The best nutrient for fighting autoimmune disease

Autoimmune disease is something that runs in my family…

My mom has multiple sclerosis and sarcoidosis and I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis over three years ago.

Over the years, we’ve tried everything from natural supplements to prescription drugs to try to overcome our autoimmune problems but as anyone with this type of disease knows, autoimmunity is difficult to defeat.

Fortunately, a new study just might have the answer we’ve all been looking for…

Simple dietary change suppresses cause of an autoimmune disorder

The study, led by researchers at Yale University set out to discover how bacteria in the gut can lead to autoimmunity and whether the process can be reversed through changes in the diet.

The research team used mouse models of lupus. They first identified a single bacterium, Lactobacillus reuteri, in the gut of the mice that triggered an immune response leading to the disease – specifically, in lupus-prone mice, L. reuteri stimulated immune cells to worsen the disease process.

To investigate the potential impact of diet on this process, they fed the mice “resistant starch” — a diet that mimics a high-fiber diet in humans.

And, they found that since the resistant starch is not absorbed in the small intestine but ferments in the large intestine, it enriches the good bacteria and causes the secretion of short-chain fatty acids. This, in turn, suppresses both the growth and movement of L. reuteri bacteria outside the gut that would otherwise lead to autoimmune disease.

In other words, a high-fiber diet can stop the spread of bad bacteria from the gut that leads to autoimmunity.

“We dissected, molecularly, how diets can work on the gut microbiome,” said Yale immunobiologist Martin Kriegel. “We identified a pathway that is driving autoimmune disease and mitigated by the diet.”

And, although this study only analyzed the effect of fiber on lupus, as Kriegel noted, “It may have implications beyond lupus,” — which basically means that they think the results can translate to other autoimmune disorders, like MS, Hashimoto’s and rheumatoid arthritis.

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How to get more fiber in your diet

Luckily for people with autoimmune problems, getting more fiber is easy…

Foods that are high in fiber include:

  • Pears – 7 grams in one large pear
  • Raspberries – 8 grams in one cup
  • Avocado – 5 grams in a ½ medium avocado
  • Black beans – 7.5 grams in ½ cup cooked black beans
  • Almonds – 3.5 grams in one ounce

For a more extensive list of high-fiber foods, check out Dr. Mark Wiley’s article on the “More Fiber Diet”.

Easy ways to boost your fiber intake are:

  • Add chia seeds, almonds and bananas to yogurt for a healthy breakfast parfait.
  • Snack on baby carrots and fresh broccoli with ranch dressing.
  • Toss kidney beans into your salad.
  • Add grains like quinoa, amaranth, and bulgur to your dinner.
  • Substitute hummus for mayo on your sandwich.
  • Skip the potatoes at dinner and instead make pureed cauliflower.
  • Make a tasty smoothie using whole fruits.

Autoimmune disease is one of the most challenging problems to overcome, but with this new research, there’s now hope.

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  1. Yale-led team examines impact of diet intervention on autoimmunity in mice — American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.