Everything you need to know!
Autoimmune disorders are conditions whereby the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. There are dozens of different types of autoimmune diseases including, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, eczema, psoriasis, coeliac disease, hashimoto's thyroiditis, and many more. The autoimmune disorder is named based upon the tissue that is attacked by the immune system.
The immune system is also implicated in many other diseases such as, heart disease, cancer and chronic fatigue. It appears to be related to inflammation in the body.
What is the prevalence of autoimmune diseases?
Approximately 5% of the population in developed countries have an autoimmune disorder, whereas the prevalence in developing countries is significantly less. It is believed that the reason for the discrepancy is simply because living in a 'cleaner' environment means the body experiences less harmful substances (antigens) compared to living in an environment that is 'less clean'. As a result, the immune system may become hypersensitive in some people resulting in an autoimmune disease.
What are the symptoms of autoimmune diseases?
Autoimmune disorders may cause general symptoms like, fatigue, inflammation, fever or a general ill feeling (malaise). However, there may also be more specific symptoms depending on the organ or system affected by the immune system. It is common for the symptoms to come and go regularly, this is known as 'flare-ups, and may depend on certain triggers being present in the body.
For example, a person with coeliac disease may experience a 'flare-up' when they consume certain foods like gluten.
What causes autoimmune disorders?
There are many possible causes of autoimmune disorders including the following:
- environmental factors
When these antigens are present in the body the immune system reacts in order to destroy them and remove them from the body. However, in susceptible people these causes trigger an immune system over-reaction and this results in healthy tissue being attacked by the immune system.
What are the tests for an autoimmune disorder?
There are a number of tests that may be conducted in order to determine if you have an autoimmune disorder. Since inflammation is a major symptom (and a possible cause) of autoimmune diseases a test for C-reactive protein (CRP) may be somewhat indicative of an autoimmune disease. Other tests include: anti-nuclear antibody tests, autoantibody tests, CBB, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR).
Here are the best treatment options
Even though there is no known cure for autoimmune diseases yet, there are several steps you can take in order to manage the condition successfully. The goals of treatment are to reduce the symptoms, control the immune response in the body, and maintain the body's ability to fight disease.
for autoimmune disorders:
Of course, different autoimmune disorders require different treatments but there are some treatment options that can be universally applied for all autoimmune diseases.
Conventional treatments for autoimmune disorders tend to simply mask the symptoms of the autoimmune condition or suppress the immune system rather than dealing directly with the cause of the problem. Therefore, the problem continues and, in the case of immune system suppression, increased infection, inability to fight disease, and an increased cancer risk may result.
'Functional Medicine' which uses a different paradigm than conventional medicine, aims to get to the root of health problems and treat the underlying causes of disease rather than simply suppressing symptoms with medications.
An alternative treatment option for autoimmune disorders is to take the following steps:
1. Remove the initial cause of the problem (if possible).
Therefore, if the initial cause was dietary related, then the problematic foods or food components must not be consumed in the diet anymore. Gluten is an example of a food component that may pose a problem. There may also be allergies to certain foods that result in the over-reaction of the immune system.
An over-growth of bad bacteria in the gut, the presence of viruses or other bacteria in the body, and/ or environmental toxins may also cause an over-reaction of the immune system. This means that using probiotics and prebiotics, anti-biotics or a 'chelating supplement' may be necessary to remove these possible causes of a hyper-sensitive immune system. Of course, it is best to have tests conducted first in order to identify the exact cause(s).
2. Reduce the symptoms.
Depending on the symptoms, you may need to take a range of supplements and possibly medications for a short period of time. This should be discussed with your medical practitioner.
3. Reduce the inflammation.Eat more natural, whole foods.
Avoid potential 'irritant foods', food additives and allergenic foods.
Reduce your stress levels.
Use anti-inflammatory supplements, such as, fish oil, BCN Health's Relieve Turmeric Forte.
Since inflammation is involved with autoimmune condition both as a possible cause and a symptoms, it simply makes sense to reduce the degree of inflammation in your body. Here are some simple ways to reduce the inflammation in your body:
4. Modulate your immune system.
A proper functioning immune system is essential for good health. Therefore, finding ways to assist its function is always beneficial. Since approximately 70% of your immune system is located in your gut, improving your gut function can go a long way towards ensuring a proper functioning immune system.
5. Exercise regularly.
Regular exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body as long as it is performed moderately. Therefore, select they type of exercise you enjoy and can see yourself performing on a long-term basis.
6. Reduce your stress levels.
Since stress worsens your immune response, finding ways to reduce stress is essential in helping to deal with an autoimmune condition effectively. Some of the best ways to reuce stress include: relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, biofeedback, massage, and using stress-relieving herbs like rhodiola. BCN Health's Rhodiola Advanced is one of the most effective products on the market today.
Overall, if you suffer from an autoimmune disorder, use these simple steps in conjunction with more specific strategies suggested by your healthcare practitioner in order to reduce the impact the autoimmune condition has on your life!
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