Autoimmunity 101

How and why some people develop an autoimmune disease.

How does it begin?

There are 3 basic conditions that must be in place for an AI disease to develop:

  1. A genetic predisposition.
  2. Intestinal permeability (aka: leaky gut).
  3. Triggers.

We can’t do anything about our genetics, we’ve either got ‘em or we don’t. It’s a good idea to check into your family history and see if there are family members who have one or more AI diseases. If so, consider yourself to have a higher chance of having those genes.

But, just because we have the genes does NOT mean we are destined to develop the disease. For that to occur, the other 2 conditions must also be present, and here is where we have more opportunity to prevent or slow (or perhaps even regress) the onset and progression of the disease.

What is intestinal permeability, or leaky gut?

Quite literally, it is when the cells of the intestinal lining develop too much space between them, allowing for large particles of undigested or partially digested food molecules to slip between them, entering the blood stream, and triggering the immune system to go on alert. Intestinal permeability can develop as a result of several causes, many of which are primary triggers for autoimmunity as well.

The Big G

Culprit numero uno is food allergies or sensitivities. Gluten is the big one, as the gut lining of almost everyone – gluten sensitive or not – is affected by gluten. Gluten causes inflammation, and while most people’s intestinal lining can repair the holes between the cells quickly enough, many people’s bodies take longer to heal and this leads to the condition of leaky gut. The same goes for any food an individual is allergic or highly sensitive to.

There are many factors that can lead to leaky gut. A short list includes:

  • Frequent use of antibiotics.
  • Some viruses, bacteria, and yeast overgrowth.
  • Frequent use of NSAIDs (ibuprofen, for example).
  • Chronic high stress (physical and/or psychological).
  • Dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad gut flora).

Digging Out the Roots

The root cause of the development of autoimmunity is varied, layered and different for everyone. Often they are the same things that caused the leaky gut. We need to dig into our own medical and psychological histories to try to identify a precipitating event or factor. For example, a surgery, accident or other trauma; dental procedures; environmental toxin exposures; infections from bacteria or viruses.

Want more?

So that is a really 10,000 foot view of the landscape of how and why AI diseases develop…. Next time, I’ll talk about one of the most accepted steps in addressing one of the primary root causes.

Meantime, if you want to dig deeper into this, check out the below articles by Dr Izabella Wentz:

Thyroid Antibodies Part 1: An Early Warning for Thyroid Disease

Is Gluten the Root Cause of Your Thyroid Condition?

The Importance of Gut Health

The Root Cause Approach

Your turn

I’d love to hear your story. Tell us a bit in the comments below. How long ago were you diagnosed? What changes have you made that have helped you feel better? What are you struggling with? And what do you want to hear about in future articles?

Until next time….

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