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Weight Loss

From the effects of the hormone cortisol to the role of genetics in weight loss, this category is packed with everything that you need to know about losing weight the healthy way.

8 Autoimmune Diseases that Will Affect Your Weight

Health and weight statuses largely depend on lifestyle factors, though disease states should not be overlooked. In fact, common diseases that cause weight loss or gain are autoimmune disorders, conditions in which the body’s own immune system attacks its own healthy cells. Whether related to prescribed medications or disease management, find out how autoimmune diseases may instigate weight changes.


Autoimmune Diseases That Cause Weight Loss and Gain

1. Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is characterized by an abnormal response to ingested gluten. Essentially, the body perceives gluten as a harmful substance, thus attacking its own gastrointestinal lining, and causes unpleasant digestive symptoms. Weight loss is a common side effect of celiac disease, particularly when gluten continues to be exposed and triggers diarrhea or a loss of appetite.

2. Type 1 Diabetes
Unlike type 2 diabetes that may be avoided by healthy lifestyle choices, type 1 diabetes is unpreventable. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells, the hormone responsible for supplying the body's cells with glucose from carbohydrate sources. Without diagnosing or effectively managing type 1 diabetes, individuals are prone to weight loss, as glucose is excreted into the urine rather than taken up by the body for available use.

3. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that primarily affects the joints. When the joints are essentially attacked and inflamed, individuals may experience mild to severe pain, stiffness, and swelling. The discomfort may result to a declined capability for completing day-to-day functions and a lower quality of life. The goal of treatment is to reduce associated pain and inflammation and improve overall functioning. Along with a potential reduction in activity levels, commonly prescribed steroids for RA management may also cause weight gain.

4. Ankylosing Spondylitis
Also a form of arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis (AS) mostly affects the spine and causes inflammation in the spinal joints. Without proper management and treatment, individuals may experience a reduced desire to be active related to plummeted energy and magnified pain. Like RA, steroids prescribed to control ankylosing spondylitis may cause weight gain.

5. Addison's Disease
Also known as adrenal insufficiency, Addison's disease occurs when the body produces insufficient amounts of hormones produced by the adrenal glands, including too little cortisol and aldosterone. Individuals usually develop symptoms slowly, including a decreased appetite and unintentional weight loss.

6. Graves' Disease
Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease that causes the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone, leading to hyperthyroidism. One of the most significant symptoms of Graves' disease is weight loss, even with an increased appetite and food intake, related to an elevated metabolism.

7. Hashimoto's Disease
Hashimoto's disease is perhaps one of the most notorious diseases that prevents weight loss. Unlike Graves' disease that leads to hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto's disease results to an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism. A slowed down metabolism makes weight gain that much easier and weight loss that much more difficult, especially if left untreated.

8. Irritable Bowel Disease
Although the cause of irritable bowel disease (IBD) is not exactly known, researchers believe genetics, the environment, and an overactive immune system are responsible. IBD is primarily broken down into Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC); Crohn's disease is characterized by inflammation throughout any part of the digestive tract, though mostly affects the end of the small intestine (the ileum) where it joins the beginning of the large intestine (the colon), while ulcerative colitis is limited to the large intestine, including a segment or the entire portion of the rectum and colon. Aside from the areas affected, untreated IBD can cause unpleasant GI symptoms, including nutrient malabsorption and diarrhea, that may result to weight loss.

Managing Weight with an Autoimmune Disease

Although there may be more hardships and obstacles to consider, a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease does not have to determine your weight destination. Along with managing the underlying disease with appropriate therapy, your healthcare team can help make nutritional recommendations to best meet your needs. For instance, while it may appear obvious to eliminate gluten following a celiac diagnosis, there are numerous hidden sources of gluten, along with the rising risk of nutritional deficiencies after dismissing a large food group. Additionally, healthcare experts can further advise an exercise plan to accommodate personal goals and needs.

Aside from implementing tailored dietary guidance, nutrition experts encourage a well-balanced diet to meet the body's nutrient needs, including whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and veggies, and healthy fat sources. If desiring meal and weight loss assistance, bistroMD delivers nutritionally-adequate entrees and snacks straight to your doorstep! For more information on the nation's leading weight loss meal delivery service and program options, click here.

Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on November 30, 2017. Updated on May 16, 2019.


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