How does an auto-immune disease start?

Which conditions fall under the ‘auto-immune’ category of diseases? Well there are many of them, over a hundred actually, some of the more recognised include; Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis,  Multiple Sclerosis, Graves Disease, Psoriasis, Coeliac disease, Myasthenia gravis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Lupus, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Vitiligo, Alopecia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Eczema and Asthma to name but a few.

In most cases, the scientific community don’t have many answers as to why we get these conditions. Having followed many doctors who are starting to think outside the box there needs to be three things that come together to cause an auto-immune disease to happen;

1. A genetic predisposition

2. A problem with your gut/ digestive system

3. A trigger

The scientific community had quite a shock when they realised that the human genome was not the magic cure all that they thought it was going to be. It has turned out to be the code or blueprint to « make a human » with far less variables of gene pool / DNA than they expected. However the diversity of our gene pool comes from the continent we are from historically and it has enabled us to discover our ancestry with simple DNA tests.

After we are conceived and have developed in the womb our DNA code is altered or tailored by our environment and the choices we make in life. This is the new science of Epigenetics and it is what makes us humans so individual from each other. We are like sponges for the first 7 years of our lives absorbing everything our senses are experiencing. To be clear that includes what we eat, hear, see, smell, feel and believe. Our formative years are a critical time for humans, as we then live the rest of our lives based on those experiences.

Technically the genes in our DNA can be switched on or off, this is done by chains of amino acids or proteins which attach themselves to the genes and alter our DNA. We are in fact personalising our bodies with our personalities, attitudes, beliefs and experiences. One of the less fortunate aspects of this process is that we in effect switch on or off genes that can create the environment for disease to establish in our bodies. We continue to make changes (after the age of 7) to our DNA with our lifestyle choices, but it takes a lot more effort to repair damaging alterations made in our early years. Some diseases do run in families, there will be specific gene combinations that are inherited, and similarities in upbringing and experiences which make the adverse switches to those genes and the predisposition for a condition is there. But that is not the whole picture.

The second aspect involved with the initiation of disease is the state of our gut health. We are what we eat, and a good nutritionally balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit, fibre, protein, good fats, minerals, vitamins and water, with lower levels of carbohydrates, sugars and bad fats will keep you healthy. Unfortunately we humans have a real passion for bread products, cakes, biscuits, soda drinks, coffee, sweets and many other things that really do not help the sensitive biome in our guts to thrive. Many people have problems with their digestion, be it acid reflux, constipation, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or more serious conditions like stomach or duodenal ulcers, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease and the like, all are signs of our digestion malfunctioning. These problems weaken our resistance to disease developing and slow up or halt our ability to fight it.

The third aspect is more difficult to identify. The trigger for disease could be many things, something we eat or drink, ie sugar and diabetes, alcohol, parasites, environmental exposure to toxins, like cleaning materials and beauty products, petro-chemicals, plastics, moulds, air pollution, pesticides, heavy metals like lead, mercury and aluminium. Other key triggers include being over weight, too much “bad” stress, and a lack of exercise. The list goes on. At this point in time we really don’t know what the continued exposure to electricity and wi-fi is doing to us…but my instinct is telling me that it is not very good.

I have a few major bug bears…foods that have been genetically altered (GMO), chemical sugars (like aspartimine, now sold under many names). The rubbish they put in our beauty products…like aluminium in deodorant. Floride in the water supply!!! Who came up with that idea….it is poisonous! I always try to avoid these nasties, but we cannot eliminate them all, however careful we are.

In my case with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the genetics for it run in my family, my father had it, as does my brother…so the Epigenetic switches would have been turned on in my youth…I have had IBS since my teens and the trigger was gluten. Over the years I have had several tests to see if I was a Coeliac, because I knew I was sensitive to gluten, but no it wasn’t that. It was gluten, but until recently I had no idea why.

The term “leaky gut” is in the main caused by gluten molecules boroughing holes in our digestive tract and entering our body cavity along with other toxins from our digestion causing inflammation, these molecules are then attacked by our immune system. It is really a slow seepage form of peritonitis! The more bread, wheat and cake products we eat the more our immune system is working flat out…the more holes are being made and the more other toxins are seeping out of the digestive tract, creating that bloated inflammed mass. Your immune system becomes so preoccupied with this inflamed mass, that it no longer has the time or the resources to go around killing off the odd deformed cells which now left unchecked can develop into cancerous cells, or trigger other autoimmune diseases. The reason this is a trigger for Hashimoto’s is that the gluten molecules look just like Thyroid cells to our immune system…so once the gluten has been destroyed, eventually our immune system turns on itself and attacks our own Thyroid cells.

So why? if our bodies have been basically the same for the last 200,000 years, is this disease increasing so rapidly amongst us?…1 in 8 of Americans will have some form of Thyroid problem in their lifetimes, in the UK and Europe although the number of cases are not as high, we are catching up fast as we consume more fast foods. It turns out that wheat was modified in the 60’s, long before it was called GMO, they reduced it’s height by half and made the ears of wheat much bigger, which increased the crops 3 or 4 fold. We have all been innocently eating this modified wheat for the last 50 years…no wonder we have had such an explosion of auto-immune diseases…it is all coming home to roost.

I am going to be posting tips and ideas to help you in all these areas here on my blog…””.  Interestingly flower essences as a pure energy therapy are a great way to help and support the reduction in stress levels guiding you on to a much healthier lifestyle.

Please note; I am not a doctor, and as such cannot give anyone medical advice on their condition. As a Holistic Therapist and Chef I can provide you with general information about diet, supplements and natural treatments. Please do your own homework when taking any supplements or changing your diet, and consult your medical practitioner to be sure you are safe, especially if you are taking any medication, have a medical condition, are pregnant or a nursing mother.

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