What Causes Autoimmune Disease?
There are over 80 types of autoimmune diseases, but all of them involve an immune response that leads your body to attack itself. No matter what type of autoimmune disease, the true problem (and solution) lies with the immune system. Your immune system produces antibodies to defend itself from dangerous intruders to your body, such as toxins, allergens, infections, or even a food. Autoimmune diseases are caused when your immune system fails to differentiate between the intruder and parts of your own body they were designed to protect. Your immune system turns antibodies against you, mistakenly attacking body tissues instead of invaders. Studies have shown that 75% of autoimmune disorders develop due to environmental factors and only about 25% due to genetic. By addressing the root cause (the environmental factors) you can not only prevent an autoimmune condition, but also REVERSE it. Once normal immune function has been restored your body will no longer attack itself and your symptoms will disappear.
Autoimmune Disease and a Standard American Diet
Scientists have found a strong link between dairy intake and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, arthritis and lupus. Cow’s milk contains proteins that closely resemble (mimic) components of the body. Injuries to the lining of the small intestine caused by high-fat, high cholesterol diets, viruses, chemicals and medications can lead to a “leaky gut”. Undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria are able to “leak” through the intestines and flood the blood stream. Once the cow’s milk proteins are absorbed into the bloodstream the body recognizes them as a foreign protein “triggering” an autoimmune process. Antibodies produced to attack the cow’s milk protein mistakenly find similar proteins in the body and destroy them. Diets high in animal fats contain pro-inflammatory fat (Arachidonic acid) that induces inflammatory conditions within the body, such as arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and others.
Autoimmune Disease and a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet
The best diet for autoimmune disease prevention and treatment is the one that minimizes the immune response and eliminates those foods that contribute to “leaky gut”. Plant-based diets decrease exposure to inflammatory compounds found in animal products. A whole food plant-based diet rich with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and whole starches keep the intestinal barriers strong and the immune system in a fighting condition. Whole food plant-based diets nourish with real foods that deliver vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Specific plant foods may be so anti-inflammatory that they can be used to improve or even eliminate arthritis symptoms. The optimal diet is one that’s rich in whole plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds; is rich in healthful fat sources such as avocado and nuts; and includes foods such as tea, dark chocolate, spices and herbs.