Autoimmune disorders are one of the most common diseases and are on the rise at an alarming rate every year. Research shows that increasing levels of pollution, genetic factors, changing lifestyle and dietary habits are the major factors leading to autoimmune disorders in people of all ages. In an autoimmune condition, our immune system is faulty, resulting in aberrant activation of the white blood cells attacking healthy cells and leading to chronic health disorders. The first and best way to combat autoimmune conditions is by supplying our body with an adequate amount of powerful nutrients that help manage ill health and support our immune system and spring us back to normal life. You have likely heard of antioxidants and for good reason. Antioxidants are one of the most powerful nutrients that are essential to reverse autoimmune conditions or protect ourselves from such disorders. Antioxidants are free radical scavengers that protect cells from oxidative damage, prevent inflammation and help maintain the health of cells.
In this blog, we have listed the top 5 most powerful antioxidants that are recommended for people struggling with autoimmune conditions:
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is one of the most essential antioxidants to maintain the integrity of the immune system. Our immune system has dendritic cells that are considered as microbe sensing alarms which send a “red alert” message to stimulate immunity when there is an invasion of infectious organisms. It also sends the “calm down” message to bring down excessive immunity that might damage healthy cells. The“calm down” message is facilitated by Vit-A. Vitamin A is known as an anti-inflammatory vitamin for its critical role in reducing inflammation in the body and correcting the immune system. Deficiency of Vitamin A has been linked to autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
Sources of Vit A: Vitamin A is available in two forms
Retinol: The active form of Vitamin A that is abundantly found in animal meats.Grass-fed beef, animal liver, and cod liver oil are some of the richest sources of retinol.
Carotenoids: Carotenoids are the dark-colored pigments found in vegetables and fruits. There are more than 500 known carotenoids found in plant-based foods, out of which beta-carotene is abundantly found in green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, and more.
Vitamin D: Also called the sunshine vitamin, is known to carry out metabolic activities in the bone and maintain calcium levels in bone tissues. Additionally, vitamin A also plays a novel role as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant which helps in the prevention of autoimmune diseases. If there is overstimulation, autoimmunity occurs, and if there is not enough immune response, infections might occur. Studies revealed that Vitamin D plays a critical role in regulating and controlling our immune system and keeping it perfectly balanced. Vitamin D has the ability to control the production of cytokines, a type of chemical molecule responsible for regulating inflammation in the tissues of various vital organs such as the brain, liver, heart, kidneys, and intestines, etc. and thereby preventing the attack of autoimmune diseases. Several studies have revealed a direct link between the deficiency of vitamin D to several autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Sources of Vitamin D:
- Soaking up the morning sun for just 20-30 minutes three times a week is just enough to increase your Vit D levels
- Bone broth and collagen are excellent sources of vitamin D
- Fatty fish, Beef liver, mushrooms, oranges are also good sources of vitamin D
Glutathione: Glutathione is known as the body’s master antioxidant that acts as the frontline defense against oxidative stress and damage from free radicals. Free radicals are the byproducts of cell metabolism which can flare up toxin build up in the body. When there are sufficient levels of glutathione in the body, it attracts these free radicals and carries out the elimination process and plays a pivotal role in reducing intestinal inflammation and maintaining gut-barrier integrity. The liver has the highest amount of glutathione levels. When there is depletion of glutathione in our bodies it can lead to reduced immune function. It can also increase vulnerability to infections and inflammation, as the toxins enter the bloodstream and trigger a system-wide attack. This phenomenon could be dangerous as it may lead to an increase in the risk of food sensitivities, inflammation, pain, degeneration of the tissues and autoimmune disease. Depletion of glutathione may also cause leaky blood-brain barrier, leaky respiratory tract, and disruption in the normal brain functions. So, maintaining a good amount of glutathione levels in the body is very important to prevent the onset of autoimmunity as well as fighting underlying autoimmune conditions.
Sources of Glutathione:
- Grass-fed beef& collagen, liver
- Sulfur-rich foods like onions and garlic
- All vegetables of the cruciferous family like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli
- Other vegetables such as carrots, asparagus, squash, spinach, kale
- Fruits such as avocados and melons
Micro minerals: Also called trace elements, Selenium and Zinc are indispensable nutrients for human health. Both Selenium and Zinc are required to maintain a healthy immune system and healthy vital organs such as kidneys, liver, heart, etc. Zinc plays a significant role in immune functions, protein synthesis, cell repair, wound healing and maintaining good skin health. Selenium is important for reproductive health, thyroid functions, DNA synthesis, and protection from infection. The deficiency of these trace minerals is linked to a plethora of health conditions. Low levels of Selenium can increase the risk of damage to brain tissues which leads to cognitive malfunctioning and also cardiovascular diseases. Zinc deficiency can lead to impairment of the immune system which leads to increased risk and susceptibility to infections and autoimmune diseases. WHO has recognized Zinc deficiency as the 5th leading cause of mortality and morbidity in developing countries and 11th leading worldwide in developed nations.
Sources of Selenium and Zinc:
- Seafood including Tuna, Salmon, Crab, Prawns, and Lobsters are excellent sources of Zinc and Selenium
- Pulses such as lentils are good sources of Zinc& Selenium among plant-based foods.
Curcumin: It is considered a golden spice derived from the rhizome of the Curcuma longa and is used in Asian cuisine as a coloring and flavoring agent. It has gained both medical and scientific interest as it is a major source of the phytochemical named curcumin, a potential antioxidant. Curcumin is predominantly known for its anti-inflammatory and antitumor promoting properties in the human body. It helps in the management of autoimmune and degenerative diseases such as arthritis, inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and hyperlipidemia. Curcumin is believed to detain the aging process, chronic inflammation, and also activate the body’s antioxidant enzymes.
Food Sources: Adding turmeric spice to your soups or stews in little amounts.
Conclusion: Free radicals have been linked to causing a range of diseases in humans. However, adding natural sources of antioxidants can aid in fighting chronic health conditions. So, to prevent the oxidation that can take away the life of your cells, eat wisely and follow a great and healthy lifestyle.