Autoimmune Disease

by Dennis E. Bradford, Ph.D.

in physical well-being

The epidemic of autoimmune disease [AD] shares striking similarities with epidemics of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

It is prevalent.  “The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) estimates that 50 million Americans suffer from at least one AD.  In comparison, 12 million Americans suffer from cancer and 25 million from heart disease” [Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D., The Paleo Approach, Introduction.].  The other three epidemics are also, obviously, prevalent.

Its prevalence is increasing.  Estimates range from increases of 2% to 10% yearly.  That’s true for the other three epidemics as well.

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Nobody is certain how prevalent it is or how much its prevalence is increasing.  AD is difficult to diagnose; how many people are afflicted with it is unknown.

It’s difficult to diagnose because it often presents as a set of vague symptoms such as extreme fatigue, migraines, muscle aches, allergies, anxiety and depression, unusually low blood pressure, low blood sugar, recurrent headaches, thyroid problems, yeast infections, swollen glands, PMS, gallbladder disease, memory problems, and joint aches.

There is no single definitive test that is able to determine whether or not you have AD.

According to Dr. Ballantyne, it can be detected by analyzing a series of blood tests for antinuclear antibodies, autoantibodies, complete blood count and/or complete blood count with differential, C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, tests for food sensitivies or allergies, hormone levels, micronutrient deficiencies, organ functions, and secretory IgA antibodies.

Although researchers do not yet understand what causes autoimmune disease, it is clear that, as with the other three epidemics, in general there are three key factors:  genetic susceptibility, environmental triggers (such as viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitical infections or exposure to toxins) or bad luck, and diet & lifestyle (such as ingesting foods that contain gluten).

What happens in autoimmune disease is that the adaptive (as opposed to the innate) immune system becomes unable to distinguish the body’s proteins and cells from those of invaders that come from outside the body.  The adaptive immune system then attacks the body’s own tissues and the resulting damage causes the symptoms of AD.

There is no cure for autoimmune disease.  However, diet and lifestyle changes in addition to standard medical practice (such as drug treatment) provide grounds for being hopeful about effective treatment or management.  (Unfortunately, there is no medical specialty for autoimmune disease.)

By itself one salient fact gives reason for optimism:  in the absence of increased intestinal permeability (aka  ‘leaky gut’), autoimmune disease won’t develop.

The reasoning here is simple.  Leaky gut is caused by poor dietary and lifestyle habits.  It’s not only possible to alter those poor habits, but it’s relatively simple (although not necessarily easy) to do so.

My father was an internist who impressed upon me the simple idea that the body has its own restorative powers.  When the body is ill or out-of-balance, the best treatment is always to work with it to enable it to heal itself.  It’s neither drugs that heal nor physicians who heal; rather, at best, they aid the body in healing itself.

Leaky gut is a condition that can be cured.  It can be cured by adapting better dietary and lifestyle habits.  Here comes the big “aha” insight:

The same habits that aid in healing autoimmune disease greatly aid in healing cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

So, if you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from AD, what should you do?  How could you ameliorate or even stop AD from presenting?

I don’t know.  I’m not an expert and, even if I were, I don’t know your situation.  However, I’m able to tell you what I would do.  It’s simple:

Make the dietary and lifestyle changes and see what happens.

If the symptoms begin to diminish (as is quite likely), hooray!  Persist in the new habits.  If the symptoms don’t, either try something else or accept the pain and suffering.

In other words, test the recommendations, examine the feedback from them, and adjust behavior accordingly. It’s not like trying to understand dark energy.

However, as every adult who has tried already understands, it’s not easy to make lasting changes to what one eats or how one lives.  Best get some help.  Best get some support, preferably from friend who may be a good guide.

Might I be able to help?  There’s only one way to find out:  test it.  Here’s how:

If you want a free, one-on-one consultation for up to 30 minutes, simply go here to watch the short video and, if you are still interested, to sign up:

You may select ‘Email Newsletter’ to enter.

(Don’t worry if the presentation seems to be only about emotional eating.  The reality is that physical well-being promotes emotional well-being and emotional well-being promotes physical well-being.)

What are the recommended dietary and lifestyle habits?

They involve such familiar recommendations as eating naturally (in other words, the way that our ancestors ate), managing stress effectively, sleeping well, exercising well, paying attention to circadian rhythms, and so on.

Changing to better habits is neither easy nor fun.  However, the benefits that come from making those changes in a lasting way improve the quality of our lives and enable us to flourish.

What do you have to lose?

A few minutes of your time may help you guide yourself along a path that leads to losing a lot of obstacles that are preventing you from being much more satisfied with your life.

Just click here to begin:

I wish you peace.

RECOMMENDED READING:  Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D., The Paleo Approach.  I thank my friend Anna Walker for recommending this book as well as for her persistent advocacy of the kind of dietary recommendation Ballantyne makes.