guest post: healing auto-immune disease, by someone who’s been there #2

So, a few days ago I gave my account of coping with thyroid disease . Now I’ve asked some experts who I’ve encountered along the way to share their experience. And some advice. It’s certainly helped me…

I've used this pic purely because she's wearing the same kinda glasses as me!
I've used this pic purely because she's wearing the same kinda glasses as me!

But before I do – just quickly – a random thyroid factoid someone once presented to me:

Most people with Hashimoto’s (and perhaps other auto immune diseases, too) suffered some sort of trauma about 18 months prior to the onset of symptoms. I’m not sure how backed-with-facts this is. But whenever I ask sufferers they totally agree. It fits my story. How about you?

But now, to the lovely Angela Hywood…

AH Bio Pic

Angela is a naturopath and homoeopath in Sydney specialising in restorative endocrinology, women’s health and infertility. She works from her clinic Tonic, in Woollahra and sends out a rippa newsletter.

She teaches, lectures and writes for publications around the world and is currently a faculty member at the Texas Chiropractic College and the University of Miami School of Medicine, Integrative Medicine Department in the United States. She is appointed to the editorial committee of the American Herbalist Guild.

She was recommended to me by a number of people in thyroid circles. She gets it and works from the gut outwards.

So, a few questions answered:

Why is it good to give up booze when dealing with autoimmune?

(BTW, this was an issue a number of you were concerned about following comments I’d made in the media – Sarah)

* Firstly, alcohol is a pure carbohydrate – basically sugar, in one of its nastiest forms! Sugar is utterly exhausting to the adrenal gland, two tiny glands located on the top of your kidneys, sending the adrenals on a roller coaster to crash & burn.

Our immune system is dependent on adrenal hormones for balance. So, adrenal health is linked to your immune health in a big way. The more stressed and burned out you are, the more ‘at risk’ the immune system becomes of switching into chaotic self-attack, which is a great way to describe auto immune disease.

* Second, alcohol damages the delicate flora balance of your digestive system. Our flora (acidophilus and bifidus) produce immune-strengthening immunoglobulins, while also sealing and protecting your digestive wall barrier. If this isn’t intact, you’ll begin to notice food sensitivities and eventually, leaky gut syndrome. In naturopathic research, leaky gut plays a key role in the onset of autoimmune diseases.

* Third, booze contains preservative chemicals, which weaken the immune system and put stress on our systems of detox (liver, kidneys, lymphatics) and put additional stress on our body.

What foods are our friend? And foe?

You know, food as medicine is my mantra. You should choose foods that truly nourish. When you do, you’ll notice  your immune system will blossom – quickly. I’m not taking about weird food, I’m talking everyday foods.

* Food Friends:

  • Shiitake Mushrooms: immune wonder foods, used in Asian cuisine. Buy from Chinatown and add to soups, stir fries, salads
  • Kefir: (made from organic milk or coconut water): a traditional probiotic drink from the Russian tradition. It takes 5 minutes to make at home once a week.  It doses up your gut flora (like taking acidophilus – but much more powerful). Remember, the stronger your gut flora, the stronger your immune system will be! I have this for breakfast every day, blended with berries and flaxseeds or Chai seeds for extra fibre. So delicious, quick and easy! Also dairy contains vitamin D, which is absolutely essential for prevention and management of auto immune disease. So much new research now points to vitamin D deficiency being a major cause of auto immune disease.
  • Garlic and Onion: humble, yes. Powerful, absolutely! These are natural antibiotics – support systems for detox. They also keep your digestive system clean.

Food Foes:

  • Mineral oils:  as used in most commercial salad dressings, & margarine (pure man-made ‘plastic’; there is nothing in the manufacture of margarine that EVER grew or was alive!!!! It’s a horror story for our cells).
  • Gluten: gluten reminds me of superglue. Simply put, we ALL struggle to digest gluten, from wheat in particular. Try gluten-free grains and breads or very low-gluten grains, such as spelt. Gluten sensitivity is strongly linked to auto immune disease.
  • Soy. Soy is far more allergenic than dairy milk. Soy blocks mineral absorption, especially iodine – which is particularly worrying for those with thyroid issues. The thyroid is dependent on iodine for normal function

You’ve had autoimmune disease…what’s the best advice you can give?

There are many causes of AI. Heavy metal toxicity, parasites, food sensitivities, allergies, stress and adrenal fatigue can all significantly contribute to autoimmune disease. Make sure you are on top of all this. Standard medical doctors and immunologists generally don’t ‘look’ for these types of problems.  See someone who does! It’s important to have a thorough ‘integrative medicine’ check-up at least annually to keep on top of autoimmune disease.

Also, in a few dot-points:

  • Eat well: Put thought into the food you put into your body – make it nourishing, fresh, clean and medicinal.
  • Sleep well– sleep IS one of most powerful daily medicines.  We need 8-8.5 hours sleep every night- no questions! Any less that 8 hours and your immune vitality will plummet.
  • Be consistent with your natural medicines. Remember they are designed to nourish, support and protect your immune system.
  • Laugh & Relax. Your immune system produces powerful immunoglobulins when you chill out and can laugh. I love that kinda’ medicine the best!

Angela xx

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