It seems that you can no longer talk to a friend or colleague without one of them mentioning that they were just diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Have you ever wondered what is an autoimmune disease? If you have been recently diagnosed, you may be wondering what this means for you in terms of the diagnosis of a chronic disease.
By Lisa King
Autoimmune disease happens when the body becomes off balance. The immune system, which is meant to kill pathogens in the body begins to attack itself. The immune system can attack one organ or several organs in the body. There are over 80 autoimmune diseases. The more common ones are rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Crohn’s disease. Many other diseases including dementia are now being linked to being autoimmune.
There are many symptoms with autoimmune disease including fatigue, joint pain, low grade fever, hair loss, rashes, bloating, diarrhea and more. Many of these are elicited by inflammation in the body. The food you eat can have an inflammatory effect. It is important to listen to your body and watch to see if flares are connected to foods, stress or poor sleep. You can even track your symptoms in a journal to see if there is a link to any trigger patterns. Symptoms can often come and go. An important way to limit those symptoms is to look for what provokes increased symptoms for you.
Foods that are rich in nutrients and high in antioxidants help fight inflammation. Berries and dark green leafy vegetables can be potent antioxidants. Often a plant based diet or mostly plant based diet will naturally eliminate foods that cause inflammation in the body. Decrease foods like dairy, sugar, gluten and processed and packaged foods. Organic foods where pesticides are avoided will also help to decrease your exposure to toxins and chemicals and can reduce symptoms. When you start eating more fruits and vegetables your body will gain natural energy and you will no longer seek sugary treats.
Fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber. When you have a high fiber diet, you will naturally remove toxins from you GI tract. Eliminating allergenic foods like dairy and gluten will also help heal your gut. Good gut health is essential not only to prevent autoimmune diseases but to boost mood and immunity. A plant based diet will also provide the prebiotics which are basically a food for probiotics. They work together to most effectively provide good gut health.
Diet and self care are essential to healing your body when you have an autoimmune disease. Aim to drink half your healthy body weight in water daily. This will not only keep you hydrated but will also help you to flush the waste from your body. Take time for exercise and to be outside. These are tools to reduce stress. Reducing stress, leads to reducing cortisol levels. Cortisol can cause inflammation in your body and it is important to be sure your cortisol levels are not elevated. Sleep is also important as this is truly the time the body heals itself. Your body naturally detoxes when you sleep so make it a key part of your wellness routine.
If you are new to a wellness plan that incorporates removal of allergenic foods like sugar, gluten and dairy; you may actually have a day or two after implementing this new routine that your body may become very tired. This is completely normal as your body adjusts to your new way of eating. Take time to rest and heal your body during this time. Continue implementing this new way of living until it becomes a lifestyle for you. If it all seems overwhelming at first, take one day at a time. What is one thing that you can do to achieve a healthier lifestyle? Can you drink more water? Can you get more rest? Can you eliminate sugary foods or drinks from you daily routine? Keep adding on more healthy changes into your day until you have incorporated them all into your daily routine. A healthy lifestyle not only helps lessen symptoms of autoimmune disease but leads to a long, healthy and fulfilled life!
Find out more and to discover whether you may be suffering from an autoimmune disease.
Lisa has worked as a pharmacist for over thirty years and you can be inspired, encouraged and equipped by following her on Instagram