, we have very little good research about cortisol. Ballantyne Book  


Axe Josh, "The Lupus Diet: Benefits, Meal Plan & Recipe Ideas," Axe: [Samples lupus Good & bad diets] Axe: Lupus diet  

Ballantyne Sarah, The Paleo Approach, Victory Belt Publishing Inc, Las Vegas, 2013.  

Benaroya Research Institute, "Mystery of Multiple autoimmune diseases," Benaroya Research Institute, Virginia Mason, Seattle, Wa., May 17, 2018. Benaroya: Autoimmune diseases

Chander Timothy, “Texas Doctor Shuns The Medical Establishment And Reveals The True Cause Of Aging,” SmartLifeNow, June 2, 2017.   Article by Chandler: True cause of aging is no longer active.

Davis Stephanie, "Why Autoimmunity Is Keeping You Sick And How To Reverse It," Health Trust Healing, August 26, 2017. [MD got rid of lupus]   Davis: Autoimmunity can be reversed

Deans Emily, “The Pillars of Health,” Psychology Today, November/December, 2017.  Deans: Pillars of health

Fasano Alessio, "Introduction to gluten spectrum disorders," A Clinical Guide to Gluten-Related Disorders, Kindle Book, Lippincott Willians & Wilkin, Philadelphia, 2013.  

Guthrie Catherine, "Autoimmune Disorders: When Your Body Turns On You," Experience Life, October 2013.  Guthrie: Autoimmune disorders

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Kashef Ziba, "The enemy within: Gut bacteria drive autoimmune disease," Yale News, March 8, 2018.  Kashef: Bacteria link to autoimmune disease

McCall Rosie, "Scientists Discover The Root Of Autoimmune Diseases – And How We Can Treat Them," IFLScience, March 09, 2018.  McCall: Root of autoimmune diseases

Myers Amy, "Success Story: Curing My Patient’s Lupus, Leaky Gut, Depression, Brain Fog….Starting at the Gut," Further Food, adopted from from The Autoimmune Solution, [Amy Myers, Functional medicine MD]  Myers: Curing paitent's autoimmunes diseases

Straub Rainer H and Carsten Schradin, “Chronic inflammatory systemic diseases,” Evol Med Public Health. January 27, 2016, 37–51.  Straub: Chronic inflammatory diseases