|An autoimmune disease is a disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks healthy cells. They can be seen as a communication issue within the body or simply a disruption in the body’s delicate balancing act. While there are more than 100 currently recognized today, the most commonly observed autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, coeliac disease, lupus, type 1 diabetes, MS, and rheumatica.
According to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA), more than 50 million suffer from some kind of autoimmune challenge in their lifetime! Fortunately, emerging treatments are surfacing in the functional medicine field to address this alarming statistic.
How Can A Functional Approach Help?
Dependent on disease type, the most common treatment method used, in modern medicine is steroids, which suppress the immune system entirely. Not only can this medication be extremely damaging when taken over long periods of time, but it also fails to address the root of the problem altogether.
Focusing on the symptoms, rather than the cause, is a common theme in the modern medical model. Functional health professionals, however, are constantly trying to change their flawed system. We ask: “Why treat the symptoms and allow the disease to persist if you could prevent the onset entirely?”
Functional medicine focuses on treating the root causes of autoimmunity, such as the inflammation. This can come in the form of an anti-inflammatory diet, testing for hidden allergies, and removing any stressors or environmental toxins from the equation. Functional medicine recognizes that each patient will differ in their particular treatment needs, so they are cared for accordingly. Functional health is personal, and so generating awareness to your own stressors and particular needs is key in the fight against autoimmune challenges. This includes becoming more ‘literate’ in your particular case and manifestation of autoimmune disorder, to enable you to correctly treat it.
My hope is to empower you to become ‘literate’ and confident with your health in order to maximize your opportunities in the prevention and reversal of autoimmune diseases and their complications.
Ensuring your diet is rich in anti-inflammatory properties and minimizing allergen exposure are two great ways to take positive action against autoimmunity. Foods like fatty fish, leafy greens, walnuts, almonds, turmeric, and ginger are well-known for their ability to minimize inflammation and repair cellular damage.
Similarly, trying ‘elimination diets’ where you briefly remove a particular allergen from your diet in order to observe how your body reacts to it is also a great tool for identifying potential causes of inflammation. Common foods eliminated during these diets include dairy, gluten, eggs, food colorings, sugar, and saturated fats.
It’s recommended that ‘elimination diets’ be given a period of at least two weeks to truly allow for the body to adapt to life without the potential trigger food. ‘Elimination diets’ are incredible diagnostic tools, preventative measures, as well as treatment plans.