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Autoimmunity On The Rise

What do the following chronic diseases have in common?

  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Lupus
  • M.S.
  • Hashimotos Thyroid Disease
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Celiac Sprue
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Crohn’s Disease

They are all the result of an immune system gone awry, an immune system that has essential gotten it’s “wires crossed” and instead of spending it’s energy on protecting the body, has lost the ability to decipher from “friend or foe” and has begun attacking healthy organ tissue. Yes, our immune system is literally attacking us for various reasons I’ll explain why below.

Today autoimmunity effects more than 50 millions people according to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association. Researchers have identified more than 100 different autoimmune disease today but don’t let that overwhelm you because that doesn’t necessarily mean that we need over 100 different cures or treatment plans. Dr. Terry Wahls of “The Wahls Protocol” explains, “the distinction between these autoimmune diseases is, frankly, fairer arbitrary, although there are different ways to view, think about, and understand what is happening when cellular dysfunction gains a foothold” (p 47). Many of the listed autoimmune diseases are rooted in the same cellular/ mitochondrial dysfunction, gut dysbiosis and what I call “a full systems failure”.

Autoimmunity hits home for me.

I have psoriasis which came to surface shortly before I moved to Hong Kong and has since spread and most recently, calmed down. I now know exactly what causes a flare up and work hard minimize my encounters with these foods/toxins. For me personally, sugar in all forms, even coconut palm sugar, alcohol and poor sleep patterns do a number on my immunity and my psoriasis flares up badly. I would say that everyone would benefit from reducing their sugar/alcohol intake while improving their sleep patterns. It sounds so simple but by addressing sleep patterns and reducing sugar, we can set ourselves up for immediate and longterm health. Remember while reducing sugar is key, so too is increasing our leafy green consumptions! Yes, drink your green smoothie daily! 

Autoimmunity also hits home for me because SO many of my family, friends and clients have one or more forms of autoimmunity.

Despite autoimmunity being on the rise and the #3 cause of disease in America, it seems that so many are completely unaware of it’s complexity and the various treatment methods available (beyond medication).

Here are a few things you should understand about autoimmunity that your general family physician may not be telling you:

1) Autoimmunity comes in pairs- meaning once your immune system is on the attack it will continue to do damage other healthy organs until it is balanced and modulated. Having psoriasis, eczema in small patches doesn’t seem so harmful initially but if we don’t get it under control, we can expect more autoimmune disease to come to surface in the near future. 

2) Medication is NOT the answer. Western medications that treat autoimmunity suppress immune production, and we don’t want to do that because it masks the problem at hand and comes with severe side effects/compromised immune health. Dr. Terry Wahls states in “The Wahls Protocol” that many of the conventional disease modifying drugs for MS and other autoimmune conditions are designed to block a specific pathway in the immune process. We may (or may not) be mediating some of the symptoms, but it comes with a price that impacts our quality of life and actually depresses our immune system from doing what is naturally designed to do: protect us! Some of the side effects of these drugs include fatigue, joint pain, achiness, depression, and mouth sores and there is a slightly higher risk of infection. Dr. Wahls goes on to explain “feelings of general malaise come because making the immune cells less effective generally results in making all cells somewhat less effective” (p 53).

Resorting to medications alone doesn’t sound like a treatment plan to me…it sounds like disease maintenance.

Instead of depressing the immune system in the hopes of masking the symptoms, we want to modulate the immune system using diet/stress management/toxic reduction/appropriate fitness. Simply put, we don’t want to add fuel to the fire and the SAD (Standard American Diet) does just that. Some of the biggest immune offenders are sugar/dairy/gluten/stress/alcohol and environmental toxins and while we aren’t suggesting you get rid of them entirely, it is encouraged that you begin to take the baby steps necessary to clean up your diet, home and lifestyle so that you can thrive in this lifetime.

Sickness has become the norm..

but it doesn’t have to be.

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3) Those with autoimmunity have chronically low Vitamin D levels which is dangerous for immunity and nervous system health. My advice is to spend 10-15 minutes outside in the sun WITHOUT sunscreen, take a high quality Vitamin D supplement and eat free range eggs/grassfed meat for ample Vitamin D. Many of the sunscreen creams out there are laced with harmful endocrine disrupting chemicals but there are a few companies I like for personal care products/sunscreen, like Badger.

4) Genetics load the gun and environment pulls the trigger. Address diet, stress/toxic reduction with a trained healthcare professional who can help you make the steps you need in immune modulation, click here to set up your initial health consultation. You don’t have to do this alone and frankly, you shouldn’t. 

5) Reduce EMF’s. (electro magnetic fields) from iPhones, computers, and all electronics. EMF’s attack our very sensitive endocrine system and create more distress in the body that impact cortisol levels. Unplug everyday for a few hours, curl up with a book and breathe. I have removed all electronics from my bedroom and am always thinking of ways I can work and be effective at what I do without the use of my computer.

Click here to read an an article called “How Conventional Medicine got Autoimmune Disease All Wrong” by Dr. Amy Meyers.

If you are a wellness or health professional, I highly recommend checking out the work of Lara Adler who is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Environmental Toxins Expert. Lara runs online courses that help to teach and empower health professionals to address the toxins piece in a thorough yet manageable way with their clients/audience. Click here to learn more about her practice and upcoming course, Blueprint For a Healthy Life: Foundational Pills for Toxic Free Living. 

 

Top Books to read on all things autoimmunity and health! 

 No matter where you are on your journey with health, know that you aren’t alone and there is SO much you can control and work on towards a more vibrant life! In the coming months I’ll be releasing a comprehensive course geared towards treating autoimmunity through dietary and lifestyle upgrades.

Stayed tuned!!

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