Having an autoimmune disease is a big deal. When I first got diagnosed, I remember saying to my doctor “oh, so that’s it? I’m glad it’s nothing more serious!” She looked at me and said “Stefani, this is serious.”
I didn’t necessarily think it was just a cold or a virus that would pass, but it definitely didn’t occur to me that it is something that, if not handled correctly, can cause serious damage to your body.
As it stands, there are over 80 autoimmune diseases that doctors are aware of right now. They basically turn your immune system against your body, where instead of fighting off viruses and pathogens, it fights your organs or tissues. The most prevalent ones are probably Type 1 Diabetes, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Celiac Disease, and it is estimated that up to 50 million people America have at least one autoimmune disease.
I say ‘at least one’ because once you develop one of them, you’re more likely to easily develop more. Apparently they all like to party together! Only it’s a party that’s only fun for the guests, takes advantage of the host, and destroys the house.
An autoimmune disease can develop in many ways, either from genetics, a virus or infection, lifestyle, diet, environmental factors, and more.
Many doctors believe that most of these diseases can be traced back to leaky gut, which allows foods and other things into your bloodstream and starts freaking out your immune system. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s at age 28, and I’ve spent every day since then doing a complete overhaul on my lifestyle, diet, stress, and reading anything I can get my hands on.
My autoimmune disease is partly genetic (thanks, mom), partly from vaccine-induced immune dysfunction, and partly because of years of crash diets and hormonal rollercoasters. Hashimoto’s is when your immune system attacks your thyroid gland, which is connected to basically everything else your body does. Because of this, Hashimoto’s can have a TON of different symptoms, and they’re not the same for any two people.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, please don’t panic. There are so many things you can do to help yourself get better! My doctor treats many patients whose disorders actually go into remission!
If you start up with your old diet and all the things that made you sick in the first place, then you will get sick again. It will come back. Treating an autoimmune disease through natural methods such as supplements and changing your diet takes dedication and so much time. Time to read books and articles, time to see doctors, time to research recipes and plan out your new way of life. But it will be worth it once you get on the healing path!
So what does an autoimmune disease look like? For me personally (remember, not everyone has the same symptoms) I probably look normal from the outside, but I have a hard time losing weight, depression, anxiety, irritability, memory loss, heart palpitations, and several vitamin deficiencies. I also have a hard time getting up in the morning, low energy, and I drain quickly. It’s frustrating for others to think I look healthy, but I don’t feel healthy.
My doctor has put me on a regimen of many supplements, and I’m on a very strict diet. No gluten (a MUST for anyone with an autoimmune disease!), no dairy, no sugar, no soy, no alcohol. It also means avoiding anything that you’re allergic or have a sensitivity to, so that your gut can fully heal. I can’t have rice, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, cranberries, & scallops.
I also take many supplements for immune system healing such as digestive enzymes, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and magnesium. I use essential oils as well, such as lemongrass and Young Living’s Endoflex blend, which are fantastic for thyroid health. I apply them (diluted) directly to my neck every morning. I take probiotics and drink homemade kombucha daily as well, and try to incorporate homemade bone broth at least a few days a week!
Now, this may sound awful to you. I understand, trust me. There are some days that I just want to put the kids to bed and eat a cupcake with a glass of wine. But if I want to get better, I can’t. This strict part of my diet is only for 3-6 months.
Until my gut starts healing, I can’t eat things that are going to damage it. And I don’t want to, because I want to get better! The great part is that after the first couple of weeks, your taste buds change and you don’t want to have that other stuff anymore. I honestly never realized how delicious some vegetables could be until I gave up all of the junk food.
If I can make progress changing my whole diet around, then anybody can. If you’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and your doctor hasn’t put you on a healing regimen, I suggest you find a natural practitioner, get lots of blood work done so you know the whole picture, and figure out how to get better. Getting better is not the same as feeling better because you were put on medication with no other changes. Getting better means healing!
Not every doctor fully understands autoimmune diseases and that you can heal them instead of treating them. You may need medication to go along with your lifestyle changes and that is perfectly fine! But don’t accept it as your only option, because you can heal yourself if you have the right support and determination.
When I get frustrated, I go back to my WHY. The reason why I want to heal, to go through the painful process of supplements and cutting food out and eating broccoli every day (ugh) is so that I can be healthy enough to play with my boys. To be healthy enough to go on walks and hikes and trips with my husband. To be healthy enough to be around for my sons’ weddings and grandchildren. To be healthy.
Let’s take back our health!
I am not a doctor and this information should not be considered medical advice. You should seek the advice of your own medical professional for your own situation.