Did you know that women have a fourfold increase in risk for having or developing an autoimmune disease compared to men?

CRAZY right?

This rate is influenced by many “obvious factors” – such as DNA, chromosomes, etc. But the most overlooked cause of autoimmunity…

Hormone imbalance.

Hormone imbalance and autoimmunity have a bi-directional relationship. Meaning that when hormones are imbalanced this influences your risk of developing an autoimmune disease or having a flare.

Then when you are in an active flare, this chronic inflammation and systemic distress increases your risk for hormone imbalance.

And the cycle repeats itself.

Living with autoimmunity can feel like an uphill battle and the symptoms can be debilitating. Even worse, traditional “treatment” options are limited in conventional medicine 🩺 to medications 💊 that have their own list of side effects.

In integrative nutrition, we know there is another way. By focusing on addressing the root cause of why you feel the way that you do, we can work on healing your body naturally to put your symptoms in remission.

In fact, this is how I have managed my six (6) autoimmune conditions entirely without medication.

But sometimes, flare ups do happen and symptoms can come back.

Being armed with knowing exactly how hormones influence your autoimmunity and how to support them ensures that you remain in control of your health.

What is autoimmunity?

Autoimmunity is the failure of the human body’s immune system to recognize its own cells and tissues as its “self”. As a result, your body will accidentally mistake its own cells, tissues, and organs as “foreign invaders” and initiate an immune response to fight the “false infection”.

As a result, you suffer from chronic inflammation, pain, and symptoms as a result of your body damaging itself as a protective measure. It’s a case of mistaken identity.

Your “diagnosis” is linked to the system that is damaged as a result of this mistaken identity and/or the agent that is causing the reaction. For example, the destruction of the thyroid leading to low thyroid function is Hashimotos’. Celiac Disease is when an immune response and subsequent attack of the small intestine happens after eating gluten.

Symptoms of a Flare-Up:

Flare-ups happen if you generally have your symptoms under control but they suddenly appear leaving you feeling awful. Flare-ups will look different in each and every person depending on which autoimmune condition you have. But even in similar conditions, the symptoms that impact you the most might be different from another person’s. In general, symptoms can include:

  • Constipation
  • Brain fog
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Bloating
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Weight gain
  • Heavy periods
  • Cycle irregularity

The amount of time that you experience a flare-up can also vary depending on what triggered it in the first place and the steps you are taking to calm your flare-up.

Possible Causes & Triggers:

Due to bio-individuality and the fact that each and every person is unique, triggers are going to be different. And the threshold for each trigger might vary. Meaning some triggers you have a higher threshold against and others you do not.

  1. Hormone Imbalances: Hormone imbalances are the most overlooked root cause of autoimmunity and each hormone has its own impact. Let’s take a look at each.
    1. Estrogen: Can enhance the inflammatory response by increasing the number of antibodies in the body. Estrogen dominance is extremely prevalent in women due to today’s diet, environment, and the use of birth control and hormone replacement therapy. Imbalanced estrogen can also impact auto-antibody production – which is responsible for damaging tissues in autoimmunity.
    2. Cortisol: Cortisol is your stress hormone and increases inflammation as a protective measure. In small amounts, it is very healthy. Chronic stress leads to increased inflammation and adrenal overload. However when you are under chronic stress and cortisol is produced for long periods, your body and cells become desensitized. This condition is known as cortisol resistance, similar to insulin resistance in diabetes. As a result, cortisol ceases to lessen the inflammatory response, and inflammation begins to rise. Over time cortisol resistance leads to dysfunctional stress response and is a risk factor in developing autoimmune diseases. Many autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and alopecia areata, have been associated with a disrupted stress response.
    3. Progesterone and Testosterone: Progesterone and testosterone, thyroid hormones, insulin, and vitamin D, to name a few, all play an essential role in maintaining homeostasis in your body. For example, one study suggests that low testosterone might contribute to high inflammation in your body, leading to autoimmune disease.
  2. Nutrient Deficiencies: Chronic undereating, poor gut health and nutrient absorption, and nutrient gaps influence both system health and hormone health. Your body is the most advanced biochemical machine to walk this earth. So if you are missing what it needs to function, everything else is impacted as a result. There are six (6) key nutrient deficiencies associated with autoimmunity:
    1. Vitamin D
    2. Selenium
    3. B Vitamins
    4. Zinc
    5. Omega 3
    6. Magnesium

    Many of these nutrients are also critical to maintaining a healthy gut lining and ensuring optimal absorption of nutrients from food, so it is a double whammy in terms of your results.

  3. Diet: Just like you might have missing key nutrients, you might also be overeating foods that cause inflammation in your body. Even “healthy” foods can trigger inflammation in your body, which I like to coin as “inflammatory for you” foods. These foods can trigger an IgG-mediated response and lead to increased inflammation and deterioration of the lining of the gut. Both of these decrease nutrient absorption and increase stress in the system – which paired together can lead to a flare.
  4. Chronic Stress: Stress is more than just emotional or workplace stress these days. Stress can come from diet (already discussed), lack of movement, too much of the wrong movement, and disrupted sleep schedules. Addressing the lifestyle factors you can control is critical to managing the stress your body is under each and every day.

Your Guide To Preventing Flares & Taking Back Control 💪

In mainstream medicine, you are told the only option is medication. In integrative nutrition, we focus on addressing nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle interventions to balance hormones, reduce stress, and support systems. Learning to adapt your lifestyle to promote optimal health is the single greatest tool that you have for long-term success. Even if you are on medication, you want to pair these strategies with your current treatment plan to ensure you feel your best every single day.

Address Hormone Imbalances ⚖️

The best first step is to understand what your symptoms are telling you and support the underlying systems that are impacting hormone production. Symptoms are your body’s way of asking for support and rather than trying to band-aid them to “get through” we use them as our guide to give targeted nutrition and supplement interventions.

My hormone assessment is a great place to start. This completely free assessment will review your symptoms and symptom patterns and give you a completely tailored blueprint with specific strategies you can implement immediately to start supporting You can take that HERE.

Cycle-Synced Reverse Diet 🍴

The number one cause of chronic stress in the body is undereating (whether intentional or not). This leads to your body not getting enough energy to support its daily needs and limited nutrient exposure can further perpetuate stress and system disruption.

The most effective way to improve metabolic function, system health, and reduce nutrient gaps is to incorporate a cycle-synced reverse diet. This means not only increasing your total energy intake but also adapting how much food you eat and the types of foods that you eat to align with your four (4) hormonal phases.

To implement this successfully, you want to first understand how much you are eating and get a baseline. From there, you want to incorporate stepwise progressions to slowly increase energy intake and bary it across phases to optimize your hormonal powers.

Cycle-Synced Strength Training 🏋️‍♀️

Exercise is one of the most powerful tools you have. Yet, it is still a stressor. So the wrong type of workouts can increase stress and lead to diminished results and more flares.

Adapting your workout routine to match your hormone phases – known as a cycle-synced workout – is your key.

Generic recommendations are absolutely misleading here. Typical cycle-syncing guidance basically has you only doing one (1) type of workout each and every month.

Unfortunately – that is not enough physiological intensity to warrant adaptation – AKA it will not lead to any type of change in your body.

What you need is a consistent cycle-synced strength program with added cycle-synced cardio.

Meaning your base program should be anywhere from 1-3x strength training a week (truly you do not need more if your intensity is there).

Then, along with metabolic capacities – you need to adapt the intensity, rep ranges, RPE ranges, and duration to match your hormonal strengths at each phase.

Then you can sprinkle in varying cardio types (aka generic cycle-synced workouts) as additives.

Try an Elimination Diet ❌

If you are unsure what foods are causing your flare-ups, an elimination diet is a great tool that you can use to find out what foods are optimal for your boy. By eliminating a specific set of foods most likely to cause inflammation and slowly reintroducing them one at a time, you’ll be able to see what foods your body loves and what foods are better kept off your grocery list.

You can also do a food sensitivity test to help move through this process faster. I recommend the EverlyWell Test – use code TASHA25 to save.

Alleviate Stress 😓

Considering stress is such a huge trigger for flare-ups, it’s important to alleviate stress as much as possible. Diet and movement are huge factors to stress, but take note of other areas in your life that are adding to and causing stress. Relationships, situations, your bedtime routine, your social media use, these all can stress you up. So limiting your participation and exposure can help avoid a potential flare-up. Setting boundaries is extremely healthy and helpful.

Getting Tailored Support to Streamline Success 🙌

If you are tired of living with symptoms or the side effects of your medication, let me be the first to say that you are not alone and there is hope for healing. An autoimmune flare-up can be discouraging, but once you know what triggers your symptoms you can make a plan to avoid flare-ups and overcome them if they do occur.

As an Integrative Clinical Nutritionist, Hormone Expert, and CPT/Pilates Instructor, myself and my team of Exercise Physiologists, B.S., and Registered Dietitians will work with you to develop a completely tailored and comprehensive nutrition plan, workout program, and supplementation strategy to get to the root cause of your autoimmunity, identify your triggers, and make a plan for long-term and sustainable healing.

Each program is 100% tailored to your unique needs and comes with unprecedented support and guidance every step of the way to ensure that you are able to implement the program, that you enjoy it, and that it works for your real life. This is how you create a lifestyle that you enjoy and delivers results effortlessly.

If you are ready to take that next step, consider booking a discovery call with me to learn more about how we can help you regain your energy, ditch symptoms, and transform your health.

If you want to learn more about our coaching programs, you can review them HERE.

Tasha

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Cynthia Guzman

    Wow. This is really helpful and has answered a lot of questions that I’ve been having about autoimmune diseases. So much information but written for clear comprehension.

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