Autoimmune Trivia – clothing choices for health

I have a new ugly sunhat and it gets just as many funny looks as the last ugly sunhat – sometimes there is no winning solution if you are unhealthy except to do what you have to do to stay healthy. I thought the new hat was slightly less odd as it’s a straw hat, summery, but oh well. I need a broad brim for sun protection. Cute hats don’t always have a brim or a large floppy beach hat has too much brim and can obstruct your ability to see.

Due to a tendency to develop severe rashes or eczema I need natural fibers. Modern fabrics can leave me itching and as my autoimmune disease has worsened I’ve even had problems with rashes that lead to a lack of skin – an open sore over a large patch is painful more than itchy. Fashion may be fun but not as much fun as having skin. Sewing my own clothes allows my own fabric choices. Hunting through resale shops for natural fiber clothing can be another way to find items that don’t make me sick. Organically grown cotton products are available in limited styles and limited places for a price that is generally more than a department store price but probably less than an expensive fashionable brand.

Laundry detergents or fabric softeners can also leave me with an allergic reaction. Having overactive white blood cells means the allergic and autoimmune sensitivities are more likely to occur – there is one bonus, cancer cells may be more likely to be identified and removed. Until it is a severe condition someone with autoimmune disease may be less likely to have cancer due to the overactive white blood cells. Increased inflammation in a patient and those with “dermatomyositis,” type of infllammatory autoimmune disease were more associated with cancer risk than some other types of arthritis like autoimmune diseases, “systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARDs), in a large study.” [3] Someone with autoimmune disease can be at greater risk of developing another type of autoimmune disease however. [1]

Adequate treatment of hypothyroidism might have an additional benefit of reducing risk of demyelination and development of Multiple sclerosis. [1]

“For example, an intriguing finding based on a rodent model of chronic demyelination indicates that administration of thyroid hormone can enhance remyelination under certain conditions (3132). Relevance of this finding to multiple sclerosis in humans is unknown, but, hypothetically, routine treatment of hypothyroidism could diminish the risk of multiple sclerosis.” [1]

The sunhat is helping reduce inflammatory reactions that can make underlying autoimmune symptoms worse. Oxidative stress is another way to say inflammatory reactions and a variety of things in addition to excessive sun exposure can lead to oxidative stress and increased production of free radicals – a type of reactive chemical which antioxidant foods helps to detoxify safely rather than allowing an increase in negative health symptoms. Pollution and smoking can also be external factors in addition to excess sun exposure which can be a cause of inflammatory oxidative stress. [2]

Eating adequate but not necessarily excessive amounts of antioxidant rich foods can help the body detoxify the free radical chemicals safely. Excessive supplements or very rich food sources of antioxidants can tip the chemical balance too far in the other direction. Studies with supplements of vitamin E and vitamin A found that some is good but more isn’t. Sesame seeds are a good source of a variety of nutrients and have been tested for helping with the oxidative stress caused by athletic exercise, two tablespoons per day were found to be a helpful and safe amount. See: Effects of Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) Supplementation on Creatine Kinase, Lactate Dehydrogenase, Oxidative Stress Markers, and Aerobic Capacity in Semi-Professional Soccer Players. [4(G3.8)]

More information antioxidant rich foods and on oxidative stress and who is more at risk of having inflammatory oxidative stress reactions is available in this post on my other blog site: https://effectiveselfcare.info/2017/09/08/three-negative-stress-can-trigger-the-fight-flight-response-whos-at-risk/

  • Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.
  1. Emily C. Somers Sara L. Thomas Liam Smeeth Andrew J. Hall, 

    Are Individuals With an Autoimmune Disease at Higher Risk of a Second Autoimmune Disorder?, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 169, Issue 6, 15 March 2009, Pages 749–755https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/169/6/749/90353

  2. Anu Rahal,  Amit Kumar,  Vivek Singh,  Brijesh Yadav,  Ruchi Tiwari,  Sandip Chakraborty,  and Kuldeep Dhama, Oxidative Stress, Prooxidants, and Antioxidants: The Interplay, Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014: 761264. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3920909/
  3. Kuang-Hui Yu, MD, Chang-Fu Kuo, MD, PhD, Lu Hsiang Huang, MSc, Wen-Kuan Huang, MD, and Lai-Chu See, PhD, Cancer Risk in Patients With Inflammatory Systemic Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases, Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 May; 95(18): e3540 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4863778/

  4. 8. Barbosa CV, Silva AS, de Oliveira CV, et al., Effects of Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) Supplementation on Creatine Kinase, Lactate Dehydrogenase, Oxidative Stress Markers, and Aerobic Capacity in Semi-Professional Soccer Players. Front Physiol. 2017 Mar 31;8:196.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28408889  (G.8)

Regarding health and autoimmune disease in women and men

It turns out that there is a greatly increased amount of autoimmune disease in women than in men and the timing suggests that it is associated with pregnancy and possibly even with an exchange of bodily fluids. After learning more about the risks I decided celibacy was a good idea as my own autoimmune disease worsened and I had to start avoiding a wider number of foods and food groups. Eating enough variety for health became a problem for me as animal based meats and eggs were causing severe rashes. Skin is better than a lack, and health is more valuable than you realize until you don’t have it.

In other areas of social or culture some believe that procreation within a marital bond is the only reason to have sexual relations -that is not my belief as sexual relations can have mood and pain relief benefits and regular, three times per week, has been associated with increased lifespan, but it might be healthier for women to maintain a long-term bond with one person, as the familiarity of a longer term relationship seems to be associated with less allergy-like intolerance to male or infant DNA. It also would help reduce risk of autoimmune disease developing if both the man and woman are also adequately nourished. Research into autoimmune rates in homosexual relationships is generally not discussed in the medical research that I have seen. One study was performed which found no overall increased rate of autoimmune disease in same sex couples of either gender except for autoimmune thyroid disease. Low hypothyroid problems were more prevalent in lesbians and autoimmune hyperthyroidism was more frequently seen in homosexual men as was psoriasis in homosexual men who also had HIV/AIDS. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10654-013-9869-9

Speculation would lead me straight to the idea that sufficient iodine prenatally and/or less halides prenatally would have been associated with an increased rate of heterosexual adults who didn’t have an increased rate of autoimmune thyroid problems, but that would be speculative. Zinc deficiency can also be a cause of reduced sexual drive or ED in adult men or hypogonadism. https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/zinc Congenital hypothyroidism can occur in infants born to women with inadequate iodine and diagnosis and early treatment is recommended to prevent a reduced IQ. Asexuality is more associated with congenital hypothyroidism than homosexuality so the prevalence of thyroid disorders later in life may be unrelated to the prenatal environment. Early treatment with the thyroid hormone and/or iodine is recommended to prevent worsening of the infant’s mental and physical health. http://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/rpa/neonatal/content/pdf/guidelines/thyroid.pdf 

I have found little research available on long term health of infants born with congenital hypothyroidism or on the affects of iodine deficiency on sexuality.

However the allergic response immune system is similar in both genders. I would encourage consenting adults to have adequate vitamin D3 and/or avoid glyphosate prior to attempting the experience of sharing bodily fluids as autoimmune disease can be very unpleasant. Having adequate iodine and not too much halides is healthy for everyone of any gender and any age, it just would be particularly helpful prenatally as it also helps protect the infant from congenital hypothyroidism and may help protect against later risk of the child developing autism.

An unhealthy man can give a woman autoimmune antibodies which may also increase risk of a miscarriage or reduce likelihood that she conceives/gets pregnant.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3337181  Whether sperm antibodies also can cause autoimmune disease in a woman doesn’t seem to be a search engine result, suggesting that getting women pregnant is a larger medical concern currently than helping women stay healthy. The search engine did turn up an alternative article which mentions that antisperm antibodies can be present in the man or woman. In men the antisperm antibodies were more often found in men who had a vasectomy (suggesting that a vasectomy might be less of an ideal birth control method than it seemed prior to learning that – if it gives mom and dad autoimmune disease than a condom is sounding better for the future child – healthy parents may be happier and more productive on average). In men the antisperm antibodies were associated with infertility if they were present on the sperm cell surface but not if only found in sera/fluid. In women they were associated with infertility and an association with antiphospholipid antibodies was also mentioned without mentioning gender: http://www.whitelotusclinic.ca/blog/dr-fiona-nd/natural-treatments-for-autoimmune-infertility-concerns/

Antiphospholipid antibodies are also associated with spontaneous abortion.

Spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) is associated with autoimmune antibodies against the endogenous cannabinoid system  “antiphospholipid antibody (APA)” and thought to be affected by a woman’s lack of the immune tolerance needed to accept the presence of the foreign DNA of the baby. The dendritic cell immune tolerance system is affected by the vitamin D receptor system, and is referred to as “maternofetal immunological tolerance” in the following paper:  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11684-010-0101-y?no-access=true

Anti-thyroid autoimmune antibodies have also been associated with increased risk for spontaneous abortion. http://www.obgyn.net/pregnancy-and-birth/antithyroid-autoantibodies-unexplained-recurrent-abortion

Providing levothyroxine to women with anti-thyroid autoimmune antibodies has been found to help reduce risk of spontaneous abortion to closer to the average rate for all pregnancies – an overview article of the area of research: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jtr/2011/841949/

Good news, the rate of teen births has dropped since 2007 after an increase between 2005-2007. The reason is unclear but the article suggests that the downturn in the economy led to fewer unplanned pregnancies in teens – that could be the reason, common sense could have increased on average in teens even while birth control became less available.  See page 5-6: Teenage Pregnancy Prevention: Statistics and Programs
by Carmen Solomon-Fears, Congressional Research Service,
January 15, 2016  https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS20301.pdf

Men or women can get autoimmune disease and the other underlying cause is a lack of the surface sugar called sialic acid. . https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070721202506.htm

Sialic acid is not something you can just eat more of. It is an electrically active sugar that we have to make internally. It is combined with proteins in compounds known as glycoproteins and they are found on cell and membrane surfaces. The negative electric charge helps repel the cell surface from colliding into the membrane surfaces, an example would be like red blood cells in a blood vessel – the sialic acid is the bumpers on the bumper cars and the plastic cushion on the wall of the bumper car ring at a carnival. In order to make the special sugar and glycoproteins we need to be healthy and well nourished in a variety of ways in order to produce adequate sialic acid. A series of enzymes is involved which would suggest adequate protein and trace minerals are important to be able to produce sialic acid and adequate surface glycoproteins. The series of enzymes includes many of the CYP family of enzymes which may be inhibited by glyphosate which returns us to an earlier point that avoiding glyphosate might be important for supporting fertility. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/genefamily/cytochromep450

More information about sialic acid, which in more recent history has been renamed neuraminic acid, is available in a previous post on this site. http://transcendingsquare.com/2015/10/07/neuraminic-acid-was-known-first-as-sialic-acid/

An abortion may not be helpful to protect a woman’s health either. Childbirth has been believed to be more of a risk of death than having an abortion but a large study (half a million women) linking medical and death records found that psychological risks may be greater for a woman after abortion, as an increased risk of death was found to be associated with having a history of having had an abortion within a year or thirty year time period. A 180 day time period was also tracked but was not associated with increased mortality rate so a direct medical link to having an abortion was considered unlikely.  http://afterabortion.org/2012/higher-death-rates-after-abortion-found-in-u-s-finland-and-denmark/

Individuals are all different but having worked with many women my personal impression was that having an abortion was very difficult psychologically for some women compared to giving a child up for adoption. The easily confounding factor that was mentioned in the article or in one of the comments by a site author (El) would be that women who have little support or health or substance abuse issues may be also more likely to have an abortion so it is a correlation rather than a causative link. The comments also include the citation for the academic paper: Reardon DC, Coleman PK. Short and long term mortality rates associated with first pregnancy outcome: Population register based study for Denmark 1980-2004. Med Sci Monit 2012;18(9):PH 71 – 76.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

 

Nutrients Rock – “School house” style

More recently in the past than the days of my childhood, at some point when I was first writing online ~ 2010/2011, I mentioned a goal or rather an idea to “be like” a pop singer and I think my admiration and what my idea actually was may have been misunderstood. Memorable and entertaining music can be a fun way to deliver educational messages not just fill stadium shows for adults.

The children’s song and video series called School House Rock is an early example of education set to rock music. Examples are available online: [Youtube: Preamble to the Constitution]

Teaching in song goes farther back though to early nursery rhymes and the “clean up, clean up, time to clean up” song. I don’t know if that tune has a title, I learned it as an adult after my kids were already too old for it to have worked. Some lessons are learned at certain stages of development and then unlearning those habits can be difficult later in life.

Here’s a slightly different tune than I remember but – use it regularly during preschool and you may be more likely to end up with a teenager who simply is used to and prefers to have and maintain a neat room. Sing the song while cleaning up with the children everyday while they are young and need the help. In a few years they’ll be singing the song and cleaning up naturally and may even teach younger kids how much fun it is: [Youtube: Clean up song]

  • Teaching healthy eating habits and a love for a variety of flavors starts with pregnancy when mom eats a variety of healthy and flavorful foods and continues during breastfeeding. The fetus and infant do sense some of the flavor variety in their nutrition they receive from mom.
  • Offering a variety of easy to digest foods as the toddler and child grows helps teach them that a variety of flavors are interesting and enjoyable. There can be a tendency for children to prefer a favorite but offer it too often and then they may suddenly get tired of it and not want it again. Offering a variety regularly and encouraging tastes of new things without forcing a certain amount can help make an environment that feels safe for a child to explore new tastes without negative effects resulting due to feeling pressured.
  • Controlling food intake can make disordered eating habits more of a risk later on in life; eating too much, too little, or too limited a variety can be examples of disordered eating habits. Ideally it is best to encourage a child to learn to listen to their own body’s hunger and fullness signals and eat when their are hungry of a variety of foods and stop when full. A healthy microbiome, the good guy bacteria in the gastro-intestinal tract, also is important for appetite control and a good mood.
  • Fiber rich vegetables and other fiber foods are helpful for supporting the healthy types of GI tract bacteria. The good strains help protect us from bad strains and from yeast and other types of microscopic organisms. The good strains of GI bacteria have also been associated with a healthy weight and normal appetite. Some other types have been found to be common in patients with obesity and the bacteria may be playing a role in promoting an increased appetite and weight gain, more research is needed. Certain types of GI bacteria have also been found to produce different types of brain neurotransmitters, some that can increase anxiety and some that can increase a good mood.
  • So the take home point may be that bacteria that promote a good mood and healthy appetite sound like better passengers to feed and maintain during our journey through life.

Having wandered from my initial point, I’ll return to it, School-house rock style songs about nutrients might be a catchy, memorable way to learn about the nutrients. Young children could just be getting familiar with the larger message about their function and then the songs might be useful again during high-school or college along with flashcards to help learn the more complex nutrient names that go with the basic roles in the body. Chemistry students with a talent for tongue twisters can sing along with Tom Lehrer’s 1967 version of song from a Gilbert and Sullivan musical Pirates of Penzance where he shares all the chemical elements that were known at the time. [Youtube]

Now in a trip back through time you need either a time machine or a well-organized file cabinet. I’ve tried to organize my file cabinets over the years but at this particular stage of my life they are as rare as time machines – so instead of worrying about finding a particular scrap of paper with song lyrics about the vitamin B group from ten years ago I just grabbed a pencil and notepad:

B, B, B

You light my fire,

B, B, B

and give me energy

for all I require.

B, B, B

You light my fire,

B, B, B

energize my day

like a live wire.

Thiamin, Riboflavin,

Pyroxidine too,

Pantothenic acid, Cobalamin

and folate or folic acid are B’s,

Choline and biotin too,

Niacin or Niacinamide,

are also all B’s on my side.

B, B, B, B’s

Keep lightin’ my fire,

B, B, B, B’s

and I’ll never tire.*

(*obviously people do get tired eventually even with a good supply of B vitamins – lyrically the last line has more punch with the stronger statement then a more physiologically correct “so I won’t tire.” – this is why teams are helpful.) More info on the group of B vitamins: medlineplus.gov/bvitamins

Since I didn’t waste any time digging through old boxes or building a time machine, I just kept writing:

Iron, a red corpuscle’s friend,

helping make our muscles bend,

as we move about and play,

Iron carries oxygen all day,

delivering energy

throughout,

each muscle needs

a fair amount

to shorten and

lengthen as we

bend about.

And I kept writing, there are lots of nutrients:

Phosphorus, potassium,

Molybdenum, manganese,

Magnesium, calcium,

Sodium and copper

Are all trace minerals

We need each day

for enzymes to work

so that we can play.

And a draft to introduce the macro-nutrients too:

Protein, carbohydrates,

and fats,

are the three,

big macro-nutrients

on the nutrient

family tree.

As drafts for song lyrics go, it might be time to hire a song lyricist.

Addition: But finding a song lyricist also takes time so I wrote a couple more drafts instead,

The discovery of Vitamin C is an exciting story:

Ascorbic acid,

also known as vitamin C,

protected sailors from scurvy,

while they were away at sea.

Limes were a source

of the mysterious stuff

that helped men stay well

when oceans were rough,

and journeys were long

without a single stop

for fresh supplies

and a chance to shop.

Limes would stay fresh

for months, while at sea,

and provided the sailors

a good source of vitamin C.

Scurvy was the feared

disease of the sea

until it was seen

that citrus fruit cured

and prevented the dread disease.

Bleeding gums and sore knees?

How could a sailor chew hard tack

or climb trees?

Let alone scurry up the ship’s mast

to keep watch in the lookout’s post?

Vitamin D was also discovered early for its role in preventing rickets in children, but now it has a new story to share as well:

Vitamin D, we know,

helps our bones

be strong and grow,

and now we also know

Vitamin D acts as defense

for our nutrient family tree.

It helps immune cells

learn to know

which other cells are

friend or foe

and helps mom and baby

safely get to know

each other’s cells as family

and not as foe.

Not quite ready for Youtube yet, but everything starts somewhere.

The lyrics about vitamin D contain information that is not part of standard education about the nutrient – yet. The area of immunology during pregnancy and early implantation is advancing. The fetus plays a role in decreasing the activity of the maternal immune T cells. A decrease in the internal level of tryptophan within the maternal T cells seems to be involved. A diet containing large amounts of tryptophan was associated with more fetal loss than a standard diet in animal research. For ethical reasons this field of research takes place with lab animals or murine animals. [1]

And third, fetal survival depends on tolerogenic mechanisms
that block maternal T cell responses.” [1]

The estrogen level of the mother may affect the ability of the fetus to inhibit her immune T cells:

Estrogen treatment and pregnancy both induced FoxP3 protein expression to a similar degree both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that high estrogen levels during pregnancy may help maintain fetal tolerance by promoting regulation (65). Trophoblast-derived chemokines have also been implicated (63).” [2]

It had previously been known that estrogen has protective effects against autoimmune disease. Symptoms for some types can improve for a woman during her pregnancy and then flair back up after delivery.

Estrogen has been shown to protect against the development of autoimmune disease, yet the mechanism is not known.” (65)

The study found that estrogen treatment led to an increase in the FoxP3 protein in CD4+CD25 T cells. These are a type of regulatory T cell of the immune system which are essential for protecting against self intolerance – ie autoimmunity:

“Recently, in a TCR-transgenic mouse model where full protection against spontaneous experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis could be achieved by the transfer of wild-type CD4+CD25 T cells, Furtado et al. (47) showed that responsiveness to IL-2 was required for the suppressive function.”  [5]

Having walked this around a ball park or ocean going vessel, I’ll get to the point, cholecalciferol, vitamin D3, helps the body make adequate supplies of Treg immune cells, and it is better at it than calcitriol. [7] Calcitriol is a synthetic form of vitamin D3 called “Rocaltrol“, [8] I’m not sure of the exact difference chemically – but they both can help our body tell us who is friend and who is foe.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. A. L. Mellor and D. H. Munn, Immunology at the Maternal-Fetal Interface: Lessons for T Cell Tolerance and Suppression. Annu. Rev. Immunol. 2000. 18:367–391. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Andrew_Mellor2/publication/12481340_Immunology_at_the_Maternal-Fetal_Interface_Lessons_for_T_Cell_Tolerance_and_Suppression/links/0912f50aa0af8ce00b000000.pdf [1]
  2. Indira Guleria and Mohamed H. Sayegh, Maternal Acceptance of the Fetus: True Human Tolerance. J Immunol 2007; 178:3345-3351; https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Indira_Guleria/publication/6468186_Maternal_Acceptance_of_the_Fetus_True_Human_Tolerance/links/55a4f85008ae5e82ab1f718a/Maternal-Acceptance-of-the-Fetus-True-Human-Tolerance.pdf [2]
  3. Saito, S., Y. Sasaki, and M. Sakai. 2005. CD4(+)CD25 +high regulatory T cells in human pregnancy. J. Reprod. Immunol. 65: 111–120. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/15811516/ (63)
  4. Polanczyk, M. J., B. D. Carson, S. Subramanian, M. Afentoulis, A. A. Vandenbark,
    S. F. Ziegler, and H. Offner. 2004. Cutting edge: estrogen drives expansion of the CD4 (+)CD25(+) regulatory T cell compartment. J. Immunol. 173: 2227–2230. http://www.jimmunol.org/content/173/4/2227.long (65)
  5. Pascal FeunouLionel PoulinClaude HabranAlain Le MoineMichel Goldman and Michel Y. Braun, CD4+CD25+ and CD4+CD25 T Cells Act Respectively as Inducer and Effector T Suppressor Cells in Superantigen-Induced Tolerance. http://www.jimmunol.org/content/171/7/3475 [5]

  6. Mostafa G. Aly, Karina Trojan, Rolf Weimer, Christian Morath, Gerhard Opelz, Mohammed A. Tohamy, and Volker Daniel,

    Low-dose oral cholecalciferol is associated with higher numbers of Helios+ and total Tregs than oral calcitriol in renal allograft recipients: an observational study. BMC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2016; 17: 24.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4906900/ [7]

  7. “Rocaltrol,” “Calcitriol,” http://www.rxlist.com/rocaltrol-drug.htm [8]