Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season for Those with Autoimmune Disease

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

By: Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories

Holiday indulgences aren’t always autoimmune friendly. A healthy diet, adequate amount of rest and an overall balanced lifestyle are recommended for all of us. But for those living with autoimmune disease, a season marked by decadent meals and running around visiting family and friends can make getting through each day a physical and mental challenge far superior to that of an average healthy person. The most common holiday rituals can be the crux of falling victim to this. The U.S. National Library of Medicine points out that there are over 80 different autoimmune diseases and the American Autoimmune Diseases Association puts the number at more than 100. However, in my years of treating patients with autoimmune disease around the holidays, I’ve found there are some general steps and guidelines for navigating the holiday season with an autoimmune disease. With this in mind, the following tips will help those with autoimmune disease to enjoy a healthier, more feel-good holiday season:

1. Get adequate rest and sleep. This can be easier said than done during the hustle and bustle of the holidays but it’s important as fatigue is one of the most common side effects of autoimmune disease. If you don’t listen to your body when you’re tired you can exacerbate your condition. Losing sleep can trigger the key cellular pathway that produces tissue-damaging inflammation. Make it a point to set limits for gatherings. You don’t need to be the last one at the party and don’t overcommit yourself.

2. Embrace the delicious holiday fare…carefully. Don’t eat anything that you know you’re going to have an adverse reaction to but try to not limit yourself unnecessarily because of your condition either. Try keeping a record of everything you eat so that if you do feel any symptoms after a big holiday feast you can try to narrow down and identify the offending item. Dairy, gluten, sugar, refined starches and grains, saturated fats and alcohol are inflammatory and should be avoided. At the very least, eat them in moderation.

3. Get to know your triggers. Is there a specific food that triggers your condition? Do you know if you are consuming any cross-reactive foods? Are you better off consuming a food in raw, cooked or modified form? Again, there are tests, like those available through Cyrex Laboratories, that can help you identify these things. The Array 10 – Multiple Food Immune Reactivity Screening tests for early detection of dietary-related triggers of autoimmune reactivity.

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