Is There a Link Between Nutrition and Autoimmune Disease?

Should you follow a Paleo gluten-free diet or a vegan diet? Should you take omega-3 or turmeric supplements to fight inflammation?  Millions of people in the United States who suffer from autoimmune diseases face these questions every day. The Internet is teeming with books, websites, and blogs offering advice on how to eat to prevent or treat autoimmune conditions. Unfortunately, much of it is based on private research, trial and error, and hope instead of solid scientific evidence.

What Is Autoimmune Disease?
When everything goes right, your body’s immune response is a marvelous defense system, protecting against foreign invaders, injury, and infection through a complex communication system between your body’s cells and the chemical signals they produce. In a healthy immune system, this communication is clear and specific; the body can tell the difference between a foreigner and itself. But in autoimmune disease, the immune response is flawed, and the communication system breaks down. The body’s immune system takes aim at its own tissues. Either the immune system can’t distinguish the body’s tissues from foreign cells and begins to attack itself, or it’s unable to regulate the intensity of the immune response. Regardless, the result is damage to the body’s tissues and the development of an autoimmune disease.



Role of Inflammation

There is a constant debate in the world of autoimmune disease and that is defining the role that chronic inflammation plays in many autoimmune diseases and its development. In rheumatoid arthritis, the damage to tissues is caused by an inflammatory reaction to the presence of antigens. Which recalls the old “chicken and the egg” question: Which comes first, inflammation or autoimmunity? “In rheumatoid arthritis, is it caused by inflammation and autoimmune disease comes secondarily, or is it caused by autoimmunity?  Autoimmune disease is not an inflammatory disease at its core.

 Dietary Treatment Strategies

One thing most people in the autoimmunity field agree on is that there’s a lack of evidence-based information about dietary treatments for autoimmune diseases. There isn’t good evidence in the medical world, that an immunologically healthy diet is any different from any other diet. However, with experience and success, the best I can suggest is to follow the same good diet and exercise program to attain general health.  Eat whole foods, limit ingredients, add lots of green nutrition to your daily diet.
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