In my practice I see a lot of autoimmune disease. From a functional medicine perspective there are many causes of autoimmune disease. In order to get to the root cause of any specific autoimmune disease we have to address the whole person. I can have 7 people with an autoimmune thyroid condition like Graves’ disease and they can have 7 different reasons why they developed it. One person might have a food sensitivity that is at the root, another might have a leaky gut situation that is allowing undigested food particles into the blood before they are digested properly, another might have a detoxification issue that is stressing the immune system. And some might have a combination of these.

The nice thing about a functional medicine approach is that in order to resolve the autoimmune problem we have to get those things fixed and, in the process, get you healthy. Once we restore digestive function and thyroid function the metabolism is fixed, and weight loss is the side effect.

Autoimmune Disease and Weight Loss

Some Autoimmune Diseases That Directly Impact Weight Loss

1. Graves’ Disease

Graves’ disease the leading cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States and is an autoimmune disease that leads to over-activity of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is an endocrine gland responsible for producing thyroid hormones that control the efficiency and speed of metabolism. So in the case of Graves’ disease and hyperthyroidism, metabolic rates are accelerated and unintentional weight loss is likely to follow.

2. Hashimoto’s Disease

Similar to Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. But in the case of Hashimoto’s, too little thyroid hormones are produced and leads to hypothyroidism. Simply put, an underactive thyroid slows down metabolism, making weight gain that much easier and weight loss that much harder, especially if left unmanaged.

3. Type 1 Diabetes

Unlike type 2 diabetes that may be avoided by making healthy lifestyle choices, type 1 diabetes is unpreventable. Type 1 occurs when the immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin, the hormone responsible for supplying the body’s cells with glucose from carbohydrate sources. Compromised insulin release causes glucose to remain in the blood, hence “high blood sugar” or “high blood glucose,” and eventually excreted into the urine. Without the uptake of glucose, the cells are deprived of valuable energy and calories, which may potentially cause weight loss. (1)

4. Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) of the gastrointestinal tract. Though the cause is not well-known, Crohn’s is thought to be an autoimmune disease. Crohn’s commonly occurs in the small intestine, though can affect anywhere from the mouth to the anus, and is characterized by chronic inflammation which causes the walls and linings of the affected areas to become red and inflamed. Crohn’s patients may experience a number of gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, fever, rectal bleeding, and loss of appetite. Without initiated and successful management, Crohn’s disease may eventually lead to malnutrition and weight loss. (1)

5. Ulcerative Colitis

Along with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis (UC) is an IBD and speculated as an autoimmune disease. But unlike Crohn’s, UC is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation and ulceration of the lining of large intestine, only affecting the colon and rectum, rather than entire digestive tract. Individuals with UC experience similar symptoms of Crohn’s, along with the risk of weight loss. (1)

6. Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease characterized by an abnormal response to gluten, a protein naturally found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. When gluten is consumed by individuals with Celiac disease, the body perceives it as harmful and attacks its own gastrointestinal lining. Unsuccessful adherence to a gluten-free diet and ongoing gastrointestinal symptoms increases the risk of weight loss. (1)

To get more information on autoimmune disease and weight loss, schedule your free consultation with Dr. Mark A. Scott of Total Health Care Virginia Beach today.

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