Autoimmune Diseases Don’t Just Happen
March is Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month. There are 50 million Americans diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and probably closer to 100 million who have autoantibodies and don’t even know it! Or, their test results have been dismissed because they aren’t quite bad enough yet and the symptoms are non-specific. Conventional doctors will tell you to wait and see. This is like waiting to let you get a disease so they can tell you what disease you have! Are you kidding me? It can take five years or longer sometimes to receive an autoimmune diagnosis.
If you do get an autoimmune diagnosis, the doctor tells you autoimmune diseases just happen and they don’t know why the body is attacking itself. This isn’t true either!
Autoimmune disease is a real health crisis that surpasses even heart disease and diabetes in numbers. Here are a few facts:
- There are over a hundred different autoimmune diseases.
- There is no cure once autoimmunity develops (but there is hope, keep reading).
- Autoimmune disease is one of the top 10 killers of women under age 65.
- Once a person has an autoimmune disease they will likely develop more than one.
- Although genes play a role, family members often develop different autoimmune diseases.
- Seventy-five percent of those affected are women.
- Immunosuppressants are commonly used to treat autoimmunity, often with terrible side-effects that can be worse than the disease itself.
- Leaky gut the common thread that links all autoimmune diseases together.
- Genes only account for one-third the risk. Whereas, diet and lifestyle can practically reverse all symptoms of autoimmune disease.
- For a complete list of autoimmune diseases visit the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association.
Symptoms for Years
I had symptoms for 20 years before my diagnosis. At the time I didn’t know my symptoms could develop into autoimmune disease. If I had known what was really happening inside my body instead of just treating individual symptoms, I would have made dramatically different choices over the years that would have prevented autoimmune disease.
Instead, in 2011 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is a debilitating disease where the intestines are eroded to where diseased tissue often needs to be surgically removed and the intestines reattached. Nutrients are not well absorbed and people with Crohn’s often become malnourished, anemic, extremely fatigued, and suffer from diarrhea. The quality of life is poor. There is no cure. Current medications suppress the immune system and steroids are used to address inflammation – but at a huge cost.
It is also well known that Terry Wahls had 20 years of worsening pain, seven years of worsening multiple sclerosis and four years where she was confined to reclining wheelchair. The good news is that Dr. Wahls and I took charge of our own health, removed immune system triggers and started feeding our bodies what they needed to make dramatic recoveries! She went from a wheelchair to riding her bike within months! I have zero symptoms, lead an active life, and have more energy than I did before my diagnosis!
Autoimmune Diseases Don’t Just Happen.
Autoimmune diseases don’t just happen. Conventional doctors will often say that they don’t know why the body is attacking itself. Most conventional doctors will not connect symptoms of fatigue, brain-fog, eczema, acid reflux, sinus allergies, achy joints and muscles, and a host of others to autoimmune disease. But, Functional Medicine practitioners understand how autoimmune disease happens. This is because Functional Medicine looks for the root-cause of disease and views the body as whole, interconnected system – not as compartmentalized organ systems. And, they understand that the foundation of health lies in the gut and that this is how the immune system is being triggered to attack.
The immune system is designed to protect against germs, viruses, and bacteria. It is poised in the body where the outside world interfaces with our bodies like in the lungs, sinuses, skin, genital areas, eyes and in our digestive tract. In fact, 80 percent of the immune system resides just on the other side of the gut barrier. It evaluates every morsel consumed, checking for invaders. This is why the digestive tract is considered a semipermeable barrier. It allows properly broken down nutrients to enter the body while keeping harmful bacteria, viruses and partial food proteins out.
The problem is that the body is no longer able to fully break down many of the Genetically-Modified Organisms, GMOs, such as grains, pseudo-grains and legumes. Other foods like dairy, eggs, nightshades, alcohol, nuts and seeds can also pose a problem to an already weakened gut lining. This gut barrier, which is only one cell thick, sustains damage, becomes weak and allows partial proteins across the gut barrier. They enter into the bloodstream where the immune system is patrolling. This is known as intestinal permeability, or more commonly leaky gut. Leaky gut is the one thing that ALL autoimmune diseases have in common. Take this free Leaky Gut Quiz to see if your symptoms are listed.
If digestion is working well, the body breaks down proteins into their smaller amino acids. The immune system recognizes amino acids and readily accepts them without a problem. However, the partial proteins are not supposed to be in the bloodstream. Therefore, the immune system attacks that partial protein and anything that looks similar. This results in food sensitivities, inflammation and an over-stimulated the immune system. In addition, these partial food proteins, viruses, and bacteria are made up of amino acid chains that can look nearly identical to our own tissues. So the immune system mounts an attack against anything that looks similar – like thyroid, joint, skin or nerve tissues.
In addition to this, the immune system is a huge energy consumer and needs essential nutrients to function properly. The standard American diet is lacking in these essential nutrients. Without the proper vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, the first thing that breaks down is the immune system’s ability to regulate itself. Meaning, it can’t stop rogue immune cells from attacking the body. This is a simple explanation of the complex process on how autoimmune disease happens.
A symptom is like a vehicle’s dashboard warning lights. These lights tell us something is wrong and needs attention. Our bodies can only do this through symptoms like fatigue, brain-fog, sinus allergies, anxiety, acid reflux, headaches, constipation, diarrhea, achy joints and muscles and many others. Take free this Leaky Gut Quiz to see if your symptoms are listed.
People often go to conventional doctors with various symptoms and are told to wait and see and come back next year and then they will see how things are. WHAT?! This is like waiting to let you get a disease so they can tell you what disease you have! Are you kidding me?
Why not prevent it or reverse it! We know how this happens and how to reverse it. I am living proof. And, I’m not alone. There are many others who have done the same! I have seen it personally in the women I coach.
If you want to learn more about the science behind how autoimmune disease happens, what triggers to remove to calm the immune system, lower inflammation and get rid of the symptoms, click here. I lead women through the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP). Elimination diets, like AIP, are the gold standard for determining food sensitivities that testing just can’t detect.
It is time we take back our health and not be a victim to autoimmune disease. It doesn’t just happen and there is something you can do about it so you can feel great again!
One out of every 20 women suffers from an autoimmune disease, please share this message. We could all use a little hope and an opportunity to turn things around!