Saturday, September 24, 2005

Paleo Diet may help with Rheumatoid Arthritis and other Autoimmune Diseases

From: The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. of Colorado State University, pp. 91-92

"Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 (juvenile) diabetes develop when the body's immune system can't tell the difference between its own tissues and those of foreign invaders. The result: The body attacks itself. The type of disease depends on the nature of the body's assault: When the immune system invades and destroys nerve tissue, multiple sclerosis develops. When the pancreas is the target, type 1 diabetes occurs. When joint tissues are attacked and destroyed, the result is rheumatoid arthritis.

All autoimmune diseases develop because of interactions between the genes and one or more environmental factors, such as a viral or bacterial infection or exposure to a certain food. Sadly, no one knows exactly how viruses, bacteria, and foods can spark the disease in genetically susceptible people.

Many environmental agents have been suspected in the development of autoimmune diseases. But only one of these types has proved capable of causing a disease. Cereal grains-such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats-are responsible for celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. In celiac disease, the immune system attacks and destroys cells in the intestine, leading to diarrhea and many nutritional problems. In dermatitis herpetiformis, the skin is attacked.

Withdrawal of all gluten-containing cereals causes complete remission of both diseases. Cereal grains, dairy products, and legumes are suspected in other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. To date, no dietary intervention studies have been conducted to see whether Paleo diets-free of grains, dairy products, and legumes-can reduce the symptoms of these diseases.

My comment: Dr. Cordain and his team are in the process of studying the effects of Paleo diets on autoimmune diseases at Colorado State University.

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