7 Natural Ways to Fight Autoimmune Disease
When considering autoimmune diseases, we often think of debilitating conditions that leave us housebound. And in some instances this is true, but in other occurrences, autoimmune disease can just be hiding behind the surface. Some of the top autoimmune conditions you may have come across include Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, celiac disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and multiple sclerosis, to name just some of the 80 different diseases. Too often we approach these with a traditional medical mindset and forget that there are natural ways to fight autoimmune disease. While the conditions are varied and each requires a delicate, individualized approach, there are some general pathways that help counter the strain it places on our body. From my experience and observations in the industry, these are the top 7 natural ways to fight autoimmune disease.
1. Test For Gluten Sensitivity
Many of us are currently living with gluten sensitivity or intolerance (celiac disease), an unspecific condition that leads to unpleasant digestive symptoms after consuming gluten. Celiac disease can be a cause of gluten intolerance - but it’s also more than that. This condition is actually an autoimmune disease, where the gluten proteins can result in the breakdown of our intestinal wall triggering a misguided immune response, which leads to greater digestive concerns as it becomes more difficult for the body to absorb nutrients.
Every time your body is exposed to a dangerous invader, such as gluten, your immune system memorizes the structure so that it can recognize it in the future and develop an adequate defense to it. The most pressing issue is that the molecular structure of gluten proteins is similar to different tissues throughout the body, including the thyroid gland. When attempting to digest gluten, the antibodies recognize the thyroid tissue as the invader and the body begins to launch an attack on itself.
By taking the appropriate testing measures and determining a celiac intolerance once and for all, you can reduce the risk of long-lasting autoimmune damage.
2. Check Your Hormone Levels Are In Balance
The human body is governed in part by some-50 hormones, carrying out a multitude of different tasks. When hormones are out of balance or compromised, the fallout can be huge, and oftentimes may lead to or exacerbate existing autoimmune disease. While it’s important to make sure our hormones are fluctuating within normal ranges for day-to-day health, keeping a close and considered eye on any imbalances can help to reduce the severity of any autoimmune disease.
3. Take an IgG Blood Allergy Test
Another good way to discover any triggers to autoimmune conditions in the body is through IgG testing - which is a measure of antibodies (immunoglobulins) in the blood. IgG panel testing is one of the most convenient ways to discover any hidden food intolerances that may be triggering an ongoing autoimmune response. This type of test, which can be simply ordered online and sent away, can be a helpful aid to rule out any foods that may be inflaming or aggravating the immune system, which is already maxed out while dealing with any ongoing disease. Simply remove any foods you’re showing an allergic response to for a period of time until your symptoms start to improve.
4. Work On Healing Your Gut
Your digestive tract is actually your first line of defense against many autoimmune conditions, so it’s important to make sure everything is in working order. Your digestive tract lining similar to your outer skin in the sense that it acts as a barrier that protects your blood and inner tissues against undesirable substances in your environment. Once the lining of your digestive tract begins to break down, if your genetic programming allows for it, you will begin to experience the antigen-antibody complex formation that occurs whenever incompletely digested protein leaks through your damaged digestive tract into your blood. The same goes for exogenous toxins like synthetic chemicals found in cosmetic products. If you are suffering from an autoimmune condition, chances are good that your digestive tract is not as healthy as it can be, and that the effects of "leaky gut syndrome" and the formation of antigen-antibody complexes are contributing to your current symptoms. So make this your motivation to get your digestion in order. If you're unsure where to begin, discover our ultimate guide for gut health here.
5. Get Enough Sleep At Night
A good night’s sleep is one of the most important things for our overall health and wellbeing. Of course, it’s not going to heal a chronic autoimmune disease overnight, but it will help to reduce the severity of symptoms (ongoing fatigue, digestive issues, energy slumps) and give the body a chance to heal. Our body exists in two states; the sympathetic nervous system (a natural stress response) and the parasympathetic nervous system (returning to homeostasis). When in the parasympathetic nervous system, our body is able to redirect energy that is used in response to a stressful stimulus to providing the body with all it needs to heal. As it turns out, one of the best, easiest, and most effective ways to trigger this system is with a decent night’s sleep. Now that you’re out of excuses, find a routine that works for you, and get that desperately needed shuteye!
6. Address Any Pre-Existing Conditions
The body is a complex organism, made up of many complex systems, and everything needs to be going exactly right at any given moment for us to be healthy. Sometimes, however, not everything goes according to plan. All it takes is one tiny thing to go wrong to cascade into disease, especially autoimmune conditions, and these can often exist (in)harmoniously within the body. So for example, someone with hypothyroidism may also struggle with SIBO, and the two conditions feed off on one another. For specific applications of this approach, or to discover any underlying issues, it’s best to work one-on-one with a qualified holistic practitioner or health coach.
7. Take Steps To Manage Your Stress
Living with an autoimmune condition, no matter what it is in nature, can be a stressful, upsetting, and anxiety-inducing experience. And the chronic stress this puts us under is even more of a threat to our overall health and wellbeing. By taking simple steps to manage any stress associated with states of illness, we can begin to focus our energy on healing and managing the disease. Some of my favorite stress management techniques include mediation and mindfulness, yoga and conscious exercise, and of course cooking to unwind.
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