By Bonnie Feldman, Tiffany Simms, and Ellen M Martin

Does diet experimentation play in the treatment and management of autoimmunity?

Evidence that Diet Could Increase Autoimmune Disease Susceptibility
Changes in diet have been shown to cause susceptibility in autoimmune diseases. To test this theory, scientists conducted an experiment that examined the disease progression of osteomyelitis (bone inflammation) in mice with different diets. The mice were fed either a high-fat diet (HFD) or regular low fat diet (LFD) inducing large-scale changes in microbiota composition.  By day 100, all LFD mice had developed inflammatory bone disease while the HFD mice were protected.

Another study using mouse models, shows how Western lifestyle and diet could increase the incidence of autoimmune diseases. Westerner’s diet which is low in microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MACs) alters the microbiome: creating a deficit in bacteria with short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). The loss of these bacteria can cause inflammation leading to autoimmune disease.

Are Probiotics the Solution?
Johnathon Eisen discusses the myth and fact behind probiotics. He explains how probiotics introduce too few bacteria into “a system where you have no idea if they have the right features to do well in that system. Because they are competing with thousands of taxa that already have adapted and thrived in our microbiome, it is difficult for these new species to compete. Therefore, probiotics has very little effect on our overall health, because they cannot survive in our bodies longterm.

Should We Consider Food as a Therapeutic Tool?

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A new study focuses on using manipulating diet as a therapeutic tool for IBD patients. The study tracks dietary intake, eating habits, and nutritional state in relation to reduction of inflammation and prevention of relapse within these patients. Considerable evidence from this study shows how diet could be correlated with expression of IBD. In fact, another study proved that there is significant change to the microbiome with diet changes. However, more research is needed to establish how food can be used as a preventative and therapeutic tool in autoimmune disease.

The Rise of Functional Medicine
Some patients are turning to  integrative medicine that focuses on the interactions between the environment and gastrointestinal, immune, and endocrine systems known as functional medicine. Two pioneers in this field Mark Hyman and Susan Blum, have created functional medicine clinics, aiming to use this holistic approach to heal those suffering from chronic illness.

How Real People Are Using Functional Medicine
Terry Wahls used functional medicine to bring herself back from debilitating MS. By redesigning her diet, she could attain important brain nutrients directly from the foods she ate. Within a year she was not only walking but could complete 18 mile bike rides. Learn more about her incredible story and the Wahls diet!

Want to Learn More?
Check out The Healthy Gut Summit, an informational site where you can learn more about how your digestive health is linked with you immune, endocrine, circulatory and central nervous system! Also, The Autoimmune Summit brings together top doctors, nutritionists, and researchers to teach you more about how genetics, environmental factors, and leaky gut relate to autoimmune disease.

What are your experiences with diet or functional medicine?

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