We are seeing a growing number of clients who suffer from auto-immune conditions. This is when the body’s immune system targets the body itself. From a Functional Medicine lens, autoimmunity doesn’t come out of the blue. The body is wise, it doesn’t suddenly decide to turn on itself. So, when it does do that, we take the approach of a detective, trying to figure out what’s behind the confusion that leads to auto-immunity.
Several years before diagnosis, certain factors play a role, which typically include some or all the following:
Gut Microbiome imbalance. This may be something infectious like simmering yeast overgrowth, a parasite, or simply low levels of probiotics. One of the major drivers for this imbalance – known as dysbiosis -- is overuse of antibiotics, especially multiple extended courses over time. But toxins, stress, food choices, low Vitamin D, and many other factors may be involved. A comprehensive stool test can show levels of probiotics as well as infections in the gut.
Food sensitivities. Food triggers are often involved in autoimmune activation and exacerbation. In our experience both gluten and dairy are the most common triggers but we are also seeing an increase in other trigger foods such as almonds, quinoa and eggs. A food sensitivity test can be very useful to identify specific food triggers.
Toxin build-up is caused either by ongoing exposure (overload) and/or poor detoxification ability of certain substances.
Nutrient deficiencies can impair the immune system. These might be driven by insufficient nutrient intake, poor digestion and absorption as well as certain genetic factors (for example, individuals positive for the MTHFR gene may have higher requirements of specific B-vitamins.
Stress. Ongoing, chronic or short-term acute stress can set the immune system into overdrive which appears to be involved on some level in the triggering of auto-immunity. We see stress as a broad term – emotional, pain, injury, trauma, poor diet, lack of sleep are all stress on the body.
1. Balance gut flora
2. Rule out food sensitivities
3. Boost liver detoxification
4. Top up deficiencies especially Zinc, Vit D, folate, B12
5. reduce stress (yes, we know its easier said than done!)