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Diet And Its Role In Immune Disorders

by Terry Wilson

According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc. (AARDA), 50 million Americans have an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease can be tricky to diagnose. When everything is right in the human body, the immune system works to protect you from injury, infection, and foreign invaders. But sometimes, things go awry and the very system that is meant to protect you can turn against you instead, attacking your body rather than defending it. Autoimmune diseases include things such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, Type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.

Because immune disorders are not always obvious, it's important to see a doctor who specializes in immunology if your regular physician is unable to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms, which can vary greatly among the disorders and even from patient to patient. One thing scientists are researching more is whether the modern Western diet may play a role in both the onset and exacerbation of immunity problems. Chronic inflammation in the body is a hallmark symptom in most autoimmune disorders, and some foods can heighten this irritation. For example, studies have shown that up to 60 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis are deficient in Vitamin E, a nutrient found in almonds, spinach, and sweet potatoes.

While the body of studies has yet to definitively link the typical Western diet of high fat, protein, sodium, and sugar to autoimmune diseases, it would still behoove sufferers to give great consideration to their eating and lifestyle habits. Here are three foods to avoid while redesigning your diet and allowing your body to heal itself.


While beans are high in fiber and many people rely on them for a cheap source of protein, legumes, including soybeans, are high in a component called lectins. These proteins can get past the wall of the gut and deposit themselves in your other organs, causing inflammation. Green beans and snap peas are okay, however.


So many people are following a gluten-free diet nowadays, it's easy to pass it off as just another diet fad. But gluten, the protein in grains such as wheat and barley, can cause inflammation and trigger an autoimmune reaction by the body. This can occur even with grains that contain no gluten, such as rice or oats. It's not easy to give up breads and cereals, but knowing you will likely feel better as a result can provide tremendous motivation.

Dairy Products

The idea of adjusting to a life without milk, butter, ice cream, yogurt, and cheese sends many people into a panic. Unfortunately, casein, the main protein in dairy foods, has been shown to suppress the immune system.

Ask your immunologist if he or she feels you could benefit from making any dietary changes. They may recommend you consult with a dietitian to assess your current eating habits. Contact a clinic, like The Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center, PC, for more help.