These days, it seems like more and more people are being diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. Whether its multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or Hashimoto’s disease, these autoimmune conditions are becoming more common. Why is that? How are all these seemingly unrelated diseases all occurring with increasing frequency, and what can we do to stop this alarming trend?
Autoimmunity, as you probably know, is the misdirection of your own immune system. It occurs when your immune cells lose the ability to differentiate between what is “self” and what is “non-self”. Your immune system is a powerful force in your body, protecting you from bacteria, viruses, yeasts and parasites everyday. So when it gets confused and turns against you, the damage can be quite severe. For some people their immune system attacks their thyroid, for others their joints, and for some, their brain and nerve tissues. We don’t really know why some people get arthritis and some people get MS, but the underlying mechanism is the same. To help you get a better understanding of just how prevalent autoimmune diseases are, here’s a list of just a few of the conditions currently thought to be related to autoimmunity:
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
And many others! I just picked the most recognizable ones out of a list produced by the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association. Who knows how many other conditions may have an autoimmune component that is not yet understood. Clearly, this a huge health problem that we’ve got to get under control!
If you have any of the above conditions, or want to avoid them, there’s good news. According to Dr. Thomas O’Bryan, there are three factors that lead to the development of autoimmune disease: 1) genetic predisposition, 2) A triggering factor, and 3) a leaky gut. While you can’t do anything about your genes, you can certainly avoid likely triggers, and healing your gut is one of the best ways to avoid disease in general, not just autoimmunity. Some people are even able to achieve remission in their autoimmune diseases by modifying their diets and lifestyles.
So if you’re interested in learning how to prevent or even potentially reverse autoimmune disease, be sure to keep reading! You can subscribe via RSS feed, email, facebook or twitter. And don’t forget about the Real Food Summit that launched today!
List of Autoimmune and Autoimmune Related Diseases, accessed July 8, 2012. American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, http://www.aarda.org/research_display.php?ID=47.
O’Bryan, T. Podcast with Sean Croxton, Underground Wellness, Detecting Autoimmunity Early, July 3, 2012.