Autoimmune – what does it mean?
Autoimmune is a disease where instead of your immune system protecting your body from invaders, it turns around and attacks your cells, tissues and organs. It is not a cold or the flu where you will eventually recover, it just feels like you are in a constant state of flu and you will never get better. Sleeping 10 hours doesn’t help as you wake up every morning feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus and it just takes you ages to get going, but you never fully get going. Painful joints, muscles and bones, dry skin, hair loss, mood swings, and depression are all part and parcel of each day and you seem to pick up every bug that is going around.
There are currently around 80 diagnosed autoimmune diseases and this continues to rise, and if you are labelled with one you probably have another two or three. There are days where, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t smile for anyone. So anyone suffering with Asthma, Addison’s disease, Endometriosis, M.E, Rheumatoid Arthritis, MCAD, Sjogren’s, Scleroderma, Hashimoto Disease, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Sarcoidosis, Hepatitis, Raynaud’s Disease, Diabetes, Celiac, CROHN’S, Ulcerative Colitis and every other autoimmune disease, I applaud you for making it through each day.
Our immune system and our gut bacteria
The immune system is the main link between our gut bacteria and their influence on our health and disease. We are born with a naïve immune system and are at first protected by antibodies from our mother. However, the immune cells need to be educated further in order to learn how to protect the body from harm when the maternal antibodies are gone. That is why 80% of our immune cells line our gut.
Throughout life, we are constantly exposed to new things in our gut, nose and lungs, via our food and environment, such as; food additives, pollution, medicines and toxic chemicals. But thankfully, most people have healthy immune systems that handle all of these invading objects with ease. If it didn’t, it would elicit an inflammatory response every time you tried a new food or visited a new country with different types of trees! This would be a highly ineffective and unnecessary use of energy.
Since the balance of bacteria in our gut influences the balance of our immune system, an unbalanced bacterial flora with for instance too many opportunistic pathogens, can shift the immune system to an increased inflammatory state with a so-called “leaky gut”.
This inflammatory state may then affect other body systems and increase the risk of obesity, depression and autoimmune conditions. And it is this inflammatory state that people with autoimmune disorders find themselves in.
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