Autoimmunity and Nutrition Therapies

Forty years ago, most physicians believed autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, and Graves’ disease were incurable, irreversible, potentially debilitating or life-threatening, and progressive once they began. Today, we know that although genetics plays an estimated 25 percent role in their development, environment and lifestyle play larger roles in both triggering and reversing the autoimmune continuum.

For practitioners who treat people with autoimmune conditions, nutrition therapy has a leading role, especially when intervention begins early in the illness. This new area of nutrition therapy will grow in importance as we learn more about autoimmunity.

Did You Know?

  1. Autoimmune conditions happen when the person’s own immune system attacks the person’s body as if it were a foreign substance—a case of mistaken identity.
  2. In the past fifty years, the incidence of autoimmunity in the U.S. has tripled.1 Autoimmune disease is the most prevalent form of chronic illness, even more than cancer and heart disease, and yet most people don’t know much about it.2 It may take a person up to five years to get diagnosed after symptoms first appear.3
  3. There are more than 100 recognized autoimmune conditions.3Having one autoimmune condition triples the chance of developing another.1
  4. Autoimmune diseases are one of the top ten leading causes of death in girls and women up to age sixty-four.
  5. Three factors that trigger an increase in autoimmune disorders include stress, a gluten-saturated diet, and permeable gut barrier that allows foods, toxic substances, or allergens into the body.1,2,3
  6. People with autoimmune diseases commonly share low vitamin D levels, strained mitochondria, and increased heavy metal or pesticide stores in the body.3
  7. With MS, immune cells attack and damage myelin and other parts of the brain; the highest incidences of MS are found in Europe, Canada, U.S. and southern Australia; nearly 100 genes can slightly increase the odds of getting MS.3
  8. Treatment of autoimmune diseases includes eating fresh, clean whole foods relatively free of allergens and sweets.
  9. All three authors agree on the following steps:1,2,3
    1. Use food as medicine
    2. Rebalance stress hormones and deal with stress better
    3. Heal your gut, which will improve your immune system
    4. Support your liver function to help the body function better

Helm Publishing, Inc. carries three books written by physicians who successfully treat patients with autoimmune conditions. Two authors, Dr. Amy Myers and Dr. Terry Wahls have autoimmune diseases and have effectively treated themselves. Dr. Susan Blum is an assistant clinical professor in preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

References

  1. Myers A. The Autoimmune Solution. NY; Harper Collins: 2015.
  2. Blum S. The Immune System Recovery Plan. NY; Scribner: 2013.
  3. Wahls T. The Wahls Protocol. NY; Penguin: 2014.