Autoimmune Disease and the Health of your Gut
Is there really no solution for autoimmune disease?
There are 100 different autoimmune diseases. Besides celiac disease, where a gluten-free diet can reverse the damage, there is no known “cure” for most autoimmune diseases.
There’s a genetic component, but the staggering increase has risen faster than a purely genetic cause could accomplish. Autoimmune disease incidence has risen dramatically, and all agree genes are unable to change that fast.
What is the cause of the rapid increase in incidence? Our environment.
There’s an agreement of the genetic link, and there’s an agreement of the environmental input fueling the genetic fire.
There is little agreement is in the area of treatment.
Conventional medicine focuses on the genetic link, which they claim you can do nothing about. They tell you your only option is to suppress your immune system with dangerous, potentially cancer-causing medications.
A root cause approach would improve if not reverse the condition.
You are told medication is your only choice
Such medication suppresses your immune system and opens you up to the risk of cancer or life-threatening infections. Taking no medication, you are told, risks further degeneration from your aggressive immune system.
I don’t believe you have to make such a choice. Research from Frontiers in Immunology agrees.
For over a decade we have advocated the link between your gut health and autoimmune disease risk. It only makes sense that the gut would be involved when you consider 70-80% of your immune system is housed there. We stated our approach in our first book, The Gluten Effect, a decade ago.
Conventional medicine would have you believe your immune system has “gone rogue”. If further advocates its suppression as punishment for its bad behavior. If you study the human immune system even a little, you’re quickly astounded at its complexity and brilliance. It never sat well with me that such a brilliant system would suddenly get “stupid” and out of control.
Your immune system is not stupid, but it is overtaxed
What did make sense to me was the immune system could become overwhelmed and overtaxed. Instead of suppressing it further (“kicking a dog while it’s down, as it were”), it was logical to restore normal function by identifying the source of its overwhelming.
It’s worked well for us clinically. I was delighted to see this rather recent study from 2017 entitled “Leaky gut as a danger signal for autoimmune diseases”. The title of the paper says it clearly and it certainly aligns with what we see here at Root Cause with our autoimmune patients.
Your gut houses 70-80% of your immune system
It’s amazing that the surface area of your small intestine is the size of a tennis court, yet is made up of a single layer of cells. Just a single layer acts as the sole barrier between any pathogenic organisms or toxins that may enter your gut, and passage into your bloodstream, where such pathogens can have free reign and create ill health.
A single layer sounds tenuous, but the physical layer is supported by molecules with antimicrobial properties that exist in the mucus of your gut lining. Just below the lining is a robust number of immune cells, ready to take on whatever “inhospitable” may come their way.
How does your gut get overwhelmed?
The design works flawlessly unless there’s too much overwhelming the immune system. The overwhelm responsible for the initiation of a leaky gut include:
- A genetic predisposition such as that found in those suffering from celiac disease and type 1 diabetes.
- Consuming gluten has been shown in research studies to cause leaky gut. Those with a strong gluten reaction, such as gluten sensitivity, will suffer a longer duration of leaky gut as compared to individuals who don’t suffer from either celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. But the fascinating research revealed that those “normal” subjects still, upon eating gluten, had observable leaky gut, albeit for a shorter duration.
- Infections, the authors specifically mentioned H. pylori, a stomach bacteria, but there are many such organisms that can be too abundant in your gut and create leakiness from their inflammatory activities.
- Alcohol consumption, as well as antibiotics and certain medications, are also known disruptors to the gut lining.
“Bad guys” leave the gut and circulate through your bloodstream
As a result, bad bacteria or toxins are able to escape from the gut and enter the body’s circulation, causing systemic, body-wide, inflammation, and tissue damage. This movement from the interior of your gut to your bloodstream is called translocation, and it puts a tremendous burden on your immune system.
The authors note several diseases are associated with leaky gut and its attendant microbial translocation, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and a multitude of autoimmune diseases. I believe the list is even longer.
The “good guys” in your gut also suffer
Secondary to the overburdening of the immune system, the “good bacteria” or microbiome also suffer. In fact, the researchers stated the altered gut microbiome is another causative factor in the development of the autoimmune disease.
Bacteria or parasites can be present, and normally are, but they are counterbalanced with the good, healthy microbiome, keeping the “bad guys” in check. But in the presence of leaky gut, the bad organisms really become a problem as they are allowed to leave the gut and enter your body’s general circulation.
Leaky gut is at the root of autoimmune diseases
Animal models have demonstrated that leaky gut occurred before the onset of type 1 diabetes, also an autoimmune disease. The link between celiac disease, a causative factor in leaky gut, and type 1 diabetes is well researched in humans as well.
Taking all this data regarding leaky gut into consideration, the researchers summated their paper with this: “reversing gut leakiness appears to be an attractive therapeutic strategy” for addressing the autoimmune disease. I agree completely.
What are some tools to reverse leaky gut?
There are several and they are all-natural non-drug options.
- Probiotics – both probiotics and prebiotics are of value to reduce leaky gut. Prebiotics can be found in complex carbohydrate foods such as vegetables, fruits, and beans. Wonderful probiotics appear to possess properties to protect the intestinal barrier integrity. Studies confirm healthy probiotic levels enhance the production of proteins that act as “glue” to keep your lining intact and not permeable. The researchers specifically mentioned Bacteroides fragilis, but there are many probiotic species. Ingesting a variety seems to be the smart choice.
- Vitamin D – we’ve heard so much of the benefits of having a healthy vitamin D3 level and now we can add “protector of your gut lining” to the list. Healthy vitamin D3 levels are recognized by research to protect against leaky gut. Vitamin D3 has the ability to enhance the expression of certain proteins designed to keep your gut lining intact.
- Supplementation – There are some nice combinations of nutrients and herbs that can be utilized to help heal your gut lining. We tailor them to each individual depending upon their specific profile.
What do you need specifically to improve or reverse your autoimmune disease?
As a final note I want to mention that while general advice is always helpful, it’s critical to determine what exactly is burdening your immune system. As we’ve noted food sensitivities can contribute, but the question is, what is that food for you?
Infections are also contributory, but what are they specifically, and what is the best way to eradicate them?
Are there genetic contributory factors that should be addressed to enhance certain gene expression?
We have the tools you need
What’s exciting is the ability to have these tools and the ability to determine for you, specifically, exactly what the cause is for your overburdened immune system and leaky gut.
You don’t need to, in the vast majority of cases, utilize dangerous immunosuppressive drugs.
The future is bright in dealing with autoimmune disease and we are delighted to assist you when you’re ready.
Don’t suffer from autoimmune disease
Here at Root Cause, we’ve been helping our patients improve autoimmune disease for over 2 decades.
It’s not a “one size fits all” solution; it never is, but we will customize a program to you, and for your exact needs.
Your health and your longevity depend on normalizing your immune system so that you won’t develop other autoimmune conditions in the future.
Do you need help with your health?
We have the tools to discover why you may be having trouble with a weakened immune system. It’s not difficult as long as you’re ready to make some dietary and lifestyle changes. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry. We will hold your hand through the changes and make each step of change an easy one.
Dr. Vikki Petersen DC. CCN
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Dr Vikki Petersen is a public speaker, author of two books, several eBooks and creates cutting edge content for her YouTube community. Dr Vikki is committed to bringing Root Cause Medicine and its unique approach to restoring health naturally to the world.