Avoid Salt — Avoid Autoimmune Disease
There are over 40 different types of known auto-immune diseases and probably many more that we don’t yet know. Woman are more effected than men. Auto-immune disease occurs when our natural immune system develops antibodies that attack the healthy tissues of our body. Auto-immune disease affects 23 million Americans.
It is not entirely clear what causes auto-immune disorders. They tend to cluster in families, indicating it may have a strong genetic predisposition component, but there is probably many different factors that trigger the disruption of our immune system. Depending what area of the body is being attacked the disease can cause different symptoms. When the thyroid is attacked it is expressed as Hashimotto’s thyroiditis or Graves disease. If the adrenals are affected it is Addison’s, the pancreas, Type-1 Diabetes. If the immune system attacks the tissue between joints and bones it is rheumatoid arthritis. In the lining of the GI track it is Chronn’s disease. Even diseases like Asthma, Multiple Sclerosis, Sjoren’s, and some cancers are thought to be auto-immune triggered.
It isn’t yet clear what may be causing this to happen. Some research indicates that environmental toxins play a role, especially toxins like the BPA which is commonly found in plastics, cash register receipts, etc., but it is clear that the occurrence of these types of disorders are on the rise.
What seems to be clear is that diet plays a major role in both avoiding an auto-immune disease and recovering from one. A low salt, predominately plant based diet has been shown to greatly decrease the inflammation that accompanies auto-immune disease and to greatly reduce symptoms. One study showed that ninety two percent of people with Chronn’s disease were able to avoid a relapse when followed for two years after diagnosis and treatment by eating a whole foods (no processed foods), predominately plants based (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans) diet. That is Compare that to the 85% relapse rate of those who did not make any dietary changes.
Salt in particular has been shown to aggravate autoimmune disease and some research indicates it may play a role in the development of the disease. The typical American consumes about 12 grams of salt per day. Apparently we have a salt sensing enzyme that becomes activated when we consume salt and this enzyme activates one type of immune helper cell that aggravates an auto-immune response.