Are there any dietary changes I can use to help with auto immune disease? I get mild alopecia areata every so often; I have noticed it in times of stress.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks growing cells within hair follicles. Usually the hair loss is localized to small round patches (about the size of a quarter) but can be more extensive and, in uncommon cases, can result in total hair loss.
Researchers believe that a genetic predisposition and some type of environmental stressor (trigger) can bring on alopecia areata. For some it may be a stressful life event and for others it could be a virus or something else in the environment. The fact that you notice it more in times of stress is telling.
Eating foods (fruits, vegetables) that help your body deal with stress may be beneficial, so eating a balanced and healthy diet with vegetables and fruit, whole grains, lean meats, nuts/seeds, healthy fats, no trans fat, alcohol in moderation and limited simple sugars is always important, but it is unlikely that your diet is contributing to your hair loss. That being said, certain nutrient and amino acid deficiencies can cause hair loss as well, so it may be worth visiting a health care practitioner to get blood work done to ensure you have no deficiencies.
Based on your observation, I would say the best lifestyle advice is to find ways to manage and mitigate the causes of stress in your life. Spending time in nature, exercise, meditation, yoga and giving yourself some down-time can all help reduce stress.
Yours in health,
Areli Hermanson, RD
Dietitian consultant to Pomme Natural Market
Health science changes quickly. The information contained in this material should not be misconstrued as medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or trusted health provider to determine what is best for you.