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Introduction to a healing-based approach to autoimmunity

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Guiding principles

Two important observations come to light when learning about how to pursue a healing-based approach to managing autoimmune disease. One is that experts agree that an important key lies in the gut — no matter through which part of the body the disease presents. And the second is that the treatment protocol involves making changes in lifestyle.

Think about that for a moment. You can make significant improvement in your quality of life – or the quality of life of your loved one suffering from autoimmune disease — by improving diet and other factors that affect gut health, as well as by making improvements in lifestyle habits. This means that it’s within your power to improve quality of life.

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What you eat may be the single most influential thing you do to help manage the disease.

Many functional medicine practitioners, in fact, believe that a major factor — if not the single most important factor in managing this multi-factorial disease — is about what’s going on in the gut. This is why you hear discussion about the gut being the “second brain;” why you hear so much talk about the human microbiome; why scientists are studying the microbiome in projects in the US and Europe to map its relationship to autoimmunity and other disease vectors; why you hear so much talk about gut permeability or “leaky gut;” and why no functional medicine practitioner will form any strategy with you about managing autoimmune disease that doesn’t include a discussion about diet. What you eat may be the single most influential thing you do to help manage the disease.


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The 5 Elements of Success

While there is heavy emphasis on diet and gut health, autoimmune disease remains a multi-factorial illness, and best results are achieved when all five elements of a comprehensive plan are at work together. We call these “The 5 Elements of Success.” Different functional medicine practitioners may tackle these in differing order or priority, but all put a strong emphasis on gut health, supportive diet, and a healthy lifestyle — all of which may be redefined from what you’re familiar with now. Take that as an indication of hope: you’ll be able to make changes — some more sweeping, some more subtle — that together can combine to gain meaningful improvement over what you’re experiencing now. Use these five elements as manageable touchstones to help guide your process.

Calming systemic inflammation and promoting health

There are a variety of dietary protocols designed to support wellness in the presence of autoimmune disease. Some are more effective and easier to implement than others; we provide a survey of such diets for our members so that you can identify which, and which approach, may be best for you. The Autoimmune Protocol or “AIP” is one such protocol that has been gaining in popularity due to its effectiveness in first calming inflammation through an elimination diet, and then helping individuals find the widest range of foods to safely eat without reigniting symptoms. There are now clinical study results* demonstrating the effectiveness of this particular diet in addition to the many testimonials on record. Members are invited to learn more about it.

Efficacy of the Autoimmune Protocol Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease” by Konijeti, Gauree G. MD, MPH et al, in The Official Journal of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, November, 2017.
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Expert Insights

Get insights from certified Functional Medicine Practitioners and other experts who can help you understand the new model of health care that focuses on the “root causes” of chronic illness. Certified Functional Medicine Practitioners like Annette and Rudy Mueller of Precision Health bring their expertise from their family to yours to help you understand how to work with a functional medicine practitioner to develop a personalized, step-by-step plan.

Testimonials of people pursuing this approach

I had a hard time with the drugs prescribed for me when I was first diagnosed with a serious chronic autoimmune illness. I was running out of options. But then functional medicine changed my life. I am not dependent on pharmaceutical drugs, and my quality of life has improved dramatically. Where I was originally told that I’d need to be on medication every day for the rest of my life, I’m so glad to be able to say that that’s not what’s happening.

Tyler C. Age 18, diagnosed with ulcerative pancolitis at age 15


I find it fascinating and rewarding to do the detective work on what’s causing illness versus just treating the symptoms. We’re looking into what’s causing issues for my son, and I’m able to bring my investigative experience and interest in learning more about functional medicine to identify a healthier approach, which is helping him be more successful with his day-to-day quality of life.

Emily S. Parent of elementary school-age Kyle


I never imagined that Rhuematoid Arthritis could be related to thyroid disease, IBD, and other autoimmune conditions. It just didn’t seem related – after all, we see different specialists for each of those illnesses, don’t we? Functional medicine is opening up a whole new world for me. I never thought gluten was a problem for me – again, it didn’t seem related, since I don’t have digestive disorders. But I’m thrilled to be feeling better and in less pain. It’s never too late to start!

Virginia R. Age 80+, rhuematoid arthritis sufferer for 10+/- years


Honoring the impact to your self and your family

One of the important aspects to recognize and respect is the impact that serious, chronic illness can have on our spirits. It can affect our self identity, the role we play within our family, workplace, and community, as well as others around us. Processing this reality can have as important effect as more conventional interventions. This article by Carol Gray Kelley, LCPC, provides some guidance for the conversation we explore with members.

Lifestyle and health-supporting movement

Stress management, mindfulness, healthy movement, connection to nature, and community are all important aspects of lifestyle management that can have significant impact on overall wellness with autoimmune disease. Amanda Biccum introduces these principles to members in the form of a guided meditation, brief yoga exercise, and self-care protocol. Learn more from Amanda in this short introductory video.


Get started

Making significant change can feel daunting and overwhelming. We’re here to help you find a manageable path forward. Here are some ways to get started right now:

  1. View our QuickStart Guide for action steps you can take right now, today.
  2. Read Our 5 Minute Primer on the 5 As for an introduction to this approach.
  3. Become a Member of our community, where you can get much more insight, ask questions, share wins, and help guide the conversation.
  4. Get answers to frequently asked questions.

Engage in the process

This is a process, not an event. Support helps. If you haven’t already, sign up for our newsletter and download our free eBook, “Rules of the Road,” which provides guidelines for making the transition into living the lifestyle and eating the diet that best supports you. Join our community today.

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