Autoimmune diseases are now epidemic, with modern science offering those who are diagnosed limited solutions. Most physicians are trained to shut off inflammation with medications or steroids, and increasingly more powerful immune suppressing medication with serious side effects. Given this, many people suffering from these conditions have searched for alternatives using nutrition and lifestyle changes. Research shows there is a clear connection between diet and autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune diseases are those in which the immune system turns against the body it is supposed to protect ( “auto” means “self”), attacking healthy cells and tissues. There are 50 known autoimmune diseases affecting two million Canadians, says Dr. Edward Keystone, director of The Rebecca MacDonald Centre for Arthritis and Autoimmune Diseases at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Autoimmunity disproportionately affects women; ratios vary by disease, but overall, almost 80 percent of people with autoimmune disorders are female.
Some of the most common autoimmune conditions are lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, crohn’s, Sjögren’s, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis and thyroid disease. Most autoimmune conditions start the same way, usually with strange seemingly unconnected conditions like fatigue, feeling of unwell, joint pain which are often “lived with” or ignored. Autoimmune conditions are connected by one central biochemical process: A runaway immune response also known as systemic inflammation.
For many, the key to true wellness is in holistic treatment, although many do not know know how to begin their journey to recovery.
- hidden infections such as viruses, bacteria, yeast, lyme
- heavy metals
- leaky gut (The gut is the gateway to health, it houses 80% of your immune system)
- hidden food allergies
- stress ( emotional and physical stress has been shown to trigger and intensify autoimmune disorders)
- mycotoxins ( a toxic secondary metabolite produced by organisms of the fungus kingdom)
Identifying which autoimmune disease is affecting you can be a difficult process. Symptoms may be vague, and autoimmune diseases can present themselves in so many different ways, affecting the thyroid, the brain, the skin, or other organs. Working closely with a Holistic Nutritionist to review your family medical history, understanding your risk factors for infections, food sensitivities and toxins, as well as listening to you closely to discover how all of your symptoms are related is an essential part of getting well.
My approach to those with known or suspected autoimmune disease is to immediately place them on a comprehensive elimination diet to remove inflammatory foods followed by a systemic holistic approach to healing the gut, clearing underlying infections, detoxification and acupuncture to re balance the body.
It may seem overwhelming, confusing and scary to have a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease, but by getting to the root cause of your illness is where your journey to regaining and maintaining wellness begins.