In the fifth post of my series on Autoimmune Diseases, I looked at the natural therapies that are available for the treatment of autoimmune disease. if you missed it, you can find it here:
If you’ve been following my 6-part series on Autoimmune Disease this is the final one, part 6.
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Now that you understand what Autoimmune Disease is and how important your immune system is in relation to the disease, are you ready to learn a simple 3 step process for achieving a healthy immune system, treating your autoimmune condition and getting your life back?
I think you are!
Among other things, I’m also going to share with you, how nutrition can be the best medicine when it comes to treating autoimmune disease and how you can easily implement it.
I was 40 years old when I was diagnosed with Hashimotos, but I probably had the disease for many years before. I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with me. My condition was only picked up because I went to the doctor for my annual screening, and since I was 40, she suggested I get full blood tests done.
When the results came through, she asked me if I was feeling tired and was I putting on weight?
Yes, of course I was tired!
I was a wife and mother of a toddler, working full time. We were in the process of planning and getting ready to build a house. We had 2 international students living with us. I even made the effort to get to the gym three times a week, which is probably why weight gain hadn’t been an issue for me.
I was exhausted, by 6pm I would fall asleep at the dinner table, it was sometimes hard to stop my head from falling into my dinner plate. Often, I would go straight to bed and sleep for 10 hours.
Like many women, who feel tired, I just put it all down to being a busy person with work and family commitment.
I just coped the best I could!
It was a relief to be diagnosed, it explained my tiredness and why I wasn’t losing weight, despite the exercise. I was immediately referred to an Endocrinologist, who confirmed my Hashimoto diagnosis and prescribed Thyroxine. Both doctors told me that it was a lifelong condition and that I would have to take Thyroxine for the rest of my life
At no point did either of them speak to me about nutrition or investigating the cause!
Have you had this experience?
I have since learnt, that it is possible to reduce the dose of drug therapy, and in some case cease drug therapy completely (1), (2). This may not be possible for everyone; however, I believe you should at least consider the possibility and do whatever you can to achieve it. Even if the disease is not cured, you may at least eliminate or reduce the symptoms and the dose of your drug therapy.
What have you got to lose?
3 Steps For A Healthy Immune System
Here is a simple 3 step process of Remove, Repair and Replenish, that you need to go through, with the guidance of a Functional Medicine doctor.
Step 1: Remove The Bad Stuff
One of the reasons that you’re sick with autoimmune disease, is because your body may be full of toxins that you have collected over the years, from poor diet, environmental toxins and previous drug therapies (3). These toxins damage the gut and can cause chronic inflammation associated with autoimmune disease.
Visit Better Lab Tests Now as they can provide hormone tests, allergy tests and predictive biomarkers that would look to identify hidden infection, yeast candida, bacteria, heavy metals, and allergies etc. Once identified you can look at eliminating them from your body, your diet and your environment.
Blood tests will identify what issues you have and there are many processes available to remove the “bad stuff “. Some that your doctor may suggest are:
- Treat any infections, yeast or parasites.
- Detox the body
- Remove known inflammatory trigger foods. For example, genetically Modified Foods (GMO), Gluten, legumes and grains. Reduce sugar, dairy and alcohol. Once inflammation has been reduced, some can be slowly added back one at a time as part of an elimination diet process.
- Chelating process to remove heavy metals.
- Remove stress from your life.
Step 2: Repair Your Leaky Gut
As I have discussed, the gut is of primary importance, it must allow nutrients to pass through its cells and into the blood stream. It must also stop pathogens from entering the body. Trillions of diverse microorganisms live in the gut. This microbiome plays many roles, but the most important one is in establishing our immune system and protecting the gut lining.
70% of our immune system is in the gut, so, if the gut lining is damaged, the immune system will not function effectively, and inflammation occurs. Chronic inflammation both triggers and maintains the autoimmune response so it must be bought under control and prevented.
Dr Josh Axe explains this in detail really well in his book Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It .
The Best Foods To Eat That Protect Your Gut Lining.
- Organic fruit and vegetables, because they are full of essential nutrients and fibre. When broken down, they form short chain fatty acids which promote healthy gastrointestinal cells. The fibre also helps remove toxins. Certain vegetables also help feed and support the good bacteria. For example, add garlic, raw onion bananas and artichokes to your diet.
- Probiotics Supplements. Probiotics are essential for gut health, they add to the diversity of the microbiome of the gut. Probiotic supplements can be purchased in capsule form. But the best way to get probiotics is through probiotic food otherwise known as fermented food.
- Fermented foods support the growth of good bacteria. Examples are sauerkraut, kimichi, Nato, a Japanese soybean and kefir, a fermented milk. They also help make essential nutrients more easily absorbed by the body.
- Bone broth contains essential amino acids that help repair the gut lining. You can make it at home or buy liquid or powder form. My recipe is here.
- Drink plenty of water, it’s suggested drink half your body weight in ounces each day.
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Step 3: Replenish With Good Nutrition
Malnutrition is the most common cause of immunodeficiency in the world (4). Our complex immune system needs good nutrition to get the essential micronutrients that it needs to do its job effectively.
Overnutrition, can also negatively impact the efficiency of the immune system. This creates obesity which is now, a worldwide problem and can lead to autoimmune disease, diabetes. The western diet of high carb and sugar from processed foods, is the key factor in this.
You need to get the balance right, and nourish the body with the right nutrients, such as:
- Protein, which is important for cell function, so eating fish, eggs, shellfish and lean meats is important.
- A variety of organic fruit and vegetables will also provide essential Vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex 6 and 12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin K. and Folate. You can learn more about Vitamins here.
- Minerals are essential, such as zinc, iron, copper which aid the immune system. Zinc is found in spinach, shiitake mushrooms and asparagus. Iron in beef, tuna and lentils. Copper is found in oysters and lentils.
- Selenium, is needed to support the healing process from inflammation as well as stimulating the immune system. It can be found in shellfish, tuna and pork.
- Fish Oils, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, (EPA and DHA), are found in oily fish such as salmon, herring, halibut and sardines.
- Antioxidants and Phytonutrients help prevent oxidative stress from damaging free radicles. Fruit, especially berries, and vegetables are full of these.
- Iodine may be required if you have a thyroid condition, check with your doctor. It is found in seaweed, iodized salt, baked potatoes and eggs.
It may sound complicated, however, a wholefood, balanced diet is the best way of protecting your immune system and may help prevent and manage autoimmune conditions. Check out your local farmers markets for fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables.
As we come to the end of your journey learning about Autoimmune Disease, I hope that these 6 blogs have helped with your understanding of the importance of the immune system, and the role good nutrition plays in helping prevent, manage and treat this worldwide health issue.
I hope that you are now confident to speak to your doctor about your treatment options and, if needed, that you can find the right doctor to support you through your journey.
This is the last post in my 6-part series on autoimmune disease, I truly hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, if so, then please pay it forward, please share with your family and friends on social media.
Education is important, not enough people are talking about this problem. More people need to understand and learn about this growing disease which is now a worldwide health crisis.
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If you have missed any of the previous posts in this 6-part series, you can find them here.
Thank you for following and sharing and look out for more valuable information coming your way.
My Gift To You For Completing This 6- Part Series….
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.
As a Thank you for making it to the end, I would like to give you a copy of MY FREE E-BOOK “Discover Top Superfoods And Health Tips For Fast Weight Loss”
To Your Success,
You Are What You Eat, Choose Wisely.
Katherine Minett, a Blogger with Hashimoto Thyroiditis, who is on a mission to educate and guide others on the importance that good nutrition has, in preventing and managing autoimmune diseases. Specifically, how to manage the symptoms of weight gain and fatigue that are commonly associated with these conditions.
Disclaimer: “Essential Nutrition Tips Blog” does not offer medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have medical concerns please consult your doctor. See Full Disclaimer.
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Hyman, M. M.D., 10 Sept 2010 Is there a Cure for Autoimmune Disease? Retrieved from http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/10/09/is-there-a-cure-for-autoimmune-disease/
Myers, A. MD. (Sept 2016). You Can Be Helped. The Thyroid Connection: Why You Feel Tired, Brain-Fogged, and Overweight — and How to Get Your Life Back The Thyroid Connection Why You Feel Tired, Brain Fogged And Overweight- And How To Get Your Life Back (pp. 38-56). New York, NY: Little Brown and company Hachette Book Group.
Garza, A. PharmD. (20 Jan 2016) Pharmacy Times. Drug-Induced Autoimmune Diseases. Retrieved from http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2016/january2016/drug-induced-autoimmune-diseases?p=2
Katona P, Katona-Apte J. (15 May 2008). The interaction between nutrition and infection. Clin Infect Dis. 2008;46(10):1582-1588. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18419494