Autoimmunity diagnoses can feel pretty overwhelming on their own. Sometimes they feel scary. Oftentimes, it can be a relief to finally put a name to the mysterious symptoms a person had been living with.
We walk out of the doctor’s office in a bit of a daze, probably a new prescription or two, and a whole lot of new questions.
In so many cases, we’re given the news and sent on our way to figure it out. The doctor has a waiting room full of people and has to move on to the next patient.
Here are some key pieces of information that your doctor will likely never tell you.
Autoimmunity Takes Place on a Spectrum
We don’t just wake up one day with an autoimmune condition. There are many things happening within our bodies that set the course for autoimmunity months, years, and sometimes decades in advance.
Some warning signs that you might be on the autoimmune spectrum include:
- Dry hair, skin and nails
- Abdominal discomfort and digestive upset
- Frequent colds and infections
- Unexplained joint and muscle pain
- Unexplained fatigue
- Foggy thinking and memory loss
- Mood swings, depression and anxiety
If you have any of these symptoms, consider them a warning sign that you may be headed toward autoimmunity. The good news is that it’s often much easier to reverse course before you’re dealing with a full-blown autoimmune disease.
You Can Reverse Your Symptoms Without Medication
If you’ve been told you’re just going to have to live with your autoimmune disease and take medication for the rest of your life, take heart. This is not always the case. In fact, I’ve seen a number of people get off medication entirely just by making some diet and lifestyle tweaks. That said, never stop taking any medications without the help of a qualified practitioner.
Determining the best diet for you can get a little tricky without someone to walk you through it. But, a great way to start is by removing gluten, dairy and sugar. I’ve witnesses some remarkable health benefits just from removing these 3 foods.
Reducing stress is another way to reduce symptoms. Stress is often an enormous factor in autoimmunity. We can’t always avoid the stressors in our lives. But, we can change the way we respond to them.
Finally, environmental toxins have been found to not only increase symptoms of autoimmunity, but they can also be a trigger for an autoimmune disease. And I don’t necessarily mean an exposure event, but micro-exposures over the course of a lifetime. The good news is that you have a lot of control over your exposure to toxins.
Healing Your Autoimmunity Ultimately Begins in the Gut
The work of Alessio Fasano has shown that virtually all individuals with an autoimmune disease were experiencing intestinal permeability, or a leaky gut, at the time the autoimmunity began.
When someone has a leaky gut, they experience holes in their intestinal wall that allows food particles to be released. These food particles are then attacked by the immune system that identifies them as foreign invaders. The more foreign invaders there are for your immune system to contend with, the more active it gets.
Due to molecular mimicry, or the similarities between these food particles and your body’s own cells, your immune system starts to attack your healthy cells. This, in essence, is the very definition of autoimmunity.
Not only can a leaky gut be what triggers the autoimmune condition but healing the gut wall can be what reverses your autoimmune symptoms. By going back to where it all began, we can ease the job of the immune system.
One Autoimmune Condition Leads to More Autoimmune Conditions
When an Autoimmune diagnosis takes place, the patient is rarely alerted to be on the lookout for signs of future autoimmune conditions. One exception to this is in the case of Type 1 Diabetes, when patients are routinely screened for thyroid antibodies.
The sooner you can stop the autoimmune cascade and reverse your symptoms, the sooner you’ll be protecting yourself from a downward spiral. And the sooner you can get back to the things you love.