What’s your go-to pain-relieving medication? You probably didn't have any trouble answering that question!
Drugs can help tame the inflammatory flame until the root cause of your pain is addressed, but they're not a long-term solution. Instead of masking the symptoms time and time again, why not reach for natural anti-inflammatory foods and make lifestyle adjustments that treat the core issue? This approach is known as Functional Medicine, an up-and-coming field that questions the source of imbalance instead of focusing only on the treatment of symptoms.
Autoimmune diseases currently affect 24 million people and include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more.
“Autoimmune conditions are connected by one central biochemical process," said Dr. Mark Hyman, "a runaway immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues.”
The most common causes of inflammatory conditions include allergens, infections, environmental toxins, poor diet, and stress. Instead of labeling the disease, Functional Medicine identifies these triggers and proposes a plan of combat. Here are the top five most important points to consider when treating inflammation-induced autoimmune disorders such as MS.
1) Check for hidden infections or allergens (bacteria, yeast, viruses, food or environmental allergens, etc.)
2) Nourish a healthy gastrointestinal system with healthy probiotics and digestive enzymes. A combination of undigested food and a “leaky gut” leads to foreign particles escaping the digestive tract, followed by a potential autoimmune response, an attack on your body leading to inflammation.
3) Use nutrient-dense foods to supply the necessary vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals to keep your body running at its peak.
4) Participate in non-intensive exercise, a natural anti-inflammatory.
5) Relax to prevent stress, the number one immune system suppressor. Try yoga, meditation, deep breathing, massage, or personal downtime hobbies.
Top 5 Diet Tips to Help with M.S.
- Cut out processed, refined grains that contain gluten. Those who have one autoimmune disorder are susceptible to others. Celiac disease is a common condition caused by the body’s rejection to gluten found in some grains like wheat, rye and barley.
- Avoid dairy: choose alternatives like almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, etc. In addition, dairy contains a large protein called casein that most people, especially those with a compromised digestive tract, cannot tolerate.
- Low sugar: avoid added sugars that are widely found in processed foods. Sugar leads to inflammation shortly after ingested.
- Focus on plant-based foods: as Michael Pollen says, “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.” Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes and seaweeds contain anti-inflammatory and free radical fighting compounds known to help reduce internal inflammation.
- Choose more whole foods: I’m not talking about the health food grocer; I’m talking about foods that are in their most pure form (think oranges instead of orange juice or blueberries instead of blueberry muffins).