Autoimmunity is a condition near and dear to my life. My husband had it — emphasis on the word had, past tense — for years, and it was the catalyst that spurred me into learning everything I could about the human body and natural health.
What we learned is that there are 5 primary areas that have to be addressed to reverse autoimmunity. And yes, it is possible. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, studied it, and am here to tell you about it.
Let’s say you’re building a house. It’s your dream home and you’re going to live in it for the rest of your life. One day your contractor comes to you and says, “Look, I know we ordered those bricks to build a study, beautiful house. But they’re not coming. We did however receive these styrofoam balls. And we have to keep moving this project along so we’re going to go with the styrofoam and hope for the best.” You’d be pretty upset, right! We know styrofoam is not a material for building a house. It wouldn’t have a shot at lasting. And yet, this is exactly what we do to our bodies when we eat food that offers nothing of substance.
Autoimmunity is ultimately the result of toxins present in the body. In that, we want to make sure that the primary substance going into the body every day (food) is toxin-free. Food is more than calories or energy. What you eat gets broken down and used as building blocks for the body. If the body can’t transform and use the food you eat to promote health and sustain your life, then you are not eating a substance that classifies properly as food and you aren’t getting nutrition. You’re consuming poison. If all you give the body is poison, you’re forcing it to use sub-par building materials to construct your body and turning yourself into a walking house of cards.
If the body can’t transform and use the food you eat to promote health and sustain your life, then you are not eating a substance that classifies properly as food and you aren’t getting nutrition. You’re consuming poison.
The good news is that autoimmunity is avoidable and reversible. Getting the toxins out of your food and only consuming metaphorical bricks is the foundational piece to set yourself up for better overall health and turning autoimmunity into something you never have to deal with.
Sleep is where the magic happens. We produce hormones, rebuild and repair tissues, and detox pathways take out the trash. The brain stores information. The nervous system wires and rewires. All while we sleep. You can see how if you aren’t getting enough quality and quantity sleep, things start to go wrong. The body is forced to prioritize what gets done in a limited window of opportunity and then you get sick.
When my husband was diagnosed with Grave’s disease, sleep was definitely not something he prioritized. Since he wasn’t sleeping well at night, he would dose up on stimulants to keep himself going during the day. Caffeineand adderall were basically dietary staples. The stimulants would keep him awake which meant he wasn’t getting enough sleep again. And the cycle continued. You might recognize this pattern in yourself.
Poor sleep habits are gasoline on the fire for autoimmunity, and our modern culture makes it all too easy to get bad sleep. Stressful, over-stimulated days connected to screens outpouring blue light make for the perfect storm to wreck your sleep. Learning how to be a healthy sleeper is a key piece in your autoimmune journey.
Until today, you probably believed that if a product makes it to the shelves to be sold, it’s safe. Somebody tested it, right? Actually, not even close. There’s almost no regulation of products outside of food (and clearly our food regulation isn’t doing a good job). If a safety study is ever done, it’s almost always internal which means no unbiased 3rd party is double checking.
There’s almost no regulation of products outside of food (and clearly our food regulation isn’t doing a good job).
From cleaning products and makeup to cookware and your WiFi, the items we use every day and seem ubiquitous to modern life are actually some of the biggest sources of toxic exposure and fueling disease in the body. It might even be time to trade up on your coffee pot.
We know that inflammation is the root cause of autoimmunity. So removing sources of toxins in your home that cause inflammation greatly reduces your overall exposure to substances that can cause major issues with your health. Even products that seem like not that big of a deal or things you use “in moderation” can have effects larger than you’d expect.
You see, these chemicals (many of which are endocrine disruptors) don’t follow the conventional rules for poison; the response in your body is not dose-dependent. Meaning, a little bit is enough to do a lot of damage. Think one drop in an Olympic swimming pool.
In other words, it’s time to clean house and get your living space Mother Nature approved.
Autoimmunity shows up in the body, so you might think that what happens in your mind stays in your mind and doesn’t affect your physical health. Actually, that’s not the case at all! The brain and body are in constant communication. Chronic stress which begins as thought habits escapes into the body. It affects your hormone levels, disrupts your gut microbiome, and triggers inflammation to show up. All things that fuel autoimmunity.
There are a couple pathways to consider when understanding the stress response. Stress can be triggered by thoughts as a response to an event. For example, if you become anxious or angry while stuck in traffic. It can also be a biological response such as lack of nutrients or damage to the gut. Maybe you haven’t gotten enough sunshine and Vitamin D.
When your physical body is unhealthy, it’s more challenging to be in control of your emotional health. Becoming aware of our physical surroundings and what’s going into our bodies makes it much easier to keep our stress levels low.
Adopting strategies to reduce stress was a big piece to my husband’s journey of reversing autoimmunity and it can make a difference for you, too.
Toxic objects aren’t the only thing that can contribute to an autoimmune response. Something that isn’t talked about as much is your relationships. This includes the people around you and also the relationship you have with yourself. It always come back to mind-body-spirit!
It might sound harsh, but nobody else will ever care about your health as much as you. You’re the one living in your body and experiencing the consequences of your choices. Learning how to stand up for yourself to make the best choice for you and your health is necessary to succeed at keeping autoimmunity out of your life. When you trust your body and intuition to guide your decisions and understand the evidence for what true health is, it gets a lot easier to say no when you need to and do what’s best for you. Having people around that support you is extremely helpful, but knowing how to be your own support group of 1 is important, too.
Nobody else will ever care about your health as much as you.
On that note, who you surround yourself with also matters to your health whether your actions are preventative or you’re in the process of recovering. If your community, friendships, or relationships involve toxic people, it requires a lot more willpower to make healthy decisions. And we all know that eventually willpower runs out. It’s not always easy, but learning how to communicate our needs with our loved ones and those in our daily lives and stick to our guns if they “don’t get it” can make a big difference.
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