If, like me, you have an autoimmune condition, then you are well aware that no cure exists. Once triggered, there is nothing you can do about it– at least not yet, according to modern medicine.
But hang on a minute! There is another way. I’m living proof that there is so much that can be done to reverse your autoimmune disease to the point of consistent, symptom-free bliss.
Just three years ago I was an Occupational Therapist working a full-time job in neurology, looking after my wonderful daughter, trying to have a fulfilling relationship with my partner and have a social life. I was literally running between meetings, patients, family and friends. Looking back it’s pretty clear that I was majorly stressed out, using caffeine and wine to manage my energy levels.
Then, out of nowhere, I was slammed sideways with symptoms that looked like multiple sclerosis. My world turned completely upside down.
Rather than turn to conventional medicine, I did something radical. I decided to give myself a reboot. I read extensively about the microbiome, about functional medicine and herbalism. I did extensive, (expensive) lab testing and genetic testing. Like a dog with a bone, I searched and searched for the underlying cause for my ails. Interestingly, everything I read came back to the same root cause. My lifestyle. Unbeknown to me, my lifestyle was triggering and flaring full scale mutiny inside my body.
This is what I did to reverse my symptoms.
1. HEAL YOUR LEAKY GUT
Your gut houses 70-80% of your immune cells and if it is leaking, your immune system will be in constant attack mode and unable to decipher between your own tissue versus that of a foreign invader.
If you have an autoimmune disease, it is highly likely that you have a leaky gut – a term used to describe intestinal permeability. In short, food proteins, toxins, and bad bacteria leak from your gut into your bloodstream and set off a chain reaction of inflammation and immune dysfunction. Happy gut, happy you!
2. REDUCE YOUR STRESS LEVELS
Ever woken up feeling exhausted, feel like you’re racing from one task to the next, have insatiable cravings for sugar or wine, or despair at the increased fat around your middle? These are classic signs of unrelenting stress.
The stress reaction is the body’s alarm system, designed to redirect oxygen and blood to your brain and limbs in preparation to flee.
Far too many of us struggle with symptoms of unrelenting stress and hypervigilance. Modern stressors tend to be chronic and unresolved, leading to a repetitive and prolonged stress response.
This constant stimulation of the stress response can lead to problems with health. During times of chronic stress, hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine are released, shutting down your digestive and immune systems. Over time these systems become weak and vulnerable. Chronic stress is a major contributor to leaky gut. Adopt some simple and easy stress reduction techniques into your lifestyle.
3. PRIORITISE SLEEP
We get sick when we’re sleep deficient! You might not put much emphasis on getting a good night’s sleep, but think for a minute how you felt the last time you were sleep deprived. You probably felt a bit light headed, irritable, forgetful, slow, puffy and drained. You probably made some poor food choices and guzzled coffee to get through the day.
These external symptoms don’t appear to be all that bad. However, sleep is involved in the healing and repair of blood vessels. It helps to regulate the immune system, reduce inflammation and balance hormones. Sleep also protects the brain, improves creativity and helps to keep you emotionally stable.
It makes sense then that studies link sleep deprivation to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. It has also been linked to depression, suicide, mood swings, and memory issues.
4. BE ACTIVE
Regular, daily movement is a crucial part of optimising your immune system. If you live or work in a city and sit for a good portion of the day, it’s all the more imperative to find ways to incorporate regular movement into your life – preferably in a park, on the beach or forest.
Exercise increases blood circulation in the body, which allows white blood cells and other immune substances to move freely and stay on the lookout for viruses, bacteria and disease. It also makes you feel good. Getting outside increases your vitamin D exposure whilst significantly lowering cortisol.
Feeling unwell, exhausted and overwhelmed can easily make you feel down in the dumps. Fatigue, frustration and resentment seem to take centre stage. Yet a negative mental outlook can quickly moot all the efforts of the previous four steps.
It is scientifically proven that practicing mindfulness, joy and gratitude has the effect of turning down the volume on inflammation. Try to start each day with a few words of gratitude, identify celebrate the things that bring you joy in life and surround yourself with infectiously happy, positive people.
Want more help? You can contact me for some 1:1 person-centred health coaching ❤️