In the last post, I talked about why you should get your autoimmune disease into remission, instead of simply managing symptoms while the autoimmune process runs amuck.
The top three inflammatory triggers
Inflammation ramps up autoimmunity. Inflammation is not a bad thing, however, you need the perfect amount, and if you have an autoimmune disease, chances are good that you already have too much inflammation.
Here I talk about three factors in your life and environment that contribute to inflammation. These are things that you can identify and change. They aren’t the only factors, however, these three can all have a detrimental immune effect, and you can deal with them yourself right now.
Number 1: Dysglycemia
This is when your blood sugar is either too high or too low. It turns out that both low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (insulin resistance) are correlated with inflammation.
What to do?
1. Asses with labs
If you have any doubt, there are easy blood tests that determine if you have dysglycemia. These include fasting glucose, insulin, hemoglobin A1c, and C-peptide. You can also do a glucose plus insulin tolerance test.
2. DIY assessment
At home, you can purchase a glucometer and test your blood sugar before and after meals. Here are instructions.
3. Best DIY fix
Follow a carb-appropriate eating plan. Nail it down with these guidelines. With insulin resistance, eat only three times during a 12-hour window, and don’t eat for 12 hours. With hypoglycemia, eat a breakfast that is protein and fat driven, also include fat and a little protein with each meal or snack, and have a snack before bed.
Building muscle mass improves insulin resistance!
Number 2: Food Sensitivity & Intolerance
This is when your adaptive immune system tags food particles as antigens and mounts an attack against them. Truth be told this can happen with any food, but the three most common are arguably gluten, dairy, and eggs. For some people, it can be most or all grains.
There are various “AIP” autoimmune diets out there, however, these diets make broad assumptions about what you are intolerant of as an individual. They may restrict foods that are fine for you, or include foods that are not fine for you! Often they are more restrictive than you might need. I recommend you identify which foods you don’t tolerate instead of following a one-size-fits-all diet.
How to assess?
1. Assess with labs
You can take one of the reputable blood tests that measure immune responses to common foods. The ones I rely on that seem to give the most accurate results are the KMBO Food Inflammation Test (FIT), and tests by Cyrex labs.
2. The DIY approach
There are many ways to approach doing this yourself. All of them involve eliminating foods for a period of time and then testing them. This method has been used by allergists since the early 1900s. Check out the e-book I wrote about this.
Number 3: Stress
You’ve probably heard that stress can contribute to a myriad of illnesses. It definitely ramps up inflammation if it is chronic.
You pump out stress hormones as a “fight or flight” response, which is needed, but this sympathetic-driven response should settle down when you’re out of danger. When a stressor is prolonged (like an autoimmune disease), so is your stress response, which requires you to constantly make the second responder stress hormone cortisol.
When stress and cortisol output becomes chronic, your cells actually become resistant to cortisol, and it stays elevated in your bloodstream. This causes an inflammatory immune reaction.
What to do about stress
1. Eliminate stress?
This is not possible. Simply having an autoimmune disease is an ongoing stressor in your body. Sure it’s good to work on ways to reduce external stressors that you can control, and here are ways to Reduce Stress.
2. Manage stress better
This is always helpful. Here are 8 Ways to Manage Stress.
3. Take an adrenal adaptagen
Certain adaptogenic herbs have been shown through research to protect cells from the bombardment of stress hormones. So even with stress, your body’s ability to handle it on a physiological level is much better. You have more resilience. Everyone with an autoimmune disease could benefit from including an adrenal adaptogen in their supplement protocol. I get good results with this one and this one.
The next post is devoted to how low oxygen levels can contribute to inflammation and autoimmunity.
I welcome your comments below,