Thursday, August 23, 2012

Importance of diet in Auto Immune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases have become very common. I am seeing a lot of thyroid problems. This article explains why you should try to go on a hypo allergic diet, to prevent future autoimmune diseases.

An Autoimmune disease occurs when the body's own immune system attacks the tissues of its own body. This normally happens because it reacted to some proteins and those proteins looked like the proteins in your body, eg Thyroid cells, pancreas cells, etc. The triggering proteins could come externally from an infection, insect bite, or from food.

We know that it can happen due to food only when the digestive system is not doing its job properly. In a normal digestive system, foreign proteins will be properly broken down and the amino acids will be absorbed, or else the offending proteins will be properly discarded.

If you have one type of Autoimmune disease, it is also likely that over time you could develop another type of autoimmune disease, unless the cause is eliminated. So if you discover one type, you have to treat it, to avoid developing another type. Unfortunately once an autoimmune disease has been triggered you can only control it. You can never eliminate it because the immune system never forgets.

The digestive system can get compromised in several ways. The stomach could suffer with low acidity, which prevents proper digestion of proteins. The intestine may suffer with what is called the Leaky Gut Syndrome, which allows proteins to enter the blood stream without proper digestion.

The proper solution is to avoid eating stuff that you are not able to digest easily, and avoid the foods that are commonly associated with allergies. Wheat is a special case as it is associated with a lot of digestive issues, and is known to directly cause the autoimmune disease of the intestines called Celiac.

The first step should be to get rid of all of the major allergens (gluten, soy, eggs, casein, seafood, and Peanuts), from the diet, completely. Fish are ok, but the rest of seafoods are a problem. Next we get into personal sensitivities.

You would need to determine your personal sensitivities. There are some tests available (look for allergy tests), but they are all not very reliable. They have both the chance of false positives or false negatives. These could serve as a starting point but never the destination. The only good way is to test your reaction after an elimination diet.

A good elimination diet for mostly vegetarians which also is good for the gut is Ghee, Rice and some vegetables that you tolerate well and are very low in fibers, eg gourd family with peels removed. You can eat meat/fish/chicken, but avoid any shellfish or other seafood. Also add a lot of probiotics, eg fermented vegetables, rice, kaanji, kimchi, pickles. Keep the spices very low in cooking, and instead use fermented pickles. You want to make all the fermented stuff at home, unless you know a reliable source.

You should stay on the elimination diet for around 2-3 months, and then start introducing foods one at a time that you would like to have regularly. Avoid adding grains and legumes first. You could test fermented grains legume combos like dosa, idly, etc. Don't use the common allergens anywhere. Also avoid grains/legumes that are ground with their skins. You should keep one day in between introductions, to allow for delayed reactions.

Anything that gave you mild reaction, you can retest after a gap of 2-3 months. Avoid anything that gave you a large reaction or the common allergens till you can consume foods without problem that gave you mild reaction before. The probiotics should eventually fix your gut and allow you to eat the rest.

Sufficient Vitamin D is very important, as one of its major functions is to help with the proper running of immune system. It has been seen that most people with autoimmune diseases have very low Vit D.

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