Your autoimmune disease diagnosis is NOT a life sentence.
No diagnosis is.
You don’t have to be sick all time or be in constant pain. You don’t have to deal with severe exhaustion, all day, every day. Your immune system can be healed, and you can do it.
Also, it is important to understand that our body is well designed to handle the occasional infection, toxin or stress.
However, our bodies will struggle when faced with chronic wear and tear based on the choices that we make every day.
Examples of these are when we
- eat food laden with pesticides, herbicides and other toxins
- take medications that suppress our immune system and antibiotics that wipe out entire species of gut microbes
- deal with high levels of stress which impairs our digestion and creates an imbalance between pathogenic and beneficial gut microbes
- don’t get regular exposure to nature which would help us restore our gut microbial health naturally
You can read more about the role of our gut microbiome in having a healthy and balanced immune system here.
Immune dysregulation and gut health
In the case of autoimmune disease, your gut is the key to reversing it.
This is because more than 70% of your entire immune system resides in your gut.
Gut health and the strength of your immune system are intricately connected. In addition, your gut is also host to trillions of microbes of several hundred species. These microbes play an important role in maintaining optimal health through various mechanisms.
More importantly, it acts as a controller of how the immune system in your gut operates.
Our gut microbes modulate our immune response so that it responds to a threat appropriately and is otherwise internally regulated and balanced.
However, a hyper vigilant and long activated immune system that is reacting to threats continuously can become dysregulated over time.
Your immune system’s self regulatory system can be overridden in certain circumstances. This can happen if your immune system is continually responding to a threat that is embedded in a particular tissue (a microbe). Or, it is responding to a threat that looks very similar to that tissue (molecular mimicry)
2. Genetic factors
3. A weak or imbalanced immune system
and a trigger.
Sometimes the trigger is a specific ongoing infection, a specific food or a highly stressful or traumatic phase in life. Underneath there is a weak and imbalanced immune system which allows this chronic autoimmune activation. In this sense, autoimmune diseases are actually a dis-ease of the immune system. If this dis-ease is not addressed, then the immune system will go on to find another victim.
This is the reason why people with one autoimmune disease go on to develop multiple ones over a period of time.
Why a conventional approach is not working
In the case of autoimmune diseases, the immune system has become imbalanced and overreactive causing a lot of inflammation. However, the immune system is neither broken nor dumb.
It is simply trying its best to adapt to the environment you are asking it to live in. In other words, chronic autoimmune activation is a form of “maladaptation” by your immune system (and your body) to ensure survival in the current circumstances.
In the conventional world, drugs are used to block, inhibit or alter the pathway of a particular biochemical reaction in our body which works extremely well in acute conditions. Treatment is organ-specific and works brilliantly in the case of emergencies and infectious diseases. This model is sadly insufficient and inadequate when dealing with chronic illnesses.
Immunosuppression means slowing down the immune system so powerfully that it increases the risk of cancer or life threatening infections.
In fact, this is exactly what happened to my daughter.
She was on powerful immunosuppressive drugs for over 5 years to bring her extremely severe eczema under control. Finally, one of these drugs shut down her bone marrow. She was hospitalised with a severe life-threatening infection when she was 7.
We were extremely fortunate that she survived this incident.
This crisis made it clear to me that conventional medicine had no answers for my daughter.
It was only when I stumbled across Functional Medicine in 2014 and started her on a protocol of healing her gut that things started to change.
Eventually, two years later her eczema came under control and she went off her medications.
There is no “cure”, but….
Before I get into the details, let me make a few things clear.
There is no “cure” for any chronic disease. Not in the traditional sense of the word. This is because chronic diseases, including autoimmune disease, occur as a result of multiple causes, but doesn’t have a single origin.
We can halt the disease progression and reverse the symptoms by addressing the root causes and its underlying imbalances and deficiencies. This is exactly what we do in Functional Medicine. However, if we ever get back to a lifestyle and environment that promoted this disease in the first place, the disease is more than likely to come back.
Having said all of this, it is certainly possible to halt disease progression and reverse autoimmune disease. It takes time, but it can be done.
There are people who are reversing their autoimmune diseases, eliminating their symptoms, and even getting off their medications every single day. The process and the outcomes will be different for each individual but there is huge scope for improvement.
I did the same for my daughter several few years ago. Now I am doing this for my own clients.
Balancing the immune system, not suppressing it
Having a healthy and balanced immune response is necessary to heal from autoimmune disease. It should be able to differentiate between a real threat and the body’s own tissues and develop tolerance to “self”.
A step by step approach to improving your gut health is where you need to start.
In Functional Medicine, we use a 5R approach to healing the gut and bringing the immune system back into balance. This is the starting point for healing from any chronic disease including autoimmune diseases.
- Remove first (e.g. stress, junk foods, constipation, harmful microbes, food allergen/sensitivities)
- Replace (e.g. digestive enzymes, stomach acid, adrenal support, bile acids)
- Reinoculate (e.g. probiotics, prebiotics, cultured foods, dietary fibre)
- Repair (e.g. L glutamine, aloe vera to repair the gut lining)
- Rebalance (e.g. stress relief, sleep and restorative practices, dietary changes, mindset)
Source: The School of Applied Functional Medicine
We can bring our immune system is brought back into balance once again by following all these steps.
Removing foods such as gluten, inflammatory foods like vegetable oils, refined carbohydrates and sugar is what we do first. Then we follow through by addressing other common contributors to disease progression like stress, toxins, and infections.
“AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE 101”
A carefully curated and comprehensive collection of carefully selected books, podcasts, websites, blogs, and other resources from the field of Functional Medicine with a focus on autoimmune diseases
If have been looking to get ANSWERS to questions like
-Why do I have this disease?
-Will I get any better?
-Can anyone help me? Nothing is working
-Is there any hope for me to get my life back?
-I am still waiting for a diagnosis, which direction do I need to move towards?
then this GUIDE would a game changer for you!
“Autoimmune Disease 101” is a carefully curated and comprehensive collection of carefully selected books, podcasts, websites, blogs, and other resources from the field of Functional Medicine with a focus on autoimmune diseases.
The Functional Medicine model of care for chronic diseases seeks to answer the question “Why do you have this disease” so that you can get personalised and effective care for your unique condition.