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May 27, 2024

E27 | Immune system support for autoimmune disease: Why balance matters more than boosting

E27 | Immune system support for autoimmune disease: Why balance matters more than boosting

Are you tired of trying various approaches to manage your autoimmune symptoms, only to find that they haven't provided the relief you were hoping for?

Many common strategies, such as boosting (or suppressing) your immune system, focusing solely on suppressing inflammation, or eliminating multiple foods, may not address the root cause of your immune imbalance, leaving you feeling frustrated and disempowered.

The key to effectively managing your autoimmune symptoms lies in supporting your immune system's ability to maintain balance and tolerance, rather than simply targeting symptoms.


  • Why achieving immune system balance, rather than boosting (or suppressing), is crucial for effectively managing autoimmune diseases and promoting overall well-being
  • The five ways you can support your immune system to regain balance: supporting immune function, optimizing gut health, minimizing toxin exposure, reconnecting with nature, and practicing stress management
  • How a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of immune dysfunction can lead to long-lasting symptom relief and improved quality of life

By prioritizing immune balance and focusing on the foundational aspects of immune health, you can create an environment that allows your immune system to function optimally, ultimately reducing the severity of your symptoms and promoting healing from within.

If you would like to get a clear roadmap for your healing journey to find lasting relief from your symptoms and know what your next steps should be, then sign up for a free 45 minutes DISCOVERY CALL with me 

 Head to  to grab one of those spots on my calendar!

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Book: If your body could talk by Jacquie Sharples

Episode 25 Leaky gut and autoimmune disease: How to heal your gut naturally

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@aninditarungta | nourish heal connect | Embrace Your Healing Journey

Your body knows how to heal, are you ready to support it?


04:01 - What if we found ways to “support” our immune function?

06:02 - Is your immune system playing detective or defender?

07:42 - The root cause of your symptoms is NOT a weak immune system

09:18 - The immune system is responsible for both accelerating and braking itself

12:02 - Some common strategies that may not have worked for you

16:49 - 5 ways to support your immune system's ability to maintain balance and tolerance

21:04 - This is what happens when your immune system is balanced and able to maintain tolerance


 In this episode, I explore why achieving immune system balance rather than boosting is crucial for effectively managing autoimmune diseases and promoting overall well-being. That's all coming up next right here on Embrace Your Healing Journey. 

Welcome to Embrace Your Healing Journey, a podcast for women with autoimmune and other chronic conditions to help them navigate the illness without fear of isolation and uncertainty and find relief from their symptoms. Your body is your guide and ally in healing. If you're ready to embrace this journey with compassion and awareness, then the show is for you. Tune in weekly as I, a Functional medicine certified health coach, deliver tips and insights that demystify the healing process, guiding you towards the relief you deserve so that you can feel healthy and happy once more. In each episode, I share inspiring, poignant stories quotes that may help you to draw strength and feel inspired and stay motivated on your health journey. These are typically books and resources that have proven to be very useful and valuable to me. 

For today's episode, I want to share this beautiful and thought provoking chapter from the book, If Your Body Could Talk by Jackie Sharples. It's an amazing book where each chapter is written from the point of view of a woman's body and is meant for that particular person, and focuses on various themes. So each chapter is written to that particular woman with her name. So it's a beautiful book. I highly recommend it. And this this chapter is for Megan. So this is what her body says to her. 

Dear Megan, you said something tonight that I've heard you say so many times before. I am all or nothing. I can see that you are like this. Either you are all in doing it 100% or you're completely off doing nothing. You get obsessed with things, you commit, you overcome it. You get consumed, but only for a small period of time. And then as soon as something comes along that gets in the way, you hit the off switch. Is being all or nothing working for you. Do you think those two choices are the only two options you should lock yourself into? The problem with this being all or nothing is that it's really hard to be all because you are busy and life gets in the way, and the minute this happens and you are not 100% compliant with the rules, you just throw the towel in your off. You are nothing. And so because it's too hard to be all, you usually end up being nothing. I'm not saying that it is wrong to try and be all in. I'm saying that maybe a more balanced approach will get you more results. What if there was another option? What if you were all or something instead? Don't they say that something is better than nothing will? Maybe it is love always your body.

 I think this is such a beautiful, you know, and, uh, refreshing perspective, don't you? And I think it is also linked with what I'm covering in today's episode. Like, we get so obsessed with, uh, you know, boosting, hacking, cracking. I find that we often, uh, you know, get a wrong message. So, for example, that I find it strange that we keep talking about boosting our immune system, hacking something. Because I feel that it often gives us the impression, uh, you know, that, um, the immune system is actually weak, or we need to overpower it, you know, all those kind of things because boosting has several meanings, and some of them are to increase or improve something to push or shove up from below, to encourage or assist. Now, this is fine, but I often find that this rise to that misconception, as I mentioned, that the immune system is somehow weak and as a result, the body's broken in some way

 That leaves most of us feeling helpless and disempowered to really do anything about our health. So that's not really helpful. And that's actually being we feel that because we can't be all in and, you know, there's not much sense we actually become doing being nothing. Like we don't end up doing something like this poem talked about. 

So what if instead we found ways to support our immune function? What if we found out why our immune system is behaving in this manner? Why is it producing antibody towards our own body tissues? And what if we realized that the most important role of our immune system is to assess and tolerate.  So this this means that healthy immunity is when your immune system is constantly surveilling the status of your word. It's constantly figuring out what is that threat, what is not it, constantly looking for threats in your environment and then responding to what could be a threat, but not otherwise at all. Other times, it's supposed to remain appropriately tolerant.

 That's actually, uh, your immune system's most important role. So our immune system is playing the role of a detective as well as a defensive agent when necessary, and is looking for the combination of, uh, signaling that is that a threat is both a stranger and a danger. So it's basically trying to assess, right, whether I should react or I should, uh, um, embrace it like a friend. We, of course, want our immune system to identify a threat as being a stranger that is not from our own bodies, because this would protect us, you know, against the immune system attacking it. So that's what happens. This is what goes wrong in the case of autoimmune conditions, because we have all sorts of different tissues in the body. And we also want foreign things to be accurately identified, foreign threats to be academically identified. But on the other hand, we also want the immune system to appropriately respond to something that is actually dangerous. This is what keeps the immune system from being overreactive or hyper reactive. That's when the immune system is healthy. 

This is actually a healthy immune system And we don't want it to be either of these extremes. In fact, what you need to ask yourself is this question, is your immune system playing detective or defender? In autoimmune diseases, the key to reducing symptoms lies in supporting immune balance, not boosting it. So you may be experiencing a wide range of symptoms related to your condition. So depending on which tissues or organs are being targeted and you know, depending on which organs is targeted, which issue. That's the name given to the human condition, actually, uh, contributing to the confusion that is typically already there because most people don't realize that these autoimmune conditions and there are more than 100 of them at last count, are actually all connected because the root of these conditions is immune dysregulation.

 So, for example, you have rheumatoid arthritis. You might have joint pain, stiffness, swelling and fatigue as your major symptoms. If you have lupus, on the other hand you might have skin rashes, joint pain, fever and sensitivity to light as your major symptoms. And you have if you have multiple sclerosis, then you can have muscle weakness, numbness, tingling and vision problems as your major symptoms. And if you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which is, uh, Hashimoto's as it is called, uh, you can have fatigue, weight gain, cold sensitivity and dry skin as your major symptoms. So these symptoms can actually be quite frustrating. Um, and may leave you feeling like immune system is working against you. As I said, it depends on which organ is actually being targeted, and it makes us feel quite helpless when we think of immune system is attacking our own body. But as I said, uh, it's important to understand that the root of these symptoms is not a weak immune system that needs to be boosted, uh, or hacked or, you know, suppressed, but rather an imbalanced immune system responds that it has lost its ability to tolerate its own tissues. And actually, the flip side, in the case of autoimmune conditions that we, uh, talk a lot about suppressing immune system as well. So we don't want any of these extremes, 

We neither do we want to suppress or look at it as boosting. We actually want to bring it back into balance. So a healthy, balanced immune system should, of course, be constantly surveilling your body and your environment. The vast majority of the time, however, it should choose to tolerate what it encounters.  That's that's what I mean by being appropriately tolerant. That is its most important role. And this includes your own tissues, the beneficial microbes that live within you in your gut microbiome, and the everyday foods that you consume maybe carrots, peas, corn, substances, and even other substances that you come in contact with. But what happens when this delicate balance is disrupted? Immune systems can start seeing your own tissue as a threat. And this can lead to the development of autoimmune conditions, development and progression, and all the symptoms that you may be experiencing. So it's important to remember that the function of your immune system is not just about getting geared up and becoming hotter and hotter, and fighting more and more potently against any threat that comes its way. 

The immune system is responsible for both accelerating and breaking itself so that we can have the appropriate measured response. And we don't have the chronic, chronic, ongoing inflammation that is a direct result of an immune response. So inflammation is not bad. It's part of the immune response, the immune system mechanism that, you know, uh, saves us from these threats. But it becomes a problem that the immune system is constantly responding to many different agents that it comes in contact with, mistakenly thinking them to be threats, because the much of the impact of chronic inflammation that we are seeing today, whether it's autoimmune disease or cardiovascular disease or type two diabetes, it is all chronic inflammation. It's like constant inflammation that is going on because the immune system is always, you know, on kind of overdrive. So rather than boosting or even actually suppressing the immune system, focus on, uh, supporting the immune system in regaining balance. And this can be done by strengthening the passive, you know, aspects of the immune system. 

So by maintaining healthy barrier functions throughout your body, uh, which includes your skin, mucous membranes and the lining of your gut, these are the places where actually all the allergens and all the agents that can be a threat comes directly in contact with your body before it enters your body from the outside. So think of it this way, like the mucous membranes of your nose inside your nose, the skin. The skin is like a giant mouth. So whatever you put on your skin actually can enter your body. So this is actually a, uh, healthy. It's a barrier. It separates the outside world from the inside world. So, uh, it ideally should not be allowing all these things which are a danger, you know, danger, like toxins, etc., to enter our body. But we need to be doing our best to keep them at bay. So the foods that you consume, the products that you use, all of this, you know, you need to be very careful about that. So by working to support these foundational aspects of your immune health, you can help your immune system better identify and respond to genuine threats. So you don't want immune system to be responding to your own tissues as you would like immune system B to respond to genuine threats like viruses, bacteria, etc., while remaining tolerant of harmless or beneficial factors so that this can actually ultimately reduce the severity of your symptoms, the flare ups, etc. that you might be facing. So you may have already tried various approaches to manage your symptoms, but you found that they haven't really provided the relief that you were hoping for, and some common strategies that may not have worked for you include boosting, as I said, boosting your immune system or even suppressing it. 

So you might have tried supplements, diets, lifestyle changes. And um, the real issue is again, is not a very strong or a very weak immune system, but rather an imbalanced one that has lost its ability to tolerate its own tissues. That's where the problem lies. Number two, you might have been focused on solely suppressing inflammation. And again, this is typically done with medications anti-inflammatory medications or even supplements. And they can provide temporary relief. But they may not help immune system regain its ability to tolerate ah you know your own tissues in the long run. So it's not that you can't do this. And sometimes medication supplements of course, are necessary and should be taken. But you need to understand what's really going on and how to address the real root causes. Also eliminating multiple food or food groups. A lot of people end up doing this because they feel so poorly after consuming these foods. And they can, of course, be helpful and certain things need to be avoided, uh, such as with celiac disease and gluten, for example. But overly restrictive diets can lead to nutrient deficiencies and again, may not address the root causes. So, you know, this is something that I find to be quite common. I had a client with many different symptoms and she was hardly eating, you know, any, uh, wholesome foods when she came to me because she had so many gut symptoms, so many issues that she had started taking off her foods. And then there was not much left. And that was not a good place to be, because then you don't even get the nutrients that you need to function optimally to create energy. So you're dealing with fatigue, hair loss, you know, so all of this, uh, which doesn't really, um, support your body's healing process. 

And as I discussed earlier, your immune system, because it's so strong, is always actually responding with one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake at the same time. So it has these mechanisms in place. Your role is to support your body so that it can it can do its job properly. So this means that when your immune system responds to a thread, it releases inflammatory mediators, cytokines which are protein molecules that promote inflammation. And this counteracts the threat. So this helps you to survive. But your immune system will also go ahead at the same time and secrete anti-inflammatory cytokines, you know, at the appropriate time and other mediators to make sure that this immune reaction will be contained. This this kind of regulation is actually necessary to prevent this chronic, ongoing inflammation that is a hallmark of so many of today's lifestyle diseases. But this regulation and which is which is at the heart of so many conditions, including autoimmunity, we call it immune dysregulation often goes off the rails due to different reasons, such as unhealthy microbiome, which is our collection of microbes in your gut, enhanced intestinal permeability and exposure to toxins,  including air pollution. And I've spoken about the connection between your immune system and microbiome in episode 25, which is leaky gut, an autoimmune disease. And I'll share the link below. Finally, I would like to add one more thing to this list specifically for immune tolerance, which is an isolation from the natural world. You know, we are part of nature, we are human beings, and of course we are. But we are very much a part of nature. 

We are animals, after all. We are a part of the mammal species. And, uh, but we live in a very different environment that than what we have evolved to be in. Right? It's very different. We are paying a price for that. So this means that isolation from our natural, natural world means that we are exposed to lots of electronics, uh, a huge amount of digital environment, lots of plastic, lots of artificial light and artificial chemicals in our products, in our skincare products, perfumes, foods. But we are not getting exposed to nature, right? That's what we are meant to, uh, thriving. So we do not walk barefoot on the grass, be and not getting exposure to dirt and soil, especially when we are children and when your immune system is still developing and trying to figure out what is frame and what is not. And this actually helps. To develop a healthy microbiome. Um, the human touch. Um, you know, some of us, some of us live quite isolated, like lives and, of course, sunshine. So all of these are having an impact on our health. And while we may survive, we are certainly not thriving. So instead of focusing on strategies that may not address the root causes of, uh, of your immune imbalance, it's crucial that you shift your attention to support your immune system's ability to maintain balance and tolerance. And here are five ways that you can do this. 

Number one, support your immune function. So focus on strengthening the foundational aspects. I've talked about the healthy barrier functions throughout your body. This means that take care of your skin by having enough water, enough hydration, consuming optimal level of healthy fat support, hormonal balance, and the health of the mucous membranes in your mouth, eyes, nose, and gut. We don't actually talk about these and this is the first place of first line of exposure to any kind of viruses, toxins, etc. from the outer world, right? So they all come in either through a mouth, nose, uh, skin, eyes or. What keeps all of this at bay? And these are critical areas where your immune system interacts with potential threats. 

Number two is optimize your gut health. Your gut is home to a vast majority of immune system. So work on promoting, you know, a diverse and robust, uh, gut microbiome. And, uh, you know, you have to have a whole variety of plant based foods, fermented foods, prebiotic fibers, and animal protein or other forms of protein and address any underlying issues that may contribute to enhanced intestinal permeability. I've talked about that in episode 25. And and in earlier episodes, 

Number three is minimized exposure to toxins, uh, air pollution, harsh chemicals in personal care products, artificial ingredients in processed foods. These are some of the dangers that we face today. And they contribute to immune dysregulation and chronic inflammation. So opt for natural, organic, non-toxic alternatives whenever you can. 

Number four is reconnect with nature. So make a conscious effort to spend more time in nature. This can help regulate your immune system. Walk barefoot on grass or sand. This is in fact my favorite activity to do. I mean, at the end of the day, I typically take a walk on the grass. I have a patch of grass, uh, in, you know, in the complex that I live in. And I've been doing this for a while, and I try to do this as many times as a week as I can, and I walk barefoot almost at least 15 to 20 minutes. And sometimes I even lie down on the grass and then look up at the clouds floating by. It's it's an amazing way to reconnect with nature and ground. Literally ground myself. And I can feel my stress just sort of melting away. But you can do that. You can spend time in forests or parks whenever you can expose your skin to natural sunlight, uh, engage in activities that you love doing, like gardening, interacting with animals if you have a pet at home, of course. So there's so many different ways of reconnecting with the natural world and supporting immune balance. 

Number five last but not the least, practice stress management. Chronic stress has a huge impact on your immune function and contributes to inflammation and immune dysregulation. So stress reducing practices like meditation, deep breathing, yoga, spending time in nature, exercise, regular sleep also counts here. It's really important. 

So here are the five ways that you can, uh, help support your immune, uh, immune system to come back into balance. Number one is support your immune function. Number two is optimize your gut health. Number three, minimize exposure to toxins. Number four reconnect with nature. Number five practice stress management. So by focusing on all these foundational aspects, you actually create an environment where your immune system can regain its balance. And it's actually helps to lower inflammation, lower the symptoms. You know this I've seen happen without fail. This is how it works. And because it actually addresses the root causes of immune dysfunction rather than simply targeting symptoms. And this is why it works. So the journey to immune balance and symptom relief may take time and patience, but consistently implementing these strategies and working with somebody who understands, whether it's a family medicine health coach or a practitioner or any other practitioner who's from, uh, who is well versed with all of this, uh, with a holistic approach, can help you make significant progress in your healing journey. 

Supporting immune system ability is so crucial, right? Especially if you're going to flare ups. If you're already dealing with an autoimmune condition and focusing on these foundational aspects, you can actually create an environment that allows the immune system to function as it should. So it should be, as I mentioned, constantly surveil and tolerate your own tissues, not create antibodies towards them. And when your immune system is balanced and it's tolerant, it can actually better identify and respond to genuine threats. So you can actually keep infections and be a lot of people. You will find that, you know, have these chronic, simmering infections that never seem to go away, yeast infections, viruses, you know, so that an infection or maybe other infections that never seem to go away. 

And the holistic approach actually addresses the root cause. And this actually brings in long lasting symptom relief. So prioritizing immune balance is really important because that is when you start experiencing the benefits of a well-functioning immune system. So that can lead to increased energy, reduced pain and inflammation and improved quality of life. And I want you to have that too. If you have any questions, you can connect with me at, on Instagram at @aninditarungta

hank you so much for joining me today for this episode of Embrace Your Healing Journey. I just opened up ten spots for a free call with me over the next two weeks. Uh, these are some couple of spots that have become available in my signature six month coaching program, healing for, uh, within for women with autoimmune and other chronic conditions, if you like to, if you would like to know more about that and get a clear roadmap for your healing journey and know what your next step should be, then head to That's dot com forward slash call and grab one of those spots on my calendar. Or you can head to the link below. In the next episode, I will talk about five proactive steps that you can take while seeking an autoimmune disease diagnosis. Don't miss it. Your body knows how to heal. Are you ready to support it?