Really interesting radio program/podcast on... - Healthy Eating

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Really interesting radio program/podcast on autoimmune disease

Subtle_badger profile image

There has been a huge increase in autoimmune diseases in recent years, mostly amongst women - according to this, 95% of those with hashimoto's are women. This is a look at the cutting edged of science in understanding why.

Admins, I know this is off topic, but there are a lot of people with autoimmune diseases here. Feel free to lock it from further discussion, but I hope you can leave it so others can follow the link and listen to it - and take it to more suitable forums to discuss, if they care to. I am not a member of those forums.

Disclaimer: I have never been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition (except eczema and asthma, which I am not sure count), but recently found out that they are increasing in a similar way to type 2 diabetes, so have started taking an interest in why.

51 Replies

They did say autoimmune disease is increasing (not huge) but that wasn’t really the focus. They were discussing the role of the placenta and how women navigate a tricky balance in their immune system. Long story short…We get autoimmune disease more than before because we do not get pregnant as much. The message isn’t to stay home and have babies mind you. It is a fascinating look at the science.

They weren't focussing on the increase, but I have been. Google suggests that Coeliac is going up 7.5% per year, type 1 diabetes by 2-4% and other autoimmune diseases by as much as 9%. That needs explanation.

I think diet is part of it, for sure.

I figured that was where you were going which is valid but this podcast is about the rise in women specifically connected to the placenta. There is no indication diet has anything to do with it or would even help except in a general sense. I will be interested to see if the host’s disease goes away in the next few months.

Jerry profile image

Hi Subtle_badger firstly thank you for being considerate and you are quite right we do have many members with autoimmune diseases me included as I'm a diagnosed coeliac so my autoimmune disease brought me here and its a one way ticket as I need a gluten free diet for the rest of my life.

This is one big reason I like being involved in the Healthy Eating community so that I can help others with coeliac/gluten intolerance or anyone who benefits from a gluten free diet and just as importantly their family and friends who want wholesome food ideas for friends and family who need a gluten free diet.

Raising awareness of health conditions is paramount to our health and well being so in my opinion this post is not off topic but very pertinent.

Because I've always eaten a whole food diet it took Dr's a long time to diagnose one me as they thought that I was too healthy to have any underlying conditions this led to frustration that at times was hard to cope with so spreading awareness of autoimmune diseases that we can treat with diet is empowering and very important to our well being.

One really interesting aspect is why women often find their autoimmune response changes during pregnancy as the same thing happens during puberty so some coeliac think they have grown out of it! And it's because of the hormonal changes in our bodies.

Thank you for sharing this and I hope that some members find it interesting especially as removing gluten from our diets seems to help many with autoimmune diseases so here's a link to our Gluten free Topics on Healthy Eating as this is relevant for many members, please see:

Coeliac awareness ribbon.
Blueruth profile image
Blueruth in reply to Jerry

It is very fascinating in that it goes back 100s of 1000s of years to understand what is going on. Men will almost surely benefit from the research too. Give it a 🎧!

StillConcerned profile image
StillConcerned in reply to Jerry

My heart goes out to any sufferers Jerry .

I do think there's an issue with inertia/agendas with regard to what is monitored/treated and things that are not considered.

The most poignant example is Dr. Kraft found three-quarters of his patients to have abnormal insulin levels. He concluded that latent diabetes (insulin-resistance) is rife in the developed world.

That was in the 1990s, since which the incidence of diabetes has doubled, ergo, he was right.

Now, TBF, the NHS does now have a Diabetes Prevention Programme. However, until relatively recently the expectations have always been that the condition is expected to worsen. The dietary advice that is being given is the self-same advice that contributed to that expectation.

When X-PERT Health gave different advice, based on the latest evidence and proven to put diabetes into remission, their contract with ICS (now Xyla) was terminated, and Xyla brought into line with other providers' advice. Two steps forward, then one step back.

SACN have concluded recently that low-carb diets are safe for type 2 treatment, in the short-term. There is no long-term evidence because this approach has been dismissed and maligned previously.

Actually, it depends what you call long-term. The Norwood Surgery of Stockport have 8 years of data of the success of a low-carb dietary approach; half of their patients are in remission, no longer requiring diabetes medication.

Readers of my posts will know I am not an advocate of keto long-term for the general population, but if the RDA for carbohydrate was halved what a message this would send out to the UK, and what a healthier nation we would be.

Are you saying low carb = keto?Im a huge believe in science but it has to be repeatable. There has be more than on study. Anecdotal stories aren’t really evidence. I know that there are studies linking carbs and diabetes… definitely sugar anyway.

The US and UK and every country actually have different dietary recommendations. UK emphasizes grains more I believe. They decide guidelines on health but that is only one factor. It also has to do with culture and access. In the us they have said three servings of veggies for about as long as I have been alive. And yet a plate sized T-bone steak has got to be one of the most popular dishes.

In the 1950s the sugar and flour industries buried that information that proved processed carbs cause type 2, and any dissenters were just ignored or ridiculed because of the 'weight of evidence'.

So, I totally accept what you're saying, but when it's half the people with diabetes within a surgery that are in remission, and the data commenced over 8 years ago, to my mind it's far more reliable than the 'weight of evidence' that has been influenced by vested interests. It's being belittled again because it isn't the message that many affluent/influential organisations want to be accepted.

Bear in mind that until recently the expectation has always been for people with diabetes to worsen chronically with insulin-resistance. Now remission has been proved, several different claims have been made as to how this can be achieved, and some are just muddying the waters so that the effective treatments can be overlooked along with this morass.

After work, I noticed on the news that a new 'game changer' is going to be made available for lowering cholesterol. It's ludicrous. If lowering cholesterol was in itself effective in preventing heart disease, the success rates would be far better from the existing treatments. The truth is the PREDIMED study showed that having nuts and/or olives each day reduces the risk of atherosclerosis by 30% compared to a low-fat diet, and that is by far and away, massively better than any medication.

Yet, when you go to your GP, they will prescribe statins, PCSK9-inhibitors, whatever this new treatment is going to be...

God bless you.

happytulip profile image
happytulip in reply to Jerry

I agree with you Jerry that it is important to raise AI awareness and it is good if we can treat an auto-immune disease such as coeliacs with diet. It's so good to hear when people are relieved of their symptoms with dietary changes.

However I do have a concern that there is an increasing movement that suggest all AI diseases can be treated solely with dietary changes and sadly that is just not true. I am not suggesting that you are saying this, I am merely pointing out that I am concerned that some people are turning away from their immune suppressant medications because they have been encouraged that dietary changes can cure all ailments, only to suffer irreparable organ damage or joint destruction within months. I've seen it on forums many times and occurring more frequently.

Once again, I only raise this as a point of discussion. A good diet is vital in my opinion and if you can improve your health with diet then fantastic. But I do worry about the growing movement of people who are ditching life saving medications and suffering irreversible damage as a consequence. I'm truly surprised by the amount of people who do this.

I'm not sure if this happens in the coeliac community?

Jerry profile image
JerryAdministrator in reply to happytulip

Hi happytulip coeliac don't take immune suppressants so I'm not aware of this happening..

I would never suggest anyone stop taking meds and only try and encourage others to eat well for them and their bodies needs.

Awareness should be complimentary to our health and never be detrimental to it.

happytulip profile image
happytulip in reply to Jerry

Hi Jerry,Of course you would never advocate people to come off their meds and I know you encourage people to eat healthy diets.

I'm pleased that you manage your condition so well.

I just wanted to mention the growing number of people who are ditching vital meds because they believe a diet can change their individual condition. I think this happens in part because some of the side effects are so awful and there are big changes afoot in the food market at the moment. For example, more plant based options etc. It's suddenly booming and there is so much choice.

As I said to Cooper the term Auto-immune covers such a broad spectrum of conditions. Increasingly I have seen headlines or articles about how some people have ditched their medications for a certain diet. It's a worrying trend as often these people have symptoms return with avengance. I just wanted to share that info, that's all.

It definitely a case of walking on a tightrope with AI disease.

Jerry profile image
JerryAdministrator in reply to happytulip

Thanks for highlighting this happytulip and I agree with you having an A1 disease is like walking a tightrope as sometimes I think I have a twitchy immune system!

Zara0123 profile image
Zara0123 in reply to happytulip

I agree Happytulip. There are a few people on HE as well as NRAS that believe that just eating certain things will stop Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases and do encourage others to come off meds which is dangerous and very silly too. I don't think I could survive on a plant based diet and wouldn't want to as it would make me lose my joy of eating. I believe everything is good in proportion even if what we eating isn't 💯 healthy. You know the saying "Don't die before your Death" comes to mind if we have to give up everything to live. It really wouldn't be living if there was no joy in life if we didn't have anything to look forward to 💕

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to happytulip

Coeliac disease is triggered by gluten consumption, the only treatment is to follow a strictly gluten free diet, no other medication required.

They do a lot of autoimmune research on coeliac disease sufferers though, as it's such an ideal condition to research - the trigger is known and controllable, which isn't the case for others. Although I think this is also why the "diet for autoimmune disease" theories find their roots.

It is generally a question of intolerance Cooper27 . We can tolerate gluten and carbs, it's just that they are being vastly over-consumed as staples, and much of this has resulted as a conscious decision by some agencies to promote these products.

I'll give you an example; skimmed milk demands 2 and 1/2 times the amount of insulin compared to whole-milk (University of Sydney, 2014), calorie for calorie. How much of this onslaught of the energy storage hormone can the body withstand? It's not even acknowledged in national healthy eating guidance, where reduced-fat varieties of dairy and protein are actively encouraged. Disgraceful.

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to StillConcerned

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition, not an intolerance, it's important to recognise that they are not the same. The youngest person to be diagnosed with coeliac disease was 16 weeks old, and that can't be a matter of over-consumption, as they weren't even on solid food at that stage.

It's also possible to have the coeliac gene and develop a non-coeliac gluten intolerance too, which I think is a sign of how independent the two are from one another.

Coeliacs is AI as it is diagnosed with antibody tests. The tTG- IgA will be present in someone with coeliacs, often anaemia too. (anyone with Coeliacs jump in here). However gluten intolerance is often reported in people with other AI diseases but they don't necessarily have Coeliacs. Gluten can make their symptoms far worse but they don't have the IgA anti-bodies.

No, not directly, I agree. Natasha Campbell-McBride hypothesises that the child is susceptible because of the gut flora inherited from the insulin-resistant mother.

happytulip profile image
happytulip in reply to Cooper27

Hi Cooper. Yes, I totally agree with you that coeliacs is a good condition to research because the trigger and treatment is very clear. I am well aware of how debilitating coeliacs can be after having a housemate with the condition. It was a relief for her to finally get a diagnosis and see the benefit of a gluten free diet.

All I was trying to say was that there is a growing trend in the Auto-immune community where people, often the newly diagnosed, are tempted to ditch vital medications because of "encouraging" news that dietary changes can be as effective as medications. An example would be the increase in availability of plant based diets.

This thread focused on AI disease. Maybe the scope and spectrum of the term "auto-immune" is too broad? We are all influenced my our own experiences. For example, someone with coeliacs may hear auto-immune and think of dietary changes which is the correct management as you point out.

Whereas if I hear AI disease I generally think of Rheumatoid Disease, steroids, Methotrexate, azathioprine, biologicals etc come to mind.

I was trying to just be very general and explain that the term AI disease is so broad and with increasing frequency, people with severe disease are ditching their meds in the hope that a new diet can improve things. I think they sometimes do this as a result of side effects of meds and a hope that the grass is greener without them .

I hope I've made myself a bit clearer. Meds muddle me.

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to happytulip

Yes, I follow you :)

It all really depends on the individual and the disease, as you say.

My hashimotos antibodies fell within range after I made some dietary changes, so I think food can be a helpful tool. I've never met the criteria for medication, so there's no harm for me doing this. On the flip side, my mum changed her diet and gave up her medication, but at that point her medication was essential, so that ended up causing harm.

Medical matters need to be discussed with a health professional, and nobody here is qualified to tell anyone to stop taking medication.

Kitten-whiskers profile image
Kitten-whiskersVegan star

Thank you for posting this, I have hashimoto's , fibromyalgia and various other ailments - I will look at this later on tonight when I get more time

The reason why more women get autoimmune disorders is due to estrogen or rather estrogen dominance Estrogen is vital but so is the other female hormone progesterone which moderates estrogen and prevents estrogen dominance which causes autoimmune disorders

Estrogen is excititory whereas progesterone is inhibitory

The placenta is full of progesterone and this must be why eating it after birth gained popularity - the dramatic drop of progesterone after giving birth gives rise to estrogen dominance which can.lead to postpatum hashimotos and even postpartum psychosis

MS is an autoimmune disorder and many women find their MS symptoms go into remission during pregnancy and this is due to the rise of progesterone

I learnt all of this after developing eczema

Men with low testosterone get estrogen issues. Cortisol causes estrogen dominance, and is in turn affected by insulin/blood glucose.

Hrt, the contraceptive pill and low progesterone are more common causes of estrogen dominance

a top tip for diabetes type 2 is to have half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in water or juice twice a day this will make you more alkaline and improve your condition

A better tip is not to drink juice.

(you know the stomach is highly acidic and will neutralise any alkaline we ingest)

Cooper27 profile image
Cooper27Administrator in reply to Lizzo30

I'm a bit wary of the advice to take bicarb in water twice a day, as it neutralises stomach acid and that can result in poorer nutrient absorption and acid reflux.

Lemon water might be a better option - it doesn't neutralise stomach acid, but it can have an alkalinising effect on the body. I'm a bit wary of the whole topic though, as some of the bigger advocates of the diet have ended up arrested for fraud.

Blueruth profile image
Blueruth in reply to Lizzo30

Lizzo30 that is exactly what the podcast was about. The placenta acts like a foreign object. In order to survive it must convince the woman to basically let her guard down. But that is risky so her body plays this game to protect herself and allow the placenta do it’s job. They are still working on why that would cause immune disorders to go away in pregnancy. A balance of chemicals would be waaaay too easy!

Zara0123 profile image
Zara0123 in reply to Blueruth

Why is this happening now though. In the past women have given birth to more children due to lack of birth control. My Naan had 10 children and didn't have a single auto immune disease and died in her late 70's of a natural death yet these days women are giving birth to 2/3 children and are getting more autoimmune diseases. Is it just about giving birth or are there other factors like the environment we live in, more stressful lives and the way we live?

That's the point, I think, that pregnancy triggers the immune response, but also protects us from it.

I am not sure about this, though it's interesting. Women in the West have been controlling their fertility long before birth control became available

Blueruth profile image
Blueruth in reply to Zara0123

There are other ways. They just weren’t the focus of the podcast. They say women are 95% more likely for some diseases so there is something specific to women.

Zara0123 profile image
Zara0123 in reply to Blueruth

It is women that suffer more from autoimmune disease. I have Rheumatoid arthritis and Hypothyroidism. Both diseases affect women more then men.

Blueruth profile image
Blueruth in reply to Zara0123

Right. I think I said that ? You don’t have to answer but did you ever get pregnant? I did not. I don’t have an autoimmune disease though there is still time 😏

Zara0123 profile image
Zara0123 in reply to Blueruth

I've got two children. I had them both in my twenties. I was diagnosed with RA 6 years ago when I was about 38. I did actually suffer from stiffness and pain on long journeys after I had my second son. Don't know if that was RA or just weakness after giving birth. But that went away after a couple of months.

Whydothis profile image
Whydothis in reply to Lizzo30

Interesting! I was taught that cows, sheep etc eating their own placenta was to remove it so as not to attract predators to their young, but perhaps it is more about instinctive nutrition?

I have a question how is asthma an autoimmune condition ? Very curious ☺️

Blueruth profile image
Blueruth in reply to Hb2003

I’m thinking it’s caused by immune diseases. It is something that restricts your ability to breathe chronically right? The autoimmune would be attacking your immune system. Asthma is a consequence.

Hb2003 profile image
Hb2003 in reply to Blueruth

Thank you for clarification ☺️🙏 much appreciated . Yep it’s because of lack the f oxygen

Blueruth profile image
Blueruth in reply to Hb2003

That makes sense. Covid to an asthma sufferer would be horrible. They must have an underlying diagnosis to be considered immune deficient.

Hb2003 profile image
Hb2003 in reply to Blueruth

It would be very horrible . that’s true

Subtle_badger profile image
Subtle_badger in reply to Hb2003

The classic autoimmune diseases (type 1 diabetes, hashimoto's etc) are when your immune system decides your own body is alien, and attacks and sometimes destroys your own organs.

Asthma is not like that, but is still about your immune system acting in an inappropriate way. An asthma attack is basically your immune system responding as if there is a pathogen in your lungs, and fighting that pathogen with inflammation and phlegm. If your asthma is triggered by allergens, what that means is your body is treating the allergen (eg pollen) like it's a pathogen (eg a bacterium).

This is really clear in my case. I was diagnosed as a child with chronic bronchitis. I got bad chest "infections" every time I caught a cold, and a cough would persist for days or weeks afterwards. I was treated as if I had an infection. When they do statistical analysis of childhood asthma over the years, they reclassify chronic bronchitis diagnoses in the past as asthma.

Bronchitis and the sort of asthma attacks I had look identical, because they are identical - the immune system is responding in the same way. The difference is, with bronchitis there is an underlying infection.

(my asthma disappeared as I grew up, but came back in my 30s. I recognised then that I had many other symptoms of asthma as a child, but didn't realise that not everyone had those symptoms, so never mentioned it to anyone)

This sounds interesting, but I can’t listen this week as I am on holiday and only have wifi in shared rooms! I will come back to it!Thank you for posting it

Has anyone considered that some auto-immune diseases have increased substantially because diagnostic criteria has changed and research has developed new tools to assist with this? The Royal Society Of Rheumatologists have recently revised the criteria for hEDs and SLE. And very recently research has been produced that has proposed that Fibromyalgia COULD be AI. So of course numbers will increase. Not only that but there is more awareness of AI disease. Did you know that on average it takes 7 years to be diagnosed with Lupus? It took 32 years in my case and that isn't uncommon.

I have very strong feelings and have my own knowledge about this subject. I am currently partaking in 4 research studies in association with RAIRDA, Rare Auto-immune and Rheumatic Disease Alliance. 3 in this country and one in Quebec. These are looking into the gut biome, immune deficiency and an MS trial. I don't have MS but they needed a control cohort with other AI disease.

Yes diet can contribute to symptoms and flares and in some cases a long history of poor diet can POTENTIALLY develop into leaky gut syndrome and a poor gut biome, but so can the use of antibiotics. But if you have an immune deficiency (auto-immune) you have to have daily anti-biotics or you will die.

I have discussed this topic at great length with my Profs who look after me and they agree a healthy diet is good for everyone, auto-immune or not. But sadly diseases such as Rheumatoid arthritis, MS,POTs, Sjogrens Syndrome,SICCA, Lupus, MCAS, porphyria (not officially AI) cannot be cured and they are not caused by poor diet. AI conditions can be triggered by viruses, stress, physical or emotional trauma, pregnancy, infection, genetics, environmental factors,heavy-metal poisoning, vaccines to add many more.

Thank you for sharing and it's really good to have a discussion. But I have to say that as someone who has a cluster of severe AI disease, when I read posts about hormones, supplements, healthy eating and the rise of AI disease, (and those posts are on the increase), it feels as if some portion of blame is being placed on a person's situation. No one has any insight into peoples situation before their medical conditions developed. I was once told that I must have eaten badly to get so ill. Ha! Fat chance. I'm from farming stock so always ate healthy food from a good source and ran 5k-6k about 3-4 times a week. I was in good trim and I had no problems with hormones or insulin.

Many very healthy and active people with good diets are suddenly struck down overnight with AI disease. Sometimes it just happens and no amount of eating one thing or another would have prevented it. Sorry if this is to personal but it's just my view, and as you say, it's "off topic."

I had a healthy diet, very physically active and overnight everything changed. And there are many more people in the same position with debilitating conditions. I can't tell you how many times people have told me that eating broccoli and tumeric will stop my body attacking my pericardium and kidneys. It is so upsetting to hear people say this, if only it were true.

So many podcasts to listen to now and all offering their opinions. But in this case unless someone is planning on roasting, frying or grilling a placenta I'm not sure of it's relevance to a Healthy Eating forum, but that's just my opinion. Maybe it would be better on an auto-immune site as I didn't hear much discussion about food?

Just my view, thanks.

Blueruth profile image
Blueruth in reply to happytulip

There some very broad sweeping ideas here. I think there is a risk of making poor correlations without data. I agree it is unfortunate people make leaps about behavior based on the own lack of knowledge. They are making a bad correlation. The podcast has nothing to do with healthy diets and possible connections. I’m sure there is a link in other ways but that is not the focus of this episode.

The podcast addresses one possible cause that effects one group… women. It also explains why women are way more likely to have an autoimmune disease and why it theoretically may be increasing now. It is a good listen.

Also Feeling a little frustrated over the focus on our behavior (eating) over all the other possibilities. A lot of the nutrition research isn’t even that solid. Most of the claims seem like the placebo effect…”I believe therefore it works.”

happytulip profile image
happytulip in reply to Blueruth

I have no problem with the podcast. But as you say it has nothing to do with healthy diets and this forum is called Healthy Eating. So as an Off-topic thread has been started and others have mentioned food and AI disease in the responses I thought it would be OK to share a reflection of my own experiences.

Yes there are some broad statements here and I haven't provided research data. But not everything needs data to be legitamate. I was just speaking from a personal view point and sharing experiences which I know are not unique to me.

Blueruth profile image
Blueruth in reply to happytulip

It was more of a general discontent sentiment rather than directed at you plus you sound kind of tired of it too. I think it is fine to speculate about ideas. Most things are discovered that way. I just see so much “there was this single doctors office that discovered this correlation between yadda yadda yadda… and he was right!” if that is ground breaking there should be other interesting studies to prove it out. That’s how science works. Again not a comment on you but a general annoyance.

happytulip profile image
happytulip in reply to Blueruth

Again, I don't disagree with anything you say. Yup, scientific findings needs to be reproduced and reproduced to prove clinical benefit I'm with you on that. I will also say that I do think that personal experience is very valid too. I think this comes from having bizarre symptoms that can't always be easily explained and medics do like to be able understand and explain things.

Well spotted. Yup, I'm tired of certain things too. So thanks for the discussion. It's good to be broad minded. I hope I've been able to make myself clear because meds are muddling me at the moment. 🙏

Yes I agree with that it's a choice for each women to want/ have children. Was just wondering why women had more autoimmune diseases even though most women have less or no children compared to in the past. Subtle badger has answered my question.

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