These days, it seems like every “mystery” illness under the sun is linked to autoimmune conditions. But what does that really mean? Autoimmune Diseases stem from an immune system that is misfiring and mistaking normal, healthy tissues and cells as foreign invaders.
The immune system launches an “attack” and a whole range of conditions, from #Multiple Sclerosis and #Lupus to #Lyme Disease, can result along with over 80 conditions recognized as Autoimmune Diseases?
Check out the rest of this blog to learn more about what they are and the risk factors associated with them.
Autoimmune Diseases – What Are They? Who May Get Them?
The immune system is your body’s protector against germs and viruses that can make you sick.
Immune system action involves lots of complicated pathways, but in general, it works through the production of antibodies. Antibodies are produced to “fight” and rid the body of foreign invaders.
But what happens when the immune system isn’t in tiptop shape?
For starters, you may be prone to more frequent illness, like the common cold or seasonal flu. But a chronically compromised immune system – when it’s too active or not active enough – can result in a whole host of health disorders called AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES.
A healthy immune system can recognize the difference between the body and foreign invaders.
But in the case of Autoimmune Diseases, the immune system starts mistaking normal, healthy cells as foreign and attacks parts of one’s own body.
There are over 80 conditions have been recognized as Autoimmune Diseases.
Some Commonly Recognized Autoimmune Diseases:
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (including Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis)
- Celiac Disease
- Thyroid Disease
- and many more …
Each one has its own unique symptoms, depending on the body parts that the immune system attacks.
Most Autoimmune Disease Begin With Similar Early Warning Sign & Symptoms …
Such as …
- Low energy
- Swelling, redness, heat
- Mental fog and/or difficulty focusing
- Skin rash and/or breakouts
Autoimmune Diseases can be difficult to diagnose, since these early symptoms are generalized. The severity of symptoms also varies and flare-ups and remissions are common (and commonly frustrating!) in people with an Autoimmune Disease.
Healthcare Professionals don’t know exactly what causes most Autoimmune Diseases either. Some have a genetic predisposition, meaning having a family history may increase your risk of getting that disease.
Research has identified several other few factors believed to contribute to the development of Autoimmune Diseases.
Some Contributing Factors To Autoimmune Diseases May Include:
- Western Diet – A diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, saturated and trans fats is believed to promote inflammation, damage the lining of the small intestine, and weaken immune system function. In contrast, a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from plant foods has the opposite effect on the body.
- Compromised Gut Health – Diet, alcohol use, stress, and antibiotics all affect the microbiome – the bacteria that lives in your gut.
- Exposure to Toxins – includes environmental pollutants, heavy metals, chemicals in personal care products, and residue on foods (pesticides and chemical fertilizers – eww!)
- Bacterial/Viral Infections
- Hormones – Women seem to develop more Autoimmune Diseases compared to men, especially during their reproductive years. This may be due to hormonal imbalances and/or an excess of estrogen, known as Estrogen Dominance.
Treatments for Autoimmune Diseases are not curative, but focus is on minimizing uncomfortable symptoms and decreasing the frequency of severe flare-ups.
Best Practices: A Combination Of Mainstream Medicine & Complementary Treatments To Help Autoimmune Diseases:
Medications – targeted at managing pain, reducing inflammation, and suppressing immune system activity.
Complementary Therapies – massage, individualized medical exercise programs, acupuncture, chiropractic, and natural remedies/supplements may be used to manage symptoms.
Autoimmune Food Therapy Protocol – A diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, and meat to help reduce inflammation. It’s thought to be similar to the Paleo Diet, but more strict.
Final Thoughts …
While it is difficult to identify a specific cause behind the 80 some odd autoimmune diseases that have been identified, 5 contributing factors that may contribute towards a potential to increase one’s risk of developing an autoimmune-related condition was shared.
Also shared were some best practice research to help manage symptoms and flare-ups, to help with quality of living. Yes, food is at the top of the list. Eating a Western diet, full of unhealthy fats, sugars, and artificial ingredients, is thought to weaken the immune system and damage the gut. This can set the stage for increased inflammation. Yet food can also be used to help reduce the inflammation response in the body.
In the next blog post, I will share with you a recipe for Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Tea that combines two powerful, anti-inflammatory plants.
Then in the following two blog posts, I will share with you the Autoimmune Food Therapy Protocol – an education blog & a recipe blog post.
So if you know of anyone that may benefit from these blog posts, please share.
p.s. May is Awareness Month for Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, & Lyme Disease.