“​​Autoimmune diseases affect approximately one in ten individuals, and their burden continues to increase over time at varying rates across individual diseases.” (1) On average it can take 4.5 years to diagnose an autoimmune condition and most individuals can see anywhere from 6-10 different doctors. 

What is an autoimmune condition? Autoimmune diseases encompass a range of conditions characterized by the immune system attacking the body’s own healthy cells, tissues, and organs instead of defending against foreign invaders. So why is it so hard to diagnose something that is so very common among the population? 

One reason is the symptoms for autoimmune conditions can come on quickly or take years to develop. Examples of these symptoms include: 

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Brain Fog 
  • Attention deficit problems
  • Body rashes, red bumps on facial skin and red flaking skin
  • Acne
  • Rosacea 
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Dermatitis
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent colds
  • Thyroid issues that could point to Hashimoto’s disease (underactive thyroid) or Graves disease (overactive thyroid)
  • Fatigue or hyperactivity
  • Weight gain or loss
  • General feeling of malaise
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Stiffness and pain (could suggest rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia symptoms) 
  • Feeling “wired and tired”
  • Exhaustion
  • Digestive tract upset may indicate irritable bowel disease
  • Stomach cramping
  • Gas
  • Bloated stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

There are also over 100 different types of autoimmune disorders. Here are a sample of just some of them

  • Brain: Multiple sclerosis, Autoimmune Encephalitis, Autoimmune related Epilepsy, Cerebellar Ataxia, Autism
  • Bones: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Muscles: Rheumatoid Arthritis, PolyRheumatica, Autoimmune Myositis, Lupus
  • Skin: Psoriasis, Vitiligo, Eczema, Scleroderma
  • Pancreas: Type I Diabetes 
  • Lungs: Lupus, Scleroderma, Wegener’s Granulomatosis
  • Nerves: Peripheral neuropathy, Multiple Sclerosis, Guillain Barre Syndrome
  • GI Tract: Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis
  • Blood: Lupus Erythematosus, Hemolytic Anemia, Antiphospholipid Syndrome
  • Thyroid: Thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s Disease, Graves’ Disease

As you can see from the list of symptoms and the different types of autoimmune conditions it can be difficult to diagnose. However, once it is diagnosed there are several different lifestyle changes that can be made to improve symptoms and begin to retrain the immune response. As we mentioned last month with hormones, a therapeutic, nutrient dense diet is the foundation to:

  1. Lowering inflammation
  2. Turning off the immune response
  3.  Rebalancing the gut microbiome
  4. Rebuilding intestinal lining
  5. Lowering toxicity levels that can trigger flare ups

Diet is essential for healing. As Hippocrates says, “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Believe it or not, one of the main triggers of an autoimmune condition can be found in the gut. With over 80% of our immune system in our guts, the digestive tract is the focus for nutritional strategies! In the article Heal the gut. Heal the body, we discussed how the foods we eat can either be digested and absorbed to provide adequate nutrients or can lead to additional inflammation.

 One way to minimize the inflammation response in the digestive tract is to eliminate food sensitivities. Here at Eureka! We use the MRT food sensitivity test, it uses patented technology to determine the inflammatory reactions your body makes when you are exposed to certain foods or chemicals. The test then generates a list of foods that have no reaction (green), moderate (yellow) or reactive (red). The coaches at Eureka! can then help to determine the best dietary replacements for reactive items to ensure you are consuming the beneficial nutrients your body needs. 

In addition to knowing food sensitivities the AIP diet has been very successful for supporting individuals that have an autoimmune condition. The autoimmune protocol diet, or AIP diet, focuses on healing the gut by eliminating foods that cause inflammation to reduce symptoms in those with an autoimmune disease. (4)

The following items should be avoiding while following the AIP diet: 

  • Grains
  • Legumes, such as beans, lentils and peanuts
  • Processed foods
  • Seed oils, such as vegetable and canola oil
  • Dairy products
  • Refined sugars
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Herbs from seeds, like coriander, cumin and nutmeg
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Dried fruits
  • Emulsifiers, like carrageenan 
  • Gums
  • Nightshade vegetables, such as eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and okra
  • Alternative sweeteners, like stevia, xylitol and mannitol
  • Alcohol (4) 

When on an AIP diet, it is important to incorporate nutrient dense foods such as: 

  • Vegetables, except for nightshade vegetables
  • Meat, poultry and seafood
  • Coconut products
  • Non-dairy fermented foods, like kombucha 
  • Honey or maple syrup (in limited quantities)
  • Arrowroot starch
  • Herbs
  • Gelatin from grass-fed beef
  • Bone broth
  • Herbs (fresh and non-seed)
  • Green tea
  • Vinegar

Though the AIP diet is restrictive, it has been shown to be beneficial to decrease symptoms of autoimmune conditions. In addition to incorporating dietary changes such as the AIP diet, changing other lifestyle factors such as rest, stress management and even exercise can help to “turn off the flame” of an autoimmune condition. 

Sleep is an important nutrient especially when someone is dealing with an autoimmune condition. IFM states that research suggests, “Prolonged sleep deficiency may lead to chronic, systemic, low-grade inflammation and may be associated with some autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis, and osteoarthritis.” (6) It is often difficult for those with autoimmune conditions to get quality sleep either due to pain, or other factors of their conditions. You can find tips for quality sleep in our article Rest RX

Sleep tips for autoimmune: 

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep 
  • Avoid screen time 30 min prior to bed 
  • Sleep with the room as dark as possible 
  • Keep the room cool less than 70 degrees
  • Eat a protein rich snack before bed 
  • Try yoga or light stretching before bed 

Yoga is an excellent form of movement for those with autoimmune conditions who experience high pain levels as it is gentle on the body. (5) Yoga and full body stretching is a great way to help unwind from the day and reduce overall stress. For some autoimmune disorders and depending on if the individual is in a flare or not, it can determine the amount and type of exercise they can manage. In a review of exercise and autoimmune conditions (specifically Rheumatoid Arthritis), it showed that exercise is actually beneficial versus the previous thought of rest. The review states, “exercise induces changes in circulating immune function (including a decrease of CD4+ count) that would appear helpful in regulating inflammation. Further, there is evidence that patients can tolerate a program of regular moderate aerobic exercise.” (7) Exercise depending on the individual, their condition state and doctors recommendations should be included into every treatment plan. 

Stress plays an important role in autoimmune conditions. “Studies show that 80% of people report unusual emotional stress prior to developing an autoimmune condition.” (5) We know that chronic stress can cause inflammation, immune dysregulation, imbalances in digestive health, and dysfunction in the HPA axis, all which can contribute to autoimmunity. (5) If you want to heal from or prevent the advent or progression of autoimmune conditions, you must tend to your emotional well-being. (2) We discussed stress management techniques in Turning Stress into Strength

Reducing stress to support autoimmune conditions by the following: 

  1. Deep Breathing– slow deep breathing has been shown to decrease stress
  2. Spend time in nature– can lower cortisol levels, reduce inflammation, improve immune system, and decrease anxiety and depression 
  3. Pray/meditate– can reduce inflammatory markers like CRP (5) 
  4. Forgive– anger, resentment and bitterness can cause additional stress

As with all conditions, supplementation can often help support the body when needed for those with autoimmune conditions. 

Experts believe that people with autoimmune diseases may benefit most from:

  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3s
  • Turmeric 
  • Glutathione (master antioxidant)
  • L-glutamine & Gut lining nutrient formula of herbs
  • A quality multivitamin (preferably liquid)
  • Antioxidants, such as resveratrol (the same type found in berries and red wine) (3) 

Vitamin D has many roles in the body including the immune system and central nervous system. Dr. Axe reports on a study completed by the journal of BMJ, that looked at vitamin D and Omega 3 supplementation to reduce the risk of autoimmune conditions. The study showed that, while vitamin D deficiency might not directly cause immune-related diseases, a link has been found between low vitamin D and autoimmune disease development. (3) In addition, “studies suggest higher intake of omega-3s may help protect against autoimmune disease development.” (3) 

Autoimmune conditions can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life. Early diagnosis and treatments can help to manage symptoms and prevent further damage. Lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, regular exercise, and eating a healthy diet can help to manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

The Coaches at Eureka! are here to help you through your autoimmune journey! From dietary changes to supplements and stress management tips, the D.R.E.S.S. individualized protocols are specific to what phase you are in. To learn more about becoming a client click here!! 


  1. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(23)00457-9/fulltext
  2. https://draxe.com/health/reduce-stress-to-beat-autoimmune/ 
  3. https://draxe.com/health/the-link-between-vitamin-d-and-autoimmune-disease/ 
  4. https://draxe.com/nutrition/aip-diet/ 
  5. https://www.rupahealth.com/post/the-impact-of-stress-on-autoimmune-diseases-and-the-potential-benefits-of-stress-reduction-techniques 
  6. Eureka! Nutrition Course
  7. Shephard RJ, Shek PN. Autoimmune disorders, physical activity, and training, with particular reference to rheumatoid arthritis. Exercise Immunology Review. 1997 ;3:53-67. PMID: 9139753.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This