The most common description of autoimmune disease is that it is a condition that occurs when the body attacks itself. This definition doesn’t even begin to encompass what autoimmunity really is. This disease is much more than inflammation caused by body attacking itself.
The fact is that an autoimmune condition doesn’t just “happen” to you. It is both passively and actively created by your lifestyle and the greedy practices of food manufacturers, who lace your meals with toxins. You eat, drink, and expose your way to immune dysfunction. With little exception, everything you put into your mouth, your surroundings, and even the air you breathe is either making you healthier or sicker.
Autoimmunity occurs naturally in everyone to some degree. In an ideal environment, the cells that are capable of attacking the body’s own tissue are kept under control by the body itself. If the body’s environment falls out of balance, it can cause dysfunction and breakdown of its internal safety mechanisms, causing the body to mistake itself as an enemy.
Just as your genetic make-up can cause greater susceptibility to burning in the sun, your genes can make you more susceptible to autoimmunity. However, genetics do not guarantee that you will develop any type of autoimmune disease.
According to the researchers at the University of Utah, genetics aren’t everything. In the case of identical twins, when one twin develops Multiple Sclerosis, there is only a 30% chance of the other (genetically identical) twin also being diagnosed with the disease. A separate study showed the incidence of lupus between identical twins even lower at 24%. With Rheumatoid Arthritis, there is a 1 in 4 chance. Why does one twin get sick and not the other the majority of the time? It is the same as one redheaded, fair-skinned twin who went out in the sun and got a sunburn, while the other avoided sun exposure and did not get burned. The answer is the environment. The twins with MS, lupus, and arthritis had allowed an internal environment that was conducive to autoimmunity. According to immunologist, Dr. Jesse Stoff, there are four key things that damage the body’s internal environment. They are:
-poor eating habits and nutrition
-man-made toxins in our environment
-disease causing organisms and the toxins they produce
-trauma on the immune system from things like x-ray radiation and cross country flights, and stress.
The immune system, like most of the body, requires balance to function properly. T-helper 1 (Th1) cells and T-helper 2 cells (Th2) help regulate the body’s response to foreign invaders. Th1 uses white blood cells to go after viruses and cancer cells. Th2 immune cells use antibodies to go after bacteria. Normally, the body strikes a balance by switching back and forth between Th1 and Th2. In a person with an autoimmune disorder, one dominates and suppresses the other.
Trans fats, mercury and other heavy metals, sugar and processed foods, alcohol, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and stress are part of a modern lifestyle that can disrupt the Th1/Th2 balance.
Autoimmune Disease and Women
Th1 dominance in women is associated with autoimmunity and recurrent miscarriage in the first trimester of pregnancy. Additionally, children in the autism spectrum tend to be Th1 dominant. Besides autoimmunity, Th2 dominance is characterized by a tendency toward allergies, frequent colds and viral infections, and cancer. Both Th1 and Th2 cells make a protein substance known as cytokines. Cytokines cause inflammation. Cytokines are a necessary part of our immunity. Inflammation should be a temporary response to injury or infection. It is the over-production (too many) of certain small cytokine molecules that leads to the invasion and inflammation of an organ or body system.
Changes in the Brain
In the brain, cytokines can cause behavioral changes. They can either prompt or worsen depression, anxiety, or anorexia. They may cause a person to become withdrawn. Cytokines create fatigue and interfere with sleep patterns. They are one thing responsible for what has been termed “brain fog.”
Autoimmune conditions are named or categorized according to where in the body cytokines are being overproduced and how the disease manifests itself. For example, an overproduction of these cytokines in the joints causing pain and swelling is called Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). It may go by different names and occur in different places in the body, but ultimately, autoimmunity is one disease with many different faces.
Because immune system cytokines are the culprit, the most common conventional treatment for autoimmune disease is immunosuppressive drugs, like steroids. Steroids are used because they are able to suppress the over-productive cytokines. Unfortunately, the steroids don’t just stop the over-active part of the immune system, they also suppress the already under-active segment of the immune system.
This practice is not unlike the use of chemotherapy, which poisons the good and the bad cells of cancer patients. Steroids can also affect your mood and cause depression, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Is Your Diet to Blame?
Your diet plays a major role in activating or suppressing cytokines. I can’t stress this enough. Just about anything you put into your mouth will have a negative or positive consequence on your autoimmune condition. It is as if everything that you swallow is sending a signal to your immune system to either cause more cytokines or less.
Maintaining an Immune system for Autoimmune Sufferers
To successfully reverse the effects of autoimmune diseases, we must do two things: combat oxidative stress, and re-balance the immune system.
Is there something you can do that naturally takes care of both requirements?
Autoimmune Diseases – Reverse Oxidative Stress With Glutathione
There has been much research done in the last 20 years or so about the antioxidant benefits of glutathione.
To learn more about the role of glutathione in oxidative stress, click HERE.
In this way, reducing oxidative stress, glutathione can be very helpful in reversing the damage done by autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune Diseases – Re-Balance Your Immune System With Glutathione
So should you be afraid to boost your glutathione levels? Many have expressed concern that if their immune system is already overactive, raising glutathione will only make it worse. Actually, studies have shown just the opposite to be true. In a normal healthy functioning immune system there are optimal levels of all its components, like white blood cells, different types of T-cells, B-cells, and so forth. What glutathione does is make sure that you maintain these optimal levels.
There are also little “scouts” that your immune system sends out that are used to tell your body whether a tissue is friend or foe. These little scouts are called cytokines. Cytokines cause inflammation, which is why many of these autoimmune diseases are known for their inflammation.
Glutathione keeps the cytokines honest, so they stop tagging good guys as bad guys. They only tag bad guys bad, and good guys good, so that your killer cells only end up destroying what should be destroyed.
So basically glutathione knows what to do and gets busy doing it, correcting whatever imbalance a person may have, whether they are immunodeficient, or have one of the autoimmune diseases.
In conclusion, we know that there are two conditions that must be addressed when it comes to autoimmune diseases – oxidative stress and re-balancing the immune system.
Glutathione effectively addresses both roles to help to combat autoimmune diseases.
Immunocal Platinum by Immunotec Research has been designed with autoimmune disease in mind. Immunocal comes in two versions – Immunocal Regular, containing natural cysteine, and Immunocal Platinum which contains two additional formulas. These are Redox Modulating Formula, for balancing the redox value of the cell (usually recommended for anyone over 50, as it helps to maintain the alkalinity in the body as we get older), and Cytokine Modulating Formula, for re-training our immune system to stop attacking itself.