Autoimmune disease causes remain unknown

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This week, I would like to take a look at the increasing trend used to fight various autoimmune diseases.

Nothing seems more divisive than the debate around what causes autoimmune disease. There has been so much excellent research around the 80-plus known autoimmune diseases, it’s a bit surprising we have not definitively identified the causes that trigger these disorders.

Some point to GMO, highly processed foods and chemicals in our food supply. Others point to grains and other highly inflammatory food sources that over time, trigger the body to attack itself.

Others look to government cover-ups and big agricultural corporations that are knowingly poisoning our food supply with all the above.

No matter which way you lean in your thinking, there is one undeniable fact when it comes to managing and even reversing many of the autoimmune symptoms. That is a change in nutrition across those who suffer from these diseases. Shifting nutritionally to a diet free of inflammatory foods has shown relief from symptoms and even full reversal in the autoimmune response.

These nutritional changes of moving away from a series of known problem foods toward whole fresh, healthy foods have been around for a very long time. Only recently has the practice of making excellent nutrition a treatment option for autoimmune disorders become so accepted across such a broad demographic.

Whole fresh, organic and raw foods have come into their own as alternative medicine in recent years for many medical issues. Entire industries are popping up to address and counter what many see as the cause of autoimmune disease, which is our standard American diet.

These health and wellness practices are offering introductions to dietary plans that focus on removal of inflammatory foods, autoimmune diet recipes, ketogenic diets and offering alternatives that cut all processed microwaved foods from your life as a starting point to turn the autoimmune symptoms around.

When it comes to autoimmune diseases, there are many variations. Interestingly, it seems newly discovered forms get added to the list more often than you may think.

The clinically recognized autoimmune disorders currently sit at around 80 known types.

Here are just a few examples of the more common autoimmune diseases that presently affect roughly 23 million to as high as fifty million Americans.

1. Celiac disease which is a reaction to gluten found in grains that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine.

2. Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva causing dry eyes and mouth. It also may also attack other organs in the body such as the kidneys and lungs.

3. Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes redness, thick, flaky patches and severe skin irritation.

4. Lupus erythematosus creates antibodies manufactured in the immune system to attack the body. Lupis can attack the skin, joints, kidneys, brain and other organs.

5. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks tissues in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis or RA affects the small joints in your hands and feet causing pain stiffness, swelling, discomfort in movement and even bone loss and joint deformity.

5. Raynaud’s Phenomenon is also considered an autoimmune disease which results in a problem with blood flow, resulting in numbness, discoloration, tingling of the fingers, toes and the tip of the nose.

6. Multiple sclerosis is considered an autoimmune disease which affects the brain and spinal cord. People who develop MS experience weakness, problems with balance, mobility such as walking and numbness in the extremities.

7. Reactive arthritis causes inflammation in critical areas of your body. These primary areas usually target your knees and the joints of your ankles and feet. Triggers of reactive arthritis coincide with infections in the digestive tract and other areas of the body.

8. Scleroderma is a connective tissue disorder that causes changes in skin, blood vessels, muscles and internal organs. This disease can cause severe damage to the body’s digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems.

The autoimmune list above is a short one, but each of these disorders shares a universal aspect and that is many people have found relief through carefully planned nutrition plans. In almost all cases, this means giving up certain loved foods and making a long-term lifestyle change.

The age-old saying “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” should be a standard in everyone’s life. Removing inflammatory foods from your diet is something very consistent when addressing your overall health as much as it is in healing an autoimmune disorder. Taking grains, processed sugars, hydrogenated and trans fats out of your daily nutrition is a necessary first step. Highly processed foods, fasts foods, grains, and sugars all contribute to insulin resistance, increased gut permeability and increased inflammation.

All these aspects can be triggers for the body to have an autoimmune response in many people. Obesity, changes in hormones as we age and lack of physical exercise also contribute to the body developing an autoimmune disorder. Add a holistic approach to treating your autoimmune disease that starts with a specific nutritional plan that addresses your unique health issues. Work with your healthcare providers to find a balance between medicine and a healthy lifestyle.

Judd Jones is a director for The Hagadone Corporation and certified health coach. For more information, go online to

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