Help Yourself Handle and Heal AI
Autoimmunity(AI) touches upwards of twenty five million lives in the US alone. I know. My mom died of complications of multiple sclerosis after years of pain. I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease and “chronic immune dysfunction”. Healthy habits helped me recover and build a full vibrant life. These habits are the key to help yourself handle and heal AI. I wake up and take good care. My morning habits kick off each day to build a healthy immune response and help me handle AI.
What is AI and Why it Happens
The immune system finds and destroys foreign, harmful agents in the body. In autoimmunity it confuses body parts with pathogens and attacks healthy tissues. Autoimmunity often leads to chronic illness, steady decline, increasing disability then death.
When I got my diagnosis the doctor had no effective healthy options for me. He offered drugs to suppress my immune system. Lyme kills and disables people. I was afraid of giving Lyme free reign in my body. So I said no. I needed to rebuild and refine my immune response. His reply was “Try to stay as healthy as you can”. In other words don’t push the immune system into attack mode.
Morning Habits Address the Root Causes
I decided to tune up my immune system, rebuild my health habits and make the changes necessary to regain my wellness. I turned to Ayurveda to build wellness and Functional Medicine to treat the symptoms and address the root causes of Autoimmunity. Leading Functional Medicine expert Dr. Mark Hyman says “It’s more important to understand the imbalances in your body’s basic system and restore balance than name the disease and match a pill to the ill.”
Understanding and addressing dysfunction at this level empowered me to take action. The language of Ayurveda and functional medicine are different, but they both enable you to work on your own healing in the choices you make each and every day.
Imbalances That Confuse Immune Response
- Micro-biome Imbalance, SIBO and leaky gut. (Impaired Agni)
- Chronic Infections. (Increased Ama)
- Chronic Stress and Hormonal Imbalance. (Imbalanced Dosha)
- Genetic susceptibility. (Prakruti/Vikruti)
- Toxic Build Up. Molds, Fungus, Organics, Heavy Metals. (Increased Ama)
Commit to Healthy Habits
Healthy habits have profound effects on each day. The challenge we have in dealing with chronic illness is to embrace the changes in attitudes, diet, sleep and self care we know we need for our health. Sharpen focus and build discipline. Do as much as possible to stop the ongoing inflammation damage. Do even more to build wellness.
This can be a tough shift. You gotta dig deep to find your why and your will. My reason to make all these changes was to feel better. I desperately wanted to regain a measure of control over my life and choices in order to help others. Understanding how the habits work to support immune health really helped me embrace my morning routine as a daily part of staying on track to meet my goals.
Willingness to engage with health is critical to come back from chronic illness. Treating illness and building health in parallel worked for me. I needed a daily structure to balance the dosha. The Body Thrive habits buff and shine mind, body and spirit each morning and open new possibilities of wellbeing.
These lifestyle choices support wellness in general and in autoimmunity. Within the morning routine you can easily tailor the details to help mitigate or manage the specifics of your autoimmunity. I did.
Why Morning Healthy Habits are Key to Healing AI
Set Up your Morning – Early to Bed
Why does this top the list for morning habits? Early to bed is the foundation for a successful morning routine. Early to bed and early to rise resets circadian rhythms over time and supports an optimal hormonal environment. This promotes accuracy and resiliency in immune system response.
Sleep is when the body heals and repairs. Sleep was elusive for years before my diagnosis. I would fall asleep during dinner (it was a running joke with my friends). Then later I would toss and turn all night in pain. Waking up late and exhausted was my “normal”. Structured sleep habits to help me to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up energized to engage the day.
Morning Self Care Habits – Start the Day Right
Get up early each morning and start the day by taking care of you before the world intrudes.
1. Drink 2 – 4 cups of Hot Water
Constipation increases ama. I drink water or water with lemon as soon as I get up and move my bowels each morning. Before I started this I woke up overheated and sluggish from toxins. Overloaded Detoxification pathways are common in people with autoimmunity. Decreasing toxic load is a necessary component of the healing process. Now my body craves water to help flush inflammation heat and ama out of my tissues. Retraining my body for complete evacuation helped me get rid of toxic build up.
AI Symptoms get worse with dehydration. Dehydrated clients do not flush enough toxins out through their kidneys. Lots of water keeps toxins and inflammation waste moving out at a concentration that doesn’t put strain on my body. AM hydration reminds my body it wants water and increases my water intake over the course of the whole day. Water is my main liquid. I sip it all day long.
2. Self Massage
Dry brushing and oil massage lubricate and protect the body’s first line of defense, the skin. Regular massage helps break up my cycle of chronic stress and pain. Both dry brushing and massage moves lymph and assists with detoxification. Plus Self Massage is an easy loving way for me to check in and care for my body.
Morning meditation relaxes the nervous system over time and promotes a healthier hormonal and immune response. Meditation helps balance the doshas, starting with vata. I can’t say enough about how meditation helped me manage anxiety, pain and support a lower symptom load. At my sickest, I spent 2+ hours each day in meditation to help me relax and recover.
“Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work.” Thich Nhat Hanh
4. Breath Body Practices
A consistent yoga practice knocks down stress, stabilizes heart rhythm and helps lower blood pressure. A constant stressed state or being stuck in flight or fight mode disturbs the immune system and creates ama. Yoga imbues physical, mental and hormonal benefits that support healthy balanced immunity.
Regular movement relaxes the nervous system. Movement triggers cells to eject waste for removal in a process called autophagy a natural form of detoxification. Exercise also increases antioxidant production in the muscle tissue. I had to start moving really low and slow to build my strength and prevent injury. Now I do daily yoga, pilates and aerobic walking to get, and keep, my lymph (my rasa dhatu) moving and my joints strong and mobile.
AI threw me off course from what the body understands is natural and healthy. I started slowly and focused on locking in a healthy morning routine to lower ama and balance my nature. My morning self care habits refocused my body’s ability to discern what is good for me. When I committed to a routine full of all the Body Thrive healthy habits and my life got better.
Share in the comments below your experiences on how these simple daily habits help yourself handle and heal AI and other chronic conditions. Your successes help us all find the path to healing.
- Delzell Emily, “The Science of Exercise”, Arthritis Today 2015, July/August Vol 30; No. 4: 53-56.
- Sengupta, Pallav, “Health Impacts of Yoga and Pranayama: A State-of-the –Art- Review”, J Preventive Medicine, 2012 July 3(7): 444-458.