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Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Auto-immune diseases are prevalent these days. It seems like anytime they come up in conversation, someone is battling Rheumatoid Arthritis or knows someone with Lupus or Fibromyalgia. Auto-immune diseases, for those who don’t know, are diseases in which the body’s immune system attacks itself. Instead of just fighting off bad cells, it over reacts and attacks good cells and tissues that are normally present in the body causing inflammation.

Here is a short sample of some of the most common AI diseases. The part of the body that the system attacks is usually defined by the specific disease, of which there are too many to name here.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
- an AI disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland, generally causing it to be under active.

Grave’s disease - an AI disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland causing it to be enlarged and overactive.

Fibromyalgia - the immune system attacks muscle and connective tissues in the body.

Celiac disease - the small intestines are attacked due to a reaction to consuming wheat gluten.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - the immune system attacks the nerves in the brain and spinal chord.

Type 1 Diabetes - insulin producing cells in the pancreas are attacked

Chrons Disease - the entire gastrointestinal tract can be affected

Rheumatoid Arthritis - the immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation and pain.

SLE, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus - a chronic disorder where the body can attack almost anything from skin and hair cells, joints, to the liver, brain and kidneys.

So why are there so many of these types of diseases and why are they so prevalent? The answer is unknown really. Many will say it is genetics, but I tend to think it is much more environmental with genetic predispositions. Either way, there is a reason this healthy chick finds this to be an important topic. I myself have lived with an auto immune disease for the last 6 years. The first year was very difficult for me and I struggled a lot. But I knew that I was not going to be happy living the rest of my life this way and that I didn't want to take medication everyday for the rest of my life. What further complications would that entail? I knew it was time to find some other answers, and I did. I made a lot of changes in my diet and I immediately got better. Eventually I was able to wean off the medication i was on, and after four years I haven’t looked back.

It can be difficult to make so many changes in your diet and stick with them for life, but when you do, you can see that the healing power of food is quite amazing. It isn’t just about what you put into your body, but also what you don’t. However, every disease and person harboring it are different, so the answers for each of us will be different. I found what worked for me, and you can too. If you are a person living with and battling an auto immune disease, you will have to find what works for you, but there are a few things you can do to start the healing process. The root of all disease is inflammation, and by avoiding things that cause or contribute to inflammation, you can reduce symptoms almost immediately.

Start with these five tips:

1. Avoid refined sugars - Sugar increases fluid retention in the body and suppresses the immune system. The digestion of refined sugars creates deficiencies of other nutrients in the body that we need for optimal health.
2. Avoid processed foods - Like refined sugars, other refined and processed foods are foreign to our bodies and wreak havoc on our digestive systems, throwing the entire body out of balance. Consuming them causes deficiencies and inflammation and feeds cravings.
3. Limit salt - Salt intake causes water retention leading to inflammation.
4. Limit caffeine intake - Caffeine in excess can inhibit nutrient absorption, suppress immunity and cause sugar cravings. One cup a day is a good rule of thumb.
5. Eat organic meats, cheeses and eggs - Pesticides and antibiotics found in factory farmed meats create extra work for the immune system to process. These chemicals accumulate in our tissues, creating inflammation and making us more susceptible to disease and illness.

Our bodies need lots of nutrients in order to heal and get well. Avoiding the above culprits and consuming high density, fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help get the body back on track.

As a holistic health counselor I specialize in working with those suffering from auto-immune disorders to help them improve their quality of life. If you or someone you know is living with an AI disease and would like a free consultation with me for more information, please email me at 3healthychicks@gmail.com.

Keep it fresh!
- Jill


  1. Hey Jill - did you know it's Celiac's Awareness Month?!

  2. ha, no I didnt! I guess my post was perfect timing!