I often hear from mothers, cousins, friends, or co-workers that “X was just diagnosed with an autoimmune disease… he/she has no idea what to do.” I rarely speak to these new patients personally, but my heart goes out to each one. If I had a chance to talk to them, this is where I’d start.
Drug therapy for autoimmune disease is no one trick pony. Treatments vary widely and can focus on treating the symptoms, suppressing the immune system, moderating the pain, or all of the above. For many patients, the treatment plan starts at the shallow end of the drug spectrum and slowly creeps deeper as autoimmune symptoms progress (insert big-pharma-conspiracy-theorist rant here).
Autoimmune disease is on the rise. One in twelve Americans -and one in nine females- will develop some form of autoimmune disease in their lifetime. Between 2001 and 2009, rates of type 1 diabetes increased by 23%. Depending on who you ask, anywhere from 80 to 100 types of autoimmune diseases have already been discovered, with roughly 40 more diseases suspected of being autoimmune in nature. That frustrating recurring eczema? Yep, count it
For many years, I subscribed to the popular belief that protein was something easily obtained from a "clean," plant-based diet. Nuts and seeds, quinoa (!), or the ole rice and beans combo were the answers to all the body's needs. I thought I was being the healthiest. Animal protein wasn't exactly banned from my table, but it was mostly relegated to the dinner slot. I had read that it was hard to digest. My vegetarian friend told me it could turn rancid in the gut. Neither of us knew what she was talking about but the implications were clear.