According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), an estimated 50 million people suffer from autoimmune disease in the United States (that’s about 1 in 5 people). The National Institute of Health recognizes a much more conservative number at 23.5 million, but that number is still higher than the estimated amount of those with heart disease (22 million) or cancer (9 million). In other words, if an autoimmune disease (such as Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, endometriosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and type 1 diabetes) or an “associated” autoimmune disease (such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue) is not affecting you personally, chances are, it’s affecting someone you love right at this moment. Furthermore, autoimmune disease is something that anyone could likely develop in the future.
In The Autoimmune Solution, Dr. Amy Myers provides a comprehensive look at autoimmune disease and in particular, how food and other toxic elements in our environment affect our immune system and set off inflammatory responses. This inflammation can result in all sorts of symptoms, from frequent headaches and eczema to digestive issues and joint pain, and if not treated properly, can eventually accumulate into what we recognize as autoimmune disease. Meaning, even those who don’t currently carry an autoimmune diagnosis are potentially at risk.
For me, this book really hits home. I especially love the fact that Myers provides a unique point of view: she is not only a medical doctor, but also a patient. Diagnosed with her own autoimmune condition (Graves’ disease) while still in medical school, Myers experienced the frustrating web of dismissive (and sometimes, condescending) doctors, harsh medications and (sometimes, ineffective) treatments, all while being told the myth that these were the only ways to treat her condition. I felt like I was reading my own story, having been told that food and nutrition had no significant impact on autoimmune disease, and that conventional medical treatments were my only option. For me, believing this myth led to a dark, downward spiral of debilitating side effects and an illness that grew exponentially worse. Knowing that Myers had been in this position herself makes her perspective all the more powerful. I can’t tell you how many times I wished that some of my doctors had a better understanding of what I was going through — if only they could walk in my shoes, even if for a temporary time, so that they might have at least some idea of the pain and symptoms I was experiencing. Not that I would wish my condition (or any other autoimmune condition) on anyone else, but I do believe that having this experience would make them better doctors. The fact that Myers has this personal experience plus training and experience as a medical doctor, makes her perspective incredibly special.
Although medicine has it’s time and place, Myers believed that despite what the conventional doctors told her, there had to be a better way. So she began to research it. She discovered the power that diet and lifestyle have on our health, and developed a method in which patients can use food and other lifestyle changes as “medicine” to either heal, reverse or prevent illness in the first place. While she provides plenty of anecdotal success stories, her entire protocol is supported by proven science (so if you’re looking for evidence-based information, Dr. Myers provides it.)