The Autoimmune disease series
Reduce your pain and inflammation
When I think of the top symptoms of autoimmune issues; I think of the flare ups that we wish to avoid: Rheumatoid arthritis and the painful swollen joints, of Hashimotos with a thyroid gland that is under attack, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus with its rash and soreness in the joints and Multiple Sclerosis which presents with an autoimmune inflammatory attack against the myelin sheaths of neurons.
I would use one word to sum it all up; inflammation. The body is at war and is creating havoc at a cellular level with tissue damage as a detrimental result. We can see, heat, pain, stiffness, numbness and tingling as cells come under attack and impingement compresses the nerve supply. There can be a lot of pain. One of my clients described the intensity of it as like “having broken glass in my veins”.
With this in mind one of my first blogs of this autoimmunity series is to offer ways to reduce this pain and inflammation.
So my top 10 list;
- Maintain hydration
- Reduce unhelpful foods and beverages
- Address your stress
- Eat a rainbow
- Be Trigger Happy; Identify and eliminate food and environmental triggers
- What’s missing? Address nutritional deficiencies
- Repair your leaky gut
- Address poor adrenal function
- Alkalise your tissues
- Are you toxic soup? Have a long hard think about where other toxic elements might be creeping into your life
Here they are again – my top 10 ways to reduce inflammation (with a bit more detail). I will be delving into each of these crucial topics in a lot more detail in my further blog posts. So watch this space.
- Hydration. Did you know that the mast cells that produce histamine are generally found in the gut. It has been said that we do not produce histamine unless we are dehydrated…keep up a regular practice of drinking 1-2 litres of fresh filtered water every single day (no more than 1 litre in 1 hour). Hydration is the cornerstone of every disease that I treat. With our bodies comprised of approximately 60 – 70% water this humble beverage is crucial to our survival. Vegetables and fruits contain water in this kind of percentage so eating them fresh will also be a vital part of keeping ourselves in tip top health. At the very least, drinking adequate quantities of water throughout the day will dilute the effects of that histamine in the gut.
- Reduce unhelpful foods and beverages. Caffeinated drinks, alcohol, smoking, poor quality fats and oils, mass produced ready meals will all contribute to a toxic load on the body which will place a strain on all of its systems, but will notably impact on our stress hormone production, our immune system and our ability to cleanse effectively, three systems that will be critical to reducing our levels of inflammation in the body.
- Address your stress. Very low calorie diets, mental chatter, taking on too much, being an “over achiever” or a “pleaser” will all take it’s toll on our stress levels. There is a very definite connection between our stress levels with it’s release of adrenaline and our immune system so this is a non-negotiable area to manage effectively. Find your own way to unwind. Need some ideas? Yoga, gardening, a walk in the countryside or by the beach, breathing techniques, massage, positive affirmations or a long hot soak in the bath. Be sure to find something that will provide a daily release for you.
- Eat a rainbow Increase your intake of inflammation soothing foods. Think of including a wide colour palette; blueberries, avocados, walnuts, kale, carrots and apples.
- Be Trigger Happy – Identify and eliminate food and environmental triggers. Wheat and Dairy are right up there as the top 2 most challenging foods; the ones that cause the most issues. If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis you might also wish to cut out the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines, chili peppers etc) as a reduction in these food triggers has offered relief to many people. Meat too has been found to be challenging, bringing acidity to an already compromised system. There may also be a parasite or infection such as Lyme disease that is lurking undetected in your colon, slowing the recovery process. So consider testing for such ‘triggers’.
- What is missing? Address nutritional deficiencies. An organic, freshly prepared, plant-based diet will go a long way towards supporting your body in it’s return to health. However chronic disease can really take a toll on the nutrient required to maintain optimal health. B vitamins for example are depleted during times of stress, so too are vitamin C, magnesium and zinc. Many people with autoimmune diseases also struggle with vitamin D levels, which will be at their lowest during the winter months. So consider testing for these vitamins and minerals or start a regular daily intake of these vital nutrients.
- Repair your leaky gut. Scientists have now confirmed that in cases of autoimmune disease, the lining of the gut has been damaged and breached, leading to absorption issues and a compromised immune system. Some key foods and spices such as stewed apples, coconut oil, cinnamon, cloves, garlic and turmeric with starches that offer fermentable fibers like leeks, sweet potato, Jerusalem artichoke and yam, when taken on a daily basis can help to heal this lining and restore its integrity.
- Address poor adrenal function. A stress response that is working overtime will have a devastating effect on our adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce cortisol which is involved in regulating our immune system, so ensuring that our adrenal glands are given the time to rest and repair, along with supportive nutrients to help restore them will have an enormous effect on our fatigue and ability to suppress inflammation.
- Alkalise your tissues. It has long been documented that although our stomach needs acid to properly break down our food and kill off pathogens, our tissues should on the whole be slightly alkaline. Juicing and smoothies combines with plenty of soups and salads will really help to bring much needed electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium which will help at a cellular level to promote cleansing and reduce stiffness, aching and fatigue. Meat, fish, eggs and grains are acid forming (rice less so) so minimise these where you can.
- Are you toxic soup? Have a long hard think about where other toxic elements might be creeping into your life; GMO foods, plastic water bottles, aluminium takeaway containers, fish or amalgam fillings containing mercury, make up products and haircare products all offering a deadly cocktail for your body to process and deal with on a daily basis.
I will address these issues throughout my autoimmunity series, but if you are feeling overwhelmed by such a comprehensive list, here are some of the easiest things to try:
- Drink water regularly (I will keep on saying this)
- Reduce your stress, build in some time for your self and make it a regular thing – even just a long hot soak in the bath while you plan how you can make more of an impact on your stress levels.
- Add some herbs and spices to your food – these seemingly small additions pack a mighty punch so sprinkle merrily; think cinnamon on your cereal, Italian herbs in your soups and turmeric and cloves in your curries.
- Cut down on those unhelpful foods and possible trigger foods; start to cook more fresh food yourself, one recipe at a time with as many greens and vegetables as you can.
Look out in further blogs for more inflammation busting ideas, recipe suggestions and video tutorials – all dedicated to supporting your body with its task of tackling an auto immune disease.