Living with an autoimmune disease can be a lonely experience. Many people wait years to find out why they're sick, and once they're finally diagnosed, they receive few options from their doctor.
The problem with the mainstream model of care is an outdated model that treats your body like a machine with separate parts. You're diagnosed with a disease, and it's matched with a corresponding pharmaceutical drug. If you can't be diagnosed, you're often labeled as depressed and given an antidepressant. You're referred from specialist to specialist: gastroenterologists, endocrinologists and rheumatologists, and given more drugs, namely immunosuppressants or steroid therapy. In reality, your body is a complex, interconnected web of brilliant biochemistry. There are no magic pills.
In my last article, I went over the causes for the epidemic rise in autoimmune conditions. Autoimmune conditions often start with a genetic susceptibility, but there are many external factors that are also linked with autoimmunity. The old view of genetics was that if your mom or dad had a disease, you were predestined to have this health condition.
Today, however, science takes into account the field of epigenetics, or the lifestyle and environmental factors that instruct your genes how to be expressed. The foods you eat or don't eat, the nutrients you are taking or not taking, your stress levels, sleep habits and exposure to toxins are dynamically determining your gene expression. So instead of viewing genetics as an immutable verdict on your life, we have to take into consideration how these epigenetic factors are turning on and off good and bad genes.
When it comes to autoimmune conditions, once that genetic switch has been turned on, it doesn't turn off again. With that said, the autoimmune response can be dampened and reversed tremendously, naturally. It's up to us to modulate our immune systems and regain our health. Here are some great tips to start taking your health back into your own hands and reclaiming your life:
1. Know the level of your gut permeability.
Your gut is where the majority of your immune system resides. When your guts protective lining is compromised, it can give rise to an autoimmune response throughout your body. I run labs to look at the level of my patients gut permeability so we can address this major underlying component to regaining ones health.
2. Heal your gut.
Once you know the level of your gut permeability and whether you have any secondary issues like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or chronic bacterial, yeast or parasitic infections, you will want to start the healing process. There are many approaches to this aspect of health, but for here's some great general information on natural ways to heal the gut.
3. Know your antibody levels.
Depending on your specific autoimmune conditions, there will be elevated antibodies, proteins that are a part of your immune defense system. Knowing your specific antibody levels will help gauge your healing process from an objective lab perspective. Knowing your antibody levels associated with other relevant autoimmune disorders will give you insight to any secondary issues to deal with.
4. Avoid gluten.
If you have an autoimmune condition, you don't really need a lab to know you should avoid gluten. This protein, which is found in wheat, spelt, rye and barley, is linked to many autoimmune conditions. Though I do run comprehensive gluten intolerance labs for some autoimmune cases to definitively know the level of their intolerance, removing gluten for 60 days, then reintroducing it, can also be a helpful test for some people.
5. Find your cross-reactive foods and remove them.
Even gluten-free grains like corn and rice can flare up the immune system in some people. Molecular mimicry occurs your body confuses your own body tissue for the similar proteins found in some foods, is something that I see very often in my practice. Find out if you are having any cross-reaction with the food you are eating. This can be very helpful for people who have cleaned up their diet but are still having symptoms.
6. Make detoxification a regular practice.
People with autoimmune conditions can also have altered detoxification pathways, so helping your body on a daily basis to remove toxins is a good idea for people with autoimmune conditions. Eating a variety of green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach and avoiding sugar and processed foods will aid your body in many different ways.
7. Add green tea and turmeric into your diet.
8. Avoid refined table salt.
Table salt has been shown to aggravate and increase some autoimmune conditions.
9. Manage stress.
It's no surprise that chronic stress is like gasoline for an autoimmune condition. Many of my patients even noticed the onset of their condition to have first appeared during very stressful life events. Regular practice of meditation or tai chi can help give you tools to better manage stress and balance your immune system.
10. Increase your glutathione levels.
This important nutrient is also deficient in many people with poor health. Eating plenty of sulfur-rich vegetables like onions, cabbage and broccoli aid in methylation, a biochemical pathway which produces glutathione naturally.
Bringing it all together
Autoimmune disease is not curable, but can be manageable, and there's so much you can do naturally to put your autoimmune into remission. These tips are great steps to reversing autoimmune disease and living a vibrant, healthy life. I've seen countless people with horrible autoimmune symptoms completely regain their health
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