Autoimmune Road To Remission Steps

If you have an autoimmune diagnosis and you’re eager to get into remission, rest assured, there is a clear roadmap to follow. This is exactly what I did back in the 1990s when I came down with an aggressive type of RA (my story). I combined functional medicine care with a personalized anti-inflammatory diet and saw great results. This approach is not instead of your conventional care, rather it complements it, for a truly integrative approach to working toward remission. However, pssst, if you do take medicine you may find that it starts working better or you need less of it!

Autoimmune disease is not curable but remission is possible. And there are darn good reasons to work toward remission. One is to feel a whole lot better, and another is to prevent more autoimmune diseases from springing up. If you have one, your risk of accumulating more is much higher. I break the Road To Remission down into four clear steps. These stop the cycle of immune dysregulation and provide the best path toward remission. Here we describe what we do in each step. . .

1. Anti-inflammatory diet & lifestyle

We start with a food-first approach – a must for autoimmune health. The goals are to find out which foods may be causing inflammation for you and to build in nutrient-dense healing foods. The best dietary template for this project is the AIP diet, which stands for Autoimmune Protocol or Autoimmune Paleo. AIP works, and research proves it! Check out this study on IBD and this study on Hashimoto’s.

AIP can be challenging, depending on what you currently eat. But AIP is not for life. It is meant to serve as a temporary elimination diet, during which you remove certain foods for about a month, followed by a systematic re-introduction of foods, one at a time. During this time you are also building anti-inflammatory healing foods into your diet. We recommend doing your AIP journey with the guidance of an expert, either individually or in a group. As an individual, you can go at your own pace, and with a group, you get the magic that community support offers.

2. Heal the gut

With autoimmunity and inflammation, we start with the gut! Even if your digestion and elimination seem perfect. Autoimmune disease is preceded by increased intestinal permeability, which is called a “leaky gut.” There are myriad causes of leaky gut, one of which is intestinal dysbiosis. This is when your gut microbiota has an overgrowth of pesky inflammatory microbes (bacteria, archaea, yeast, fungi, amoebae, worms, viruses) or a lack of diverse beneficial probiotic bacteria, or both. A healthy robust gut microbiome is essential for immune health.

Inflammatory dysbiosis can even be the original trigger of your autoimmune condition. Research associates certain microbes with specific autoimmune diseases as shown in this table:

We use a functional stool test called the G.I. Map, to map out the gut microbiome and see other useful markers of digestion and inflammation. Then we use a functional “5 R” approach to treat our findings and heal up leaky gut:

  • REMOVE inflammatory microbes and foods.
  • REPLACE your digestive secretions that are low (like enzymes).
  • REPAIR leaky gut with vitamins, herbs, and nutrients like glutamine and butyrate.
  • REINOCCULATE beneficial gut bacteria by using targeted pro and pre-biotics.
  • REBALANCE your nervous system, is the most important step because stress and emotions deeply affect gut function.

3. Weed out triggers

Any type of chronic inflammation in your system can create the cytokines that drive autoimmunity. In this step, we assess hidden sources of inflammation with comprehensive bloodwork and the Dutch Hormone test if warranted. This is called “inflammation hunting,” and includes:

  • Hormone imbalance (adrenal, thyroid, sex)
  • Metabolic dysregulation (blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol)
  • Allergies and excessive histamine
  • Inflammation in “hollow spaces” like lungs, sinus, vagina, and bladder
  • Chronic viral infections like Epstein Barr.

We then treat our findings with a lifestyle and supplement approach.

4. Regulate with supplements

Immune-regulating supplements come last because, after the first three steps, the need for supplements is less and the ones you require are now crystal clear. First, we test your levels of essential immune nutrients through bloodwork (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omegas). Then we determine which supplements are a match for your needs. There is no one-size-fits-all supplement protocol for autoimmunity. We need to know what you are low in, and we need to know what kind of immune regulation you could benefit from. You see with supplements we don’t suppress or “strengthen” the immune system. Your immune system is confused and we want to redirect or regulate it. We do this by influencing the type of T cells you make (read more). This is the best leverage for reducing autoimmune inflammation on an ongoing basis as well as helping you get out of flares should they occur.

Please don’t feel overwhelmed by this roadmap. We are here to guide you through each step, at your own comfortable pace.



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