While there is no cure for autoimmune disease, that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t manage your symptoms. When it comes to restoring the immune system, diet is key. Nutrient deficiencies can play a huge role in autoimmune disease. If we are deficient in any or all of these key nutrients we are at risk for our immune system to attack the body’s own tissues.
Having regular blood work checked and addressing nutrient deficiencies is important in reversing autoimmune disease, and preventing another autoimmune condition.
Below are the most common nutrient deficiencies that may be linked to autoimmune disease:
This fat soluble vitamin is needed for the synthesis of immune system proteins and plays a role in killing off old cells. This vitamin is essential for building a strong immune system, A deficiency may be associated with autoimmune diseases such as RA and Type 1 Diabetes.
Food Sources: sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, fish, liver.
B vitamins are essential for optimal function of our immune system, hormones, mood, sleep, nerves, circulation, and digestion. More than just for energy, vitamin B12, supports the production of white blood cells, one of the main components of the immune system. If you are deficient in B12, it is likely that your white blood cell count will be low too, contributing to a weakened immune system.
Food Sources: Oysters, Liver, Sardines, Red meat (beef), Eggs. Nutritional yeast is also abundant in B12 making it a great source for vegetarians.
Even if you get outside everyday and get plenty of sunlight, chances are your vitamin D levels are below optimal. For those with autoimmune disease, this can be even more problematic. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the immune system by regulating and preventing autoimmunity.
Vitamin D stimulates regulatory T cells whose job is to differentiate between dangerous invaders and our own cells. Essential these cells teach the immune system not to attack itself.
Vitamin D supports a strong immune system and increases your ability to fight off viral or bacterial infections.
Food Sources: Besides soaking vitamin D up from the sun – it is also abundant in animal and dietary fats.
The role of vitamin K2 is to put calcium where it belongs in the body, like your teeth and bones. In the past, it was thought that you did not need to worry about a vitamin K2 deficiency because it is made by our body from vitamin K1. However current research tells us that most people eating a western diet are not only deficient in vitamin K1 but K2 as well.
A vitamin K deficiency may play a role in autoimmune disease.
Food Sources: Green leafy vegetables, fermented foods such as natto, sauerkraut and grass-fed butter
The standard american diet is abundant in inflammatory polyunsaturated vegetable oils and lacks omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 oils can lower inflammatory responses by enhancing B cell activation and antibody production. This allows your immune system to fight off unwanted pathogens.
Food Sources: Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel are full of omega 3 fatty acids. Plant sources include walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds.
Iron deficiency anemia is common in those suffering with autoimmune diseases. But why? The storage form of iron, ferritin, is absorbed through the intestines. It is common for those with autoimmunity conditions to have damage to their gut lining or leaky gut syndrome making it hard to absorb. We work around this by first, healing the gut (the underlying cause) and supplementing if necessary.
Food Sources: Red meat, Wild-caught fish, beans, dark leafy greens (spinach etc), peas.
Those who are chronically-stressed or eat high-sugar diets tend to have lower levels of magnesium. This mineral is important for supporting immune function and heart health. A magnesium deficiency may cause increased production of inflammatory chemicals in the body, raising your inflammation contributing to autoimmunity.
Food Sources: Spinach, Chard, Pumpkin seeds, Almonds, Black Beans, Avocado, Bananas.
This trace mineral works in conjunction with vitamin E to help prevent oxidative damage in the body. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a vital nutrient for thyroid function. Studies show that increasing selenium in those with hashimoto’s (an autoimmune thyroid condition) decreased thyroid antibodies.
Food Sources: Brazil nuts, Tuna, Halibut, Sardines, Grass-fed beef, Beef Liver, Chicken, Egg, and Spinach.
This essential trace mineral plays a role in over a hundred enzymatic reactions in the body. It helps to decrease oxidative damage, aids in wound healing, and helps with the formation of hemoglobin. Research suggests that people with zinc deficiency are more susceptible to pathogens.
Food Sources: Grass-fed beef, Kefir, and lamb. Plant sources include Chickpeas, Pumpkin seeds, cashews, and cocoa powder.