The average American diet today consists of an unbalance proportion of omega- 3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. Ideally the human body requires omega-3 fatty acids in greater concentration because they produce anti-inflammatory effects. Although omega-6 fatty acids are necessary, a higher concentration of omega-6 fatty acids in our diet from processed foods, and high amounts of vegetable oils is associated with an increase in molecules which trigger inflammation. (1, 7)
Individuals with different autoimmune diseases have shown a significant improvement in their symptoms while taking fish oil supplements. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed a 73% decrease in their drug treatment use and 60% of patients who had Crohn’s disease experienced a decrease in their relapse rate. (11)
Fatty acids are attributed to decreasing immune mediated inflammation. Fatty acids suppress antibodies that alarm the immune system for defense and improve the signaling pathways of cells which cause inflammation.
Promote Gut Health
The gastrointestinal tract contains the greatest concentration of immune cells in the body and may be the activation site of fighter cells known as T-cells (9). Diets associated with chronic inflammation of the gut are therefore at a greater increase of developing an autoimmune disease.
Increased intestinal permeability allows food allergens to pass through the intestinal wall stimulating the production of antibodies. As you now know, specific antibodies seek to destroy the foreign invader by releasing fighter T-cells which cause chronic inflammation of the intestines. These fighter cells are also released into neighboring tissue and the bloodstream. As a consequence, the entire body is susceptible to an immune response resulting in fatigue, muscle stiffness and skin reactions. (10)
The result of a chronic autoimmune response and decreased gut health increases the susceptibility of individuals to develop more than one type of autoimmune disease. Researchers found that 30% of patients with celiac disease also suffered from another autoimmune disease or autoimmune related problem such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (10).
Oxalates and Autoimmunity:
If you are experiencing symptom flare ups with no known reason, oxalates may be a source of inflammation for you. Detecting if oxalates may be triggering an autoimmune response in your body can help you heal sooner.
Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds in nature found in many protein alternatives such as soy as well as grains, nuts, and some fruits and vegetables. Although some of these foods can be excellent additions to a healthy diet, an unhealthy gut can lead to chronic inflammation, nutrient deficiency, and oxidative stress and damage to the body. (12)
Antioxidants Reduce Inflammation:
Theoretically, increased antioxidants can decrease oxidative stress which promotes tissue damage and therefore directly correlate to reducing inflammation, chronic illness and autoimmune disease (8). One study found that diets supplemented with antioxidants and lower in total fat and caloric intake delayed the onset of Lupus symptoms by stimulating a healthy immune system (6).
Antioxidants protect the brain from oxidative stress known to cause aging and the loss of cognitive function (3). The healthy maintenance of the gut and mind interaction is crucial to healthy aging and vitality.
Vitamins which act as antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties inhibiting cytokine activity in autoimmune diseases which signal cells for an inflammatory response. Many herbs high in antioxidants such as curcumin derived from turmeric have been shown to exhibit similar anti-inflammatory control as do synthetic drugs such as aspirin. (1)
B Vitamins and Methylation:
Folate, B-6 and B-12 have antioxidant properties. Vitamin B-6 has specifically been shown to inhibit macrophages from engulfing foreign matter associated with autoimmune diseases (1). Vitamin B-6 deficiency is also positively correlated with increased sensitivity to oxalates in food (12). (7)
Individuals with MTHFR gene mutations have a lowered ability to produce the key anti-oxidant glutathione. Glutathione is critical for detoxification and immune modulation. These individuals are at a much greater risk for developing auto-immune or chronic inflammatory diseases (17).
They need extra methylation support nutrients such as methyl-folate, methyl-B12, zinc, magnesium, riboflavin and B6 (18).