Weighing the Pros and Cons of Special Diets for Autoimmune Disease

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by Lori Dunham |

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One of the first things I learned about after finding out our daughter Grace has a rare autoimmune disease were the various diets that target autoimmune issues. Many of these diets claim to alleviate autoimmune diseases and their symptoms to some degree.

At first, I was overwhelmed with the amount of information out there addressing the issue. There is definitely no shortage of advice when it comes to diet and autoimmune diseases.

Most information out there suggests that once you have an autoimmune disease, the chances of getting another increase exponentially. As I did my research, it seemed the bare minimum recommendation was to eliminate gluten from the diet after being diagnosed with any autoimmune disease.

Of course, everyone should consult a doctor before implementing a special diet. So, after seeing a nutritionist, we decided we would try the gluten-free approach for our daughter.

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I know that many people with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) begin to gain weight due to inactivity or medication. But Grace lost weight rapidly at the onset of illness. Some of this was due to muscle atrophy. But Grace also struggled to eat due to swallowing and gagging issues. She went from being a slim, 88-pound 14-year-old to a tiny 70-pound girl within a few short months.

Grace definitely had fewer gastrointestinal issues after she started a gluten-free diet. She also experienced an increase in energy and seemed to sleep better. However, she began to rapidly lose weight again. We decided that unless we could implement the diet under direct supervision of a specialized doctor or naturopath, we could not keep her on the gluten-free diet if she continued to lose weight.

Although we can’t currently follow through on a gluten-free diet, I continue to research other diets in the hope that we might be able to implement some of the approaches in the future. From my observations, many people seem to respond well after eliminating sugar and gluten. Others have expressed success with the AIP diet, also known as the Autoimmune Protocol, which focuses on gut health and reducing inflammation. I found the Wahls Protocol, a type of Paleolithic diet, to be intriguing.

However, some of these diets are extreme and very hard to implement with a teenager. Grace is willing to try it if she believes it may benefit her overall health. But this does not come without challenges.

My goal in changing Grace’s diet isn’t necessarily to heal her completely, although we would wholeheartedly welcome that. Our main goal is to halt any additional autoimmune diseases from forming and alleviate as many LEMS symptoms as possible.

Has a diet helped you eliminate LEMS symptoms or benefited your overall health? Please share in the comments below. 


Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia syndrome.

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