When Your Body Turns On Itself !
This is one of the most important areas of good health. There’s been a stark rise in autoimmune disorders over the past 50 years, from type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis to celiac disease and asthma. The first step toward a cure is understanding and controlling the causes. Your immune system is hardwired to differentiate between what belongs in your body and what doesn’t. When it spies a meddler, such as a virus, bacterium, or parasite, it shoots to kill. Unfortunately, the system is not perfect. Sometimes it targets healthy tissues, a situation that, if it persists under certain circumstances, can lead to an autoimmune disease or autoimmunity.
“Auto” mean self; so, “autoimmunity” basically means your immune system takes aim at itself. Today’s doctors and scientists have a more sophisticated understanding of how the immune system can go awry. One of the top experts in the field is Alessio Fasano, MD, the director of the Center for Celiac Research & Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston USA. Decades of research led him to deduce that every autoimmune disease has three basic ingredients: a genetic predisposition, an environmental trigger, and a leaky gut. Identifying the first two components was easy. Scientists have long known that autoimmunity runs in families and that onset of some disease can be triggered, for example, by an environmental factor such as an infection. But it wasn’t until 2000 that Fasano and his team discovered the third and final ingredient — a leaky gut. Specifically, Fasano discovered zonulin, a protein that regulates gut permeability.
“Zonulin works like the traffic cop of our bodies’ tissues,” he says. “It opens the spaces between cells, allowing some substances to pass through while keeping harmful substances out.” Some people produce excess amounts of zonulin, which pries apart the cells of the intestinal lining and allows toxins, bacteria, and undigested bits of food into the bloodstream — hence the term “leaky gut.”
The gut’s slick, slimy insides, if spliced and laid flat, would carpet a tennis court. The uppermost lining is a mere one cell thick and is home to trillions of bacteria. In a healthy gut the good bacteria outnumber the bad. But keeping a healthy ratio is tough. Years of eating junk food, popping pain relievers, and experiencing stress inflames the gut’s lining.
Everyone’s gut can spring a leak from time to time. A leak can form after an infection, a virus, or gastric upset. Some people have symptoms, like bloating, gas, or indigestion. If the gut is healthy, the lining will heal. But if the gut is in bad shape, it may not be able to close the fissures.
Eat to Heal
The body’s capacity to withstand autoimmunity is like a barrel’s capacity to hold water, The body’s barrel is half filled with factors you can’t control, like your gender and your genes. The other half is filled with things we can control, such as how many chemicals we put in our bodies.
Functional-medicine pioneer Mark Hyman, MD, calls the gut the “inner tube of life” and offers the following steps to keep it happy and healthy:
Eat whole unprocessed foods
like vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Pinpoint food allergies.
For two weeks, cut out gluten, dairy, yeast, corn, soy, eggs, and other highly allergenic foods, and see how you feel.
Curb infections and bug overgrowth.
Parasites, small bowel bacteria, and yeasts can hurt gut function. Find a healthcare practitioner who can help you clear up these underlying problems before they get out of hand.
Take probiotics daily
Reseed your inner ecosystem with prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods, like
sauerkraut, kimchi & kefir.