AUTO IMMUNITY – ARE YOU UP TO SPEED?
Auto immunity is now recognised to play a role in almost every modern health problem.
Auto immunity is now epidemic and affects 90% of Americans and the UK is not far behind.
Early signs of autoimmunity may be allergies, recurrent tonsillitis or ear infections or travel sickness.
Auto immunity includes many conditions you may not think of as autoimmune such as migraines, type 1 diabetes, PCOS, autism, eating disorders, mental health problems, epilepsy, tinnitus, hearing loss, fibromyalgia and arthritis, cardiovascular disease, eczema, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and interstitial cystitis. There are now over 1,000 health problems categorised as autoimmune and it is known that Lyme disease is always concomitant with autoimmunity.
Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system attacks your own organs or tissues. Doctors believe this to be because your immune system has ‘gone mad’, but research shows that molecular mimicry – confusion between an antigen and an organ (e.g., Helicobacter and the skin causing psoriasis, milk protein and the pancreas causing type 1 diabetes) is due to molecular mimicry. Molecular mimicry is when the molecular structure of the antigen is almost identical to the organ or tissue, making it impossible for the immune system to differentiate between them. If you would like to know more about autoimmunity, please see Betrayal Episode One for free.
You may have heard of leaky gut, which is always present in autoimmunity, and which is triggered by certain foods. The gut wall should open to allow nutrients into the body, but some foods cause the gut wall to be locked in the open position, allowing undigested foods – which are not recognised as foods by the immune system – and toxins to seep through, provoking an immune response.
The other process at work is, of course, toxicity. The immune system recognises there is something that shouldn’t be in the body, such as a heavy metal, and tries to get rid of it causing inflammation in the process. Bugs then step in to mop up the toxic debris resulting in chronic viral infections and a negative shift in the biome. Because of a lack of awareness about toxicity and the ‘immune system gone mad’ model, steroids to suppress the immune system are standard treatment. They do not offer cure but are aimed at calming down the symptoms. Unfortunately, suppression of the immune system leads to increased risk of infections and more serious problems long term.
The modern medical model carves the body up into separate compartments so if you have autoimmunity – and most people with one autoimmune disease go on to develop more – you could end up seeing different specialists for each part involved. For example, you would see a rheumatologist for inflamed joints, a dermatologist for skin disease, an endocrinologist for PCOS, a gastroenterologist for IBD and a psychiatrist or neurologist if your brain were inflamed – none of whom would recognise that all were linked to systemic inflammation.
The reasons autoimmune diseases are so prolific are not difficult to find: lack of breast feeding, which is crucial for the development of the biome, pesticides in non-organic foods which kill off your good guys as well as pests, destruction of natural immunity by antibiotics, electromagnetic radiation from mobiles and wi-fi etc., which stimulates inflammation particularly in the brain causing anxiety, low mood and insomnia. But these are factors over which you have some control. The dangers of EMFs are explained in the film www.generationzapped.com and detoxification is known to be important for health. But knowing which diet to follow can be confusing as there are so many different approaches out there. Following an anti-inflammatory diet (which removes the trigger foods) results in remission in 80% of people within six weeks.
Research is now focusing on the link between specific foods and certain diseases so that diets can be more targeted (and less restrictive) and it is now possible to do sophisticated blood tests to identify which foods may be relevant to you and to which organs you have antibodies. You may be in the silent stage which typically lasts seven years, during which you have antibodies but there is no tissue damage. There is now a comprehensive Alzheimer’s Profile examining every factor relevant to the development of the disease including permeability of the blood brain barrier.
The biggest food offenders are obviously gluten, dairy, legumes, GM foods, lectins, nuts and seeds but it is not necessary to cut them all out. And I never cease to be amazed at the inventiveness behind auto immune breads and cakes and so on. And the good news is, once inflammation is under control, it is then possible to reintroduce foods, so the diet is not a life sentence.
It is not possible to take health for granted today. Disease is not the inevitable result of ageing but the accumulated effects of our modern lifestyles. It can take decades for new research to become integrated into clinical practice. But most people haven’t got time to wait for clinical trials and the publication of peer reviewed articles. Most research is funded by the pharmaceutical industry so is invariably focused on the development of a new drug. But under the guidance of a functional medicine practitioner or naturopath, Autonomic Response Testing and laboratory profiles can provide a roadmap to either prevent or reverse disease.