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Five little-known things that make autoimmunity worse

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If you are managing your autoimmune disease through diet and lifestyle, then you probably know about the  autoimmune diet   supplements, non-toxic home and body products, and getting enough rest.

But are you aware of hidden sources of stress that may be triggering autoimmune flares?

Common autoimmune diseases today include Hashimoto's hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and pernicious anemia. However, there are many more.

Research increasingly shows the connection between autoimmune disease and food sensitivities (such as to gluten) and environmental toxins. Indeed, many people have successfully sent their autoimmunity into remission by following an autoimmune diet and "going green" with the products they use.

We also know  stress  is inflammatory and can trigger autoimmunity. But what many people may miss is the hidden sources of this inflammation-triggering stress.

Little known triggers of autoimmune disease

Following are little known sources of stress that could be triggering autoimmune disease flare-ups:

Stressful TV shows: Turning on the flat screen to relax could backfire if you're watching people always on the run from zombies. Research shows watching others stress out can raise our own  stress hormones   On top of that, many people feel like  failures  after they watch TV, which is stressful. Try a productively calming hobby, like practicing an instrument or working with your hands while listening to music to calm your nerves … and your immune system.

Social media: Research shows  social media users  are more stressed out than non-users. Facebook and Twitter can make us feel like we always have to put on a happy face and that we're not as successful as our friends. The addictive nature of social media is also stressful. As with all good things, practice moderation. And go see your friends in real life —  socialization  is a well-known stress buster and health booster that can help you better manage your autoimmune disease.

A bad relationship: We get so used to some relationships we don't even realize they're unhealthy. For instance, researchers have shown  bad marriages  are linked with more stress and inflammation.  Bad bosses  have also been shown to be hard on your health. Although it's not so easy to just pop out of a bad relationship, being aware that it can trigger your autoimmune symptoms can help you start moving in a healthier direction.

A difficult childhood: Research shows links between a history of  childhood adversities  (neglect, disruption, trauma, abuse) and autoimmune disease. Chronic stress while the brain and central nervous system are still developing can create ongoing inflammation and set the stage for autoimmune disease to more easily trigger later in life.

Lack of self-love: How well you  love and respect yourself  influences your choice in relationships, your career, and how you handle problems. Do you talk to and treat yourself with the same kindness you would an adored child? Do you care for your needs the same way you do a pampered pet? If you bully yourself, you're unwittingly triggering your autoimmunity. After all, autoimmune disease is the body attacking itself. Don't foster that with self-attacking thoughts and behaviors. Commit to practicing small acts of self-love throughout your days.

When you look at issues like a bad childhood, a toxic relationship, or lack of self-love, it makes changing your diet and switching to natural body products look easy.

But that's not the whole picture. Autoimmune disease is a flag from the body that certain aspects of your life may need evaluating and evolving.

Meet the Author

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM.
Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM.

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM. is the founder of the Holistic Wellness Center of the Carolinas where he is the Director of Functional Medicine. He holds a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine and is acupuncture physician and primary care physician in the state of Florida. His post-graduate focus has been in the fields of functional neurology, functional immunology, and functional endocrinology.

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