3 Things You Can Do IMMEDIATELY To Start Feeling Autoimmune Disease Relief
After all this you might be wondering what you can do, other than medication, to feel better. The good news is that there is actually a lot we can do to help. For instance, if you're constantly exposed to chemicals at work, see if there are precautions you can take to avoid them. Maybe wear a mask, gloves, or see if you can get a transfer to a different department. If you live in the Pacific Northwest and are low on Vitamin D, look into light therapy lamps or Vitamin D supplementation (work with your doctor on this). And for everyone, there are 3 things you can do today (or tonight) to immediately start helping your autoimmune disease activity to start to quiet down and feel fewer symptoms.
I know, I know… this is probably not what you wanted to hear. Unfortunately though, gluten sensitivity has been found in EVERY case of autoimmune disease where it has been studied.
Gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale) is a tricky little beast too, maneuvering its way into our immune systems in several different ways. Because it's a foreign “invader”, our immune system ramps up for attack, decreases regulation of autoantibody creation, and increases activity (which means more attacking of our tissues). This doesn't mean that if you have an autoimmune disease that you necessarily have Celiac Disease either – scientists are now considering gluten sensitivity to be on a spectrum
, with some people slightly sensitive all the way up to full-blown Celiac Disease being the most sensitive. It's important to note that if you've been tested for a gluten allergy/Celiac Disease and been found “clean”, most tests don't accurately indicate gluten sensitivity.
Most tests are only for a small subset of the problematic proteins and not all that can cause issues. Chances are, you do have issues with gluten if you have an autoimmune disease. A healthy person might be able to eat gluten with little to no ramifications, but those of us with an autoimmune disease may suffer long-term consequences for eating it. (Get a cheat sheet to avoid hidden sources of gluten in my Paleo Freebie Library
(2) Cut out or cut down on all added sugars
Yes, I know, another super popular suggestion here. We sure love our sugar. Yet, that's the problem! Sugar is one of the worst things we can be eating, and I know I'm not the first person to say that to you. In terms of autoimmune disease though, it really is one of the worst things. The reason for this is hormones. And yes, this applies to men just as much as women, though I know men love to blame all things on women's hormones. (And I don't blame them for doing so!) Hormones are something that ALL of us have, and they regulate all sorts of processes in our bodies, from when we get hungry to when we are stuffed, to when we should sleep and wake and for how long. When you get stressed? Hormones happen! When you see an adorable puppy with those big soulful eyes? Hormones! When you eat that salted caramel chocolate bar and feel that sugar rush? Hormones! There's no getting away from them, but unfortunately, sugar messes them up big time. Without getting into the nitty gritty scientific details, let's just say that most hormones are interconnected and if you eat too much sugar, it skews starts skewing your hormones starting with insulin and like a domino effect, can lead to not understanding when you're hungry, insomnia, adrenal fatigue, weight gain, and inflammation. It's not like sugar = autoimmune disease, but you can't start feeling better from autoimmune disease if you don't have all the other processes in your body working as they should (partially because the immune system is fighting all those other fires and not caring about regulation again). So removing or drastically cutting down on sugar will help things work like they should, and you most likely start feeling better just from that.
(3) Get 7-9 hours of sleep
For some of you, this is laughable as you're getting way MORE than this. Many autoimmune diseases cause us to sleep a lot more than the “normal” amount. This is OK and don't freak out at all if you're one of these people. It's just a sign your body needs more rest and recovery and as you start to work on your autoimmune disease recovery you should start to require less sleep. However, for those of you who get LESS than 7-9 hours of sleep…. I know it's tempting to use all that extra time to get work done, binge on Netflix, or play some video games, but it's really hurting you. It used to be believed that sleep was just wasted time, that we were just basically laying there “resting”. Scientific studies these days though are starting to find out that many of the CRITICAL processes our bodies need to survive and work optimally happen when we're asleep.
Things like detoxification, rebalancing of minerals and vitamins, and – wait for it – regulation of the immune system, all happen while we're asleep. Bottom line, if you get enough sleep you give yourself a huge advantage on helping quell autoimmune disease activity and symptoms. And without it you're just playing Russian Roulette with your health.