We are continuing this month with the topic of the autoimmune process and how diseases of this type are triggered.
To read Part I of this article, please click here.
AUTOIMMUNE TRIGGERS – continued
Leaky gut means that the intestinal barrier is compromised and allows passage of macronutrients (larger sizes) through the wall of the gut into the blood stream when actually only micronutrients (smaller sizes) should be allowed to pass.
Changes in the balance of our microbiome, essentially the contents of our intestines, can cause inflammation and separation of the cells of the lining of the gut. A hormone called zonulin can then open the tight junctions between these cells even further, allowing proteins that should not leave the gut to pass through. The immune system attacks these proteins like foreign invaders as it tries to protect the body. In that process, the immune system forgets how to flip the “off” switch on the myriad agents of the immune response – T cells, B cells, T regs, macrophages, mast cells, NKkB, and NK cells. The immune system gets confused and attacks tissues of its own body and destroys them, resulting in an autoimmune disorder.
Stress and psychological factors have significant effects on the immune system. In fact, there is a brain-immune system interaction pathway that can be a trigger for the development of an autoimmune disorder.
Stress also affects the endocrine system, which in turn can negatively influence the immune function. For example, extended grieving or other mental or emotional trauma has been observed as a precipitating event in some people with auto-immune disease.
So, is there any good news in all of this?
Yes, the good news is that the physiologic processes of immune disease development usually start 10-15 years before a diagnosis appears. Certain symptoms and specific lab tests can predict your risks of disease development. That is good news because it gives us time to lower the risk factors and often reverse the progression into an actual autoimmune disease state. Statistically, once you get one auto-immune diagnosis your chances for another skyrocket. No one wants that.
There are many treatment options in Integrative Medicine to help reverse the early stages of autoimmune dysregulation and to prevent the process from even starting.
I know because I have done several of them for years as I reversed elevated thyroid antibodies that would have led to Hashimoto’s Disease. I have now been well controlled for over 10 yrs.
These approaches include eliminating all foods that you are sensitive to. We often start with eliminating the foods that are statistically most likely to cause adverse reactions – gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs. In addition, these sensitivities can be determined for each individual using IgG immune response testing that is available through our office.
We can also take steps to stop leaky gut and tune up your digestive track using probiotics, fermented foods, and maybe digestive enzymes and other support. We can refine your treatment path using an Integrative Medicine stool test to check for inflammation and bad bugs in the gut along with other indicators. See below for information about DD’s CSA test.
Assessing and supporting estrogens and metabolites and correcting hormonal imbalances help the natural physiology of the body to support healing.
Avoiding toxins in food, water, cleaning products, and other sources lessens the toxic load your body has to deal with. A yearly detox, if appropriate, may be very helpful. Maintain an optimal weight. Learn new ways to manage your stress! Have you tried yoga, daily meditation or prayer practice, Qi Gong? There are many tools to help you.
And then, if specific indicators show up that an autoimmune disease is shadowing you, there are many supplements, vitamins, herbs, and other treatment modalities that can support your body. We can work together to create the best approach for you with your specific health needs and goals in mind.
If you are facing these types of health issues, please know that I am here to do everything I can to help you improve your well-being now and for the future so you can live your best life possible!
And if you are in early stages of seeing your health change due to an autoimmune response, I want to encourage you to take the steps needed to change that tide and get your health and life back on course. You can do it!
Jane Kennedy, CFNP, MN, MPH
Wondering if you have “Leaky Gut”?
Consider doing a stool test to give us the details of what is going on for you. This is with an Integrative Medicine lab called, Doctor’s Data, who compares the genetic profiles of the bugs in your gut to their data bank of gut bugs to determine whether you have a healthy microbiome or not! This gives specific focus to treatment plan.
Here is Doctor’s Data’s explanation of this useful test:
The Comprehensive Stool Analysis is an invaluable non-invasive diagnostic assessment that permits practitioners to objectively evaluate the status of beneficial and imbalanced commensal bacteria including Clostridium species, pathogenic bacteria and yeast/fungus. Precise identification of pathogenic species and susceptibility testing greatly facilitates selection of the most appropriate pharmaceutical or natural treatment agents.
Important information regarding the efficiency of digestion and absorption can be gleaned from the measurement of the fecal levels of elastase (pancreatic exocrine sufficiency), fat, muscle and vegetable fibers, and carbohydrates. Inflammation can significantly increase intestinal permeability and compromise assimilation of nutrients. The extent of inflammation, whether caused by pathogens or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can be assessed and monitored by examination of the levels of biomarkers such as lysozyme, lactoferrin, white blood cells and mucus. These markers can be used to differentiate between inflammation associated with potentially life-threatening inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which requires lifelong treatment, and less severe inflammation that can be associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which is frequently due to the presence of enteroinvasive pathogens.
Feel free to talk with me at your next appointment or send an email describing how you feel this can be helpful to you right now and we will set you up for the testing. When the results come in we will go over the findings together to determine the next best steps for you.
Jane Kennedy, CFNP, MN, MPH