It is. I am a living example. I have a whole mess of autoimmune antibodies and symptoms! But barely feel a thing as long as I’m on top of living my autoimmune-friendly life.
Here’s the thing though…
It’s not easy.
I wish I could tell you that it was. I wish I could be like some of those people who are like “Budgets Made Simple!” Or… “Don’t have time to cook? Here are thirty-five 10-minute nourishing meals!”
But, “Reversing Autoimmune Disease Made Simple” isn’t really a thing. Sure, the information surrounding autoimmune issues can be broken down and simplified into plain language. But, the actual process of going through the motions and finding what works for you on an individual level is not always so simple. There are many moving parts, and you could literally follow everything I’ve done to the T and make zero progress because your body is different than mine.
There is good news though. There are ways to make it easier. Like A LOT easier. I’m talking years shaved off your healing journey.
The answer to your prayers, and how to cut down your healing process is to pinpoint your root causes as soon as possible and get after ‘em.
What Are Autoimmune Root Causes?
Root causes are all the things causing the autoimmune attack in your body. I think what so many of us fail to hear at the beginning of our autoimmune journeys (to no fault of our own) is that autoimmune disease is not a normal thing for the body to do, and there’s a reason why it’s happening. Root causes could range anywhere from poor diet to infections to stress. They are the WHY behind your disease and go much deeper than the typical answer of “it’s just your genetics”.
If you identify these root causes and address them properly, then your potential to reverse autoimmune symptoms skyrockets.
I’ll be honest though, this also, isn’t necessarily “easy”. It requires work on your part, but it’s incredibly rewarding and empowering, so don’t fret. This is worth it.
Below, I’ll share my step-by-step approach on how to pinpoint your autoimmune root causes quickly and start doing something about them TODAY.
**Please remember – this is not medical advice! I am not a doctor and I’m not trying to be one. One of the best companions for finding and addressing your root causes is a highly-knowledgeable, well-qualified medical practitioner who listens to you and is willing to work WITH you on your healing journey.
How to Find Your Root Causes of Autoimmune Disease
Step 1: Learn about autoimmune disease.
I’ll just come right out and say it – many, many doctors (not all) offer lackluster care when it comes to autoimmune disease treatment.
If you don’t believe me, or my personal experience, then join any autoimmune disease Facebook group (or other social media group) and see the frustration among the members with their doctors either ignoring them, telling them their crazy, or just offering drug after drug after drug with horrendous side effects.
My point? Your doctor might be able to offer some helpful experience and testing, but if they fall short elsewhere, then there are plenty of other options for building your autoimmune expertise. Thankfully, you have some awesome resources that will make the job easier for you.
One of the most important steps to any and all healing is to educate yourself and become your own advocate. If you’re ready to learn more than the majority of people you’ll ever meet, then your first stop is simply a book. And no, this isn’t just another “self-help” book. Consider a solid book on autoimmune disease more as an educational resource. We like The Autoimmune Solution by Dr. Amy Myers M.D. or Beat Autoimmune by Palmer Kippola because they cover a plethora of root causes.
Both books are relatively short, and to the point! You can breathe a sigh of relief, because I know how overwhelming all of the information can be. In our opinion, there is no better place to start. Our only advice is to just pick one at the beginning and then move on to other resources when you are ready.
(For a complete list of resources, check out our List of the Best Autoimmune Resources in our free member’s only toolkit. Subscribe below to gain access.)
Like anything important, learning requires you to take time and focus-in so you can digest the information. Take notes. Re-read if you have to.
Now that you have the knowledge, you are one step closer to finding your autoimmune root causes. The next step helps you USE the information that you spent so much time absorbing.
Step 2: Start looking for your root cause – gather opinions, test results, and other data.
Initial consultations with your doctor (or team of doctors) will provide you with: their opinion and suggested tests, which may or may not be helpful.
You’ll also have the information from reading a book like Beat Autoimmune which points you towards less conventional topics like:
• Gut Health
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Specific infections that are commonly associated with autoimmune disease
• Mold and toxins
• Liver function
• Emotional and physical trauma (do not underestimate this one)
• Much more.
And as you learn about all of this, you might think to yourself “Hmmm, the symptoms of magnesium deficiency sound a lot like me.” And you’ll write that down in your daily health journal so you keep your thoughts organized.
Or… maybe you know for a fact that you have some sort of irritable bowel syndrome going on after you eat specific foods. So, you might be thinking you have some food sensitivities.
And, if you’re like the majority of people, you’ll realize that your diet is filled to the brim with inflammatory foods, and you likely have leaky gut.
BAM! See what’s happening here? You’re connecting your unique symptoms, signs, and lifestyle choices to possible root causes.
From there, you can do two things:
1. Research each individual root cause a bit further to learn what types of tests to order for a definite confirmation. Then, bring those test requests to a functional medicine doctor and discuss them. (Don’t have a doctor willing to work with you? Find a new one, and here are some things you can do to keep moving forward while you’re searching for Dr. Right.)
2. Wait on ordering those confirmatory tests. Here’s why:
I’ve worked with two types of doctors – some who want to do all the testing upfront and others who just want to do some basic testing for things like nutritional deficiencies.
I have one doctor, for example, who believes that there is no need to test for infections of any kind, because if you address nutritional deficiencies and clean up your diet, your body will have the right tools to fight off infections on its own. On one hand, I agree, but, there are some downfalls to this thinking, which is why I also have another doctor on my team who likes data and testing.
So, use your best discretion here… sometimes, it isn’t necessary to test and treat for all root causes at the beginning if a diet or lifestyle change can give your body the ability to clear it. It might be more useful (and cost effective) to wait until you really feel like you’re stuck and are no longer making progress.
Step 3: Learn about interventions based on findings from Step 1 and 2.
Okay, so Step 1 gives you the clues to look for on your journey. Step 2 uses test results, or your educated gut feeling about possible root causes to point you in the direction of areas you need to address.
Now, Step 3 you’re going to research interventions.
What’s an intervention?
It’s what you’ll be doing for treatment/healing. So, a healing diet like the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) to help heal leaky gut, for example, is an intervention. Or using herbal remedies to eliminate parasites is another example. Prescription drugs are one too. And if you are using an autoimmune resource like either of the books we mentioned in Step 1, then you’ll be given a list of suggested interventions to try.
This is where things can get a bit overwhelming because there are a ton of interventions to choose from. The one you choose may not be the right one. BUT, even if you don’t see the progress you want right off the bat, just remember the successes AND failures are part of the process. Embrace it. There is real benefit from the knowledge you gain with each failure, and even more when something works.
My biggest advice? Pick the interventions that make the most sense to you. And keep moving.
Now let’s talk about how to plan your implementation.
Step 4: Divide the intervention(s) into small actionable steps.
Now that you have your list of interventions, it’s time to breathe. If your list looks like this… you might be overwhelmed:
- Strict Autoimmune Paleo Diet for 60 days before reintroducing foods
- Gut healing foods and supplementation to repair leaky gut damage and rebuild lining
- Switching to non-toxic cosmetic products to reduce inflammatory toxins
- Taking supplements to address nutritional deficiencies
- Remember when I said this isn’t easy? This is what I’m talking about!
All of a sudden, the life you used to know could be completely turned upside down, flipped inside out, and you’re thinking… “There’s no way I can do this. I’m too busy. I want to eat whatever I want. I don’t have the money. This will take up too much time. I don’t enjoy cooking. I won’t ever remember to take all these supplements.”
Yes, I’ve visited every one of those excuses. Multiple times. I get it. But then I realized this is my health.
Autoimmune disease is a cry for help. If you listen to your body and tend to its needs, you can live a healthier, fuller life. So now it’s time to take that list and divide it into smaller, actionable steps. Let’s make a plan, so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming anymore.
For example… committing to a strict Autoimmune Paleo Diet for 60 days might look something like this:
- Read our post on how to start and stick to an autoimmune healing diet.
- Pick your start and end date.
- Buy or rent Autoimmune Paleo cookbooks (like this one).
- Using the recipes and tips in the cookbooks, make a meal plan.
- Using the meal plan, make your shopping lists for each week (some books even include these meal plans and shopping lists so the work is done for you.)
- Clear your schedule to allow time for extra cooking and meal prep. Maybe invest in an Instant Pot to make things easier.
Use this step to prep for what’s about to go down. How will these interventions fit into your life? What will your roadblocks be?
Grab a friend for support, or hire a health coach (like Frank). This is hard, but you are never alone. People are doing it all day, every day, and they are after the same goal as you… they just want to feel better.
My one word of advice – don’t get stuck here. Okay, that’s 4 words. But you get it. Some of us are planners. We love to plan! But then we plan… and plan… and continue planning. For months, even years.
Move on to Step 5 ASAP to avoid this common obstacle.
Step 5: Execute.
You’ve made it. Hopefully by now, you have a well-thought-out healing protocol, full of small actionable steps and you are SO READY to get this show on the road.
This is the fun part. If it’s the right plan for your body and root causes, you should start feeling better soon. Like real soon.
If it’s not quite the right direction, then remember, you checked some things off the list and you’re ready to find something else that will work, or you may possibly start the process over to look for other root causes.
A health journal is a great companion for this step because it tracks your progress and connects you to your body’s signs and symptoms as you move through your protocol. Otherwise, you might miss some pivotal observations.
Find & Tackle Your Autoimmune Root Causes Today
Looking down the barrel of an autoimmune disease is scary. Trying to figure out how to overcome it and put it into remission is… scarier.
But taking the time to find your root causes and make your own personalized healing plan makes the whole process seem manageable, doable, and possibly even… dare I say it, FUN.
By creating a plan to learn about your autoimmune disease, root cause the trigger(s), decide the methods to overcome it, and finally execute, you give yourself a fighting chance to heal.
The trouble is, without it, you are left wandering your path without a real guide. A doctor can be a great help, but they don’t always have all the answers. Learning about YOUR body with input from your doctor and your own research gives you a much better chance of success.
And if/when things do become overwhelming, you will have already broken down your steps into small actionable chunks to reduce or eliminate the stress. The result – you can keep chugging along and winning the war against your disease. Even just the teeny-tiniest baby steps every day can add up to more than you think.
It’s time to get organized and take control! You can do this. Just follow the steps:
- Learn about your disease.
- Look for your root causes. Gather doctors’ opinions, test results, and other data.
- Learn about interventions based on Step 2. Pick which ones you want to use to address your root causes.
- Plan your intervention implementation.
- Execute your plan! Keep a health journal to track your progress.
And, remember to give yourself a little grace… this might be new, and a lot of information to absorb, but there’s nothing better than victory when it comes to reclaiming your health.
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Hi! I’m Anna, co-founder of Healthy Habits Reset. After managing my own autoimmune diseases using lifestyle, habit, and mindset changes, I now work to teach others how to navigate the treacherous and confusing journey of chronic illness living. I firmly believe YOU hold the power to question, think critically, and become your own rock-solid advocate in a world full of unhealthy habits. Consider me, and my husband, Frank, your autoimmune disease health coaches. Are you ready?!