Understanding autoimmune disease

Rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, thyroid disease, celiac disease, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease are all examples of autoimmune diseases, and millions of North Americans are affected by them. If you don’t have one of these diseases yourself, I’ll bet you know someone who does.

Autoimmune disease is one of the top ten leading causes of death among women in the US. This country spends over one hundred billion dollars each year treating autoimmune diseases.

So, it’s pretty serious stuff and something we all should try to gain a better understanding of.

Science of Autoimmunity

There are three main types of proteins that come into play in autoimmunity:

Food proteins
Proteins in bacteria and viruses
Proteins that are part of the human body (self-proteins)

The immune system exists so that your body can defend itself against foreign proteins. Each cell carries protein markers, and our body has the ability to tell a safe cell from an invading cell by identifying its protein marker. These protein markers are called antigens. When an antigen is identified as a foreign invader by one of the body’s millions of fighter cells, the body attacks.

But, this system is not perfect because sometimes the immune system gets confused by antigen markers and recognizes one of its own cells as a foreign invader like a bacteria or virus. Your body begins fighting itself. This attack on naturally occurring tissue is known as autoimmunity.

Molecular Mimicry

Proteins in various foods and infections can look similar to each other, and they can also resemble our own body parts (self-proteins). In autoimmunity, your cells are confused and think they are attacking proteins of infectious viruses and bacteria or allergens in foods. However, the body is actually attacking its own tissues. It’s as if the tissues and proteins have been mislabeled.

This mislabeling is known as molecular mimicry.

Take celiac disease, for example. In celiacs, the body is confused by a part of the gliadin molecule that’s found in grains because it closely resembles the infectious virus, adenovirus 12, and part of a gut protein. So, whenever a food containing gliadin protein is eaten, the body recognizes the protein as an invader (infectious adenovirus) and the body launches an inflammatory response, attacking the gut.

Interestingly enough, these seemingly unrelated autoimmune diseases (MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, etc.) share a common cause. Damage to the lining of the gut allows undigested food particles to make their way into the body. This process leads to cell confusion, which initiates an immune system attack which leads to inflammation which leads to an autoimmune response.

This reaction could explain why people suddenly develop allergies to foods that were once safe to eat, or why people all of a sudden become sick when they eat something that never before caused a problem.

The importance of food in autoimmune disease

Because inflammation is a key cause of autoimmune disease, it is essential to eat a diet that will reduce inflammation in the body and help heal the gut against future damage.

Dr. Terry Wahls was able to cure herself of progressive MS by following a Paleo diet. (You really should watch her Ted Talk video because it will change the way you look at food!)

The Paleo diet is made up of healthy foods that reduce inflammation within the body, and this way of eating has been proven to heal autoimmune diseases in thousands of people. If you do not suffer from autoimmune disease currently, following a Paleo diet is the best way to protect yourself from developing one in the future.

Our 30-Day Paleo Challenge is happening now and in my opinion, it is the most gentle (and easiest) way to embark on this new lifestyle. We provide you with meal ideas, recipes, support, and more.

0 Responses

  1. Dr. Terry Wahls “arrested” her disease – she didn’t “cure herself”. If she did, it would be in medical books and it would be toughted “as a cure”. It stops progression and does amazing things, but it has not been deemed as a cure.

    1. it certainly is closer to a cure than anything provided by the mainstream medical community and you are very rude

      1. “It stops progression and does amazing things” is what I said. That is positive. Do you have MS? I do, left arm doesn’t work, brace on left leg for drop foot, left leg at half, like walking on a stick, and my balance SUCKS. About 10 days ago I had staples removed from my head. I lost my balance and hit my head on a wall. Cut my head on a corner. I read Terry Wahl’s news letter all the time. DON’T give me grief, till you’ve walked a mile IN MY SHOES. I do lots of things, but I have limits.

        1. I don’t have MS, but Polymiositis which is similar in terms of muscle weakness. year an half ago I could not drive my car as I could not press the clutch to shift gears, this year I went back to riding a bike to work. I don’t know if I am completely cured of the disease but not having symptoms is close enough for me. If I can live my life fully by eating healthy, why not?!?! It’s as close to healing as I can get. My doctors was going to put me on corticosteroids which would fully surpress my immune system and do more damage than good as it partially treats some of the symptoms so medicine as it exists today cannot do more than Terry’s plan, and if you ask me it should be in medical books, but we all know why it isn’t, there is no money in teaching people to heal themselves!

          1. Arijana, I can still drive. I can ride a stationary bike, I marvel at your persistence. Please read my posts. My husband works two jobs, and my 19 year old son went in the military. I’m alone a lot. My two dogs and two cats keep me busy. I do a lot of housework and cooking. I love to cook, and I’m pretty good at it. Be careful with suppressing your immune system. Only you can make the decision to take the drugs or not. Take care.

          2. Sherry, I am persistent because I do see that I am getting better. I did not go back to the doctors to check on the diagnosis (to see if I am in remission or what). I am feeling great and this is all that matters. Please check out Dr. Wahls Web site, her TED talks and testimonies pages. Many MS sufferers report that their lesions on the spine are withdrawing after they are on this diet a while so to me that means that body is healing. By continuing the diet, I do believe that cure can be reached but it takes time. Most of us have many years of damage to our bodies, you cannot undo years and years of wrong that quickly. But what I wanted to say with my previous comment is that we should not loose time asking ourselves if we are cured. First, get rid of the symptoms, staying positive is crucial. Next, maintain this as a lifestyle and just enjoy life symptom free. If people view this only as a treatment and not lifestyle, then disease will come back as soon as they go back to the old lifestyle. This is just logical to me, plus many reported having setbacks by going back to the old lifestyle. Patience is very much needed here as well. I also think that keeping busy and active is very important. I can tell that when I slow down I am not making as much progress. Luckily my kids are still small (4,5 yo twin girls) so they do not let me slow down much. Winter is difficult as the day is shorter and it’s more difficult to stay active. In terms of drugs, I did my research and did not like the side effects, plus the drugs just reduce the flair up temporarily so this was not the solution to my problem. I want to raise my girls by myself. Loving to spend time in kitchen is a big plus with this lifestyle and getting creative. Very soon I started making up the dishes on the fly and I am really enjoying the food so I can be on this diet for the rest of my life. My girls also eat similar to myself so it’s good for them to learn this early and get good eating habits. I do hope you are trying Dr. Wahls diet and sticking to it until you are symptom free. It gave me my life back and I hope it does the same for you. Best of luck to you!

          3. Don’t understand your mixed messages…first you say this and just so you know I did copy and paste it.
            “I try to eat well, I have other people to feed in this house. I don’t need to be making seperate meals – too much work.”
            And then this
            ” I’m home alone a lot. My two dogs and two dogs keep me busy. I do a lot of housework and cooking. I love to cook, and I’m pretty good at it.

            So if you like to cook and you are pretty good at it then I don’t understand the message of you saying you got more mouths to feed and it is to much work!!! If you would do the research you will find out its not work at all. And I say this again without judging you. I have had MS since I was 17 and went through hell. Me being a young woman who doesn’t have energy and body parts that doesn’t work and having young children. I gave up work half a year a go and since 2 months I have been on the diet of dr terry whals and already now I have more energy and thinking of maybe in a couple of months im gonna go to work again for 2 days a week. So everything is and can be possible. Just have faith and believe in yourself and god.
            God bless you…

        2. I’m NOT trying to be negitive. Eating right is part of the answer. The only one who truly heals is Jesus. I read Leeann’s posts – I treasure them. Jesus is the only one I put my trust in, all else fails. There is a line in scripture that states, “Heal thyself..” . It is mocking, I don’t want the credit, I want to give him the Glory, Amen.

    2. Dr. Terry Wahls reversed her disease, or at least her symptoms, so that would be about as close to a cure as one would need. It will never be in conventional medical books because the Paleo diet is not a drug they can make money off of. Let’s just keep it that way, otherwise, they will start regulating food and soon we will need a Rx just to feed our families. I’d rather those of us “in the know” try to convince our loved ones (and others) who have not heard these things because they aren’t in mainstream news, than to not have access to the stuff we need to get and stay as healthy as we can.

  2. Arijana, I do receive Dr. Terry Wahl’s newsletter,and I read it. I have had a spinal tap (painful) and it was normal. I try to eat well, I have other people to feed in this house. I don’t need to be making seperate meals – too much work.

    1. Saying making separate meals is to much work is cheating on your on health. You have paleo mealt and wahls meals they can be made in 15 minutes time. I have been diagnosed with ms since 8 years now…and I would try anything to help my MS. Even with a busy job and family. To be honest if you spend a little time in the weekend you can find recipes that the whole family would love and devour with happiness. So you don’t have to cook separate. Nice quick meals,lovely bread,crackers,sweets desserts everything. Just do a little bit of research and honestly that if I say a little bit I mean a little bit. I’m not trying to tell you off but just saying that you can do it without spending to much time.

  3. Paula, I have no problem of this diet being toughted as a cure. Bringing your symptoms under arrest is not the same as a cure. This is great that this is so. MS is a curious disease, it is different in each case.

  4. i have had MS 33 years, breast cancer 10, and 3 separate bouts of Lyme disease. UGH !! i tried Dr. Wahl’s diet for over 9 months. i kept a journal, and was pretty faithful to her 9 cups a day. i cannot say it ‘cured’ me. in fact i can not say much at all! i have decided to give it another try. any suggestions?

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