In this article I want to talk about autoimmune disease and what you can do to improve your immune system function. I do want to clarify from the start that there is not a “cure” for autoimmune disease. With the help of a functional medicine doctor, your goal would be a reduction or remission of the disease. If you can put your autoimmune disease into remission, you will experience significant relief but the disease is technically not “cured” by medical standards. So let’s look at the key things you want to consider, if you have an autoimmune disease.
What is the goal?
Functional medicine seeks to isolate and remedy the root-cause of disease. When I am working with patients that suffer with autoimmune disease, my goal is to discover how we can support that individual’s immune system. Taking this integrated wellness approach, the two main objectives are to take the burden off of the immune system and support this system so it can regulate itself.
How do we do this?
#1 Diet plays a significant role in the management and remission of autoimmune disease. The food we eat every day can put a tremendous burden on your immune system. Even foods like nuts, avocados, fermented foods and rice can be putting excessive demands on your immune system. There are a variety of diets available today that focus on immune system health. The only problem with this approach is that your immune system is unique and several variables have caused your immune system to be what it is today. These variables include:
- Infections / immune history
- Stress level
- Nutritional status
- Gut health
One of the tools we use in our functional medicine Naperville office is food sensitivity and allergy testing. Food sensitivity testing helps us discover the kinds of foods your immune system is overreacting to. This information helps us create an immune-friendly diet and this takes pressure off of your immune system.
#2 Nutrition is very important for the immune system to function properly. What do I mean by nutrition? Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, etc. Many people assume they are getting all of the nutrition they need from the foods they eat. We often discover nutrient deficiencies in patients suffering with autoimmune disease. This can be due to several factors including:
- Insufficient nutrient intake
- Increased body demands due to the illness
- Poor nutrient absorption or leaky gut
Your current nutritional status can be determined through the use of blood and urine tests. Your body requires nutrients for it to work properly; this includes your immune system. Autoimmune disease is the result of a diseased immune system. A diseased system is simply one that is not working the way that it should. With autoimmunity, your immune system is failing to regulate itself and it has begun to attack the tissue(s) of your body. Traditional medicine seeks to suppress and squash the immune system through the use of drugs. Functional medicine seeks to support the balance and proper function of your immune system.
#3 Related System Support is important to consider when working with autoimmune disease. This is because no system in your body functions alone; no system exists in isolation. You may have decreased function in one or more systems that is contributing to your autoimmune disease. Common related systems for autoimmune disease include:
- Hormones (endocrine system)
- Adrenal glands (endocrine and nervous system)
- Gut health (digestive system)
- Thyroid (endocrine system)
- Stress (nervous system)
- Inflammation (immune, endocrine and nervous system)
As you can see, your immune system is influenced by other key systems of your body. In fact, the 3 most important regulating systems of your body are the nervous system, immune system and endocrine system. These are the key systems that establish and maintain normal function in your body. The health status of
these systems can be determined through the use of traditional and functional medicine tests.
Your next step
There is not a cookie-cutter solution for autoimmune disease. Your dietary, nutritional and related systems are not like mine or anyone else’s for that matter. You have unique needs and these needs can only be addressed by discovering what they are! Your next step on the road to recovery is to find out what your body needs.
Without this information, you will just be wandering from one diet and supplement to the next…wasting precious time and your quality of life.
If you are ready to take the next step, contact my office and speak to Lisa, she is our functional medicine consultant. Lisa can help you with any additional questions you might have.
I wish you success on your quest for health!
If you would like more information about functional medicine and integrative medicine or Dr. Sexton go to www.napervilleintegratedwellness.com
Do your own research, inform yourself and ask lots of questions. When collecting information, you MUST consider the source. There is no shortage of false, misleading, outdated, profit-driven and utterly biased information in healthcare today; even from the most respected sources and organizations.
This approach to healthcare is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease. Why? The FDA enforces its position that these words can only be used with drugs. This approach does not use drugs.