We are truly experiencing an autoimmune disease epidemic right now, especially in America and Western societies, and it’s vitally important to know the Foods To Avoid For Autoimmune Disease. Autoimmunity disorders are simply the result of your body’s immune system turning on itself, and mistakenly identifying normal healthy body tissue, and even organs, as invaders and destroying them.
For example, type 1 diabetes, one of the nearing 100 autoimmune disorders, attacks only one organ, the pancreas, or, Graves disease attacks the thyroid gland. And lupus, for example, is very evasive and attacks the entire body. So does Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Autoimmune diseases have increased threefold over the last 50 years, and it currently affects between 50 and 75 million Americans. It is the third leading chronic illness in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer. And it accounts for over $100 billion annually in healthcare costs. According to the National Institutes Of Health (NIH), approximately 24 million Americans have at least one form of autoimmune disorder.
Women are at a greater risk of autoimmune disease than men. The NIH addressed the issue of women being more susceptible, and although it’s not definitive, it seems to be associated with hormonal factors or the fact that women tend to have stronger immune systems, which may play a role. A 2014 ScienceDirect study found that women are twice as likely to contract some form of this disorder, then men. 6.4% of women as to 2.7% of men, and it occurs more frequently during women’s child-bearing years.
Ethnicity plays a role in susceptibility of autoimmune disorders, and it could be exposure to pathogens, according to this NIH study. Native American, Latino, and African-Americans generally develop autoimmune disorders at a much higher rate than Caucasians. However, Caucasians are more prone to contract type 1 diabetes, whereas, lupus is most severe for African-American and Hispanic people.
As you can see, it can get very complicated and hard to predict! Another aspect of autoimmunity that is cause for alarm, besides the skyrocketing rates of it, is that autoimmune diseases often go undiagnosed for years. The startling facts is, it takes an average of five to six doctors and five years to receive an autoimmune diagnosis.
Autoimmune disorders can cause many types of symptoms all over the body that range from mild to severe in nature. So, what’s causing these mysterious illnesses that are so complicated and difficult for doctors to diagnose and treat?
It all starts with your immune system. Your immune system has a very sophisticated system for keeping you safe that leads it to identify all the foreign substances that enter your body or that you come into contact with. If your immune system deems anything dangerous, it will produce antibodies to ward off the harmful intruders, first activating the defense mechanism causing inflammation.
Autoimmune diseases are born when your body is working hard to defend itself against something potentially dangerous, such as medication, a toxin, an infection, or even food, and it fails to differentiate between the intruder and parts of your own body. The NIH weights in on the complexity of autoimmunity causes in another study.
Phytoestrogens are natural toxins found in soy (beans), and an example of a toxin you need to be aware of, because it effects normal thyroid function by inhibiting the body’s ability to use iodine, blocking the process by which iodine becomes the thyroid hormones, inhibiting the secretion of thyroid hormone, and moving your body into a state of autoimmunity, according to NIH study. Soybeans should be suspect anyway because they are usually GMO’s (genetically-modified) too.
Back to a foreign substance entering your body. Here is one way it happens, a foreign substance that resembles a natural body substance may enter the body. The immune system may inadvertently target the similar body substance as well as the foreign substance, like the bacteria that cause strep throat which have an antigen that is similar to an antigen in human heart cells. Rarely, the immune system attacks a person’s heart after strep throat. If it occurs, it leads to rheumatic fever, per this NIH study.
Or, an invader like a virus alters a normal body substance making it unrecognizable by the immune system. Or, a typically localized substance in the body such as body fluid caused by an injury, and it is released into the bloodstream, stimulating an abnormal immune reaction.
Your stressed immune system then turns antibodies against you, mistakenly attacking your own tissues instead of invaders, causing a potentially wide range of symptoms. A very diverse and sometimes complicated range of symptoms, making it extremely difficult for medical professionals to diagnose and treat, such as:
Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
Feeling tired or fatigued, weight gain, or cold intolerance
Dry eyes, mouth, or skin, or recurrent rashes or hives, and sun sensitivity
Inflammation, joint pain, muscle pain or weakness, or a tremor
Difficulty concentrating or focusing and general mental fog
Abdominal pain, poor digestion, blood or mucus in your stool, diarrhea, or mouth ulcers
Weight loss, insomnia, heat intolerance, or rapid heartbeat
Although heredity can play a role in being susceptible to autoimmune disorders, several studies have shown genes only account for 20% or so, of the diagnosed cases. That’s very promising that 70% to 80% of immune disorder are a result of environmental factors and lifestyle, and are indeed controllable, reversible, and even preventable. Here’s what an NIH study confirmed:
The multi-factorial nature of the genetic risk factors and the low penetrance of disease underscore the potential influence of environmental factors and gene-environment interactions on the etiology of autoimmune diseases.
Certain simple lifestyle and dietary changes can put you on the right path to dealing with these various disorders: Numerous studies have shown diet and poor nutrition, such as a vitamin D deficiency, environment, exposures to infections, viruses, exposure to pollutants, irritants, smoking, and toxins and even some drugs, recurring or chronic stress, and “leaky gut“, are the culprits.
The fact that these environmental and dietary factors are predominately responsible for causing your immune system to go “haywire” is actually good news! It simply means changing your ways….your diet….your lifestyle, such as getting moderate exercise and restful sleep, which in turn, will restore your immune system to optimal function, even without harsh medications, preventing your body from no longer attacking itself, your symptoms will disappear.
For example, some studies are recommending reducing salt intake (processed foods), as there seems to be a connection between salt and autoimmune disorders, according to one NIH study. Or, as mentioned above, stay away from soy products. It’s left to you! If you’re willing to commit to addressing the true underlying causes of your condition, that caused your immune system to go rogue in the first place attacking you, you can eliminate your symptoms and reclaim your health and vitality!
Western Diet and Foods Not To Eat
There are Foods To Avoid For Autoimmune Disease, and represented as nutritional eating patterns, collectively termed the “Western Diet”, per this NIH study. And yes, you guessed it, the one most Americans eat, including high-fat and cholesterol, high-fatty corn or grain-fed meat protein, glutan-containing foods, high-sugar, sugar-free just as bad.
Add to the list excessive salt, industrial seed cooking oils, such as canola, vegetable, corn or soybean oils, as well as frequent consumption of processed meats and grains and other foods, and any ‘fast foods’, which promote obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. Here is what the NIH had to say about the “fast foods” epidemic and low-nutrient foods:
The current U.S. food supply contains a large amount of energy-dense foods, many of which consist of refined grains and foods high in fats and/or sugars and low in nutrients. Many of these foods are often available in increasingly large portion sizes at relatively low prices. An exodus of grocery stores and an influx of fast-food restaurants in lower-income urban areas have contributed to income and racial/ethnic disparities in access to healthier foods
These industrial oils are extremely high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, and low in healthy omega 3s. A diet high in these omega-6 fats will cause systemic inflammation in the body, which is an underlying commonality with all modern chronic degenerative diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. It also includes feedlot corn or grain-fed raised food animals products, such as beef, pork, lamb, dairy, and housed chickens and their eggs, turkeys, ducks. And last but not least, any farm-raised fish and seafood.
These housed, or feedlot, or farmed food animals and fish, also have typically high levels of hormones, antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, toxins, and in the case of fish, PCB’s and dioxins and other toxins, in their meats, and unsafe for human consumption. The increase in environmental pollution, vaccinations, fluoridation, food additives, heavy metals, cosmetics and other toxic chemicals have had a negative impact on your health, especially with autoimmune disorders.
Here is one NIH study confirming the detrimental effect of toxins. Studies have shown that antibiotics traces in foods or overuse of antibiotics, destroy good micro flora in your gut. Here is an example of one such study from the Stanford University School Of Medicine.
Then you have to consider conventionally farmed (non-organic) food crops, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains, which can have traces of chemical additives, fertilizers, toxins, even insecticides, and are genetically modified (GMO’s) in many cases. According to the 2019 EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ analysis of test data from the Department Of Agriculture, nearly 70% of the produce sold in the U.S. comes with pesticide residues. Quoting the EWG report,
Overall, the USDA found 225 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on popular fruits and vegetables Americans eat every day.
One other thing about nuts and seeds. Avoid roasted nuts and seeds. The problem with roasted nuts is that the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats of the nuts are very prone to oxidation at high temperatures. The nuts you typically find in stores can be rancid, making a good fat a bad one.
Avoid low-fat foods. You need healthy fats for your health. Our brains, heart circulatory system, immune systems, hormones and cell function depend on this precious maco-nutrient. On top of being deficient in healthy fats, when food is labeled “low-fat” it typically means they replaced the fat with lots of processed sugar or chemicals. The American Heart Association (AHA)in this review says dietary fats have gotten a “bad rap”! Quoting the AHA,
Eating foods with fat is definitely part of a healthy diet. Just remember to choose foods that provide good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) and balance the amount of calories you eat from all foods with the amount of calories you burn.
Speaking of sugar, well, sugar-free, it’s really no secret now that the artificial sweeteners used in many sugar drinks are linked to chronic disease, and they actually make you gain weight. One study published in the Journal Of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking just 12 ounces of diet soda a week increased risk of diabetes by 33%. Drinking 20 ounces of diet soda per week increased risk of diabetes by 66%!
And, by all means, any foods labeled “All Natural” avoid. Read the labels and if it looks like a chemistry experiment with long-tailed chemical compounds you can’t even pronounce, avoid it at all costs! Still, on the subject of sweets, avoid milk chocolate, as well.
Dark natural chocolate not so bad. According to an NIH study:
These factors have also gained high interest as possible promoters of autoimmune diseases…….and it is becoming increasingly clear that the dietary habits in Western societies (“too much”, “too fatty”, “too salty”) and a high body mass index (BMI) also constitute risk factors for autoimmune diseases.
Your gut is where the majority (80%) of your immune system resides and where all the problems begin. When your guts protective lining is compromised, called “leaky gut”, it can give rise to an autoimmune response throughout your body. This breach of your body’s protective system, releasing undigested food particles and bacteria to circulate throughout the body, causes your immune system to go in hyper drive, thus the autoimmune response. According to the NIH,
Leaky Gut should be looked at as a danger signal for autoimmune disease.
Avoid NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen which relieve pain and inflammation by blocking an enzyme. The problem is that this enzyme also performs important functions, such as protecting the stomach from the corrosive effects of its own acid, which strengthens the activity of the immune system. This enzyme, when blocked can trigger autoimmune response in your body. In people who chronically use NSAIDs, research shows that 65% will develop intestinal inflammation and up to 30% develop ulcers. There are remedies which we’ll cover right now in “what to eat’.
What To Eat
Eat healthy, well-balanced meals such as the Mediterranean Diet. Here are 3 authority studies of the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet:
The Harvard Medical School. Quoting the study,
Research supports the use of the Mediterranean diet as a healthy eating pattern for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, increasing lifespan, and healthy aging. When used in conjunction with caloric restriction, the diet may also support healthy weight loss.
The NIH Study. Quoting the study,
Therefore, the choice of a healthy diet such as the MedDiet associated with regular physical activity is critical in the fight against many chronic diseases. The protection against atherosclerosis by the MedDiet can probably be extended to other chronic inflammation-related diseases, including visceral obesity, the metabolic syndrome, and type-2 diabetes, cancer or neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmunity, among others.
Oxford Academics the Journals Of Gerontology. Quoting the study,
Recent findings from animal and human translational studies are starting to shed light on the biological mechanisms that are mediating the beneficial effects of the traditional Mediterranean diet……can suppress the development of several inflammatory, autoimmune, and allergic disease.
Make sure to include organic non-GMO fruits and vegetables, whole natural grains, nuts (not roasted), seeds (not-roasted), organic grass-fed finished dairy products, and organic grass-fed finished meats, or organic free-range poultry meats, and cage-free eggs, all lean (low in omega 6s)sources of protein with healthy fatty omega 3s.
One study conducted by the NIH showed that eating more saturated fats prevented the progression of heart disease. Another NIH study showed a high-fat diet consisting of saturated fats (omega 3s) in meat and dairy products actually had a threefold decrease in type 2 diabetes.
Eat and cook with lots of extra virgin olive oil, or coconut or avocado oil. Always include eating wild-caught or cold-water fish and seafood several times a week. Exclude foods such as soy and gluten-containing products. If you follow a healthy eating plan, you will get the nutrients you need from food. To repair “leaky gut”, eat foods sulfur-rich vegetables like onions, cabbage and broccoli high in amino acids, and particularly L-Glutamine, which studies, like this NIH study, have shown to bring healing to damaged gut lining.
Another good choice to restore gut health is bone broth, which is abundant in fat-soluble vitamins and minerals to boost your overall immune health and digestion. Bone broth is also rich in gelatin, which can heal your gut from the inside out. Bones should be from organic grass-fed finished cattle or organic free-range chickens. If your gut is healthy, did you know it has over 100 trillion good bacteria?
Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, fermented wine or beer, Greek yogurt, and kombucha provide and restore your gut with trillions of beneficial bacteria flora. This will help rebuild and balance healthy bacteria levels that are destroyed with leaky gut syndrome, according to the NIH study.
Here’s one more, green tea, which has been to shown to dampen the autoimmune response in the body, especially the brain. Other excellent liquids beside pure filtered water, is infused water with natural organic fruits like lemon, lime, or any kind of berry.
Espresso, which is high in antioxidants and plant polyphenols, is a good choice too, however use it in moderation. One other excellent option that will assist you with treating autoimmune disorders is supplementing with the all-natural nutrient-rich Adaptogen Peruvian Maca.
Follow the links in the reviews below for more detailed information and also where to purchase all the healthy nutrient-dense foods outlined this article for combating autoimmune diseases:
Get regular moderate physical activity
Go for a walk, or a jog out in nature, or go for a swim, especially in the ocean. Remember you need a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week (30 minutes a day)for keeping your body healthy. Play a sport. Go hiking or backpacking or biking out in nature somewhere, which is even better. Go dancing.
But be careful not to overdo it. Plant a backyard garden. Talk with your doctor about what types of physical activity you can do. A gradual and gentle exercise program often works well for people with long-lasting muscle and joint pain. Some types of slow-breathing exercise, meditation, yoga or tai chi exercises may be helpful.
Get Enough Rest
Rest allows your body tissues and joints and brain the time they need to repair. Sleeping is a great way you can help both your body and mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, your stress level and your symptoms could get worse. You also can’t fight off sickness as well when you sleep poorly.
Disconnect from technology several hours before it’s time to sleep. Take a nice warm bubble bath, or read some in a book before you lay your head down to sleep. When you are well-rested, you can tackle your problems better and lower your risk for illness. Most people need at least 7 to 9 hours, ideally 8, of sleep each day to feel well-rested and restored.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can trigger symptoms to flare up with some autoimmune diseases. So finding ways to simplify your life and cope with daily stressors will help you to feel your best. Deep-breathing, meditation, self-hypnosis, and guided imagery, are simple relaxation techniques that might help you to reduce stress, lessen your pain, and deal with other aspects of living with your disease.
Get out in nature or on the ocean, or get a pet, or spend more time with your pets. Do something you really enjoy, or something that makes you laugh, every day. Maintain a positive attitude and remain grateful.
Connect with family and close friends and expand your social circle. Use your creativity and your talents every day Sing in the shower, or join a choir. Listen to music. Plant a flower, or vegetable and herb garden. Not only will you be helping your physical and mental well being, but also providing you and your family the freshest and nutritious foods available. Enjoy bird watching
You can learn to do these through self-help books, tapes, or with the help of an instructor. Joining a support group or talking with a counselor might also help you to manage your stress and cope with your disease, and even reduce it.
So, now you know what Foods To Avoid For Autoimmune Disease, and also the best nutritious foods you should be eating to fight autoimmunity. The question is are you going to make these necessary lifestyle changes that can help or correct your autoimmunity, or even prevent it from occuring in the future? Your comments and questions are welcomed.