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Is Your Autoimmune Disease Caused By Environmental Factors?

Autoimmune disorders are common, and they may even affect you or someone you care about. In fact, up to 9% of people in the United States have an autoimmune condition (ignoring that many more are developing them and will eventually be diagnosed) — though this varies by gender, ethnicity, and geographic location.   

While autoimmune conditions vary widely in symptoms and severity, they all have the same underlying problem: Your body’s immune cells attack your own body. 

Common types of AIDs include:

Though many genes are connected to AIDs, scientists still don’t know for sure exactly what causes these disorders. And while we know that genetics — and your family history — definitely plays a role, it’s possible that up to 70% of autoimmune diseases may actually be caused by environmental factors — like: 

  • Diet
  • Lifestyle
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Infections

Read on to learn about specific environmental triggers for autoimmune diseases, and what you can do to reduce your risk or improve your symptoms.

What environmental triggers are associated with autoimmune diseases?

In people with a genetic predisposition (where their genes put them at risk), certain environmental exposures can trigger autoimmune disease. These include toxins, infections, diet, and more. 

Can toxins cause an autoimmune disease?

Yes. Multiple environmental toxins have been linked to autoimmune diseases. For example, cigarette smoking may increase your risk of: 

  • RA
  • Lupus
  • MS
  • Graves’ disease 

Additional toxic exposures linked with AIDs include:

  • Ultraviolet light
  • Silicone breast implants
  • Pesticides
  • Heavy metals like mercury
  • Plastics like BPA (highly associated to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) 

Not all people with these exposures develop an autoimmune disease. There are other factors involved, like epigenetics and your family history.

Can your diet cause autoimmune disorders?

Yes. Dietary factors and the gut microbiome may also contribute to the underlying causes of autoimmune conditions. There are changes in the gut microbiome in people with certain autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes and RA. And, in some people, eating gluten can lead to an abnormal immune response and the development of celiac disease. 

Again, not all people with dietary risk factors will get an autoimmune condition. Just like other exposures, diet is only one possible contributing factor.

Can an infection cause autoimmune disease? 

Yes. Infections are a known trigger for AIDs in people with a genetic predisposition. Infections have been linked with many autoimmune conditions including: 

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • MS
  • Lupus
  • RA 
  • Hashimotos hypothyroidism
  • Wegeners Granulomatosis
  • Sjogrens

Infections connected with autoimmune diseases include:

  • Mono (Epstein-Barr virus)
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Strep throat
  • Scarlet fever
  • E. coli
  • COVID-19

Other possible triggers

There are some other possible triggers of AIDs including:

Emotional stress or trauma: 

Stressful life events or trauma may increase your risk of developing an AID.   

Pregnancy: 

An autoimmune disease can present itself within the first year after a pregnancy. 

Medications: 

Many medications have been linked to the development of Autoimmune diseases, particularly lupus.

How do environmental factors cause autoimmune disease?

It can be hard to know why environmental factors trigger autoimmunity in some people but not others. What we do know is that it can be a combination of genetics, the immune system, and other factors such as diet and the gut microbiome. 

It’s also possible that when people with an increased genetic risk are exposed to certain environmental factors, the immune system can turn on itself.

Can you “cure” yourself if you remove the environmental cause of your autoimmune disease?

No. You cannot cure yourself of an AID after the disease process has started. But making changes in your life may help improve your symptoms, and keep your disorder from getting worse.  We do see clients routinely put their autoimmune disease in remission but beware any phony claims that would have you believe they can “cure” you.

What can be changed in your environment to improve your autoimmune disease?

You can’t control every part of your environment. But there are steps you can take in your lifestyle and diet to help you feel more in control of an autoimmune disease. And some environmental changes may even help your symptoms get better.  

Here are a few steps you can take to eliminate toxins in your environment:

  • Stay away from tobacco products, even being near increases exposure risk
  • Stop purchasing disposable plates/cups as they are all covered in BPA
  • Only purchase “NO VOC” paints and if you have to use oils/stains/chemicals make sure you wear a ventilator 
  • Make sure there are no leaks in your house contributing to mold exposure (utility room)

Improve your diet and vitamin levels

Diet may play a role in autoimmune conditions. There’s some evidence that special diets like the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) could help with autoimmune symptoms and inflammation levels. This could have to do with improving the strength of the intestinal lining and the health of the gut microbiome.  However, we do not recommend long term AIP as it can eventually erode your oral tolerance increasing the risk of food intolerance.

Vitamin D also plays an important role in the healthy functioning of our immune system, and low levels are associated with both cancer and autoimmune conditions. 

Exercise

Exercise can help improve the following in autoimmune conditions:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood
  • Mobility
  • Brain fog
  • Quality of life

The amount and intensity of your exercise regimen will depend on your condition, but moving your body and getting your heart rate up every day is helpful.   

Improve sleep

Fatigue can be an issue for many people with autoimmune conditions, and sleep is an essential part of keeping your immune system healthy. Make sure to practice good sleep hygiene and try to get at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night.

Consider your climate

Weather changes or extremes can trigger symptoms in some people with AIDs. Because of this, it’s possible that some climates may be better for autoimmune diseases than others, like milder climates with minimal temperature variability. 

Manage stress

Working on stress reduction is important. High stress can have a negative effect on your immune system. This not only can lead to the development of autoimmune conditions, but it also plays a role in how effective treatment may be. 

Quit smoking

If you smoke, quitting is important. Not only can it trigger AIDs, but it can make your symptoms worse and weaken your immune system.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Autoimmune 

When someone with a genetic predisposition encounters an environmental trigger, it can lead to an AID. Figuring out the specific environmental cause is a puzzle that functional medical professionals like Dr. Autoimmune specialize in. He looks at triggers that may be caused by a toxin exposure, infection, or dietary trigger and then takes steps to improve your symptoms so you can take control of your autoimmune disease.

Our functional medicine practice uses the patient’s story as a key tool for integrating diagnosis, signs and symptoms, and evidence of clinical imbalances into a comprehensive approach to improve both the patient’s symptoms and their physiological function. 

Start your journey and request your patient exam by clicking here. We are 100% remote so anyone can heal from anywhere! 

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram & YouTube for more information and tips regarding autoimmune diseases and the functional medicine approach. 

While you’re here, check out some of our testimonials.

The 5 Principles of Functional Medicine

There are a lot of different methods out there that encompass “alternative” medicine. And one of these methods in particular that has gained a great deal of attention in recent years, is Functional Medicine.

Functional medicine is a term which is largely unfamiliar to the general public. It has, however, evolved to become a mainstream approach to healthcare in recent times. 

The functional medicine model focuses on the process of the development of a disease or health condition through factors such as genetics, diet and lifestyle choices, rather than just treating the disease by masking the symptoms with lots of medication. 

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine can be a little difficult to define, so it’s useful in the first instance to compare it to the conventional medicine approach.

In conventional medicine, doctors diagnose a disease and then match it to a specific treatment. When someone is diagnosed with an acute healthcare problem such as a heart attack, infection or trauma like a spinal cord injury, this approach works well.

For many chronic conditions, however, including high blood pressure, digestive issues or autoimmune diseases, this type of medical intervention can fall short of what is required (According to the 2021 Common wealth study, “​​The United States ranks last overall, despite spending far more of its gross domestic product on health care”).

With a chronic condition such as inflammatory bowel disease, for example, the medical approach will provide short-term relief but won’t have the impact desired on the long-term suffering of the individual.

Functional medicine takes a holistic process approach and considers the individual as unique.

It asks and answers important questions regarding “why” someone has developed a particular disease. 

Functional medicine professionals like Dr. Autoimmune looks at an individual’s lifestyle, diet and their family history to get to the root cause of their symptoms.

This in-depth investigation leads to suggesting potential changes, such as switching to a certain diet, that could improve the condition of the patient.

Principles of Functional Medicine

The key to this kind of approach is to look at what function has been lost and how it can be restored. As a model, there are 5 principles that help define the treatment for the individual.

1. The individual is not a disease but a person

We are all unique. Each of us has a genetic blueprint that defines how we look, how tall we are and how our biology works. Because of this, the first principle of functional medicine treats each person individually. 

They are not a disease but a person who will have their own biochemical makeup. Each has a set of healing mechanisms defined by their biological structure. 

“Encouraging this self-healing is an important part of dealing with many autoimmune diseases,” according to Dr. Autoimmune.

2. Functional medicine is evidence-based

As with the conventional approach to healthcare, functional medicine needs to be defined by the evidence. We utilize scientifically validated tests like blood chemistry, stool and hormone testing which is highly predictive in understanding the patients journey and what steps to take with intervention.

 

Each of us is the result of a network of interactions that can affect not only our health but how we respond to disease and illness.

These intricate relationships give us an in-depth insight into how the human body functions and how it affects the individual. The benefit of person-centered care is increasingly being highlighted in ongoing medical research.

3. The human body is self-healing

Research today tells us that the human body is incredibly effective at regulating itself and, in many circumstances, healing itself.

The balance between different organs in the body and how they interact is a key factor in creating an environment where healing can take place. There is significant evidence that functional medicine can help tackle major public health issues such as diabetes by changing lifestyle and diet.

There’s also evidence that there’s an ever-growing number of people suffering from anxiety and/or depression worldwide. Conventional medicine’s main solution is to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs, but functional medicine uses a much more complex strategy to care for an individual. For example, Dr. Autoimmune and his team incorporates functional medicine, functional neurology, functional nutrition, brain mapping and neurofeedback when it comes to individuals that suffer from anxiety and/or depression.

4. We each have the potential to heal diseases commonly associated with aging

Many chronic diseases are related to aging. For example, high blood pressure usually occurs in later life. Some are associated with conditions such as obesity or simply the natural process of getting older.

One principle of functional medicine is that our bodies have an innate ability to heal under the right circumstances and even prevent diseases occurring in the first place.

5. Health is more than the absence of disease

We often consider good health as not having something wrong with us. The absence of disease is not the only signal that we are in good health. Vitality, a good appetite, optimum weight, and a settled emotional state are all indicators of general wellness.

We tend to ignore these important indicators as individuals. The functional medicine model puts them at the center of its approach to healthcare.

The Future of Healthcare

Personalized care is becoming increasingly prevalent in healthcare environments. The functional medical approach aims to understand the individual’s physiological, biological, emotional and cognitive makeup to determine the best way to achieve optimal health.

Dr. Autoimmune

The Functional Medicine model is an individualized, patient-centered, science-based approach that empowers patients and practitioners to work together to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. It requires a detailed understanding of each patient’s genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors and leverages that data to direct personalized treatment plans that lead to improved patient outcomes.

To succeed, Dr. Autoimmune and his team look at the broad view as well as the microscopic and bring these together in an appropriate package of care. Patient-centered care that is responsive to the individual is becoming increasingly important, particularly for individuals that suffer from autoimmune disease

Click here to schedule your appointment with the Dr. Autoimmune team today! We offer 100% remote care so anyone can heal from anywhere! And we’ve set up ‘The Dr. Autoimmune Solution’ which is a comprehensive new patient special that includes everything necessary to determine the root cause of your condition and start you on the journey to getting your life back.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram & YouTube for more information and tips regarding autoimmune diseases and the functional medicine approach. While you’re here, take a second to check out some of Dr. Autoimmune’s testimonials.

Top 5 Most Common Autoimmune Diseases That Affect Women

As if women don’t already go through enough between having a monthly menstrual cycle, experiencing childbirth and going through menopause later in life, now recent studies estimate that about 80% of all patients diagnosed with autoimmune diseases are women. That means it’s important for women to be aware and know what to look out for. That’s why in this article we go over the top 5 most common autoimmune diseases and their symptoms that affect women. Our goal in doing this is to better educate women everywhere so they can seek the care they need and get to the root cause of their symptoms earlier rather than later.

Autoimmune Diseases are often misdiagnosed, so it’s important that if you or someone you know is experiencing an autoimmune disease and/or the symptoms we’re mentioning, that they get the care they need from a functional medicine professional like Dr. Autoimmune

The Explanation.

There are a multitude of autoimmune diseases (over 100 in fact) that are known to exist that range from mild to severe to intermittent to chronic. 

There are many explanations as to why women are more susceptible over men which include: genetics, sex hormones, the X chromosome, microchimerism, environmental factors, diet, viruses and microbiome. Even stress can be a contributing factor. 

Top 5 Most Common Autoimmune Diseases That Affect Women

1. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (lupus or SLE)

Nine out of 10 people affected with systemic lupus are women, commonly between ages 15 and 44. 

Lupus attacks and damages any part of the body including the joints, skin and/or organs (brain, lungs, kidneys and blood vessels). 

Some women experience mild symptoms, while others face serious health risks like kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke. 

Experts acknowledge the role of genes, but say that other possible causes include factors like hormones such as estrogen, the environment, certain medicines and viruses. 

Some common symptoms to look out for include:

  • red rashes (most often on the face)
  • sun sensitivity
  • muscle and joint pain 
  • fever 
  • hair loss

2. Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

MS is considered an autoimmune condition that affects the brain and spinal cord of the central nervous system. The disease affects women more often than men with women being up to three times more likely than men to get MS. 

The disease can also cause symptoms specific to women that seem to relate to hormone levels.

The main symptoms that affect women more than men include menstrual problems, pregnancy-related symptoms, and menopause issues.

Some common symptoms to look out for include:

  • Most women first notice the symptoms of MS with blurred or double vision, red-green color distortion and even blindness in one eye. 
  • MS can also lead to cognitive problems like difficulties with memory and concentration and can trigger muscle weakness so severe that it can be difficult to walk or stand. 
  • At its worst, MS can cause partial or total paralysis.

3. Thyroid Diseases

Women are more prone than men to Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Graves’ disease causes the thyroid to produce an excess of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism). It usually occurs between ages 30 and 50 (but can appear at any age) and appears seven to eight times more frequently in women than in men. 

About 30% of people with Graves’ disease will have a condition known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy, which causes bulging, puffy or inflamed eyes and light sensitivity, double vision and eye pain. If left untreated, Graves’ disease can cause serious problems, including thinning bones, osteoporosis, and heart-related problems.

In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system attacks the thyroid, which often leads to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). It affects about 10 times as many women as men. 

It typically occurs in middle-aged women and progresses slowly over time, gradually damaging the thyroid and reducing thyroid hormone levels. 

Thyroid symptoms include: 

  • being tired for no apparent reason
  • dry skin
  • a pale, puffy face
  • constipation

4. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the lining of various joints throughout the body, resulting in painful, stiff, swollen and deformed joints and muscle weakness.  

Female hormones may also play a role in the onset of the disease, which commonly waxes and wanes with periods of flare-ups along with periods of remission. 

As many as 75% of those with RA are women who typically develop the condition between ages 30 and 50, younger than when men typically get the disease.

Common symptoms of RA can include: 

  • Pain, stiffness, swelling, and tenderness in the joints, back, or muscles.
  • Whole body fatigue, anemia, or malaise (general feeling of discomfort)
  • Lumps or redness on the skin
  • Swelling and/or bump(s) on the fingers
  • A sensation of pins and needles

5. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common condition that causes skin cells to build up more rapidly than they normally would. In turn, these excess cells form red, silvery, patchy and sometimes painful scales. 

Symptoms can be mild (like a few spots of dandruff-like scales) to severe (major outbreaks covering large areas of skin) and it can also cause thickened, ridged or pitted nails and sore joints. 

Although psoriasis is more prevalent in women than in men, research finds that men’s symptoms are typically more severe.

Some common symptoms to look out for include:

  • A patchy rash that varies widely in how it looks from person to person, ranging from spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions over much of the body.
  • Rashes that vary in color. These tend to be shades of purple with gray scales on darker skin and pink or red with silver scales on light skin.
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed.
  • Itching, burning or soreness.
  • Cyclic rashes that flare for a few weeks or months and then subside.

Common Symptoms Across Autoimmune Diseases

Despite the varying types of autoimmune diseases, many of them share similar symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Skin problems
  • Abdominal pain or digestive issues
  • Recurring fever
  • Swollen glands

Women should seek treatment when they notice new symptoms so they can identify or rule out an autoimmune disease early on.

Dr. Autoimmune

If you or any women in your life suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned above without an identified underlying cause, then you should seek the care and medical testing from a functional medicine practitioner like Dr. Ian Hollaman and the Dr. Autoimmune team.

As an experienced functional medicine expert, Dr. Ian Hollaman uses testing and natural methods to assess the numerous factors that can affect your immune system. He looks for potential environmental toxins, lifestyle, stress, diet, medication, allergies, and sleep habits – all to uncover the root cause of your autoimmune disease. 

Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Autoimmune today! We offer 100% remote care so anyone can heal from anywhere!

Check out what our patients are saying!

5 Common Autoimmune Diseases in Men

It seems discussing aAutoimmune diseases in men is not a topic that is discussed very often. That’s because 80% of all patients diagnosed with autoimmune diseases are women, but the gap is getting smaller. This is why we think it’s important that we take a look at the five most common autoimmune diseases and their symptoms in men.

Addison’s Disease

Also called adrenal insufficiency, Addison’s disease is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the adrenal glands. The primary role of your adrenal glands is to produce and regulate the stress hormone cortisol. 

To receive an Addison’s disease diagnosis, you must have lost 90% of your adrenal glands’ function. However, you can still have adrenal insufficiency without theis diagnosis of Addison’s disease. Anything between optimal health and Addison’s disease is referred to as adrenal fatigue. It’s found that most men fall somewhere on this spectrum. 

Symptoms of Addison’s disease develop slowly over several months. Symptoms are often subtle or mirror symptoms of other conditions, which unfortunately makes symptoms easy to ignore as signs as Addison’s disease unless visiting a functional medicine practitioner like Dr. Autoimmune.

Symptoms of Addison’s Disease

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Hyperpigmentation (dark spots on the skin)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Salt cravings
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint and muscle pains
  • Depression
  • Hair loss

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks the small intestine. It’s also an autoimmune response to gluten. Gluten (from Latin, “glue”) is a protein in wheat made up of the peptides, gliadin and glutenin. It is found in other grains such as semolina, spelt, kamut, rye, and barley. Gluten is what makes bread airy and fluffy—but it’s also highly inflammatory for most people. 

Consuming gluten when you have celiac disease causes damage to your villi, or the tiny hair-like projections that run along the surface of your gut that help you to digest food properly. This leads to nutrient deficiencies, leaky gut, and increases your odds of developing another autoimmune condition.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

  • Frequent bloating
  • Excessive gas
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Women are twice as likely to have multiple sclerosis, yet it’s still one of the more common autoimmune diseases in men. 

This autoimmune disease can develop at any age, but the most common age of onset for men is between 20 and 50. It happens when inflammation causes damage to the nervous system. 

Each person with MS will also develop a unique set of symptoms, based on the specific pattern of inflammatory nervous system damage in that individual, and the affected part(s) of the body. 

There are no MS symptoms that are exclusively found in men and not women, but some signs of MS are generally more common for men or women.

Men with MS are more likely to experience:

  • motor problems
  • loss of coordination and imbalance
  • cognitive difficulties

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary in severity and duration from person to person; and they can also change over time.

Other Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Double vision or inflammation of the eye (optic neuritis)
  • Vertigo
  • Muscle weakness
  • “Pins and needles” sensations, numbness, and other bodily sensations (dysesthesia)
  • Muscle stiffness, jerks, exaggerated reflexes (muscle spasticity)
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Cognitive problems
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

Lupus

Unlike most autoimmune conditions that attack one bodily system, lupus erythematosus (lupus) is an autoimmune disease that impacts multiple systems in the body. Because of this, lupus can be life-threatening and can affect the skin, joints, internal organs and the nervous system.

Men account for 1 in 10 of individuals diagnosed with lupus. Research also indicates that the disease typically presents more severe symptoms in men than women. That’s likely because the disease is underdiagnosed in men. Symptoms of this autoimmune disease vary widely and can range from mild to severe. 

Lupus isIt’s also nicknamed “The Great Imitator ”. It got this nickname because it mimics other diseases and it impacts multiple bodily systems. Symptoms from lupus often come and go or change entirely;, that’s why it’s so important that you visit a functional medicine practitioner like Dr. Autoimmune

Without proper testing you may be completely unaware that you even have lupus or another autoimmune disease if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned below. 

Signs of Lupus

  • Anemia
  • A butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks
  • Heart problems
  • Anemia or low blood count
  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained fever
  • Increased risk for blood clots
  • Kidney disease
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pain/ swelling of the joints, hands, feet, or eye

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) refers to a group of inflammatory conditions affecting the intestines and colon.

IBD shares many symptoms with two other autoimmune diseases called Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Though they share similar symptoms they’re actually quite different. For instance, inflammation occurs anywhere along the digestive tract in people with Crohn’s disease, whereas it’s limited to the large intestine in those with ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease

People with Crohn’s disease have patchy inflammation, thickened colon walls and ulcers that extend deep into tissues in the walls. 

Common symptoms include: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Persistent diarrhea 
  • Bleeding
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Malabsorption
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Mouth sores
  • Rashes, skin ulcers, and other skin disorders
  • Dry, inflamed eyes

Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis

As I mentioned above, inflammation is limited to the colon in patients with ulcerative colitis. 

Here are common symptoms: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anemia that is caused by severe bleeding
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Malabsorption
  • Loss of appetite
  • Urgent bowel movements
  • Inability to defecate
  • Weight loss

By the time symptoms have begun, conventional medicine treats both diseases the same way: with a slew of immunosuppressive medications and invasive surgeries. By ignoring the upstream factors that led to the condition, these methods don’t address the thing that caused the inflammation in the first place. Over time, IBD symptoms can reach beyond the gastrointestinal tract, including the eyes, joints, and skin.

These are the most common autoimmune diseases in men, yet that doesn’t mean men cannot get other autoimmune diseases as well. The great news is that regardless of which autoimmune disease is affecting you, you can eliminate your symptoms and reverse your condition with a functional medicine approach like what Dr. Autoimmune uses. It starts by getting to the root cause of your symptoms.

A Functional Medicine Approach to Autoimmune Disease in Men

Conventional medicine does not recognize autoimmune diseases as diseases of the immune system as a whole. Instead, they are treated as diseases of particular organs. Unfortunately, that means that there isn’t a unified branch in conventional medicine to manage autoimmune conditions. This is where Dr. Ian Hollaman and the Dr. Autoimmune team come in.

Functional medicine sees the body as a whole unit and views autoimmunity as a disease of the immune system. Instead of focusing on disease symptom management, functional medicine focuses on supporting and strengthening the immune system by getting to the root of what causes autoimmune diseases in men in the first place. 

If you or any men in your life suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned above without an identified, underlying cause, then you should seek care right away! 

Dr. Ian Hollaman, and the Dr. Autoimmune team located in Boulder, Colorado takes into account many factors, such as environment, symptoms, nutrition, genes, and lab values, in order to determine the root cause of your medical issues so your health and well-being can be restored. 

Ready to Get Started with Dr. Autoimmune?

If you’re ready to take the next step in balancing your health, Dr. Autoimmune offers multiple ways to reach out for your convenience, and encourages you to connect with us so we can answer any questions you may have. Our specialized staff is standing by ready to help! 

Click here to schedule your appointment with the Dr. Autoimmune team today! We offer 100% remote care so anyone can heal from anywhere! And we’ve set up ‘The Dr. Autoimmune Solution’ which is a comprehensive new patient special that includes everything necessary to determine the root cause of your condition and start you on the journey to getting your life back.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram & YouTube for more information and tips regarding autoimmune diseases and the functional medicine approach.

How Functional Medicine Can Heal Your Eczema

Eczema care from a functional medicine perspective is all about finding the cause. At Dr. Autoimmune, Dr. Ian Hollaman doesn’t only address his patients’ eczema symptoms; he looks for the root cause of the eczema and fixes it! 

In this article we will go over the common problems Dr. Autoimmune finds that cause eczema.

Eczema And Intestinal Problems

The first place we look for the cause of eczema is the intestinal tract. Whenever there is a skin problem (acne, psoriasis, rashes, boils, etc) the most common cause is something wrong with the gut. 

It’s rare to find someone with unhealthy intestines but healthy skin. That’s because the skin and the gut have some things in common. They both get rid of toxins. When the gut is damaged and not able to eliminate toxins effectively, or worse is ADDING toxins to the body, the skin becomes the place these toxins end up, resulting in a “skin illness” like eczema. 

Both the skin and the intestines are affected by bacteria. They each can be made sick by a lack of healthy bacteria or the presence of pathogens. So eczema care here would be to fix what may be wrong in the gut. Some of the common intestinal conditions that are found to result in eczema are:

Dysbiosis

This is a fancy word for the bacteria in the intestines being messed up. Our bodies need lots of healthy bacteria, probiotics, in the right proportions. If the probiotics are lacking or imbalanced, the result will be problems in the gut.

Intestinal pathogens

Intestinal pathogens are harmful bacteria, parasites or fungi (yeast or mold). These bad guys damage the intestines and can cause a condition called leaky gut syndrome.

Hypochloridia

A variety of digestive problems can hurt the gut. Hypochloridia is a condition where the stomach doesn’t make enough acid. When the digestion in the stomach is weak, food is not broken down. 

Along the same lines, if either the pancreas or gallbladder under-perform, there will be undigested fat, protein and carbohydrates. Poorly digested food irritates the gut and can result in skin problems.

With proper testing, all of these issues are easily diagnosed. Eczema care from a functional medicine approach will always address any problems in the intestinal tract.

Eczema And Food Sensitivities 

Food sensitivities can cause many skin conditions, including eczema. Sensitivities can be developed to any kind of food or food ingredient including chemicals like food coloring and artificial sweeteners, seasonings, and even things like baker’s yeast. 

Sensitivities are different from food allergies, which cause an immediate reaction. Instead, a delayed onset reaction occurs and can last for up to three weeks once triggered. Because of this delay and long duration it can be very frustrating to figure it out by trial and error. 

Thankfully there is excellent testing that can uncover what these sensitivities are. At Dr. Autoimmune, we’ve seen many health issues resolved in patients, even some unexpected ones, once their food sensitivities were discovered and their diets adjusted.

Eczema And Imbalanced Fatty Acids

Low or imbalanced fatty acids or high levels of pro-inflammatory fatty acids can lead to eczema. 

Fatty acids are very important in regulating inflammation in the body, and in eczema the skin is very inflamed. Fatty acid levels are affected by diet and absorption. 

If a person is eating foods high in pro-inflammatory fatty acids (soy, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, safflower, and mixed vegetable oils, or fatty meats like burgers, hot dogs, bacon, bologna, ribs, etc) or not eating enough foods high in anti-inflammatory fats (olive oil, nuts like almonds and walnuts, fatty fish like salmon) their biochemistry will become pro-inflammatory. That’s why testing fatty acid levels is an important part of healing eczema.

Eczema And Histamine Intolerance 

Most people are familiar with antihistamine drugs. Histamine is released in response to allergies and causes the runny nose and sneezing associated with allergies. 

The allergy component is just one of the jobs histamine is involved in. Histamine is also released in response to injury, inflammation and infection. 

In fact, histamine has 23 different functions in the body. When a person’s body can’t eliminate histamine and has elevated levels all the time, they develop an intolerance to histamine. Eczema is one of the possible problems histamine intolerance can cause.

Histamine intolerance can also cause leaky gut, which again can lead to eczema. This is a good example of how a problem like eczema can be complicated and multi-layered. 

A functional medicine approach looks for these various factors to uncover the root cause(s) of eczema.

Eczema And Toxins

Air pollutants from cigarette smoke, automobiles, industrial factories, and heating systems in buildings can all cause eczema. 

Also, heavy metals like mercury, lead and cadmium can cause eczema. And people with poor detoxification ability are at greater risk. 

Testing not only for the presence of these toxins in the body, but for how well a person is able to get rid of toxins, is very important.

Eczema And Mold

Mold can cause eczema. Testing here is critical because mold can cause so many other health problems. 

It’s very common that patients who have eczema that was caused by mold, had no idea that their home had mold.

Eczema And Allergies 

There are many allergens that can cause eczema like: 

  • certain foods 
  • food additives
  • ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products
  • environmental chemicals and pollutants
  • seasonal pollen
  • dust mites 
  • pet dander

A Functional Medicine Approach To Eczema 

Healing eczema from a functional medicine approach is all about finding the cause and fixing it. 

Generally patients with eczema have more going on than just their eczema. Often these patients have one or more of these conditions as well: 

  • an autoimmune disorder
  • chronic fatigue
  • weakness
  • body pain
  • joint pain
  • headaches
  • sinus problems
  • brain fog
  • IBS &
  • depression and anxiety.

The components of the human body are so interwoven that when something is not working right a whole host of problems can occur. 

Functional medicine is all about recognizing this. 

Once the root causes are resolved, people get healthy and their symptoms go away.

Dr. Ian Hollaman aka Dr. Autoimmune

Functional medicine is one promising aspect of America’s healthcare future, in that it resolves medical issues at their source, before they become chronic challenges in your future.

If you or a loved one has eczema, Dr. Autoimmune and his team can help! Just click here or just click the Start Your Journey button below.

We’re the autoimmune wellness specialists that Boulder, CO. residents trust! 

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Healing Crohn’s Disease With Functional Medicine

Digestive issues are becoming more and more common! From bloating to IBS to SIBO and Candida overgrowth, there’s no shortage of people walking into my office hoping for a solution to their GI issues

Today, I’m going to dive into one of the more serious GI issues I see among my patients — Crohn’s disease

Many people with Crohn’s feel hopeless and like there’s no more that can be done. But I’m here to tell you that no matter what you’ve heard, there are steps you can take to improve your digestion and see improvements in your symptoms. Keep reading for everything you need to know.

What is Crohn’s Disease?

Like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease. As of 2015, about 1.3% of the United States population had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

IBD is different from IBS in that it is characterized as an autoimmune disease, meaning the underlying cause of Crohn’s is an immune system malfunction that causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues. 

In the case of Crohn’s, the body attacks the intestinal lining, leading to localized inflammation. 

What Are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease? 

The inflammation caused by Crohn’s can lead to a host of symptoms, including: 

  • Diarrhea 
  • Bloating 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding and pain
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Nutrient deficiencies 
  • Fatigue
  • Low mood or depression 
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Nausea and vomiting

To be diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, these symptoms would have to be moderate to severe, and chronic. 

In order to officially make a Crohn’s disease diagnosis, a doctor will also do laboratory tests to check your inflammation levels, signs of nutrient deficiencies such as anemia, and infections as well as X-rays, CT scans, a colonoscopy, and an endoscopy.

What Does a Functional Medicine Crohn’s Diet Plan Look Like? 

If you’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, you may have already noticed that certain foods seem to trigger your symptoms and other foods seem to be “safe.” And while every person’s trigger foods are slightly different, almost all Crohn’s patients can benefit from reducing their intake of: 

  • Lectin-containing foods like beans and legumes 
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Gluten-containing grains
  • Dairy
  • Processed foods
  • Raw vegetables
  • Caffeine 
  • Sorbitol, xylitol, or other sugar alcohols
  • Alcohol 
  • Spicy foods 
  • Raw fruits

You may be reading the list above and feel a little bummed out. Does this mean you can’t enjoy your morning cappuccino or popcorn at the movies? Dr. Ian Hollaman, aka Dr. Autoimmune recommends reducing these foods as much as possible, especially in the first few months, but you may be able to be more flexible once your symptoms have improved.

The good news is that there are a ton of delicious foods that can actually benefit your gut health, such as: 

  • Organic meats
  • Fatty fish 
  • Cooked vegetables 
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Fruits and vegetables 

As a general rule, it’s been noticed that people with Crohn’s seem to benefit from eating cooked foods, which means soups, stews, and stir fry are your new best friends. 

Crohn’s can have serious consequences and should not be ignored. That being said, if your doctor does not seem open to dietary or lifestyle changes, or tells you they won’t make a difference, that is a red flag that you may want to find another physician to manage your care. Why? Because study after study has shown that lifestyle factors DO matter when it comes to Crohn’s and all inflammatory bowel diseases for that matter. 

Non-Food Lifestyle Choices That Can Improve Symptoms.

Even though Crohn’s is a gut-centric disease, there are other non-food lifestyle choices that seem to be able to improve symptoms. If you have Crohn’s, I recommend exploring the following:

1. Avoid smoking-

Tobacco products have been linked to the development of Crohn’s and an increased number of flare-ups. 

2. Manage stress-

Stress is not necessarily a cause of Crohn’s but it can definitely trigger flare-ups and worsen symptoms. I recommend yoga, meditation, or gratitude practices as a way to manage daily stress. 

3. Take fish oil-

Fish oil may help reduce the underlying inflammation present in Crohn’s disease. In fact, one study showed that patients taking fish oil were twice as likely to remain in remission compared to patients not taking fish oil. 

4. Try acupuncture-

Another great option is the traditional Chinese medicine modality acupuncture. While the research isn’t conclusive, several clinical trials have shown promising results that acupuncture could be helpful for inflammatory bowel disease. 

How Functional Medicine Can Help Heal Crohn’s Disease

Many patients with Crohn’s disease report feeling frustrated with conventional medical protocols. Patients overwhelmed with drug risks and side effects want an alternative approach. Functional medicine practitioners like Dr. Ian Hollaman (aka Dr. Autoimmune) is an expert in alternative therapies- He has found that when he helps clients with Crohn’s disease change their lifestyle, he can help them change the severity of their disease. 

He then customizes a program that utilizes diagnostic tests, protocols, and procedures to help identify autoimmune triggers caused by Crohn’s disease which may be contributing to the client’s symptoms. 

He then uses additional protocols to help the body deal with the identified stressors. 

How Is Crohn’s Disease Diagnosed?

Diagnosing Crohn’s disease may often prove to be a complicated task, given the complexity of symptoms, the varying degree of their severity, and the fact that the signs may not manifest the same way for all patients. It is likely that several different types of tests are needed, after considering your symptoms, their frequency, and seriousness. 

Functional Medicine Labs to Test for Crohn’s Disease

Functional medicine testing can assess the extent of inflammation in the intestines and the rest of the body along with nutrient deficiencies, anemia, and infections and help identify underlying contributing factors.

CICA

The Celiac, IBS, and Crohn’s Assay (CICA) measure genetic risk markers and antibodies directed against yeast in the gut (Anti-Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Antibody (ASCA), which is an indicator for the presence and severity of Crohn’s.

Calprotectin

Fecal calprotectin is a marker of mucosal inflammation in IBD and can be used to monitor disease activity.

Comprehensive Stool Test

The GI-MAP assesses relative amounts of healthy and unbalanced gut bacteria, inflammation and leaky gut markers, parasites, and yeast overgrowth. Individuals with Crohn’s frequently have an overgrowth of Candida and Malassezia yeasts that join harmful bacteria to create biofilms that are difficult for the immune system to get rid of. This can trigger autoimmunity and perpetuate the cycle of inflammation, so detecting and healing gut infections and imbalances is important.

Micronutrient Testing

Crohn’s causes nutrient deficiencies that result in further immune system dysregulation and impaired healing. The damaged intestines cannot effectively absorb nutrients, leading to deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, magnesium, and other nutrients. 

The functional status of nutrients within the cell can be assessed with a micronutrient panel to target any deficiencies.

Other Labs

Other basic labs to assess contributing factors and complications include

  • complete blood count (CBC) to detect infection and anemia
  • inflammation markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) to assess inflammation throughout the body, and
  • liver function tests to screen for liver and bile duct problems.

After careful consideration, a highly trained integrative functional medicine practitioner can determine the presence of Crohn’s disease, its location in the digestive tract, and its state of progression. 

If you’re an individual suffering from chronic inflammatory bowel disease, it is imperative to develop a close, trusting, and reliable relationship with your integrative functional medicine practitioner to avoid the worsening of your condition and even to restore the standard functions of the digestive system.

Why is it Important to Work With an Integrative Functional Medicine Practitioner?

An integrative functional medicine practitioner will examine all areas of your life when creating a plan for managing your Crohn’s disease symptoms.

With the help of various scientifically proven allopathic and complementary medicinal methods this disorder may become entirely manageable, remaining in remission for extended periods of time. The goal of care therefore, will always be:

  • to control the inflammatory processes, most often with the help of anti-inflammatories
  • to balance the immune system- by aiding its health with proper nutrition
  • to correct any nutritional deficiencies developed by creating a proper diet protocol and adding appropriate supplementation
  • to relieve all bothersome symptoms, usually with the help of natural therapies, herbal remedies, stress relief, and other alternative approaches

Functional Medicine Care for Crohn’s Disease

A functional medicine approach to Crohn’s disease addresses underlying factors to balance the immune system, calm inflammation, and avoid the progression of the disease to avoid complications.

Lifestyle Changes You Can Make

Nutrition

Diet strongly influences the gut microenvironment, impacting microbial composition, function, gut barrier, and immunity. 

The composition of the gut microbiota can change in response to diet. So like we mentioned above, an individualized nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet can help balance inflammation to avoid flares and further irritation to the gastrointestinal tract while optimizing nutrients.

Support the Microbiome

A properly balanced gut microbiome is crucial for balanced immune function. A diet rich in unprocessed whole foods that incorporates probiotic-rich foods like miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut combined with prebiotic-rich foods like leeks, artichokes, garlic, and beans that nourish healthy bacteria is critical for repairing the intestinal lining and reducing symptoms. 

In addition to diet, probiotic supplements like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have been shown to improve Crohn’s.

Manage Stress

Stress increases cortisol and inflammation in the gut via the “brain-gut axis,” triggering flare-ups. Therefore, stress management practices like yoga, meditation, breathwork, or gratitude practices and addressing emotions and trauma are helpful.

Exercise

Exercise decreases the expression of inflammatory substances and encourages repair of the damaged intestines.

Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT)

FMT is an emerging experimental treatment strategy for Crohn’s.

Dr. Ian Hollaman aka Dr. Autoimmune 

Dr. Ian Hollaman, aka Dr. Autoimmune, along with his team, is one of the top functional medicine telehealth providers in the world! We offer webcam health consultations for people suffering from autoimmune diseases. 

At Dr. Autoimmune, we use a functional medicine approach to identify the root cause of your condition and develop a custom plan using diet, supplementation, and lifestyle change to help you reach your health goals. 

With an 85% success rate, we are confident that we can get you the results you are looking for. 

If you’re ready for your life to change click here or just click the “Start Your Journey” button below.

We are the autoimmune wellness specialists that Boulder, CO. residents trust!

How Autoimmune Diseases Can Affect Your Skin

The skin is the largest organ of your body and will sometimes hint at what’s going on beneath the surface when an individual is suffering from certain autoimmune conditions.

Did You Know?

The skin is made up of five distinct layers of skin, and the two top ones are most often affected by autoimmune skin diseases. 

 

The top layer is called the epidermis, and it is the outermost layer. The underlying layer is the dermis, and it contains vital cells, tissues, and structures. 

 

When either of these layers become compromised by an autoimmune disease it can cause certain symptoms. 

Symptoms Of Autoimmune Skin Diseases Can Include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Skin inflammation (swelling)
  • Small patches of red, scaly skin
  • Skin scarring
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed or itch
  • Thickened, pitted, and ridged nails
  • Stiff and swollen joints

Causes

Autoimmune skin diseases occur because the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues. 

 

When these antibodies attack healthy tissues, they are called autoantibodies. 

 

With autoimmune skin conditions, autoantibodies attack skin cells or collagen tissues. 

Triggers & Other Factors

Researchers link a variety of triggers for the development of these conditions, including ultraviolet radiation (from the sun), hormones, infections, and certain foods. 

 

Even some prescription drugs may play a part in the development of certain autoimmune disorders. 

 

Other factors can also play a role in autoimmune skin diseases- like stress! Stress can also trigger autoimmune skin conditions. 

 

Some researchers even think that some people have a genetic predisposition for certain autoimmune skin diseases. 

 

And people with specific genes also have an increased risk for developing particular skin conditions- but only if other trigger factors exist. 

What You’ve Learned So Far

So far you’ve learned about your skin and the different symptoms of an autoimmune condition. 

 

You’ve also learned the causes & triggers of what could cause a flare up on your skin. 

 

So now let’s go over a few of the most common autoimmune diseases that will show up on your skin.

Common Autoimmune Diseases That Will Show Up On Your Skin

LUPUS

  • Also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body. The most common symptom is inflammation and it usually targets the joints, brain, kidneys, and the skin. It’s also been known to cause joint pain and even arthritis.

 

Common symptoms are generally a butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and the bridge of the nose. 

 

Sometimes individuals will have rashes elsewhere on the body, and will also cause the patient’s skin to be hypersensitive to the sun. Even small amounts of sunlight can create scaly patches across the skin that can scar over. It is these scarred sections of skin that have an increased risk of developing carcinoma and melanoma, the two common forms of skin cancer. 

SCLERODERMA

Localized Scleroderma is a chronic connective tissue disease that causes extreme hardening of the skin, caused by vast overproduction of collagen. 

 

This autoimmune skin condition is seen in only a few places on the skin and it seldom spreads. 

 

In fact, it progresses relatively slow and affects the skin of the hands, feet, and face. It sometimes can also damage the lungs, esophagus or intestines.

 

Diffuse Scleroderma is another form of this autoimmune disease and it can progress very quickly, affecting the skin across the entire body. 

DERMATOMYOSITIS

Dermatomyositis is a chronic disease that causes muscle inflammation, which often leads to muscle weakness. It is one of a group of diseases known as inflammatory myopathies.

 

The first symptom of dermatomyositis is a skin rash that will appear on the eyelids, nail cuticle areas, and/or on muscles that are used to straighten or extend joints including heels, elbows, and knuckles. The rash is bluish-purple or red and is usually patchy.

PEMPHIGOID

This autoimmune disease results in skin rashes and fluid-filled blisters along the legs, arms, stomach, or on the mucous membrane (this includes the mouth, eyes, nose, throat, and genitals). 

 

There are different types of pemphigoid, and they are characterized by where the blistering occurs on the body.

 

Bullous Pemphigoid: Blistering happens on the arms and legs, mostly around the joints

 

Cicatricial Pemphigoid: Blistering occurs on the mucous membrane, typically affecting the eyes and mouth.

 

Pemphigoid Gestationis: This is when the blistering occurs shortly after or during pregnancy, usually on the arms, legs, and abdomen.

PEMPHIGUS

Pemphigus looks very similar to pemphigoid, as they are both characterized by blisters on the skin and/or the mucous membrane. 

 

The difference lies in the fact that the immune system attacks a different part of the skin in each disease. The affected part of the skin in pemphigus is more fragile because it is closer to the surface, so any blisters than form burst very easily. Patients that have this autoimmune disease usually have visual signs of more ruptured blisters, and the individual is usually covered with scabs.

 

Pemphigus is considered a more serious disease since burst blisters present a higher chance of infection, which is dangerous for someone with an already compromised immune system. 

 

There are two main types of pemphigus:

 

Pemphigus Vulgaris: Blisters begin in the mouth and spread to the skin or genitals. Generally, these blisters are painful but not itchy.

 

Pemphigus Foliaceus: Blisters that appear on the chest, back, and shoulders. These are usually more itchy than painful.

PSORIASIS

One of the more well-known autoimmune skin diseases is psoriasis

 

This autoimmune condition speeds up the life cycle of skin cells, causing excess skin cells to collect on the surface of the skin. This buildup forms itchy and painful scales and red patches. 

 

There are many different types of psoriasis, but some common symptoms include: 

  • red patches of skin with silvery scales
  •  itchy scaling spots
  • extremely dry skin that may bleed if it cracks
  • swollen and stiff joints 

 

Patches can range in size from a few smaller spots that can look like dandruff, to much larger affected patches of skin.

 

Psoriasis typically goes through cycles, and patients will experience flare-ups for a short period of time, and then go into remission. 

See A Specialist

For Boulder, Colorado residents that are experiencing any of the symptoms or conditions mentioned above seek the help of the best autoimmune doctor and team in the state- Dr. Ian Hollaman and the Dr. Autoimmune team. 

Click Here to learn more about the conditions we treat, and to view our New Patient Special!

6 Early Signs Of An Autoimmune Disease

With autoimmune diseases on the rise in the past few decades, we’ve learned to detect early signs of an autoimmune disease to help fill in the gap about what causes the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues and organs.

 

With many variables and unknowns, there are a few things we do know about autoimmune diseases. For starters, autoimmune conditions can be managed, and some of the damage can even be reversed if diagnosed early enough.

 

The trouble is, most people get diagnosed with an autoimmune disease when significant damage has been done to major organs and so the symptoms are clear and prominent enough to make the diagnosis relatively easy to arrive at. 

 

In fact, research shows that signs of autoimmunity can show up on tests months and even years before the patient has symptoms of a fully developed autoimmune disease. So, why is it so hard for an autoimmunity to be diagnosed early on before the damage is irreparable?

 

There are as many as about 80 different autoimmune diseases. The earliest symptoms of autoimmunity, however, are very, very similar. So this was the good news. The bad news is, they’re also vague, non-specific and sometimes, hard to identify as a reason for concern until the disease becomes acute which is why going to an autoimmune specialist like Dr. Autoimmune is so important. 

 

Dr. Autoimmune and his team are dedicated to the fight against autoimmune diseases, and want to equip you with the knowledge you need to seek a medical opinion and receive an early diagnosis. So, here are some early signs to look for and some suggestions for how to track and address them with your doctor.

 

Your skin is a telltale sign

The skin is often the first indicator of inflammation. Any unusual rashes, redness, itchiness, blotchy and sensitive areas that show up without an obvious reason can point to an underlying inflammation going on in your body. Even acne can be a sign that something is not quite right internally.

 

While none of the symptoms we mentioned above can be directly linked to an autoimmune disease, noticing more than two of these symptoms should be reason enough to track anything unusual or suspicious; especially if you have a family history of autoimmune diseases. 

 

So, if the condition of your skin inexplicably changes, be aware that among the many possible causes, there is a chance that it can be due to an overactive immune system. 

 

Some autoimmune diseases especially, like lupus, are directly linked to changes in the texture and the color of the skin, so also be mindful of any swollen, scaly areas. 

 

Sun Sensitivity 

Sun sensitivity can be another thing to look out for and keep in mind when assessing any changes in how your skin ‘behaves’. While we all need to be aware of burning in the sun, for some people with autoimmune diseases, the sun can trigger flares and make symptoms worse.

 

“I’ve had patients come back from vacations in Hawaii and all of a sudden they have lupus,” says Dr. Autoimmune. “And others where it’s taken months to get their disease back in check after a severe sunburn.”

 

Researchers know that the sun can trigger lupus in some people who were already on track to get the disease. Sun can also cause lupus flare-ups in people who already have the disease. 

 

There is also some evidence of a connection between sunlight and flares of a disease called dermatomyositis. Research suggests that severe sunburn might also trigger flares of psoriasis and scleroderma. Scientists are still working to learn more about this.

 

Extreme exhaustion, fatigue and ‘brain fog’

If you’ve worked a long 8 hour day and you feel mentally and physically exhausted, this isn’t a reason to get checked for an autoimmune disease. But, feeling mentally and physically exhausted even after some solid 8 or even 9 hours of sleep everyday should not go unexamined. 

 

For many people with an autoim­mune disease, fatigue is the most debilitating symptom. The fatigue from an autoim­mune disease differs from the tiredness most people feel after long periods of work or exer­cise, or when they haven’t slept well. It’s a feeling of exhaustion all the time that interferes with the ability to function.

 

These common symptoms of fatigue and ‘brain fog’ can be among the earliest signs of autoimmunity and inflam­mation may be the reason for some of it, and should be taken very seriously!

 

Fatigue is sometimes the physical manifestation of anemia of chronic inflammation – a type of anemia that can be present in cases of underlying inflammatory disease. 

 

Weight fluctuation

Again, losing or gaining a couple pounds isn’t something to be alarmed about. But, weight fluctuation without any specific reason for it, especially if other symptoms are present, can also point to issues with the immune system. While some autoimmune diseases are associated with weight loss, others, on the contrary, can cause weight gain.

 

If your diet and physical activity haven’t changed but your weight has and it can’t be attributed to changes in metabolism that happen gradually with age. It’s also possible that it’s your immune system that needs medical attention. 

 

Hypothyroidism, for example, is linked to slower metabolism which can translate into rapidly gaining weight even if your diet has stayed the same. And while it’s a myth that you can’t maintain a healthy weight with hypothyroidism (especially when you’re on the right treatment), you should be suspicious of changes in your body’s response to food.

 

Muscle or Joint Pain

Muscle or joint pain can be an unsurprising indication that something’s going on with your immune system. If you’re not an athlete or an avid gym enthusiast that recently overdid their work-out, your muscles and joints shouldn’t just randomly hurt.

 

Rheumatoid arthritis is not the only autoimmune disease linked to this type of pain. Aches all over your body can also be an early sign of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a condition of hypofunction of the thyroid, the result of the immune system attacking the gland. 

 

A lot of autoimmune conditions have very similar early symptoms, so don’t jump to conclusions. Muscle and joint pain can also be a symptom of lupus but if it’s really early on, general autoimmunity is what you should look out for and then if confirmed, look into specific conditions.

 

Abdominal Pain

Any discomfort of the digestive tract should be examined if other symptoms are also present. A lot of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) cause mild symptoms at first that come and go and can easily be attributed to ‘bad eating’ or stress. But you shouldn’t wait for blood in your stool to take diarrhea seriously.

 

Abdominal pain, cramps, bloating can all be caused by different things that have nothing to do with your immune system. However, if such symptoms appear ‘out of nowhere’ and you notice other signs of inflammation too, seek a medical opinion. 

 

The lining of your digestive tract shouldn’t be severely compromised before you’re eligible to fight the inflammation. In fact, the sooner you do, the more of your beneficial microflora can be preserved.

 

Autoimmune diseases are not easy to diagnose unless specific prominent symptoms are present. Autoimmunity, however, can be diagnosed with a blood test that looks for auto-antibodies or tests looking for inflammation and dysfunction of certain organs most likely to be damaged by an immune system gone rogue. 

 

When in doubt, always get checked out! 

When in doubt, always get checked out! If you have noticed some of these early signs of autoimmunity, schedule an appointment as soon as possible and ask for a blood test. 

 

If you’ve already been seen by an autoimmune doctor, always seek a second opinion if your doctor refuses to take your concerns seriously. The earlier an autoimmune disease is detected, the easier it is to manage it and limit the damage done to the organs. 

 

If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms, keep track of them and team up with medical professionals like Dr. Autoimmune and his team that focus on screening, treatment and prevention.

 

Dr. Ian Hollaman, aka Dr. Autoimmune, is a IFM certified practitioner located in Boulder, Colorado. He and his team focus on functional medicine that addresses what is above and below the surface. 

 

Their mission is to empower patients with chronic and complex autoimmune conditions by identifying the root cause of autoimmune disease and by providing natural, customized care that offers solutions that promote optimal health.

Let Dr. Ian Hollaman, and the Dr. Autoimmune care team do what they do best! Click Here to schedule your appointment today or call us directly at (303)882-8447.

Achieve A Healthier Gut By Eating These Foods!

We’ve all experienced these symptoms more than we can count! Bloating, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, and the general feeling of blah. 

That’s a common feeling after eating a large greasy meal. Or indulging in a rich dessert. Or grabbing a bunch of convenience food when you’re running late. 

It’s easy to brush off short-term discomforts from these foods, but daily consumption can lead to long-term gut health problems. 

So how can we achieve a healthier gut?

Well, what if I told you that food is the answer to achieving a healthier  gut! It’s true, but there’s good food and bad food for your gut! 

Healthy food is nature’s medicine as it can ease digestive symptoms and prevent certain conditions. 

By adding gut-healthy foods to your diet it’s a lot easier and delicious to achieve a healthier gut than you may realize!

Let’s face it – we sometimes feel too busy to go searching for healthy food on the go. So we settle on what’s around us. 

The problem is, a lot of those ‘quick’ foods contain high sugar, fats, and cholesterol – with limited nutritional values. This leads to inflammation and unbalanced digestive enzymes. 

Good & Bad Bacteria

Your gut health depends on the functioning of trillions of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses that occupy your small and large intestines and the rest of your body. 

These organisms make up what’s called your microbiome. The microbiome is a delicate system that plays a crucial role in your digestive system, immune system, and production of serotonin. 

The microbiome can be aided or weakened by many factors. One of these factors is the food you eat.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll review foods that can restore healthy gut flora. But first, let’s go over why it’s so important that you make adjustments to your eating habits for your gut.

Why we should change what we eat.

In a perfect world, we would eat whatever satisfied us. Our body would easily process the food as it passed through our gut, and then absorb the necessary nutrients while eliminating what we didn’t need through our bowel movements. 

However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and some foods can make us feel really lousy over time. Which is why many of us should adjust our diet in order to improve our gut health. 

The first step is to eliminate or reduce any processed foods, refined sugars and fats as they’re linked with a higher risk of chronic diseases that can shorten your lifespan.

Some of these chronic diseases include:

Other Issues that can be caused by poor gut health include:

Making a positive change in your diet not only benefits your gut health, it can also help lower your chances of getting any of the chronic diseases mentioned above. 

On top of that, eating with your gut in mind will also help lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Now that we went over the “why” we should change our eating habits, let’s dig in and go over which foods will help you achieve a much happier and healthier gut! 

Sauerkraut

A food often associated with sausage and hearty meals, sauerkraut is actually healthier than one may think. 

Due to the fermentation process and the nutritionally dense values of cabbage, sauerkraut is an awesome food for a healthy gut!

In fact, regular consumption of fermented sauerkraut helps to balance good gut bacteria and is also a beneficial treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases and other conditions.

But be careful– not all sauerkraut is the same. Some sauerkraut found in traditional supermarkets can be loaded with sodium. So make sure to check the label when purchasing.

Leafy Greens

Spinach, kale, arugula, and chard are a few examples of leafy greens that are great to achieve a healthy gut lifestyle. The variety of their use is endless, too! 

Leafy greens can be added to smoothies, soups, salads, and side dishes to satisfy cravings and appetite.

They’re low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with vitamins and minerals – it’s no wonder leafy greens are the superstars of all healthy food! 

The benefits of adding leafy greens to your diet are endless too! 

Here are a few reasons why they are amazing for gut health- 

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Loaded with fiber for a healthy microbiota
  • Maintains healthy blood sugar
  • Promotes a healthy immune system
  • Encourages healthy digestive enzymes
  • Eliminates bloating

Dairy Free Yogurt

Yogurt is great for gut health, but not just any ol’ yogurt! For optimal health benefits, plant-based, dairy-free yogurt is best. 

There are many tasty dairy-free yogurt options available that provide a ton of probiotic gut health benefits – without the lactose issues of dairy.

When choosing a dairy-free yogurt, make sure the label contains at least one of these options:

  • almond milk
  • cashew milk
  • soy milk
  • coconut milk

Plant-based yogurt provides delicious and nutritional options for a healthy gut. Be sure the yogurt you choose isn’t loaded with sugar. 

Don’t worry, you can always sweeten it up with some fruit!

How is Yogurt a Probiotic?

Yogurt is a fermented food that increases lactobacilli (good probiotic) and decreases Enterobacteriaceae (inflammation-causing bacteria). 

In fact, studies show those who consume yogurt regularly have a healthier gut microbiota (gut habitat) than those who do not eat yogurt. 

Further studies also suggest that regular consumption of yogurt is beneficial to those with IBS and other digestive disorders.

It’s easy to see how dairy-free yogurt promotes the gut-healthy lifestyle! So make sure to add some to your next grocery list. 

Garlic

Gut health isn’t only about probiotics – a healthy gut microbiome requires prebiotics, too.

While there are many prebiotic foods, the health benefits of garlic make it a star performer due to its high inulin (a type of dietary fiber) and non-digestive carbohydrate properties. 

These prebiotic properties promote the growth of good bacteria which helps to prevent intestinal diseases.

Garlic is also beneficial for a healthy gut microbiota (gut habitat) due to its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and cancer prevention properties. 

Prebiotic foods, like garlic, also contain short-chain fatty acids, which promote gut-health and decrease inflammation in the colon.

You may now wonder, do I need to eat a bowl full of garlic? No, please don’t! All you need to do is add 1 – 2 cloves of raw garlic into a meal per day. In fact, many healthy recipes include garlic cloves already. 

It’s a matter of mindfulness.

Nuts

Packed with protein, fiber, and polyphenols, moderate consumption of nuts is fantastic for a healthy-gut life. 

Fiber is a key player here, and adding a quarter cup of nuts per day is all that’s needed.

This goes to show a gut-healthy diet includes tasty foods, even ones you’ll go “nuts” over!

Bananas

This is another one that you’ll go “bananas” for! And we mean literally, because bananas are very gut-healthy! 

The health benefits of eating bananas really stack up because they provide everything from fiber, to prebiotics, to pectin, to resistant starch- all of which promote a healthy gut! 

Not to mention there’s so many different ways to enjoy eating them! They can be used in smoothie recipes, desserts, salads and bread! Or just peel and eat it straight up! 

Bonus tip: add a banana to your dairy free yogurt for an extra dose of gut-healthiness!

Lentils

Lentils are a plant-based source of protein and fiber, and are an easy way to add prebiotics and antioxidants to your daily nutrition.

Lentils also have resistant starch which slows the digestion of carbohydrates and reduces the risk for gastrointestinal disorders. 

Meals that contain lentils are also filling which helps to reduce overeating and indigestion.

Gut Health is Important!

Roughly three million Americans today have been diagnosed with intestinal disorders, including Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis

While factors like family history and environment can play a part in health issues, one’s lifestyle and diet play a big role too!

The key takeaway is to eat healthy fermented foods, as well as foods containing fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics. 

Remember, healthy eating doesn’t have to be confusing, complicated, or disgusting. All it takes is some education and mindful planning.

Could your gut be affecting your current health problems?

If after reading this you feel like your gut may be playing a role in your current health problems, then it’s time to make an appointment with Dr. Ian Hollaman, aka Dr. Autoimmune! 

Dr. Hollaman treats a plethora of conditions including many that we mentioned above. He addresses the root causes of your condition(s) using the most modern forms of healthcare including Functional Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, and Neurofeedback.

After working with Dr. Autoimmune and our team, you will walk away with the knowledge and tips to keep your health on track for years to come.

It’s time to start your journey to better health with the right tools, therapies, and diet changes.

Contact us today to get started! We’re happy to set up a complimentary 15-minute introductory consultation with Dr. Ian Hollaman himself.