Answers About Autoimmunity
First off I would like to give a big thanks for the overwhelming response I received from last week’s email as I shared my story about recently being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. I am sincerely grateful for the loving response from this community and the inquiries about how to help others struggling with health issues such as autoimmunity.
There were a LOT of question last week in response to my email about Hashimoto’s and overall autoimmunity…
What puts me at risk for autoimmunity?
How would I know if I had an autoimmune disease?
What are the best tests to run?
What can I do to prevent an autoimmune disorder?
The American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA) estimates that 50 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune disease, most of them unknowingly.
To put this more in perspective, women are more likely to develop autoimmunity (likely as a result of having higher estrogen levels already than men) and the statistics are alarming…
- 10 females for every 1 male are expected to develop Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- 9 females for every 1 male are expected to develop Lupus, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Antiphospholipid Syndrome or Biliary Cirrhosis
- 8 females for every 1 male are expected to develop Autoimmune Hepatitis
- 7 females for every 1 male are expected to develop Grave’s Disease
And that’s only 7 of the 80-100 different conditions out there! These statistics don’t even touch some of the ones we most commonly know about such as Muscular Sclerosis, Crohn’s, Celiac, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
What’s even scarier is that most autoimmune conditions are being overlooked or misdiagnosed, and once you have one autoimmune condition your chances for developing multiple increases significantly.
The big question is, what is causing autoimmunity to become SO widespread?
As I mentioned in last week’s email, in order to have an autoimmune disorder, three things must be in place. You must…
1- Have the gene for it
2- Have leaky gut, resulting in a lot of inflammation
3- Encounter an environmental trigger, signaling the immune troops to attack
In this week’s blog and video I talk more about what puts you at risk for autoimmunity, how to assess and test for it, and what you can do to prevent or manage it better.
In 2012 Virginia Ladd, the president of AARDA, explained “With the rapid increase in autoimmune diseases, it clearly suggests that environmental factors are at play due to the significant increase in these diseases. Genes do not change in such a short period of time.”
Processed food, toxins and gut bugs are the top factors increasing risk for autoimmunity.
Environmental toxins mimic estrogen in the body, creating xenoestrogens. This, in turn, imbalances the hormones, overloads the liver, and produces more inflammation. Having these imbalances and chronic inflammation from regular toxin exposure leads to an overworked immune system which starts to get confused about who the ‘bad guys’ are. As a result, the immune system begins attacking healthy tissue that may resemble the bad guys.
The biggest food factors are gluten and dairy, when it comes to triggering autoimmunity. These foods, along with processed foods full of additives, preservatives and GMO’s also contribute to the accumulation of inflammation and a confused immune system which starts to attack healthy tissues.
In fact, gluten closely resembles the same structure as thyroid tissue.
Gut invaders (parasites, bacteria, yeast) produce their own waste products that are toxic. And just like environmental toxins or processed foods, the accumulation of waste results in more inflammation and confusion for the immune system.
You can be on the spectrum for autoimmunity long before it fully evolves and is diagnosed.
If you have been seeking treatment for health issues with little to no resolve, this could be a clear indication that you have an autoimmune condition. Most autoimmune symptoms look like other health issues such as hypothyroidism, IBS, anxiety or depression, adrenal exhaustion, and general weight gain.
The first thing you can do (which doesn’t cost you anything!) to assess your autoimmune risk is start asking about family history. Remember, you must have the gene for autoimmunity to take place. Even if family members haven’t been diagnosed, if you notice a string of people who have had thyroid, arthritis or other chronic health problems, that could be a sign. Remember, autoimmunity often goes overlooked or is misdiagnosed.
For lab testing, the best place to get this done is with a Functional Health Practitioner, a Naturopath or someone like me. We know the right tests and things to look for. One of the reason why autoimmunity is overlooked is because mainstream doctors are abiding by old standards of outdated reference ranges or measurement. On average it takes 18 years for new research to reach mainstream doctors.
Controlling the triggers is your best bet for prevention and management.
You may not be able to control what genes are handed down to you, or the fact that you didn’t know you had leaky gut, but you can control the majority of the triggers to prevent autoimmunity or to manage it better.
Reducing inflammation is key for silencing the attack on healthy tissue.
To reduce inflammation in order to prevent autoimmunity, or to manage it better if you already have it, here is what you want to do…
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet free of gluten, dairy, soy, GMO’s and for some people that also includes corn, rice, white potatoes, quinoa, legumes, seeds, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers.
Minimize your exposure to toxins by purchasing non-toxic cleaners and personal care products, getting a HEPA air filter for your home and office, and eating organic.
Make sure you get good quality sleep, exercise regularly to help flush out toxins you can’t avoid or don’t know about, and take any supplements that your body needs to support its optimal function.
And finally, check your gut for any unwanted parasites, bacteria and/or yeast that are constantly putting out toxic waste and contributing to leaky gut.
The best part is that by doing all of these things, you’re also healing any degree of leaky gut that you might have!
To learn more about your risk of autoimmunity or how to manage it better, I invite you to schedule a complimentary Ideal Health & Weight Discovery Call with me here.