You are here
We intend to evaluate the impact of a high nutrient dense diet, with removal of the most common dietary triggers of immune activation, along with specific supplementation such as Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics on the progression of autoimmune disease. We will initially apply this autoimmune protocol to a cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis and lupus and follow their clinical symptoms and signs along with immunological and inflammatory markers over the course of one year.
Autoimmune disease effects one in twelve Americans, 78% of whom are women. It has been described as “the western disease” because diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma and inflammatory bowel disease have been on the rise for the past four decades in industrialized countries.1
A number of causes have been implicated in this growing epidemic, including increasing environmental toxicity, previous infections, and poor nutrient dense diets low in antioxidants, vitamin D and essential fatty acids.
Gut inflammation and increased intestinal permeability is often present in autoimmune disease such as RA. Certain foods substances like gluten, casein and lectins may interact with the gut tissue as well as components of the immune system to promote autoimmune activity. A study of 27 patients with rheumatoid arthritis demonstrated that a seven to ten day fast followed by a gluten-free, casein-free vegetarian diet improved symptoms and plasma inflammatory markers. The benefits in this patient group were still present after one year.2
Even though various dietary inadequacies may increase the risk of and symptoms of autoimmune disease, in our clinical experience, a specific vegetable-based vegan diet designed to be high in micronutrients has demonstrated efficacy in modulating symptoms of autoimmune disease and in many cases leads to remission. So, in addition to remedying Vitamin D insufficiencies and assuring a favorable Omega-3 fatty acid balance, we intend to document the extent of improvement in a prospective cohort of autoimmune patients consuming a high nutrient dense diet free of common dietary triggers of immune activation. This study could have a major impact on the practice of medicine, given the large number of people with autoimmune disease today. Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, chemotherapeutic agents, steroids and TNF blockers are accompanied by undesirable and serious side effects. More studies as to the disease modifying effects of diet and nutritional supplementation are needed. This proposed autoimmune study will be expected to demonstrate significant disease modifying effects and sustained clinical improvement for patients.
- Nakazawa DJ. The Autoimmune Epidemic Touchstone/Simon and Schuster 2008
- Kjeldsen KJ. Rheumatoid arthritis treated with vegetarian diets. Am J Nutri 2000 May;71(5):1211-3.