Autoimmune disease is rarely talked about, but it may affect someone you love. Today, more than 50 million people in developed countries, have some type of autoimmune disease. Once one autoimmune disease has been diagnosed, it becomes more likely for a second autoimmune disease to occur. It is a vicious cycle.
Autoimmune diseases are caused by imbalances in immunue responses as the body fails to recognize its own self, and destroys tissues leading to damage and illness. The immune cells in the body will single out healthy cells to attack, when these healthy cells should be protected instead. Internal attacks like this where the body “turns against itself” can cause a number of serious symptoms, some of which may even be life-threatening.
5 RISK FACTORS FOR AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE
The medical community is still working to determine a cause for autoimmune disease. However, there are several risk factors that may contribute to the problem, like:
1. Gender: Autoimmune disease is more likely to occur in women; up to three quarters of autoimmune disease sufferers are women in their reproductive years.
2. Genetics: Relatives with autoimmune disease may indicate a predisposition to the condition.
3. Environmental triggers: This includes certain metals, iodine, chemicals, bacteria, and viruses.
4. Ancestry: Some ethnic groups have a stronger link to autoimmune disease.
5. Free radicals: Unstable free radicals are known to create oxidative stress and damage healthy cells.
One trademark of autoimmune disease is chronic inflammation. While inflammation is a normal process in the body that stimulates healing, chronic inflammation over the long-term can wreak havoc on health. The inflammatory process may begin when blood flow increases to an affected area. The inflammatory process should end when the immune system has finished its work in fighting off pathogens and healing damaged tissue.
Since an autoimmune disease involves an internal attack, inflammation may remain unchecked and widespread. An attack may occur in this process:
- Healthy cells are injured by free radicals.
- Some immune cells become sensitive to injured healthy cells.
- These “rogue” immune cells are not regulated by other cells in the immune system.
- The immune system begins to attack
A CLOSER LOOK AT MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that plagues the brain and spinal cord, also called the central nervous system. Roughly 2.5 million people all over the world have multiple sclerosis, or MS. MS affects women more often than men; women are three times more likely to suffer from the condition.
MS can strike at any age, although it normally affects younger women between 20 and 40. MS is an autoimmune disease that damages the myelin sheath, which protects nerve cells in the body. This damage results in inflammation that compromises nerve signals and injures the overall nervous system.
Common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:
- Loss of coordination
- Frequent urination
- Impaired/loss of vision
- Muscle spasms
- Cognitive problems
- Difficulty speaking/eating
Doctors remain unable to pinpoint the cause of multiple sclerosis, although there are a number of risk factors. Those most likely to have MS are Caucasians and people of Northern European descent. Multiple sclerosis is far less common among African Americans, Native American Indians, and Asians.
Many physicians believe that MS is caused by toxins in the environment. Toxic heavy metals like lead, mercury, and aluminum can cross the blood-brain barrier. This delicate barrier is designed to protect the brain against foreign invaders and damage to the myelin sheath. Toxins can potentially trigger an autoimmune attack or symptoms in a person that already has MS.
HEALING WITH A REALLY HEALTHY FOODS DIET
MS is just one example of a severe autoimmune disease. Other examples include coeliac disease, type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Since autoimmune disease is linked to inflammation, an anti-inflammatory diet is critical. Missing essential nutrients can feed the cycle of inflammation. Helpful anti-inflammatory nutrients include B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, and chromium that may be deficient in the Western Unnatural Food Diet.
When you combine one or more unhealthy lifestyle factors with inflammatory foods, you create the perfect storm for autoimmune disease.
An unhealthy diet along with smoking, alcohol overuse, stress, metabolic syndrome, lack of exercise, and subsequent obesity can cause serious health problems. The Western Unnatural Food Diet full of processed, junk foods is the number one immune system damaging diet eaten around the world. This harmful diet is consumed more and more on a daily basis with foods like cereals, pastas, breads, pastries, and potatoes. This diet is missing really healthy foods like dark- skinned fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans.
When you eat a really healthy foods diet, your immune system can recover and return to its former role of finding and destroying foreign invaders,without attacking native structures in the body. Immune function will be influenced by the foods you eat. Vegetable oils found in commercial foods can compromise immunity.
Research supports an anti-inflammatory, lower-fat diet to slow the progression of autoimmune disease. A really healthy foods diet that is low in fat – with balanced sources of healthy fat – can give you the antioxidants and nutrients you need to stimulate healing and correct immune malfunction.