What is Autoimmune Disease?
An autoimmune disease, also known as an immune system disorder, is a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body. Normally, the immune system guards the body from foreign invaders like viruses, bacteria, fungus, and other harmful microbes by attacking them with fighter cells. With autoimmune disease, the immune system thinks that healthy cells are also foreign invaders.
Some autoimmune diseases damage only one particular organ or system of the body. For instance, type 1 diabetes targets the pancreas. Other autoimmune diseases affect the entire body such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Unfortunately, a sick body from autoimmune disease may contribute to other autoimmune disease.
Continue reading to learn more about autoimmune disease and how natural treatment solutions are the best way to prevent and treat them.
What are the Symptoms of Autoimmune Disease?
Because there are nearly 150 autoimmune diseases, the signs and symptoms can vary amongst them all. However, the early symptoms are similar for most. They include the following:
- Low-grade fever
- Achy muscles
- Joint pain
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Skin rash
- Hair loss
- Difficulty concentrating
Unique symptoms may also occur in the early stages for individual diseases. Type 1 diabetes may cause extreme thirst and weight loss, while SLE may cause dry mouth and eyes and weight gain.
What Causes Autoimmune Disease?
Doctors currently do not understand what causes the immune system to misfire and cause autoimmune disease. Currently, there is only one autoimmune condition that has a known cause. That is Celiac disease which is caused from eating gluten. Though science hasn’t proven this yet, it is leaning towards gluten as being the culprit for several autoimmune diseases.
Who Gets Autoimmune Disease?
Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease when compared to men, and it usually begins during a woman’s childbearing years. Some autoimmune diseases are also more common in certain ethnic groups. For instance, SLE is more prevalent in the African-American and Hispanic communities than in the Caucasian populace. Other autoimmune conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, seem to run in families.
Will Autoimmune Disease Go Away?
Some autoimmune diseases are temporary while others seem to be permanent. When symptoms arise, they are called flare-ups. When they go away, they are said to be in remission.
For instance, an autoimmune condition called psoriasis may come and go. The most common symptom of this disease is a scaly rash, and it may flare up when the body is affected by a viral or bacterial infection. Stress may also cause a flare up. Once the infection or stress is relieved, psoriasis may go into remission where the rash is healed. Strangely, it may never return even with an infection or stress in some people.
Other autoimmune diseases, such as Celiac disease may worsen if the condition isn’t treated. Celiac disease is a disease of the digestive system that damages the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients in foods. It is caused from an immune reaction to gluten which is a protein substance presently found in cereal grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. If a person diagnosed with Celiac disease continues to eat gluten, the symptoms will worsen and also promote other autoimmune diseases. It can even be fatal. Therefore, the only way for Celiac disease to go away is by removing gluten from the diet. The diagnosed person may then go into remission.
Are there Tests that Diagnose Autoimmune Disease?
There is no single test that can diagnose autoimmune disease. Usually, a combination of tests and a symptom assessment determines a diagnosis. However, the antinuclear antibodies (ANA) test is often the initial test doctors use when a patient complains about symptoms that match autoimmune disease.
ANA are a group of autoantibodies produced by the immune system when the body mistakenly recognizes healthy cells as foreign invaders. The ANA test detects these autoantibodies in the blood, and it helps the doctor to diagnose a suspected autoimmune disease or rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
However, a positive ANA test result doesn’t necessarily mean that a patient has an autoimmune disease. For patients with SLE, the ANA is almost always positive. For other autoimmune diseases, the positive ANA test results vary. Even healthy people may have positive results, especially if they are sick or just overcame an infection. Basically, an ANA test is ordered when there is suspicion of an autoimmune disease. If the test result is positive, further tests will be ordered depending on the results.
What is a Natural Treatment Solution for Autoimmune Disease?
The job of the immune system is to defend against foreign invaders. It’s kind of like having your own personal, built-in security system. When the system is working properly, it keeps you safe. If it’s not working correctly, it may shoot though it would be friendly-fire. The key is to eliminate the triggers that sound the alarm that increase autoimmune disease, as well as strengthen the security system. Following are five autoimmune triggers to eliminate and four natural autoimmune treatment solutions.
5 Autoimmune Triggers to Eliminate
- Gluten – Unfortunately, this protein contains no essential nutrients. It promotes inflammation in the body, especially the intestinal tract. Chronic inflammation develops ANA and autoimmune disease.
- Sugar – Your body can only tolerate one teaspoon of sugar at any given time before it begins creating havoc. Like gluten, it contains no essential nutrients and promotes inflammation in the body. It also increases blood sugar and triglycerides which are risk factors for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disease.
- Junk Food – Nutrients are important for the body to function properly. Though we all love great tasting food, it’s not always healthy. Eating empty calorie foods cause inflammation, weight gain, and leaky gut. Without essential nutrients, the immune system can’t ward off disease.
- Toxins – Toxic chemicals are virtually everywhere including food and the environment. The cumulative effects create a toxic burden and overwhelms the body’s ability to fight back. This weakens the immune system.
- Stress – Not managing stress can lead to several health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and autoimmune disease.
4 Natural Autoimmune Treatment Solutions
- Eat a Whole Foods Diet – Eating nutrient-dense foods will protect your body from illness and autoimmune disease. For protein, eat grass-fed beef, certified organic chicken and turkey, pasture-raised eggs, as well as wild fish and seafood. For carbohydrates, stick to dark green, leafy and cruciferous vegetables as well as low-sugar fruits like berries. Also be sure to include essential fatty acids like the fat in cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, tuna), flax and chia seeds, flax and olive oils, and avocados. You may also want to include fermented foods which promote gut health with probiotics. Drink plenty of pure water to flush out toxins.
- Be Active – By moving the body, exercise forces the blood to circulate more efficiently. This allows nutrients to assimilate properly and reach your organs and muscles. Toxins are also removed as lymph fluid circulates.
- Get Plenty of Sleep – While your body sleeps, your brain sweeps toxins from the brain. When toxins are cleaned out, your brain cells shrink which allows cerebrospinal fluid to flow easily around them. Sleep also helps your body to repair itself. The blood supply to the muscles increase; tissue growth and repair occurs; and energy is restored.
- Manage Stress – By managing stress properly, you eliminate the risk for disease. You may need to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine which stimulate the brain and increase stress levels. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or chanting. Managing time properly can be a huge stress reliever. When you don’t feel rushed, adrenaline is reduced. You may even have to say no when it comes to extra projects.
If you think you have, or you have been diagnosed with, an autoimmune disease, don’t fret. Many medical professionals will tell you that it is a lifelong condition that you will have to manage. However, many people have overcome their conditions. We will never know whether they are in full remission or have truly cured themselves. What we do know is that you can prevent and successfully treat autoimmune disease naturally through lifestyle.