Most of us remember stories of the Middle Ages where a king’s castle was surrounded by an army of guards who would have to quickly size up a visitor and decide if he was a friend or a foe…
And depending on the guards “assessment,” the visitor received either a warm welcome...or maybe the tip of a sword if they were a foe!
Well, your immune system is a lot like an army of guards in a Middle Ages kingdom. It's always on alert, scrutinizing every single molecule that comes into your body from food and the environment and deciding whether it's a friend or foe.
It's sharp and very sensitive -- it HAS to be that way. Otherwise, you might ingest a dangerous substance that could make its way through your body, causing illness or even death!
Unfortunately, the immune systems of increasing numbers of people are being triggered to behave inappropriately and react as if something is a "foe"--even if it's a "friend."
That’s what’s called an autoimmune disease.
According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), currently about 50 million people suffer from an autoimmune disease.
That’s about one in every six of us!
Let’s take a closer look and see exactly what’s going on with autoimmune conditions, why they’re exploding through the roof, and most importantly, measures you can take to help prevent or counteract them.
The many faces of an autoimmune disease
With autoimmune diseases, your body sees its own cells as enemies and wages war against itself.
Your immune system strikes out against your healthy cells, harming your tissues and eventually causing impairment or loss of normal bodily functioning.
This can occur virtually anywhere in your body, so the range of autoimmune diseases can run the gamut. Researchers have identified between 80-100 different autoimmune diseases so far, and at least another 40 conditions are suspected as having an autoimmune component.
Here are some of the most common autoimmune diseases:
- IBD (inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Scleroderma (thickening and hardening of the skin)
- Sjogren's syndrome (chronic dry eyes)
- Graves' disease (overproduction of thyroid hormones)
- Hashimoto's disease (underproduction of thyroid hormones)
- Glomerulonephritis (kidney inflammation that can lead to kidney failure)
- Guillain-Barre' syndrome (weakness, numbness and paralysis)
When your immune system is functioning normally, it can't easily be fooled -- it effectively distinguishes between things that should and shouldn't be inside of you.
For example, when you take in food, your immune system recognizes it as nourishment and sends out a message to its "army" to stay calm. This is a reaction known as tolerance.
Without tolerance, every time you ate something, no matter what it was, you'd have a severe allergic reaction!
However, when your immune system is presented with a "foe" (an antigen), it summons its army of cells to protect you, and in doing so, ignites inflammation to the affected area.
This is called intolerance.
It's what's going on when you have a sore throat or stuffy nose, for example. Your immune system is trapping the invader (in this case, an infection or virus) and preventing it from going all through you.
So, what's taunting your immune system anyway?
When your immune system is repeatedly “taunted” and exposed to things that are actually or could be mistaken for an antigen, it can be triggered into going overboard and reacting with intolerance...even when it shouldn't.
Here are four common contributing factors that can taunt your immune system and encourage a shift in its reactions from tolerance to intolerance:
1) Poor digestion
Improperly digested food molecules that aren't broken down completely enough like they should be can bully their way through your intestinal wall and get into your bloodstream.
Because they're too big to be used for nourishment, your immune system can see them as an antigen--even though they're food -- and trigger an inflammatory response.
This is how many food sensitivities are triggered.
2) Reduced barriers
Your body has many natural barriers that prevent antigens from seeping into your bloodstream.
These include your saliva, the acid in your stomach, the bile from your liver, peristalsis (the muscle contractions in your GI tract that push food along), mucus and the friendly flora in your intestinal tract.
Lacking in any of these can "open the door" for real or perceived antigens to sneak through, get into your bloodstream and ring your immune system alarm.
Here's food for thought: Considering the staggering numbers of people who regularly use antacids and acid reducers (both OTC and prescription), that's a whole lot of people disabling one of their body's most important "barriers" and opening the door for immune system problems.
Plus people who regularly rely on laxatives to have a bowel movement are weakening their bodies' ability to carry out peristalsis--another barrier.
3) Leaky gut
Poor digestion and the resulting too-large food molecules forcing their way through your intestinal wall can eventually cause it to become too porous. This is known as leaky gut syndrome (or intestinal hyper- permeability).
This opens the door even MORE for antigens to seep into your bloodstream and irritate your immune system.
Leaky gut can also be caused or contributed to by intestinal infection, drugs (especially NSAIDS), excessive alcohol use, trauma, aging and stress.
Dysbiosis is an intestinal flora environment where your harmful bacteria outnumber the friendly ones...and since this is where 70% of your immune system resides, that's not good.
Numerous published studies link dysbiosis to autoimmune reactions and diseases.
Well, now that you know some of the ways that your immune system is taunted into overreacting, now let's take a look at ways you can help...
Support a smarter immune system
You can encourage your immune system to stay strong AND act appropriately by giving it a little help in these three ways:
1- Encourage better digestion
This is a function of both the foods you eat and your body's enzyme supply.
You can help accomplish the food part of good digestion by using the Great Taste No Pain or (if you’re gluten free) the Great Taste No Gluten health system.
Both systems show you how to create healthy, nutritious meals featuring real foods that are not only scrumptious, but are also a snap to prepare and much easier for your system to break down.
When your system can more effectively digest your foods, not only can you have less trouble with heartburn, acid reflux, gas and bloating, but you help ensure that your foods are small enough when they're absorbed so they don't taunt your immune system.
The enzyme piece of good digestion is affecting increasing numbers of people, and it's the result of our diets.
Because of our "modern" hard-to-digest diets of fast food and packaged meals, many people are expending WAAAY more enzymes to accomplish digestion than Nature intended.
Eventually your body may not be able to produce what you need any more -- so you (and your immune system) can suffer from the resulting poor digestion.
But Digestizol Max can step in and give your body a helping hand if you need it.
Digestizol Max will help your body break down every single kind of food you could possibly eat...while helping to conserve your own enzymes or pinch-hit if you're running low.
Its super-potent blend of 14 plant-derived enzymes helps you break down all the different types of food you can possibly eat--proteins, carbs, fats, fiber, dairy, etc.
2- Supplement with probiotics
Probiotic supplementation has been shown to help counteract three of the immune system "challenges" above--reduced barriers, leaky gut and dysbiosis!
The dose of helpful bacteria in probiotics helps beef up one of your key natural "barriers," as well as strengthens your gut wall to make it less leaky and encourages a shift away from dysbiosis into a healthier flora environment.
And for a high quality, potent probiotic that's up to this triple challenge, look no farther than Super Shield multi-strain probiotic formula.
One of Super Shield's strains, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, helps to strengthen gut-barrier function and has been shown to have a beneficial impact on autoimmune conditions as well as constipation, diarrhea and IBS symptoms.
Additionally, Super Shield's 12 other superstar strains will help keep your gut flora in proper balance, encouraging the formation of more anti-inflammatory immune cells.
3- Nutrient repair
Nutrients such as vitamins A, C and E and zinc have been shown to support gut wall integrity.
Eating a healthy diet like I mentioned above can help give your body the nutrients it needs.
Supplements are great too, but you should also look to your diet to get your body its needed nutrients.
Here are good food sources of each:
Vitamin A: Carrots, spinach, bell peppers, romaine lettuce, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, parsley and basil.
Vitamin C: Citrus fruit, tomatoes, red peppers, broccoli, cranberries, cabbage, potatoes, guava, strawberries and kiwi.
Vitamin E: Wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, vegetable oils, turnip greens, nuts, nut butters, rice bran oil, barley and avocado.
Zinc: Spinach, calf's liver, beef, asparagus, shrimp, yogurt, broccoli and summer squash.
Stop taunting me!
Remember, the less that you "taunt" your immune system, the more likely it is that it will react appropriately when it truly should to protect you from dangers, yet recognize when it should "back off."
And that can naturally help you fight autoimmune conditions, or make you a less likely candidate for developing them.
PS: Always be sure to let your doctor or healthcare provider know what supplements you are taking.