The progression of autoimmune diseases has been on the rise in western industrialized countries over the past 50 years. Autoimmune diseases include Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Scleroderma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Irritable Bowl Disease. Due to its rise in industrialized countries, autoimmune diseases have been labeled as western diseases caused by environmental toxicity, previous infection, poor diet that is low in antioxidants, and vitamin D and essential fatty acid deficiencies. The cause of autoimmune disease is not known, but a large base of research is being conducted to find possible links between progression of autoimmune diseases and common dietary triggers of immune activation. Common dietary triggers of immune activation include (and are not limited to) gluten, casein, and lectins.

gutGluten can cause abnormalities in gut flora (the good bacteria in your gut). This is especially true for those with celiac disease. If the gut flora is compromised, your immune system becomes compromised because the pH of your intestines changes, allowing foreign bacteria to grow. The gut flora also helps digest food that provides you with the essential nutrients for your body to function.

Casein is a protein that is found in cows milk, and autoimmune patients generate an immune response to casein. If cows milk is introduced into the diet too early, casein can be flagged as a foreign invader and stimulate an immune response.

Lectins are a protein found in the cell membrane and facilitate cell to cell contact. Lectins bind to sugars found on the surface of other cell membranes. It is thought that lectins found in autoimmune patients strip away the sugars on the surface of other cells instead of binding to it. After the sugar is stripped away by the lectin, the body reads that cell as an invader and activates the immune system. A diet low in lectins for autoimmune patients could potentially help turn down the immune system.

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