Combating autoimmune disease with the Paleo diet?

It may not seem like diet can impact an autoimmune condition, but as experts look into the connection between food and health, more evidence suggests diet plays a role in almost every health condition known to man. Autoimmune disorders, conditions where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy tissue by mistake, are the latest in medical disorders being linked to diet, and it all has to do with chronic inflammation. SEE ALSO: Gluten-free not helping your celiac disease? This might be why Certain foods–the most notorious being gluten and dairy–are known for causing reactions among people. Lactose intolerance, for example, is an inability to digest dairy sugar. The condition affects more than 75 percent of the world population in some form, and severity varies by ethnicity/race. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, approximately 70 percent of African Americans, 90 percent of Asian Americans, 53 percent of Mexican Americans, and 74 percent of Native Americans are lactose intolerant. Gluten is not much better. Statistics show as many as 1 in every 100 people have some level of gluten intolerance. Allergies and intolerance to foods in the body lead to chronic inflammation, and according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, that chronic inflammation can trigger the body to attack itself or further complicate an autoimmune disease already generating inflammation. How the Paleo diet comes into play When an individual is diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, one of the first things doctors do is place that person on an elimination diet. Enough research supports the link between food allergies, chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorders that cutting certain foods out of a diet is a core aspect of treatment. “When you look at foods that have the most likeliness of having some sort of inflammatory reaction, you’re looking at things like wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, processed food [and] sugar,” explained  Kristin Kirkpatrick, manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, to U.S. News &World Report. Kirkpatrick and other experts note that excess sugar doesn’t mean just processed foods. Fruits, which can be high in natural sugars, can also cause chronic inflammation. In an article from WebMD, Mary J. Shomon, author of the book Living Well With Autoimmune Disease: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You … That You Need to Know, notes high sugar can stress the immune system so it is important to eat sugary foods in small quantities or not at all. The dietary guidelines for people with autoimmune disease naturally fall in line with the Paleo diet. People on the Paleo diet focus on eating whole foods and eliminating sugars, grains, unhealthy fats and processed foods. Under the diet plan, individuals eat lean protein, which takes up the bulk of the diet, and non-starchy fruits and vegetables. SEE ALSO: Hispanic paradox confirmed among lupus sufferers Of course, the autoimmune Paleo diet has been modified to take on the nutritional needs for those with autoimmune diseases. Eating nutrient-dense foods, for example, is emphasized for people trying this dietary management option, and the focus is on eliminating foods thought to cause inflammation, including eggs. Much of the autoimmune Paleo diet, however, appears to be just hype. Critics argue that Paleo groups have latched on the to similarities between the two diet plans, but no research has been done that says the Paleo diet is better than a regular elimination diet for patients. “I’d like to see the science behind this,” Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said. “A lot of it doesn’t make much biological sense. But eating the foods on the OK list should be healthy, so the diet is unlikely to be harmful – other than being a pain to follow.”The post Combating autoimmune disease with the Paleo diet? appeared first on Voxxi.

Does the Paleo diet help with autoimmune disease? (Shutterstock)

It may not seem like diet can impact an autoimmune condition, but as experts look into the connection between food and health, more evidence suggests diet plays a role in almost every health condition known to man.

Autoimmune disorders, conditions where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy tissue by mistake, are the latest in medical disorders being linked to diet, and it all has to do with chronic inflammation.

SEE ALSO: Gluten-free not helping your celiac disease? This might be why

Certain foods–the most notorious being gluten and dairy–are known for causing reactions among people. Lactose intolerance, for example, is an inability to digest dairy sugar.

The condition affects more than 75 percent of the world population in some form, and severity varies by ethnicity/race. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, approximately 70 percent of African Americans, 90 percent of Asian Americans, 53 percent of Mexican Americans, and 74 percent of Native Americans are lactose intolerant.

Gluten is not much better. Statistics show as many as 1 in every 100 people have some level of gluten intolerance.

Allergies and intolerance to foods in the body lead to chronic inflammation, and according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, that chronic inflammation can trigger the body to attack itself or further complicate an autoimmune disease already generating inflammation.

How the Paleo diet comes into play

When an individual is diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, one of the first things doctors do is place that person on an elimination diet. Enough research supports the link between food allergies, chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorders that cutting certain foods out of a diet is a core aspect of treatment.

“When you look at foods that have the most likeliness of having some sort of inflammatory reaction, you’re looking at things like wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, processed food [and] sugar,” explained  Kristin Kirkpatrick, manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, to U.S. News &World Report.

Kirkpatrick and other experts note that excess sugar doesn’t mean just processed foods. Fruits, which can be high in natural sugars, can also cause chronic inflammation. In an article from WebMD, Mary J. Shomon, author of the book Living Well With Autoimmune Disease: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You … That You Need to Know, notes high sugar can stress the immune system so it is important to eat sugary foods in small quantities or not at all.

The Paleo diet food pyramid
The autoimmune Paleo diet has been slightly modified from this traditional breakdown. (Shutterstock)

The dietary guidelines for people with autoimmune disease naturally fall in line with the Paleo diet. People on the Paleo diet focus on eating whole foods and eliminating sugars, grains, unhealthy fats and processed foods. Under the diet plan, individuals eat lean protein, which takes up the bulk of the diet, and non-starchy fruits and vegetables.

SEE ALSO: Hispanic paradox confirmed among lupus sufferers

Of course, the autoimmune Paleo diet has been modified to take on the nutritional needs for those with autoimmune diseases. Eating nutrient-dense foods, for example, is emphasized for people trying this dietary management option, and the focus is on eliminating foods thought to cause inflammation, including eggs.

Much of the autoimmune Paleo diet, however, appears to be just hype. Critics argue that Paleo groups have latched on the to similarities between the two diet plans, but no research has been done that says the Paleo diet is better than a regular elimination diet for patients.

“I’d like to see the science behind this,” Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said. “A lot of it doesn’t make much biological sense. But eating the foods on the OK list should be healthy, so the diet is unlikely to be harmful – other than being a pain to follow.”

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