If you have an autoimmune disease, it’s likely that your doctor hasn’t mentioned environmental toxins.
This is a disservice, as studies have shown a strong correlation between your autoimmune symptoms and toxic exposures.
When I got sick back in 2010, I had a wide variety of symptoms that my doctors weren’t able to connect:
- Severe fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Extreme mood swings
- Alternating constipation and diarrhea
- Joint and muscle discomfort
After 2 years and 16 different practitioners, I finally learned that I had high levels of 4 different heavy metals in my body, as well as pesticides and other environmental toxins.
When I tell people my story, often the first question people ask is, “How were you exposed?”
Here’s the thing. There was no single event that exposed me to any of those toxins. In fact, there weren’t any ‘events’ at all. This was simply a case of a lifetime of micro-exposures. What did finally put me over the edge was when I was working in an office that had a remodel going on next door. This is when the symptoms finally became unbearable.
Like many people, I had been growing more and more tired over the years. I hadn’t been sleeping as soundly, and I felt less able to deal with everyday stressors. Until this point, I just chalked it up to years of being a single mother, being in an unhealthy relationship, work stress, and just life in general. However, I now know these symptoms were my body’s way of giving me warning signals. I wish I listened.
What Do Environmental Toxins Have to do with Autoimmune Disease?
It is the job of your immune system to attack foreign invaders. This means bacteria and viruses, but also environmental toxins. Let’s say, for example, that you eat a conventionally-grown strawberry. Strawberries are known to have high levels of pesticide residue. So, with every bite your immune system is sending off fighter cells to destroy these foreign invaders.
The more invaders, the more active your immune system is. Just like an army who’s having to fight without a break, your immune cells get exhausted. They get confused. Pretty soon, there’s friendly fire. In other words, an attack on your body’s healthy cells. As we know, an immune attack on our body’s own healthy cells is the definition of autoimmunity.
Our bodies have a natural ability to detox, but not at our current level of exposure. With tens of thousands of unregulated chemicals in the marketplace today, our immune systems are on overdrive. No one’s body is designed for that amount of exposure, and those of us at risk for autoimmune disease often live with genetic variants that make detoxing these chemicals from our bodies even harder than for the average person.
For many, environmental toxins have been found to be the trigger event that ultimately broke the camels back, sending us spiraling to an autoimmune disease diagnosis.
How do I know if I’m Being Exposed to Environmental Toxins?
First of all, just know that you are being exposed. We’re all being exposed. That’s just the way it is. However, some clues that you might be reaching your breaking point include:
- The development or increase in seasonal allergies
- Chronic coughing or sneezing
- The development of asthma or a tight chest
- Being generally turned off by air fresheners
- Reacting to smoke from a campfire or fireplace
- Getting a headache when near the perfume section of the department store
- Feeling an impulse to hold your breath when you’re in the cleaning aisle at the grocery store
- Unexplained joint and/or muscle pain
- Skin conditions like eczema or itching
- Fitful sleep or waking around 3 am unable to get back to sleep
The amazing thing is that much of our exposure to environmental toxins is happening right inside our own homes. In fact, the air in our homes has been found to be several times more polluted than the air outside! So, while it may feel like have no control over these things, the truth is we do. You have a lot of control over your exposure to environmental toxins. And if you have an autoimmune disease, or are at risk for an autoimmune disease, taking steps to reduce your expose can mean the difference between chronic fatigue and all-day energy.
Want an easy step-by-step program that helps you transform your home from toxic to tranquil? Great! I’ve got one coming shortly. Get on the waiting list to stay in the loop.