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What are autoimmune diseases and why are they so common these days?

Autoimmune diseases are on the rise in our modern society. In 2012 14.7 million Americans were diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. This year an estimated 50 million people will be diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. That is a significant increase in a short amount of time. There are currently over 80 disease that qualify as autoimmune. The most common are rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, lyme’s disease, herpes, hepatitis, liver disease, anemia, MS, and many skin conditions.

Why is this happening? There are varying opinions as to why this is happening and what the root causes are. As someone who has spent my career studying a variety of medicines, human behavior, and modern food and health practices I have a few ideas. In my opinion some of the main contributing factors to the deterioration of our immune systems are poor nutrition, very little focus on preventative medicine or health cultivation, a drastic increase of chemicals in our environment, and a significant increase in the vaccine schedules for our children.

Although it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of all autoimmune diseases in each patient they all have something in common…..inflammation. Inflammation is the bodies natural response to infection, injury, and stress. It is meant to kill invading foreign pathogens that cause disease, cause swelling and pain to immobilize injured areas so they can heal, or to send a message to the body to get away from a stressful situation. The problem is that for whatever reason many of us are in a constant state of inflammation and irritation so the body is unable to heal itself. Your inflammation may have started with an injury but the constant stress from life and environmental factors keeps the inflammatory response going. We are unable to go back in time and avoid exposure to whatever triggered the disease but we can lighten our chemical load going forward and reduce systemic inflammation.

Ways to decrease inflammation-

Diet– The best thing you can do for your health and the health of the planet is to eat as local, organic and seasonal as possible with 70% of your diet coming from vegetables and fruits. You may also want to consider getting allergy testing and genetic testing done to better understand how your individual body and genes respond to certain nutritional intake. If you have been diagnosed with inflammation or an autoimmune disease then I strongly recommend you go on a cleansing diet for 30 days that includes no grains, no dairy (especially industrial), no sugars, no nightshades and limit foods high in lectins like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, chili, beans and legumes. See how you feel in 30 days and then decide what you want to reintroduce into your daily health routine.

Exercise– One of the most effective ways to remove unwanted chemical and heavy metals from the body is through sweat. Your skin is designed to protect and detoxify your body. Why not help it do its job by getting enough exercise to sweat everyday. Be sure to rinse the sweat off when you are done so the residue doesn’t have a chance to reenter your body.

Bowel Cleansing– Recent research is showing a direct connection between gut health, immune function and overall health. Some research is even showing that the bacteria that live in our gut has an effect on the expression of our genes and our mental health. What this means is bowel health directly effects how genes function and what they tell the cells of our body to do or become. This also means that what we eat effects our mood and perception of the world around us. Science has also shown that our bodies replace all cells every 7 years, so we truly are what we eat. Here are some basic things you can do to cleanse your bowels.
*1-3 teaspoons of food grade diatomaceous earth a day mixed in 1 cup of water will cleanse your body and bowels.
Every day you should drink about a half ounce of water for every pound you weigh.
*Probiotics and fermented foods are great for restoring gut health so enjoy your pickled foods, sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, or whatever your favorite ferments are.
*Colonics or enemas- Sometimes our bowels become so toxic that the most effective way to clean them is to wash them out. There are many folds in the intestines where undigested foods and waste products can get stuck and cause inflammation and pain. Colonics are a safe way to remove years of accumulated waste.

Stress Reducing Techniques– There are many ways to reduce stress. It is up to us to find which ones we enjoy the most and incorporate them into our daily routines. My top recommendations for stress reducing activities are meditation, yoga, nature walks, breathing exercises, journaling, and sex. You may not do all of them everyday but you should do at least one of them everyday.

If you would like to get away to a place where you can focus on your health and learn how to implement all of these techniques to improve your wellbeing and reduce inflammation then contact us to schedule your next retreat.