Autoimmunity & Inflammation

Autoimmunity & Inflammation

Autoimmunity has become one of the leading causes of disease in the United States, affecting over 50 million Americans. Conditions include Type 1 Diabetes, Celiac, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Colitis, Crohn’s disease, and many others. The common thread in them all?  The body attacks itself.

Conventional medicine uses pharmaceutical drugs to treat autoimmune disease but fails to answer two primary questions:

  1. WHY is your body so out of balance?
  2. HOW do you regain the proper balance?

In contrast, as a Functional Medicine Nutritionist, I apply a personalized approach to help develop a step by step process, like a road map, to help you get to the root cause of what is driving your autoimmune symptoms.

Autoimmune diseases can be caused by various factors, including genetics, infections, diet, lifestyle and environmental factors. They occur when the immune system creates antibodies to attack substances in the body because it cannot tell the difference between what belongs in the body and what does not belong. Autoimmunity is not always easy to detect because symptoms vary from person to person. In fact, most people with autoimmunity cycle through doctors for more than 10 years before a diagnosis.

If you’re experiencing the mind-boggling symptoms of autoimmunity, you may feel like you’re floating out there alone searching for answers and a strategic path to help you manage symptoms.

Whether you’ve been working to manage your symptoms for years, or experiencing a new onset of unwanted symptoms, turning to Google for answers is a common first step for many, but most often only turns out to be an overwhelming, confusing (and ineffective) path to choose.

Your body is far more complex than an Internet search. You deserve a personalized process and guidance based YOUR unique body. As a Functional Medicine Nutritionist, I help you to pull back the veil of confusion and develop a strategic process based on the needs of YOUR unique body, backed by data and science. I help you take back control and become the master of your own health – and life. Working together towards modulating your immune system and decreasing your autoimmune symptoms and flares can be your new reality. While there are no guarantees, 85% of my clients do experience that new reality.

Autoimmune Disease

According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), autoimmunity is the second most significant cause of chronic health conditions. AARDA reports staggering statistics about the state of autoimmunity in America today:

  • 100+ autoimmune diseases
  • Over 50 million people living with an autoimmune diagnosis
  • 75% of cases occur in women [1]

The immune response is your body’s greatest protector. It keeps you safe from infection, injury, and other potentially harmful occurrences. This protection results from a complex process between your cells and their chemical byproducts. This system alerts your internal communicators of a foreign invader and kick starts defenses to rid the intruder from your healthy body. However, this system gets thrown out of whack when an autoimmune disease arises.

With autoimmunity, the immune system starts to confuse essential parts of your body with the foreign invaders it’s supposed to protect against. Autoimmune disease does not discriminate when it comes to where it can negatively impact the body. Recurring study results show genetics, chronic inflammation, environmental changes, and the Western diet as factors in developing autoimmunity. [2] These can  create an unbalanced tone of confusion in your immune system.

The biggest driver of this confusion in immune system is the environment of the gut; bacterial balance, integrity of the gut lining and mucosal lining. The internal environment of the gut and it’s balance is of peak importance for your health. When errors occur in that delicate balance in the gut environment, it lends to loss of “tolerance” to self tissue.

Autoimmune Disease Symptoms:

While there are over 100 clinically known autoimmune disorders, common symptoms of autoimmune disease are:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Concentration issues
  • Numbness
  • Hair loss
  • Skin changes

A few examples of autoimmune diseases are type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), psoriasis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, celiac disease, and the list sadly goes on.

Seeking guidance when experiencing any of these symptoms is essential. Whether or not you are already experiencing an autoimmune diagnosis, you’ve come to the right place. As a Functional Medicine Nutritionist, I can help guide you through a strategic process that will help ease the burden of the inflammatory immune response so your body can find it’s natural harmony again. [3}

Inflammation

Inflammation consistently remains associated with autoimmunity. But to understand how they’re connected, we must also understand what happens when chronic inflammation impacts the human body.

Inflammation is when your white blood cells activate their defense against infections associated with bacteria, viruses, and injuries [4]. There are two types:

  1. Acute inflammation: quick onset inflammation occurring for a short period, typically resolving within two weeks.
  2. Chronic inflammation: inflammation that gradually develops and lasts longer than six weeks. While its sensations often feel less severe than the acute variety, its prolonged habitation within the body can cause or be a symptom of autoimmunity.

Symptoms of inflammation commonly appear as pain, fatigue, insomnia, mood changes, digestive issues, weight changes, and increased infection. Tests for inflammation can vary based on symptoms, but the most common are blood tests, MRIs, X-rays, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and upper endoscopy [5].

Inflammation & Autoimmunity

Autoimmunity means your immune system is out of balance and that it is attacking ‘self tissue’. Inflammation is the response your immune system triggers as its primary function for defense and repair, however it is when it gets out of balance it that it begins see ‘self’ as the invader. The long-term effects of silent chronic inflammation are incredibly harmful.

Let’s observe the correlation between a few commonly known autoimmune disorders.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: a condition in which the immune system attacks joints, may have varying symptoms that result in an inflammatory response such as joint pain, stiffness, numbness, and limited function [5].

Crohn’s Disease: a condition that creates inflammation in the digestive tract.  Affecting any part of the GI tract, the condition can be extremely painful and incapacitating. Additional symptoms aside from pain are ulcers, diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, rectal bleeding, and loss of appetite. [6]

Multiple sclerosis (MS): a condition in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheath. The myelin sheath is the protective, insulating layer surrounding our body’s nerves [7]. Inflammatory experiences with this condition may be brain fog, vision changes, balance issues, and body numbness [5].

Your Road Map Forward

Every person is unique, and many factors must be considered when creating a plan to combat the overwhelming symptoms of autoimmune disorders. As a Functional Medicine Nutritionist, I know it is imperative to approach autoimmunity management through a holistic approach. Your diet, lifestyle, environment, nutrient status, social systems, personal outlook, and more can significantly impact calming symptoms success. [9]

In my approach, I help you get to the root cause of what is driving your autoimmune pattern and curate a road map of a process based on your unique needs to help you accomplish your health and wellness goals.

Ready to reclaim your vitality? Contact us today at Get Nourished and schedule a consultation to learn more about optimizing your health. My team and I are ready and committed to help you achieve your optimal health.

May you be well & thrive!

Sources:

  1. American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association. Our Impact. n.d. United States of America, AARDA. https://autoimmune.org/about-us/our-impact/
  2. Palmer, S. Is there a link between nutrition and autoimmune disease? Today’s Dietitian; vol 13, no 11, p 36. Published November 2011. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/110211p36.shtml
  3. Watson, S. Autoimmune diseases: types, symptoms, causes, and more. Healthline n.d. Updated Mar 26, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/autoimmune-disorders
  4. Zelman, D. Inflammation. WebMD, Dec 15, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/about-inflammation#091e9c5e800a707d-1-1
  5. Tavella, V. J. Inflammation: What You Need to Know. Healthline n.d. Updated on Dec 19, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/inflammation
  6. Brazier, Y. All you need to know about crohn’s disease. Medical News Today, n.d. Updated on Nov 10, 2021. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/151620
  7. Medline Plus. Myelin. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Updated on Nov 30, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002261.htm
  8. Spritzler, F. Anti-inflammatory diet 101: how to reduce inflammation naturally. Healthline, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/anti-inflammatory-diet-101
  9. Kharrazian Institute. The most overlooked clinical factor in treating autoimmune disease. Kharrazian Institute, 2019. https://kharrazianinstitute.com/most-overlooked-clinical-factor-in-treating-autoimmune-disease/