A Fighting Chance Against Autoimmune
Autoimmune diseases are on the rise. These are unique conditions where there is no infection of a virus or bacteria, but the immune system begins to attack a specific area of the person’s own body. Some examples are lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, and colitis, among possibly 150 more conditions.
Healthy digestion is essential for overall health, but the digestive process can easily be impaired. Like digestion itself, dysfunction occurs in a “north to south” process. Starting with eating in sympathetic (stressed) state, having low stomach acid, experiencing gall bladder or liver dysfunction, and eating improperly balanced meals or highly processed foods can wreak havoc on the system.
Any of the above listed situations can result in undigested, poorly broken down, or irritating food particles entering the digestive tract. While the digestive tract can deal with these issues on an occasional and intermittent basis, it is all too common for this to be a daily assault. The single layer of cells lining the intestinal wall usually allows select nutrients through to the lymph and blood, but damage over time begins to impair their ability to block larger particles. The cells themselves die off, and the tight junctures between them are pulled apart. In this state of leaky gut, molecules that would typically pass through the gut are allowed entry into the blood stream and lymph.
Once these particles have breached the physical barrier of the gut wall, the immune system steps in as the next level of defense. Uninvited proteins are seen by the immune system as invaders. The immune system will create antibodies for the specific proteins discovered in the body and learn them. Some of the proteins, however, have chemical similarities to some body cells. When the immune system has learned that a certain protein is an invader, it may continue its attack on those similar body cells.
For example, a person living a stressful life and eating processed wheat flour foods may develop leaky gut which allows gluten proteins into the blood stream. Over time, the individual’s immune system learns the gluten proteins and produces antibodies against them. That person’s thyroid cells has receptors that match the receptors on the gluten proteins. The immune system will continue to produce antibodies that will bind to both the gluten and the thyroid cells. Over time, thyroid function will decline as the immune system continues its attack and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis will develop.
Therapy for this client would include eliminating gluten from the diet, practicing parasympathetic (relaxed) eating and living practices, and healing the gut and digestive process with appropriate supplements and foods.
While each individual’s situation is different, leaky gut is almost always present in autoimmune conditions. Diet may not necessarily be the cause; pesticides and herbicides on non-organic foods can cause leaky gut, as can many medications. Healing and sealing the lining of the small intestine should be a priority in every autoimmune disease. This can be done by avoiding irritating foods like wheat, dairy, refined sugars and foods containing artificial ingredients and chemicals. Adding in home-made bone broths containing gelatin is soothing to the gut, and L-glutamine is a great amino acid supplement that helps to heal the gut lining. With careful lifestyle, dietary, and supplemental planning, many autoimmune conditions can be well controlled, or even go into remission.
This information is for educational purposes only and should not be used as medical advice.