A relatively simple dietary adjustment could help protect high-risk populations from harmful inflammatory responses caused by overactive immune systems, a new study has found. Although the disease cannot be prevented, studies have found that eliminating certain foods may slow the onset and development of autoimmune diseases ranging from psoriasis to deadly diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Autoimmune diseases are diseases caused by damage to its own tissues caused by the body’s immune response to its autoantigens. The state of the result depends on the person being attacked – for example, multiple sclerosis is caused by the immune system attacking myelin on the nerves, while psoriasis causes inflammation of the skin plaques.
This immune response involves a cell called a T-cell, which is powered by the amino acid methionine. This amino acid is obtained by eating certain foods, which means that if you don’t eat those foods, your methionine levels will decrease. Since amino acids are found in virtually all foods, it is not possible to completely eliminate amino acids from the diet.
But the study notes that eggs, meat and other animal products have the highest levels of methionine, which means that removing these foods from the diet reduces the level of methionine that can be used to provide “fuel” to overactive immune cells.
The new study involved mice with multiple sclerosis. The study found that limiting methionine in the diet limits the ability of reprogrammed T-cells to cause inflammation in the spinal cord and brain. This eventually delayed the onset of the disease and slowed its development. However, it is important to note that the study only involved mice. Other studies are needed to determine whether the same dietary changes can help humans.