All About Autoimmune Diseases, Part 1: The Basics

• By

Fatigue, achy muscles, swelling, skin rashes… sounds like the common cold, right? Maybe – or maybe it’s an autoimmune disease.

Welcome to All About Autoimmune Diseases, a new series where we’ll cover everything you need to know about common autoimmune diseases and how you can reduce symptoms by leveraging diet, movement, lifestyle, and more. But before we get into the specifics of how to treat autoimmune diseases, we need to cover the basics. Here’s your quick guide to what the autoimmune system does, what autoimmune diseases are, and how they can impact your health.

What are autoimmune diseases?

Here’s the simplest way to think about autoimmune diseases. Picture your body as a castle, and your immune system is the knights and soldiers defending it against invaders (a.k.a. sickness). With autoimmune diseases, something goes wrong, and suddenly your army has turned around and started attacking the castle instead of defending it. Frustrating, right?

Okay, now for the more science-based explanation. With autoimmune diseases, something in your environment interacts with your body (and your genes) to create an “insult” that your immune system is reacting to. Over time, this results in a disease where your immune system attacks the healthy cells in your body.

While there are over 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, many of them share similar symptoms revolving around inflammation. Joint pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, brain fog, anxiety, and more can point to an autoimmune disease.

What causes autoimmune disease?

​​There’s no one “cause” of any autoimmune disease, but there are circumstances that might put you at a higher risk.

For example, a 2014 study found that women get autoimmune diseases at twice the rate that men do, and the disease often presents during the years a woman has her period. Some autoimmune diseases are more common in certain ethnic groups, and others run in families. Some could even be related to environmental toxins, diet, and more.

Bottom line, there’s not an exact science for predicting whether you’ll get an autoimmune disease. However, precision healthcare could be a great first step to assessing your personal risk.

Precision healthcare takes into account lab work, family history, genomics, environment, and lifestyle. Plus, your doctor will get an in-depth medical history from you, so that you can share all your symptoms and paint a detailed picture of what’s going on. If you’re able to take action quickly after experiencing symptoms, you can plan more effective, targeted interventions.

Why is it so important to take action with autoimmune diseases?

It’s a simple case of cause and effect. Understanding how to remove the insult that triggered the disease can help your body return to its baseline. Making a few changes to your daily choices and activities can promote healing your immune system and remove excessive inflammation.

What’s next in All About Autoimmune Diseases

Dealing with an autoimmune disease can make you feel like you’re spinning out of control, or like you have no say in how your body reacts to certain things. This series will help you regain control by reversing or improving the autoimmune disease symptoms you’re experiencing. By making small changes in sleep, diet, movement, and stress management, we can help reduce inflammation, improve the body’s capacity for homeostasis, and improve the body’s ability to process and deal with stress through environmental shifts.

We’ve got a lot to cover – so sit down, dive in, and get ready to optimize your autoimmune disease treatments.

Click here to browse our precision healthcare plans and learn how we can help treat your autoimmune disease.