What is autoimmune disease? How do I keep my immune system healthy? Episode 30.

Thanks for joining me. Today we are going to talk about the immune system again. It is important for you to know how your immune system works when you have an autoimmune disease. That way you can make more informed choices about how you live your life and what you eat. 

When I work with clients who have autoimmune disease we have to look at what is causing the immune system to be out of balance. The key to that is looking at how your digestion is. 

In order for your immune system to function well and serve you rather than harm you, you must do the work to strengthen the defense system and remove what is causing it stress. 

Your immune system, as I have discussed works really hard to keep you healthy and keep your body in balance or in homeostasis which basically means in balance. That is it’s job. 

Another way to look at what I said last week and the week before is that your immune system is always asking if you are safe. If it could talk it would say “are you safe? is this safe?, are you me?”

We are kind of like a bucket. We take in things, let other stuff fall out of the bucket. Sometimes our bucket (immune system) will overflow. When this happens we get inflammation and eventually that inflammation leads to symptoms. In the case of Hashimoto’s that means your thyroid is getting attacked and damaged. 

In order to support your immune system you must support your digestive system and your body with the nutrients it needs to operate optimally. Your body will maintain good long term health this way. 

Let’s talk about inflammation.  The scientific description of inflammation is described as a complex response within the body tissues to things that are harmful. Things like pathogens, bacteria, viruses, toxins, chemicals or tissue damage. 

The immune system will respond to any of that by creating a way to get rid of it (inflammation). Clearing out damaged tissue like when you cut yourself. If you typically have cuts that heal slowly and/or you tend to scar easily- this means your immune system, your body doesn’t have the tools to properly clear out that damaged tissue. 

In fact, slow wound healing is a sign of zinc deficiency. Zinc is an essential mineral to the body providing our body the ability to heal wounds, enhance the immune system, provide anti-inflammatory action and it promotes the conversion of T4 to T3. 

You can’t just go out and supplement with zinc though and think that will take care of it. If your gut is not healthy, if you’re low on stomach acid, your body won’t be able to assimilate it. 

This is why we have to go back and look at how your digestion is working and more importantly, what kind of food you are eating. 

You can’t inflame and anti-inflame well without the tools provided by your diet. This is why I am always preaching to you what to eat. It is that important. It is medicine. 

You will find lots of practitioners who will tell you supplementing with zinc or other supplements will be essential to your healing. They might even be. BUT- what good do they do you if your digestion isn’t working properly. What good do they do you if you are not changing your diet along with taking the supplements. Supplementation might be needed in therapeutic doses for a time period but they should not be something you have to take all the time for the rest of your life. I kind of look at them as something to help speed up the healing process or provide your body with what it is severely deficient in and then once you get your stores up, you should be able to use food. This, is ideal to me. 

So before you go supplementing with 20 pills a day, let’s get you eating right first. With that said, you can get some immune boosters in to your diet as long as you are digesting food well. 

You can get vitamin A from carrots (actually beta carotene which converts to vitamin A), cod liver oil, eel, egg yolks, grass fed dairy (not recommended for autoimmune clients), kale, sweet potato and liver. 

Vitamin B6 is found in basil, bay leaf, dill, garlic, liver, pistachios, lots of herbs, shiitake mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and tuna. 

B12 you can get from clams, fish eggs, herring, kidney, liver, octopus, sardines and trout. There is some in red meat too. 

Vitamin C- a good immune booster found in citrus, acerola cherries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kiwi, parsley, rosehips, herbs and triphala. 

Copper which is needed in conjunction with zinc- they work together.  This can be found in cacao, liver, oysters, shiitake mushrooms and spirulina. 

Vitamin D which most of us with Hashimoto’s are deficient in is found in fish, cod liver oil, oysters, and pastured lard

Vitamin E can be found in almonds, chili powder, curry powder and sunflower seeds. 

Zinc is found in oysters, pumpkin seeds and red meat. 

Our bodies produce something called reactive oxygen species- they are oxidants and are basically reactive chemicals that carry oxygen. They are formed in the body as a byproduct of the metabolism of oxygen or the use of oxygen in the body. 

With stress, the levels of these reactive oxygen species can increase and cause oxidative stress. When the body can’t keep up with breaking down reactive oxygen species, you also get oxidative stress. This causes damage to our cells and tissue in our body. 

We also have things called free radicals which are basically an electrically charged molecule in the body with an unpaired electron in the outer shell- this makes them a little dangerous so to speak and can be very damaging to other molecules that are close by. We get free radicals from our environment but also from inside the body like when we eat too much sugar, over exercise or when our cells make energy. But most important is when our immune system is active. 

This is a very normal part of our daily life and they are not all bad- we just have to make sure they don’t get out of control. 

One way to do that is to bring in the antioxidants that will help neutralize the free radicals which will make those dangerous or unstable free radicals, stable so they don’t damage our cells or tissue. Glutathione is the biggest anti-oxidant but things like Vitamin A, C, E, plant chemicals, selenium and zinc are very helpful. 

Making sure to include berries, citrus, cloves, green tea and even prunes in your diet are a good way to get your antioxidants in. Research seems to show that food based antioxidants are best. 

Other things that are helpful for your immune system to work properly are prebiotic fiber from apples, bananas, berries, broccoli, cabbage, chicory, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, kale, onion, and root veggies. 

Some other good immune boosting foods are elderberry, ginger, manuka honey, bone broth, mushrooms, nettles and rhodiola. 

I’m starting an online RESTART program starting January 9th from 7:00-8:30 pm central time for five weeks. It is a food based sugar detox with nutrition education and support all in one. If you are not sure where to start to get your healing on track, this is the class for you. 

You can find out more at outofthewoodsnutrition/restart or you can email me for more information by going to my website and filling out the contact page. 

Thanks so much for listening. Please leave a review and a rating on iTunes if you don’t mind. It will help more people with Hashimoto’s find it. 

You can reach me on my website by filling out the contact form at helpforhashimotos.com or outofthewoodsnutrition.com. I’m also on Instagram at stephanieewalsntp and please join our help for hashimoto’s facebook group. 

Interested in working with me one on one. I am accepting new clients right now- people who have no idea where to start in this health journey. I can’t wait to help you feel better.