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Nutrition & Superfood for Autoimmune Disorders

Food blog

Fatigue, joint pain, swelling, skin problems, abdominal pain or digestive issues, recurring fever, and swollen glands are some of the common symptoms of autoimmune disorders. 

In autoinflammatory diseases, the innate immune system, for unknown reasons, becomes activated and triggers inflammation. This part of the immune system is the body’s rapid first line of defense against infection. The short-term heat, swelling, and redness of inflammation are a normal part of the body’s protective response to injury or infection. But prolonged inflammation can seriously damage the body.

Treatment & support for autoimmune patients

After suffering from debilitating symptoms, people with autoimmune disorders can manage their symptoms, but it can come at the cost of compromising their immune system.

Sometimes, pain could be so much that it takes over your life. Then somehow, it mysteriously disappears for months only for it to return with a vengeance bringing new symptoms with it. These flare-ups could be worse as these usually don’t have a rhyme or reason. 

Mental health also takes a turn for the worse. Dealing with this type of pain is tiring both mentally and physically. 

It’s important to connect them to resources and other people who could understand what they were going through. It is what keeps them feeling empowered and inspired. Local support groups for people with arthritis can connect with others who face similar challenges and learn to manage the disease together. 

It's not easy to find a solution to this dilemma and sometimes it feels like you've tried everything. Autoimmune disorders, in general, cannot be cured, but the condition can be controlled in many cases. Historically, treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, pain-killing medication, immunosuppressant drugs, physical therapy, treatment for the deficiency, surgery, high dose immunosuppression, and most recently better nutrition.

Diet can affect certain autoimmune diseases

 

The anti-inflammatory diet is an eating plan designed to prevent or reduce low-grade chronic inflammation, a key risk factor in a host of health problems, and several major diseases.1 The typical anti-inflammatory diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. 

 

Change is hard. Making small, gradual changes in your eating patterns is the best way to overhaul your diet. Some experts suggest making just one change each week, to give you time to get used to the new behavior. Your ultimate goal is to establish new eating habits that can be sustained for a lifetime.

 

An anti-inflammatory diet may serve as a complementary therapy for many conditions that become worse with chronic inflammation. 

The following conditions involve inflammation:

  • rheumatoid arthritis

  • psoriasis

  • asthma

  • eosinophilic esophagitis

  • Crohn’s disease

  • colitis

  • inflammatory bowel disease

  • lupus

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

  • metabolic syndrome


Written by Gregory Hunter, MS, RDN, LD on July 9, 2021 — Medically reviewed by Serafin Kinsman, R.D., CDE

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Controlling autoimmune symptoms with diet

Some foods contain ingredients that can trigger or worsen inflammation. Sugary or processed foods may do this, while fresh, whole foods are less likely to have this effect.

 

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and thyroid disorders are painful, disruptive and often devastating. At their core, they have one thing in common: an out-of-control immune response, linked with systemic inflammation. The right diet can help ease pain and heal autoimmune diseases. In general, avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugar, grains, dairy and red meat, and focus on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and fish. 

 

Choosing a variety of these delicious, antioxidant-rich foods can help curb inflammation in combination with exercise and a good night's sleep, which may improve inflammation markers and possibly reduce your risk of many illnesses. There is no single anti-inflammatory diet, but a diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthful fats may help manage inflammation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superfoods as a quick & easy solution

 

A superfood is technically a type of food that is considered more nutritionally dense than other foods. The list is actually endless as to what may be classed as a superfood. We may think of Peruvian powders, matcha tea or very expensive goji berries, but a superfood can be considered a superfood because of one or two potent nutritional ingredients. Eating healthy is easier with these superfoods that fight against symptoms of autoimmune diseases.

 

Incorporating superfoods into your diet can also make it easier to keep your weight under control. And maintaining a healthy weight prevents additional stress on the joints, improves skin clarity, and promotes better mood which are important parts of managing autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoriasis.

Kefir

 

Kefir is a fermented beverage usually made from milk that contains protein, calcium, B vitamins, potassium and probiotics. Kefir is similar to yogurt but has a thinner consistency and typically more probiotic strains than yogurt. Fermented, probiotic-rich foods like kefir have several associated health benefits, including reduced cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, improved digestion and anti-inflammatory effects.

 

Though kefir is traditionally made from cow’s milk, it’s typically well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance due to the fermentation of the lactose by bacteria. However, it’s also made from non-dairy beverages such as coconut milk, rice milk and coconut water.

Ginger

Ginger comes from the root of a flowering plant from China. It’s used as both a culinary flavor enhancer and for its multiple medicinal effects. Ginger root contains antioxidants, such as gingerol, that may be responsible for many of the reported health benefits associated with this food. Ginger may be effective for managing nausea and reducing pain from acute and chronic inflammatory conditions. It may also reduce your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, dementia and certain cancers.

Turmeric

Turmeric has become one of the world’s most famous superfoods. And for good reason. Turmeric gives curries their bright yellow color. It’s a root that’s been used for medicinal use, dating back nearly 4000 years. 

Turmeric has antiseptic, analgesic and immune boosting properties as a line of defence against colds, flu and inflammation due to the active polyphenol called curcumin. The active compound is called curcumin which is a very powerful antioxidant. Curcumin has an anti-inflammatory effect which preliminary research suggests may help reduce heart disease risk, ease heartburn, and slow progression of neurological diseases.

It’s perfect for people with autoimmune diseases as it has been shown to alleviate multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease by regulating inflammatory substances in the body. Even with the many benefits of turmeric, there have been absolutely no reported side effects. 

Anyone who has a chronic health condition that involves inflammation should ask a healthcare professional about the best dietary options for them.

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