I’ve seen the science, I’ve reviewed the research, and I’ve treated thousands of patients, and from my experience I know there are a lot of myths out there about autoimmune disease. Whether you’re living with an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s, Lupus, MS or something else, or you know someone who is, understanding the facts is crucial to finding solutions. As both physician and patient, I feel that it’s extremely important to dismantle each misconception and replace it with the truth. So let’s get right to it…
Myth 1. Autoimmune disorders can’t be reversed.
Yes, there’s a genetic component in autoimmune disorders. But as we have learned from the brand-new field of epigenetics (the study of external modifications to DNA that turn genes “on” or “off.”), genetic expression can be modified. For you to develop an autoimmune disorder, something in your environment, diet, or personal circumstances has to turn on the group of your genes that causes autoimmune disorders. But through diet, intestinal healing, and detoxifying your body and environment, you can actually tell those problematic genes to turn off again in order to restore your immune system.
Myth 2. Your symptoms won’t disappear without harsh medications.
Unfortunately, most conventional practitioners dismiss the importance of nutrition as a major factor in our health. As a result, when it comes to fighting autoimmune conditions, patients are often being prescribed drugs.
Instead of using medicine to suppress the immune system, I believe food and supplements can strengthen and support it while you make sure to heal the gut. Medications are not your only option in treating autoimmune disorders.
Myth 3. When you treat an autoimmune disorder with medications, the side effects are no big deal.
I wish this myth were true — but it isn’t. In fact, the side effects of the drugs most often used to treat autoimmune disorders are common, frequent and disruptive. Whether that means insomnia, weight gain, increased blood pressure, headaches or a number of other possibilities, side effects are real and can be tough to handle.
Myth 4. Improving digestion and gut health have no effect on the progression of autoimmune disorders.
The immune system and the digestive system may be seen as two different aspects of the body, but here’s the problem with ignoring the gut: Since the majority of your immune system is located there, it is essential to focus on the digestive system and heal your leaky gut if you want to reverse your autoimmune symptoms. It may surprise you, actually, how quickly you can feel better once you begin healing your digestive system.
Myth 5. Going gluten-free won’t make any difference to your autoimmune disorder.
The idea that gluten doesn’t make any real difference to your condition is one of the most dangerous myths about autoimmune disorders. Many believe going gluten-free is just some crazy fad, and many conventional doctors will tell patients they don’t have to worry about gluten if they test negative for celiac disease and don’t have any digestive issues. Truthfully, eliminating gluten from your diet may be the biggest step you take in healing your condition.
Myth 6. Having an autoimmune disorder means a poor quality of life.
“My doctor said that, over time, I could expect to get weaker and weaker.”
“Sometimes the pain gets so bad, I can’t even take a walk with my husband.”
These are the kinds of problems that someone with an autoimmune disorder can frequently expect — but they are by no means inevitable. Although conventional medicine would counsel you to accept a poor quality of life as the likely outcome of your condition, I’m here to tell you that it is not at all inevitable. If you follow The Myers Way, you can expect to be symptom free, pain free and vigorous.
Myth 7. When it comes to autoimmune disorders, your environment doesn’t matter.
Genetics accounts for about 25 percent of the chance that you will develop an autoimmune disorder. But that means the remaining 75 percent is environmental — what an incredibly empowering statistic. You have the power to manage your body’s response to autoimmunity by changing and shifting parts of your lifestyle and supporting your immune system — and the power to create a happy, healthy life.
Myth 8. Your immune system is what it is, and there’s nothing you can do to support it.
My approach is fundamentally different. Instead of medicating and suppressing the immune system, I believe you can strengthen it by achieving optimal gut health. I feel hope every day I go into my office and see the patients whose lives have been changed. I want to share that hope with you, so you can let go of the myths that surround you and embrace the promise of this powerful approach.
Adapted from The Autoimmune Solution by Amy Myers, MD.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.