Autoimmune diseases don’t just come out of nowhere, something has to trigger that. But wait, here’s the best part. Knowing what caused your autoimmune disease can actually help you heal more efficiently because you know exactly what to target. Today I’m covering the top three autoimmune triggers to help you get a better understanding of your disease and hopefully kickstart your healing journey.
- Because I’m a dietitian, I think diet is very important. Do not underestimate how diet can affect your disease. This can be a major reason for why your autoimmune disease came about and/or why it has continued to be active. For one, if you’re eating a diet full of processed foods, preservatives, and sugar, you’re likely not meeting your optimal micronutrient and macronutrient needs. Vitamins and minerals are really hard to come by in these types of foods. If your body isn’t getting the nutrition it needs, things start to break down and may not be very obvious. Normal processes and reactions stop working right. Your immune system starts to get damaged and it loses strength. Your body won’t be able to get rid of those chemicals that you’re eating because of the detoxification pathways, which depend on vitamins and minerals are not likely to work to their best ability.
- Second, eating these foods, potentially gluten, dairy and alcohol also can trigger intestinal permeability or leaky gut. When this happens, potentially harmful invaders such as bacteria and viruses, and even undigested foods can get into your body’s circulation. This can trigger an immune response which can in turn cause inflammation and we all know what inflammation does to our body. It’s not good.
- Third, leaky gut can cause you to develop food sensitivities. When large food particles sneak through your body attacks and you develop an inflammatory reaction to those foods, which over time, can cause chronic inflammation. Because you’re not aware that you are having a reaction to these foods you keep eating them and then that continues this vicious cycle of inflammation.
So how do you figure all this out? The two tests that I would recommend doing are micronutrient testing to see what your nutritional status. And the second test is food sensitivity testing to see what you’re reacting to. Both do require a blood draw but having that information will help guide and shape your nutrition goals, to make sure you’re optimizing your diet.
The second major trigger is your gut health. As Hippocrates said, “all disease begins in the gut”. Your gut is imperative to overall health, so when things start going south in your gut, it can lead to a whole host of issues. Your gastrointestinal tract is an open tube running from your mouth to your anus, and it basically protects your body from the outside world. Everything that you put in your mouth, your body is protected against because of your gastrointestinal tract. It’s like this amazing suit of armor for your body. So when that becomes compromised, things that shouldn’t get into your body do. That’s when things like inflammation start creeping up.
Also, your gut microbiome is essential for your overall health. When that gets out of whack either by overgrowth in the small intestine or dysbiosis, your immune system can suffer. When your immune system is compromised, that’s when things start to go wrong. Especially with immune diseases, your body can’t melt that fight against potentially harmful invaders.
The importance of your gut
Your gut is also really important for absorbing nutrients. Let’s put it this way, If you are eating the best diet in the world but you’re having issues with your gut, your nutrition will not be adequate. Both the gut and diet need to work together in order for you to be successful. So how do you know if your gut health is solid? Getting a stool test done to look at your gut microbiome and the composition can be a game-changer for your autoimmune disease. Taking a step back, if you have issues with regular bowel movements, gas, bloating, belching, or any sort of Gi discomfort, there’s definitely something going on that you need to address. By fixing dysbiosis or calming down inflammation, or strengthening your gut lining, you can really start putting those autoimmune disease symptoms to rest.
Additionally, if you do suspect SIBO (which is a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), I would definitely get a breath test to confirm it. There are different types of bacteria that can cause SIBO. So knowing which one is causing you trouble can help better guide your treatment plan.
Stress. Oh stress. Did you know that stress is one of the major triggers of autoimmune diseases and chronic diseases overall? Stress has been linked to so many chronic issues such as heart disease and cancer to name a few. And it really can cause a whole host of issues. Many of my clients say that when they are stressed, things just get worse. I feel that way too. When I am stressed out, I start getting joint pain everywhere and I get tired and I am kind of a mess. Keeping your stress under control is really, really important for healing and for just your overall health.
Stress can be so chronic that you may not even realize you’re stressed. Chronic stress might just be your baseline and that’s how it was for me. My baseline was just a constant state of stress where I didn’t feel stressed, but other people could tell that my stress level was definitely up there. If you have a lot of stress in your life, it’s really time to sit down and think about how you’re going to overcome it. Stress can trigger leaky gut, it can weaken your immune system, and mess up your hormone balance, your sleep, and your sex drive. It can really do a number on your body.
Stress can also come from doing too much physical activity. Exercise does put stress on your body. If you’re already a stressed person, and then you add exercise on top of it, you’re really running yourself into the ground. There are a couple of things that you can do for stress.
Things to try
- One thing you can do is get your HPA axis tested using a Dutch test. This will show you your cortisol and melatonin levels, as well as your sex hormones, to see if your HPA axis is functioning properly.
- The other thing you could do is try adding in meditation or yoga. You can also try therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy, somatic sensory therapy or EMDR. All of those therapies can really help you better manage stress. I’ve done meditation, and I’ve done a number of different therapy techniques. Both have really helped me become a much less stressed-out person
Today we focused on the top three autoimmune triggers: diet, gut health, and stress. So for those of you who would like more help managing your autoimmune disease, digestive issues, or your just overall inflammation. I would love to chat with you. I offer free 15-minute discovery calls to chat more about your goals. Please click here book a free call with me. I also have a brand new freebie out that I’m so excited about – The Root Causes of Autoimmune Diseases. This booklet covers the top five common autoimmune or triggers of autoimmune diseases and how you can test for them and then the next steps in developing your treatment plan. Remember, I’m always in your corner, so please reach out for help on your healing journey.