Autoimmune disease seems to be the buzz word lately. There are so many sources talking about it and how to fix it. Let us dive a little deeper into the world of Autoimmune diseases. The odds are you are suffering from at least one or more of these ailments.
There are over 100 classified autoimmune diseases on the books. They can affect any part of your body. Here is a list of parts of your body that can be affected and the common disease you have probably heard of.
Brain- Multiple Sclerosis, even Autism is now being considered an autoimmune disease in some researching arenas
Thyroid- Hashimoto’s Disease, Grave’s Disease
Bones and muscles- Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis
Skin- Psoriasis, Vitiligo, Eczema, Scleroderma
GI Tract- Celiac, Crohn’s, Type 1 Diabetes
Lungs- Fibromyalgia, Granulomatous Disease
Blood- Leukemia, Lupus Erythematosus
Autoimmune diseases take hold when our immune systems become revved up and overactive. It mistakes your own body, healthy tissue and cells as foreign invaders and begins attacking. A protein is released as the attack continues and the result is widespread damage.
Researchers don’t exactly know why autoimmune issues arise but there is new evidence suggesting that it is more environmental than genetic, although, there can be a susceptibility in families for certain autoimmune conditions. A western diet that is high in fat, sugar and processing tends to increase levels of inflammation, the very thing we try to calm in any autoimmune disease. Chemicals are all around us and in our food supply, so that is also a heavy contributor to our disease load.
It’s overwhelming to an individual who suffers from autoimmune conditions. It’s not uncommon to have more than one autoimmune disease. Some physicians and researchers suggest that there is only one autoimmune disease; the cause is the same despite the part of the body affected.
Only your healthcare provider can make a diagnosis of autoimmune disease and often secondary specialists are required to tease out the symptoms and test results. It can take months and even years for one to be diagnosed as the symptom set can change from day to day.
It’s not all bad news. The key to managing an autoimmune problem starts with the basics. The Gut is the center of our health and the main component of our immune system. We must begin to heal our gut. Eating a clean diet with gut healing foods and anti-inflammatory foods are the most helpful. Your provider at Madison Women’s Clinic can help you determine the best foods to include in your diet.
Another important thing to do for better health is to reduce your toxin load. This includes choosing organic food so you aren’t getting added hormones, antibiotics or pesticides. Toxins can destroy our gut lining.
Any lingering infections or allergens can also create problems for people with autoimmune disease. Make sure you get a full physical from your provider to rule out any underlying infections
Finally, you guessed it, reduce stress. Stress is an immune killer. We often don’t realize the havoc stress plays in our life until we are no longer able to manage it. Focus on sleep hygiene, getting at least 8 hours a night and more if you are really depleted. Another good way to manage stress is to move your body. You don’t have to run a marathon or spend hours in a gym, just take a walk around the block or stretch out your joints with some simple yoga moves.
Autoimmune diseases are complex and can affect the quality of life in major ways but there is hope. There is still a lot one can do create good health. New, healthier habits can change the disease course as they strengthen the immune health you do have. Make sure you visit with your doctor if you think you are experiencing an increase in inflammatory conditions and pain. Start today to commit to taking better care of you!