In multiple sclerosis it causes brain lesions that lead to numbness, weakness and walking problems. In rheumatoid arthritis it causes joint damage, which results in pain, swelling and stiffness. In lupus various organs can be attacked; the disease’s most characteristic symptom is a butterfly-shaped rash that may appear across the face.
What these ailments—and dozens of others—have in common is autoimmunity, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. It’s a condition addressed by the authors of two recently published books, both from Rodale.
Chiropractor and functional medicine specialist Tom O’Bryan was a trim marathoner who considered himself fairly healthy—until in-depth medical testing indicated he was primed for the development of autoimmune brain dysfunction. “My own health was suffering and I didn’t even know it,” he writes in The Autoimmune Fix: How to Stop the Hidden Autoimmune Damage That Keeps You Sick, Fat and Tired Before It Turns Into Disease. His experiences, along with those of his patients, led O’Bryan to develop the Transition Protocol—from an autoimmunity-fostering lifestyle to a healthier one—that forms the core of his book.
The Autoimmune Fix
By Tom O’Bryan, DC, CCN, DACBN
322 PAGES, $26.99
O’Bryan writes that chronic inflammation, in which the immune system runs rampant, can lead to someone finding themselves on what he calls “the autoimmune spectrum,” including such seemingly unrelated disorders as Alzheimer’s and psoriasis, depending on that person’s genetically determined weaknesses. The heart of O’Bryan’s defense against these threats lies in eliminating gluten, identified as a key nutritional hazard by many integrative medicine specialists, along with dairy and sugar. Instead, he advocates a diet based on not only fresh produce, nuts and seeds, but also grassfed, locally sourced animal protein when possible (organic if not) and fermented foods. He says The Autoimmune Fixdoesn’t present just a diet but “a guiding principle for a lifetime.”
Like O’Bryan, nutritional therapists Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt came to write their book, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook: A DIY Guide to Living Well with Chronic Illness, based on their own autoimmunity diseases (five between the two of them). They describe their approach as “patient-centered, guided by self-discovery, informed and proactive.”
The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook
By Mickey Trescott, NTP, and Angie Alt, NTC
RODALE, 304 PAGES, $25.99
Trescott and Alt’s plan includes informing yourself about your condition, collaborating with conventional and alternative practitioners, switching to more a nourishing diet and better exercise habits, getting effective rest and stress relief, and forming meaningful connections with others. The authors believe in letting your own needs guide your decisions; for example, they say you can adopt a new way of eating either “cold turkey” or “slow and steady”—and provide a short questionnaire to help you decide which would work best for you. Trescott and Alt also tackle questions that don’t often come up in books such as this, such as how to handle healthcare finances.
The greatest strength of The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook lies in its easygoing approach. “Let go of the need to do it all right straight out of the gate,” Trescott and Altwrite. “It’s not about doing everything perfectly; it’s about understanding that effort over time will produce change.” —Lisa James