Autoimmunity - What it is and how to how to turn the tide

Chances are, you have heard the term "Autoimmunity". Simply put, it means that your body is attacking itself. It's usually concentrated to one part of the body or one organ. Maybe it's your Thyroid, which is called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, or it's your joints, and it's called "Rheumatoid Arthritis". There are many other conditions that are autoimmune in nature also. Things like Lupus, Lichen Planus, Multiple Sclerosis, and others.

What we know about all autoimmune disorders is that your own body is breaking itself down. We can see this when we run lab tests. We see antibodies to your various organs, like the thyroid or liver. That is how we know the extent of the breakdown.

Approximately 250 Million people worldwide are dealing with an autoimmune issue. In fact, it's the 3rd leading cause of chronic disease behind cancer and heart disease. It's a big deal! Unfortunately, the treatment of autoimmune conditions does not usually involve looking into the root cause, but rather at treating symptoms. Often, immune suppressing medications are used. This becomes problematic as it lowers a person's resistance to infections, and other immune threats like cancer. I think there is a better way to look at this situation...

There are 3 pieces to the autoimmune puzzle. The first is genetic. I believe this is a small factor, but it is present. Those with family history of autoimmune diseases may be more likely to tend toward the issue themselves. However, lifestyle, has a huge part to play in whether those genetics manifest as a problem.

The second piece of the puzzle is digestive health. Intestinal permeability or "leaky gut" can allow proteins to enter the bloodstream that should not be there. Those proteins can appear like certain organs and tissues in the body. These tissues and organs then begin to be broken down and destroyed. This is when auto antibodies show up and you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. The issue is that sometimes, there are "allowable" levels of auto antibodies on some lab tests. These people are breaking down their own bodies, but it hasn't reached a level defined by the lab as an issue, so it's labeled as "fine". Digestive issues like low stomach acid can lead to malabsorption where the nutrients needed for good health are missing. Poor digestive health also can create inflammation because of the food choices we are making. High sugar, high carbohydrate diets containing processed foods can really contribute to poor health.

The third piece of the puzzle is a triggering event. This can be something traumatic, like a car accident, an emotional situation like a divorce, a death in the family or other significant emotional trigger. Things like certain types of viruses or infection and exposure to mold or other toxins are some other triggers. It is not uncommon for a person to look back and realize the autoimmune symptoms began after a traumatic event or toxic exposure.

Regardless of the organ or part of the body being broken down, the solution to autoimmunity has a common thread. Reversing the breakdown. Here are some strategies that help do that:

1) Eat to support health: Avoid processed junk food and eat whole foods. Stick to lots of vegetables, some fruit, grass fed, organic and pastured meats. Consume healthy fats like nuts, coconut, avocado.

2) Hydrate: Filter with a reverse osmosis filter if possible and make sure you are consuming at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day as a minimum. Proper hydration is a foundation of overall good health.

3) Dig deep to remove triggers: This may be a food trigger, like a food your body has an immune reaction to (this can be done with an elimination diet or a blood test). Identify possible sources of infection from mold, parasites, viruses, etc. This can be done with some functional testing that investigates those components.

4) Take a deep dive into Digestive Health: Look at stomach acid sufficiency, malabsorption and bacterial balance in the colon. Make sure elimination is happening on a daily basis. Explore and address the findings.

5) Address nutrient deficiencies: Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is critical. However, for many people, it is not enough. Common nutrient deficiencies I find are Vitamin D, Magnesium and various B vitamins. All of these are important to the biochemical processes that must happen to create a healthy body. When you lack the building blocks for certain systems to function properly, it is difficult to heal and rebuild tissues that are being broken down by the autoimmune process. Addressing nutrient insufficiency is very important to creating a healthy environment in the body.

I hope you found this useful. If you or someone you know is experiencing an autoimmune condition and would like to investigate it further and look at healing your body naturally, please reach out to us. We have helped many with and would be happy to see if we can help you, too!

To your health,

Dr. Jeni

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