When an individual has an autoimmune disease, their immune system mistakenly turns against itself, targeting the cells, tissues and organs of their own body. Many different autoimmune diseases exist, each affecting the body in different ways. For example, in multiple sclerosis, the autoimmune reaction is directed against the brain, while in Crohn’s disease it’s the large intestine. Although many of the individual autoimmune diseases are rare, as a group they afflict millions of Americans. Most autoimmune diseases tend to strike women more often than men, and they particularly affect working-age women as well as women during their childbearing years.
What are the symptoms of an autoimmune disease?
The symptoms of autoimmune disease vary widely depending on the disease and an individual’s immune system, as well as from patient to patient. Inflammation is a common symptom among many of the different diseases. Dizziness, fatigue, joint and body pain, malaise and a low-grade fever are among non-specific symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases. A specific autoimmune disease may result in the destruction of an organ or tissue, or the increase in the size of an organ or tissue.
Diet for Autoimmune Disease
Comprehensive natural medicine testing can often reveal the reasons why the body is producing antibodies against itself. Some of these reasons include sensitivities, or delayed allergies, to foods, inhalants and chemicals and various infections. Therefore Diet Typing and Food Sensitivity Testing are always the first step for people with symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Following a healthy diet plan free of foods a person is sensitive to allows for the body to decrease the total number of antibodies produced, providing some relief to the body.
There is a lot of research that suggests a vegetarian diet for people with autoimmune diseases. While we recognize this research may point someone in the right direction, Diet Typing is still ideal to take a more specific snapshot of the person’s physiology. Therefore we have each patient go through Diet Typing to see how their blood sugar react to the modified glucose insulin tolerance test and a hemoglobin A1c, along with their venous blood pH. While the Giraffe Diet, our true vegetarian diet, is often prescribed, some people require variations to the vegetarian diet with a small amount of protein. The Monkey and Bear Diet Types can also be potential diet plans for a person with an autoimmune disease.
Food Sensitivities – you may not be eating as “healthy” as you think!
In almost all autoimmune cases we treat, there are underlying food sensitivities. These are discovered through blood testing, NOT scratch testing, as done by an allergist. The immune response is different, and generally associated with foods eaten every day, such as wheat or dairy, versus the immediate and severe allergic reaction of something like a peanut or shellfish allergy. What we see is most people with autoimmune disorders are routinely eating foods that aggravates their condition, which often leads to periods of feeling better or worse than other days. Once any individual sensitivities are known, it amazes people to see how something eaten today will effect the body days from now. We realize that for a person with an autoimmune condition, this makes it more difficult to plan events in life. How will I feel by Saturday, if I make plans on Monday? Will my RA flare up? People often live in fear of their disease. Knowing food sensitivities and Diet Type, can help put you back in control of at least one more aspect of life! You can learn which foods are most likely to help you keep feeling better, and which are more likely to set off a negative response in your body.
A Patient’s Story
Sue came to see us after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Sue was 35 years-old and had just had a baby through a caesarian section. Six weeks after giving birth she notices that her hands and feet were swelling. She was prescribed prednisone but she did not want to start on a medication, especially since she was nursing her newborn. However, when her hip started to have painful swelling and her walking became affected, she took a trip to the emergency room to relieve the pain she was experiencing. She was given some strong pain medications and her pain and swelling disappeared. However when they returned, she decided to make some changes. She suspected that she had candida, so she started implementing more of an anti-candida diet by eating more protein and also gave up dairy, wheat, and corn. The change in diet helped, but she once she stopped the diet her symptoms returned. Sue wanted to be exactly sure of what was causing her symptoms to flare-up – she did not want to play the guessing game with diet, so she came to see us.
Among other tests, Sue had Diet Typing and food sensitivity (delayed allergy) testing. Her Diet Typing revealed that she was a slow oxidizer and that she had acidic blood. While a vegetarian diet for RA would be good for her blood sugars, it would not do anything about her acidic blood, as vegetarian diets further acidify blood pH. Sue started on the Monkey diet, which is close to the Giraffe diet, but with more protein, because she would need just some protein in her diet, but not too much to offset the RA.
She knew that she had some sort of food sensitivities, as she had recently eaten pizza and woke up the next day with debilitating pain. But was it the wheat crust, the cheese topping, or the tomato sauce? She had been playing the guessing game by eliminating some gluten (wheat), and some dairy but had not given up either one completely.
Her food sensitivity results showed that dairy was probably the culprit for some of her pain. She was also allergic to avocadoes and red peppers – two items that were included in her lunch a few times a week. So she would have to make some changes, but good for her, the guessing game was over. Eliminating these foods helped considerably with her rheumatoid arthritis. She had some additional treatment recommendations from Dr. Hauser targeted to further improve her physiology, but she felt more control over her disease by knowing what foods she should feed herself in order to feel good and provide a foundation for healing.
Sue represents our patient population who have come to use having previously eaten a very health conscious, organic food diet. While Sue was eating very similarly to her true Diet Type, she was just a bit off and needed to eliminate the specific foods she was allergic to. Sue just needed enough help to pinpoint the exact diet to follow and she was well on her way.
This type of autoimmune case is common in our office. We cannot stress the importance of food enough in any autoimmune condition. A person who is food savvy and eating “healthy” may actually be consuming allergenic foods regularly. In addition, supplements, and sometimes natural hormones will play a part in getting a person their life back. There are natural solutions for lupus, ulcerative colitis, and almost all autoimmune diseases. Check out more about the common autoimmune conditions we see and help here: Autoimmune Disease. If you would like to make an appointment, or tell us more about your specific case, please do!