Your Level of 'Body Belief' Affects Your Autoimmunity
Thanks to celebs like Gigi Hadid, Selena Gomez and Lena Dunham, women are more woke to the signs and symptoms of autoimmune (AI) diseases. These conditions affect women 75 percent more than men with nearly 30 million diagnosed with some form of rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac sprue, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, or type 1 diabetes...
Many of us self-diagnose these as merely exhaustion from being overworked employees and/or moms, and get caught up in a cycle of survivor's guilt, if we dare to feel good.
Women's health expert, Aimee Raupp, MS, LAc, -- born with eczema and asthma, and a survivor herself, of an eating disorder -- is on a mission to put a stop to these ill-informed practices. Her new book, Body Belief examines the life choices that cause health degradation (and her previous books have received praise from the likes of Deepak Chopra and Ariana Huffington).
"[Body Belief] has three parts: Reconnect, Renew and Reawaken," Raupp explains. "The 'Reawaken' section is a complete diet and lifestyle overhaul. But I feel that radical healing can't happen until we first reconnect with our bodies and renew our beliefs."
We sat with her to learn more, "because the bottom line is your brain and your body communicate with one another, and your body and cells hear everything your brain says," she says. "So the conversation you are having in the privacy of your own mind is absolutely affecting your health."
Do we know what's caused the rise of AI diseases -- incidents tripled in the past 40 years!? Has our environment gotten worse, or we're just more aware of what's happening so diagnoses are increasing?
Over the last 40 years, we have introduced nearly 100,000 chemicals into our environment -- Western medical research links the major rise in AI disease to those chemicals. But I do think it’s more than just those chemicals. As I discuss in Body Belief: autoimmunity is a case of misidentification -- on both a cellular and an emotional level. Said another way: the chemicals in our environment are definitely a big part of the autoimmune epidemic, however, so are our beliefs and the barrage of self attacks we put ourselves through on a daily basis.
The question I pose: if autoimmunity is the body attacking itself on a cellular level, where are you attacking yourself on an emotional level? Both must be at play here.
Good question. We'll get back to you with that answer, but first, you're not necessarily preaching a dismissal of Western medicine with your approach, but there aren't many integrative doctors out there.
What is the best way to develop an integrative self-love regimen (do you have to see both a TOM [Traditional Oriental Medicine] doctor and a Western doctor)?
Maybe. It really depends. I think there are many good functional medical doctors out there who realize the role our thoughts and beliefs and emotions play in dis-ease. But in order to dig deep and begin to first identify and then ultimately transform our belief systems, we need to choose to be a part of our own healing path regardless of the doctor(s) we choose to work with.
Word. You offer some yummy recipes as part of your "Self-Study/Self-Love" recommendations, what's one of the most transformational meals you've had in your own health journey?
For me it’s making homemade bone broth and then enjoying it with my family in our home-cooked meals. There’s something really special to me about cooking such a nourishing and healing food and then sharing it with the ones I love.
Soupy good times. What's one of the most common traits among women who are suffering from an AI disease, but are as yet undiagnosed (you mention being sleepy -- but aren't we all chronically sleepy?! How do we know the difference between poor sleep and something more problematic)?
I think brain fog, skin issues (like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, tinea), digestive complaints (like feeling bloated all the time or bouts of diarrhea and/or constipation) and pretty much always feeling exhausted, even when you sleep a solid seven to eight hours; feeling like you’re tugging your body along rather than feeling like its a part of you.
The process of "Reconnect, Renew, Reawaken" is something we should probably go through daily, at least on some level, and that seems overwhelming. Even you admit to following maybe 70-80% of your regimen on "off days." So, what's the one thing you must do everyday to get some R, R & R?
Take a few minutes, like 3-5, and breathe. Just breathe. While you’re breathing, take time to check in with yourself by asking, "How are you feeling today?" Or, "How can I best support you today?"
Simply taking a few moments to do that will create and maintain that reconnection that your body is longing for. After a while the reconnecting becomes automatic and from there you can begin to hear that conversation you have with yourself in the privacy of your own mind and start to renew and shift those beliefs and thoughts. And, the reawakening will fall into place as you regularly reconnect and renew because you will now know what your body needs to be supported, how to listen to it and how to nourish it.
May you share an anecdote about one of your most inspirational patient transformations?
Gosh, there are honestly so many. That’s really where the heart of the book comes from -- my clinical practice and witnessing so many radical transformations. One of my recent faves is a new client who was actually the woman who recorded my audiobook version of Body Belief. She didn't know me or anything about my book. I showed up to record my audiobook (which is a 3 day process) and by the end of the three days, she had told me all of her health history (over the various lunches and tea breaks we shared) and decided to fully commit to the Body Belief program. She was so ready.
She dove in and with my guidance has completely transformed her health (not to mention, she lost 50 pounds... And counting!).
She was exhausted all the time, depressed, in pain, suffering with horrible menstrual cycles, headaches, itchy skin, digestive issues, and more (she actually checked off almost 80% of the 100 symptoms on the "red flag" checklist I have listed in Body Belief.) Even more, she was constantly berating herself and living a rough daily existence of self dislike.
As of today, she has been following the Body Belief program for 10 weeks and feeling the best she’s felt -- emotionally and physically -- in over 4 years. Of course she still has moments of not feeling amazing, but they are way out numbered by moments of feeling good and connected.
Quick-fire: Please give us the official doctor's word: Social media: good or bad for self-love?
Depends on who you follow. My rule of thumb: if it feels good, do it; if it doesn’t, delete.
Pin that to the top of my Twitter!
Photos by Christa Meola
Aimee Raupp, MS, LAc, is a renowned women’s health & wellness expert and the author of the books Chill Out & Get Healthy, Yes, You Can Get Pregnant, and Body Belief. A licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in private practice in New York, she holds a Master of Science degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Rutgers University.
She is also founder of the Aimee Raupp Beauty line of handcrafted, organic skincare products. She has appeared on The View, and has been featured in Glamour, Allure, Well + Good, GOOP, Shape, and Redbook, and has received endorsement from Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington, and Gabby Bernstein for her work in helping thousands of women to improve their vitality, celebrate their beauty, and reconnect to the presence of their optimal health.
Aimee is also an active columnist and blogger for Thrive Global, Acupuncture Today, MindBodyGreen, WellRounded NY, and Motherly, and is a frequent speaker at women’s health & wellness conferences across the nation. She engages her large community worldwide through her online programs and with her website, www.aimeeraupp.com.