I am so excited for you to read my brand new book, The Inflammation Spectrum. You will discover how inflammation is at the core of most common health woes and exists on a continuum: from mild symptoms such as weight gain and fatigue on one end, to hormone imbalance and autoimmune conditions on the other. How you feel is constantly and dynamically being influenced by every meal. Every food you eat is either feeding inflammation or fighting it. Because no one else is you, the foods that work well for someone else may not be right for your body. At heart, The Inflammation Spectrum is about learning to love your body enough to nourish it with delicious, healing foods. Its insightful quizzes and empowering advice will put you on a path toward food freedom and overall healing. Learn more here.
by Dr. Will Cole
Autoimmune conditions often start with a genetic susceptibility, but there are many external factors that are also linked with autoimmunity which can trigger that susceptibility. If you are living with an autoimmune disease, something may have triggered it in your environment.
Now you may feel stuck on pharmaceuticals with unpleasant side effects, shuttled from specialist to specialist without any real answers about getting better. However, the times are changing. Today, science is more likely to take into account the field of epigenetics, or the influence of lifestyle and environmental factors on disease expression. The foods you eat or don’t eat, the nutrients you are taking or not taking, your stress levels, sleep habits, and toxic exposures dynamically determine what your genes set in motion in your body. That’s good news for you because it means that genetics is not an immutable verdict, but rather, something you can manipulate through your lifestyle choices.
While it’s true that, at least when it comes to autoimmune conditions, once that genetic switch has been turned on, it doesn’t turn off again, there is still much you can do to dampen and reverse the autoimmune response. Better yet, this can be done in a way that dramatically reduces or even eliminates symptoms, all without drugs, by the natural modulation of the immune system. Here are ten steps to help you take your health back into your own hands and reclaim your life from the control of autoimmunity:
1. Have your gut permeability tested.
Most of your immune system resides in your gut, but when its protective lining is compromised, an autoimmune response can be the result. To determine the integrity of the gut lining, I run labs so my patients and I can address this major underlying component to regaining health.
2. Restore the integrity of your gut lining.
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 can heal your particular issue. Here is some great general information on natural ways to heal the gut.
3. Get your antibodies tested.
Depending on your specific autoimmune conditions, you will likely have elevated antibodies, which are proteins that are a part of your immune defense system. Knowing your specific antibody levels will help you do two things: 1) Gauge your healing progress in a measurable way, and 2) Get clues to any associated autoimmune disorders you may have, as many people with autoimmunity have more than one area where this manifests.
4. Nix the gluten.
Not everyone (arguably) has a negative reaction to gluten, but if you have an autoimmune condition, you don’t need a lab test to tell you that gluten should be on your no list. This protein, which is found in wheat, spelt, rye, and barley, tends to be especially inflammatory and immune-provoking for those with many autoimmune conditions. Though I do run comprehensive gluten intolerance labs for some autoimmune cases to demonstrate definitively the level of intolerance, and to give my patients objective motivation for removing gluten, I can tell you from vast experience that gluten should be off the list for anyone with this health issue. If you aren’t yet convinced, just try eliminating it completely for 60 days, then reintroducing it. This can be a helpful test to demonstrate to people how strongly symptoms return when gluten is reintroduced.
5. In addition to gluten, determine your cross-reactive foods and remove them.
Sometimes, bodies with over-reactive immune systems can attack something just because it resembles something else. This is called molecular mimicry, and it can happen when the proteins in a food look like gluten. Even gluten-free grains like corn and rice can flare up the immune system in some people – something I see frequently in my practice. Find out if you are having any cross-reaction with the food you are eating by removing them for 60 days and reintroducing them one at a time to determine if your symptoms return or flare. This can be very helpful for people who have cleaned up their diet but are still having symptoms.
6. Detox on the reg.
People with autoimmune conditions tend to have altered detoxification pathways, so giving them a helping hand on a daily basis can help get the body back into shape. The best way to do this is to eat a variety of green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach and avoid sugar and processed foods that make the toxic load heavier. These two things alone can make a big difference in your health.
7. Add powerful food medicines into your diet.
Foods such as green tea and turmeric have been shown to dampen the autoimmune response in the body, especially in the brain. Have a cup of green tea and add turmeric to your food daily for a huge anti-inflammatory and immune-balancing boost.
8. Replace refined table salt with natural sea salt.
Table salt is highly processed and has been shown to aggravate and increase some autoimmune conditions. Go with more natural salt that contains trace minerals.
9. De-stress daily.
When it comes to the “fire” of autoimmunity, stress is the gasoline. In fact, stressful events are often the triggers for autoimmunity. Many of my patients say they noticed the onset of their condition during a particularly stressful life event. Don’t let stress aggravate your health a minute longer. Regular practice of meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other stress-relieving practices can help you better manage stress and balance your immune system.
10. Go for glutathione.
Many people in poor health are deficient in this important nutrient, so eat plenty of sulfur-rich vegetables like onions, cabbage, and broccoli to aid in methylation, a biochemical pathway that produces glutathione naturally.
Make it all a habit
Autoimmune disease is not curable but can be manageable with natural interventions that might even put your autoimmune into remission. The trick is not to be perfect, but to practice these healthy habits consistently. These ten steps are a great way to begin reversing autoimmune disease symptoms and living a vibrant, healthy life. I’ve seen countless people with life-destroying autoimmune symptoms completely regain their health through natural lifestyle changes like these. Will you be next?
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.
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