Autoimmune diseases are the result of the human body ‘mistaking’ its own healthy cells and tissues to be intruders and then attacking them. In the United States alone, it is estimated that close to 17-20 million people suffer from one or another form of autoimmune disease, which includes type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and celiac disease. The self-damage doled out by the immune cells on the healthy tissue leads to damage and symptoms that affect body systems.
Unraveling how to stop or possibly find a cure to reverse the damages due to autoimmune diseases has been a challenge for humanity for as long as we can recall. The research that suggests diet to play a big role in strengthening and developing the immune system has been expanding ever since.
We shall be taking a step-by-step approach towards ridding your body of the unnecessary and giving you a new lease of life.
Kicking Out The Offenders
The dietary recommendations for boosting immunity and lowering the ‘potentials’ known to cause symptoms suggest avoiding dairy products, processed foods, refined and artificial sugars and hydrogenated cooking oils. Animal products that include meats, eggs, must be eliminated. So must gluten, which is predominant in coffee, legumes, grains, seeds and nuts. The spices that are obtained from seeds can also be kicked out.
Once the symptoms subside, then the above said foods can be reintroduced slowly and gradually, for you to pinpoint what it is that is causing the worsening of the symptoms.
To What Extent Must You Eliminate?
This is an answer that depends on the extent of the severity of the autoimmune disease. Sticking to plant-based eating is mostly sufficient for reducing the symptoms in most people. Others may need to remove or restrict certain plant-based foods to reduce the effects.
Be sure to talk it out to a nutritionist or a dietician, and they will be able to walk you through this journey much better than most.
Reduce The Inflammation
One of the trademarks of autoimmune diseases is inflammation and swelling. The constant swelling occurs due to the constricting of blood vessels. Chronic inflammation can lead to deterioration of bone and muscle tissue.
This is why you need to remove foods that can trigger inflammation. Vegetarian and vegan diets are generally associated with lower extents of inflammatory response. On the other end of the spectrum, the diets that are rich in animal products and saturated fats are sparks for the blaze of inflammation to spread and wreak havoc within your body.
You would want to stick to a diet that is rich in anti-inflammatory agents and has added benefits to remove oil. Anti-oxidants also help to reduce inflammation and rid the body of free radicals. Some of the foods that do well in the above mentioned departments include ginger, turmeric and pepper.
Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Body
Your gut plays an important role in how potent your immune response is. The lymphoid tissue, present along the linings of the gut, help to ‘scan’ and monitor pathogens and disease carriers. The microbes and healthy bacteria help to breakdown undigested foods and release metabolites.
Unhealthy eating and poor diet throw all of these into the mixer, and blows the balance between the various components of your gut. A terrible diet leads to the production of damaging metabolites that cause the cells in your gut to lose integrity. This is when food particles slip through the cracks and the immune system views them as intruders, hence launching an attack.
Eating a whole-food, plant-based diet is a tried and tested way to lower the strain on your gut and promote gut health. It helps to diversify the microbiome and increase the production of metabolites which help to strengthen the lining of the gut and help to boost gut integrity.
Eat Immune Health Boosting Foods
There are specific foods that contain vitamins and antioxidants to allow the modulation of the immune system, so as to produce favorable healthy responses. Some of the foods are:
- B Vitamins- These include foods like leafy greens such as spinach, arugula and kale, along with nuts, grains and nutritional yeast.
- General Immune Support: Onions, ginger, turmeric, garlic, leafy greens and mushrooms.
- Vitamin C- These include the likes of citrus fruits like lemon, orange and other veggies like broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes and papayas.
- Flavonoids And Carotenoids- There are the foods that are rich in anti-oxidizing agents that neutralize free radicals. Most of the brightly colored foods such as blueberries, grapes, raspberries, strawberries are great sources of antioxidants.
- Vitamin D- Get yourself 15 minutes of sunlight every day and you should be fine. Or else if you stay in colder climates with little sunshine, get Vitamin D supplements.
Laying Down The Pen
Ensure healthy eating and your body is sure to reward with health and wellness. Treat your body well and it is sure to return the favor.