The purpose of your immune system is to attack anything that doesn’t belong in your body, such as a parasite, bacterium, or a virus. Unfortunately, there are cases where an immune system begins to attack healthy cells. If this persists, the individual could develop what is known as an autoimmune disorder.
This is more common than you think. In fact, it comes in at number three for the most common afflictions in the United States. It was beaten by cancer in the first spot and heart disease in the second.
The reason autoimmunity is so common is because there are a multitude of conditions that fall under the term autoimmune disorders. The ones you most likely have heard of include:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Celiac disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD, which includes…
- Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
The above are only a few of the ninety identified autoimmune disorders. This auto immune epidemic, believe it or not, was almost missed because of a lack of communication between specialists. While this communication has indeed improved, it hasn’t prevented autoimmune cases from continuing to rise.
As doctors and scientists continue to study autoimmune disorders, they are learning more about the immune system and what makes it turn on itself. Research done by Dr. Alessio Fasano at the Center for Celiac Research & Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston has discovered the three factors each autoimmune disease has in common; they all contain a genetic predisposition, an environmental trigger, and an overproduction of Zonulin, also known as “leaky gut.” When someone produces too much Zonulin, it will split open the cells of the intestinal lining, thus giving bacteria and toxins (environmental factors) easy access to the blood stream.
The Genetics of Auto Immune Disorders
Family genetics make up a third of a person’s risk of developing an autoimmune disorder. Scientists have been able to isolate a set of genes which they refer to as “human leukocyte antigens” (HLA). Researchers believe this cluster of genes could decide who develops an autoimmune disorder and who doesn’t.
When toxins get into the body, they can actually alter our DNA. When this happens, the immune system will sometimes attack this mutation believing it to be a foreign invader. Many of these toxins are chemicals we find in our everyday products, such as plastics, personal care products, sunscreen, synthetic dyes and more. Constant exposure to these chemicals runs parallel to autoimmune disorders. The people who use most of these products are women, and they are also the ones who suffer from these disorder in much higher numbers. In fact, 78 percent of individuals who have an autoimmune disorder are women. One of the chemicals that is most potent is Mercury, according to researchers.
Leaky Gut and Eating Right
To keep the gut healthy and avoid a leak, eat to heal. This means avoiding processed foods, sugar, chemicals in your food and personal care products. Instead eat whole foods like beans, nuts, vegetables and whole grains. You may want to cut out certain foods like soy, gluten, and dairy to help heal the gut. Other foods that are good for the gut include plain yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, and omega 3 products. Taking a zinc supplement can also improve gut health.