We don’t know the exact reason for autoimmunity, but there are many speculations. What we do know is that it’s increasing rapidly worldwide. We also know that it’s complex and highly individualized, which means it presents differently for different people. Autoimmunity is essentially the loss of-self tolerance, and as you will soon learn, there are six key fundamentals of health in autoimmunity to maintain a healthy and happy life.
Three Stages of Autoimmunity
There are different stages to autoimmunity:
Stage 1 (Silent): Elevated antibodies with no symptoms or tissue damage
Stage 2 (Reactive): Elevated antibodies with symptoms and no clinically relevant marker elevation. For example, you may be hypo or hyper thyroid in the case of Hashimoto’s.
Stage 3 (Disease): Elevated antibodies with symptoms and measurable tissue destruction. This is where the tissue is actively being destroyed.
Loss of self-tolerance or autoimmunity is due to pollutants, toxins, hormonal changes, immune reactions, diet, infections and stress response. It’s important to consider both the trigger and our genes.
While there’s nothing much we can do about our genetic makeup, we can help to change its expression. Healthy lifestyle = healthy genetic expression. Unhealthy lifestyle = unhealthy genetic expression. Our bad genes get turned on and off.
The problem is that our current medical care system has no interest in early detection of autoimmunity. It isn’t until it’s progressed enough that we finally receive a diagnosis that they have something to manage and address.
In the beginning stages, many autoimmune patients get frustrated as they seek medical doctors, but the results of the labs are always normal, and they don’t find anything wrong with them. But, the patients keep having symptoms, so all they’re offered are medications, which we know can cause secondary effects.
This is why I am passionate about empowering you to create an inner-healthcare system. When we wait for the system or experts to figure out what’s wrong with us, it’s way too late. Our health is our responsibility. Why we let things slip and slide is part of our human nature. We are wired to seek what’s easy, convenient and pleasurable.
The Human Brain
We all have a brain. It’s the most intelligent operating system, but we know that most of us don’t use it to its full capacity. In fact, statistically, we barely use 5-7% of our brain. It’s so smart that it likes to conserve its energy by defaulting to the “conditioned” patterns we call habits.
Its way of protecting us is to keep us from danger. It served us well when humans were hunting and gathering, but today, we see everything as danger. We live in an informational age where information is abundant. This information, especially in the context of recent pandemic and protests, is interpreted as a threat and stressor.
COVID-19 had many of us scared, anxious and stressed. To add to this, we were sheltering in place where we stopped toughening up our immune system. So with shelter in place order lifted, many are venturing out to establish their lives again.
Not only that, many of us reached a threshold and are emotionally and mentally ready to resume normalcy. Some still don’t feel safe, so they choose to stay home.
Our brains are desperate to feel safe and want to know that the future is bright. Right now, we don’t know much, and it’s hard to fathom the outcome of our future because so much has been shaken up from the core. As we settle down to establish our new future, perhaps it’s now more than ever to not go back to what was.
Looking Toward the Future
It’s time to establish a new ideal future, not establish the new normal. Who wants to live a normal life? What was normal for you before COVID-19? Symptoms management? Living a healthy life?
Normal is protecting the status quo. It’s what has been done. It’s what the masses do, even if it’s not working.
So how about if you really look to establish your new norm?
For me, as an entrepreneur, my business completely evaporated. I had to act fast to pivot and think about what the future business plan would look like. Through this sacred pause that COVID-19 afforded me, I was able to clearly see that I didn’t want the business I had before it. It was successful, but ineffective and inefficient in so many ways.
As for my Lupus, while I remain healthy and in remission, I think a lot about my lack of self-care, especially when things are good. It’s only when things are bad that I slow down and really think about my health. This is how our brains are is why I want to bring your attention to the basic fundamentals of health in autoimmunity.
What We Focus on is What We Create
I want to introduce you to an important part of our brain: the reticular activating system. The Reticular Activating System is a diffuse network of nerve pathways in the brainstem connecting our spinal cord to the brain and mediating the overall level of our consciousness. Let me give you an example of how this system works:
Let’s say that you’re in the market for a car. It’s a new car you’ve never heard of and your friend suggests you look into this car. All of a sudden when you drive, you see this particular car everywhere because it’s now in you radar. Similarly, if you drive to and from work, many of us would drive from work and realize we pulled up to the driveway without really knowing how you got there.
But if you had to go to a new destination, your attention and consciousness are focused on getting you there and making neurological connections to make new memory. My point is that if you focus on being sick and getting medical “treatments” to manage your symptoms, that is what you’ll accomplish. But, if you are committed to doing your part and taking control over your own health, it’ll take effort, but you’ll ultimately create health for yourself.
I want to point out though that the latter is hard. It’s not a predictable and easy path. It’ll require your brain to make new neural networks and connections. You must welcome the discomfort enough to grow.
Your Health is in Your Hands
The easiest thing is to let the medical system doctors manage our disease. But this path is a dead end and because I know this to be true, I want to do everything I can to keep you from it. Don’t get me wrong, if you are diagnosed and under the care of a specialist, you absolutely need them. What I want to offer is that you understand their role in your sick care and know that your health is in your hands, not theirs.
Fundamental Pillars to Health
There are basic pillars to health that you should be aware of to maintain your body’s balance:
- Healthy food
- Stress Management
- Mental health
Defining each pillar to suit your needs at every phase of autoimmunity and the phase of your life is key.
Yet we make the fundamentals so hard, so I want to break it down for you.
1. Healthy Foods
There are many different diets for autoimmunity. Think simple. Healthy protein (organic meats, wild caught fish, nuts), vegetables (think rainbow: broccoli, cauliflower, romaine lettuce, celery, cabbage), and high quality oils (mct oil, avocado, hemp seeds, avocado oil, EVOO, ghee). Start here and don’t get caught up in the complex recipes. You can add the complexities as your mind expands and gets used to making new memories.
Hydrating yourself is the simplest thing you can do. Water with infused lemon or cucumber, coconut water and cold brew teas are good as well. Drink 1/2 of your body weight in ounces everyday.
This is the most important. If you’re not sleeping, you’re not regenerating and healing your cells. Aim to sleep at least seven to eight hours a night. Having a nighttime ritual or taking CBD for sleep may be necessary to get your circadian rhythm to it’s normal.
4. Stress Management
This is the most common thing to miss because it’s elusive. No matter who you are you are under a lot of stress right now. The pandemic and the protests, the uncertainly of our future as we venture out into the world again is creating lots of stress. Understand this and take extra time and attention to self care. Nothing fancy, seated breathing, Yoga, walking and tending to your emotions is key.
Research proves over and over again the positive impact of exercise for autoimmunity. Movement allows for the body to enhance metabolism, detoxification and elimination. If these three functions are optimal, we are golden. And movement allows us to help our body do just that through the contraction, relaxation, pumping of the blood, digestive tract stimulation, endorphin production, hormonal regulation, immune boosting effects, etc. The benefits are endless.
6. Mental Health
I talk a lot about being mindful of your thoughts. Thoughts are food for the brain and ultimately our body. Toxic thoughts create negative emotions that can create vibrations in the body to cause sickness and disease. Allowing for the negative emotions is key, too often we want to numb or avoid our negative emotions by buffering with food, alcohol or actions that are not very healthy. So, understanding yourself and taking care to take care of your mental health is super important.
Putting It All Together
It seems so basic and simple, but often we don’t do the simple stuff and look for the complex solution to our problems.
I promise you, if you can tend to yourself in this way and take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings and actions, the results you create will blow your mind.
When we feel good and are full of health and vitality, that becomes a driving force for innovation, productive living and joyful living. I encourage you to challenge yourself to go back to the basics and commit to yourself. Everything else will fall into place.
For more support and information about healing from autoimmunity, join our free Facebook group, the Tribe of Autoimmune Health Rebels.
Thanks for reading, see you soon.