Give your immune system a tune up!
Most people donít think about there immune system when health is good. The immune system is your bodyís first line of defense against disease and viruses. In America today five to eight percent of the population has an autoimmune disease (fourteen to twenty two million people). When ones immune system turns on the body and attacks healthy tissue, the result is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is number three next to heart disease and cancer in America as cause of death. There are over eighty different conditions in the body an autoimmune disease can be attributed too. Autoimmune diseases attack digestion (celiac disease, Crohnís disease, and ulcerative colitis), nervous system (multiple sclerosis), skin (systemic lupus erythematosus), the source of chronic diseases (rheumatoid arthritis), and even sugar diabetes.
Most autoimmune symptoms manifest them selves on or systems such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohnís Disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is where the immune system is attaching joint tissue and Crohnís disease is primarily the digestive tract. This happens because the bodyís intercellular communication has broken down and the immune system can not determine weather a cell is healthy or bad. Some say that there is no cure for an autoimmune dysfunction, however; Iím under the impression that with proper diet and supplements one can over come anything life comes up with. Most treatments for these kinds of diseases are usually focused at slowing down the progression and controlling the symptoms to improve the quality of life. These kinds of treatments only mask or hide an underlying problem.
Lots of research has been invested into discovering what causes an autoimmune disorder. Scientist has narrowed it down to several possible culprits: environmental factors, chemicals, oxidative stress (free radical damage out of control), hormones, and genetics or even past infections. In the past ten years scientists have been telling Americans to avoid sunlight exposure due to the thinning of the ozone layer in the earthís atmosphere. Ultra violet light is stronger now then ever in Earthís history. Over exposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer. When our bodies are exposed to the Sun we produce Vitamin D in the skin if we get enough sunlight exposure we can produce what we need on our own. Scientists speculate they have found a link between autoimmune diseases and vitamin D deficiency in the America population. If we limit our exposure to the sun we need to supplement Vitamin D into our diet. Research has suggested that vitamin D can help prevent or slow the progression of multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes as well as Crohnís disease according to animal studies.
The U.S. has set a minimum vitamin requirement for each day the American public should consume to prevent disease this is called the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). The RDA for vitamin D is well below the amounts needed to fight against an autoimmune disease. Currently the RDA recommends 200IU for children and adults, 400IU for adults over 50 and 600IU for adults over 70. Recent studies suggest intakes of as much as 1000IU to 2000IU per day can help fight cancer and boost the immune system.1 Long term studies havenít been done on toxicity for children and adults at these dosages. If you are going to consume 1000IU or more a day of vitamin D look for some common signs of overdose such as: nausea, vomiting, constipation, weakness and weight loss, and even elevated calcium levels in the blood. These symptoms only occur when taken in high dosages and doesnít happen with normal sun exposure and dietary consumption of vitamin D in the foods we eat.
Healthy sources to obtain vitamin D are Sunlight, Cold Liver Oil, Salmon, Mackerel, Canned Sardines, and fortified Milk. Try to get five to twenty minutes of sun exposure to the skin each day this way your body can manufacture the vitamin D it needs. Depending on your geographic location this might be impossible for some so a diet high in the above listed foods is best. You can also purchase vitamin D in the form of fish oil and itís available in vegetarian form as well at your local vitamin store. Another note, dark skinned people are more likely deficient in vitamin D due to the melanin. Melanin impairs the skins ability to produce vitamin D.
The recent studies on omega-3 fish oil suggest fish oil can be a natural anti-inflammatory in the body. In this case, fish oil could help reduce Rheumatoid arthritis. Fish oil can also help promote healthy cholesterol levels. Studies suggest that fish oil can help improve memory and can help balance a sluggish immune system. One can be well in the road to recover with a proper diet and nutritional supplements.
1. Cantorna MT, Mahon BD. Mounting evidence of vitamin D as an environmental factor affecting autoimmune disease prevalence. Exp Biol Med. 2004; 229(11):1136-42.
2. Holick MF. The vitamin D epidemic and its health consequences. J Nutr 2005; 135(11):2739S-48S.
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