Control Autoimmune Disease with Exercise and Food

Original article on Kelowna Now

What is an autoimmune disease? An autoimmune disease develops when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, decides your healthy cells are foreign. As a result, your immune system attacks healthy cells. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue. 

There are as many as 80 types of autoimmune disorders. Many of them have similar symptoms, which makes them very difficult to diagnose. It’s also possible to have more than one at the same time. Autoimmune diseases usually fluctuate between periods of remission (little or no symptoms) and flare-ups (worsening symptoms). Currently, treatment for autoimmune diseases focuses on relieving symptoms because there is no curative therapy. 

Autoimmune diseases often run in families, and 75 percent of those affected are women.  

The most common autoimmune disorders are Hashimoto disease(inflammation of the thyroid gland), Graves Disease(overactive thyroid), psoriasis (a skin condition that causes redness and irritation as well as thick, flaky, silver-white patches), rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of joints and surrounding tissues), and pernicious anemia (decrease in red blood cells caused by inability to absorb vitamin B-12) 

Thyroid disorder is a very interesting topic because it is the most common problem and the least diagnosed disorder. Your thyroid gland is the master gland that controls all systems in your body. The thyroid gland's main job is to produce two hormones called triiodothyronine and thyroxine; commonly known as T3 and T4 and deliver them to ALL cells located in your ENTIRE body.  

Why is this important? Because, the job of the thyroid works your metabolism, as well as other organs and their functions. You can see how having optimal thyroid function is important for health and those interested in attaining physique goals.  

If you suspect thyroid dysfunction based on some of these symptoms below you might want to consider getting your hormones checked.  

There are a lot of symptoms of thyroid dysfunction that can also be attributed to other autoimmune diseases, but these are the ones most often experienced: 

Low energy and stamina    Tired/ needing to nap  Low-grade depression and loss of motivation  Brain fog/memory issues  Cold hands and feet   Constipation and digestion issues  Loss of hair, thinning hair/nail quality issues  Outer edges of eyebrow missing  Dry/cracking skin and nails  Menstrual cycle issues  Low Libido  Achy bones, muscles and/or joints  High cholesterol  Blood pressure changes  Inability to lose weight or easily gain weight 

So what can you do if you suspect thyroid dysfunction? First of all go get tested, and get the proper testing done. Most doctors will only test your TSH and usually that is the hormone that comes back normal. You have to demand the test that will check your T3, T4 and TPO. A high TPO will result in hypothyroidism.  
  So many people are willing to spend a fortune on supplements when what they need to do is getting some solid testing done and figure out what is actually going on. 

So how can you control your thyroid dysfunction and other autoimmune diseases?  

First and foremost EXERCISE! Exercise is something the body was designed to do. It has an amazing capacity to withstand intense heavy loading and aerobic work, resulting in very positive and beneficial physiological adaptations that increase the body's efficiency on several functional levels.  

I find the various connotations that people have of exercise interesting: for those who can but don't, exercise is viewed as boring, too hard, a waste of time, pointless.  

For those who can and do, exercise is therapy, required for emotional and physical stress management, a necessity to increase gains in strength needed for greater efficiency in an active and physical life, and insurance for disease prevention and optimal health. The way we should look at exercise, is that it should be viewed as a privilege, one that can be taken away from any one of us at any given time.  

Even with an autoimmune disease, you can still move your body. You should refrain from feeling sorry for yourself and get up and move! Do what you can do and you will feel better, feel less depressed, keep the weight down and feel better about life in general. Don't let your body go to waste. 

Second thing to do is CHANGE YOUR DIET. Stop poisoning yourself with processed sugars and food. The reason why autoimmune disorders happen is because the body has been exposed to a toxic environment, and the immune system doesn’t know how to react. So adding more toxic foods to a toxic environment will cause more problems in our bodies.  

Cutting sugar, alcohol and processed junk is a start, but there are also other foods that need to be eliminated, like dairy, gluten, legumes, eggs, grains and soy. By eliminating foods that stimulate inflammation, you can create an environment in your body conducive to healing. Unfortunately this is not a cure, but you can put your disorder into remission, and often permanently 

Third thing to do is be patient and kind to yourself. You are about to make a huge change for the better, and you need to stick with it and be positive. Yes it definitely is hard, but when it comes to your health, you need to accept the changes and work with them. 

There are many delicious recipes that you can work with, and many things that you can create and enjoy. The best thing you can do is google Autoimmune Paleo Diet and research and learn as best as you can. Trust me, I know. You will feel much better and realize it was not a big deal to make these changes, because you will realize your health is more important than anything else.