The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association estimates that Autoimmune disorders are the Number 2 cause of chronic illness. About 75% of these cases occur in women, most frequently during the childbearing years.
What is Autoimmunity?
“Autoimmunity is the system of immune responses of an organism against its own cells and tissues. Any disease that results from such an aberrant immune response is termed an autoimmune disease.”
Basically put, it is the body attacking itself because it sees healthy tissue as the enemy. For example, Hashimoto’s is when the body attacks the thyroid. Colitis is when the body attacks the colon and so on. Often this response is brought on by triggers, such as certain foods. In the case of Celiac Disease, gluten is the trigger so by eliminating gluten from the diet completely, the autoimmune response is not initiated.
When this happens and the body goes into attack mode, inflammation in the body rises. Inflammation is necessary for healing, but when it is out of control, it can be very damaging. Autoimmune disease and Inflammation go hand in hand.
What are the symptoms of Autoimmune Disease?
According to WebMD, your first symptoms of an autoimmune disease
may be general, such as fatigue
, low-grade fever
, and difficulty concentrating, making autoimmune diseases difficult to diagnose at first. You also may feel depressed and consult a doctor for that.
What is the treatment for Autoimmune Disease?
There are a variety of things for specific diseases, such as taking insulin for diabetes, but for the most part, it is more about lifestyle changes than an actual cure. Often, dietary changes and eliminating trigger foods can be a big step. The main offenders are wheat, dairy, corn, soy, fish (especially shellfish), nuts, and fruits. High sugar, she contends, stresses the immune system. Make sure you eliminate trans fats and other bad fats and get enough good fats such as olive oil, fish oil, and avocado.
It is also important to minimize infections, minimize stress, get plenty of exercise. Know the specifics for your autoimmune and discuss any further lifestyle changes with your doctor.
What about Vitamin D?
As of August 2010, WebMD reports that there is now biologic evidence to back up the belief that vitamin D may protect against autoimmune diseases and certain cancers.
Exposure to sunlight is an efficient way to raise blood levels of Vitamin D hormone. Eating fish and other foods containing Omega 3 oils is another way. But most people have a hard time getting the Vitamin D through either of these ways.
By one recent estimate, as many as half of adults and children in the US were deficient in vitamin D.
They also warn against using vitamin D supplements in large quantities. It is unsure how well the body processes it in this form and if it may lead to other health issues. However, either by eating fish or taking a quality fish oil, this is one of the best ways to get more vitamin D into our bodies.
If you don't like swallowing capsules or you are wanting to increase Vitamin D for your children:
This fish oil that has a citrus flavor also gives 800IU's a day.
Although this is just a brief outline of autoimmune disease, if you know or suspect you have one of these disorders, talk to your doctor about further testing and specific ways to treat it for you. Autoimmune disorders aren't fatal, but they are chronic and can lead to other illness and disease. Learning how to manage your symptoms and lead a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in living well even with autoimmune disease.
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