In my two decades of working with autoimmune patients, I have observed one factor that is the most overlooked and yet has the biggest impact.
You may expect it to be one of the following:
- A food
- A supplement
- A diet
However, it’s not any specific treatment.
So what is it?
It’s your social environment.
I can tell you without question that my autoimmune patients who have support from their spouse, friends, and family have much better outcomes than patients who either have no support or are doubted, demeaned, or belittled by the people in their life.
When it comes to autoimmune disease, these factors can have profound impacts on management and long-term symptom relief:
- Living and work environments
- Stress levels
- Relationships and interactions with other people
- Belief system
When patients look for the next supplement, the next diet, or the next protocol to turn their health around, if their lifestyle and social environment are a disaster, they don’t make long-lasting progress.
Managing autoimmunity must be focused on treating the whole person and all the various factors that are a part of their life.
Without judging yourself, ask these questions:
- Do you feel you have a supportive network of friends and family?
- As a child did you feel cared for and supported, or did life begin with survival mode?
- Do you socialize regularly or do you keep to yourself?
- Do you make time for fun and play on a regular basis?
- Does life seem positive or like a dark, fear-ridden place?
- Do you have a meaningful view of life beyond ordinary existence?
- Are your relationships loving and supportive, or are they toxic and full of confrontation?
- Do you have a sense of purpose in your life and work?
- Do you feel you deserve to get better and thrive?
- Do you truly want to get better?
Sometimes a person has been feeling awful for so long, it’s more comfortable to stay where they are than to face the perceived challenge of change. We are wired to maintain the status quo — sometimes at the expense of our health and happiness.
On the same token, sometimes family or friends feel treatened by the idea of you getting better because they fear not being needed any more, or they feel they will be unable to move forward with you.
These are all issues that can affect your health. Functional medicine practitioners see over and over that patients who have a positive outlook, healthy relationships, and support from their loved ones typically experience better, longer-lasting outcomes.
This is just one of the concepts I cover during my Autoimmunity Clinical Strategies and Treatment Applications practitioner course.
Here is more of what I cover during the course:
- A breakdown of immune responses into basic concepts pertinent to autoimmunity.
- The multiple mechanisms of autoimmune disease known thus far, as there are many — such as agglutination, molecular mimicry, cytotoxic T-cell activity, and regulatory T cell dysfunction — and more.
- Other impactful factors such as environmental chemicals and toxic exposure.
- The pros and cons of different treatment approaches, such as which diet works best when (AIP, GAPS, FODMAPs, etc.).
Over the years I’ve heard many patients express interest in learning in depth about autoimmunity. This is why I decided to open my Kharrazian Institute practitioner training programs to the public.
Knowing these autoimmunity basics will allow patients to better understand the underlying mechanisms and keep the motivation to follow dietary, nutritional, and lifestyle protocols. This is the recipe for success.
Learn more about the Autoimmunity Clinical Strategies and Treatment Applications course HERE.