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Autoimmune Disease


Genetic, hormonal, infection? …Stress?


The causes of autoimmune disease are many.

Having certain genes may increase the risk of developing it, however, not everyone with these genes has autoimmune. This suggests a strong environmental trigger. Identical twins do not get the same autoimmune disease. Gene expression is key, and environment can turn various genes ‘off’ or ‘on’. 


Eighty percent of autoimmune disease occurs in women, so hormones play a role. Some diseases seem to get better when a woman is pregnant, other’s worse. Early menopause is associated with an increased risk of autoimmune disease. Also, male sex hormones are more immunosuppressive than women’s estrogens.


When viral and bacterial infection responses are continually not turned off after your body is done fighting infection, this dis-regulation can also be a factor in causing autoimmune disease. When a person with an autoimmune disease has an infection or vaccination they often have a flare.


Stress often causes flares, and often people will notice certain foods are triggers, most often dairy and grains. 



Diet plays an important role in developing autoimmune disease. When people consume high amounts of animal foods and refined vegetable oils, these foods feed pathogenic or harmful gut bacteria. Antibiotics also destroy beneficial bacteria, allowing more proliferation of pathogenic bacteria. Remember that animal foods are full of antibiotics. Non-steroidal inflammatory drugs also contribute to destroying the beneficial gut bacteria.


Pathogenic bacteria cause inflammation of the lining of the gut and loosen the tight junctions that normally only allow small particles to enter your blood stream. This barrier in-between you and the outside environment (your gut) is an important part of your immune system. Through the leaky gut large particles can enter, and these can include partially digested food proteins, bacteria, toxins, fats, and other wastes that normally would not cross the barrier.


When the leaky gut lets in partially digested food proteins, your body sees these invading foreign proteins as ‘other’, as it should, and mounts an immune response, making antibodies to them and eliminating them. However these antibodies now roam your body ‘looking’ for more pathogens, and some animal proteins that you have eaten look similar to your body’s proteins. These antibodies can then attack your body’s proteins. 


For example type one diabetes is the result of your body making antibodies to dairy protein which then attack the cells of your pancreas that are responsible for making insulin. Type one diabetics all have antibodies to cow’s milk protein. 


There is also a connection between cow’s milk, antibodies, and arthritis. Cow’s milk has proteins that resemble human collagen, and the antibodies your body makes to attack these foreign proteins then may attack your joint tissues. They do not have to be exact, only similar. This ‘molecular mimicry’ is a good thing, however, as after your body has made antibodies to a virus or bacteria, if another variety comes around the next year or many years later your antibodies will react quickly even though the virus has mutated, and you might not even realize you have been infected. 


Antibodies to a wheat protein called gluten can attack the thyroid and are found in the blood of people with Hashimoto’s and Graves Disease (underachieve and overactive thyroid autoimmune diseases). This can happen when grains are introduced too early into a baby’s diet. 


A “leaky gut” leads to the formation of large complexes, made up of antibodies and the foreign protein in the blood. A healthy body has mechanisms that easily remove these large complexes from the blood. In some people, however, these complexes survive because they are formed too rapidly for their complete removal, or these mechanisms are insufficient to handle the load. These large complexes are then filtered out by the smallest capillaries of the body which are found in the joints, skin, and kidneys. Stuck in the capillaries these complexes cause an inflammatory reaction, like a sliver of wood stuck in the skin.


However, you don’t drink one glass of milk and get type one diabetes. When there is a continual immune response to these foreign proteins along with the constant inflammation infection causes, and you have a genetic predisposition, and maybe an over use of antibiotics, the damage begins. So not all kids who drink cow’s milk will get diabetes, but there is no way to tell which ones are susceptible. 


The beneficial gut bacteria, which feed on plant particles and fibre that comes only from plants play a huge role in regulating your immune response, not only turning it on, but turning it off, which is important as inflammation is part of the immune response, and chronic inflammation harms the body.


Antioxidants found only in plants destroy the damaging free radicals that form in the joint tissues and through out the body. Inflammation increases these free radicals and the pain




Halt or reverse your autoimmune disease 


Change your dietary pattern to a no oil whole food plant based diet. This can halt your disease, slow down or stop flares, help you get off harmful drugs and prevent more autoimmune diseases from happening. 


Eat plant foods that keep the intestinal barriers strong and the immune system in a fighting condition. Those foods are whole carbohydrates, legumes, vegetable, and fruits. In addition to being free of animal products, the diet must be low in fat of all kinds. This includes olive oil, corn, safflower, and flaxseed oil, fish oil and animal fat. When it comes to blaming individual foods, dairy products seem to be the most troublesome foods, causing the most common and severe reactions. Many autoimmune patients need to give up BROW foods, which are barley, rye, oats and wheat. Gluten free oats are fine. If there is not enough response, the person can use an elimination diet to find particular triggers. 


For more information watch Dr. John McDougall ‘My Body Is Attacking Itself!’

Seek excellence, not perfection.

For the best book on nutrition I recommend, The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell

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