An autoimmune disease occurs quite simply when our body’s immune system is provoked and begins to attack our tissue internally. There are dozens of different autoimmune diseases and they can attack any body part. Some of the more common ones that you have heard of are Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Type 1 diabetes, Celiac disease, Crohns colitis, Eczema, and Multiple sclerosis. Although you may have some slight genetic predisposition, these are not genetic diseases. You literally have to engage in some action to irritate the immune system in order for these issues to emerge. That's good news because that also means you have the power to engage in healthy habits to put these issues in remission.
The intestinal microbiome (gut bacteria) composition lies squarely in the intersection of developing allergic and autoimmune diseases because the gut holds 70% of your entire immune system. Your brain has more immune cells than nerve cells and communicates with the gut intimately. The “Gut-Brain” link has been detailed in papers, books and seminars to the point that any informed clinician has been exposed to this living entity and is aware of its significance. That's not to say that this is taught in medical school but sharp clinicians understand that issues of mood, headaches, sleep and cognition often have their roots in the health of the gut.
Why us and why now?
- Genetically modified wheat
- You aren’t eating the same wheat your great great grandparents ate.
- Today’s wheat contains 50% more gluten than 10 years ago
- Eating more wheat/gluten as it is stuffed into many processed foods
- Immunologic challenges (stimulation) from air pollution, water pollution, food-like substances that aren’t real food, vaccines, heavy metals, plastics, stress lack of sleep, industry toxins, food chemical toxins, and of course SUGAR.
- Abuse of antacids, Pepcid, Prilosec, Nexium, etc interfere with normal gut/bowel function and alter our brain and heart in ways you can’t imagine.
- Stress is high, weakens the immune system and alters sleep
A person that is stressed, experiences poor sleep, can’t find time to exercise and quiet the mind so turns to convenience foods, carb, and alcohol to ease their pain is setting themselves up for autoimmune issues. Having ONE autoimmune disease dramatically increases risk for a second and a third. The immune system is an the center of aging and so we accelerate our rate of aging and increase out risk for infections and even cancer as our poor immune system can’t defend us.
So why is the immune system weak?
- Poor food choices: sugar, wheat, processed food, food chemicals.
- Lack of fiber – prebiotic fiber restores your good gut flora (bacteria)
- Toxins & Chemicals – plastics, cosmetics, pesticides, EMF’s
- Heavy metals such as mercury in your vaccines, lead, aluminum, etc.
- Stress – cortisol elevations from over committed over scheduled life
- Fluoride – in your drinking water and toothpaste. It's a toxin.
- Chlorine – in your drinking water kills the good bacteria in your gut.
- Antibiotics – for treatment of infections that attack a weak immune system
- Aging – our immune system weakens with the passage of time
- Poor sleep – inability of the body to restore and repair
The Gut is Pivotal
The term gut refers to the entirety of our bowel from the stomach, through the small and large intestines and out through our rectum. This is not a rubber hose but rather a sensitive tissue made of cells linked arm-in-arm. Anything that disrupts that link and causes separation of the cells allows toxins and undigested food to pass beyond the bowel wall and into the immune tissue that lies just beneath the surface. This is called intestinal permeability. Once toxins and bad elements can easily cross this barrier then our safety net has been breached and bad things are coming . . . immune insults.
Our good bacteria in the gut keep the bowel wall solid but our poor diet and stress erode the good bacteria making us susceptible. A loss of this protective barrier makes us susceptible to autoimmune disease. Once the immune system is “irritated” by the toxins passing through the gut, its response is like a crazed lunatic that is out of control and doing things that don't make sense. Why would our own immune system attack our very own tissue?
Take Celiac disease as an example. It is the one autoimmune disease that has a KNOWN cause – WHEAT. People with Celiac disease are born with a gene that makes them intolerant to wheat but they aren’t born with bowel or immune system disease. It is only after exposure to the gluten in wheat in repetitive fashion over years that they turn on that dormant gene and drive the changes in their gut. If they avoid wheat their entire lives then they would NEVER develop Celiacs disease.
If you and I live a cleaner less polluted life with better food and lifestyle choices then we greatly reduce the risk of ever developing an autoimmune disease. That puts the power of control in our hands. Even if we make a few slips (no one is perfect) then our odds are extremely low of ever developing autoimmune disease. But what if we do develop autoimmune issues? Are we sentenced to a life of misery and restriction? No. Absolutely NOT. Given that you are the one that invited the disease in with past choices, you can be the one to invite the disease to leave you with new and better choices. Even something as devastating as multiple sclerosis can be greatly modified and potentially put into remission with reasonable treatment that does not necessarily involve drug therapy.
OK, I said it . . . drug therapy. Can drugs be helpful? Yes . . . sort of. Drugs are not capable of reversing autoimmune disease as only YOU can do that but they are capable of modifying the “symptoms”. The challenge with drug therapy is that is might reduce symptoms for a period of time but it also weakens your immune system and opens the door to infection and greater cancer risk. Drug therapy is a personal decision. What is always more powerful than any drug is your decision to be healthy.Your choice of diet, exercise, sleep and stress management will trump any drug. The lack of drugs didn't make you sick so it is reasonable to understand that the addition of drugs won’t make you healthy. The unfortunate truth is that our medical system doenst teach doctors how to make you healthy. We as doctors are taught how to manage your symptoms, not how to reverse the process of your disease. That has great value but it isn’t the total picture.
In the coming pages of the listed diagnoses and in the multitude of articles and videos on this website we will try to expose you to a different view of autoimmune disease that empowers you for change. You hold the final say in how your body moves forward. You are the all important element of change that can drive your body to a better result.