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Autoimmune disease

Autoimmunity, which is when our white blood cells treat parts of our bodies as foreign invaders and attack and destroythose necessary structures, is a big problem in America. Roughly 25 million Americans have an autoimmune diagnosis and another 50 million have auto-antibodies in their bloodstream but no clear diagnosis. The symptoms of autoimmunity often occur years or decades before a diagnosis is made. Meanwhile, our own bodies are eating away at themselves, damaging our brain, our joints, our skin, and even our blood vessels.

Most doctors focus on which drug to prescribe to weaken the attacking immune cells. They rarely talk about lifestyle and behaviors as part of a treatment plan. This is despite that fact that genetics, meaning DNA, contributes only 5 to 30% at most to of one’s risk for developing an autoimmune problem.

One of the factors increasingly recognized as an early trigger for autoimmunity is a problem called ‘leaky gut.’ That occurs when the wrong bacteria species take up residence in the bowels.  These troublemakers can dissolve the cement that holds the cells of the small bowel together, leading food particles to be absorbed into the bloodstream before they’ve been fully digested.  That causes white blood cells to think that the proteins associated with some of the consumed food are invading germs. Immune cells then attack the food proteins, increasing the number of inflammation molecules in your bloodstream.

Two ways to remove the bad sugar-loving bacteria and help recover the cells that line your bowels are to eat more bone broths and fewer carbohydrates. Bone broth soup is filled with glutamine, the preferred fuel for the cells that line the bowels. To fully heal the gut, a comprehensive approach that removes foods that trigger allergies is necessary, sometimes including a detoxification.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can optimize your diet and health behaviors to reduce the severity of your autoimmune diseases, check out my autoimmunity and food allergy DVD lectures or the audio CD. Also, Dr. Fasano has also recently published a paper about the connection between leaky gut and autoimmunity.

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Terry Wahls MD