As of the moment, there is still no known cure for autoimmune disease. However, there is a way to manage the symptoms – and that is through a functional medicine approach. If you are wondering how to reverse autoimmune diseases naturally, there are many ways that you can do this.
The functional medicine approach to managing autoimmune disease symptoms focuses on enabling the body to heal on its own. The easiest way to do this is to cut out foods that cause inflammation and add more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet. It is also important to get to the root cause of the disease rather than just treating the symptoms.
Inflammatory foods tend to be the foods we love.
Foods That Cause Inflammation
- Fried foods
- Processed meat
- Trans fats (often used in processed foods)
Foods That Fight Inflammation
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, bass)
- Extra virgin olive oil (quality is important)
- Dark chocolate
- Tea (green preferably)
So, not everything that you love is bad for you. There are foods that fight inflammation that many of us LOVE!
Autoimmune diseases affect millions of people. A recent study cited in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that there is a prevalence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA) in certain groups and populations in the United States. In essence, ANA confuses the cells and the body starts targeting itself.
These antibodies are one of the most common biomarkers of autoimmunity. According to Frederick Miller, MD, PhD, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the increase in ANA is concerning because it may be suggesting a possible increase in autoimmune diseases in the future. While this recent news is disturbing, there’s no need to worry about autoimmune diseases since it is possible to treat and possibly even cure these conditions with natural remedies. The following information will help you understand what causes autoimmunity, how it works, and why some treatments don’t work as well as others do. You’ll also learn about a few ways to prevent or stop an autoimmune condition from developing in the first place.
What Is An Autoimmune Disease?
An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body attacks itself. This happens because it has become confused as to what part of itself should be attacked. In some cases, the immune system mistakenly identifies healthy cells as foreign invaders. As a result, the body destroys them instead of allowing them to function normally.
What Are the Most Common Autoimmune Disorders?
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Crohn’s disease
- multiple sclerosis
This list just scratches the surface.
What Causes Autoimmunity?
There are several factors that cause autoimmunity. Some of them can be controlled while others cannot. For example, genetics plays a role in whether someone develops an autoimmune disorder. But, environmental influences such as stress, diet, toxins, infections, and other lifestyle choices have been shown to play a part too. In fact, studies show that many cases of autoimmune disorders could be prevented if we changed our lifestyles.
How to Suppress the Immune System
The initial approach for dealing with this obvious problem is to suppress the immune system. There are two approaches that can make this happen. First, you can use drugs that make the body think it’s under severe stress. This takes the immune system’s power and diverts it. I tend to say, “Stress takes the immune system offline.”
A far preferable approach is to support the immune response through diet. An immune-boosting diet has benefits that spill over to all areas of your well-being.
Both approaches work well but there are drawbacks to each one.
Suppressing the Immune System with Drugs
Drugs can help control many types of autoimmunity. They do this by blocking certain parts of the immune system from functioning properly. These include T-cells, B-cells, and macrophages.
There are several classes of medications used to suppress the immune system including corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, monoclonal antibody therapies, and biologic agents.
Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. They reduce swelling and inflammation throughout the body. Corticosteroid use is common among patients who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions.
Immunosuppresive medication suppresses the entire immune system by reducing the number of white blood cells called lymphocytes. It does this by interfering with its ability to produce proteins necessary for normal cell growth and development. Immunosuppressive therapy includes azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil, tacrolimus, thalidomide, and vincristine.
Monoclonal Antibody Therapy targets specific components of the immune system. Monoclonal antibodies are produced in laboratories. They are then injected into the bloodstream where they attach themselves to specific proteins on the surface of cells. Once attached, these molecules block the action of those proteins. This type of therapy works best against cancerous tumors. But, it also helps prevent the rejection of transplanted organs.
Biologics are also effective at blocking proteins that cause autoimmune conditions. Biological treatments are drugs made from living organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and yeast. Some biological products target only particular components of the immune system while others attack all aspects of immunity.
However, in addition to their ability to suppress the immune system, biologics can cause serious infections. For example, the drug, Humira, causes severe skin reactions. Other adverse events associated with biologics include heart problems, liver damage, kidney failure, and even death.
Immunosuppressive Drugs Side Effects
When your immune system is suppressed, you run a greater risk of infection. You have an increased chance of developing fungal, viral, and bacterial illnesses. Your risk of getting sick increases if you don’t get enough sleep.
You’ll experience more frequent colds and flu. If you smoke cigarettes, you will likely develop lung cancer. And then, if you stop taking your medication suddenly, you could face dangerous consequences.
Obviously, suppressing the immune system is risky business. There must be a better way to treat autoimmune disease. Right?
Natural Ways to Fight Autoimmune Disease
Holistically treating autoimmune disease focuses on determining and treating the underlying cause of the autoimmune disease. This means looking for nutritional deficiencies or environmental toxins that might trigger autoimmunity.
The goal is to correct any imbalances so that the immune system doesn’t overreact when exposed to foreign substances.
Using Diet to Suppress the Immune System
Dietary supplements play a key role in restoring balance to the immune system. These natural remedies help restore normal function to the digestive tract, boost energy levels and support healthy cell growth.
The first step toward reversing autoimmune disorders is to eliminate foods that trigger them. Many people find that they have a sensitivity to, or even a full-blown allergy to, gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish.
Avoiding any food that you have a sensitivity to reduces or eliminates food allergies. In turn, this improves digestion and absorption of nutrients. Eliminating processed foods makes room for healthier whole foods.
The risk for many people with autoimmune conditions is that they eliminate so many foods from their diet that they become malnourished. It’s important to determine which foods are the problem on an individual basis. This requires a food sensitivity test of some sort. There are several food sensitivity tests we use in our clinic on a regular basis to optimize the diet.
Eliminating Sugar From Your Diet
Sugar feeds candida overgrowth. Candida thrives when there’s too much sugar in the diet. Eliminating sugary treats from your diet is important when dealing with autoimmunity.
Eating Plenty of Fiber
Fiber keeps things moving through the digestive tract so harmful substances aren’t absorbed. Foods high in soluble fiber like oats, beans, applesauce, and prunes help keep toxins out of the gut.
The standard methods of treatment are often not very effective. And, they may create side effects that are worse than the symptoms they’re trying to improve. For example, eliminating sugar is quite a challenge.
It makes eating at a restaurant virtually impossible. Many people find that the restrictions make it hard to maintain a social life which is important for mental and emotional well-being. This adds stress and often creates additional symptoms.
Stressed Out People Have More Infections
People who suffer chronic stress tend to catch more colds and other infectious conditions. They also have higher rates of depression and anxiety. These factors contribute to weakened immune systems.
A healthy lifestyle has many benefits including reduced stress levels. It also promotes good nutrition and regular exercise. All three elements support strong immune function.
Suppressing the immune system by avoiding stressful situations isn’t easy. However, it does provide some relief.
Autoimmune disease causes stress…and stress makes the condition worse. If it sounds like a vicious cycle, that’s because it is!
That being said, did you know that there is a kind of stress that can boost your immune system?
Maintaining Mental and Emotional Well-Being with Autoimmune Disease
There are some ways to minimize stress regardless of the cause. It’s important to make maintaining mental and emotional well-being a priority. Staying mentally healthy during times of stress requires self-care strategies.
• Exercising regularly. Regular exercise boosts mood and energy levels. It also strengthens muscles and bones. Gentle movement like walking or stretching can be just as effective as more strenuous exercise.
• Getting adequate rest. Sleep deprivation leads to fatigue and depression. Lack of sleep affects concentration and memory. If you struggle with insomnia, you’re not alone. There are many natural ways to improve sleep including exercise!
• Eating nutritious meals. Healthy nutrition supports good physical function and promotes healing. When you’re eating a restricted diet, it’s important to make sure you’re still getting enough nutrition … or fuel as we like to call it.
• Avoiding alcohol and drugs. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and encourages impulsive behavior. An occasional glass of wine shouldn’t trigger symptoms. And, if you like to enjoy a glass of wine with friends, that’s good for your mental and emotional well-being which is what we’re concerned about here!
Getting to the Root Cause of Autoimmune Disease
The goal of functional medicine is to reverse the course of the disease process. In order to accomplish this, we must first understand how the immune system works. Once we know how it operates, we can begin to work towards healing the root causes of the problem.
How Your Immune System Works
Your immune system consists of two main components; innate immunity and adaptive immunity. With autoimmune diseases, it’s tricky to determine how the immune system is malfunctioning.
Innate immunity refers to our natural ability to fight off infections without having been exposed to specific pathogens before. This type of immunity doesn’t require prior exposure to an antigen. Instead, it relies on cells called macrophages that engulf foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses.
Macrophages then release chemicals that activate white blood cells known as lymphocytes. Lymphocytes attack the invaders using antibodies produced from B cells. Antibodies attach themselves to antigens and mark them for destruction.
Adaptive immunity involves learning through experience. Exposure to certain pathogens triggers T cell activation. Activated T cells produce cytokines that stimulate other types of immune cells. Cytokine production results in inflammation. Inflammation helps clear out damaged tissue by recruiting additional immune cells.
When the body encounters a pathogen, there are three phases of the immune response.
- First, the innate immune system recognizes the presence of the invader.
- Second, the adaptive immune system learns to recognize the invader so that future exposures will result in less severe reactions.
- Third, the adaptive immune system produces antibodies against the invader. These antibodies help prevent the reoccurrence of infection.
When the immune system fails to respond appropriately, it becomes dysfunctional. Dysfunctional means “not working properly.” A healthy immune system should protect us from harmful microorganisms while allowing beneficial microbes to thrive.
Why do some people have an autoimmune reaction while others don’t?
There are many factors involved in determining whether someone develops an autoimmune disorder. Genetics play a role but environmental influences tend to contribute more to the problem. For example, stress has been shown to increase susceptibility to autoimmunity.
• Lack of sleep
• Poor food choices
• Unhealthy lifestyle habits
• Toxic overload
• Environmental toxins
• Chemicals found in household products
• Heavy metals
Two people living in the same toxic environment may have a different reaction. The immune system “template” is created genetically and constantly “updated.” So, every body responds differently. The response can be improved or compromised over time given the individual circumstances.
If you think understanding autoimmune disease is complex, you would be right! In order to reverse autoimmune disease naturally, we have to get to the root cause that created the problem initially. This may require some deep inquiry reaching back many years.
It could involve uncovering emotional issues that were never addressed during childhood development. Or, it might mean addressing physical injuries that occurred early in life.
The good news is that once these underlying causes are identified, healing begins immediately. You’ll find yourself feeling better almost instantly because your body no longer needs to work overtime to keep up with all those negative conditions.
Do You Suffer from Autoimmune Disease? The F.A.T.E.E.G. Formula™ Could Help!
At the Immunocompetence Institute, we look at the root cause of disease and find ways to heal the body from the inside out. Imagine finding a way to treat your autoimmune disease naturally and permanently. That’s what we do. We use a unique approach our Founder, Dr. Gala Gorman, refers to as the “F.A.T.E.E.G. Formula™.”
Using a unique combination of diagnostic tools, natural therapies, nutritional supplements, and lifestyle changes, people with autoimmune diseases find their energy and enthusiasm for life restored. And with it the peace of mind that they have some control over their overall health and wellbeing.
Reversing autoimmune disease naturally allows you to get your “superpowers” back!