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Managing Autoimmune Conditions

Managing Autoimmune Conditions

Autoimmunity is characterized by chronic inflammation with the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking its own tissues.

The underlying causes may include stress, hidden infections, food allergies or sensitivities, toxic exposure, genetic predisposition, nutrient deficiencies, and leaky gut. Immune dysregulation leads to inflammation and tissue damage which sustains the disease.

Contributing factors to Autoimmune disease include:

  • Food allergy/ intolerance from dietary proteins are difficult to digest and have the potential to become antigens which derange the immune system.
  • Gastrointestinal hyper-permeability is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis by contributing weak gap junctions allowing toxins to migrate into the blood and causing damage to the immune system.
  • Dysbiosis is associated with the development of the disease due to incorrect balance of bacteria leading to inflammation and reduced mucous membrane function and immune dysfunction.
  • Poor liver detoxification due to increased antigen load, reduced phagocytic capacity and increased toxic load in blood from the digestive tract sustains the auto immune process and immune dysregulation.
  • Chemical exposure has been linked to many autoimmune diseases. They have been found to be endocrine disrupters and toxic to the immune system.
  • Inflammation is the key feature that sustains autoimmune diseases due to the production of inflammatory cytokines. Inflammation can be anywhere in the body and a result of many conditions including gum disease, excess adipose tissue and gut dysbiosis.
  • Stress can create immune dysregulation. Many autoimmune diseases are precipitated during period of extreme stress.

What can you do to manage autoimmune conditions?

Eat a whole food, anti-inflammatory dietEat a whole food, anti-inflammatory diet

Focus on anti-inflammatory foods including wild fish and other sources of omega-3 fats, red and purple berries, melon, pineapple, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and nuts & seeds. Add anti-inflammatory herbs, including turmeric, ginger, garlic, chili, cinnamon, peppers and rosemary.

Eliminate inflammatory foods

Such as refined and processed foods, cakes, biscuits, fast foods, chips, wheat breads and baked foods, inflammatory oils, including corn, soy and safflower oils.

Check for hidden infections

These include yeast, viruses, bacteria, and Lyme. You will need some pathology testing to identify and eliminate these infections.

Check for hidden food allergies

You can do this with a naturopath through IgG food testing or an elimination diet.

Test for heavy metal toxicity

Mercury and other metals can cause autoimmunity. A naturopath can organize testing for this and if necessary put you on a specific detox diet to support detoxification of heavy metals.

Heal your gut

About 60% of your immune system is found in the gut. Healing involves dietary changes, removing any aggravating factors and eating a wholefood anti-inflammatory diet. You may require nutrients to heal the gut lining.

Take your supplements

Vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D and probiotics can help your immune naturally. Also consider anti-inflammatory herbs and nutrients such as curcumin, fish oil, quercetin, grape seed extract, ginger and bioflavonoids. This can be confusing and needs will be very individual. Consult a naturopath.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise helps to reduce inflammation. You don’t have to go to the gym or run on a treadmill to stay in shape. Just start moving around more. Go for walks with friends and family, go out and do some gardening, play Frisbee in the park, pick up a tennis racket and hit a tennis ball around, dance around the house…. anything you can do to get out and move your body is exercise.

Practice relaxation

Stress worsens your immune response. Calming techniques including yoga, deep breathing, walking in nature or around the park, biofeedback, massage, can all help to reduce stress and anxiety to promote relaxation.

Sleep for 8 hours every night

The research is clear – lack of sleep or poor sleep damages your metabolism, increases your cortisol and makes you store fat and drives up your risk of numerous conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disease. Getting enough sleep and sleeping well are essential for vibrant health and reducing inflammation.

For Autoimmune support call 0403 755 584 or book an appointment online.

Angela McTaggart
Qualified Clinical Naturopath
Brunswick Naturopathy

Angela McTaggart - Naturopath, Brunswick Naturopathy