Continuing from Part 1
Statistics now show that if you have one autoimmune disease, you most likely have three to seven different types. I refer to this truth from my experience of going through the darkness of Ulcerative Colitis. During the advanced stages, I also had major problems with my joints and muscles and had the first stages of depression.
The autoimmune process was mainly attacking my bowel. However, I learned that there can be dangerous side effects when continuously take steroids (long-term) and strong immuno-suppressants instead of addressing the real cause and putting the autoimmune ‘fire’ out. The side effects of medication as well as the symptoms it is trying to suppress make life hectic for someone dealing with them and can only lead to more problems. This means you haven’t really done anything to eliminate the autoimmune fire, you have only suppressed the symptoms and that’s all. Therefore, you may be at risk for the fire to move on and start attacking another tissue in your body.
This is the distinction we need to understand now more than ever. Most people who are chronically sick don’t just have one thing; they have a plethora of conditions because the body is one system that is inter-connected.
If we continue to go down this path and not do anything about the root cause, more and more of our bodily tissue can be attacked. However, it is not all bad; this is where functional and integrative medicine comes in. I cannot praise this type of medicine enough because these professionals understand how to address and put out the fire!
It takes a ‘trilogy’ to set you up for a full blown autoimmune disease. These main contenders play an enormous role in the lead up to any autoimmune disease:
The gene for that condition (10% genes – parents’ genes + family history)
For so long I was told that my autoimmune condition was in my family history, that it was 100% genetic, and there was nothing I could do about it apart from taking immuno-suppressants for the rest of my life to ‘manage’ it. However, it took me many years of my own research to understand that there was power in my everyday choices and how I lived my life. This included the food I ate, the stress I cultivated, how I exercised, which gut flora I encouraged, my emotional health and what I believed to be true about my condition. Yes, your perception influences your biology. All of these factors determine what genes are switched on.
Having a gene does NOT equal a diagnosis. I could have a gene for Asthma, but the right lifestyle choices could save me from the diagnosis. On the other hand, you may not have a gene but let’s just say you live a very poor lifestyle of being stressed out, heavy drinking, smoking, processed food and lack of sleep, then you could end up with some other condition.
The point is: just because you inherit a gene, it does not mean it will always present itself in the form of an illness. I now understand that my parents have only given me 23,000 genes and mother nature has given me 2.2 million genes in the form of the gut microbiome. Therefore, the genes we acquire from our parents and family history are ‘activities’ not ‘settings’ set in concrete; in other words you have the power with your lifestyle choices to change these ‘activities’. They are regulated by intergenic DNA which leads us to part two; an environmental trigger. (epigenetic)
“The genes we acquire from our parents and family history are ‘activities’ not settings set in concrete”
An environmental trigger (epigenetic)
This is a rather large list. Firstly, a trigger can be anything that encourages a process to move forward. This can be anything from the chemicals in your daily skincare, cosmetics and personal care products, to gluten, dairy, processed food, stress, an excess of grains and carbohydrates, GMO foods, pesticides, toxic cleaning products, mold, heavy metals, viruses, infections, small bowel bacterial yeast overgrowth (SIBO), candida, BPA in plastic, and prescription medications.
I cannot stress how important it is to eat clean, organic, unprocessed wholefoods, as the body is already having a hard enough time determining what tissue is you versus an outside invader. The old-school obsolete theory that diet didn’t matter was hammered into me for many years; luckily I never believed it. You will never be able to change your genes, but you can change your triggers, which ultimately switch on the genes.
Intestinal Permeability (Dr Alessio Fasano’s work)
The work of Dr Alessio Fasano has demonstrated that any stage of intestinal permeability or leaky gut is going to fast track an autoimmune disease to occur. The state and terrain of your gut play the main role in autoimmunity. This is why I teach the importance of having a Super Gut!
Check out this blog post I wrote on the ‘six stages of dysbiosis’.
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE STANDOUT STUDIES
In 2003, Dr Melissa R. Arbuckle, MD, PhD and handful of other doctors published a study on how autoantibodies show up years before a clinical diagnosis.
Here is what they found.
Dr Arbuckle was continuing research within the scope of the blood supply of veterans. Their blood had been saved since 1978. She discovered that 132 veterans had the autoimmune disease, Lupus. Dr Melissa then went back to the blood supply for each of the 132 people and discovered that 115 of them had antibodies to Lupus brewing nine years prior any symptoms or diagnoses occurred. The biggest takeaway is that these people had antibodies building for nine years before they had enough symptoms and tissue damage to receive a diagnosis.
Another example can be found in a study on the American Diabetes Association website. These researchers state that most people who have type 1 diabetes had certain autoantibodies in their blood for years prior. This is no secret, but it does highlight how hard it can be for doctors to prescribe a treatment when they are unsure of the condition. Doctors can only prescribe medications when they can diagnose symptoms. By the time this happens, the disorders has really taken a hold in the body. I believe the future of medicine lies in preventing signs of early stages of disease erupting to ensure the patient has the tools to prevent this process unfolding into a chronic debilitating nightmare!
We now have enough studies and evidence showing that autoimmune disease builds for years, and you don’t just go from happy and healthy on Monday to full blown Ulcerative Colitis, Lupus or Diabetes on Friday. It doesn’t work like that, we all have the opportunity to engage in real prevention. With increasing technology helping modern medicine to forge ahead, we now have tests available that can detect these antibodies so you can start to monitor yourself. I will be going through some of these tests in my Life After Grains Program, so stay tuned.
Peace, Love, Health
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