What is an Autoimmune Disease?
The body’s immune system is made up of cells, tissues, and organs that have the job of protecting the body. The immune system acts as internal armor against infectious invaders. When the digestive tract, which holds 85 to 90% of the immune system has become terribly weakened by invaders, the toxins and antibodies which are usually safely contained inside the gut walls begin to leak out into the bloodstream. These antibodies now begin to attack normal tissue as foreigners. This leaves the body focused on fighting a war inside of the body.
Some common examples of the more than 100 known autoimmune diseases are:
- Juvenile and Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Celiac Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (i.e., Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis)
- Chronic Pain/Fibromyalgia
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Interstitial Cystitis/Recurrent UTI's
- Hashimoto’s thyroid disease
Autoimmune diseases are caused by the immune system inside the gut being broken down over many years. It can be reversed only if the root cause is adequately addressed.
Triggers of Autoimmune Diseases
The substances or conditions that cause an autoimmune disease to develop or to flare up are called triggers. While not all triggers affect all people and not all people have the same response to all triggers, there are some commonalities.
Imbalances in the gut flora, environmental toxins, and stress are often involved with creating the perfect combination of circumstances for the immune system to eventually break down and trigger an autoimmune reaction.
The bacteria that lives in your digestive tract is called gut flora. The job of gut flora is to break down food and activate vitamins and other enzyme reactions. There are a variety of bacteria which needs to be maintained in a delicate balance. When the flora is out of balance, normal digestive functions cannot occur, leading to the immune system within the digestive tract becoming compromised and the gut walls deteriorating. Without sufficient repair work by the gut flora, the toxins and antibodies within the digestive tract begin to leak out into the bloodstream. These toxins begin to settle in joints, blood vessels, and other organs causing a great deal of damage. The antibodies which have leaked out begin to attack our body’s own tissue as foreign. An autoimmune reaction has now started.
In today’s world, exposure to environmental toxins is unavoidable. With the high degree of industrial and agricultural pollutants which spill into our air, food, and water supply, people are exposed to extremely high levels of toxins on a daily basis. If the detoxification pathways in the liver are unable to keep clearing these toxins, the liver eventually becomes clogged up and cannot maintain its other normal functions. Toxins begin deteriorating the remainder of the digestive system, eventually leaking into the bloodstream and creating an autoimmune reaction.
Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body's reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. With acute bouts of stress, our immune system is told to shut down so that a person can react quickly and return back to a calm physiologic state. The problem is when a person frequently fires off stress signals and remains in a chronic state of stress. Normal immune reactions and hormonal balance are then altered, eventually causing digestive dysfunction, liver and kidney damage, elevated blood pressure, and high levels of systemic inflammation.
Red Meat, Dairy Products, Poultry, Eggs
These food groups required an extreme amount of water to be produced causing them to be exposed to high levels of contaminated groundwater. For example, one egg requires 55 gallons of water to be produced. One pound of beef requires 1,800 gallons of water, one pound of pork requires 576 gallons of water, and one pound of chicken requires 468 gallons of water to be produced.
In the U.S., animals are often fed corn, soy, and arsenic in their feed in order to fatten them up quickly and produce the desirable food by-products demanded by the public and extremely high quantities. The problem is that this diet causes animals to become extremely ill requiring farmers to give the animals low-dose antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. These heavy metals, industrial toxicants, medications, and crops are always passed onto humans when they consume animal protein, whether or not the food label states grass-fed, cage-free, and pasture raised.
Due to the extremely high consumption of animal protein in the Western diet, people are often exposed to extremely high levels of arsenic, mercury, lead, gasoline additives, and many other industrial toxicants. The liver and stomach cannot tolerate such high levels of toxins leading to their inability to work properly. Food is often not properly digested and nutrients are not easily absorbed and delivered to the cells. As the digestive tract begins to breakdown over many years and toxins leak into the periphery, autoimmune disease begin to form. The immune system has become too weak to stop the vicious cycle.
GMO Crops: Corn, Soy, Sheat, and Rice
Starting in the mid-1990s, soy, corn, and wheat seeds were genetically modified so that they could tolerate pesticides such as glyphosate and prevent crops from being killed during a bad farming season. The problem is that these GMO seeds cannot be safely recognized by our gut flora. Pesticides shut down the production of critical amino acids and other cellular reactions.
Since these GMO crops are now produced in extremely high quantities both in the U.S. and worldwide, it has led to the crops being the primary food given to animals in their feed. It is also the primary crop in most processed and ready-made food and beverage items.
Because the Western diet primarily rich in grains (especially wheat, rice, corn, and soy), processed food, and animal protein, gut flora being greatly damaged and caused a weak immune system. Inflammation becomes excessive eventually leading to autoimmune disease.
Sugar (Artificial and Natural), Alcohol, and Caffeine
Common food items in the Western diet, including sugar, alcohol, chocolate, and caffeine were historically consumed in tiny quantities a few times per year on special occasions. With the cost of these items dramatically decreasing and increased availability in our food supply, the consumption by most people dramatically increased.
These items are extremely toxic to the immune system and create a great deal of havoc for the liver and kidneys. They are also instrumental in causing hormone imbalance. With daily to weekly consumption of sugar, alcohol, and caffeine, the body can no longer maintain normal physiologic functions and keep diseases which require a strong immune system at bay. Autoimmune disease can more easily set in.
Some people report that their condition was first triggered by a prescribed pharmaceutical medication. Known as drug-induced autoimmune disease, this phenomenon occurs more often when many of other food triggers and stress are a big component of the person’s lifestyle.
How Autoimmune Diseases are Diagnosed
When such a condition is suspected, it is vital to understand the triggers of and treatments for autoimmune diseases.
The early symptoms of many autoimmune diseases can include:
- Achy muscles
- Swelling and redness
- Low-grade fever
- Trouble concentrating
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Hair loss
- Skin rashes
Autoimmune disease are first diagnosed clinically. They are confirmed through a combination of blood and urine toxicology tests. These tests involve an assessment of liver, stomach, and kidney function along with storage levels of critical vitamins, heavy metal and industrial toxicant load, along with specific autoantibodies and inflammatory markers in the bloodstream.
Treatments for Autoimmune Diseases
The treatment of autoimmune diseases places emphasis on decreasing the number of antibodies that are produced by the immune system, thereby reducing immune system activity.
Treatments are aimed at addressing the root cause and not just on placating the symptoms. It is first aimed at calming down the overactive immune response, reducing inflammation, and relieve symptoms accordingly. Supplements may be recommended to accelerate the healing process.
If you are interested in learning more and work with some of the top autoimmmune disease experts in San Francisco, contact Advanced Health today. We will help you reverse your disease and get back on the path to lifelong wellness.