What Causes Autoimmune Diseases?

Image of several leafy greens

There’s no definitive answer as to what causes autoimmune disease. But many scientists suspect the following three things play a role:

  • Genetics
  • Infections
  • Environmental factors

In recent history, Westernized countries have seen significantly higher rates of these diseases — suggesting that autoimmune diseases are not just a product of genetics or bad luck. Instead, they may be strongly influenced by the choices we make. Factors like diet, toxins, and the balance of our intestinal bacteria all seem to have an impact of autoimmune diseases.

No established cures for autoimmune diseases exist. But numerous studies have demonstrated that lifestyle changes, particularly food choices, can play a key role in managing or even reversing many of these autoimmune diseases.

How Excessive Inflammation Is Linked to Autoimmune Diseases

Fundamentally, autoimmune disease is an inflammation issue. According to the Journal of Immunology Research, “increasing evidences show that the abnormal inflammatory response is closely associated with many chronic diseases, especially in autoimmune diseases …”

Doctors typically turn to medication for dealing with the symptoms of inflammatory conditions, which often fails to address the root causes — including allergens, infections, environmental toxins, an inflammatory diet, and stress. But food can be a powerful tool for fighting excessive inflammation.

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Certain foods are anti-inflammatories, supporting your body in maintaining an appropriate immune response.

Here are some foods you may want to eat more of:

Leafy greens
These calcium-rich nutritional powerhouses include kale, mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage, and broccoli. They’re packed with good-for-you vitamins and minerals and can easily be added to smoothies, salads, or stir-fries.

Mushrooms
Fungi have demonstrated some tremendous anti-inflammatory potential.  A study published in Mediators of Inflammation found that mushrooms can promote anticancer activity, the suppression of autoimmune diseases, and aid in allergy relief.

Onions
These flavorful veggies have long been touted for their beneficial effects. They contain quercetin, an antioxidant which has been shown to inhibit inflammation-causing leukotrienes, prostaglandins and histamines in both osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Squash
The squash family, which includes a colorful array of options like butternut, zucchini, and pumpkin, are winners when it comes to anti-inflammatory efforts. They contain fatty acids (like omega 3s), and antioxidants, including zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta-carotene.

Turnips and Rutabaga

These root vegetables are packed with positive ingredients, including an array of antioxidants, such as glucosinolates and carotenoids. They also offer vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and more.

Autoimmune diseases can be notoriously frustrating. But food can be a powerful tool in fighting back against illness and helping your body heal. By sticking to a healthy diet based around whole plant foods and by avoiding some of the key triggers, you can make a world of difference to support your own well-being. And you can boost and balance your immune system so it can be your reliable friend and protector for years and decades to come.

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