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)

Pre-eclampsia, oxidative stress, and Celiac sprue

Pre-eclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy which can become life threatening to the mother and baby. High blood pressure and severe swelling of the lower legs and face are symptoms of pre-eclampsia. If the condition worsens it is called eclampsia and seizures may be the life threatening risk. The swelling can become severe enough that toxin removal by the kidneys is reduced.

What causes pre-eclampsia is not yet well understood. Providing IV solutions of magnesium sulfate just prior to delivery helps reduce risk of seizures and usually delivery of the baby causes the rest of the symptoms to resolve. However people who’ve experienced IVs of magnesium sulfate shared with me that it feels like fire running through their veins. Background information — magnesium is an electrically active mineral that during normal health is kept in a very narrow range within the blood and is largely found within the interior of cells and within the bones. Calcium is also electrically active and it is in higher concentration within the blood than within the interior of cells.

Skipping ahead, oxidative stress prenatally has been shown to be involved in pre-eclampsia and it causes an increase in calcium flow in the placenta. [1]

While looking for more information about pre-eclampsia I found a Celiac Sprue forum [2] that included questions and comments about whether anyone else with celiac gluten intolerance had also experienced pre-eclampsia or HELLP complications of pregnancy and if so any ideas why they might co-occur. HELLP is a blood coagulation problem which I didn’t look into but Celiac sprue and pre-eclampsia may be likely to co-occur because both involve oxidative stress:

Hi, I’m a dietitian with an autoimmune condition and previous work experience with prenatal health. I’ve been researching why the advice I gave when I was working helped so many women at the time worked – but isn’t in the mainstream medical treatment yet. Increasing magnesium rich foods such as beans, nuts, and seeds helped women that had a history of preeclampsia or high blood pressure to have a normal pregnancy.

In a nut shell – oxidative stress causes the placenta to increase flow of calcium. Too much calcium can cause other cellular reactions and fluid changes. And oxidative stress can be caused by gluten exposure when there is an underlying celiac autoimmune condition or probably other autoimmune conditions.

Re oxidative stress, and calcium channels in the placenta: Reactive Oxygen Species Inhibit Polycystin-2 (TRPP2) Cation Channel Activity In Term Human Syncytiotrophoblast [1]

Re Celiac Sprue and oxidative stress, “long chain omega 3 fatty acids, plant flavonoids and carotenoids” were suggested as antioxidants that may help reduce the “oxidative stress, gene expression & production of inflammatory mediators”:  Celiac disease, inflammation and oxidative damage: a nutrigenetic approach.   Carotenoids include beta-carotene from carrots. Orange, red and dark green fruits and vegetables are generally good sources of carotenoids and plant flavonoids are also found in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish oil supplements or salmon, tuna, sardines – limit as a mercury source however during pregnancy or child bearing years. Vegetarian sources of a precursor omega 3 fat include flax seed meal (ground is digestible, whole flax seeds aren’t really), walnuts, and hemp seed kernels.

Sesame seeds, or tahini, sesame paste, has been shown in sports research to help reduce oxidative stress. The trial subjects ate 2 tablespoons per day of the seeds. Effects of Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) Supplementation on Creatine Kinase, Lactate Dehydrogenase, Oxidative Stress Markers, and Aerobic Capacity in Semi-Professional Soccer Players.

Dark chocolate has also been shown to be beneficial antioxidant source.

Best wishes to any Celiac sufferers – I avoid gluten due to intolerance, initially for fibromyalgia like symptoms, and later autoimmune thyroid  antibodies were found but not antibodies for Celiac Sprue.

A dietitian can help work out more balanced diets when major food items have to be excluded for health purposes. A professional organization offers a search feature for helping to find a Registered Dietitian eatright.org/find-an-expert

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One more link that didn’t make it into the comment, magnesium deficiency in combination with elevated calcium levels may be involved in increasing oxidative stress: Magnesium deficiency and oxidative stress: an update, 2016,  [3]

Who am I? What is my purpose? I am a sick person, with professional health experience, who reads and writes about sickness for my own health and for other sick people — they are the ones who realize just how valuable health is and who may appreciate information whether it has a large price tag & an expensive office — or is shared freely out of love and concern. Pain hurts.

One more link because they’re so informative, the inflammatory system seems to be connected to both pain receptors and other nerve receptors so inflammation, (which leads to oxidative stress) activates pain receptors (nociceptors) – /speculation/ which could be part of the reason fibromyalgia and other inflammatory conditions cause pain – they may simply be causing pain receptors to be over-active due to inflammation: Neurogenic Inflammation – The Peripheral Nervous System’s Role in Host Defense and Immunopathology [4]

The inflammatory process causes oxidative stress: Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress as a major cause of age-related diseases and cancer. [5]

Adequate oxygen intake and flow to all the cells throughout the body is also necessary to prevent oxidative stress. Obesity can make it more difficult for oxygenated blood to reach all cells. [6]

Moderate exercise and deep breathing relaxation exercises may be helpful for improving oxygen intake and blood flow.

A previous article I wrote regarding magnesium and pre-eclampsia also includes information from a research hypothesis suggesting that intrauterine pressure itself may also be a trigger for worsening pre-eclampsia symptoms. [7] Not included in the hypothesis was why — which is likely to be due to the fact that physical (osmotic) pressure can cause TRP ion channels to open. TRP channels are a large group of specialized proteins which control flow of minerals such as calcium into the interior of cells. TRP channels include the ones that were shown to be dysregulated by oxidative stess in the placenta which allowed an increase of calcium to enter, which is described in the research article: Reactive Oxygen Species Inhibit Polycystin-2 (TRPP2) Cation Channel Activity In Term Human Syncytiotrophoblast [1]

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.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5435874_Reactive_Oxygen_Species_Inhibit_Polycystin-2_TRPP2_Cation_Channel_Activity_In_Term_Human_Syncytiotrophoblast
  2. https://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/topic/55927-pre-eclampsia-celiac/
  3. A.A. Zheltova, et al., Magnesium deficiency and oxidative stress: an update, Biomedicine (Taipei). 2016 Dec; 6(4): 20.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5112180/
  4. Isaac M. Chiu, et al., Neurogenic Inflammation – The Peripheral Nervous System’s Role in Host Defense and Immunopathology,  Nat Neurosci. 2012 Jul 26; 15(8): 1063–1067.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3520068/
  5. Khansari N, Shakiba Y, Mahmoudi M., Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress as a major cause of age-related diseases and cancer. Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2009 Jan;3(1):73-80. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19149749
  6. N. Netzer, Hypoxia, Oxidative Stress and Fat., Biomolecules. 2015 Jun; 5(2): 1143–1150.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4496714/
  7. http://transcendingsquare.com/2011/02/19/preeclampsia-magnesium-deficiency-or-grass-staggers/