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How Is Diet Related to Autoimmune Disease?

Since you stumbled on this page, chances are you’re struggling with food allergies, autoimmune disease, chronic pain or inflammation (such as skin conditions, joint pain, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.), and it may help to know that diet often plays a big role in these conditions!

Are you fed up with the ‘one directional’ approach of traditional medicine, whose only answer is what new pill you should buy?

Well then you can consider making dietary and lifestyle changes and see how you feel!

Simply by eliminating processed food together with gluten, dairy and refined sugar, some people can experience a significant improvement of their symptoms. Others may need to be a bit stricter and give a grain free, paleo diet a try. Some might even need to heal their gut and lower inflammation in their body first, through a nourishing diet like the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).

Ambra Torelli Traveling at Lefay Spa Resort in Salo Italy

I know, I have been there too. It’s not easy to understand where to start. That’s why I put together this FREE “Healing Diet Starter Kit” that you can download below, and that will help you get some clarity on what diet you want to start from.

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Why Do I Share Tips About Diet & Autoimmunity?

If you are wondering how do I know so much about the connection between diet and autoimmune disease, the answer is that I experienced the benefits of switching to an anti-inflammatory diet on my own skin!

Suffering from gluten and dairy intolerances myself and having spent several months on elimination diets such as the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), I know exactly how difficult it is to live feeling like you can’t enjoy food, travel and socializing.

After facing the challenges of following a healing but restricted diet, I managed to take charge of my life and diet again and I found practical solutions to living well even while avoiding some of the most common foods.

Make sure you stick around till the end so you don’t miss my story with autoimmunity! But, for now, I want to go straight to the point and give you even more resources to help you navigate your healing journey!

STEP 1: Try Going Gluten Free:

  1. UNDERSTAND WHAT AND WHERE GLUTEN IS: The Beginners Guide to Going Gluten Free
  2. BE AWARE OF THE EXCEPTIONS: The 5 Types of Rice That Are Not Gluten Free
  3. LEARN HOW STAY GLUTEN FREE WHEN YOU TRAVEL: Read my 5 Tips to Stay Away From Gluten When You Travel

STEP 2: Try a Paleo Grain Free Diet:

  1. LEARN HOW A PALEO DIET CAN HELP YOU BETTER MANAGE AUTOIMMUNITY AND CHRONIC PAIN: An Interview with Dr. Terry Wahls on How the Walhs Protocol Helped Her Achieve remission with her Multiple Sclerosis
  2. LEARN TO BAKE WITH NEW INGREDIENTS: Read this Guide on Grain free Flour Alternatives

STEP 3: Start the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

  1. UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND WHY: 13 Things You Need to Know About the Autoimmune Protocol
  2. GET MENTALLY PREPARED: Read the 5 Steps to Find the Motivation to Start the AIP
  3. GET YOUR KITCHEN READY: Download The Complete AIP Food List and grab your AIP Grocery Shopping List
  4. BE INFORMED ABOUT EXCEPTIONS: Learn about the 10 Superfoods Not Allowed on the AIP and How to Deal with Spices on the AIP
  5. GET COOKING: The best way to succeed on a restricted diet is to love the food you are eating. Grab a copy of my AIP Italian Cookbook 2.0 to make incredible food that the whole family will love.
  6. KEEP UP WITH THE AIP WHEN YOU ARE OUT: Learn about The 20 AIP Snacks to Eat Out of the House, as well as The 20 AIP Drinks you can enjoy when you are out. Read this post on How to Stick to The AIP When Going on Vacation.
  7. REINTRODUCE FOODS AS SOON AS YOU ARE READY! The AIP is not supposed to last forever. It’s an elimination diet to follow for a specific period of time (from 1 to 6 months), until your symptoms improve and you can reintroduce foods to see if they trigger a reaction in your system. Read this post about How to Reintroduce Foods on the AIP.
  8. IF THE AIP DOESN’T SEEM TO HELP… Make sure to check out this interview with functional nutritionist Jennifer Fugo, who talks about common leaky gut and chronic disease triggers that are not related to food: What to Do When Elimination Diets Don’t Work

My Story with Autoimmunity

Since I was very little, I have dealt with really bad atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin condition that makes your skin red, itchy and cracked and that was often associated with allergic rhinitis. I used to go to school with bandages on my hands and elbows to cover the cuts, just to mention one of the many “inconveniences”.

My doctors suggested me to try an elimination diet (besides the typical cortisone based ointments), but as a little kid who was naturally very thin, it was too hard to handle all the food limitations, especially back then, when we didn’t have many of the resources we have today.

For the time being, my parents and I decided to stop investigating whether my skin condition was provoked by a food trigger or not.

Then, during my adolescence, I started suffering from frequent migraines, having issues with hypothyroidism and digestive problems that provoked terrible sensations of stomach bloating and cramping almost every day.

A few years later, I also found out that I have an extremely elevated antibody production, often associated with joint pain and fatigue. And, even without a very clear diagnosis, I was put on Prednisone and other steroids.

It took me a few years (+ a lot of research and trial and error) to understand that diet had a lot to do with it!

Thanks to functional medicine, I discovered that I had leaky gut, that I am dairy intolerant and I have Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and that, by adjusting my diet and lifestyle, I could dramatically improve my situation.

After testing literally every style of diet (and elimination diet) imaginable, I landed on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), and when I saw the results, I was inspired to be a resource and help others along their journey.

It took me months to start seeing improvements (so don’t expect this to be a “get rich quick” solution), but once I managed to lower inflammation in my body and I learned how to keep it in that state, the success was substantial!

After 2 cycles of strict Autoimmune Protocol, I managed to reintroduce a lot of foods successfully (just like rice, which is one of my favorite things in the world). And, with the supervision of my functional medicine and of my traditional doctor, I even got off medications and my blood results have significantly improved.

My healing journey didn’t only depend on food. I addressed other issues as well, such as exposure to toxicity, stomach bugs and stress. And in the end, all of these efforts combined ended up working.

Now I am on a gluten and dairy free diet (while still avoiding most nightshades) and I do ok with some gluten free grains and legumes too.

I still experience flair ups every once in a while, and when I do, I go back to the pillars of the AIP diet for a bit. But in general, life’s good. I love the food I eat and I manage to travel without limitations, but of course, with a little bit of planning!

I am here to share my journey with you! Sit back and enjoy!!

NOTE: Remember, ALWAYS talk with your doctor about dietary changes or things you want to try out. They need to be checking your blood work periodically, especially if you have an autoimmune disease.

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