Having been sick since I was a child and then being diagnosed with 3 autoimmune diseases when I was a young adult, I have pretty much spent my whole life trying to figure out how to get better. While I don’t believe there is a magic bullet and I do believe everyone is different, if you had to ask me today, with all the knowledge I have, what would I recommend to someone with autoimmune disease to do to get well, these would be the 10 things, I would suggest.
Of course, there are many others, and my website and book, covers some of those, but I think these 10 are the main ones to focus on to begin with and as you start implementing them, you will not feel too overwhelmed. Of course, I could suggest expensive tests and see good doctors, but what if you can’t afford that but need somewhere to start that doesn’t cost you a fortune… these are things you can do almost all on your own…
10 Tips to Help You Reverse Autoimmune Disease:
- Cut out Inflammatory food: The most common allergens are gluten/grains, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, nightshades/seeds/nuts. Ideally do the Elimination phase of the AIP. For some people this is difficult, for others this is the easiest. Remove the foods that are causing inflammation and harmful reactions in your body in order to heal you gut. (For more about what is the AIP?)
- Add in Nourishing Foods: bone broth, organ meat, seafood, veggies, fruit, fermented foods. It’s not only about what you remove, but also about what you add in. Don’t forget to add these foods in to help Speed up your Healing.
- Get enough sleep and Prioritise Sleep. That means going to sleep at 9pm and not working through the night or pushing yourself. Regular sleep times and regular waking time help your adrenals to reset. Don’t think you will get more done by staying awake, in fact you will get less done. Also, getting more sleep, is a way to lose weight if you are overweight!
- Exercise/Move your body: walking/yoga/tai chi, stretching. Whatever you can do without hurting yourself, even if it’s sitting in a chair doing shoulder shrugs and ankle rolls, if that’s all you can start with, then do that. If you are pushing yourself too hard with exercise, then the opposite applies, slow down and rest.
- ‘Learn’ to Relax: Most of us have forgotten how to relax, we are stuck on the hamster wheel of life overwhelming us and need to remind ourselves to switch off the flight or fight mode and switch on the ‘rest and ‘digest’ mode in order to heal. Things can be in whatever form works for you: hot baths, massage, playing with your dogs, listening to music, meditaton, listenening to apps or cds/watching you tube videos. Take the time to practice. (For more on healing modalities for autoimmune disease)
- Do Fun things. Play with your kids, spend time with family you enjoy, have a board games evening. When we are very ill, we sometimes become obsessed with not being well as it understandably overwhelms us. It is important though to try do things that are fun and enjoyable, even for short periods of time, to help us ’forget about being sick’. It is normal to become inward and self reflecting when you are sick, but sometimes we need to focus outward to help change our perspective.
- Test for Nutrient deficiencies and take Necessary Supplements. People with autoimmune disease are often nutrient deficient due to leaky gut and other genetic reasons. Take good quality supplements where necessary. For example, folate (a must if you have MTHFR), magnesium, Vitamin D, omega 3, B vitamins (testing for this one, may require a good doctor)
- Be Less hard on yourself. Don’t try do it all and learn ask for help. Say “no”. Prioritise Self-Care! It’s ok to put yourself first and admit there are things you cannot do and sometimes don’t feel like doing, or aren’t able to do and that’s also ok. Nobody’s perfect.
- Research/ read/investigate/ learn about your illness/diseases. Become an Expert. Don’t be a victim. Make it a priority to understand, read and ask. Empower yourself with knowledge. This one is easy for me but may be harder for others. Don’t expect someone else to have all the answers for you. If you know your own body well, you will learn to know what it needs. Be your own doctor, keep up to date with the latest research and always be armed with knowledge so that you can know what’s best for you. You don’t have to be helpless.
- Accept that you have autoimmune disease. This may be hard to accept at first, but top trying to fight it and beat it. This doesn’t mean you want to have it, but it means you accept you have it, you are doing everything to heal from it, but you love yourself in spite of it. Sometimes just the act and belief of accepting can take a huge amount of stress off of yourself and other family members who also want you to be well! Constantly being in a battle is exhausting. Your immune system is already fighting your body, don’t add to it as well.
For more about me and how I came to discover all of these tools to help me, you can read my story here.