What is Autoimmunity?

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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:

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Grave’s Disease

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Addison’s Disease

Multiple Sclerosis

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Celiac Disease

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Crohn’s Disease

Endometriosis

Guillan Barre

Interstitial Cystitis

Juvenile Diabetes

Meniere’s Disease

Myasthenia Gravis

Narcolepsy

Psoriasis

Sjogren’s

Ulcerative Colitis

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!

References:

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.

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3 thoughts on “What is Autoimmunity?

  1. Pingback: What Causes Autoimmunity? | owningwellness

  2. I’ve had Crohn’s diaesse and Celiac diaesse for 15 years. My mother has MS, Crohn’s, and fibromyalgia. My grandmother had Ulcerative Colitis. All autoimmune disorders. We are living proof it runs in families. I fear for my daughter.Do I think antibiotics cause autoimmune disorders? Not necessarily. Do I believe you can be genetically predisposed to autoimmune disorders that are then triggered by an imbalance in your system from an environmental factor like antibiotics? Sure. Antibiotics mess with your immune system. They create an imbalance because they don’t kill bacteria selectively. They kill the good with the bad and if that happens too often and your body is already susceptible, then we have problems.But there are lots of things that create an imbalance. Start with the food supply. Too much sugar, fat, starch, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives. Throw in a few noxious chemical cleaners, air fresheners, perfumes, fabric softeners and laundry dye. Mix in lack of exercise, overproduction of cortisol due stress, and constantly being on alert and your body simply can no longer cope. It shuts down. Your immune system gets confused because it can no longer determine self from not self. It attacks everything and we get sick.I hope you can find answers you are searching for. If it were simple, we would already know, wouldn’t we? Good luck.

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