My Immune System

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MS, Diabetes, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis & Celiac Disease.
What does an infection or virus of the immune system have to do with allergies and symptoms from pollen and peanuts?

The immune system is a complicated network of cells and organ systems whose main role is to defend the body from infection, invading microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungus, etc.

Allergic reactions are actually a significant failure in immune management.  Obviously, if there were something “wrong” with peanuts or pollen, everyone would react to them.  But they don’t.  In an allergic reaction the immune system recognizes these “invaders” as abnormal and puts into action a destruction process.  This culminates in the release of histamine.  Remember it’s the histamine that stimulates the increased release of stomach acid, and overproduction of the neurotransmitters that cause muscle spasm and just make you feel miserable.

BUT,  is taking an anti-histamine the only answer?  That may cover the symptom, but what is causing the immune system to malfunction in the first place?  Wouldn’t it be smarter to look back and address the probable causes to an out of balance immune system and fix it there, thus preventing future occurrences?

What happens in an auto-immune response?   This occurs when a persons immune system suddenly identifies some normal part of the body as “foreign” or “abnormal” and puts into action the defense/destruction system.  For example, in Rheumatoid arthritis, the cartilage of joints is recognized as abnormal, and the immune system attacks certain joints, causing tremendous inflammation and even destruction of the joint.

AIDS, cancer, and the flu all represent breakdowns and “under functioning” of the immune system, whereas autoimmune diseases are essentially “over functioning” of the immune system.  Autoimmune disorders are not contagious, so they cannot be passed from one person to another unlike the flu for example.

Some of the more common autoimmune diseases are as follows:

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barre Syndrome are believed to be an autoimmune process that destroys components of the myelin sheath that covers the nerves.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (Lupus) is believed to be an autoimmune process that produces antibodies that destroy components of the cell nucleus.

Crohns Disease and Ulcerative Colitis is believed to be an immune system response that results in serious malfunction of the colon and parts of the small intestine.

Celiac Disease (gluten sensitivity) is an immune system response that occurs when gluten (a protein found in most grains) comes in contact with the small intestine.  The membrane that lines the intestine loses its usual texture and becomes smooth.  As a result, the intestine is less able to absorb nutrients.

Insulin-Dependent Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is an immune-mediated disorder that may stem from a viral infection, resulting in destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
Graves Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis are two disorders where the immune system attacks certain cells of the thyroid gland, leading to significant disruption in the normal functioning of the thyroid gland.  Graves Disease is a form of hyperthyroidism or over-functioning of the thyroid and Hashimotos Thyroiditis leads to hypothyroidism or under-functioning of the thyroid.

Alopecia Areata is an immune system attack that destroys the follicles of hair shafts and leads to areas of hair loss on the head, face and body.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an immune system attack on certain joints causing tremendous inflammation and even destruction of the joint.

Scleroderma is an autoimmune response causes diffuse thickening of the skin, and can include internal organs such as the esophagus and lungs.  Raynaud’s syndrome (extreme sensitivity to cold in the fingers & toes) is present in virtually everyone with Scleroderma.
Sjogren’s Syndrome which is a variant of Scleroderma results in dry eyes, difficulty swallowing, and dry skin.

As illustrated above, autoimmune diseases can affect the body in many different ways.  They can be serious and progressive.  They can be difficult to diagnose, and sometimes difficult to treat.

Women are more susceptible to these illnesses than men.  Nearly 80% of the 8.5 million people with autoimmune diseases and disorders are women.  If autoimmune diseases were listed together, instead of as separate entities, these conditions would be one the top 10 causes of death for women under 65 in the United States.

Things we eat, drink and inhale can unbalance our immune system.  High cholesterol levels disturb proper immune function and stress is a major contributor to a poor or inappropriate immune response.

Immune cells are very high maintenance.  They must operate at very high metabolic rates, enabling them to respond quickly and even more important – appropriately – to each attack.  And like every other high-activity cell, they must reproduce much more frequently (and accurately) to replace those damaged and exhausted warriors.  To fulfill this recurrent demand, we must have optimum levels of nutrients in our blood at all times.

To help you out, we’ve put together a Free Immune Resource Guide, you can get with the link in the resource box below.

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