Author Sidebar: I had never heard of an autoimmune disease, until I was in the hospital. A couple days after I had come out of the coma, one of the nurses told me that because of my high blood sugar, they thought that maybe I was a Type 1 diabetic.
The nurse went on to explain that Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that attacks the pancreas and would require me to take insulin for the rest of my life.
Luckily for me, it turned out that I had Type 2 diabetes instead of Type 1. But, the doctors told me that I would still be on insulin for the rest of my life ...
Concerning autoimmune diseases, during my research, I discovered that autoimmune diseases were on the increase, but, the medical community didn't understand why this was happening.
Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, celiac disease, sarcoidosis, and multiple sclerosis are not directly related to Type 2 diabetes pathology, but, under certain circumstances, people with an autoimmune disease may develop Type 2 diabetes and vice-versa, people with Type 2 diabetes may develop an autoimmune disease.
For example, some people with lupus, sarcoidosis or multiple sclerosis (MS) who were treated with Prednisone (a corticosteroid drug) may develop Type 2 diabetes after taking Prednisone for several months.
The reasons for this are not clearly understood. However, it appears that drugs like Prednisone cause blood glucose levels to rise in some people.
So, it may be possible that if your blood glucose levels had been marginally high or if your body has a predisposition to Type 2 diabetes (with 3 or 4 risk factors), then, the Prednisone may trigger a biochemical and hormonal imbalance that leads to Type 2 diabetes.
If you already have Type 2 diabetes, then, Prednisone can definitely cause your blood glucose to rise. This occurs because Prednisone stimulates glucose secretion by the liver as well as reducing glucose transport into adipose (fat) and muscle cells. The overall effect is a reduction in glucose clearance and an increase in insulin resistance.
That means that some people with Type 2 diabetes taking Prednisone are likely to see a significant increase in their blood glucose depending on the dose of steroid given.
The good news about Prednisone is that it is cleared from the system fairly rapidly and once you stop taking it, blood glucose levels return to their normal levels fairly rapidly.
Inflammation: A Common Link?
Although these autoimmune diseases and Type 2 diabetes are not connected directly, there is a common link: cellular inflammation.
In fact, as depicted in the following diagram, cellular inflammation plays a role in many systemic diseases.
Cellular inflammation that develops and continues to progress over a period of years can wreak havoc and cause cell/tissue damage throughout the body. This, in turn, causes the immune system to overreact, triggering a possible autoimmune-type disease.
Interestingly, some of the foods that should be avoided by people with Type 2 diabetes should be avoided by people with an autoimmune disease because these foods fuel inflammation in the cells.
Some of these foods include vegetable oils, canola oil, fried foods, processed foods, margarines (trans fats), cow's milk, rice, corn, soy, potatoes, potato chips, sugar, HFCS, artificial sweeteners (aspartame, Splenda), grains, bread, wheat, flour, animal meat, and other foods that contain gluten, trans fats, growth hormones, antibiotics, GMOs, and other chemicals.
In addition, some of the foods that are good for people with Type 2 diabetes are also good for people with an autoimmune disease because these foods have anti-inflammatory properties, e.g. leafy green vegetables, raw juices,garlic, extra virgin coconut oil, raw organic nuts, free range chicken, wild salmon.
Autoimmune disease refers to a group of more than 100 serious, chronic illnesses including diseases of the nervous, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems as well as skin and other connective tissues, eyes, blood, and blood vessel.
Autoimmune diseases may manifest in many different places in the body, with many different diagnoses. Their common thread is that the body makes antibodies to its own tissues. The body's immune system becomes misdirected, attacking the very organs it was designed to protect.
Autoimmune diseases are the third most common category of disease in the United States after cancer and heart disease. Conservative estimates indicate that almost 75% of the persons with autoimmune diseases are women.
Autoimmune diseases are the leading cause for death in the United States, especially among women. However, their exact impact is unknown because the National Statistical Center did not include all the diseases in their list of possible causes for death; thus doctors do not list them on the death certificates.
At the same time, analysis of the data from the Center of Disease Control from 1995 show that this group of diseases is in the top ten (Am J Public Health, Sep, 2000).
According to the National Health Institute, 23.5 million of Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases; this is 1.5 million more cases than cases of cardio-vascular disease and 14.5 million more cases than cases of cancer. Every year, $100 billion are spent on treating autoimmune conditions.
However, financing for autoimmune research is limited and programs for medical students include minimal information.
Autoimmune diseases tend to cluster in families and in individuals – a person with one autoimmune disease is more likely to get another. This indicates that common mechanisms are at work.
Studies of the prevalence of autoimmune disease in monozygotic (identical) twins show that genetic as well as environmental factors are necessary for the disease to develop. Also, infections play a big role in the development of autoimmune disease.
Some of the more common autoimmune diseases include the following:
- Addison's disease, a disease that occurs when the adrenal glands fail to produce enough cortisol and aldosterone hormones. This disease leads to low blood pressure, tiredness, dizziness upon standing, nausea, and skin darkening.
- Celiac disease, an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye; causes damage to the lining of the small intestine.
- Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines, especially the colon and ileum, associated with ulcers and fistulae.
- Graves disease, an immune system disorder that affects the thyroid gland, resulting in the overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism).
- Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, an immune system disorder that causes inflammation of the thyroid gland, resulting in underproduction of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism).
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a long-term inflammation of the gut and lining of the large intestine. There are two main types of IBD: (1) Crohn's disease is inflammation that affects areas of the gut; (2) Ulcerative colitis is long-term inflammation of the gut.
- Lupus, an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves.
- Psoriasis, a disorder thought to be triggered by stress, infections, or environmental factors. Psoriasis causes scales and dry, itchy patches on the skin.
- Rheumatic arthritis (RA), a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting many joints, including those in the hands and feet.
- Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease in which granulomas, or clumps of inflammatory cells, form in the lungs and other organs, causing organ inflammation.
- Sjögren’s syndrome, an immune system disorder characterized by dry eyes and dry mouth.
- Type I diabetes, often referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes, it a chronic disease in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin because of damage to the beta cells, resulting in uncontrolled blood sugar.
- Type 1.5 diabetes, known as Latent Autoimmune Diabetes for Adults or LADA, gradually develops in people with Type 2 diabetes, usually after the excess use of diabetic medications take their toll and cause immune system dysfunction.
- Vitiligo, a condition marked by loss of skin pigment or the loss of large batches of skin color.
Risk Factors of Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune diseases affect people of all genders, races, and ages, but certain people have an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases. The risk factors include the following:
Genetics. Research indicates that a family history of autoimmune disease is a strong risk factor. If you have family members who have autoimmune disorders, your chances of getting the same disorder or one that is closely related are higher.
Gender. Research also shows that women are at a higher risk of developing autoimmune disorders, with about 75 percent of the cases being attributed to women. It's not entirely clear why women are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, but some researchers believe that hormonal factors may make them more vulnerable to autoimmune disorders.
Age. Autoimmune disorders often occur in young adults and those in middle age. But each disease is different, and disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis are more common as people age.
Ethnicity. Native American, Latino, and African-Americans generally develop autoimmune disorders at a much higher rate than Caucasians.
Infection. If a genetically predisposed individual has suffered from specific viral or bacterial infections, there is a greater risk that they will also get an autoimmune disease in the future.
Exposure to environmental agents. There is some evidence that exposure to certain medications, chemicals or toxins in your environment may increase your risk of developing autoimmune disorders. For example, research shows that exposure to some medications (e.g., procainamide or hydrolyzine) and certain metals (e.g. mercury, gold, or silver) may be associated with the development of autoimmune disorders.
Root Causes of Autoimmune Diseases
The exact root causes of what triggers the onset of an autoimmune disease has not yet been conclusively established. These diseases occur when the body attacks its own tissues, thus affecting the functioning of that system of the body.
There are many different underlying factors that may contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases.
As depicted in the diagram (below), the primary underlying root causes and co-factors of autoimmune diseases include inflammation, oxidation, infections, viruses, food intolerances, heavy metals, toxicity, damaged cells, leaky gut, and a weakened (confused) immune system.
Inflammation is the immune system's normal response for fighting invading pathogens (e.g. bacteria, viruses), but when the inflammation gets out of control and becomes chronic, this can lead to many diseases and health problems.
Oxidative stress creates excessive free radical molecules that cause damage to cells, tissues and organs that, in turn, compromise the immune system and other body systems.
Infections of various types, such as candida overgrowth, contribute to autoimmune disorders. Eliminating these chronic infections is essential to successfully fighting and defeating an autoimmune disease.
Other diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity or cancer, can weaken the immune system so severely that it makes the body susceptible to autoimmune dysfunction of some kind, usually affecting the organ or tissues that are the weakest.
Viruses of any kind can trigger an autoimmune response once an infection has settled in the body and damaged the immune system. Once you have a defective immune system, it will persist until the infection is eliminated.
Heavy metals, such as mercury and lead, contribute to autoimmune disorders due to the damage they cause to tissue cells, the immune system, and various organs.
Other toxins such as pesticides, environmental toxins, and chemicals from processed foods also contribute significantly to autoimmune diseases due to the damage they cause to tissue cells, the immune system, and various organs.
A leaky gut allows proteins (e.g. gluten), bacteria, undigested food particles, toxic waste and other molecules to pass through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream, wreaking havoc throughout the body, leading to food allergies and other negative immune responses.
Food intolerances or a poor diet of foods that contain gluten, flour, wheat, dairy (cow's milk, cheese), sugar, trans fats, animal meat (growth hormones, antibiotics), and other food chemicals can compromise and weaken the immune system.
Overuse of medications, both OTC and prescription medications, can also compromise and weaken the immune system, setting the body up for other health problems.
Other causes or triggers of autoimmune diseases include heredity/ genetics, nutrient deficiencies (e.g. Omega-3s, iodine, Vitamin D), chronic stress/anxiety, trauma (i.e. car accident), major surgery, vaccines, and pregnancy (hormone changes).
As a result, a person stricken with an autoimmune disease needs a natural wellness treatment strategy that addresses these root causes in order to effectively fight and defeat the disease, or, at least, get the disease under control so that the person can live a higher quality of life.
Poor diet (cow's milk, gluten, processed meats), lack of exercise, lack of sleep, abuse of alcohol and use of tobacco can also weaken the immune system.
Normally the immune system's white blood cells help protect the body from harmful pathogens and their antigens. Examples of pathogens and antigens include bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells, and blood or tissues from another person or species. The immune system produces antibodies that destroy these harmful substances.
In patients with an autoimmune disorder, the immune system can't tell the difference between healthy body tissue and certain pathogens and their antigens. The result is an immune response that destroys normal body tissues. This response is a hypersensitivity reaction similar to the response in allergic conditions.
Key Point: When your body is fighting an autoimmune disease, it is under constant attack due to various harmful biological processes such as excess oxidation, glycation, chronic inflammation and toxicity.
Your body is in a continual state of attempting repair and renewal of the cell damage caused by attacking its own cells and tissues. But, if nothing is done to interrupt the harmful biological processes that are causing the immune system to respond incorrectly, then, these processes eventually take their toll after many years.
In other words, the body is always trying to heal itself but the disease keeps on going. So even if you implanted cells from an identical twin (without the disease) into a person with the disease, the cells would be destroyed all over again because the disease process is likely still there. So to cure the disease, you need to address it's root causes.
Originally, it was thought that in Type 1 diabetes, that when all of the beta cells were killed off, the attack was gone, and a transplant would cure the disease. However, this doesn't seem to be the case. The disease process (for most) is still there.
In addition, it was assumed that all the beta cells were destroyed, but, it appears that, in some cases, all of the beta cells are NOT destroyed.
It appears that some of the beta cells are either dormant or damaged, which is key because it means that these cells can either be "awakened" or repaired -- if the body is provided with the proper nutrients and resources, e.g. gymnema sylvestre, extra virgin coconut oil, arginine, broccoli, chromium, probiotics, Vitamin D, etc.
It also appears that certain foods and chemicals must be avoided that trigger a poor immune response, e.g. cow's milk, gluten, grains, etc.
Lupus and Diabetes
Chances increase that a person will develop diabetes, when he/she has lupus and a predisposition to problems with blood sugar.
As previously mentioned, diabetes and lupus share a connection: inflammation in the cells. And, if lupus is treated with corticosteroids, it may cause blood glucose levels to rise.
As a result, long-term use or high doses of corticosteroids, particularly Prednisone, can trigger diabetes in someone already predisposed to it.
People with lupus or diabetes – or both – can improve overall health and relieve a number of symptoms just by making healthier food choices.
A plant-based diet with lots of vegetables, legumes, and plant oils is very beneficial to treating both diseases naturally.
Exercise, adequate rest and stress reduction are also important in treating both of these diseases.
A plant-based diet (such as the Death to Diabetes Diet) in combination with lifestyle changes will strengthen the body and help the immune system return to a state of balance.
Sarcoidosis, MS and Diabetes
Similar to lupus, if a person with sarcoidosis or multiple sclerosis (MS) has a predisposition to problems with blood sugar and is treated with corticosteroids, it may cause blood glucose levels to rise.
And, with long-term use or high doses of corticosteroids, particularly Prednisone, a person can develop Type 2 diabetes, if that person is already predisposed to it.
However, a plant-based diet (such as the Death to Diabetes Diet) in combination with lifestyle changes will help to strengthen and rebalance the immune system.
Natural Remedies and Treatment Strategies for Autoimmune Diseases
Natural treatment strategies should be designed to accomplish the following health goals:
- Reduce chronic inflammation
- Suppress candida (yeast) overgrowth
- Stimulate healthy intestinal flora
- Stimulate intestinal/gut repair
- Nourish cells and tissues with superior nutrition
- Strengthen/rebalance the immune system
- Kill and/or control viruses and their effects
- Get rid of any infections or secondary diseases
The following nutritional recommendations are designed to address inflammation, candida, and gut health associated with the specific autoimmune disease and to help rebalance and strengthen the immune system.
These health goals can be accomplished through nutritional and lifestyle changes, but herbal supplements can help to accelerate the process.
There are many natural remedies that offer an alternative to conventional anti-inflammatory medications, especially anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods such as green vegetables, bright-colored vegetables, raw vegetable juices, cold-water fish, garlic, and plant oils.
When suffering with an autoimmune disease it is imperative to eat foods that aid and boost the immune system. Foods that contain vitamin E and C are crucial for proper immune functioning, such as blueberries, bell peppers, oranges, papaya, guava, and seeds.
Not only can they soothe the over-active and misguided immune system, but natural anti-inflammatories can also help to restore the body’s self-healing mechanisms and natural balance.
Eat foods that help fight most autoimmune diseases (especially leaky gut) include: fermented vegetables, wheat grass, bone broth, extra virgin coconut oil, chlorella, spirulina, and unprocessed cod liver oil.
Also, eat herbs and foods and use compounds with antiviral properties such as echinacea, licorice root, astragalus; garlic, onions, lemons, turmeric, extra virgin coconut oil, and medicinal mushrooms (i.e. reishi, shiitake, maitake); and colloidal silver. This, along with detoxing, will further help your immune system, especially if the primary root cause of your autoimmune dysfunction is virus/bacteria/ infection-related.
It is also important to avoid the "trigger" foods, drugs, toxins, and chemicals that may trigger autoimmune dysfunction and damage the healthy cells, e.g. white flour (alloxan), wheat, gluten, grains, cow's milk, most dairy, vegetable oils, canola oil, legumes/nuts, some diabetic drugs, and possibly other OTC/prescription drugs.
Nutritional supplements that can help to fight most autoimmune diseases (especially leaky gut) include: l-glutamine, magnesium, probiotics, MSM, alpha lipoic acid, Vitamin D3, CoQ10, collagen protein powder, systemic enzymes, and digestive enzymes (see below for more details).
Use raw juicing and green smoothies to infuse your body with key nutrients that will help to strengthen, modulate and rebalance your immune system.
Perform a periodic cleanse and detox to help remove accumulated toxins within your cells that may contribute to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
Use herbs such as sarsaparilla and yarrow, which can be used to detoxify the bloodstream. These herbs are able to cleanse the blood and act as natural anti-inflammatories for muscles and joints.
Other herbs that are effective for treating the symptoms of autoimmune disorders include Boswellia, Devil’s Claw, ginger and turmeric.
Herbs such as yucca can reduce muscle pain and stiffness, and if used as a shampoo, may help those who suffer from skin disorders.
Just make sure that the herbs are organic and don't conflict with any medications that you may be taking -- always consult with your physician and a naturopathic doctor if possible.
Tissue salts and homeopathic ingredients are also highly effective aids to restoring balance, health and vitality, as they do not over-stimulate the immune system. They are nutraceuticals (nutritional substances), which can help to relieve the symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases and improve functioning.
Ingredients such as Natrium sulphate, Kalium phosphate and Natrium phosphate can optimize the nervous system and lift the mood. Consult your physician, herbalist or homeopath about the best treatment for your needs.
Concerning nutritional supplementation, for each specific autoimmune disease, there are different targeted supplements for each disease pathology.
However, several of the supplements appear to address multiple autoimmune diseases and autoimmune disease in general, e.g. Vitamin B-Complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Omega-3 EFAs, garlic, etc.
Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for boosting the immune system. Omega -3 can be found in cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. If you don't like fish, try adding flaxseed to a green smoothie.
Garlic can be used in a number of dishes not only to add flavor, but also to stimulate infection-fighting cells. Garlic is known as nature’s antibiotic, due to its abilities to attack bacteria and virus.
Selenium-rich foods like red snapper, lobster, egg yolks, sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts all help to boost the immune system.
Note: In order for T4 to get converted to T3, an enzyme that contains selenium is necessary. As a result, a deficiency in selenium can affect this conversion process, and thus impair thyroid function. The good news is that you can obtain all of the selenium you need by consuming one ounce of raw Brazil nuts every day. If you don’t like Brazil nuts then garlic is also a good source of selenium.
Eating foods that contain the B vitamins or taking a wholefood-based Vitamin B-Complex is also important for optimal thyroid health. Like magnesium, B vitamins are important for anyone supplementing with iodine.
The reason for this is because the B Vitamins (specifically B2 and B3) help with the utilization of iodine at the cellular level. But even for those people with a thyroid condition who are not iodine deficient, it still is a good idea to take B vitamins on a daily basis.
Vitamin D is key for proper immune support on many levels. Eat foods that contain Vitamin D, such as wild salmon and egg yolks. If you take a Vitamin D supplement, make sure that it's Vitamin D3, not D2.
But, the best way to obtain Vitamin D (besides sitting out in the sun), may be cod liver oil. However, use unprocessed cod liver oil, because conventional cod liver oil is overly-processed and over-heated, destroying its key nutrients (e.g. Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Omega-3 EFAs) and replacing them with their synthetic versions.
Systemic enzymes help to build and maintain overall health and provide general support for processes such as the breakdown of excess mucus, fibrin, many toxins, allergens, and clotting factors.
Systemic enzymes have also been found to be helpful with:
- Fibrosis conditions caused by the hard, sticky protein called fibrin.
- Reduction of scar tissue, also made up of fibrin.
- Cleaning the blood of cellular waste and toxins, also supporting normal liver function.
- Promoting immune system response by helping white blood cell efficiency.
- Managing the overgrowth of yeast, putting less stress on your liver.
Digestive enzymes (one or two capsules at the beginning of each meal) ensure that foods are fully digested, decreasing the chance that partially digested foods particles and proteins are damaging your gut wall.
Digestive enzymes help the body break down fiber (cellulase), protein (protease), carbohydrates (amylase), and fats (lipase). They do all their work in the gastrointestinal tract and can help combat common issues such as indigestion, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and gas. Many people find that they require fewer medications and antacids when their digestive enzymes are in check.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid that helps to heal the intestinal lining and improve its mucosal structure, so it is critical in healing a leaky gut. Glutamine powder is an essential amino acid supplement that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. L-glutamine benefits include acting as a protector: coating your cell walls and acting as a repellent to irritants.
Licorice Root is an adaptogenic herb that helps balance cortisol levels and improves acid production in the stomach. Licorice root supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the stomach and duodenum. This herb is especially beneficial if someone’s leaky gut is being caused by emotional stress.
Probiotics and fermented foods are recommended for gastrointestinal health and healthy immune system function. Probiotics are reported to normalize immune responses, inhibit chronic inflammation and improve inflammatory conditions with an autoimmune component including asthma and Crohn’s disease.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e), according to the Arthritis Foundation, is as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain reduction and improving joint function for people with osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia
Glandulars refer to raw animal glandulars and non-glandular tissues or extracts of these tissues that are normally dried and ground; and, are used to treat problems such as adrenal fatigue, underactive/overactive thyroid, and other hormone/gland-related issues.
Dental care: Avoid the traditional abrasive toothpastes with fluoride. Instead, use an herbal-based tooth powder or baking soda. Use a pH-balanced mouthwash to lower acidity; or, try ¼ teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in ¼ cup of warm water. If possible, avoid mercury-filled tooth fillings and use a green food such as chlorella to help remove mercury from your body.
In addition to an effective nutritional strategy, there are other lifestyle changes that may help with treating most autoimmune diseases.
Exercise on a consistent basis. Try to get regular physical exercise on a daily basis, but be careful not to overdo it. Talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about what types of physical activity you can do.
A gradual and gentle exercise program often works well for people with long-lasting muscle and joint pain. Some types of yoga or Tai chi exercises may be helpful.
Get sleep and rest. Make sure that you're getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep. But, it's not just about the number of hours -- it's also about the quality of sleep. For example, if you are able to get a deep sleep, your body goes into REM, which allows the body to repair and heal itself while you're sleeping.
Get enough rest and learn how to relax. Rest and relaxation allow you to destress and not get too wound up during the day. If we're too wound up, we tend to come home and have an alcoholic beverage to wind down or we eat a comfort food like mac 'n cheese or ice cream to soothe ourselves. But, this is problematic, because it usually leads to addictive habits, insomnia and poor health.
Reduce stress. Stress and anxiety can trigger symptoms to flare up with some autoimmune diseases. So finding ways to simplify your life and cope with daily stressors will help you to feel your best.
Meditation, prayer, and listening to soft music are simple relaxation techniques that might help you to reduce stress, lessen your pain, and deal with other aspects of living with your disease.
You can learn to do these through self-help books, tapes, or with the help of an instructor. Joining a support group or talking with a counselor might also help you to manage your stress and cope with your disease.
Note: If you have an autoimmune disease such as Type 1 diabetes, get the How to Treat Autoimmune Diseases Naturally ebook. It addresses Type 1 diabetes as well as other autoimmune diseases including:
-- Addison's disease
-- Celiac disease
-- Graves disease
-- Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
-- Multiple sclerosis
-- Rheumatic disease (incl. Rheumatoid arthritis)
-- Sjögren’s syndrome
The Immune System
Note: The following diagrams provide a high level overview of the immune system, its components and how it operates.
This diagram shows that the immune system consists of 3 lines of defense: the skin, white blood cells close to the skin (e.g. macrophages), and specialized white blood cells (e.g. B and T cells).
As depicted in the following diagram, your immune system is divided into two different types of immunity: Innate Immunity and Adaptive Immunity .
Innate Immunity is something already present in the body. As soon as something enters the skin, blood, or tissues, the immune system immediately goes into attack mode and provides a rapid response.
It does this by identifying certain chemicals in the substance that tells the innate response it shouldn’t be there. One example would be white blood cells fighting bacteria, causing redness and swelling, when you have a cut.
Adaptive Immunity is created in response to exposure to a foreign substance. When a foreign invader enters the body, the immune system takes it in and analyzes its every detail. Then the adaptive immune response organizes cells to attach that foreign substance every time they enter the body.
The adaptive immune cells actually have a memory and know how to fight off certain invaders. One example is the chickenpox vaccination so that we don’t get chickenpox because adaptive immunity system has remembered the foreign body.
The following diagram depicts how the immune system operates, in performing two keys functions: (1) to protect the body from invading pathogens; and, (2) to help repair and heal damaged cells and tissues.
FYI: Most people are aware that the immune system protects us from colds and the flu (invading bacteria, viruses and pathogens). However, most people are not aware that the immune system has another major role: initiating the body's repair and healing processes.
This is one of the reasons why the Death to Diabetes Wellness Program emphasizes the importance of a strong immune system when fighting a disease like Type 2 diabetes, or any disease for that matter.
When most of us acquire a disease, it usually weakens the immune system. This creates two additional health problems: (1) the inability to defend the body against colds, flu, allergies, infections, etc.; and, (2) the inability to repair and heal the damaged cells and tissues. This, in turn, allows the disease to progress and cause even more damage.
Note: If you have an autoimmune disease, allergies, PCOS, or thyroid issues, get the How to Treat Autoimmune Diseases, PCOS & Thyroid Issues Naturally ebook.
Note: For information about the immune system and how to strengthen it, refer to the Boost Immune System web page.
For information about autoimmune symptoms, diagnosis and treatment strategies, refer to the Death to Diabetes Blog.
for more details about the operation of the immune system and its cells, also,refer to the Death to Diabetes Blog.
Autoimmune Diseases and Glycobiology
Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body. In other words, the body actually attacks its own cells. The immune system mistakes some part of the body as a pathogen and attacks it. This may be due to a cellular communication problem.
At one time medical professional learned in biology classes that cellular communication in humans took place via proteins embedded in the surface of most cells of the body. New research in glycobiology has proven that this is not the case. Science now recognizes that cellular communication takes place via glycoproteins, which are the biological merging of specific plant carbohydrates and proteins embedded in cell surfaces.
It is believed that when certain high quality macronutrients are ingested, the body is able to form the very important glycoproteins that embed themselves on cell surfaces. It’s these exact glycoproteins that allow the cells of the immune system to communicate with one another.
Examples of high quality macronutrients ("super" carbs) include medicinal mushrooms, sea vegetables, some land vegetables and some whole fruits that are organically grown and ripened on the plant are rich sources of polysaccharides and phytonutrients. This is because vegetables and fruits plucked before ripening and subjected to ripening by artificial means do not have the last surge of nutrients which are only available to the naturally ripening process.
Glycobiology is the study of the structure, biosynthesis, and biology of saccharides (sugar chains or glycans) that are widely distributed in nature. These saccharides (or sugar molecules) are essential components of all living things that require cell-to-cell communication to sustain life.
Glycobiology believes that these sugar molecules constitute an ‘alphabet’ of ‘letters’ that can be combined in endless ways to form ‘words’ which are used by the body to communicate information required for healthy function. McAnalley and Vennum (2000), explain that the process of molecular communication codes can be thought of as a written language whereby just as four different shapes can be combined to make many letters and the letters can be combined to make words, the different carbohydrate molecules combine to make cellular recognition (McAnalley and Vennum 2000, p2).
Once cells have been properly glycosylated only then are they able to send a cell-to-cell communication and communicate with other cells, (i.e. recognize the enemy and tag it).
It is believed that autoimmune diseases occur when cells are not properly glycosylated (the presence of a sugar added to a protein) and thereby unable to differentiate between a ‘friendly’ cell and an ‘unfriendly’ cell (Nugent 2005, p21).
However, if cells (such as red blood cells) are glycosylated improperly, this can lead to excessive glycation and damage to the red blood cells. Then, these damaged red blood cells create advanced glycated end products (AGEs) and cause damage to the arteries as they circulate throughout the body.
Although it is recognized that a multiple of factors ensure good health and no one nutrient stands alone in this process, there is strong belief that without proper cell-to-cell communication, there is no hope for good health because without communication there can be no function.
Glycoproteins, proteoglycans and glycolipids are the most abundant glycoconjugates found in mammalian cells. They are found predominantly on the outer cell wall and in secreted fluids. Glycoconjugates have been shown to be important in cell-cell interactions due to the presence on the cell surface of various glycan binding receptors in addition to the glycoconjugates themselves.
However, more research in glycobiology needs to be performed and studied to determine the benefits to our health.
Please Note: In the meantime, do not waste your money buying glyconutrient supplements. Instead, get your key sugars from quality carbohydrates such as land vegetables, sea vegetables, whole fruits, beans, and some organic whole grains.
Next Steps to Wellness
In order to fight your autoimmune disease successfully, get the author's Autoimmune Disease and Natural Treatments book/ebook.
In addition, be proactive and prevent the onset of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems by getting one of the following author's books, which address inflammation, oxidation, toxic load, etc.:
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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