There are a ton of different types of autoimmune diseases. In fact, over a hundred have been identified, affecting nearly every organ system and tissue in the body.
The numbers of cases developing has been growing over the years. There’s no sign of this trend slowing down. The rise of autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis is increasing at an alarming rate. From 2001–2009 alone, the incidence of type 1 diabetes increased by 23 percent……….Wow…
While autoimmune disease has become common in the 1st world societies today, it’s rare or nonexistent in hunter-gatherers living a traditional lifestyle. This fact, along with the dramatic rise in autoimmune disease over the past half century, suggests that environmental factors, not genetics are to blame.
That include the modern diet, chronic stress, gut damage, environmental toxins, sleep deprivation, vitamin D deficiency, reduced sun exposure, and probably several other currently unknown aspects of our modern lifestyle.
These factors don’t just trigger autoimmune disease in the first place, they also perpetuate and exacerbate it. So while autoimmune disease may not be completely curable (i.e. it disappears without a trace), removing the triggers can often lead to a significant reduction in symptoms or even complete remission (which, for all intents and purposes, is a cure).
With this in mind, let’s compare conventional treatment with a Paleo diet and lifestyle for the prevention and treatment of autoimmune disease.
Conventional Treatment for Autoimmune Disease
Usually, oral steroids and other immune suppressive drugs are the treatments for autoimmune disease. Steroids suppress the immune system, which is overactive in autoimmune disease.
The problem, of course, is that steroids don’t only suppress the part of the immune system that’s overactive, they suppress the ENTIRE immune system. And you don’t have to have a degree in medicine to know that our immune system plays a crucial role in protecting us from infection, healing wounds, and maintaining our overall health. It’s there for a reason, and anything that indiscriminately reduces its function is bound to have serious adverse effects.
Steroids are associated with a long list of side effects like:
- Weight gain
- Mood changes, including aggression
- Thinning skin
- Muscle weakness
- Cushing’s syndrome (stretch marks across the body, acne, fatty deposits in the face)
- Osteoporosis (even at a young age)
- High blood pressure
- Glaucoma and cataracts
- Increased risk of infection
There’s no doubt that steroids “work” in many cases, since they reduce the symptoms associated with overactive immune function that are present in autoimmune diseases, but is there a better way?
Luckily, the answer is “yes”
The methods below have actually been tested and used in recent, up to date autoimmune disease treatment.
- Removing foods that may trigger or exacerbate an immune response. The best starting place for most patients is an autoimmune version of the Paleo diet, which follows the typical Paleo guidelines but also removes eggs and nightshade plants.
- Increasing intake of nutrients that promote optimal immune function. These include glutathione, selenium, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin A, and EPA and DHA, which are all well-represented in a Paleo-type diet.
- Increasing intake of foods that support a healthy gut microbiota. These include fermentable fibers that feed the beneficial bacteria, and fermented foods that contain the beneficial bacteria themselves. (Check out this article to learn more).
Changing your lifestyle to a healthier, less stressful one helps as well. An exercise program, consistent sleep and relaxing, social leisure time can work wonders along with the diet.
I’ve heard of miraculous results using these methods in numerous cases in recent medical publications. E patients with very serious autoimmune conditions have been showing amazing results.
If you yourself or someone close to you are dealing with an autoimmune disease, try to work on the foundation and alter your lifestyle.