Tag Archives: autoimmune disease

Consuming too much salt may be a trigger for autoimmune diseases, like Multiple Sclerosis and Type 1 Diabetes

FoodFacts.com is aware that the rates of autoimmune diseases have been on the rise for quite some time. Instances of diseases like Multiple Sclerosis have increased in the population with little explanation as to why. While it’s understood that people can be genetically predisposed to these diseases, the rates of autoimmune disease have risen fairly quickly.

Now, new research suggests that salt consumption may be an underlying reason for the rapid increases. A new report published in the journal Nature has reported that a high-salt diet may increase levels of a specific immune cell that is linked with autoimmune diseases. These cells are linked with inflammation. The report was culled from three different studies from Harvard and Yale universities. It was noted that mice that had been genetically engineered to develop Multiple Sclerosis got much worse when they were fed a diet comparable to a high-salt Western diet when compared with mice who were fed a diet more moderate in salt.

The results suggest that salt intake may play a role in the triggering of autoimmune diseases in individuals who are already genetically predisposed. It appears that the development of diseases like MS may not just be about genetics after all, but rather a combination of genetics and environmental factors. While the paper links salt and MS, the researchers can’t say how much salt makes the difference.

One of the studies used in the report involved the cell function of 100 healthy individuals. It was noted that when people in the study ate fast food more than once per week, there was a significant increase in levels of destructive inflammatory cells. These cells respond to injury from foreign invaders – but in individuals with autoimmune diseases, the cells actually attack healthy tissue. The autoimmune cell known as a T helper 17 or a Th17 seems to be the cell affected by the high salt diet. The Th17 cells can promote inflammation that’s key to defending against pathogens. But they are also linked to autoimmune diseases.

Researchers then moved to studying the genetically engineered mice. All of the mice involved would develop MS. Based on the observations of the individuals in the previous study, the mice were divided into two groups. One group which had been fed the high salt diet experienced the production of an increased amount of Th17 cells. These were the mice that developed a more severe form of Multiple Sclerosis. The mice that were fed a regular diet experienced less severe disease.

The researchers are anxious for these findings to be studied in the human population. There is already a study that’s been approved that will test the effects of lowering the dietary salt levels of people with MS to see if it might improve symptoms of the disease. While it may be years before the link between salt intake and autoimmune disease can be confirmed, the researchers think that it may be advisable for MS patients to go ahead and lower their daily sodium levels.

FoodFacts.com is always encouraged when science finds implications of links between our diets and our health. The benefits of making small dietary changes can be enormous. The idea of treating chronic, debilitating disease through diet can help us all live longer, healthier lives and may help alleviate the need for powerful medications that often cause physically and emotionally stressful side effects. We look forward to future studies on this important subject.

Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/salt-autoimmune-disease-sodium-multiple-sclerosis-diabetes_n_2821200.html

Celiac Disease- Why it may be on the rise.

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Foodfacts.com notices many of our followers struggle with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder which affects the small intestine after consuming gluten. We’ve come across on article that describes the possibly reasoning behind the rise of this disease. Check it out below!

(Yahoo Health) Nearly five times as many Americans have celiac disease today than in the 1950s, a recent study of 9,133 young adults at Warren Air Force Base found. Another recent report found that the rates of celiac disease have doubled every 15 years since 1974. The debilitating digestive disease is now estimated to afflict about 1 in 100 Americans. Why is exposure to gluten–a protein in found in barley, wheat, rye, and possibly oats, as well as other everyday products, including some brands of lipstick, vitamins and lip balms—making more people sick than ever before?

To find out more about celiac disease and the health effects of gluten-free diets, I talked to Christina Tennyson, MD of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York City.

What is celiac disease? A debilitating digestive disorder, celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten. When people with the disease eat foods that contain gluten, a damaging reaction occurs in the lining of the small intestines, blocking its ability to absorb certain nutrients. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition, even if the person is eating a seemingly healthy diet.

What are the symptoms? One reason why this autoimmune disease often goes undiagnosed for as long as 10 years is that symptoms can vary from person to person. Among the more common warning signs of celiac disease are abdominal pain, bloating, gassiness, diarrhea, constipation, lactose intolerance, nausea and fatigue.
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How serious is it? Because celiac disease robs the body of vital nutrients, people who have it are at increased risk for anemia and osteoporosis. People who have celiac disease and don’t eat a gluten-free diet also face a higher threat of bowel cancer and intestinal lymphoma. The Air Force Base study found that during 45 years of follow-up, those with undiagnosed celiac disease were four times more likely to die.

What causes it? Although the cause isn’t fully understood, two genes are known to play a role, says Dr. Tennyson.
Why are rates rising? One theory is that today’s grain-based foods contain more gluten than they did in the past. Another is that kids are exposed to gluten at an earlier age, contributing to increased risk. A frequently proposed explanation is the “hygiene hypothesis,” the theory that we are too clean for our own good, resulting in weaker immune systems because we’re not exposed to as many diseases.
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Does a gluten-free diet help people lose weight? Many gluten-free foods are actually higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts and therefore lead to weight gain, reports Dr. Tennyson. “One of the pitfalls is that these foods are often highly processed and high in fat. Some ingredients that are used are low in fiber, such as white rice flour, tapioca and corn starch, causing constipation.” To avoid these problems, people with celiac disease should work with a nutritionist, she advises.

Does a gluten-free diet have any health benefits if you don’t have celiac disease? Possibly. In a randomized study in which neither the researchers nor the participants knew if the foods they were eating contained gluten or not, 68 percent of people who thought that a gluten-free diet improved their GI symptoms reported worsening of their symptoms when they were fed gluten-containing foods without their knowledge. However, the study only looked at 34 patients. Use of gluten-free diets for other conditions, such as autism, is highly controversial.

How trustworthy is gluten-free labeling? While products as diverse as lipstick brands to chocolate and many types of groceries carry gluten-free labeling, right now, there are no legal standards that have to be met in the US. In 27 other countries, food labeled as gluten-free food can’t have more than 20 parts of gluten per million. Nearly three years after the FDA’s deadline for a rule to define “gluten-free,” the agency is finally getting serious about tackling the dangerous risks people with celiac disease can face due to misleading labeling.

What’s the treatment? Although there’s no cure, symptoms can be effectively controlled through dietary changes to avoid all foods with gluten. However, if you think you might have celiac disease, don’t start a gluten-free diet until you’ve been tested for the condition, since eliminating gluten can cause misleading test results, cautions Dr. Tennyson. Because the disease can also spark vitamin and mineral deficiencies, patients may also need supplements. For people with severe small intestine inflammation, doctors sometimes prescribe steroids.