Autoimmune Disease & What I’ve learnt so far about it

Morning everyone, today and the next few blog posts I will talk about autoimmune disease, inflammation, my struggles, what science has to say about it and my own findings through experimenting with food & lifestyle changes 🙂

DISCLAIMER!!!

I am talking about this because autoimmune disease is on the rise and for many its a mystery! there is so many suggestions out there, especially when it comes to different diets and I will share some of them with you in here, but this is by no means THE cure for everyone, I believe everyone is different and although I share this to help people, these are just suggestions and things to keep in mind. You have to tune into your body and trust your self to find out what may be causing you harm. I will not claim to be an expert on this area as I am still struggling with it myself but i will share my journey and what has worked for me so far and I only hope that at least it helps one person out there. I hope you find this informative & helpful !! 🙂

What is Autoimmune Disease?

An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body (at least what medical doctors would tell you today). The immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. Normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells. However, in an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body, like your joints or skin as foreign. Some autoimmune diseases target only one organ, for instance, type 1 diabetes damages the pancreas. Other diseases, like lupus, affect the whole body.

Examples of common autoimmune diseases (There are at least 80 different autoimmune diseases but just to name a few…) :

  1. Type 1 diabetes
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  3. Psoriasis/Psoriatic arthritis
  4. Multiple Sclerosis
  5. Lupus
  6. Irritable bowel syndrome
  7. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
  8. Celiac Disease

 

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What causes it & how you treat it?

Doctors still don’t know what causes it & current treatment provided can’t cure it. Yet they continue to prescribe us various drugs including:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Naprosyn)
  • Immune-suppressing drugs
  • & other drugs to relieve symptoms like pain, swelling, fatigue, and skin rashes.

Treatment depends on the disease, but it often includes anti-inflammatory medications, drugs that suppress the immune system or newer biologic agents that either mimic substances normally produced by the body or block other substances that are part of the immune system

Conventional doctors only treat the symptoms of autoimmune diseases; they don’t look to find the root cause. Often, they prescribe medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, or immune suppressants. All of these treatments fail to address the underlying cause of the autoimmune condition in the first place and, while they may be effective in the short term, they are not a long-term solution.

The above drugs can control the overactive immune response and bring down inflammation but remember it does NOT cure the condition. How can you when doctors don’t even understand what is causing the problem in the first place?

Symptoms of Autoimmune Disease

Obviously symptoms depends on each condition but in general, the early symptoms of many autoimmune diseases are very similar, such as:

  • fatigue
  • achy muscles
  • swelling and redness
  • low-grade fever
  • trouble concentrating
  • numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • hair loss
  • skin rashes

My Experience With Autoimmune Disease

My struggles with my own immune system started from a very young age – as young as 5 years old. I suffered from both allergies & eczema. My body couldn’t tolerate wheat and eggs! & from what my mum told me, the doctor advised her that she introduces these foods to me slowly and my body should gradually be able handle it! Seriously, why couldn’t you just eliminate these foods from my diets?! Some people still think that’s the way to go with allergies (gradually consume them to build up your immunity against it), but I really don’t believe you should force anything!

I remember for majority of my childhood I was on medication & never ever has my mum or doctor suggested I eliminate any food groups. Around the age of 13, I developed another immune disease – Alopecia Areata. My hair was falling, I lost half of my hair over the next few years. Again my doctor didn’t look into my diet, just more medication & blamed it on stress. But what the hell could a 13 year old child stress about to the point that my hair starts falling! Bare in mind, no family history of alopecia. In my early 20s, I realized I was also suffering from irritable bowel syndrome – another autoimmune disease. I struggled with constipation, bloating, fatigue to the point that my doctor decided to diagnose me with chronic fatigue syndrome because my blood test results were perfect! So my fatigue must be chronic!

Anyways soon after I moved out for university in 2011 my heath journey started and you can read more about it here, “my health story”… but basically, that’s when I gave up with doctors and took charge of my own health through experimenting with different things mainly my diet.

My theory on it & how I managed to heal it?

Like I said there are many autoimmune disease and their symptoms may vary from one to another however, what they all have in common is that they all are caused by a systemic inflammation which leads the body to attack itself causing the symptoms. The word inflammation here is key and I believe it is the cause & cure to all autoimmune diseases. If you try and understand what’s happening to your body and why your body is reacting the way it does, it will help to figure out a strategy to assist it!

Okay, now I know I said autoimmune disease is when your body is attacking itself by mistakenly thinking something that is harmless is actually harmful – causing inflammation! That’s what most of us have been told, but really inflammation is not necessarily a bad reaction! If you look at it differently, Inflammation is simply the body’s attempt self-protection to remove harmful stimuli. Inflammation tells us that our immune system is actually functioning properly and it is doing everything to protect us from that harmful substance.

Something I’ve learnt the past few years is that often when we get sick and experience symptoms, it is not necessarily a bad thing! What this tells us is that our immune system is working. We live in a society where people think not getting sick for years is actually a good thing – but that’s not necessarily true! How many people do you know that didn’t suffer from various illnesses throughout their lives, and then all of a sudden developed cancer or tumour! I am pretty sure you’ve heard of such people. I am also pretty sure you know people who eat a shitty diet, look lean and healthy externally – to the extent you think they must work out regularly and eat clean – but really their health & insides is suffering.

My point is, we can use disease and symptoms as a way to teach us about our bodies and what we need to thrive – which is usually not what most of us have been programmed to believe.

First thing I recommend doing is to identify inflammatory foods and allergens (e.g. nuts, gluten, dust or perfume) & avoid them. I am aware many suffer from hayfever & pollen allergies which might be difficult to avoid but once we heal our gut & learn to work with our immune system not against it, you will find that you will eventually not suffer from hay fever – I see hayfever and some allergies/intolerances as another side effect of our weakened immune system.

Back to inflammatory foods, some of you might be able to identity yours but generally these are top inflammatory foods you may want to stay away from:

  1. Gluten
  2. Dairy
  3. Soy
  4. Peanuts
  5. Sugar
  6. Artificial sugar
  7. Corn

My advice to anyone who suffers from autoimmune disease to go on an elimination diet where they remove the above inflammatory foods and anything else they suspect might be triggering. I also recommend that they remove all grain and legumes from their diet if they think they can. Lectins in grains and legumes have been implicated in autoimmune diseases. In other words, if you can I would advise checking out AIP diet and following it (or

golden-milk
Anti-inflammatory Drink 

at least be aware of what may be triggering your inflammation) to help you restore and heal your gut. More than 80% of your immune system is in your gut.

If you have an autoimmune disease, then by definition you have a leaky gut that needs to be repaired, otherwise you won’t be able to reverse your condition.

Going on such diet for 3-6 months at least will really help restore your gut. But you will definitely see a difference in how you feel in few weeks 🙂

You can then re-introduce some of the above foods and see how you feel – listen to your body and you will be able to figure out which should be cut for good.

For me, I no longer have: dairy and gluten! These two are honestly what I think are pure poison. I also don’t have meat & avoid the following as much as I can: sugar, soy, nuts, & corn! I am currently working on experimenting with cutting grains & lectins entirely, which I will discuss more about in a later post specifically why & the benefits.

 

General tips to also take into consideration when dealing with autoimmune disease:

  1. Sleep more than you ever have. I am talking 10 hours if your body needs to.
  2. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
  3. Eat, don’t buy, your micronutrients
  4. Nurture your microbiome
  5. Take vitamin D – sunlight! 🙂
  6. Consider herbal remedies with evidence supporting their use – my No.1 is turmeric!
  7. Exercise less – don’t exhaust yourself, don’t force it!
  8. Practice yoga & fall in love with how your body moves 🙂

I truly hope this post was interesting, informative and somehow inspiring !

Comment below any suggestions or if you are suffering from autoimmune disease too and lets support one another on this healing journey.

Follow me on here to get notified of new posts & follow my journey 🙂

Arwa X

 

 

 

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