This word entered my life this year. What a funny word! When I hear that word, I don’t get any image in my head of something. It's more like "What the heck is that?"
To put it simply, our body's autoimmune response is a system of protection. When a virus enters our body, that system goes to work to get rid of it and bring us back to healthy balance. However, if our immune system gets confused through poor nutrition and lifestyle choices, hidden infections, or stressful events/habits, that autoimmune system goes haywire, and starts trying to protect us from ourselves. We wind up with symptoms of aches and pains, sometimes debilitating us. The symptoms may come and go, and it can be hard to know what's happening.
Sometimes we think the symptoms are actually not symptoms. We wake up sore day after day and it clears up as the day goes on. Or we go to sleep and feel better the next morning. It's not easy to know when our immune system is going haywire - yet our body knows.
I’m a part-time cashier at a U.S. nationwide natural grocery store. I had been working there six months before my mom passed away unexpectedly. Cashiering shifts are often 8 hours three times a week. They start at varying times, and can sometimes go for 5 to 6 hours.
The repetitive motion of scanning items down the belt and handing heavy items to customers started causing me pain. I would come home at the end of my shift, sit down to put my feet up and relax with my husband, and within an hour, my wrists would be painfully swollen, my hands and fingers would be hard to move, and my arms and shoulders would hurt to move them. I had never experienced debilitating symptoms like that before. It felt scary! The pain would often disturb a restful sleep, yet by the next day, I often felt better.
As this continued to happen and worsen over a period of a couple months, I became more alarmed. What was happening to me? I continued to do my workouts when I could, going to the gym to do my push-ups, pull-ups, squats, planks and leg weights. The next thing I knew, I couldn't raise my biceps for a few days because I had injured myself after working all day and doing push-ups. I had been doing these exercises regularly before I took the job; I felt shocked and dismayed that I injured myself. I identified that I had symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms; I knew I could turn them off.
I needed to find a way to heal. I had a very good idea of what was happening based on my symptoms, so I chose not to go to a doctor to have them run tests and give me solutions I didn't want to do. Instead I tried a holistic approach to see how to better support my body - physically and emotionally. I let my symptoms be my guide.
I've been addressing the symptoms from an emotional perspective; I know that the physical and emotional body are one. Our beliefs are enormous influencers in our health. According to Louise Hay's team, rheumatoid arthritis can manifest as a result of feeling victimized, a lack of love, chronic bitterness, resentment. Deep criticism of authority. Feeling very put upon. I began to look how these attitudes might be tucked away deep inside of me.
Physically, I know that mineral baths heal swelling and pain, so I started taking them. Unfortunately, the heat from the baths made my swelling worse. I used ice to quell the swelling as I didn't want to take anti-inflammatories; I didn't want to over-ride my natural anti-inflammatory system, and I didn't want to further stress my gut with these irritants. I also massaged my painful areas with Arnica cream and magnesium lotion. These solutions helped quite a bit.
I know as a sensitive person I feel and sense energies more deeply, so that foods - a type of energy - can affect me deeply too. Leaky gut is always seen with autoimmune issues, so I had to work on healing my tummy. I had gotten off-track with my healthy eating, consuming sugary treats and comfort foods with gluten. I had been consuming wine and coffee more often. I began to work on cleaning up my nutrition.
I modified my cashiering work to eliminate the repetitive stress by picking up other duties in the store.
As a Primal Health Coach; I had heard about The Autoimmune Protocol by Dr. Sarah Ballatyne. As I began exploring her research, I discovered the elimination diet. It's a very rigorous plan, eliminating all foods that are known to excite the immune system.
So far, I've worked my way up to 95% compliant. The big hold-out for me has been letting go of my beloved coffee. And even with not finding perfection yet, I have learned a lot.
There are 2 items I've given up completely that have reduced my symptoms significantly.
As I perused the AIP book one evening, I came across this statement:
Buried in Chapter 8 under a heading "A Case Against Mangoes," my intuitive brain honed in. I recalled how, as an east coast teenager, I missed a rare movie outing with friends because my eyes were swollen shut from poison ivy. For months now, I had been eating cashews with my organic grass-fed yogurt as a "healthy" snack on work breaks. I chose this snack, not only because it tastes good to me, but also because it's "fast." I realized it was time I slowed down with all eating, even snacks.
Next I turned my attention to unhealthy Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) oils as they are highly inflammatory for the body. Although I home-cook with healthy oils (unrefined olive, avocado and coconut oils), I hadn't been paying attention to hot bar and restaurant foods. As I eliminated the PUFA's, I discovered what I could eat became a lot more limited as so many places use these cheaper oils. My body reacts like kindling for a fire when I ingest these PUFAs.
Although I am still on my discovery journey, I have learned so much and experienced success. I am no longer having the debilitating pain and swelling, and I am back to doing my push-ups and pull-ups again. I can sit down with my husband after work and feel good.
Autoimmune issues are tough. They happen differently for each person, and it can be tricky to figure out what is over-exciting your body. Research also tells us that autoimmune spreads and gets worse if it's ignored.
Is the Autoimmune Protocol right for you? If yes, I can empower you to find that secret sauce to turn off those genes. We'll come up with a unique program to take you on your healing journey.
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