I have spent two years, studying the work of experts in the field of autoimmunity and have combined what I’ve learned, in 24 steps. I’ll be sharing one step every week for the next 24 weeks, on my website and social media platforms (starting Monday 18 May 2020). This is step 20 of 24.
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STEP 20: IDENTIFYING THE NON-FOOD TRIGGERS
When you live with an autoimmune disease you know that your symptoms can be triggered by the food you eat. Foods like gluten, grains, dairy, sugars, legumes, nightshades, eggs, nuts, seeds etc. can have a devastating effect on your health. Yet, the shocking truth is that not everyone is willing to eliminate those foods from their diets. But here’s the thing…. it’s about more than just the food we eat!
Epigenetics suggests that our behaviour can influence which of our genes are turned on or off. How you move, how you restore your system, along with your thoughts, feelings and social connections, regulate your genes.
It is therefore critical to identify and address the non-food triggers of your disease. Thanks to research done by Alessio Fasano, MD in 2009 we know that three things must be present for an autoimmune condition to develop: a genetic predisposition, a leaky gut and a trigger. We’ve looked at genetics in step 5, leaky gut in step 6 and the triggers in steps 15, 16 and 17. Let’s have a look at those triggers again.
NON-FOOD TRIGGER 1: STRESS
It’s a well known fact that stress contributes to the development of all disease. From increasing susceptibility, to the common cold, to being a major contributor in stimulating the immune system in autoimmune disease.
Consider the below questions. If you answer “no” to any of the questions, perhaps it’s time to address that specific aspect of your life.
- Do you have loving relationships?
- Do you have a fulfilling career?
- Do you have a sense of belonging and purpose?
- Are you happy with, and in control of your finances?
- Are you physically active?
- Do you manage your stress?
- Do you have a positive outlook on life?
- Do you love your life?
NON-FOOD TRIGGER 2: TOXINS
A simple fact of modern life is that we are surrounded by toxins. It is in our air, food, and water. In our homes, in our workplaces, in our dry-cleaned clothes and our expensive perfumes, even in our pillows and mattresses. The list goes on and on. Whether you live on a farm, in a small town, in a city or an industrial area, we are all exposed to toxins on a daily basis. Toxins hide in the food we eat, our cleaning products, our personal-care products, the medicine we take and even cosmetics. A healthy body has the ability to naturally detoxify itself but the chronic exposure to these toxins for years and years, could lead to chronic inflammation and an out-of control immune system. It is practically impossible to eliminate all toxins from your life, but you are in control of what you allow and do not allow in your life.
- Get your house and workplace tested for toxic mould.
- Limit your exposure to heavy metals like mercury. Think mercury amalgam fillings in your teeth.
- Buy grass-fed, pastured and organic food where possible.
- Avoid cooking with plastic or toxic cookware.
- Use air and water filters at home.
- Avoid using plastic water bottles.
- Replace your personal-care products like shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, moisturiser, make-up and anything else you put on and in your body, with clean, toxin-free products.
- Read labels and educate yourself. Know what is safe and what is toxic. Knowledge is power!
- Speak to your medical practitioner about detoxification supplements.
NON-FOOD TRIGGER 3: INFECTIONS
Many experts in the field of autoimmunity believe that infections can cause autoimmunity, make a condition worse or trigger a flare up. If you’ve tried everything, you’ve eliminated inflammatory foods, you’re managing your stress and you’ve removed most toxins from your life and you are not making progress, an underlying infection may be the cause of your symptoms. We recommend that you speak to a functional medicine practitioner to get tested and treated for infections.
Feeling overwhelmed by everything you need to know and do? The good news is that I’ve created a 6-month online program called the Autoimmune Way. In the program you are gently guided through each of these steps over a period of 6 months.
Learn more about the program here.