19 Apr

Autoimmunity

Autoimmunity is when the immune
system’s communication between cells again goes wrong and immune cells start to
see your body as a foreigner invader and starts to attack it.
Some diseases associated with
autoimmune disease are:
Disease
Body part under attack
Hashimoto’s
hypothyroid
 Thyroid gland
Lupus,
All body parts
Rheumatoid
arthritis,
Joints
Sjorgen’s syndrome
Mucus-secreting glands
Multiple Sclerosis
Mylein – outer
protective coating of all nerves in the body
Graves
Thyroid antibodies
Celiac
Destruction of villi
in the small intestine
Possible triggers:
Stress – This can be deep emotional
stress or it can be everyday stress for example in your job or constantly
worrying about being late, or not eating properly, skipping meals, eating too
much sugar, processed or fatty foods, food intolerances, exercising too much or
too little and not sleeping properly. If these types of stress are constant
eventually it will have a negative effect on immune function
Toxins – Mercury can drive
auto-immunity. Mercury can sit deep into tissues in the body, the immune system
does not recognise it and attacks the body tissue, creating an autoimmune
condition. It is found in amalgam fillings and it is also unfortunately is in
the food chain especially in some fish. A recent study of over 100 females of
childbearing age who ate low level of mercury containing fish and seafood were
found to have an increased risk of autoimmune disease. Optimising liver
detoxification may help the body deal with mercury better. Hair tests are an
effective way to find out if you have mercury in your body.
Furthermore if the liver is underperforming
due to an overload of toxins – medications, poor digestion, eating the wrong
foods etc. the immune system can again go into overdrive attacking the body trying
to get rid of an overload of toxins.
Infection – The normal
response is for the immune system to fight off infection, unfortunately some viruses
like Epstein- Barr can harbour in the body for a long time, it can remain
active for years. This constant stimulation of the immune cells can lead to
autoimmunity.
Poor gut health – Good
bacteria in the gut help immune cells to grow and develop, when there is not
enough of them in the gut the immune cells suffer leading to poor function.
Poor defence at the gut wall can lead to damage and inflammation causing even
more problems. Large food particles can then escape through to the bloodstream
stimulating an immune response to food substances, this can then develop into food
intolerances.
What can you do?
·         Eating a healthy
diet rich in vegetables, fruit, plant protein and healthy meat protein, healthy fats and
complex carbohydrates goes a long way in supporting immunity.
·         Vitamin D is
important and low levels have been shown in people with autoimmune conditions.
We acquire Vitamin D mainly from the sun; this can be difficult in the winter
so sometimes supplementation is needed.
·         Probiotics –
help balance gut flora, eat plain natural yoghurt and fermented foods like
sauerkraut or pickled vegetables. Supplementation is useful as they contain
larger amount of bugs to help restore flora. Avoid probiotic drinks as they
contain sugar, which can have a negative impact on gut health.
·         EPA/DHA supports
the immune system – Increase your intake of oily fish, nuts and seeds.
·          Support liver
detoxification – eat garlic, increase intake of cruciferous vegetables such as
cauliflower, broccoli and kale – cooked is better as when eating raw they can
negatively impact thyroid function. Drink 1.5l -2l of water a day. Flaxseeds,
soluble fibre such as oats, brown rice and most vegetables are helpful for
digestion and detoxification.
·         Identify any
food intolerances/allergies and avoid where necessary. A nutritional therapist
will be able to help with this.
·         Manage your
stress – find ways to cope with a challenging lifestyle. Address work life
balance and make sure you find time to do things you love and be with the
people you love.
·          Optimise
digestion – address any digestive discomfort you feel, wind, bloating, burping,
constipation, diarrhoea or other Irritable bowel type symptoms.
   Sources: 
   The immune System Recovery Plan – Susan Blum
   http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201502/exposure-mercury-seafood-associated-risk-factor-autoimmune

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