Diet vs. Autoimmune Diseases

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

Working with patients with autoimmune diseases such as connective tissue diseases, myositis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus is very rewarding. These patients had been convinced they could never get well and are usually eternally grateful to be healthy again and not require medication.

An aggressive nutritional approach to autoimmune illnesses should always be tried first when the disease is in its infancy. Logically, the more advanced the disease is, and the more damage that has been done by the disease, the less likely the patient will respond. My experience with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis is that some patients are more dietary-sensitive than others and that some patients have very high levels of inflammation that are difficult to curtail with natural therapy. Nevertheless, the majority benefit—and since the conventional drugs used to treat these types of illnesses are so toxic and have so many risky side effects, the dietary method should be tried first. Modern drugs often contribute to the disability and misery of patients with an autoimmune illness and increase cancer risk. Studies show that the long-term outcome is poor after twenty years of taking such medication.1 A recent study in the British Journal of Rheumatology showed the major drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis, such as azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, chlorambucil, and methotrexate, increase ethe likelihood that the person will die of cancer.2 

Patients who use drugs that suppress the immune system forgo some protection that the immune system offers against infection and cancer. These individuals need a superior diet, even if they can’t stop all medication.

So many of the patients I see, especially the ones who have made recoveries, are angry at their former physicians who did not even suggest nutrition before starting them on medication. These individuals are usually so “sick of being sick,” they will do anything to get well. They don’t find the diet restrictive and show enthusiasm and determination to recover their health. It is terrifically exciting to see such patients make recoveries and eliminate the need for medication.

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