Autoimmune diseases are definitely on the rise. More than one hundred diseases have so far been confirmed to have autoimmune nature and the list is increasing. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) estimates that autoimmune disease has been diagnosed in 50 million Americans. Autoimmune diseases deserve our attention and patients with autoimmune disease deserve to be constantly updated with the latest research helping them control their health.
We now understand autoimmune diseases better than ever before. Autoimmune diseases however still remain greatly under-diagnosed.
When autoimmune disease struck my family I knew it was time to start looking deeper into the causes of autoimmune disease, to study the dietary factors contributing to this increasing epidemic and most importantly find the solutions that would help people heal their immune system and re-gain control of their health.
10 Facts about Autoimmune Disease
1. Immune System Defect
The root cause of all autoimmune disease is the immune system which turns against and attacks cells and organs of its own body. This attack of the immune system results in internal inflammation.
2. High Risk of a second Autoimmune Disease
A person with autoimmune disease has an increased risk of developing a second autoimmune disease.
3. Diet and Lifestyle
Autoimmune disease is directly linked to diet and lifestyle. Changes in diet and lifestyle can have hugely beneficial effects and even lead to complete reversal of autoimmune disease.
4. Gender Differences
Women are 3 times more likely to develop an autoimmune disease compared to men.
5. Useful Blood Tests
Useful blood tests used to diagnose an autoimmune disorder include analysis of: antinuclear antibodies, auto-antibodies, C-reactive protein (CRP) and ESR (inflammation markers), food sensitivity and food allergy tests, hormone levels, micronutrient deficiency tests and organ function tests (i.e. liver function).
6. Environmental Triggers
Autoimmune disease is often triggered by environmental factors such as chemicals, pollutants and toxins, bacterial, viral, fungal and parasite infections, stress, hormones and diet.
7. Autoimmune – Diet Link
The diet affects autoimmune disease through food sensitivities. The food we eat also affects the function of the digestive system and the immune system which have key roles in autoimmune disease.
8. The Role of Gluten
Many, if not all autoimmune diseases are linked to gluten sensitivity.
9. Autoimmune disease and the Gut
Digestive problems are considered to be the root cause of autoimmune disease. It is now believed that a leaky gut (also known as intestinal permeability) is present in all autoimmune disease and is necessary for autoimmune disease to develop. A step by step approach to healing leaky gut is fundamental for healing autoimmune disease or putting it in remission.
10. The Paleo Approach
The Paleo diet is a dietary protocol that is very promising for reducing the symptoms of autoimmune disease, decreasing inflammation and healing the gut of autoimmune sufferers. The diet focuses on a nutrient-dense intake and eliminates inflammatory and allergenic foods such as grains, legumes and dairy products. It also encourages increasing the intake of probiotic rich foods to heal gut dysbiosis. Recent research shows very promising results of its ability to put autoimmune disease in remission!
Take Home Message:
- In the past we had very little understanding of the mechanisms underlying autoimmune disease.
- Scientists have now started to put the puzzle together and the lifestyle factors contributing to autoimmune disease have been identified and are being constantly explored in order to provide therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of people with autoimmune disease.
- Diet has a key role in autoimmune disease. Reversing nutrient deficiencies, eliminating triggering foods, healing the gut and applying nuttition protocols that support healing are all keys to healing these conditions.
- The Paleo Approach, Reverse autoimmune disease and heal your body, Sarah Ballentyne, PhD, ISBN 13:978-1-936608-39-3
- www.aarda.org, The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
- Le Vere, Ali. “Landmark Study Suggests Efficacy of Autoimmune Paleo Protocol by Ali Le Vere.”