Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease?
If your answer is yes, your doctor probably prescribed medication for lifelong treatment, asked you to follow up in a few months, and sent you on your way.
If you’re reading this, at some point you probably thought “rely on medication forever? There must be something more I can do to help myself!”
Well, there is! And you’ve come to the right place.
In this article we’ll talk about what autoimmune disease is, potential causes of autoimmunity and how it’s normally treated, and we’ll go over 6 things you can do today to help repair your immune system and heal your body.
Let's get to it!
What Is Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune disorders develop when your immune system gets confused and begins to attack your own healthy cells instead of the pathogenic, or problematic, cells. (1)
DIFFERENT TYPES OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE MAY INCLUDE:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Pernicious Anemia
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
- Graves Disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Celiac Disease
- Crohn's Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
What Causes Autoimmunity?
So, what causes our body to attack itself? Chronic and systemic inflammation is the biggest culprit.
Normally, when your immune system defends you from harmful triggers like bacteria, viruses, toxins, and stress, some inflammation is normal and protective.
The problem is when your immune system is constantly being triggered the inflammation never stops and spreads to different parts of the body like wildfire. When this happens, some healthy tissues get caught in the middle of the fight and become damaged. (2)
POTENTIAL CAUSES OF CHRONIC INFLAMMATION INCLUDE:
- Poor diet
- High Stress
- Not enough sleep
- Environmental toxins
When inflammatory triggers are left unaddressed your body continues to fight itself, we experience different symptoms, and depending on our symptoms, we’re diagnosed with a particular autoimmune disease.
Usual treatment for autoimmune disease involve medications.
A doctor may prescribe a medication to either decrease inflammation, suppress the immune system, or depending on your diagnosis your doctor may give a drug designed to slow disease progression. (3)
But if we now know that autoimmune disease is brought on by chronic wide-spread inflammation, why not address and eliminate whatever is triggering our inflammatory response?
6 Ways You Can Help Treat Autoimmune Disease Naturally
In order to treat autoimmune disease naturally and support a healthy immune system, you need to address inflammatory triggers you may be exposed to. Listed below are a few ways you can begin to decrease inflammation and help relieve autoimmune disease symptoms.
1. REMOVE INFLAMMATORY FOODS FROM YOUR DIET
Diets high in refined grains, sugars, processed foods, fast foods, and omega-6 fatty acids have be linked to inflammation that promotes autoimmune disease. (4)
It’s important to make sure your diet mostly consists of anti-inflammatory foods and nutritents to give your body the fuel it needs to function properly.
Foods rich in vitamin A, vitamin D, polyphenols, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, glutamine, zinc, curcumin, and carnitine would be extremely helpful in supporting your immune system against inflammation. (5)
If you want to learn more about what to eat to decrease inflammation associated with autoimmune disease you can take a look at my Anti-inflammatory Cookbook!
2. PRACTICE STRESS MANAGEMENT
Stress not only worsens the inflammatory response linked with autoimmune disease but, if left unaddressed, stress can prolong your healing process. (6)
Simple stress management techniques you can include in your day-to-day life include deep breathing exercises, meditation, moving your body in a way that feels good to you, and laughing!
3. PRACTICE SLEEP HYGIENE
Not getting enough quality sleep weakens your immune system and triggers inflammation. (7)
Practicing sleep hygiene, or a relaxing bedtime routine, that helps you aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night will help boost immunity and avoid inflammation.
4. VITAMIN D
Although vitamin D is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, deficiency is very common and closely linked to multiple autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation. (8)
The best way to absorb vitamin D is to expose your skin to the sun! If you don’t live in the sunniest of areas you can also try a vitamin D3 supplement.
5. PROBIOTICS & PREBIOTICS
High amounts of bad gut bacteria have be connected to various autoimmune diseases, which makes sense because most of your immune system is in your gut! (9)
Eating enough probiotic and prebiotic foods is a great way to support populations of beneficial gut bacteria to reduce inflammation and boost immune health.
It’s like I always say “happy gut, happy immune system.”
6. SUPPORT YOUR NATURAL ABILITY TO DETOX
We may not always have complete control over enviornmntal toxins that could trigger chronic inflammation so supporting your body’s ability to naturally detox is important to help these toxins leave your body before major damage is done.
Ways to support your natural detox system include drinking enough water, breaking a sweat, eating enough fiber, and getting enough sleep. Who doesn't love more reasons to sleep in?!
Autoimmiune disease is a complex medical issue where your immune system begins to attack your body’s healthy cells and tissues.
Although the cause of autoimmunity is multifactoral, research shows a powerful relationship between chronic inflammation and autoimmunity.
Conventional medical treatment may be helpful to manage symptoms but a functional medicine approach is one that addresses the root cause of disease. Once these underlying causes are addressed, real healing can begin.
No matter what autoimmune disease you’re diagnosed with, if you identify and eliminate the root cause of inflammation, eat nourishing foods, and show your body some TLC, you can naturally begin to heal your immune system and move closer to better health.
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