How can food elimination help autoimmunity?

It’s funny how things happen in life.  You get this feeling that you need to do something or make a change or just that something is not right.  You may look something up on the internet and 45 minutes later you are totally engrossed in a completely different topic.  This is how I found Direct-MS and my alternative health solutions began.  This is actually two-part because I found Direct-MS on the internet but simultaneously I was reading a lot (babies nap twice a day, lots of quite time.)  One book led to another to another.  From spirituality to books written by those who have changed their diets and lifestyle because of disease.

Direct-MS discusses Molecular Mimicry and its role in autoimmune diseases.  Here is what they say:

“Basically, molecular mimicry means that part of a molecule of a given protein closely resembles a part of another totally different protein. Proteins are made up of strings of amino acids and in molecular mimicry one series amino acids(eg~10) in one protein is very similar to a string of ten amino acids in another protein. Given that there are 20 different amino acids it is a rather rare occurrence to find such mimicking arrangements but many examples have been demonstrated.

The main types of proteins which came into play in autoimmune disease are:

  1. Self-proteins which are part of the human body. An example of this would-be myelin basic protein which is the most common protein in myelin;
  2. proteins of infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria;
  3. food proteins. For example, over 400 different proteins occur in cow’s milk and most have over 150 amino acids.

To understand how molecular mimicry works in the induction of autoimmunity one must understand the basic mechanisms of an immune response to a foreign invader in the body. The immune system recognizes a part of the protein portion of the invader. It does this with T cells which have receptors which bind to short segments (~10 amino acids) of a foreign protein. It is helped in this task by so called antigen presenting cells such as macrophages. A macrophage will engulf a foreign invader (eg a bacteria or food particle) and break it down into fragments. A special molecule in the macrophage then carries a protein fragment(peptide) to the surface of the cell and “presents” it to the millions of circulating T cells. A T cell which has a matching receptor locks onto the presented protein fragment. The T cell then becomes activated and stimulates other portions of the immune system to begin an immune response against all proteins which contain a similar looking amino acid string. The details of what constitutes a similar looking string are beyond this summary but suffice to say it has been found that a variety of similar, yet somewhat different strings, can be recognized by the same T cell.  Thus, it is easy to understand how molecular mimicry can trigger an autoimmune reaction. If the protein fragment from a foreign invader which is presented to the T cell closely resembles part of a self-protein then the activated immune system will not only attack all foreign invaders which have the same string of amino acids but will also attack a very similar string in a self-protein. It has been shown that parts of proteins in various foods and infectious agents resemble parts of various self-proteins. Sometimes a three-way mimicry occurs with a protein fragment from a food closely resembling that of an infectious agent which in turn closely resembles part of a self-protein.”

This is the reason for taking an ELISA allergy test to figure out which foods the body has an aversion to and to eliminate these foods.   My diet today does not contain any dairy, gluten, legumes, limited saturated fat from red/dark meats, refined oils, refined sugars, and grains.  I began slowly as this is an incredible change. After the ELISA test results, I eliminated dairy, gluten, and refined sugars.  How I felt after a couple of weeks was near miraculous!  My moods were better, energy levels improved and many symptoms disappeared.  I also took out all food additives and underwent an herbal detox.

Along with food changes, I added daily supplements.  Probiotics are a very important one as this helps with proper gut bacteria.  A large part of our immune system stems from the gut so its health plays a critical role.  I added Vitamin D3, studies show that those with autoimmune disease have very low Vitamin D3.  Omega 3 fats from fish oil with EPA and DHA.  A good quality multi vitamin derived from whole foods.  There is a long list of supplements but these are the biggest to include.

Slowly over the years I also found that I do not digest other foods well, such as legumes and grains.  I will discuss that further in Part 2 of this segment.

For reference, here are some links:

List of food additives: