Getting to the Root Causes of Autoimmunity by Understanding Leaky GUT Syndrome:
By Dr. Alison Danby, ND, FMCP
Autoimmunity is described as a disease where the immune system has gone haywire and has started to attack various areas of its-self (your body). The locations of attacks can vary from you thyroid, digestive track, skin, eye, joints, brain really any organ is subject to destruction. Autoimmune conditions all boil down to one thing, a rogue immune system.
The belief in current medicine is that in order to stop the symptoms your need to suppress the immune system, reversal of is not possible. These medications that suppress the immune system are often very harsh with a lot of undesirable side effects such as weight gain, depression, fatigue, increased risk of infections and cancer.
As a Naturopathic Doctor and a functional medicine practitioner I see the body as a whole and work on the principle that the health of one system impacts the health and function of all others. Our approach is to focus on supporting and strengthening the immune system by getting to the root cause of WHY the immune system went haywire. To date there has been no cure for autoimmunity however clinic I have been able to successfully help hundreds of patients lower and even reverse antibodies, and become symptom free by treating these 5 major areas.
1. Digestive Track /Leaky Gut – Your digestive track is what controls your health. It has been reported that approximately 70% of your immune response comes from the digestive track. Research has clearly indicated that the majority of people diagnosed with an autoimmune condition have what we call leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is the breakdown of your intestines tight junctions (cells that hold your digestive walls together), allowing larger molecules (such as food, toxins, bacteria, candida etc.) to pass through. When this happens your immune system goes into attack mode and starts to attack all those larger molecules it sees as foreign. This continual elevated immune response eventually causes the immune system to attack its own tissue.
2. Previous Infections & Candida – New research is confirming what scientist suspected for years that previous and current viral, bacterial and fungal infections could be the initial trigger for the immune system to go rogue. Infections such as Herpes, Epstein Barr, e.Coli and Candida (yeast) have all been linked to various autoimmune conditions.
3. Food Allergies – are linked to autoimmune condition for several reasons. Firstly they trigger an immune and inflammatory reaction when consumed. Secondly, the inflammatory reaction often is the main cause of Leaky Gut syndrome. Finally many foods are considered to be “molecular mimicry” meaning when consumed the body confuses your tissue for the food and attacks it. A few perfect examples of this are: beans with the myelin sheath for MS and gluten which is actually associated with several AI conditions such as thyroid, celiac, Sjogrens (tear duct).
4. Mold & Heavy Metals – Mycotoxins released from mold cause tremendous amount of stress on the immune system. Where as heavy metals such as mercury, block the body’s ability to repair and function. They often replace the nutrients needed on receptors or as co-factors, for example mercury is found in the mitochondria (the part of the cell that produces energy) and the thyroid preventing the addition of Iodine, overall impacting the function of these cells and creating increased stress on the body.
5. STRESS– All stress: Physical, mental/emotional, environmental and chemical affect your immune response. Chronic stress, the day to day hustle and bustle of life leads to long term inflammation, impacting how your immune system functions. Once the autoimmunity is triggered immediate stress only makes it worse.
How do we fix this? First we need to identify if you have one, two or all of the factors impacting your health through clinical intake and lab testing.
1. 4 R approach to healing the gut: REMOVE all the foods, bacteria, toxins and yeast that could be causing the immune and inflammatory response. RESTORE the function of the digestive tract, stomach acid, digestive enzymes etc. REINOCULATE the good bacterial and establish a balance. Finally REPAIR the intestine lining with proper nutrients.
2. Identify if there is any underlying infection and treat it.
3. REMOVE all potential food allergens the most common are Gluten, Dairy, and Eggs. If you are unsure, visit your Naturopathic Doctor for lab testing or to talk about the hypoallergenic diet.
4. Eliminate your exposure to toxins and mold. If you suspect your have heavy metals there are several tests that can determine your levels.
5. REDUCE and MANAGE your Stress: daily meditations and deep breathing are just as important as all of the other steps and can help control and prevent many flare ups.
My approach to autoimmunity is discovering the reason why the immune system is on high alter in the first place and alleviating.
To discuss how Naturopathic Medicine can help you, book a free consult with Dr. Danby, ND.