Whether you are dealing with your own autoimmune condition or you know someone that has been affected by it, autoimmunity is one of the most common pathologies of the current time. Many theories have been postulated as to why these autoimmune diseases occur but there is still much debate and more research needs to be done. The immune system is one of the many amazing aspects of the body that is there to help protect us against disease and foreign invaders such as viruses and parasites. Unfortunately, our own immune system can “make mistakes” (in simple terms) and sometimes attack its own tissue. Autoimmunity occurs when “antibodies and T lymphocytes [are] directed against normal components of a person (autoantigens). These components are called autoantigens or self-antigens and typically consist of proteins” (https://pathology.jhu.edu/autoimmune/definitions). In other words, the immune system fails to recognize its own tissues and cells causing an attack on these tissues as if they were foreign invaders. Some examples of autoimmune disorders are type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and lupus.
Autoimmune conditions and diseases are tricky because the scientific community does not have a concrete explanation for why the immune system “goes haywire” and attacks certain cells and tissues. Although there is no specific known cause yet, systemic inflammation and exposure to toxins are two very common correlations with certain autoimmune conditions. For example, exposure to too much gluten can trigger Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in certain cases. Certain proteins from gluten have a molecular structure that closely resemble that of the thyroid gland. When these proteins get through the tight junctions of the gut and reach the bloodstream, the immune system can mistakenly attack them. Multiple studies have shown this connection between gliadin antibodies (from gluten) and hashimotos. One prospective cohort study screened for the prevalence of coeliac disease in adults that have autoimmune thyroid diseases and they found that “the overall prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease was significantly higher (38/185, 20.5%) in coeliac patients than in controls (19/170, 11.2%)” (1). This is just one example of something environmental that can create an environment of too much inflammation in the body.
There are many ways to prevent and also improve symptoms of autoimmune conditions. Improving lifestyle factors such as adapting an anti inflammatory diet (an autoimmune paleo diet, a gluten and dairy free diet, etc.), implementing stress reduction routines such as meditation, yoga, walking in nature etc., exercising daily, and using non toxic household products are some easy habits to start that will only improve day to day life. Supplementing with certain vitamins and nutrients is also a great addition to an anti inflammatory routine. A 2019 paper by Wessels, I. and Rink, L. discuss that there have been many suggested triggers for the onset of autoimmune diseases, nutritional deficiencies were shown to be a major contributor and also a result from autoimmune diseases (Wessels, I, Rink, L., 2019). They observed that specifically decreased levels of zinc and vitamin D were present among many autoimmune patients. Both zinc and vitamin D are two essential components of a healthy immune system, so supplementing with these and other important cofactors can potentially be beneficial. Our shake, Nourish contains a full spectrum of vitamins and trace minerals including zinc and vitamin D. Nourish is formulated to support the needs of a healthy immune system and therefore can be used by many to enhance health. Consult with your physician before beginning any supplement protocol.Author: Rachel Namery, MS