by JANE BURNETTE
www.healthcoachjane.com IG @coachjanebb FB janedanielinhc
There are over 80 autoimmune diseases and statistics show women make up nearly 80% of the autoimmune population. Hashimoto’s, Graves’, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, celiac, and psoriasis are common autoimmune disorders in women.
Our immune system is supposed to attack foreign bodies like bacteria, viruses, and parasites. With autoimmune disease, the body starts attacking its own tissues and leads to an overall immune response in the body, causing systemic inflammation and damage.
What causes an autoimmune disease?
There are three major components that create the perfect storm for autoimmune disease to rear its ugly head:
1-A genetic predisposition; we have “weak links” in our genetic make-up. I believe this genetic predisposition was formed at some point for survival but in our modern world, this could be considered your weak link.
2-A leaky gut; 80% of antibodies are produced in the 1-2 millimeters of our gut lining. If we spread out all the cells of our gut lining, it would take up TWO tennis courts. The gut lining is supposed to have tight junctions of cells keeping food particles in the gut. When you have a leaky gut, these tight junctions part ways causing food to leak out into the bloodstream. The body attacks the food because it is a foreign substance.
3-A stressful event, unresolved trauma, or chronic low grade stress over a long period of time, or sometimes an acute sickness like the flu or even COVID can spur on autoimmune disease. Other times, it is long-term stressors from things like unresolved trauma or low grade stress brought on by lifestyle or environmental factors like mold.
What are symptoms of autoimmune disease?
Common symptoms are fatigue, joint pain, abdominal pain or digestive issues, swollen glands, and a recurring fever.
What can I do to reduce or eradicate symptoms of autoimmune disease?
Diet: The paleo diet is a popular diet today that removes certain foods like grains, dairy, and soy that weren’t around during the paleolithic years. These are food groups that cause sensitivities and inflammation in many people.
With an Autoimmune Paleo Diet known as AIP, even more foods are removed to help repair the gut lining and reduce inflammation. Food groups to remove are:
- Grains (i.e. gluten, rice, oats, etc)
- Nightshades (i.e. potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers)
- Food additives and chemicals (i.e. artificial sweeteners, food dye)
Foods to emphasize on this diet are:
- Organ Meats
- Grass-fed Meat and Wild Caught Fish and Shellfish
- Colorful Fruits and Vegetables (that aren’t nightshades)
- Fermented Foods
Getting adequate levels of protein should be the main focus.
Keep in mind, these foods shouldn’t be removed forever. The goal is to repair the leaky gut while working on other stressors. After a period of 8-12 weeks, you should introduce a food group back slowly one week at a time.
Lifestyle: As mentioned above, physical, mental and emotional stress is a major component to autoimmune disease. If you have suffered a traumatic event, seek a therapist to work through the trauma. In addition, clean up your home environment: check for mold, use “clean” household and kitchen products as well as personal care products. You may not be able to remove the emotional stressors in your life but you can change your response to them. Walking outside, resistance training, and any other form of exercise you love can help with this, along with prioritizing sleep and recovery-based activities.
What tests can I run to see if I have an autoimmune disease?
Autoimmunity tests, x-rays, other imaging scans, and biopsies are used to help diagnose autoimmune conditions. One of the most commonly ordered tests is the ANA (antinuclear antibody test).
The goal of this article is to empower you to take steps through diet and lifestyle to improve if not remove all symptoms of an autoimmune disease. They express in many different ways, but can be rectified in much the same way. If you are someone that is self-motivated and can do it on your own, I recommend reading The Wahls Protocol by Terry Wahls. Dr. Wahls is a doctor that became wheel-chaired bound with MS. She cured herself with her research, follows a strict diet, and now no longer needs her wheelchair! Getting the support of a health coach or nutritionist that is trained in this area would be helpful for most.
A little about me:
Who am I?
Hi! My name is Jane Burnette. I am a proud mom to three healthy boys, a lover of the great outdoors, a forever student, health nut, exercise enthusiast and native of the Triad. I am also a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
What do I do?
I am a holistic health coach with multiple certifications in all things related to health, nutrition and exercise. In 2015, I received my first certification as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I haven’t stopped taking classes since then and hope I never will! The areas I’m most passionate about are my trainings in Ayurveda, Polyvagal Theory, Female Hormone Optimization and Weight Loss, and most recently the Journey of Intrinsic Health. All of these have one thing in common: the body has the ability to heal itself if we allow it to do so.