In our most recent podcast episode, we talk to our dear friend Angel about autoimmune diseases and issues. This affects over 23 million Americans, primarily females and in the last 50 years the number has skyrocketed.
Some of the common autoimmune issues that we face include (but are in no way limited to): rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s, Systemic lupus, MS, IBD, celiac and asthma- again these are just some of the common ones. Shannon has been affected with two from the list and Angel with one.
What tends to happen with autoimmune issues is that once you have one pop up you are liable to be affected by another (or multiple), especially celiac and any thing that has to do with the gut. It is actually the third highest cause of illness after cancer and heart disease. There are three things that contribute to having an autoimmune disease; one is genetic predisposition, another is an environmental trigger and the last is leaky gut.
Typically when you have one or more of these 3 factors you could call it the “perfect storm” which can lead you to become a very sick person. Situational stress on the body and in the immune system can trigger an autoimmune issue, especially if you already have a genetic predisposition (if you have that marker in your family history) and then you have high stress on your body and it compromises your immune system, you are more susceptible. One of the reasons why women are more likely to experience autoimmune issues is because birth is really hard on our body (even though it is designed for it), female hormones fluctuate and causes stress and stress affects hormones and thyroids differently than it does for men.
Somebody that is carrying a lot of anxiety and stress mentally will compromise the immune system and if your immune system is compromised maybe you’ll just get a cold, the flu or pain in your body- but if you have that genetic predisposition and you have had gut problems before- you add all those things up and you will create this perfect storm that can really open you up to auto immune issues.
Thoughts on what to do:
- The main point is that everything starts with your mindset- you have to decide not to be a sick patient, no matter what you’re feeling- don’t deny your symptoms, just don’t agree to be SICK. Get your mindset right, your perspective will shift, and miracles will happen.
- Now get to researching and finding what works for you! Starting with food is a good place to begin. Find a functional medicine doctor: https://www.ifm.org
- You have to surrender and take control at the same time- surrendering means don’t resist it, don’t fight the idea of it and be bitter about it. Surrender to the circumstances then get your self up and start finding solutions for your situation!
Take a listen to the show or check out the full transcription below. Grateful for you all!
** Ps- we are moving our show to the first Tuesday of every month. We have found ourselves scrambling and not being intentional about the show, which goes against what we aim for: ease, authenticity and love. We are so grateful for our listeners and the growth over the last year has been incredible- thank you, thank you! Please love us still! ****
Shannon: Hello guys welcome to the show tonight, I’m shannon and we have a special guest on our show today, it's a really special friend of mine and a friend of dee's as well..... Angel!. Mrs angel we asked you to come on show because we wanted to talk about something today that i think and know that it affects over 23 million Americans and primarily females and in the last 50 years the number has skyrocketed and that’s just autoimmune disorders, autoimmune disease, autoimmune issue, the reason why we asked Angel to jump on this is because Angel and I have had several conversations over the last few years about autoimmune issues and disorders. So Dee gets to probably sit here and just ask us a bunch of questions because she is a blessed soul not to have any experience with this personally. But common autoimmune issues that we face today (there are tons of them so this is not meant to be all inclusive at all) rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, hashimoto, systemic lupus, ms, ibd, celiac and asthma, those are just some of the common ones, I myself I'm inflicted with two at-least and I know that dee has been experiencing at least one if not more within that list because what tends to happen with autoimmune is that you almost like(this is not a medical thing), once you have one for some reason you are more susceptible to more and especially celiac and any thing that has to do with the gut then you typically are dealing with something else on top of that, there's some layer in there not always but usually and so there .It is actually the third highest cause of illness or death event after cancer and heart disease. And so here is something that was really interesting when i was looking at some stuff on this over the last few years and Angel i know you have done research especially when it comes to diet and styling stuff which i do when i touch on that, but there's 3 things that they feel like contribute to someone being susceptible or having an autoimmune issue. One is genetic, a genetic predisposition, another one is an environmental trigger, and believe it or not another one is leaky gut and that has to do with something that I'm not going to pronounce right but it is called zynolen which is a protein that protects our gut and when you get excess of that it allows all the yucky shit to come in (see, like those clinical terms there doncha!). And so typically when you have one or more of those 3 factors it's kinda like the perfect storm and then you end up really sick. I have read lots of articles, i have read clinical articles and just personal stories of people and so Angel i would love for you to share a little bit about why you went down this path of research.
Angel: uh yeah (why I went down the path), I don't think you have much of a choice do you, i mean i didn't. Uhm you know that bomb dropped in my life a few years ago i think it probably been hanging around on for quite some time, it just became acute, so you asked why did i do the research, well, started out with real doctors, traditional medicine doctors if you will, ended up on tons of medications, prescription medication and had gotten to the point where i wasn't getting out of bed you know, so i was up and out of the bed probably less than 3 hours a day and just made a decision to figure it out that's sort of my M.O.. This is not my story, am not sick, what is this, instead of poking around and one thing lead to another which lead me to a functional doctor and a hot yoga studio simultaneously and i just met her so i started to feel better and she was exquisite at really breaking it down and being scientific which i loved to read clinicals and tried to attempt and understand the science. I don't always and don't pronounce things as necessarily as suppose, but i landed with a couple of beautiful souls and started to feel better and poke around and became very determined on feeling better and reading, and that's how i landed there and i haven't stopped.
Shannon: Yeah because I don't think it ends right, once you feel like you gotten on a good path, I don't think it ends necessarily, it's just a continuum, similar to you i was sick for years and several study and several test and doctors not sure maybe its this maybe it's that and then like you just grab it by the head and say I'm done being a patient, like am done being a freaking patient, I'm gonna take control of this and so that's one thing i know that we have talked about on our podcast with other guest is that and i am the first one to rally and cheer-lead for medical, but also more than that is to rally for your own, to be your own advocate and your own um researcher and you know finding information. The one thing i cautioned myself and maybe others and angel you could tell me too is one thing that something thus happen is you start going down this rabbit hole path and the next thing you know, you think you have every illness and every sickness out there and you gotta be careful with that.
Angel: when you start diagnosing yourself suddenly and you know that's not healthy, it's not a healthy thing to be doing at all.
Shannon: Yeah because next thing you know, you read the symptom and you are diagnosed with lupus, you are like i don't have that one and next thing you know you do have that one because you are supposed to have those. And so i definitely think we have to be our own advocate but i also think this is one of the main points i want us to take away is that no matter what you are diagnosed with, whether it is autoimmune or otherwise, its all gonna still start with our mindsets, it's going to start with our perspective and so that's not to say that you don't have the extreme fatigue or the brain fog, discomfort or all the symptoms that can go that are associated with the different types of autoimmune disease but you can stay in that space and choose to look at it differently, and i think the reason why we wanted Angel to be in the show is because you have done a good job at that of saying am not going to lay on this bed and waist the rest of my life away, i'm gonna figure this thing out and I'm gonna find the next best thing and then the next best thing after that.
Angel: Yeah it's true, it was not my imo with life in general, so lucky autoimmune to have land over me. If there is a cliff i'm gonna look over the side and hang on for dear life. Um so i suppose if it wanted to land on somebody, it chose a good spot. You absolutely cannot, i don't know about you but i have times that i forget.
Shannon: You know what, i was talking to you about this on the last retreat where someone asked me why i don't drink caffeine and i was like" why don't i drink caffeine" then i'm like oh i know why because it taste this and it makes this happen, but i don't wanna think about that. Now it's been almost 6 years but i think it me about 3 and the half, four years for me to figure the shit out first, so i don't want to discourage anyone if they are just at the beginning, it might be sooner for others, but um 6 years later anyway now i can truly have months, weeks where is like i completely forget that i have an issue, like you i would be sick in bed, miserable like i never wanted to commit suicide but i didn't want to wake up the next day. So first of all starts with mindset, you decide you are not gonna be a sick patient, no matter what you are feeling, this is not denying your symptoms, this is not necessarily saying that this is not a reality for people, but i'm not gonna live in that space right?, we are moving forward, mindset first, perspective shift, miracles happen bam!. And then you are doing research finding out what are some ways we can live a healthier life, so i found out during my process that i couldn't do some of the workouts that i used to be able to do, i couldn't eat some of the food that i used to be able to eat, and so you make lifestyle changes and that's the word path that i was saying is a continuum cuz then you find out that this isnt working as well as it could you might make some adjustments but talk to me about some of the things you had to change in your life.
Angel: Food was the number one thing which was really difficult for me, i still struggle with it and was actually today thinking struggling with that a little bit today, i'm on a mission to figure out how to make penecocta and have it taste like real penecocta not jello. So for me the biggest thing was food, express adjustment, you know exercise wasn't always, my favorite thing, the number one thing on my list and so that was an adjustment because i have to, it's not an option, absolutely have to, yoga is not going to be missed, minimum 3 times a week, i think really if i'm a little more thoughtful about it and not as quick to answer, the biggest thing is self care, that's been one of my biggest adjustments as far as overall lifestyle and just living mindfully can be a relative thing, to be more aware of me and the space i'm occupying in this body and in this world and pay attention to myself, i didn't always come first and i do now.
Shannon: I love everything about that and i think we've watched each other go through this changes because we've known each other for nine or ten years something like that, but watching eachother go through the transformation, that's definitely yes i have seen the diet change in you cuz you were the french fries dipping iit and straight vodka girl(laughs). And yes i have seen you go and just dive into beak of yoga and this beautiful things i have seen, but one of the things i have seen the most is exactly what you just said is your shift from such a caretaker of the world, but at the sacrifice of yourself and i saw you flip that script and i know that was really hard for you because i know the people around you struggled, and probably your family was like what's happening, where's my punching bag and i mean that mostly figured of leave, and so that's i very important thing for anyone who is going through anything in life, even if you are not really but especially if you are going through a chronic illness or something that can easily take you down if you allow it is to know that you've got to put yourself first, not only can you only take care of yourself and what you are going through but you can't do sit for anyone else at all. I too made diet changes and i had to change my exercise regime, you know that there was about a 4 year period where i was a crusted fanatic but i still love crusted but i'm not just able to do it the way i used to be able to do it, and so changing that and changing my diet has been some major things for me. The diet wasn't as hard for me cuz i already couldn't eat gluten in dairy, but removing animal products has been really interesting, so those were some changes i had to make but i gotta say thou still, ladies despite all of that, at one point in the midst of it i was so bitter, am like " God, i can eat air and water done and i can walk lightly done" you know there was a point where i was just bitter and shitty like why is it that person can do this, but then i realised honestly pull all the layers aside, i'm so lucky to have experienced that hell, i would not have done the research i have done, i would never feel as good as i fell now, i would never been introduced to to the styles of yoga, i have done yoga for 20+ years but not up to this capacity, i would not be in the mindfulness space that i'm in now, i wouldn't have the empathy that i have for people who are suffering and this is gonna sound really awful but i used to that person that was like "get fucking over it", now i have such a much bigger capacity for other people suffering in pain and my point is there have been some hugh internal shifts that would never have happened had i not experienced this things and i'm truly am a 100% grateful for that.
Angel: I agree and people that have met and it opens you, it's like anything else and i have had my share and i know you've had your share and continue to do so, it makes you a better parent for a lot of reasons but i think it opens you and there's a surrender. I was never in a bitter space at all, i'm just a problem solver by nature, so that was a problem that needed to be solved and dealt with because that was not going to become my story. I took it on you know i saddled up, i clocked my gun.
Shannon: I recently was visiting angel and we went to a shooting range and i shot shotguns for the first time and this girl is over ere with this giant shotgun that literally is like ripping the hole on her shoulder and she is acting like she don't even notice and i'm over here wit a little baby one like"ooh look at me" and she just like papooh!, i could totally picture you be like ohh hell no this is not taking me down and i'm over here with my baby riffle like "get out of my way".
Angel: But for a personality like that, there is a loss of control and surrender that i'm grateful for, i know how to do tht now and i didnt know how to do that before and everybody needs to learn how to do that don't they?
Shannon: So Dee do you have any questions for us "crazies" over here?
Dee: Yeah i do, i have a couple of questions, so uh you guys know each other's stories obviously but i'm trying to put the pieces together so Angel what was it that you were diagnosed with?
Angel: I have Hashimotos and when i said that it goes back a lot further than i'm willing to even admit that it goes back. Just about right before my 2nd child was born(21 years ago), i had very similar symptoms and high levels of epstein barr, so a lot of the autoimmune stuff and the thyroid stuff probably goes back years and years, so hashimoto's, they was a question mark to whether it was rheumatoid arthritis and gluten, i am a gluten intolerance not allergic, shannon is allergic, i don't need nappy time or a hospital visit, i don't need to have it and IBS symptomatic stuff, vitamin deficiencies, adreno failure, it just hit me all at one time.
Dee: What is hashimoto's?
Angel: It's a thyroid disorder, hyperthyroidism.
Dee: So you were saying that you made changes to food, what kind of foods specifically, what did you have to change?
Angel: There is a diet called the fog math diet, it's called an elimination diet that you do and as shannon pointed out you eat basically air, you drink water, you fast, you eliminate everything and the you fat your things in slowly a little at a time and sometimes you have to wait 3 or 4 times, keep a log of your trigger, keep a log of what the foods are that are your triggers, when your sensitivities lie, most of the allergy test if they unless it's an underkopy for celiac aren't going to diagnose this sensitivities, so i do what's called the low fodmap diet, very low carb eating, i am not a vegan like shannon, like my meat, it's just your way of eating.
Dee: Is there anything you can trace back to that you think also might have been a factor?
Shannon: so yes there's a couple of things, situationally stress in the body an on the immune system can absolutely trigger an autoimmune issue especially if you already have a genetic predisposition, it does not mean you are gonna get an autoimmune disease or have an issue, but if you have that marker in your family history and then you have high stress or high strain times on your body and it compromises your immune system at the same time, you are more susceptible, so for instance for me, with my fourth pregnancy is really when the combination of the storms happened, it was like i had genetic predisposition, i had gut issues for a while, i had this really really horrific fourth pregnancy and birth and i never could spiral back from it and that's where i can trace the majority of when it started going down hell. So yes and that's one of the reasons why women are more disposition to autoimmune issues than men , is because birth is really hard on our body, our hormones fluctuate more which also causes stress and because stress affects our hormones and our thyroid differently than it does for men and so those things as you were saying stress like somebody who is carrying a lot of pressure and anxiety or whatever and if they are carrying it mentally, it absolutely can compromise your immune system and if your immune system is compromised, maybe you will just get a cold, maybe you'll just get a flu, maybe you'll just get backaches, maybe you'll just get a few things but if you've got that genetic predisposition in there and you've got gut problems on top of that, and if you add all those things together then you've created this perfect storm that can really open you up to those problems
Angel: I think there is a tipping point too don't you shannon?, like with the Baby and i have read recently a lot of research on childhood stress, cdc is actually involved in some of this research and so if you've gone through a very difficult and stressful situation as a young person and there's some brain body research going on that you know all this things are triggered in the brain, over activity of specific lens in the brain, prolonged stress(PTSD), people who suffer with PTSD, Shannon has probably worked with people like tis who develop autoimmune disease, so the brain-gut body connection is really powerful combination and i think.
Shannon: And some people will ask can you catch it at this early stages, then that's really hard to say because like Angel said, you are tracing back history to childhood and a lot of time from what we understand its still being researched greatly it's that one of the first signs that you may be going down the wrong path is your gut will start talking to you, you will start having bubble gut or pain or poor digestion or your not is not able to get what it needs out of the food that you are eating even if you are eating mannis and french fries(laughs), that's usually a place to start is if you are having gut issues and you really wanna figure out what's happening in there, what's going on, what's happening and am not a doctor but you know i'm all about functional medicine at this point too, like Angel talked about a functional medicine doctor for those who are not aware, they are MD's but they practice holistic health and and so it's the best of both worlds if you will and so they look at the whole picture and not just the symptom that you brought to them and that's so important especially when it comes to autoimmune issues cuz one of the biggest symptom is fatigue but that could be anything, it could be not having enough sleep, it could be all kinds of things. So a functional medicine doctor is gonna say you are really tired but let's look at this other things too and i wanna do a really good overall picture of you, so i would say start there, if you've got something going on that's not feeling right, we are our best identifier of our own body, we know right i mean Dee even though you don't have any of the things that maybe we are talking about you know when something is not balanced in your body, something's not feeling right and so if that's a consistent thing when you are experiencing something more than several times in a month then something needs to be looked into further, but there is not really a way to say 'here is your marker you can go take care of it" cuz it really thus depend, on one person it could be brain fog, another person it could be skin irritation, joint pain, aches in your body, it could be one day you are not able to sit down properly, i mean there is just so many different things it could be and so it's just being aware and tune with your body and then be your best advocate and look for a fantastic functional medicine doctor(laughs)
Dee: It's so funny but it's so interesting that you are saying that a lot of it starts in your gut and just as we speak in our language we'll talk about trusting our gut so much and i think that says alot about what you just kinda wrapped up for us that you are your best identifier and listening to your body is so important.
Angel: so many hormones and specifically serotonin is manufactured in your gut and a lot of people don't know that if that whole balance or that whole system is off, you can meditate all day long and you are not going to be happy, there are hormones in your body that you can't fix with necessary food and medication.
Shannon: Yes i'm glad you brought that up cuz i know the things that Dee and i like to talk about is your mindset and i think is "brain for" i'm just kidding. Who is the Woman that wrote the book about how you can heal yourself, shes amazing, i love her work, anyway she passes away recently but she wrote this whole book about how you can heal yourself by your own thinking and i do agree to that in a lot of ways , i do think that like when i decided that i wasn't going to be a patient anymore and when Angel pull her shotgun out and said bullshit am not laying on this bed, i do agree that is part of the whole picture, it's the start, it's the middle, it's the finish absolutely but there are some physical actions that i think people need to take where you need to get tested and find out what's happening miraculously in your body that is causing some of this that you can work with, you can deal with without going down this rabbit trails that we talked about cuz that's just not gonna be helpful, you know really partnering up with a team that you can trust, you know a functional medicine doctor you can trust, friends that you can trust to say hey here is what i'm thinking or here's what's happening or whatever looks right to you and so mindset absolutely start, middle and finish and also taking some actions to find out maybe your hormones are out of whack and that's why you are depressed, maybe your thyroid is acting crazy and that's why you either gained or loss a ton of weight, maybe something above is happening and that's why you feel so exhausted that you can't function and so anyway i think they are some real actions that people should be taking when they are not feeling right in the body.
Angel: I think you have to take control, i mean you surrender and loss control but you have to take control at the same time, you can't just passively float through any medical system whether its a functional medical doctor, group or medicine doctor, you can't just float when you are dealing with an autoimmune disease, you have to be an advocate for yourself.
Shannon: I think you can surrender but i think you can still be an advocate at the same time and i think surrendering don't mean don't resist it, don't fight it and go through the bitter trail that i went through where it's like f the world and f everything cuz that doesn't help anything(laughs).
Shannon: So Hopefully this gave some food for thought for anyone who maybe is either newly through it or being going through it, we love to hear from you, we love to hear your thoughts, what's working for you, share some resources, we will be happy to share resources that are shared with us and if you got specific questions you want to know from Angel or myself, you know i will respond to you, so anyhow, Angel thank you so much for jumping on with us , i know it was like a Georgia tech game or something going on(laughs). Thank you anyway for coming on and missing your game, whatever that game was(laughter continues). It's good to see your pretty face Angel. I'm so grateful for you guys.
Dee: Grateful for you.
Angel: Grateful for you.