Did you know that autoimmune diseases affect MORE than 50 million Americans? That’s more than 10% of the population!
But what exactly is autoimmunity and how does it differ from the normal immune system response?
The immune response
The immune response is how your body recognizes and defends itself against bacteria, viruses, and substances that appear foreign and harmful. We can break the immune response down into four main components:
Immune cells such as lymphocytes invade the area
Inflammation is then created by the cells to help contain the infection
Meanwhile, some immune cells are branching out and presenting on the surface of other cells to induce an immune response
T lymphocyte cells (cells which function to eliminate any type of intruder) then coordinate to create a targeted immune response with B lymphocyte cells (cells which produce antibodies that specifically target the threat)
However, if you suffer from an autoimmune condition, the response is slightly different…
Your immune system will create antibodies that attack your own cells. This can occur for a number of different reasons:
The immune system recognizes altered body cells as “non-self” (such as ones altered by a virus)
The immune cells that make antibodies malfunction and make abnormal antibodies that attack normal cells in the body
A substance in the body that is normally hidden from the immune system (such as the fluid within the eye) enters the bloodstream (such as with trauma).
4 Key Risk Factors for Autoimmunity
When you look at the fast-paced lifestyle and unhealthy diet which many of us adopted, it’s no wonder that more of us are experiencing an overburdened immune system. And with a weaker immune system, our bodies not only struggle to fight off infections, but the immune system can actually turn against us.
This creates ideal conditions for an autoimmune disorder to creep in. In order to reduce your risk of autoimmune diseases and infections, it’s essential to take control of these four risk factors:
Insulin resistance. This condition stops your cells from absorbing glucose, which causes it to build up in the blood. This can not only lead to diabetes, but also increase your risk of infections.
Hypometabolism (slow metabolism). This can occur from an underactive thyroid, aging, or high levels of toxicity. A slow metabolism lowers your body temperature and makes you more prone to infections.
Chronic inflammation. This can be caused by many factors, some of which include: a poor diet, lack of exercise, chronic stress and environmental toxins. Inflammation causes your immune system to suffer, allowing infections and autoimmune conditions to make their way in.
Unbalanced hormones. Unbalanced hormones can arise from natural events such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause; or other sources like thyroid issues, estrogen dominance, and insulin resistance.
And if you’ve already been diagnosed with one autoimmune condition, you may be at risk for another…
Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and hashimoto’s thyroiditis affect more than 50 million Americans EVERY YEAR.
At the time of diagnosis, you are likely to hear about causes, symptoms and treatment for your condition, but NOT that you’re at high risk for developing another disease altogether.
Around 25% of patients that are diagnosed with one autoimmune condition actually end up being diagnosed with two or three.
This raises the question: Why are you more likely to have more than one autoimmune condition?
The answer? It’s mostly down to 3 factors:
Most people who have several autoimmune diseases have a particularly susceptible gene pool. For example, diseases such as type 1 diabetes and celiac occur together more frequently because of a shared gene that makes someone highly likely to have both diseases.
Environmental factors can play a huge role in the development of autoimmune conditions. Environmental triggers such as toxic chemicals and dietary components can push the immune system in the direction of autoimmunity.
Some autoimmune conditions commonly occur with others. For example, multiple sclerosis is associated with autoimmune thyroid disease and psoriasis. Depending on your already diagnosed disease, it’s likely there is a close link between it and another condition.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be diagnosed with another, but taking care of yourself to prevent another diagnosis and regain your health should be a top priority.
The Reality of Living With An Autoimmune Disease
Those with autoimmune diseases not only struggle with physical symptoms.
When leaving the doctor’s office after being diagnosed, many people find that they’re suddenly asking themselves the question:
“Who am I now?”
The emotional and social impact of living with an autoimmune disease is something that’s less commonly spoken about, but is incredibly important. Let’s change that!
Many individuals that develop an autoimmune disease share the feeling of being alone with their illness. Typically, family and friends are available and supportive initially, but that support fades over the long run.
Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease can be extremely stressful. Visible rashes, scars, pigment issues, hair, teeth, and weight loss are all symptoms of certain conditions, all of which can affect the individual’s body image.
Although self image issues can occur at any age, studies have found that they’re more common with younger, single individuals with factors such as severity of the disease and stage of life when diagnosed coming into play.
A common issue with people who are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease is emotional trauma, specifically from disease diagnoses. Many individuals experience flashbacks and unwanted memories of such events.
Anxiety and depression
Anxiety is typical in those living with autoimmune diseases. The uncertainty of flare-ups and initial uncertainty around symptoms can cause anxiety to kick in even more after diagnoses. Similarly with depression, many are left feeling defeated and purposeless due to diagnoses.
The bottom line: Autoimmune diseases aren’t just they’re symptoms, they’re so much more.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an autoimmune condition and want support, please schedule a consult:
Are you in the process of setting your New Year intentions or goals for 2022?
Here are 3 simple lifestyle habits to incorporate into the new year that will make a big difference over time.
Gratitude is essential for your mental health and overall well-being. Practicing gratitude activates the brain to release serotonin and dopamine, our “feel-good” neurotransmitters.
A daily gratitude practice can help us through difficult periods by helping us to appreciate all that we already have.
Express your gratitude with these 4 exercises over the next year:
Keep a daily journal of things for which you are grateful. Recounting a favourite experience from the day or listing five things you’re grateful for are all good places to start.
For visual learners, gratitude mapping is ideal. It entails making a visual mood board of all the things you’re thankful for. You can use this as a daily reminder to be grateful.
Write down 10 things that you’re grateful for on small pieces of paper and place them in a jar. Give the jar a shake the next time you’re feeling low and pick out one slip of paper. This strategy will remind you of something positive in your life to be grateful for.
Gratitude can be incorporated into a meditation practice. You can choose to concentrate on things for which you are grateful, or you may find it simpler to meditate on how you arrived at this point.
Stress and anxiety around is sadly becoming the norm for so many. But the key to relief might be much simpler than you think… By performing simple breathing exercises, you can intentionally relax your nervous system, which controls your heart, digestion, and other bodily systems. In fact, breath work can also help to:
● Lower your blood pressure ● Correct cardiac arrhythmia ● Relieve digestive issues. ● And improve blood circulation throughout the body which can aid in the reduction of stress
One of my most favorite breathing exercises to reduce stress levels is the 4-7-8 technique. I’d recommend doing it twice per day for optimal effects on the nervous system:
Keep your mouth closed and inhale through your nose while counting to four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Exhale through your mouth loudly to a count of eight.
Inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Did you know that your thirty-minute workout probably isn’t compensating for the amount of time you spend sitting?
It’s recommended that we exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, however, 30 minutes only accounts for 2% of the day and many of us spend the rest of our time sitting.
Excessive sitting has been shown to be harmful to our health in a variety of ways, with some studies even saying that sitting is as harmful as smoking. But the good news is, there are ways we can overcome this…
This is where NEAT comes in!
NEAT stands for Non–Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Except for when we sleep or take part in sports, thermogenesis occurs with every activity we engage in. This includes:
Walking to work
And even fidgeting.
People with high NEAT “scores” typically fidget, walk and obtain more movement throughout the day. The way NEAT works is simple…
If we sit less and move more, we live longer!
We can control our weight, heart health and levels of inflammation by balancing the amount of energy we consume with the amount of energy we expend. When NEAT isn’t a regular part of your day, certain inflammation markers have been proven to rise.
Unsurprisingly, people who live in the blue zones (parts of the world where a higher than usual number of people live longer than average) acquire higher levels of NEAT by walking to their neighbors’ houses or to the shop, gardening and doing tasks by hand.
So, how can you increase your NEAT score for a longer and healthier life?
● Get a sit-to-stand desk. ● Take a walk after each meal. ● Don’t text family from the room next door. ● Move around while watching TV and when on the phone ● Walk instead of driving. ● Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Which of these 3 habits are you going to include in your New Year resolutions?
Stress is stress to the body. Often when we think of stress, we only think of the daily mental/emotional stress. However, it’s so much more than that. When there is excess stress in our life (in any form) it causes inflammation. At the root of most illnesses is excess inflammation in the body. Are you aware of these six forms of stress present in your life?
Negative thoughts. Many people are unaware that their thoughts can contribute greatly to stress. In fact, negative thoughts have been linked to: ● Anxiety ● High blood pressure ● And heart disease.
Microstressors. Did you know that stress can be cumulative? This means that the little stresses in your everyday life add up. Examples of microstressors include: ● Getting cut off in traffic ● Monotonous work ● Losing your car keys
Unhealthy habits. Your lifestyle plays key roles in the development of chronic stress. It’s important to slow down, and set aside some time for yourself everyday. Unhealthy habits that contribute to stress include: ● Poor nutrition ● Excessive alcohol ● And lack of sleep.
Physical stress. This can be anything from sitting with poor posture, to conditions such as arthritis, both of which put a strain on the body that can be just as damaging as an injury. Other forms of physical stress are: ● Chronic Illnesses ● Colds & flus ● Silent infections
Environmental stress. Your environment can affect your mental and physical health. Loud noises, for example, can cause anxiety, while dark and cold settings can make you feel unmotivated. Environmental stress can also come in the form of: ● Air and water impurities ● Radiation ● And toxins from pesticides or plastics.
Major life changes. Change is an inevitable part of life. However, certain changes can work in your favour whilst others can work against you if you let them. Stress can take its toll on the body from something as simple as moving house, to something bigger such as: ● The death of a loved one ● Divorce ● Or having a child.
Sometimes you have little control over what stresses life throws at you.
However, you CAN learn to handle unavoidable stress in healthier ways.
6 Daily Habits to Reduce Stress
Are you reducing stress with all seven of these daily habits?
Deep Breathing Throughout the day, many people breathe shallowly. Taking a few minutes every few hours to take slow, deep breaths are a great way to reduce stress. We often spend all day locked in shallow, neurotic breathing patterns. Slow, deep breaths are an incredibly effective way to control stress from anywhere.
Get Outside We often spend up to 90% or more of our days inside. Lack of sunlight and polluted indoor air can add additional stress to our system. Spending time in nature has been shown to help lower cortisol (and inflammation), reduce depression and anxiety, and support the immune system.
Nurture Relationships Did you know loneliness may be more harmful than obesity?! On the flip side, forming social connections and nurturing relationships can help reduce stress.
Focus on Sleep While you sleep, this is the time where the body restores itself. In addition, sleep deprivation can increase overall stress to your body.
Exercise daily. Getting the right amount of exercise is paramount to decreasing stress. Not enough or too much can both add excess stress to the body. Sitting for long periods throughout the day is catastrophic for your health. Moving for 30 minutes everyday can help keep the stress at bay.
Be mindful Ever found yourself in a negative loop of thoughts? By focusing on the present moment or Our minds often loop in negative thoughts meditating for ten (or even five) minutes a day can help minimize these loops.
The TOP 7 supplements to reduce stress levels
The TOP 7 supplements to reduce stress levels
In addition to changing your lifestyle, adding in targeted supplementation can also help to minimize stress.
Licorice root Licorice root has been proven to help your body produce more DHEA (a hormone that your body makes naturally in the adrenal gland). Licorice root’s cortisol-sparing properties aid in the maintenance of energy levels, resulting in a better reaction to stressful conditions.
Fish oil Omega-3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in fish oil, have a variety of biological actions in the body. They have been proven to aid in stress reduction by lowering stress-related inflammation.
Magnesium Magnesium regulates the activity of the body’s stress-response system, and research suggests that increasing magnesium intake can help to lower anxiety, stress and your response to fear.
B-complex vitamins Vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to adrenal stress as well as vitamin B5. It’s especially important to take a high-quality B-complex vitamin supplement if you’re limiting or eliminating meat from your diet to combat adrenal exhaustion.
Vitamin C Vitamin C, sometimes known as a “stress-busting” nutrient, appears to lower the impact of stress on the body as well as the time it takes to recover from stressful events.
Vitamin D There is a strong link between vitamin D levels and mental health. In fact, studies have proven that 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day can reduce fatigue and anxiety, along with reducing your risk of adrenal dysfunction (common with long periods of stress), multiple sclerosis, and depression.
Selenium Selenium deficiency has been linked to poor adrenal function. Supplementing with this nutrient can improve your mood by reducing inflammation and protecting your cells against the damage caused by free radicals.
It’s important to note that you should always consult with your doctor before trying any new supplements! __ Feel like you need additional support to help reduce your stress? This is something that we can help you with! Sign up
In order to maintain colonization in the digestive tract, probiotics must be taken or eaten regularly.
General recommendations for ingesting 1 to 25 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) daily.
Just to get the point, most store-bought probiotic yogurts, and I suggest going for non dairy ones contain about 1 billion CFUs per serving.
To get the maximum benefit from fermented foods, it’s important to read product labels and choose only those that contain:
active, live cultures
and best if it’s raw, unpasteurized, dairy free and perishable ingredients.
Organic brands are always best since they are not typically heat-treated after fermentation, so more of the good bacteria are present.
Fermented foods as natural probiotic sources can also be made at home. Though the probiotic content will vary by batch, home fermenting is a safe way to ensure that you are ingesting beneficial bacteria, as various cultures around the world have done for centuries.
We tend to talk about heart health in functional and preventative medicine during this time of the year. And if you are familiar with my work, I often find links from poor gut health to many other conditions.
And even heart health ties with gut health in many ways. Inflammation is the root cause of the problems with both gut and heart health. Gut microbiome is related to heart health through the function of one of the gut metabolites, called trimethylamine (TMA), that forms when gut microbiome is fed on choline, a nutrient found in fish, poultry, eggs and red meat. TMA is converted to TMAO in the liver, a substance connected to artery- clogging plaque (atherosclerosis).
A study from the Journal of the American Heart Association published a study in 2017 found the connection between blood levels of TMAO and heart attacks and strokes. That’s one serious Gut – Heart connection people. And there are more and more studies that were recently highlighted.
Choose healthy for your gut and therefore for your heart. Choose lots of healthy fats like olive oil and avocado, choose lots of plant based proteins like legumes, beans, seeds and nuts and choose foods lots on anti-oxidants like blueberries.
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Diet for People with IBD.
Way too many Crohn’s and colitis patients feel it their gut, and literally speaking that the diet and nutrition play a role in their condition and flare ups. And way too many IBD patients do not receive much dietary advice. Some doctors still stay with the idea that you can and should eat anything. Patients get lost and the most they would do is avoid major trigger foods like spicy foods, vegetables, high-fiber foods, coffee, beans, and popcorn.
But in some early research on the IBD-AID (anti-inflammatory diet) is confirmed by more studies, that patients improve eating more cooked vegetables, choosing from a long list of berries, and importantly, favoring fish and wild seafood for their protein.
Creating and Customizing a diet for IBD.
The study design was a diet specifically for Crohn’s and colitis patients, used an anti-inflammatory diet, which encouraged consumption of foods with omega-3 fatty acids, especially fish and seafood. More patients had a positive response than mixed results. All of them were able to discontinue at least one of their IBD medications, and all patients needed fewer trips to the bathroom. Big win. As of now, there is no set anti-inflammatory diet used in all studies, in my program that I compiled together with over a decade of research, clinical experience and personal experience, I use an anti-inflammatory diet like this study, and I customize it for my clients.
Should you take a fish oil supplement if you have IBD (Crohn’s or Colitis)?
Taking a supplement has helped colitis patients take less medication when ill according to some studies. It may help reduce pain (Barbalho et al., 2016). But studies suggest it will not substitute for medication or prevent flares (Farrukh et al., 2014). More studies are certainly needed.
The link between IBD and fatty acids
The typical modern Western diet gives us a ratio close to 20 to 1 of omega-6 to omega-3 where we ideally need to be at least 3 to 1 ratio. That huge change is a big suspect in the rise of inflammation related diseases. As proof, epidemiologists show the spread of IBD with the introduction of the Western diet to South America, Africa, and Asia in this century (Hsieh et al., 2020).
One of the first epidemiological studies on nutrition and the rise in IBD in Asian countries came from Japan, showing that as the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio increased, AND so did colitis (Schreiner, 2020).
Linoleic acid became a major source of oils in the processed foods in the American diet beginning in the 1970s when soybean oil was on most labels. (Whelan et al., 2013).
Way larger study with more than 203,000 people, concluded that an approximately 30 percent of colitis cases could be attributed to a high intake of linoleic acid (common form of omega 6) (John et al, 2010). They also analyzed consumption of omega-3s, following more over 25 thousand people, ages between 45 and 74, who completed 7-day food diaries and were monitored for between two and eight years. Eating more omega-3s appeared to help protect volunteers from colitis (John et al., 2010).
We can draw a conclusion to eat more wild fish and consider taking a quality, tested, professional Omega 3 supplementation in Crohn’s and colitis cases.
Hsieh MS, Hsu WH, Wang JW, Wang YK, Hu HM, Chang WK, Chen CY, Wu DC, Kuo FC, Su WW. Nutritional and dietary strategy in the clinical care of inflammatory bowel disease. Schreiner P, Martinho-Grueber M, Studerus D, et al. Nutrition in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Digestion. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31927540 Published Jan. 10, 2020.
Disclaimer: The views and nutritional advice expressed by Inna Lukyanovsky, PharmD is not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. Purchasing a product, program or wellness consulting does not establish a pharmacist/ patient relationship with her. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider. Our services are not indented for acute or life-threatening situations. Consulting services we provide do not replace the advice of a licensed physician, and all clients should be working with a primary care physician. We require that you continue to work with qualified medical professionals (MD) as you engage in our materials, products and services and share the wellness recommendations with them since it doesn’t only include evidence based medicine. No information offered here should be interpreted as a diagnosis of any disease, nor an attempt to treat or prevent or cure any disease or condition. Some information and statements regarding products and/or services made available by Inna Lukyanovsky, PharmD at Real Health Solutions, LLC have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. If you have any allergies to food, supplement or other substance, please contact the manufacturing company directly to learn if there are allergens present as we are not responsible for that. The supplements/products and services are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Real Health Solutions, LLC DBA DigestiveReset.
NEW BOOK Digestive Reset: Fix Your Hormones and Digestion by Balancing Your Gut Microbiome and Adrenals by Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, PharmD