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How to Manage Autoimmune Flare ups

If you have an autoimmune disease, you know how frustrating and debilitating it can be. Your immune system, which is supposed to protect you from infections and bacteria, starts to attack your own healthy tissues and organs, causing inflammation, pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. Autoimmune diseases can affect any part of your body, and they can manifest in different ways. Some of the most common autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis.


Autoimmune diseases are often triggered or worsened by stress, whether physical, hormonal, mental or emotional. Stress can disrupt the balance of your immune system and lead to the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that cause inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of many chronic diseases, including autoimmune diseases so managing inflammation is the number one thing you can do to best assist your healing journey. 


One of the best ways to manage your autoimmune flare-ups is to use food to reduce inflammation in your body. Certain foods can cause inflammation in your body, such as processed sugars and carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, wheat products, factory-farmed meats, and dairy with hormones. These foods can trigger or aggravate your autoimmune symptoms and make you feel worse.

 autoimmune disease diet

On the other hand, certain foods can help reduce inflammation in your body and support your immune system. Anti-inflammatory foods you may want to include are ginger, turmeric, garlic, berries, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, omega-3 fatty acids, and a host of botanical herbs. These foods can help modulate your immune system and prevent it from attacking your own tissues. They can also provide antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that can protect your cells from oxidative stress and damage.


A great way to get a jump start on eating anti-inflammatory foods and flooding your body with healing botanicals is to do one of Dr. Susan Blum’s designed organic Functional Cleanses from Organic Pharmer.  These cleanse programs can help you eliminate inflammatory foods and toxins from your body and replenish it with nourishing ingredients. The Organic Pharmer's Detox and Anti-Inflammatory Cleanse programs are offered in a one, three or  five-day program providing all the nutrients you need to support your liver detoxification pathways and reduce inflammation in your body. You can help your body manage a flare-up by reducing inflammation, supporting detoxification, restoring gut health, boosting immunity, increasing energy levels, and improving mood. In our guide to cleansing you can learn how to eat more anti-inflammatory foods in your daily life and avoid foods that can trigger or worsen your autoimmune symptoms.


3 day organic juice

We also recommend getting Dr. Blum’s books, The Immune System Recovery Plan and Healing Arthritis. They help create a framework for healing with evidence-based and practical solutions for managing autoimmune diseases through food and lifestyle changes.


Autoimmune flare-ups are periods of increased disease activity and symptoms that can be triggered by various factors, such as stress, diet, infection, or toxins. Here are three things you can do to help calm an autoimmune flare-up, including food:

  • Follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Avoid foods that can worsen inflammation and immune reactions, such as gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, nightshades, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods. Eat foods that support immune function and reduce inflammation, such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, probiotics, and fiber. You can follow the Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) protocol for a full 4 weeks, or until your symptoms resolve and if you haven’t already performed an elimination diet it’s highly recommended. All of organic Pharmer’s foods are approved for an elimination diet making it easier to complete!
  • Support your detoxification pathways. Drink plenty of filtered water to flush out toxins and waste products from your body.  Try sauna therapy to promote sweating and detoxification without stressing your body. You can also take supplements and herbs that enhance your liver function, such as milk thistle, dandelion, and turmeric.
  • Practice self-care and stress management. Stress can trigger or worsen autoimmune flare-ups by increasing cortisol levels and inflammation. Find ways to relax and cope with stress, such as meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Do something that makes you happy and calm, such as reading, watching a show, or taking a bath. Rest as much as possible and get enough sleep to help your body heal and recover.


When you are working on healing be sure to give yourself the space you need, not to be too hard on yourself and try your best not to overcomplicate it. Utilize habit stacking techniques and goal setting. Small consistent changes add up to big results!


If you have an autoimmune disease or suspect you have one, you should consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting any new diet or program. You should also monitor your symptoms closely and adjust accordingly. Remember that food is medicine and it can help you heal from the inside out but not all plans work for everyone. Work with Dr. Blum's team at the Blum Center for Health or find a functional medicine practitioner near you.  

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