What is an Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmunity is not as black-and-white as conventional medicine may have you believe, rather, Amy Myers, M.D. refers to a “autoimmune spectrum,” and she believes that the amount of inflammation you have determines where you fall on the ‘spectrum’.
Autoimmune diseases effect your immune system. Aside from the nervous system, the immune system is the body’s most complex system, made up of your digestive system, skin, tonsils, bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, and the thin skin on the inside of your nose, throat, and genitals. All of these tissues, organs, and cells work together to keep your entire body healthy.
When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system is ultimately fighting itself, although it may be localised to a specific organ or area of the body, the underlying problem is within your immune system.
The cause of autoimmune diseases is greatly debated within both the conventional and alternative medical fields. However, many believe the bottom line is; INFLAMMATION.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a defence mechanism in the body. The immune system recognizes damaged cells, irritants, and pathogens, and it begins the healing process. When something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, there is a biological response to try to remove it. This inflammatory response is generally referred to as acute inflammation and although the symptoms can be uncomfortable, it is a sign that the body is trying to heal itself.
Many professionals believe that by addressing the root cause of your inflammation you may be able to relieve the symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
We’ve compiled a list of 5 key areas to be mindful of when assessing your health.
• Gut Health
Did you know that 60-80 percent of your entire immune system is in your digestive tract! Without a healthy balance of good bacteria within your gut, your immune system cannot function in a healthy fashion.
In our current era of fast-food, excessive salt and sugar, additives, preservatives, and chemical-based fertilizer, pesticides, and crop enhancers, now more than ever, what we consume has lasting effects on our bodies and health. Healthy foods contain influential substances including antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, fibre and much more. If we don’t nourish our bodies with these naturally occurring elements, we leave ourselves susceptible to illnesses, nutrient deficiencies, and toxicity.
In modern society, we are bombarded by chemicals and toxins from our diet, lifestyle, and environment. Ideally, we want to decrease the build-up of these toxins and chemicals within our bodies to ensure it can function correctly.
Hidden infections can be a stressor on the immune system. Some common bacterial and viral infections include the herpes simplex (HSV), Epstein-Barr (EBV), Lyme disease and even some food intolerances. A functional-medicine practitioner can help you identify and eliminate these infections
• Stress & Relaxation
Stress worsens your immune response. Calming techniques including yoga, meditation and massage can reduce stress and anxiety. Ensuring you are getting enough restful sleep is also imperative as your body often uses that time to heal itself.
Luckily we live in a day and age that both conventional and alternative medicines often work hand in hand. If you or someone you know suffer from an autoimmune disease, talking to your preferred health care professional about autoimmunity and inflammation could set you on track to greatly improve your health and well-being.
Please note: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary from individual to individual.