There are many factors involved in healing from an Auto-immune disease.
Step number one must be healing the gut. In my own and many other’s experience, following a diet like the Auto-immune Protocol (AIP) Paleo way of eating is the best choice.
The best resource for any information on this way of eating is Dr Sarah Ballantyne, whose incredible book The Paleo Approach gives a wonderful scientific explanation of how and why this way of eating calms down the immune system and starts to get it to stop attacking the body’s own tissues. I am not going to go into detail on that here as that is something I have focused on in many other posts. (see here)
For this post, I want to focus on what happens after you have changed your diet; after you have removed all the offending food, all the grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs, nightshades and problem spices. You have added in bone broth, and high quality vegetables, grass-fed animal proteins and good fats.
What happens if you are not getting better? Or if you did get better at first, quite miraculously, but some of the old symptoms have come back and you are starting to wonder if this diet thing is actually right. Well to answer that first question, yes, yes and yes some more.
The diet, is still right, you just need to do some more digging into your health to get more answers. For some lucky people, just changing the diet and the important lifestyle factors of getting enough sleep, relaxation and exercise are enough to get them well.
I improved hugely on the AIP and started to do really well. I then had some major stressful traumas and couldn’t get well again. I finally found a Functional Medicine Practitioner who has helped me with finding the missing pieces to the puzzle. (for those who are reading about me for the first time, I have Celiac disease, Hashimoto’s thyroid disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) ).
Here are just some of the extra tests I have done to help look for some more answers. Some people might have one or more of these; so far every box has been ticked for me.
1. Check the gut with a comprehensive stool test for infections, parasites and the status of beneficial bacteria.
I had this done in September last year and my results showed problems with my gut bacteria. The results showed a hemolytic e Coli (the bad one) and zero growth of Bifidobacterium and very little growth of all the others. I was put on a herbal antibiotic and mega doses of probiotics. This cured the chronic diarrhea I had been experiencing for months.
2. The second thing to check for me was a comprehensive thyroid panel. This involved not only checking the standard TSH and T4, but checking my T3 as well, my reverse T3 as well as what my antibodies were doing. My levels of reverse T3 were very high and my T3 was low. I have had fluctuating levels of TSH for as long as I can remember. My doctor changed me from Eltroxin only to a lowered dose of Eltroxin along with a Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) (contains all of the hormones). It’s the first time my T3 has ever improved so well and I began to feel really good. (see this post for more info).
3. I had my salivary cortisol levels checked and it showed I did have adrenal fatigue. The Adaptogens I took did not agree with me, so for now I am working on getting my thyroid and other issues right first.
4. My doctor has thought all along that I might have an issue with toxins! She even mentioned that while doing her studies on a new course, that something about what she read about heavy metals and toxins reminded her of me! The test is very expensive so I have had to wait a while to do it. I finally did it 3 weeks ago and the results are in. I have high levels of mercury, lead, cesium and thalium and low levels of lots of minerals including calcium and molybdenum. When you have high metals in your body, they replace where the minerals should be! This is very scary and probably one of the main triggers/last outstanding reasons for me not healing completely. I have just begun chelation therapy yesterday!
5. Hopefully the final piece of the puzzle is my genetic tests (SNP’s), which I also did a couple weeks ago. The results are amazing and I will be doing a separate post about it, when I have also learnt more about it. For now the short answer is, I have a few genes that affect my methylation and detoxification abilities (MTHFR is the most well known one), which of course coupled with the heavy metals, explain why my body cannot get rid of them! I also, it turns out have the gene for lactose intolerance, so I guess I will never be reintroducing milk again! I am on a whole bunch of supplements now to help my body with this.
This has all been such a long process and journey for me. I am really hopeful that this is the last and final piece of the puzzle. As you can see though, there are so many other factors involved in healing AI disease, so please don’t think that diet is the only thing. It’s just one step and if you aren’t as well as you would like to be, then please try find a good Functional Medicine Practitioner to assist you. There are many paths to getting well.