My passion for autoimmune disease stems from my own personal battle. For many years, I suffered from a hormonal imbalance known as hypothyroidism. I experienced symptoms such as hair loss, constipation, weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, brain fog and chronic fatigue. My doctor agreed that my thyroid was not functioning optimally, but chose to take a wait-and-see approach while my health continued to deteriorate.
I decided to take my health into my own hands and seek out a naturopath, who eventually diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I started taking natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) medication and after a few months, began to feel like myself again. But the thought of relying on a pill for the rest of my life didn’t sit well with me. And I knew that medication was only a band-aid for what was really going on in my body. I started researching for natural alternatives and enrolled at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. I began studying nutrition and working with a naturopathic doctor who focused on treating the root cause of my illness.
When you have one autoimmune disease, it’s not uncommon to develop a second or a third. It wasn’t long until I began experiencing painful periods, mood swings, bowel and bladder problems. A few month’s later I found myself in the hospital with severe abdominal pain. An ultrasound suggested that I was suffering from endometriosis and I was immediately referred to a gynaecologist. In January 2017, I underwent surgery to diagnose endometriosis and remove a large cyst from my ovary. While I felt significantly better, I knew it was just a matter of time until the endo grew back and my symptoms returned. My doctor prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and advised me to go on the birth control pill to help manage my condition.
Determined to heal my body naturally, I decided to look for answers elsewhere. I stumbled upon the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) — a diet and lifestyle protocol that focuses on treating autoimmune disease with a holistic approach. It works by addressing contributing factors to autoimmune disease, such as food sensitivities, nutrient deficiencies, gut dysbiosis, stress and other environmental factors. With an emphasis on nutrient dense foods and removing those that are likely problematic, the AIP provides the body with a clean slate and the opportunity to heal. It’s health benefits are supported by scientific research and the many success stories of those who have mitigated and even reversed their autoimmune conditions.
As a Holistic Nutritionist, I have experimented with all types of diets in order to better serve my clients. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, when it comes to autoimmune disease, the AIP is the best place to start. Whether you’re suffering from Hashimoto’s, endometriosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, inflammatory bowel disease or any other chronic illness, following the AIP can help you transform your health. I have personally witnessed the healing benefits and am amazed at how quickly it works. Throughout my experience, I have been able to heal lifelong digestive problems, reduce my thyroid antibodies and eliminate many troublesome symptoms. While I still have a long way to go on my health journey, the Autoimmune Protocol has helped me get my life back.
THE AUTOIMMUNE PROTOCOL
The AIP is a diet and lifestyle protocol, designed to bring your body back to balance over the long-term. It helps those suffering from autoimmune disease discover their environmental triggers, determine food sensitivities, reverse nutrient deficiencies, balance hormones, restore gut health, regulate the immune system and support overall healing. While there is no cure for autoimmune disease, following the autoimmune protocol can get you back on the road to health and put your autoimmune disease into remission.
In general, the AIP diet involves eating nutritionally dense foods and removing those that are most likely to be problematic for people with autoimmune disease. Whole foods such as organic fruits and vegetables, bone broth, wild-caught fish, quality animal meats and healthy fats are added to promote healing. While foods that trigger an immune response, irritate the gut and cause inflammation are removed. These include dairy, soy, eggs, nightshade vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains and food additives. After the elimination phase (which can last from a couple of months to a year), foods are re-introduced slowly and systematically. This helps to identify which foods are not well tolerated and may be triggering your autoimmune disease. Over time, you will be able to build a life-long diet that is tailored exactly to your needs.
The autoimmune protocol also addresses lifestyle factors that may be affecting your autoimmune disease. Getting good quality sleep, managing stress, making time for hobbies and connecting with nature can be just as important as eating a nutrient-rich diet. These changes are something that you have to figure out on your own as they are completely individual. For you it might be best to focus on sleep, while someone else might need to focus on improving their environment.
While the AIP diet provides all the necessary nutritional requirements, some people may also benefit from the use of supplements. It’s important however to check the labels carefully, as supplements are often derived from common allergens like wheat, corn and dairy. Look for statements like “certified gluten-free” and avoid ingredients that may trigger your autoimmune disease. Some practitioners recommend herbs to help reduce inflammation, modulate the immune system and combat stress. While this can be incredibly helpful for some people, it can be like playing with fire for others. I recommend working with a knowledgeable practitioner such as a registered nutritionist or naturopath, to determine what’s right for you.
CREDENTIALS & AFFILIATES
Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN)
CSNN Alumni Association (CSNNAA)