Autoimmune diseases are on the rise. What used to be diseases unfamiliar to the general public are becoming more rampant in our society. More people are now afflicted with autoimmune diseases then heart disease and cancer combined.
An autoimmune disease is caused when one’s immune system has lost self-tolerance. That means the immune system, which recognizes pathogens to destroy, starts mistakenly attacking one’s own tissues, confusing them for harmful intruders.
Examples of some autoimmune diseases are: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Celiac disease, Type I diabetes, Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, etc.
It is very important to understand that diseases as severe these don’t just happen overnight. There is a gradual process that leads up to this loss of self-tolerance. Chronic symptoms like joint pain, fatigue, etc. may be the beginning stages of an autoimmune disease.
Nutritionally, there is much that can be done to increase immune tolerance and reduce the symptoms and damage from autoimmune diseases. Healing starts with a non-inflammatory diet. This means avoiding foods that contain gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, legumes like peanuts, and soy. These foods stimulate the bodies immune system to attack not only those foods you are eating but your bodies tissues as well, causing inflammation and symptoms. For someone with a severe autoimmune disease eating this Paleo-type diet is a must for at least 3 to 6 months. If not, medications are likely the only other solution to decrease symptoms.
Here are some links to free Paleo-diet cookbooks: eating a non-inflammatory diet doesn’t have to mean you must suffer if you are a food connoisseur. PaleoPrimer and the SID cookbook
Many nutritional compounds are available that can dampen the inflammatory immune response and help bring relief. Examples are vitamin D (at least 8000 to 10000 IUs a day), probiotics, nutrients to heal the gut (like glutamine), antioxidants and nutrients that support glutathione production, and anti-inflammatory herbals like turmeric and resveratrol.
Remember that having a healthy gastrointestinal tract is important to keep symptoms of an autoimmune disease at bay. The bacteria in your gut “talk” to your immune system. Therefore you want more “good” bacteria in your gut then the “bad”. A good probiotic and healthy lifestyle habits are very important to maintain a healthy gut.