Health Interest

How to fight autoimmune disease naturally

OrXojr9D iStock 1364982274 1 | Natural Yield

Autoinflammatory diseases are diverse and encompass conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis, Behcet’s syndrome, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, scleroderma, and other complex pathologies of the 21st century.

All these conditions have in common a central biochemical process: an uncontrolled immune response, also known as systemic inflammation, which causes the body to attack its own tissues.

The immune system is the body’s natural defense against external invaders. It is your internal army, and must clearly recognize friend from foe to distinguish you from others. Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system becomes confused, and your own tissues are damaged by friendly crossfire.

The body fights something, such as an infection, toxin, allergen, food or stress response, and redirects its hostile attack to the joints, brain, thyroid, gut, skin or sometimes the entire body.

Conventional medicine often treats this type of disease by using immunosuppressants or directly treating the symptoms, but does not address the true underlying causes that generate this exaggerated immune system response.

Instead, functional medicine focuses on finding the roots of the disease and providing the body with the necessary nutrients so that it can utilize its healing capacity, thus restoring normal defense functions and improving health.

Here are some foods that can help strengthen the immune system and fight inflammation:

Fish: Oily fish is a primary source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are essential for proper immune system function. Research has shown that omega-3s have anti-inflammatory effects and regulate the immune response, which may benefit various immune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. Omega-3s may also enhance the immune response to infections and viral diseases. It has been shown that people with higher levels of DHA and EPA in their diet are less likely to get respiratory illnesses, such as the flu, and recover more quickly from them. In addition, omega-3s may help reduce chronic inflammation, which has been linked to several chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Plain yogurt: Research has indicated that the beneficial bacteria present in yogurt have the ability to protect the gastrointestinal tract from disease and improve resistance to immune-related conditions, such as infections and cancer. These healthy bacteria, including lactobacillus acidophilus, could help prevent colds and other infections, or even decrease their duration, although more studies are needed to confirm these effects. In addition, yogurt can provide a good source of protein, which is essential for producing white blood cells in the body. Therefore, including yogurt as part of a balanced diet could benefit the immune system and overall health.

Lean meats: Protein-rich foods are excellent sources of zinc, a mineral that stimulates white blood cell production and is essential for immune system function. Lean meats and poultry, such as chicken and turkey, are high-quality options and easy to find in any supermarket. However, there are also other zinc-rich options, such as oysters, which contain significant amounts of the mineral. Zinc may also be available in supplement form.

Yellow-orange vegetables: They are a significant source of carotenoids. Beta-carotene is one of the best-known carotenoids and is converted to vitamin A in the body. In addition to their role in eye health, carotenoids also play an essential role in the immune system. Carotenoids are antioxidants, which means they help protect the body’s cells from free radicals that can damage cells and contribute to aging and chronic diseases. In addition, carotenoids also appear to have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the body and support an appropriate immune response. It is believed that different types of carotenoids work together to strengthen the body’s immune system. Studies have shown that low levels of carotenoids in the body are associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases and immune system health problems.

Nuts: Nuts are a rich source of essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, which can help strengthen the immune system. In addition, nuts contain antioxidants such as vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids that can protect the body’s cells against oxidative damage and inflammation, which are often associated with chronic diseases and aging. A study published in the journal Nutrients found that nuts can improve immune function in older people. Researchers found that those who regularly consumed a daily serving of nuts showed an enhanced immune response, including increased T-cell production, compared to those who did not consume nuts. In addition, nuts are also rich in zinc, a mineral that helps produce and activate immune cells, such as white blood cells. Zinc also plays an important role in wound healing and protection against upper respiratory infections.

Berries: Berries are an excellent source of vitamin C and bioflavonoids, which are phytochemicals with antioxidant properties that help prevent cell damage in the body. For example, one cup of strawberries can provide up to 100 mg of vitamin C, about the same amount as a cup of orange juice. Dark berries, such as blueberries, are especially rich in bioflavonoids, making them an even healthier choice for the immune system.

Persimmons: Persimmons contain a significant amount of vitamins A and C, which are essential for maintaining healthy immune function. One medium persimmon can provide up to half of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A, which has been shown to be essential for regulating immune cells.

Green tea: Green tea is a rich source of flavonoids, which are a type of antioxidant. Its main active compound is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), another potent antioxidant that has been shown to enhance immune function. Unlike black tea, which is fermented and loses much of the EGCG, green tea is steamed and retains more of this compound. Green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that is believed to aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in T-cells.

Microgreens: Microgreens contain up to 40% more nutrients by weight than mature vegetables. For example, microgreens from radish, red cabbage and pea shoots are an excellent source of bioavailable vitamin C, which is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. In addition, they contain sulforaphane, a compound that has been shown to activate the Nrf2 pathway in the body, which stimulates the production of natural antioxidants that help fight free radicals and cell damage. By activating the Nrf2 pathway, the body’s ability to fight disease and health problems related to cellular stress can be enhanced. Broccoli microgreens are especially rich in sulforaphane, and have been shown to contain up to 100 times more of this compound than adult cruciferous vegetables.

Food Active compound
Oily fish Omega 3 fatty acids
Natural yogurt Probiotics
Lean meats Zinc
Yellow-orange vegetables Carotenoids
Nuts Vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acids
Berries Vitamin C y bioflavonoids
Persimmons Vitamins A and C
Green tea Epigallocatechin
Microgreens Vitamin C and sulforaphane

Finally, it is important to note that in order to curb inflammation and the development of autoimmune diseases, it is necessary to eliminate from the diet and lifestyle all possible irritants and toxins that generate an abnormal immune response. Such is the example of wheat, dairy products and refined sugars.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The author and publisher of this article are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any suggestions, preparations, or procedures described in this article.

References

Poles, J., Karhu, E., McGill, M., McDaniel, H. R., & Lewis, J. E. (2021). The effects of twenty-four nutrients and phytonutrients on immune system function and inflammation: A narrative review. Journal of clinical and translational research, 7(3), 333–376. Available on: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8259612/

de Souza, R. G. M., Schincaglia, R. M., Pimentel, G. D., & Mota, J. F. (2017). Nuts and human health outcomes: A systematic review. Nutrients, 9(12), 1311. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9121311

Fiedor, J., & Burda, K. (2014). Potential role of carotenoids as antioxidants in human health and disease. Nutrients, 6(2), 466–488. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu6020466

Mu, Q., Tavella, V. J., & Luo, X. M. (2018). Role of Lactobacillus reuteri in Human Health and Diseases. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9, 757. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.00757

Nance, C. L., Mata, M., McMullen, A., McMaster, S., & Shearer, W. T. (2014). Regulation of innate immune recognition of viral infection by epigallocatechin gallate. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 133(2), AB246. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2013.12.876

Omega-3 fatty acids. (n.d.). Nih.gov. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/

Skrovankova, S., Sumczynski, D., Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., & Sochor, J. (2015). Bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity in different types of berries. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16(10), 24673–24706. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms161024673