Most of you have heard the word “Autoimmune”. In fact, too many of us have heard it in a doctor’s office. According to a quick Google search the top five autoimmune conditions are Rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis, Celiac disease, Graves’ disease, and type 1 Diabetes mellitus. According to the National Institute of Health 23.5 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune condition, which is more than 7% of the population. Autoimmunity is a combination of factors and presents as an immune response against substances that are mistaken for as pathogens. The body is attacking its own organs, tissues, and cells. Of those diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or condition, about 75% are women. These conditions are among the ten leading causes of death among women in all age groups up to 65. Today I’d like to discuss ways to support digestion and reduce an immune response. Ways to support the stomach, liver & gallbladder, and the small & large intestines.
Supporting the digestive process is foundational to immune support. Digestion is a north to south process, so it is imperative we give it a good start. Food disinfection and breakdown begins in the stomach. For this to happen we must support proper hydrochloric acid production. We can accomplish this by adding micronutrients to our diet, such as zinc, B1, folate, B5, B6 & B12. This would be foods like asparagus, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, oysters, pumpkin seeds, and pecans. Digestive bitters can stimulate your taste buds to help your body signal digestion and begin producing saliva. This is accomplished by drinking some lemon water or some warm dandelion root tea.
Supporting a healthy, functioning liver & gallbladder are important for several reasons. Protein production, energy production, and elimination of immune by-product. Again, micronutrients in your diet play a big role. The best micronutrients for these organs would be zinc, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, and B vitamins. Brazil nuts, cashews, almonds, beef liver, oysters, ground beef, lentils, leafy greens are a few ways to get these in your system. Phosphatidylcholine that is found in eggs, fish, and meat is also beneficial. Healthy fats and amino acids such as taurine and glycine are also supportive. These amino acids are found in your red meat, turkey, chicken and seafood or shellfish. Just as mentioned above, digestive bitters, such as milk thistle, dandelion root, and yellow dock are also supportive of your liver and supportive of your immune system and liver.
And last, but not least, is supporting healthy small & large intestine function. When you have signs of mid-gut or lower-gut imbalances you want to support a healthy mucosal lining and support regular bowel movements. When this is accomplished, it provides a healthy terrain on which beneficial bacteria can reside. We have discussed the micronutrients to include in your diet above like zinc and B vitamins and magnesium and we’ve also discussed digestive bitters. These are all supportive of your intestinal tract as well. In addition, I’d like to encourage including gut-supportive plants, such as chlorophyll, marshmallow root, slippery elm, dill, thyme, oregano, ginger, garlic and prebiotic fibers like garlic, onions, shallots, bananas and nuts.
With digestion being a foundation to great health, it is my hope that this leaves you encouraged that you can make a difference in your body’s immune response using these ideas to support this process. Take your health back into your hands by making the decision daily to incorporate one, if not more, of these foods in your diet. If you would like to talk more about these or get a one on one consultation to explore more ways to support you immune system please reach out and connect with me.
Nutrition Therapy Association. (2020). Student Guide: Immune System. Retrieved from https://nutritionaltherapy.instructure.com/courses/164/pages/13-dot-2-%7C-core-reading-immune?module_item_id=5527