The Immune System Connection

I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disorder, where the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid. I know that I am not alone in the fact that I have both endometriosis and another auto immune disease.

My interactions with other endo sisters have shown me that many also suffer with celiac disease, IBS, lupus, under active thyroid, graves, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis…. etc. Like endo, these diseases are a result of a faulty immune system.

My years of natural healing research have lead me to believe that if we strengthen our immune systems, then we should be able to ward off endometriosis (and other auto immune conditions).

The immune system connection to endometriosis and my diagnosis of Hashimoto’s (and the dreary response that it is yet another condition that will never be healed) got me more interested in ways to improve the immune system.

A fellow endo sister recommended the book – Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, so I picked it up and finished it not too long ago. I highly recommend it too 🙂

Phytochemicals and Immunity

“When we cultivate nutritional deficiencies in our body over long periods of time, it can create cellular damage resulting in serious illnesses in later life that can be difficult to resolve. In addition, these deficiencies result in inferior immunity.
– Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Super Immunity

How resistant our immune systems are, translates to how resistant our bodies are to conditions like endometriosis. As your immune system gets worse, more issues arise, including other auto immune conditions, which often link to each other.

Dr. Fuhrman believes that we can build up our immune defenses with proper nutrition. 

He writes a good deal about the importance of phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals = plant-chemicals. These powerful compounds, “fuel miraculous self healing and self protective properties – already built into the immune system”.

Phytochemicals are important because they —

  • induce detoxifying enzymes
  • control the production of free radicals
  • protect cell structure from damage by toxins
  • fuel mechanisms to repair DNA sequences
  • induce anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects
  • improve immune cell’s ability to kill viruses and bacteria

The function and production of immune cells are supported by a wide exposure to phytochemcials, so, “a phytochemically deficient diet is largely responsible for a weak immune system.” 

Concentration of phytochemicals can be found in fruits and vegetables colored black, blue, red, green and orange.

Immune System Enhancers

Instead of considering adding protective fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts to our disease-causing diet, we must make these foods the main focus of the diet itself.
– Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Super Immunity

The modern diet is void of important plant-derived immunity building compounds. According to Dr. Fuhrman, “Vegetable consumption is the most important factor in preventing chronic disease.” 

Dr. Fuhrman recommends 6-8 servings of vegetables a day with at least two servings of cruciferous vegetables (at least one raw).

Cruciferous vegetables are the most micronutrient dense of all vegetables. Cruciferous veggies include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, collards, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, red cabbage and turnip greens.

Cruciferous vegetables are rich sources of ITC sulforaphane — which prevent carcinogens from binding to DNA, activating enzymes that protect cells from damage already done. ITC’s are enhanced as we chew and crush the cell walls so they are best consumed raw — chopped, blended or juiced.

If you have thyroid issues it’s best to eat cruciferous vegetables lightly steamed or cooked. 

Broccoli and brussel sprouts also contain Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and its metabolite DIM – which help the body transform estrogen and other hormones into forms more easily excreted from the body — a definite bonus for those of us with endometriosis.

Mushroom and pomegranates are helpful for autoimmune diseases and endometriosis as . they both contain aromatase inhibitors, which help the body reduce levels of estrogen.

The allium family of vegetables — onions, garlic, reeks, shallots, chives and scallions are all anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants.

To receive maximum benefits Dr. Fuhrman recommends a diet that includes mushrooms, onions and green vegetables simultaneously.

Dr. Fuhrman’s top super foods for immunity include:

  • Arugula and Mustard Greens
  • Green Lettuce and Cabbage
  • Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts
  • Carrots and Tomatoes
  • Onions and Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Pomegranate
  • Berries
  • Seeds

On the Positive Side?

One take away from Super Immunity for me is Dr. Fuhrman’s belief in the power of green vegetables to increase immunity. Green vegetables have the highest amounts of micronutrients that help to heal damage already done.

He recommends eating a big green salad at least once a day. This is a habit that I have implemented for the past month as part of my lunch.

I purchase the big tubs of mixed, pre-washed organic greens from the store and top them with my homemade salad dressing made up of organic olive oil, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

I believe that this practice, along with my nightly juicing, has really helped my digestion and pain levels. I’ve noticed with my monthly charting this past month that my overly high daily temps have lowered (a sign that first prompted me to check my thyroid) and my past period came with very little pain!

These signs keep me hopeful that the continuation and increase of phytochemicals and micronutrients into my body will benefit my immunity and eventually tackle both the endometriosis and Hasimoto’s in my body that I refuse to believe will never be healed.

I strongly believe that our bodies can heal themselves — given a strengthened immune system. Dr. Fuhrman lays out a good case for this in his book. I will let him sum it up with another quote from Super Immunity:

We have evidence that the right raw materials and nutritional factors can double or triple the power of the immune system….It’s time to think differently about what we eat and begin to trust the amazing healing and protective power of the body.

Do not stop believing. Our bodies are amazing. They just need the right fuel to function correctly.

Much love 🙂

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