This is an excellent post taken from Dr. Ruby’s Blog:
The connection between leaky gut, inflammation & autoimmune disease
In my last post I reviewed the impact that grains and other inflammatory foods have on our gut. Leaky gut syndrome is a major contributor to inflammation and chronic disease. When the gut becomes inflamed it allows toxic and inflammatory substances that would normally be excreted from our gastrointestinal tract pass through the gut lining. This is seen as a “red flag” by our immune system that in turn mounts a systemic inflammatory response. This immune/inflammatory response can be manifested differently in each person.
Your immune system is your defense against invaders. It is your internal army and has to clearly distinguish friend from foe — to know you from others. Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system gets confused and your own tissues get caught in friendly cross-fire. Dr. Mark Hyman, MD
These are the women that often see with vague complaints such as fatigue, joint and muscle pain. Many of these women have “normal labs” and fall under the radar of the current diagnostic criteria we use to “diagnose” disease. Many of these women are moving in the direction of full blown autoimmune disease but because their labs do not meet a “set of criteria” they are told to “return when their symptoms and/or labs are worse”. This leaves many women with poor quality of life and often feeling like their symptoms are “all in their head”.
Inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, asthma, allergies and autoimmune disorders are on the rise. Our traditional health care system has taught us to turn to suppress inflammation with anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, Advil, Motrin, steroids and potent immune suppressing drugs, all of which have potential adverse effects. Unfortunately, our traditional health care training does not teach us to find and treat the underlying triggers for inflammation and chronic disease. My Functional Medicine training has taught me that environmental toxins, hidden allergens, infections, our inflammatory diet and stress are the key triggers for inflammation and chronic disease. So we need to get through the smoke to put out the fire.
Autoimmune disease – It’s not all in your head…..
Nearly 25 million Americans suffer from potentially disabling autoimmune disease. Currently women account for 75% of all autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disease is a huge health burden in our country. It is the eighth leading cause of death among women, and shortens the lifespan by an average of eight years. The annual health care cost for autoimmune diseases is $120 billion a year representing nearly twice the economic health care burden of cancer (about $ 70 billion a year).
Autoimmune disease occurs when our immune system becomes misdirected and attacks the very organs it was designed to protect. This leads to chronic inflammation and eventual cell destruction. I believe the incidence of autoimmune disease is grossly underestimated and that many women “fall below the radar”. One of the biggest “missing links” in our traditional health care system is the connection between the gut and the immune system. I believe that gut issues such as irritable bowel, gluten intolerance and many others are a major trigger for chronic disease, especially autoimmune disease. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and celiac disease are just a few examples of autoimmune disorders that are on the rise.
Autoimmue disese is “often addressed by powerful immune suppressing medication and not by addressing the cause. That’s like taking a lot of aspirin while you are standing on a tack. The treatment is not more aspirin or a strong immune suppressant, but removing the tack.” Dr Mark Hyman, MD
“It you want to cool off inflammation in the body, you must find the source. Treat the fire, not the smoke. In medicine we are mostly taught to diagnose disease by symptoms, NOT by their underlying cause”.
Nine Steps to Treating Autoimmune Disease –
by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD
- Check for hidden infections — yeast, viruses, bacteria, Lyme, etc. — with the help of a your health care provider, and treat them.
- Check for hidden food allergens with IgG food testing or just try an elimination diet, which is designed to eliminate most food allergens.
- Get tested for celiac disease.
- In some cases you may need to get checked for heavy metal toxicity. Mercury and other metals can cause autoimmunity.
- Fix your gut.
- Use nutrients such as fish oil, vitamin C, vitamin D, and probiotics to help calm your immune response naturally.
- Exercise regularly — it’s a natural anti-inflammatory.
- Practice deep relaxation like yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or massage, because stress worsens the immune response.
- Seek out a provider that uses a Functional Medicine approach to managing chronic disease. Go towww.optimalwellnessforwomen.org to read more about this approach.
To see more of Dr. Ruby’s insights go to http://drlauraruby.com