What Is Autoimmunity?

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

Sometimes when I mention to people that I don’t eat certain foods and that I’m battling autoimmunity they get a puzzled look on their face like what’s that? Let me try to explain in a simple manner. Autoimmunity basically means that your body is attacking your own body. Yes, that’s right. How crazy is that! However, it makes sense really when you start putting the pieces together. We live in a toxic world in which our food supply and products we use on a daily basis (including products we label as food but are far from the real deal), as well as our environments are bombarded with many toxic contaminants in the form of chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, and so on and so forth. When these toxins get inside our bodies, what do you think our bodies think? Attack! So in the attack our body suffers and usually this results in a lot of pain for us. Our bodies get confused. Any part of the body can experience symptoms. They can be downright serious when our internal organs are the ones being attacked or less serious but still extremely painful and bothersome. You can have a specific autoimmune disease like Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, Lupus, etc., or your body can simply not be at ease and is attacking in its own way experiencing symptoms that don’t fall exactly in line with any one specific autoimmune disease which is a category many sufferers fall into. Many people also have more than one autoimmune disease which creates a lot of problems.

So what do we do when our bodies have gotten to this point? Well according to the wise philosopher Hippocrates and my functional medicine doctor, we first try to heal the gut because this is where disease begins. We start to think in terms of what is natural, real, and wholesome. What am I putting into my body and using on my body that is going to help heal instead of hinder and even cause my body to be in attack mode? In a sense it requires an awareness of nature and earth and what God has provided for us to eat and use – not mankind. Artificial food surrounds us everywhere we go. The trick is making the choice not to consume it any longer. Oftentimes this decision comes after being in much pain and looking for solutions and answers to agony. Our bodies are simply sending out sirens to try to tell us that things are not right. Ironically, this can bring about some powerful changes to health and well being.

Getting quality and enough quantity sleep every night is also very important as our bodies need adequate rest in order to heal and repair. I personally feel my best when I get 10 hours of sleep. Stress plays a vital role in autoimmunity as well, especially chronic stress over time, as it wears us down and makes our bodies exhausted, not feeling well, and the struggle to heal becomes harder. Relaxation practices can really help our stress levels. Yoga, walking, meditation, listening to calming music/sounds, and even deep breathing exercises are great tools to use.

I think the most important thing to remember is that if you have autoimmunity, you are never alone. I know firsthand that at times it does feel that way in the journey of finding the right doctor and getting the right answers but there is a huge support “group” out there in the form of websites and blogs (even Instagram!) that have such great resources for every day living.

Best to you!

Brittany