Do you feel tired all the time? Are you struggling with losing weight no matter what you try to do? Or, are you losing unwanted weight? Do you feel bloated or constipated a lot of the time? Do you have any digestive problems? Do you have skin rashes or dry skin? Do you have cold hands or feet?
Are you struggling with your blood sugar even when you eat right? Is your hair or skin thinning out too quickly? Are you taking thyroid medication? Do your joints or muscles ache? Do you have brain fog or problems with concentrating? Do you have any numbness or tingling in your hands or feet?
Do you have any allergies or frequent colds or flu? Do you have any problems sleeping or waking up feeling dead-tired?
If you answered "yes" to 3 or more of the questions, you may want to consider getting a complete physical exam that includes a full hormone panel and antibody test -- to make sure that you're not in the early stages of an autoimmune dysfunction.
If you've already has a complete physical and your doctor can't come up with a diagnosis, then, you may have the early stages of an autoimmune dysfunction.
I know that may sound a little far-fetched, but, autoimmune disorders are on the rise and have exploded over the past 7-10 years, affecting everyone from babies to children, teens, young adults, older adults, and especially women at a rate 5 times greater than men!
If you haven't been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, but, you have some of the above symptoms or you have a food sensitivity issue, then, you may have the initial stages of a leaky gut.
Also, if you haven't been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, but, the medications that you've been taking for your diabetes or other disease haven't really helped; or, you find yourself feeling worse with each passing day, then, at least, get a full complete physical exam.
Why? Because most people who wait end up finding out when it's too late that the autoimmune dysfunction has destroyed part of the thyroid, pancreas, joints, skin tissue, nervous system, retina tissue,or some other part of the body.
On the other hand, if you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and you're taking steroids or some kind of immune suppressant drug, you may want to reconsider, given what these drugs do to your thyroid, immune system and other organs/tissues!
Relying on drugs to control the symptoms and/or suppress your immune system only makes matters worse! In fact, suppressing your immune system can make you susceptible to frequent colds, allergies, asthma attacks, etc.; and, if it gets worse: infections, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and, even cancer or some other systemic disease.
But, the good news is that you can rebalance your immune system naturally to reduce the immune response and its over-reaction to attacking your own healthy cells!
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 a diabetic coma, one of the nurses told me that because of my high blood sugar (of 1337), they thought that I might be a Type 1 diabetic.
The nurse went on to explain that Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that attacks and causes damage to the pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin. And, because of this lack of insulin, I would have to take insulin shots for the rest of my life!
That didn't really sit well with me, especially since I didn't like needles. :-) I'm really a chicken at heart :-) and, I surely didn't like the idea of sticking myself with needles several times a day!
Luckily for me, it turned out that I had Type 2 diabetes instead of Type 1. But, the doctors said that I would still need to take insulin (shots) for the rest of my life ...
Again, I was lucky (actually blessed) to be able to use my chemistry and engineering background and design a nutritional protocol and get off the insulin and other drugs within 4 months. As it turned out, that was just the beginning of my journey that led me to become an author and researcher.
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 by the medical community. 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, 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.
But, the issues with Prednisone don't explain the meteoric rise of autoimmune diseases over the past 25 years.
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 the skin and other connective tissues, eyes, blood, and blood vessels.
Autoimmune diseases may manifest in many different places in the body, with many different diagnoses. Their common thread is that the immune system makes antibodies to its own tissues; and, then, the immune system turns around and attacks 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 one of the leading causes 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 2012 shows that this group of diseases is in the top ten (Am J Public Health, Sep, 2012).
Autoimmune diseases affect up to 50 million Americans, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA).
But, according to the National Health Institute, only 23.5 million of Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases. Still, this is 1.5 million more cases than cases of cardiovascular disease and 14.5 million more cases than cases of cancer. Since autoimmune disease is one of the major diseases that is misdiagnosed, the current estimates are much lower than the actuals.
However, recently, autoimmune diseases have been increasing at an alarming rate, especially diseases associated with the thyroid, pancreas, joints, connective tissues, and gastrointestinal system.
Autoimmune Diseases Increasing: Silent Epidemic (Graph)
Although medical science doesn't know why autoimmune diseases are on the increase, all you have to do is take a look at how many toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis via the food, air and the water.
In addition, because more people are taking OTC drugs and prescription drugs, such as antibiotics, the combination of the chemicals from the food and the drugs weakens the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections and various diseases.
And, that, in turn, can set up the immune system to become over-taxed and confused; and, begin attacking your healthy cells -- leading to an autoimmune disorder or disease.
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.
Women are five times more likely than men to develop an autoimmune disease. Also, 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 and having another disease play a big role in the development of autoimmune diseases in most people.
Autoimmune Diseases & Major Organs/Tissues Affected
There are primarily two major categories of autoimmune diseases: (1) organ-specific; and (2) systemic. However, both types of autoimmune diseases end up affecting the entire body.
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 (UC) 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 1 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.
Organs/Tissues Affected by Autoimmune Diseases (Diagram)
Note: For a complete list of autoimmune diseases, refer to the following link:
There are many different symptoms associated with the major autoimmune diseases. These symptoms include the following:
- Abdominal pain -- with blood or mucus in your stool, diarrhea or mouth ulcers
- Allergies -- Many people with autoimmune disorders have numerous extreme food, chemical and environmental allergies and sensitivities.
- Anxiety and/or Depression -- Mood and emotional changes, panic attacks and excessive irritability are common symptoms in most autoimmune conditions.
- Blood Pressure Changes -- Most people have low blood pressure, though some have high blood pressure. Feelings or dizziness or vertigo, fainting, palpitations and fluctuations in heart rate.
- Blood Sugar (High) -- This is usually a combination of problems with the thyroid, (leaky) gut, and inflammation. This is a difficult problem because most doctors will diagnose this person as diabetic and put them on a diabetic drug. Usually the drug doesn't work so the doctor has to put them on insulin.
- Blood Sugar (Low) -- A sign of adrenal fatigue, common in many autoimmune disorders.
- Brain fog -- This is a common problem -- memory loss, unable to focus.
- Candida Yeast Infections -- Virtually all autoimmune diseases have this in common. Can manifest as digestive disturbances, sinus infections, vaginal yeast infections or thrush.
- Concentrating or focusing difficulty
- Discoloration in hands and feet
- Digestive Problems -- Abdominal pain, bloating, tenderness, heartburn, cramps, constipation, diarrhea and excessive gas (looks like you're three months pregnant) reflect a condition known as "leaky gut syndrome", common with many autoimmune diseases.
- Eyes or Mouth or Skin -- extremely dry
- Fatigue (Extreme) -- Or, the kind of fatigue that is not alleviated by rest. Fatigue is a very common problem experienced universally by autoimmune disease sufferers.
- Fevers (Low Grade) -- This is very common, with some people experiencing this every day.
- Food sensitivity issue -- This is a very common problem with autoimmune diseases.
- Hair loss unexplained -- hair loss (not male pattern baldness); or thinning, dry hair
- Headaches (recurrent) -- Can manifest as migraines or severe headaches in some people.
- Heart palpitations
- Heat or cold intolerance
- Infections Susceptibility -- Autoimmune disease symptoms include frequent colds, bladder infections, ear infections, sore throat, sinus problems and yeast infections are common, with a slower recovery time, for people with autoimmunity.
- Inflammation - Inflammation is a part of every autoimmune disorder. The warning sign of pain, especially when chronic, is a sign that something needs immediate attention.
- Insomnia -- Difficulty with sleeping; or, waking up feeling tired or lethargic is a common problem.
- Leaky gut -- This is a common problem with most autoimmune diseases.
- Lethargic -- Feeling sluggish, apathetic, drowsy; you find that you have to "push" yourself to get going.
- Memory Problems -- Often known as "brain fog", is a common autoimmune disease symptom that appears in most conditions.
- Miscarriage (Recurrent), Blood clots -- This is a very common symptom in many autoimmune diseases.
- Muscle and Joint Pain -- Whether it be general pain, burning, aching and soreness in the muscles or joint pain or aches, this symptom can also be found in almost every autoimmune disease.
- Muscle Weakness -- Feeling weak, particularly in the muscles, and loss of hand or arm or leg /thigh strength is a common symptom.
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Pregnancy difficulties -- This is a very common problem with a lot of women. The immune system shifts to Th2 to protect the fetus, but, some women get "stuck" in Th2 after the pregnancy.
- Premenstrual Syndrome -- Autoimmune disease symptoms often increase around the menstrual cycle. Extreme bloating, painful cramps, heavy bleeding and irregular cycle are common.
- Shortness of breath
- Skin rashes -- Recurrent rashes or hives, sun-sensitivity, a butterfly-shaped rash across your nose and cheeks; white patches on your skin or inside your mouth
- Sleep Disturbances -- Difficulty falling asleep and/or frequent waking is experienced by almost everyone with an autoimmune disorder.
- Sores in the nose or mouth
- Swollen Glands -- These can be all over the body, but especially in the throat area, under the arms, and at the top of the legs in the groin area.
- Thyroid Problems -- Many people have hypothyroidism, though some are hyperthyroid. Often this does not show up on a typical thyroid test. Can manifest as low body temperature and excessive hair loss.
- Weight Gain -- Gaining weight and/or being unable to lose any weight, especially in the belly area.
- Weight Loss -- Weight loss that can't be explained is often a typical sign of numerous autoimmune diseases.
As you can see, this is an extensive list of autoimmune disease symptoms and it may be hard to believe that these symptoms are in any way connected. You are probably not experiencing all of these signs or symptoms (at least we hope not), but if you are experiencing many of them, you're not alone.
Autoimmune diseases are also known to have flare-ups, when symptoms and disease activity get worse, and remissions, when symptoms get better or disappear completely. If you have a sudden onset of symptoms or worsening of severity in symptoms, it is important to contact a functional medicine immediately.
Diagnosis of Autoimmune Diseases
The following tests are used to diagnose an autoimmune disease:
Antinuclear antibody tests (ANA): a type of autoantibody test that looks for antinuclear antibodies, which attack the nuclei of cells in your body.
Autoantibody tests: any of several tests that look for specific antibodies to your own tissues.
Complete blood count (CBC): measures the numbers of red and white cells in your blood.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR): this test indirectly measures how much inflammation is in your body.
C-Reactive Protein (CRP): tests for inflammation.
Depending on the disease and/or the symptoms, your doctor may order additional tests, such as a thyroid hormone panel, other antibody tests, inflammation markers, cytokine tests, Vitamin D levels, etc.
Note: It is important to understand that there is no single test (with a result that is either positive or negative) that can confirm or deny a diagnosis of any autoimmune diseases. The doctor must take into account the patient’s entire medical history and all of the other signs and symptoms being experienced. For this reason, it is advisable to keep a journal of your symptoms being as detailed as possible. This is a great tool to help communicate clearly with your treating physician.
If your doctor refuses to order these tests, you can order the tests online from a reputable medical testing laboratory.
Key Point!: If the tests come back and there are no antibodies, you may still have a food sensitivity issue, aleaky gut or the early stages of an autoimmune dysfunction! Start making the necessary nutritional changes now and do a nutritional gap analysis or get tested for a possible nutrient deficiency, especially Vitamins A, B12, and D.
Why Diagnosing Autoimmune Diseases Is So Difficult
Given these various blood tests, you may be wondering: Why is it so difficult for my doctors to properly diagnose my condition?
Well, it's not the doctor's fault -- in medical school, most doctors are taught to focus on the symptoms and specific organs, and prescribe a specific medication to address that symptom.
For example, you may be experiencing problems like weight loss, fatigue, brain fog, unwanted weight loss, etc., but, your doctor latches onto the fact that you have high blood glucose levels.
So, in most cases, your doctor will prescribe a diabetic medication such as metformin (Glucophage); but, if you experience gastrointestinal issues, he/she will just give you a different diabetic drug or tell you to tolerate the metformin.
Later on, when the metformin stops working, and your blood glucose levels continue to rise, your doctor may prescribe insulin or a similar drug.
Why is this happening? Why is it so hard to figure out the real problem??
Well, not to make excuses for the doctor, but, solving blood glucose issues are not as straightforward as they used to be. Why? Partly, it's due to the increase in thyroid issues and autoimmune diseases.
As a result, there are several interdependencies associated with blood glucose regulation and thyroid regulation, which is depicted in the flow chart below.
As you can from the flow chart, you can't assume that you can simply fix a blood glucose problem by taking a diabetic drug to lower your blood glucose.
Sure, the drug will help to lower your blood glucose, but, whatever is the root cause of your problem is still there! How do you know? Because, even though the drug may be working to lower your blood glucose, in most cases, you still don't feel any better!
Eventually, the drug will stop working and because the original problem was never solved, your doctor will probably want to put you on insulin or some similar drug.
The key to addressing these problems is to eat the super foods listed in the flow chart and avoid the trigger or "dead" foods. For more details about these foods, refer to the DTD AIP & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program web page.
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.
According to the medical community, they are uncertain of the root causes of autoimmune diseases. Really?
Despite this lack of uncertainty, there appears to be quite a few common underlying factors that contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases.
As depicted in the diagram (above), 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, organ dysfunction, and a weakened or overactive (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. And, when free radicals cause cell/tissue damage, this triggers inflammation from the immune system, trying to repair the damage.
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. Infections are fueled by inflammation and cause an increase in oxidation.
Nutrient deficiencies is one of the major problems with most systemic diseases. In fact, if you have an autoimmune disease, leaky gut, or any other systemic disease, there is almost a 100% certainty that you have a nutrient deficiency!
But, taking a pill or similar supplement will not get rid of your nutrient deficiency! You need whole food sources; or, at the minimum, whole food supplements.
The major nutrient deficiencies that most people overlook include: Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, specific amino acids, collagen, and Vitamin K2. And, the primary reason that most people have these deficiencies is because they believe that they have addressed these deficiencies by taking a pill that just doesn't work ...
As a result, most people overlook this significant issue and continue to look for answers elsewhere or they just give in to taking the drugs -- which only make the problem worse!
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. Vitamin A, Omega-3s, iodine, Vitamin D), chronic stress/anxiety, trauma (i.e. car accident), major surgery, vaccines, and pregnancy (hormone changes).
The medical treatment strategy for autoimmune diseases is drugs that suppress the immune system, which opens up the patient to tuberculosis and other infectious diseases!
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 patients) 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.
Refer to the Type 1 diabetes web page for more details about how this disease develops at the cellular level; and, how to treat the disease with less insulin.
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 majorrole 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 and become imbalanced and Th1 or Th2 dominant. This imbalance and Th1/Th2 dominance can further fuel inflammation and cell/tissue damage, eventually triggering an autoimmune disorder or disease, such as lupus, MS, RA or Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
There are many risk factors and other variables that can contribute to chronic inflammation, including poor health, poor diet, nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, bacteria, viruses, infections, toxins, drugs, environment, etc.
If we take a deeper look at inflammation in the body at the cellular level, you can see (in the diagram below how inflammation is triggered and fueled; and, how that can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, etc.
Immune cells known as neutrophils are the first immune cells that are recruited to the site of the injury to kill any bacteria and prevent infection. If there are macrophages at the local site, they begin eating up the dead bacteria and the dead neutrophils, since neutrophils have a short life span of a few hours.
In the meantime, monocytes are recruited via the bloodstream and transform into macrophages to continue cleaning up the injury site. If the bacteria is resistant, the macrophages present remnants of the bacteria to the dendritic cells, who are the bridge between the innate immune system and adaptive immune system. The macrophages send out inflammatory chemical signals (cytokines) to recruit more macrophages to participate in the fight against the bacteria.
The dendritic cells use the bacteria remnants to notify the T cells, which produce T Helper cells -- either Th1 or Th2 to help with the attack.
Whether it's Th1 cells or Th2 cells is determined by the invading pathogen.
For example, if the pathogen is a virus, this triggers the Th1 system, which includes Th1 cells, cytotoxic T cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells.
The dendritic cells also notify the cytotoxic killer T cells, which attack and kill infected cells directly.
For another example, if the pathogen is normal bacteria, parasites, toxins, or allergens, this triggers the Th2 system. Its weapons include neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, mast cells, and B cells.
When the T Helper cells notify the B cells, the B cells transform into plasma cells which produce antibodies to counter the bacteria and create B memory cells to "remember" this bacteria just in case it returns.
Once the inflammation subsides, the attack is subdued by the T suppressor cells or Tregs.
Now that the inflammation has subsided, some of the macrophages convert into M2 macrophages, which send out anti-inflammatory signals to promote the healing of the injured tissue.
The natural killers (NK) cells kill any infected cells to help in the promotion of the healing process. This eventually leads to the final two stages of wound healing, namely, proliferation and remodeling. For more details about the stages of wound healing, refer to the Cell Repair & Healing web page.
However, if the inflammation does not subside, then, the immune cells continue to attack, trying to repair the tissue and end up recruiting even more immune cells.
If the attack (immune response) gets out of control and the immune system is over-stimulated, this can lead to chronic inflammation and a self-perpetuating imbalance. This imbalance is known as Th1–Th2 polarization. This causes a vicious cycle, increasing both the imbalance and the intensity of the attack.
And, if the Th1-Th2 polarization/attack and chronic inflammation should continue for years, this imbalanced attack can manifest itself as an autoimmune disease such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, or Hashimotos's Thyroiditis, a form of hypothyroidism.
Once this happens, it becomes critical to help rebalance the immune system and reduce it's aggressive attacking of the body's healthy cells. It also becomes critical to get rid of the infection and invading bacteria that started all of this.
At this point, a sound nutritional program that is designed to address these issues becomes key to reversing and defeating this disease.
Inflammation Pathogenesis: Cell Level Diagram
Of course, chronic inflammation affects more organs and causes more diseases than what is depicted in the Inflammation Pathogenesis: Cell Level diagram (above).
In fact, as depicted in the diagram below, inflammation can impact almost every system and every organ and major tissue in the human body! And, because of that and the ongoing inflammation, along with the overall weakening of the immune system, this actually sets the stage for a person with an autoimmune disease to acquire another autoimmune disease!
Below are some of the key systems, organs and tissues that are negatively affected by chronic inflammation and autoimmunity.
Interesting Observation: If you look closely, you'll notice that the immune system, liver/GI tract and adipose tissue (fat cells) are not only affected by inflammation, but, they also cause inflammation!
Note: If it seems like we are overly focused on inflammation, it's because it's important to understand why disease progresses and why drugs don't help, because drugs don't have the ability stop inflammation. In fact, most drugs actually cause inflammation!
Inflammation Risk Factors
Interestingly, many of the risk factors associated with inflammation are the same risk factors associated with many of the top diseases. There is obviously a connection.
Why is this important? Because we know that drugs don't contain anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, most drugs are inflammatory! Which means that most drugs tend to fuel disease instead of stop the disease!
So, what contains anti-inflammatory properties? Super foods!
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.
Pain and Inflammation
There's nothing worse than being in pain all the time -- it affects how you feel, what you want to do, your drive and motivation, going to work, socializing with others, etc. When you're in pain, you can't think straight . Sometimes we don't even want to eat -- it can be very debilitating.
This is why pain medications are the Number 1 class of drugs sold in the United States. But, pain meds are also at the root cause of a lot of insomnia, depression, anger, anti-socialism, missing work, stress, etc.
In many cases, it's very difficult to try to figure out the root cause of the pain.
Suggestion: Begin keeping good records of your daily activities, meal plan, medications, etc. And, if you're diabetic, it's critical that you get your blood sugar back in the normal range.
No matter your age, constant body ache can affect anyone and be a harrowing experience. The most common body aches are headache, neck and back pain, muscle pain, joint pain; and also diabetic neuropathic pain.
In general, there are primarily two types of physical pain: a general aching pain or a sharp, piercing pain. Knowing which one you have will go a long way in a proper diagnosis.
Certain diseases can lead to pain issues, such as:
This is a disorder with symptoms of chronic widespread body pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances that negatively affect the quality of life.
The other symptoms of fibromyalgia* are usually:
- Painful tender points
- Morning stiffness
- Cognitive difficulties
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Temporomandibular disorder (jaw and surrounding facial muscle problems)
- Painful bladder syndrome
- Inflammation of the prostate gland and chronic pelvic pain
Mood and anxiety disorders generally occur with fibromyalgia, since they have common pathophysiologic abnormalities.
Medical Treatment: To relieve body pain and help you cope with the symptoms your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or muscle relaxants to reduce pain perception in your brain.
But the first line of treatment involves physical therapy, exercise, eating anti-inflammatory foods/herbs, stress-relief methods such as massage and relaxation techniques like yoga for stress relief and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
In some cases, non-pharmacologic treatment has shown to be more useful than medications alone. For example, studies have shown that yoga, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), are valid therapeutic methods for Fibromyalgia.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
The symptoms are almost same as in fibromyalgia, however when the feeling of extreme fatigue doesn’t improve with rest it is possibly a case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome*.
Refer to the Chronic and Adrenal Fatigue web page for more details.
This disease is caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi that spreads through the bite of the blacklegged tick. Symptoms are:
- Marked fatigue
- Severe headache
- Widespread musculoskeletal pain
- Tender points in characteristic locations
- Pain and stiffness in many joints
- Impairment of sensation
- Difficulty with concentration
- Memory loss
- Sleep disturbances
Medical Treatment: This disease is usually treated with antibiotics, but, it can cause complications such as long-term joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis) and heart rhythm problems, as well as brain and nervous system problems.
So, apart from the above symptoms (which usually show up later) check with your doctor if you have a large, red, expanding rash that may look like a bull’s eye, or you have been bitten by a tick when hiking or walking in dense or bushy areas.
Despite the doubts of Western Medicine, stress is very real and can also be responsible for constant body ache.
For example, stress causes the release of cortisol (the stress hormone), which can affect other parts of your body. For example cortisol causes your blood vessels to constrict, which may lead to high blood pressure.
Stress generally refers to a state of mind or mental tension that is linked to anxiety, irritability, insecurity, mental disorders like depression or insomnia and physical ones like migraine, cardiovascular ailments and sexual dysfunction.
Stress occurs in the presence of an external stimulus called the stressor. Usually factors like work pressure, personal commitments, relationships, divorce, a death in the family, losing a promotion, getting a promotion, moving, and working environment act as common stressors in daily life.
Our body can handle stress with a mechanism called fight-or-flight response, where certain hormones are released to combat stress. But when the levels of these hormones are increased, several organs and systems of the body may get affected.
Increased stress levels commonly affects the immune system, musculoskeletal system, circulatory system and digestive system. It is also linked to heart disease, diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders.
There’s a causal link between stress and physiological ailment. However the fact that many individuals remain healthy after stressful events suggests that susceptibility varies from person to person based on genetic, environmental and psychological factors.
Some interesting ways to handle stress include spirituality, laughter yoga, natural remedies, healthy food, wholefood supplementation, and water.
Some common symptoms associated with high stress are:
- Muscle pain
- Chest pain
- Sleep problems
- Stomach upsets
But, if you’re not sure whether stress is causing the symptoms or if you’ve taken steps to control your stress, but your symptoms continue, Mayo Clinic experts suggest you see your doctor to check for other potential causes.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Low levels of Vitamin D (or another vitamin such as Vitamin A or C) is known as a vitamin deficiency. This is one of the reasons for constant and chronic body pain. Known to help in the absorption of calcium, Vitamin D helps keep your bones strong, preventing fractures.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, low levels of Vitamin D allow your body to absorb only about 10 to 15 percent of the calcium you eat. And since calcium is required to build stronger and healthy bones Vitamin D deficiency indirectly results in weak, soft and achy bones.
Some of the common symptoms of low levels of Vitamin D are:
- Constant fatigue
- Achy bones
Treatment: Once diagnosed it is easy to treat this condition with Vitamin D supplements and a well balanced diet. Prolonged deficiency of Vitamin D and calcium can also lead to osteoporosis.
Other Vitamin/Mineral Deficiencies
Besides Vitamin D, there are other vitamin, mineral and nutrient deficiencies that can contribute to pain-related issues, including:
- Vitamin A (retinol)
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
- Vitamin C
- Glutathione (body's master antioxidant)
Anemia: Lack of Iron in the Blood
Anemia occurs due to the lack of iron in your blood. This lack leads to lower amounts of oxygen and nutrients carried to various parts of the body, making you feel tired and achy all over. Other symptoms of this condition include:
- Muscle aches
- Pale skin and nails
- Excessive bleeding during menstruation
- Brittle nails and hair
- Moodiness and irritability
Treatment: The treatment of iron deficiency anemia involves iron replacement therapies including nutrition (iron-rich foods) and supplementation.
This is a condition that affects the spinal cord and brain. Since the nerves and the brain are involved, people with multiple sclerosis often suffer from constant body aches. Apart from that the other common symptoms are:
- Tingling sensation
- Blurred vision
- Muscle stiffness
- Urinary problems
- Improper cognition
Medical Treatment: In most cases, timely treatment can help delay the progression of the disease; this includes having medication, deep brain stimulation and treating conditions like urinary problems that may arise due to the condition.
This is a form of arthritis where the cartilage between two bones erodes, causing the bones to rub against each other, leading to pain and discomfort. Due to the nature of this disease you might suffer from constant body ache that sometimes can be debilitating.
Apart from that other symptoms of this disease are:
- Soreness and stiffness of joints
- Pain in the hips, back and hands that usually reduces after movement
- Stiffness in the morning and on excessive activity.
This is a condition where your nerves (usually in a particular region) are damaged due to disease or injury. This condition causes the nerves to malfunction leading to pain all over the body, especially in the region that is hurt.
Some of the common symptoms associated with this condition are:
- Muscle pain
- Muscle spasms
- Lack of coordination
Pain in Specific Locations, e.g. Lower Back, Legs
For people with pain in specific locations of the body, check with your doctor to make sure that that area of the body is not injured, e.g. stress fracture, inflamed joint, tendonitis, shin splints, broken bone, etc.
For sharp pain in the lower back due to a pinched (sciatica) nerve, chiropractic adjustments where the back is realigned, have proven to be very successful. However, if you have never been to see a chiropractor, do your own research and get several referrals from friends and relatives.
Other Diseases and Ailments
Other chronic diseases, disorders or ailments that can directly or indirectly be the cause of your pain include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis*
- Celiac disease*
- Thyroid issues, e.g. hypothyroidism*
- Viral gastroenteritis
- Common flu
- Autoimmune disorder*
- Injuries from accidents, whether minor or major
- Vitamin/mineral deficiencies*
- Type 2 Diabetes (causes vitamin/mineral deficiencies)
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Varicose veins
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Spine problems
Aging can also cause chronic body aches. Older adults are more likely to have long-term medical problems, such as diabetes or arthritis, which can lead to ongoing pain. For reasons unknown, sometimes not having any illness may also cause constant body aches in older adults.
Other possibilities include infective or inflammatory conditions, and degenerative conditions of the spine and hip in elderly, and severe nutrient deficiencies.
Key Point: Given the many possible causes of pain, it is imperative that you clearly define the type of pain to your doctor; and, make sure that you get a complete physical and obtain all of the necessary blood/hormone tests to identify a correct diagnosis.
*Note: For more details about some of these diseases or disorders, refer to the Autoimmune Diseases and Natural Remedies ebook.
Herbs for Pain Relief
Some of the herbs that can be used for pain relief include the following:
Ginger, Turmeric, & Holy Basil – This set of herbs forms a sort of trinity in Ayurvedic medicine. All of them have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric (a curry ingredient) contains curcumins which ease inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
“Each herb has its own scientific database of evidence,” says James Dillard, MD, author of The Chronic Pain Solution.
Devil’s Claw – This herb is actually great for treating numerous health conditions, among them are liver problems and heart burn. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce pain from arthritis, headaches, and low back discomfort. The University of Maryland Medical Center has published several studies that had great success treating Osteoarthritis with Devil’s Claw.
Wintergreen Essential Oil – Also among natural pain relievers, Wintergreen Essential Oil contains 85-99% of methyl salicylate, the same component of aspirin.
White Willow Bark – The active ingredient in white willow is salicin, which the body converts into salicylic acid. This tree’s covering lowers the body’s levels of prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that can cause aches, pain, and inflammation.
What’s more, white willow bark doesn’t upset the stomach or cause internal bleeding like many over-the-counter aspirins. Turn to this herb for relief from menstrual cramps, muscle pains, arthritis, or after knee or hip surgery as it promotes blood flow and reduces swelling.
Capsaicin – Found in hot chile peppers, this natural remedy does wonders for pain. Capsaicin, the active pain-reducing ingredient, temporarily desensitizes nerve receptors called C-fibers which cause the pain response.
Capsaicin also diminishes soreness for 3 to 5 weeks while the C-fibers regain sensation. A single 60-min application in patients with neuropathic pain produced effective pain relief for up to 12 weeks.
Patients at the New England Center for Headache decreased their migraine and cluster headache intensity by applying capsaicin cream to their nasal passages.
Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) – GLA can be found in numerous seed oils such as evening primrose oil. According to University of Maryland, people who consume these essential fatty acids are able to reduce nerve pain associated with diabetic conditions.
Cherries – Due to the presence of compounds called anthocyanins —the same phytonutrients that give cherries their rich ruby hue – you can count on cherries to tamp down pain.
They block inflammation and they inhibit pain enzymes, just like aspirin, naproxen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories.
Cherries are said to have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food, making them great for remedying issues such as arthritis.
Aquamin – Derived from red seaweed, aquamin is a powerful pain reducer, too. In a study published in Nutrition Journal, of 70 volunteers, Aquamin users reduced arthritis pain by 20% in a month and had less stiffness than patients taking a placebo. Helping to diminish inflammation and helps to build bone, aquamin is rich in both calcium and magnesium, too.
Peppermint – Peppermint is most often used as a natural remedy for toothaches, discomfort from bloating and gas, joint conditions, skin irritations, headaches and muscle pain.
Boswellia – This herb is sourced from the frankincense tree. Its resin is used to thwart chemical reactions that cause inflammation, and thus pain. Ayurvedic scientists have used Boswellia for centuries to treat arthritic conditions, as well as inflammatory bowel disease.
Bromelain – This natural pain-reducer comes from the enzymes present in pineapple stems. Research shows that it reduces levels of prostaglandins, which are hormones that induce inflammation. Bromelain may benefit people with arthritis and conditions marked by musculoskeletal tension (like TMJ syndrome), in addition to those suffering trauma-related inflammation. The enzyme also promotes healing in muscles and connective tissues.
Cranberry Juice – Having a bout of ulceritis? Ulcers usually result from a pathogen called H. pylori which attacks the lining of the stomach and small intestines, but cranberry juice can kill it – reducing pain. Instead of turning to antibiotics, destroy the bacteria causing your ulcers and urinary tract infections with cranberries.
There are hundreds more natural pain killers, but adding these to your home first aid cabinet is a great start.
When healthy cells are attacked by cells from the immune system, it can manifest into one of many autoimmune disorders or diseases.
Initially, usually due to a combination of one or more triggers (e.g. pathogen, infection, food compound, toxin, stress, etc.), the immune cells of the innate immune system respond.
For example, let's say it's a bacteria that is invading the body. Cells of the innate immune system (e.g. macrophages, dendritic cells (DCs), natural killer (NK) cells) attack and destroy the bacteria.
If more help is required, the macrophages will send out signals (cytokines) to recruit more immune cells, such as neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, etc.
If the bacteria is too strong, the macrophages recruit B cells and various T Helper cells, such as Th1, Th2, and Th17 to engage in the attack.
The T cells and B cells coordinate their attack to provide a balanced immune response between the Th1 system of immune cells and Th2 system of immune cells; and, also between the Th17 and Tregs.
But, if the organ's cells are not repaired or if the invading bacteria is not destroyed, this leads to a state of chronic inflammation, which causes more cell damage and triggers the recruitment of more immune cells.
But, as depicted in the diagram below, if the immune system response gets out of control (or out of balance), various immune cells such as Th1 and Th17 cells (or Th2 and B cells) can over-dominate and infiltrate the injured organ/tissue and kill the organ/tissue's cells.
This causes the organ/tissue's cells to malfunction or die; and, this can lead to an autoimmune disorder or disease such as hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
In a different scenario, if the B immune cells produce antibodies that bind to the organ's cells, this, again, causes the organ's cells to malfunction or die. Again, this can lead to an autoimmune disorder or disease such as Graves' Disease.
You may be asking: Why is it so important to look at this at the cell level? One, it helps us to design an effective nutritional program that works at the cellular level; and, two, it will give you some insight into how your autoimmune disease works and why drugs won't solve the problem.
Of course, if you're not into the science, that's okay -- but, we believe that the more you understand, the easier it will be to select a program that will actually help you.
As defined in the DTD AIP & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program (see below for details), there are specific super foods, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, vitamins, minerals, and immune system modulating foods/compounds that can suppress the immune response and help to modulate and rebalance the immune system -- without the need for drugs.
In addition, the DTD AIP & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program identifies specific "trigger" foods, toxins, drugs, pathogens and stress that can trigger and continue to fuel an aggressive and out-of-balanced immune response, which can eventually manifest itself into an autoimmune disorder or disease.
By understanding and utilizing this kind of program, you can get your immune system under control and defeat your autoimmune disease; or, at least, get the disease under control without having to rely on toxic and expensive drugs for the rest of your life.
Autoimmune Disease Pathogenesis at the Cell Level Diagram
Note: For information about the disease pathogenesis of a specific organ, refer to the Thyroid Autoimmune Diseases web page.
Most people are aware that Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are two entirely different diseases -- one is an autoimmune disease and the other is a lifestyle-driven disease.
However, both diseases can be better controlled and managed with a nutrient-dense and macronutrient balanced nutritional program such as the Death to Diabetes Nutritional Program and the DTD AIP & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program.
In addition to eating properly, there are other ares that have to addressed, including blood glucose testing, journaling, testing analysis,detox, nutritional supplementation, herbal therapy, exercise, emotional support, and spirituality. This is addressed in the Death to Diabetes 10-Step Wellness Program and the DTD Reverse Autoimmune Diseases 10-Steps Wellness Program.
Author Sidebar: Several years ago, after helping several clients who were Type 1 diabetic, several other clients who were Type 2 diabetic came to us with other autoimmune disease problems: hypothyroidism, lupus, sarcoidosis, fibromyalgia, and Sjögren's syndrome.
In order to help them, I had to do a lot of research. I started by researching each disease and, more importantly, I spent a lot of time researching and learning about the immune system. During my research, I learned several key points:
Although each disease was different, there were several areas that were common to each disease, e.g. biological processes, symptoms, pathology, pathogenesis, nutrition, supplementation, nutrient deficiencies, toxins, food sensitivities, pain, inflammation, etc.
I visited hundreds of websites associated with autoimmune disease, treatment, research, nutrition, etc. with a lot of great information, but, some of it was conflicting and somewhat confusing. I'm sure some of it was because I was just learning about these diseases.
I found a lot of websites with great information that provided non-drug natural solutions.
But, during my research, I couldn't find a website that provided a structured approach to fighting this disease. A similar thing happened years ago when I was researching Type 2 diabetes -- I couldn't find any natural remedies with a structured approach.
Being an engineer, I am partial to structure, because it makes it easier to solve problems, especially complex problems. So, once I gained a basic understanding of each disease and how the immune system worked, I decided to reverse-engineer the operation of the immune system and use failure modes analysis methodologies to gain a better understanding of the immune system and define a set of natural remedies.
I learned that there are 3 major functions that the immune system performs. During my research, every website I visited and every book I read mentions that the function of the immune system is to protect us by fighting and killing bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that try to invade our bodies.
However, no websites and no clinical/medical experts in autoimmune diseases mentioned the other two functions! (Maybe, I just haven't come across those websites or books yet ...).
Understanding these other two functions (repair damaged cells and coordinate the immune response) along with cell biology, pathogenesis, cell inflammation, root cause analysis, and nutritional science helped me to design an autoimmune disease wellness program, similar to my diabetes program but with some obvious exceptions and modifications.
Then, I designed an autoimmune disease nutritional program, again, similar to my diabetes program but with some obvious exceptions and modifications that would address the root causes of most autoimmune diseases.
During the past 3 years, I modified both the autoimmune disease wellness program and nutritional program, based on more research; and, also, based on input from our clients with autoimmune diseases.
Getting real-world input from our clients about their autoimmune disease was critical and helped me to better define and document both the wellness program, the nutritional program; and, later, the training program.
There are several key biological processes that fuel all autoimmune diseases, e.g. chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, hormonal imbalance, excess toxicity, nutrient deficiencies. Ironically, these same biological processes fuel the top diseases, including heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, obesity.
FYI: For more details, refer to the DTD Reverse Autoimmune Diseases Wellness Program, which consists of 10 steps.
For more details about the nutritional program and its structured hierarchical chart, refer to the DTD AIP & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program, which identifies the key foods to eat, the key foods to avoid, the supplements to take, and the immune modulators.
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 DTD Autoimmune Diseases 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 DTD Autoimmune Diseases Diet) in combination with lifestyle changes will help to strengthen and rebalance the immune system.
DTD Reverse Autoimmune Diseases Wellness Program
The DTD Autoimmune Diseases Wellness Program includes natural treatment strategies and remedies that are designed to reverse autoimmune diseases and accomplish the following health goals:
- Reduce chronic inflammation
- Suppress candida (yeast) overgrowth
- Stimulate healthy intestinal flora
- Provide intestinal/gut repair
- Nourish cells and tissues with superior nutrition
- Calm and rebalance the immune system
- Kill and/or control viruses and their effects
- Get rid of any infections or secondary diseases
- Balance and modulate the immune system
Similar to my Death to Diabetes Wellness Program, the Autoimmune Diseases Wellness Program (ADWP) addresses the primary root causes that fuel most autoimmune diseases.
In addition, there needed to be some kind of structure incorporated into the wellness program to make it easier for people with autoimmune diseases to follow the program and increase their success rate.
After several years of research and working with people with autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, Type 1.5 diabetes, and lupus; and, some clients with thyroid issues and chronic fatigue, we designed a 10-step wellness program, as depicted in the following diagram.
The following is a summary of the 10 steps of the DTD Autoimmune Diseases Wellness Program, which is designed to modulate and rebalance the immune system to help reverse the autoimmune disease; or, at least, stop its progression naturally (without the need for drugs).
The DTD Autoimmune Diseases 10-Steps Wellness Program represents your base wellness program, which includes the DTD AIP & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program. Although the nutritional program is obviously the critical component in being able to reverse and defeat your autoimmune disease, there are other lifestyle choices that can help you with defeating your disease.
As you proceed through the 10 steps, based on your specific pathology, health needs, food sensitivities, test results, food journal, etc., you can customize our program to address your specific needs and treatment strategies.
Key Point: The reason why our program is customizable is because everyone reacts differently to various foods and supplements. This is also why we recommend that you keep a food journal.
The following diagram provides an overview of the DTD Autoimmune Diseases Wellness Program, which consists of 10 steps.
The following is a summary of the 10 steps of the DTD Autoimmune Diseases Wellness Program that is designed to modulate and rebalance the immune system to help reverse the autoimmune disease; or, at least, stop its progression naturally (without the need for drugs).
These 10 steps are designed to work synergistically to reduce inflammation, reduce oxidation, rebalance the immune response, and, repair the cells and tissues by addressing the underlying biochemical and hormonal mechanisms that fuel the autoimmune disease.
Step 1: Acquire knowledge about autoimmune disease and its complications, nutrition, exercise, and drugs to increase your knowledge and provide direction on your journey to wellness. Visit your local library, go to medical-related websites, take classes, and talk to others who have defeated the disease.
Note: Go to our Reverse Autoimmune Diseases Wellness Program web page for more information.
Step 2: Eat the “live” super foods (using the AD Super Meal Plate Model) in order to reduce cell inflammation, reverse your autoimmune disease and rebalance your immune system.
Key foods include green and bright-colored vegetables, dark-colored fruits, raw juices, sea vegetables, grasses, plant protein, plant oils, cold-water fish, grass-fed animal meat, and filtered/distilled water.
In addition, drink raw juices in conjunction with eating plant-based super meals to optimize your nutritional program. Buy a steamer, blender, juicer, and grinder (for flaxseeds).
Customize your nutritional program to eat immune modulating foods and compounds; and, specific Th1/Th2 foods and compounds.
Note: Go to our Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program web page for more information.
Step 3: Stop eating the "trigger" foods (or “dead” processed foods) in order to prevent further cell inflammation and prevent the immune system from over-reacting and causing flare-ups. This is very important, especially, if you want the opportunity to be able to reverse your autoimmune disease and rebalance your immune system.
Key compounds and chemicals to avoid include sugar, gluten, flour, lectins, casein, high fructose corn syrup, “enriched” foods, starches, trans fats, conventional animal meat, vegetable oils, processed foods, fast foods, and drugs.
Key foods to avoid that contain these compounds and chemicals include wheat, grains, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, “enriched” foods, starches, cereals, corn, pastries, coffee, vegetable oils, canola oil, soda, diet soda, bottled fruit juices, tap water, and artificial sweeteners.
Other foods to avoid include conventional animal meats which are full of antibiotics and growth hormone, e.g. beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.
In addition, avoid alcohol and tobacco; and, if possible, try to avoid OTC drugs and prescription drugs as much as possible.
Also, avoid food triggers, such as driving past a fast food place. :-)
In addition, depending on your specific autoimmune disease and other health issues, you may need to avoid some traditional healthy foods, including nightshade vegetables, eggs, soy, legumes, lentils, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Note: Go to our Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program web page for more information.
Step 4: Perform home testing if available and applicable to your disease, e.g. blood pressure testing, glucose testing, weight, etc.
In addition, use a journal/logbook to record, track, analyze and make corrective changes, especially to what you’re eating and how you feel after eating. This is critical to customizing the program to your body's physiology so that you can rebalance your immune system and reverse your autoimmune disease.
Step 5: Exercise consistently by stretching/walking 30 to 45 minutes four to six times a week. And, add 10 to 15 minutes of weight/resistance (anaerobics) exercise on alternate days. However, don't over do it! Too much exercise can cause a flare with some autoimmune diseases. Try Pilates, yoga, Tai chi.
Note: Go to our Exercise web page for more information.
Step 6: Perform cleansing/detoxification periodically to remove the toxins and waste that have accumulated in your cells and tissues in order to help repair your cells and stop the progression of your disease.
Since toxins are one of the major triggers for autoimmune diseases, this is a key step to reverse your autoimmune disease and rebalnce your immune system.
Note: Go to our Cleanse-Detox web page for more information.
Step 7: Take specific wholefood-based nutritional supplements to complement your nutritional program and accelerate the body’s healing process.
Make sure that you avoid synthetic supplements! Synthetic supplements and even some so-called "natural" supplements contain additives, fillers, and other chemicals that can actually trigger an autoimmune response!
Step 8: Visit your doctor and get regular physical exams and blood tests. Get all the necessary blood tests and panel testing, based on your specific disease.
This is critical because a correct diagnosis will go a long way in solving the problem. If there is a misdiagnosis, you end up spending all your energy on trying to solve the wrong problem! This will only lead to more frustration and anxiety. A proper diagnosis is key!
If your doctor resists in providing the necessary testing, then, contact a reputable online medical laboratory to get the necessary testing.
Work with your medical doctor, naturopathic doctor, functional medicine doctor, health coach and other healthcare professionals to communicate your health goals and build your relationships. Ensure your treatment is focused on repairing your body and reducing your drug usage/dependency and not just suppressing the symptoms.
Note: Go to our Doctor Visits and Exams web page for more information.
Step 9: Obtain emotional support by connecting with your inner spirit and building your support team. Utilize exercise, prayer, yoga, other meditation techniques and connect with others to relax and help relieve the stress.
Find some quiet time for yourself each day, even if it’s only 5 minutes. Join a local support group to get information and share your problems with others. Your insight may help someone in the group and will motivate you to continue making progress.
Note: Go to our Emotional Support web page for more information.
Step 10: Develop an overall (proactive) wellness plan to provide the necessary structure and guidance to help reverse your autoimmune disease and rebalance your immune system.
Because most autoimmune diseases are difficult to diagnose and manage, it is critical that you have some structure and organization around a disease that creates a lot of internal and external chaos.
This is where the DTD Autoimmune Diseases Wellness Program comes into play. It is the only program that we are aware of that actually provides a structured wellness model of 10 steps and a structured nutritional model that defines your nutrition guidelines in one diagram! (Of course, there are exceptions -- that's why keeping a food journal is so important).
In addition to helping reverse your autoimmune disease and rebalance your immune system, the DTD Reverse Autoimmune Diseases Wellness Program will improve your overall health and save you and your family years of anxiety, fear and frustration as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary medical costs.
If possible, work with a naturopathic doctor, functional medicine doctor and/or qualified health coach to help you with your wellness planning.
Note: These steps are not meant to be performed in this particular order. The sequence of steps will vary from person from person, based on when and how you acquired the disease. Except for Step 8 (Doctor Visits), most of these steps should be performed on a daily basis for the most part.
Interesting Observation: Obviously, what you eat is key to reverse and defeat your autoimmune disease. If you look closely at the 10 steps, you'll see that at least half of the 10 steps are directly or indirectly related to nutrition, food, detox, and supplementation.
If you have an autoimmune disease, I don't have to tell you that you need to stop the progression of the disease before it takes its toll physically and emotionally.
You need a diet, actually a nutritional program that will actually work and stop the progression while calming and rebalancing your immune system!
The DTD Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program is that program.
In order to successfully fight and defeat this disease, you need a powerful macronutrient and micronutrient dense nutritional protocol that will stop the progress of your disease at the cellular level.
You need a nutritional program that is science-based and is not the latest fad diet in a long line of failed fad diets.
You need a nutritional program that provides "max coverage" and addresses more than the symptoms by addressing the 7 major biological root causes of your autoimmune disease: inflammation, oxidation, toxicity, hormonal imbalance, immune dysregulation, nutrient deficiencies, and cell communications.
Note: I suspect that you haven't heard the term "max coverage" in association with a nutritional program. Make sure that whatever program you're using that you have "max coverage" with a complete nutrient profile.
You need a nutritional program that provides the structure (e.g. diagram model) and guidance (steps) to make it easy and straightforward to implement.
That program is the DTD AIP & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program.
As you can see from the diagram (below), the DTD AIP & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program identifies 4 key elements:
(1) The super foods that you should eat.
(2) The "trigger" foods ("dead" foods) that you should avoid.
(3) The key nutritional supplements that you require.
(4) The super food immune modulators and Th1/Th2 compounds to help customize the program to your specific needs and to rebalance your immune system.
These four key elements of this nutritional program will help to address the root causes of your autoimmune disease and the biological processes that fuel this disease, e.g. inflammation, oxidation, toxicity, dysregulation, hormonal imbalance.
This program will also help Type 2 diabetics, since this program includes key elements of the very successful Death to Diabetes Nutritional Program.
The DTD AIP & Autoimmune Disease Nutritional Program is a comprehensive nutritional program that is flexible and customizable.
It is critical that the nutritional program be customizable because there is no one single nutritional program or diet that can meet the needs of every person with an autoimmune disease! Everyone responds differently to specific foods, supplements and herbs; also, everyone's experience with a specific autoimmune disease is different.
As a result, we have designed the DTD AIP & Autoimmune Disease Nutritional Program to address these issues and provide a customizable approach to modulating and rebalancing your immune system.
This nutritional program identifies the key super foods (or "allowable" foods) to eat, such as green vegetables and plant oils such as extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
This nutritional program identifies the "trigger" foods (aka "dead" foods) to avoid, such as sugar, flour, wheat, gluten and lectins.
This nutritional program identifies additional "trigger" foods that are traditionally "healthy" foods for most people. For example, most diabetics are able to eat nuts and seeds, which help with blood glucose control. However, if you also have an autoimmune disease, you may have to avoid most nuts and seeds or eat them in very small quantities.
This nutritional program identifies the key supplements, such as anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, probiotics, and detoxifiers that are required to close the nutritional gap and support the immune system.
This nutritional program identifies the immune system modulators, such as extra virgin coconut oil and magnesium that help to rebalance the immune response.
And, finally, this nutritional program identifies the Th1/Th2 stimulators/suppressors to stimulate or suppress the immune response, depending on whether you are Th1 or Th2 dominant.
The Th1/Th2 stimulators are specific foods and compounds that over-stimulate or suppress your immune system, such as echinacea (a Th1 stimulator) and green tea extract (a Th2 stimulator).
FYI: The DTD Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program was originally developed for our diabetes clients who had a diabetes-related autoimmune disease, e.g. Type 1 diabetes, Type 1.5 diabetes. Then, because some of our Type 2 diabetes clients had thyroid issues, we expanded the nutritional protocol to address thyroid-related disorders and diseases. Then, because of so many requests, we expanded the nutritional protocol to include other common autoimmune diseases.
The DTD Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program is very effective because it is specifically designed to address the root causes and biological processes that fuel most autoimmune diseases, including cellular inflammation, excess oxidation, heavy metal toxicity, leaky gut, and immune system imbalance.
For example, anti-inflammatory foods such as green vegetables, raw vegetable juices, cold-water fish, and plant oils will reduce inflammation. 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.
The DTD AIP & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program provides an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and amino acids in order for the immune system to function normally. Micronutrient deficiencies and imbalances are key players in the development and progression of autoimmune disease.
Focusing on consuming the most nutrient-dense foods available enables a synergistic surplus of micronutrients to correct both deficiencies and imbalances, thus supporting regulation of the immune system, hormone systems, detoxification systems, and neurotransmitter production. This nutrient-dense diet further provides the building blocks that the body needs to heal damaged tissues.
Since leaky gut is a key facilitator in the development of autoimmune disease, this nutritional program supports the growth of healthy levels and a healthy variety of gut microorganisms. Foods that irritate or damage the lining of the gut are avoided, while foods and supplements that help restore gut barrier function and promote healing are endorsed.
This nutritional program regulates a variety of hormones that interact with the immune system. When dietary factors (like eating too much sugar or grazing rather than eating larger meals spaced farther apart) dysregulate these hormones, the immune system is directly affected (typically stimulated). Our nutritional program is designed to promote regulation of these hormones, thereby regulating the immune system by proxy.
These and other essential hormones that impact the immune system are also profoundly affected by how much sleep we get, how much time we spend outside, how much and what kinds of activity we get, and how well we reduce and manage stress.
In the end, this nutritional program helps to regulate the immune system. Immune system regulation is achieved by restoring a healthy diversity and healthy amounts of gut microorganisms, restoring the barrier function of the gut, providing sufficient amounts of the micronutrients required for the immune system to function normally, and regulating the key hormones that in turn regulate the immune system.
The following diagrams provide an overview of the DTD Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program and its structure.
The purpose of the first diagram is to give you a high level overview of the DTD Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program and its major components.
The key elements of the nutritional program includes the specific super foods to eat, the specific trigger foods to avoid eating, the key nutritional supplements, the immune modulators, the Th1 stimulating compounds, and the Th2 stimulating compounds.
Note: Some of the specific nutritional strategies are explained on the DTD Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program web page and in the Autoimmune Diseases ebook.
Based on the DTD Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program, the following nutritional strategies are designed to address inflammation, candida, and gut health associated with the specific autoimmune disease and to help calm, 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, bone broth, cold-water fish, garlic, and plant oils.
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.
When suffering with an autoimmune disease it is imperative to eat foods that aid and support the immune system. Foods that contain vitamin E and C are crucial for proper immune functioning, such as blueberries, bell peppers, oranges, papaya, and guava.
It is even more important to modulate and rebalance an over-active immune system. Why? Because immune system modulation helps to balance or modulate the immune system response instead of boosting or over-activating an immune response.
When you have an autoimmune disease, you do not want your immune system over-responding and attacking your healthy cells!
Ideally, immune modulation means having an aggressive immune system available for pathogens and foreign cells to be destroyed (i.e. cancer) but also turning off and not hyper-reacting to commonly occurring foods, allergies, environmental organisms and chemicals to prevent these cells from attacking healthy tissues. Immune modulation is all about balance, coordination and not over-reacting.
Examples of immune modulators include curucmin, blackseed oil, Vitamin D3, and magnesium-rich foods (i.e. spinach, black beans, kefir, raw almonds, raw pumpkin seeds).
Eat foods that help fight most autoimmune diseases (especially leaky gut) including: 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 licorice root, astragalus; garlic, onions, lemons, turmeric, extra virgin coconut oil, and medicinal mushrooms (i.e. reishi, shiitake, maitake); echinacea*; 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.
*Please Note: However, if you have an autoimmune disease, be careful with herbs such as echinacea, which may over-stimulate the immune system and trigger an over-response with increased inflammation.
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.
Now that you know what to eat and what not to eat (as defined in the Nutritional Program flow chart), you need a methodology or tool to help you design your meals in order to provide a balance of macronutrients and micronutrients.
As a starting point, we used the Death to Diabetes Super Meal Plate (from the Death to Diabetes book) as a guide. It provides a balance of macro and micronutrients to nourish your cells and tissues while helping to calm and rebalance your immune system.
Based on autoimmune disease pathology, cell biology and nutritional science, we modified the DTD Super Meal Plate to align with and support autoimmune diseases and their root causes.
As depicted in the diagram (below) of the new Super Meal Plate for the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) & Autoimmune Diseases, your meals should include a balance of healthy carbs (vegetables, seaweed), healthy fats (extra virgin olive oil/avocado oil) and healthy proteins (wild-caught fish, grass-fed animal meat, bone broth).
As far as we know, this is the only program that includes a meal plate model to help you with your meal palnning.
Of course, there are exceptions, depending on the autoimmune disease and your specific food allergies, intolerances, and whether you are Th1 or Th2 dominant.
Types of nutritional supplements for this nutritional program include antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, natural antibiotics, detoxifiers, digestive aids, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
In addition, for each specific autoimmune disease, there are different targeted supplements for each disease pathology and whether you are Th1 or Th2 dominant.
However, several supplements appear to address almost every autoimmune disease, e.g. Vitamin B-Complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Omega-3 EFAs, magnesium, selenium, probiotics, 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.
One of the key components or goals of the DTD Autoimmune Diseases Wellness Program is to help the immune system achieve balance.
As depicted in the diagram (below), an over-reaction by the immune system leads to an autoimmune disease or an allergy. If the immune system under-reacts, then, this can lead to an infection or something more serious such as cancer or TB.
The immune system has two ways of dealing with bacteria, viruses and other foreign pathogens.
The B-lymphocytes (B cells) synthesize specific antibodies called immunoglobulins. This is known as humoral immunity or antibody-mediated immunity.
The other system involves T-lymphocytes (T cells), which regulate the synthesis of antibodies as well as direct killer cell activity and the inflammatory response of delayed type hypersensitivity. This system is known as cell-mediated immunity.
The T-cells are further divided into helper lymphocytes (Th) and cytotoxic cells (Tc), also known as suppressor cells. Tc cells are also known as CD8 T cells.
When the T-cells encounter a foreign pathogen (antigen) they further secrete a number of communication molecules called lymphokines, cytokines, interleukins or interferons. These factors further elaborate and direct the immune response to a specific antigen.
The T-helper cells are directly involved in assisting B-cells as well as coordinating their own cell-specific defense. Th cells are also known as CD4 T cells.
Th1 and Th2 Portions of the Immune System:
The T-helper cells are further divided into two distinct lines of defense.
The Th1 cells promote the cell-mediated line of defense and inhibit the other line known as Th2 cells, which regulate the humoral defense.
The Th2 cell lines control the B-cells and inhibit the cell-mediated response of the Th1 lymphocytes. A careful balance between these two functions is achieved and must be maintained for a properly coordinated immune response.
In addition, some of the T-helper cells become Th17 and Treg cells, along with several others, e.g. Th3, Th22, etc.
However, we will primarily focus on Th1 and Th2 cells; and, Th17 and Treg cells.
The key to a healthy and effective immune system is the balance and coordination of the T-helper (Th) cells, specifically the Th1 and Th2 cells, along with the Th17 and Treg cells during an immune response.
Th1 Cells: are called “cell mediated” immunity, which typically deals with viral and gram-negative bacterial infections. This is the first line of defense against pathogens that get inside of our cells. This is called the body's innate immune response. This consists of Killer T cells, T helper cells and T suppressor cells. It is also supported by cytokines such as Interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-12, gamma interferon, IgA and sIgA.
Th2 Cells: are responsible for the “humoral-mediated” immune response. This system stimulates the production of antibodies in response to pathogens found outside the cells. This is called the body' acquired immune response. This system is supported by cytokines IL 4,5,6, 10 and alpha interferon.
FYI: In addition, there are other T cells that may affect the balance of the immune system, including the Th17 cells and Treg cells.
Th17 cells (when in abundance) have been associated with autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis, autoimmune uveitis, juvenile diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn's disease.
Treg cells inhibit the activation of Th1, Th2 cells and Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes (CTLs) that are required for cell-mediated immunity, inflammation and antibody production. In other words, in most cases, Treg cells help to regulate and suppress an autoimmune response!
Immune System Th1-Th2 Balance for Autoimmune Diseases
T lymphocytes activate and regulate the immune system by making cytokines, which are chemical signals that tell other cells in the immune system what to do.
Of all the types of cells in the body, T Helper cells are considered to be the biggest producers of these cytokines. There are several types of T helper cells, but, there are two main types: Th1 cells and Th2 cells.
Th1 cells work to eliminate invaders that occur inside our cells (viruses and some intracellular bacteria). Th2 cells aim to destroy pathogens that occur outside our cells (bacteria and parasites). Th1 cells and Th2 cells each create different cytokines which trigger different effects in the body.
Ideally, you want your immune system to provide a coordinated and balanced attack as demonstrated in the following diagram,using a "seesaw" as an analogy.
However, if the immune system becomes overly active, it may over react to an invading pathogen or toxin in the blood.
As depicted in the following "seesaw" diagram, this can lead to the Th1 cells dominating the attack, which can lead to a specific organ-targeted autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis or Type 1 diabetes.
On the other side of the "seesaw", this can lead to the Th2 cells dominating the attack, which can lead to systems-oriented autoimmune disease such as Celiac disease or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
Why is this important?
A healthy immune system can “choose” which types of cells to produce and can easily switch back and forth between Th1 and Th2-type responses. An unhealthy immune system can get “stuck” in one of these responses – leading to excessive production of only one type of cytokines.
Some people get “stuck” in a Th2 dominant response because their bodies are not exposed to as many parasites and bacteria as in the past (thanks to Lysol, toilets, and water sanitation systems).
An immune system without an invader to fight will start attacking anything it can – pollen, food particles, dust, dander, etc. When Th2 becomes switched on, it activates immune cells called eosinophils and IgE-type reactions which leads to the symptoms we recognize as “allergies”. For some people this can become severe, leading to food allergies, asthma, eczema, and anaphylactic reactions.
On the other hand, some people get "stuck" in a Th1 dominant response. If Th1 is always switched on, it activates macrophages, neutrophils and other immune cells to over-respond to a food particle, medication, toxin, infection, etc. and can develop into an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, lupus or MS.
Much of the balancing of the Th1/Th2 response occurs in early infancy for most of us and in pregnancy for some women. Once the immune system gets “stuck” in Th1 or Th2, we have a much more difficult time correcting it.
More specifically, when we have too many T suppressor cells our immune system is too weak and we get colds, fevers, flu, TB, cancer, etc.
When there are too many Killer T cells or there are too little T helpers and T suppressors, we end up with a poorly coordinated immune response that damages our own tissue, causing an autoimmune disorder.
So, when one line predominates, there is the opportunity for immune dysregulation to occur, resulting in either a hypo-immune response resulting in an allergy, infection, cold, tuberculosis, cancer, etc. or a hyper-immune response causing an autoimmune disease.
Scenario Example: Here is a simple scenario that describes how these immune cells function to protect us and try to maintain a balanced immune response:
Let’s say you cut yourself with a dirty knife. Bacteria penetrate your skin, engaging a first line of defense from your immune system called a macrophage (picture Pac Man).
Macrophages are like big, fat security guards wielding tiny billy clubs –- ineffective, but they’ll slow an invader down while they call on more sophisticated security guards by sending out chemical signals (cytokines).
When confronted with an invader, macrophages call on their friends, the T helper (Th) cells. The Th cells tell the entire immune system through a series of chemical signals that there has been an invader that has crossed the barrier.
Specifically, the Th cells call directly on two types of cells, cytotoxic T cells (Tc) and natural killer cells (NK), both soldiers with muscle that live up to their name and help attack and kill the bacterial invaders.
Once the bacteria have been killed, it is time for the immune system to call off the attack, which is the job of the T regulatory cells (Tregs) or suppressor cells, who “suppress” the fight.
In the event that the bacteria is too powerful for the T cells, or if the T cells have a difficult time finding the invader, as in the case of a virus, the B cells are called to join in the fight.
B cells make antibodies for a given invader based on instructions from the T helper cells.
In other words, if the T helper cells (Th) tell the immune system that the invader is a guy wearing a red sweater, the B cells will create antibodies for a guy in a red sweater, so that when they meet him, they can latch onto him and wave a flag, making it easier for the cytotoxic T cells (Tc) and natural killer cells (NK) to find the invader.
But here’s what you really need to know:
The initial T cell response is called a “Th1 response”. The secondary B cell antibody response is called a “Th2 response”.
In a healthy body, there is balance between the Th1 (T cell) and Th2 (B cell) parts of our immune system. And that’s the desirable state.
If there is a dominant response from either Th1 or Th2, this will trigger inflammation and cause a flare; and, over time can lead to allergies or an autoimmune disease.
So, how do we address this? Unfortunately, until recently, most of us either went to the doctor or the local drugstore to get a specific medication. For example, if we had an allergy, we went to the drugstore for an OTC drug such as Claritin or Allegra. If we had an autoimmune disease, we went to the doctor to get some kind of drug that would suppress the immune system or reduce the symptoms.
However, most of us have come to realize that drugs are not the best answer, especially given some of the side effects that can affect the heart, liver and other organs.
This is one of the reasons why natural remedies (e.g. super foods, herbs, supplements) are more in demand. In addition, natural remedies can help to balance the Th1/Th2 ratio without the side effects. The only downside is that it takes time and patience for this to work. So, it is very important to stick with the program to reap the benefits!
The first step to determine whether your immune system is Th1 or Th2 dominant. Usually your doctor will give you a blood test to check for antibodies; and, then, prescribe a medication that suppresses your immune system.
Instead, you should request tests for Th1/Th2 cytokines, CD4/CD8 ratio panel, and Vitamin D. If your doctor resists, you can order these tests from an online laboratory.
Here is some additional information about Th1 and Th2 dominant conditions and why it's important to understand which one you are dominant.
TH1 Dominant Conditions:
Auto-immune conditions are typically related to overactive cellular immunity and weakened Th2 humoral immune response. Th1 dominant individuals rarely ever develop cancer but are unable to handle parasites and they develop chronic autoimmune conditions.
Th1 Dominance typically occurs with extreme vitamin D deficiencies along with an immune assault such as vaccine injury or chronic pathogen that irritates the immune system. These individuals typically have food intolerances to gluten and pasteurized dairy among other things.
TH2 Dominant Conditions:
Allergic conditions are typically related to weakened cellular (Th1) immunity and overactive TH2 responses. This can be related to vaccine injury and overuse of antibiotics. Individuals who are Th2 dominant will over respond to environmental toxins, allergens, normal bacteria and parasites. Th2 dominant individuals will under-respond to viruses, yeast, cancer cell formation and intracellular bacteria.
When the TH2 system is dominant the body tends to rely on it when it is threatened in anyway. A common example is allergies. When we are exposed to the allergen the TH2 system goes into overdrive causing a massive inflammatory response. This is due to poor balance between the TH1/TH2 system and then a poorly coordinated TH2 response that creates a systemic inflammatory reaction in response to a very minor threat.
Certain herbs are known to stimulate the TH1 response while others stimulate the TH-2 pathway and a third group helps to balance and coordinate both pathways. This explains how one individual can take Echinacea and feel terrible while others see an immediate boost in their immune function.
It explains why one individual can do great with coffee and green tea while others do awful with these TH2 boosting stimulants.
In addition, based on new research, there are other T helper cells that must also work together, e.g. Th17, Treg, Th22.
In the following square model, the 4 T-cell types (Th1, Th2, Th17, and Treg) antagonize each other.
Th1 cytokines are inhibitory to Th2-cell development, whereas the Th2 cytokines block Th1-cell development. Th1 cytokines block Th17-cell development, while Treg inhibits the development of both Th1 and Th2 cells by direct contact.
Limitations of Th1-Th2 Model
Eating habits, environmental factors and genetics will determine the balance of Th1 and Th2 for most of us. Although a balanced seesaw is optimal, some people will have Th1 or Th2 dominance even when there is no pathogen around.
The nutritional, environmental and genetic influences are what make people so variable in how they respond to pathogens. This is one reason why some people suffer allergies or some are constantly getting sick, all while others go years without even getting a cold.
Based on in vitro studies and other studies with mice, rarely do immune responses fall exclusively into a Th1 or Th2 response. For example, a person with a Th1-dominant condition such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis also has a Th2-dominant condition such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. So, is the person Th1 or Th2 dominant?
Another example: The immune system of a woman who is pregnant shifts to Th2-dominance in order to protect the fetus. But, let's say that woman develops a Th1-dominant disease such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis or Type 1 diabetes during her pregnancy. When the pregnancy ends, her immune system shifts back and is no longer Th2-dominant. Is she Th1 or Th2 dominant?
Pregnancy and the Th1-Th2 Imbalance
An imbalanced immune system is not always a bad thing. For example, when a woman becomes pregnant, her immune system shifts to Th2 to protect the fetus. If she remained in Th1, the Th1 immune cells especially the cytotoxic T natural killers would attack and kill the fetus.
Once the baby is born, the woman usually shifts back to Th1 -- unless there were some complications or another health problem that could cause her to get "stuck" in Th2. Also, if the woman had a weak immune system, when she did return to Th1, this could make her susceptible to various other diseases.
Immune System Th1-Th2-Th17-Treg Balance
Consequently, as you can see, you need a flexible and customizable nutritional strategy (such as the DTD Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program) that will allow you to get your immune system under control and back in balance, based on whether you are Th1 or Th2 dominant.
By using compounds that are known to modulate the balance between Th1 and Th2, the autoimmune attack is lessened and the body is able to function closer to normal.
For more details, refer to Chapters 3 and 4 of the How to Treat Autoimmune Diseases Naturally ebook.
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: Levels of Defense
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.
Immune System Cells
The following chart provides a list of the major immune cells within the immune system.
The first box identifies the major immune cells (lymphocytes) in the adaptive immune system, particularly the B and T cells.
The other boxes identify the major immune cells involved in the innate immune system, particularly, the macrophages, dendritic cells, neutrophils, and natural killers.
The following diagram depicts how the immune system operates, in performing three keys functions: (1) to protect the body from invading pathogens; (2) to help repair and heal damaged cells and tissues; and, (3) coordinate and balance the immune response between the Th1 and Th2 immune cells and between the immune system and your healthy cells.
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 two other major roles: initiating the body's repair and healing processes; and, coordinating and balancing the immune response.
This is one of the reasons why the Death to Diabetes Wellness Program emphasizes the importance of a strong and balanced immune system when fighting a disease like Type 2 diabetes, or any disease for that matter.
Based on the success of the Death to Diabetes Wellness Program for Type 2 diabetics, it was used as the basis for developing a nutritional program for Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease.
In addition, because many of our clients were struggling with thyroid issues, this nutritional program was expanded to address thyroid problems. Then, it was expanded to address PCOS, MS, and lupus to support our clients.
Eventually, that led to the creation of the DTD AIP & Autoimmune Diseases Nutritional Program. This program identifies the super foods to eat, the trigger foods to avoid, the key supplements, and the immune modulators in order to address most autoimmune diseases. In addition, the nutritional program identifies the Th1/Th2 stimulators and suppressors.
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.
MHC, Self vs. Non-Self
Have you ever wondered how the immune system cells know the difference between your own cells and the cells of an invading bacteria or other pathogen?
Well, each of our cells have a protein molecule identifier on its surface called a major histocompatibility complex molecule (MHC).
Bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens do not have this identifier marker on its surface.
So, when one of our immune cells notices that another cell does not have this identifier, it either attacks or notifies other immune cells to attack or create antibodies.
FYI: Any substance that is recognized as foreign and is capable of triggering an immune response is called an antigen (non-self).
One of the common problems that most people with an autoimmune disease has is a leaky gut.
A leaky gut (often referred to as increased intestinal permeability), occurs when the tight junctions within the small intestine become damaged and allow bacteria, toxins, proteins (such as gluten), undigested foods particles and other chemicals to pass through into the bloodstream.
Note: If you haven't been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, but, you feel tired or if you have a food sensitivity issue such as milk or gluten/wheat, you may have the early stages of a leaky gut.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
When this happens, the immune system assumes that your body is being attacked, so it mounts a counterattack, which can lead to food sensitivities, an allergic response, systemic inflammation, and/or an autoimmune disease. Toxic waste can also leak from the inside of your intestinal wall into your bloodstream causing an immune reaction.
As depicted in the diagram, leaky gut can be addressed and repaired with specificfoods and compounds, including vegetables, probiotics (e.g. fermented vegetables, yogurt), l-glutamine, bone broth, and key vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin D3, curcumin, quercetin, zinc,and ginger.
Just as important, "trigger" foods such as gluten, flour, wheat, grains, cow's dairy, sugar and trans fats should be avoided.
If you suspect that you have a leaky gut, then, get the author's How to Treat Autoimmune Diseases, PCOS & Thyroid Issues Naturally ebook.
If you have an autoimmune disease, allergies, PCOS, or thyroid issues, we recommend that you get the author's Autoimmune Disease and Natural Treatments book/ebook.
This book addresses how to calm and balance the immune system by identifying what foods to eat and avoid, what key supplements to take, and what immune modulators will help with Th1 dominance and Th2 dominance. This book also addresses how to repair a leaky gut.
Note: If you haven't been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, but, you feel tired or if you have a food sensitivity issue, then, you may still have a leaky gut. In that case, you should still get the 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.:
- Death to Diabetes book or ebook.
- DTD Juicing Book/Ebook
- DTD Raw Food Diet Book/Ebook
- DTD Cleanse & Detox Book/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.
Note: For information about Autoimmune Diseases and Glycobiology, refer to the Death to Diabetes Blog.
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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