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Category Archives: Autoimmune General

Alcohol and Autoimmune Diseases

Alcohol and Autoimmune Diseases

You can’t talk about health and not talk to people about alcohol consumption. Alcohol is as prevalent in our society as stress, hamburgers and weird looking dogs. There is a lot of controversy around drinking alcohol and whether it benefits or hinders a person’s health. And when people talk to me about their diet, one of the main questions I get is “can I drink alcohol?” I think that most people are willing to give up dairy before they give up their daily glass of wine. And rightfully so! Alcohol is associated with relaxation, unwinding and social engagement.

So should people with autoimmune diseases kick their alcohol habits? Well the answer, like all answers, is it depends. Alcohol in moderation may provide some small anti-inflammatory effects in those with autoimmune diseases. But there are many other factors besides the main ingredient, ethanol, that can contribute to a person’s health. Let’s take a look at those specifics.

Alcohol as a food allergy

Despite it’s intoxicating effects, alcohol is often made from ingredients that people can have inflammatory responses to. Many beers are made from gluten, which a very common allergy for those with autoimmune diseases. Hard liquors can be made from gluten, potatoes, and certain herbs and spices. These are common allergies for people and can cause immune system reactions, especially when consumed on a regular basis.

Most alcohols are also made with brewer’s yeast – wine and beer specifically. The yeast is what provides the fermentation that converts sugars into ethanol. People can have allergy or immune system reactions to certain yeasts, including brewer’s yeast. Distilled liquors will often remove yeast products, but beverages like beer and wine often have yeast particles present.

Alcohol as a sugar

Most alcohol is VERY high in sugar. Sugar is needed for the fermentation process to produce ethanol. Sugars can be triggering to autoimmune diseases for a number of reasons. First, an overall increase in blood sugar over time can cause unwanted metabolic changes. These changes can lead to changes in cortisol or other hormones that influence the immune system. If hormone changes occur over time, the body may not be able to regulate inflammation as well.

Sugar also feeds the bacteria and yeast in the GI tract. If there is an imbalance in those GI microbes (GI dysbiosis), it can cause bad yeast or bacteria to grow in the gut. This can lead to things like candidiasis, SIBO, leaky gut or other inflammatory GI conditions. These are well known triggers of autoimmune diseases and may cause flares in some people.

Alcohol as a liver suppressor

The most common effect of alcohol is it’s effect on the liver. The liver is a very important organ in our body that is responsible for all things related to our metabolism. It helps break things down in our body including hormones and things we eat and drink daily. If these processes are impaired, it will affect the way the immune system responds on a daily basis. Parts of the immune system may not be broken down as well, or may be over reactive to particles that were not broken down properly.

Overall, there are many ways that alcohol can influence autoimmune diseases. Alcohol in moderation (1-2 drinks a week) is generally fine for most people that don’t have the above reactions. But if you are concerned about how alcohol might be affecting  your immune system, you should talk with your doctor.

Intermittent Fasting for Autoimmune Diseases

Intermittent Fasting for Autoimmune Diseases

Intermittent Fasting is a hot topic these days. But can it be used for autoimmune diseases? Yes!

Intermittent fasting can be used to help reduce flares, improve pain and help reduce inflammation long term.

Learn more about intermittent fasting and how it can help your autoimmune symptoms in our new blog post!Continue Reading

How to Have a Low-Carb Halloween

How to Have a Low-Carb Halloween

Halloween is coming – the sugariest night of the year! But for those that are trying to stay healthy by keeping things low-carb, it can feel like a time of being left out or a time when cravings hit hard. So how can you help indulge yourself while still maintaining that low-carb diet? Simple! PrepContinue Reading

Should People with Autoimmune Diseases get the Flu Shot?

Should People with Autoimmune Diseases get the Flu Shot?

I get asked this question A LOT. But before I go on to tell you my thoughts about the flu shot, I want to be clear that I am NOT against vaccinations. I support vaccinations when they are necessary, especially when they provide herd immunity that can eradicate or greatly reduce the chances of peopleContinue Reading

Serotonin and Fibromyalgia

Serotonin and Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia (fibro) is a condition that has become more common in the last 10-20 years. It used to be thought that fibro was a made-up condition.  While we don’t necessarily know exactly what causes fibro, we do know that there are several factors that can play a role in its progression. Diagnosis and symptoms CurrentlyContinue Reading

Alternative Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Alternative Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a very destructive inflammatory arthritis that affects approximately 1-5% of the population in the US.  RA can occur at any age but occurs more common after age 50. Women are also affected 2-3x more than men. It is also a fast acting arthritis, and can cause damage to the joint spaceContinue Reading

Aloe Vera Juice May Reduce Thyroid Antibodies

Aloe Vera Juice May Reduce Thyroid Antibodies

A recent study was published that looked at the effects of Aloe Vera juice on Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  What they found was a significant reduction in thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies.  TPO antibodies are commonly elevated in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and are largely responsible for reducing thyroid function. Those with Hashimoto’s common experience symptoms such as fatigue, brainContinue Reading

Heavy Metals and Thyroid Function

Heavy Metals and Thyroid Function

The thyroid gland is a large endocrine gland in the neck that secretes two different thyroid hormones, called T3 and T4.  These hormones are responsible for several functions in the body, most of which having to do with metabolism, growth and development.  There are many conditions that result from too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) orContinue Reading

The Flu and You – How Viruses Affect Autoimmune Diseases

The Flu and You – How Viruses Affect Autoimmune Diseases

It’s finally fall.  And while fall brings many wonderful things such as crisp evenings, beautiful foliage and pumpkin spice lattes it also brings with it the flu.  Most cases of the flu and common cold are relatively benign for most people, but for those with autoimmune diseases viral infections can mean symptom flares for theirContinue Reading