4 Nutrients To Heal Autoimmune Disease
With over 250 million people suffering from this disease worldwide, autoimmunity is becoming a prevalent and concerning health problem. Autoimmunity is when the immune system becomes uncoordinated and begins attacking itself. I have worked with many autoimmunity cases and have found that certain nutrient deficiencies are almost always at play. In this article, I discuss why I think these deficiencies are the 5 key nutrients to heal autoimmune disease.
My desire to help those with autoimmunity comes from a history of personal health challenges that were rooted in my digestive health. After overcoming these health challenges, being on the other side, I realize just how debilitating conditions like autoimmunity can be. I find many similarities between the presence of these conditions including lack of key nutrients in the diet. I believe these 5 to be critical to address in the case of autoimmunity.
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is arguably one of the most powerful nutrients responsible for modulating and coordinating the immune system. In autoimmune disorders, the immune system has a hard time differentiating self from non-self (foreign invaders). Vitamin D helps the immune system make this important distinction .
Vitamin D deficiency is vastly common in our society due to sunscreen use and low amounts of sun exposure. On top of this, the average diet is severely lacking dietary sources of Vitamin D such as organ meats and certain fish.
Zinc is another critical nutrient for healthy immune system function. Proper zinc levels help support the thymus gland and the formation of T helper cells, which are vital for coordination of the immune system.
Studies have shown that chronically low zinc levels can result in atrophy of the thymus gland which leads to poor T helper cell maturation and an imbalance in the Th1 and Th2 branches of the immune system. It is this immune imbalance that contributes to chronic inflammation and autoimmunity.
Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant in the human body. It acts as an antioxidant on its own while also regulating other antioxidants in the body. In addition to antioxidant benefits, glutathione supports healthy detoxification. These actions will help lower inflammation drastically, which is a major factor in autoimmune conditions.
Glutathione has also been identified as playing a major role in white blood cell function and immune system regulation. For these reasons, glutathione has been identified a key nutrient in autoimmunity.
Glutathione support should be a part of every autoimmune support protocol.
4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids play a very important role in autoimmunity. I find that in most cases of autoimmunity, there is a significant imbalance of fatty acids in the body.
In the standard American diet, there is a high consumption of omega 6 fats from processed oils while omega 3 fatty acids are virtually absent. While all omega 6 fatty acids are not necessarily bad from the right sources, it’s important to increase omega 3 consumption to create a balanced ratio in the body.
An elevated omega 6 level relative to omega 3 is highly associated with the kind of systemic inflammation that is indicated in most autoimmune disorders (4).
Another really important dietary aspect to focus on is getting healthy fats in general. The Standard American Diet is full of problematic fat sources that are highly inflammatory. The following graphic is a good summary of which fats are best to include in your diet.