If you’re wanting to reduce an autoimmune flare, there are natural approaches you can take to help prevent flare-ups and manage your symptoms. While autoimmune disease flares may not have a complete cure, you can make changes to your diet and lifestyle that may lead to a significant reduction in symptoms or even complete remission. Let’s explore some simple strategies that can help you on your journey.
Immune Regulating Lifestyle Changes
Acupuncture: This traditional practice has shown promise in restoring the balance between different branches of the immune system, helping to alleviate autoimmune symptoms.
Exercise: Engage in regular aerobic exercise and strength training, as it can increase levels of glutathione and release endorphins, which play a role in regulating the immune system.
Seek Pleasure and Connection: Pleasurable experiences and physical contact also release endorphins, which can positively affect your immune system. They can also provide comfort and help combat the pain and social isolation that often accompany chronic diseases.
Embrace Sunlight: Spending time outside in the sunlight, or getting UVA/UVB light from tanning beds, can be beneficial for those with autoimmune diseases. Evidence suggests that sunlight may reduce the risk of developing conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS) and type 1 diabetes.
Avoid Autoimmune Triggering Foods
Certain foods can trigger or worsen an immune response in people with autoimmune disease. Consider following a basic Paleo diet and eliminate these foods completely (temporarily):
- Eggs (both yolks and whites)
- Nightshade fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and more.
- Dairy products (except for ghee)
- Nuts (optional): While nuts are generally healthy, some individuals with autoimmune disease may have allergies or sensitivities. Try eliminating nuts for 30 days and reintroduce them gradually to see how your body reacts.
Remember, these foods are generally healthy, but they may cause inflammation in individuals with autoimmune disease. It’s important to experiment and see how your body responds to find your personal triggers.
Immune-Supporting Nutrients to Include
Certain nutrients can promote optimal immune function and reduce inflammation. Here are some key ones to include in your diet:
- Glutathione: Increase your intake of protein-rich foods (aim for at least 15% of calories as protein) and collagen-rich animal parts like skin, cartilage, and bone. Additionally, consume polyphenol-rich fruits and vegetables like berries, peaches, pears, pomegranates, and greens. Include selenium-rich foods such as Brazil nuts, ocean fish, and poultry. Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines are beneficial as well.
- Vitamin D: Ensure you regularly consume food sources of vitamin D, such as cod liver oil, cold-water fatty fish, and pastured duck and chicken eggs.
- Other Nutrients: Niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, and manganese are all important for immune health. Focus on nutrient-dense foods like organ meats, herbs and spices, soaked and dehydrated nuts and seeds, cacao, fish, seafood, fresh vegetables, red meat, pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy if tolerated. Seaweed is another good option.
Including these nutrients in your diet can support glutathione production, immune health, and overall well-being.
Support a Healthy Gut Microbiome
The health of your gut plays a crucial role in autoimmune disease. Consider these steps to promote a healthy gut microbiota:
- Fermented Foods: Incorporate small amounts of fermented foods with each meal. They contain beneficial bacteria and yeasts that support gut health and help balance the immune system.
- Fermentable Fibers: Soluble fibers found in fruits, vegetables, starches, nuts, and seeds provide nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria. Starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantains, taro root, and yuca are excellent sources of soluble fibers. However, individuals with gut issues may need to reduce fiber intake for a period of time.
Remember, these strategies may vary in effectiveness for each individual. It’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider and find the right combination of natural approaches that work for you.