Have you ever been to a doctor with a persistent health problem and been diagnosed with autoimmune disease? For those unfamiliar with the term, autoimmune disease is when your immune system mistakes a part of your body to be a foreign substance and attacks it (1). The most common health issues generated from it are arthritis, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, thyroid, lupus, psoriasis, etc. There are over 80 diseases classified under autoimmune diseases, and each has its hard-to-classify symptoms like swelling, inflammation, pain, and allergies (2). Of course, this problem is not new, and medical science has been actively finding solutions to get rid of it.
If you have been diagnosed with it or know someone is suffering from it, you can work with a functional medicine practitioner to identify its roots and eliminate the problem at the source. It requires trial and error and a lot of patience, but then again, the results are worth it. Here are some doctor-recommended strategies that can help a patient dealing with the autoimmune disease go to the root of the problem and relieve the pain.
1. Eat A Whole Food, Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Keep your focus on anti-inflammatory foods, including berries (red and purple), leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, nuts, omega 3 fat sources like fish. You can also add herbs like ginger and turmeric to your cooking. You should stay away from omega 6, corn oil, soy oil, and safflower oils as they are harmful if consumed regularly.
2. Watch For Hidden Infections
You might have symptoms that indicate infection. These infections are caused mainly by viruses, bacteria, lyme, and yeast. It could be because of a food reaction, environmental pollutants, or other health issues. A functional medicine practitioner will be able to identify these infections from your body and help you eliminate them with medicines.
3. Check For Hidden Food Allergies
Some allergies can be hereditary, and you will have discovered them by childhood. But sometimes, there are food allergies that go unnoticed as you are always trying new kinds of food and ingredients in your life. Your Functional Medicine practitioner can do food testing for you to find the things that are initiating the allergy (3). You can also do a 10-day detox diet to eliminate food allergens from your body. It sometimes happens that you don’t have any original allergy to a particular food, but it is very likely to flare up later. Be mindful of that to keep a check.
4. Get Tested for Celiac Disease
You can go for a simple blood test for celiac disease. People who are on a gluten-based diet and have celiac disease possess higher than normal levels of antibodies in their bodies (4). The antibodies are produced as they view gluten as a threat, which can be one of the causes of your autoimmune disease.
5. Check For Heavy Metal Toxicity
Heavy metals such as silver, mercury, and lead are associated with autoimmunity. They increase due to the rise in industrial pollutants and consuming foods cultivated in artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Make sure you keep your food source organic and wash fruits and vegetables before eating and cooking them. Wherever you purchase your fruits and vegetables, make it a habit to wash with baking soda effectively before cooking. Nowadays, external pollutants or different pesticides might cause some health issues in the long run. It is important to sanitize it completely.
6. Fix Your Gut
About 70 percent of your immunity lies under the single cell lining of your gut (5). If the surface breaks down for any reason, your immunity system will get activated and start reacting to toxins, bugs, and food. The easiest way to rebuild your gut is to maintain a Mediterranean Diet. If you are a regular consumer of all things spicy, oily, and fat, give yourself some buffer by giving your stomach a rest with steamed or boiled food for a day.
7. Implement Supplements
Nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin D, fish oil, and probiotics help naturally calm your immune reaction. To complete your diet requirement, you can try anti-inflammatory nutrients like quercetin, rutin, and grape seed extract. We entirely depend on just food items to give us nutrients. It is true that healthy eating helps, but the process is slow due to other stress and gene factors. If you are struggling with weakness or feel like you need to gain some more strength apart from your diet, incorporating these supplements will help you in the long run. Remember not to self-medicate and ask your doctor for a prescription.
8. Regular Exercise
We understand exercising with weak joints can be a challenge, but keeping them moving is absolutely necessary if you have an autoimmune disease. You can go for simple exercises like walking or swimming. Even being active in your life and doing basic chores like moving up and down the stairs, playing with kids can help you relieve the pain.
9. Practice Deep Relaxation
Did you know that stress can trigger your immune response? Yes, it does worse to you than you can imagine. But thankfully, there are ways to keep stress in control. Calming techniques like yoga, massage, deep breathing, and biofeedback can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. It is easier said than done because we are constantly trying to get work done or simply occupy ourselves with other duties. If you can’t take free time out every single day, plan your weekends accordingly.
10. A Good Night’s Sleep
It is no fresh news that lack of proper sleep can damage your metabolism. It can make you crave carbs and sugar that eventually drive up your risk of autoimmune disease and diabetes. There are several ways by which you can cure your insomnia and get an undisturbed 8 hours of sleep at night. Practicing meditation and keeping away from caffeine is the quickest path to positive results.
So these were the best ways to heal the disease from your side. As common as the autoimmune disease is, the usual symptoms often go ignored or misunderstood. Since the cure is yet to come, there are a few anti-inflammatory drugs that can relieve you of the pain to a great extent. It is essential to educate people on it and consult a doctor to detect the issue at the earliest.
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- Introduction to immunology and autoimmunity.
- [Types of autoimmune disorders. Classification]
- Blood testing for sensitivity allergy or intolerance to food
- Antibodies in celiac disease: implications beyond diagnostics
- Allergy and the gastrointestinal system