Sadly, we lost a brilliant musician this past week with the passing of Glenn Frey of the Eagles.
Although the officially reported cause of death was complications of rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and pneumonia, there’s more to it than that.
Unfortunately situations like Glenn Frey’s (and millions of others) will likely continue to become increasingly common unless it becomes abundantly clear what’s going on behind the scenes and we start fighting back.
Here’s what I mean.
Autoimmune disease—what’s really going on?
Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis (that Glenn Frey had) are considered autoimmune diseases.
Simply put, with autoimmune diseases, your immune system gets mixed up and strikes out against your healthy cells, harming your tissues and eventually causing loss of normal bodily functioning.
This can occur anywhere in your body, so the range of autoimmune diseases runs the gamut. So far over 80 autoimmune diseases have been identified, and at least another 40 conditions are suspected as having an autoimmune component.
Here are some of the most common autoimmune diseases:
- IBD (inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Multiple sclerosis
- Scleroderma (thickening and hardening of the skin)
- Sjogren’s syndrome (chronic dry eyes)
- Graves’ disease (overproduction of thyroid hormones)
- Hashimoto’s disease (underproduction of thyroid hormones)
- Glomerulonephritis (kidney inflammation that can lead to kidney failure)
- Guillain-Barre’ syndrome (weakness, numbness and paralysis)
At the same time, when your immune system is firing on all cylinders attacking YOU, it may become less effective at protecting you against viruses and infections.
So it’s easy to see how situations like Glenn Frey’s and countless others have occurred and sadly many have paid the ultimate price…after suffering for a long time to boot.
Why are our immune systems overreacting?
You may wonder why someone’s immune system starts going haywire and attacking healthy cells.
Well, it’s taunted into doing so.
When your immune system is repeatedly “taunted” and exposed to things that are actually or could be mistaken for a dangerous invader, it can be triggered into going overboard and reacting when it shouldn’t.
Here are three common factors that can taunt your immune system:
1) Reduced barriers
Your body has many natural barriers that prevent dangerous molecules from seeping into your bloodstream.
These include your saliva, the acid in your stomach, the bile from your liver, mucus and the friendly flora in your intestinal tract.
Lacking in any of these can open the door for real or perceived antigens to sneak through, get into your bloodstream and ring your immune system alarm.
Here’s food for thought: Considering the staggering number of people who regularly use acid reducers, that’s a whole lot of people disabling one of their body’s most important barriers and opening the door for immune system problems.
2) Leaky gut
Having a gut wall that’s too porous (known as leaky gut or intestinal hyper-permeability) can allow harmful substances to enter your bloodstream and stir up your immune system.
Leaky gut is commonly the result of poor digestion but it can also be caused by intestinal infection, medications (especially NSAIDS—which are commonly prescribed for autoimmune disease pain!), excessive alcohol use, trauma, aging and stress.
Dysbiosis is an intestinal environment where your harmful bacteria outnumber the friendly ones…and since this is where 70 percent of your immune system resides, that’s not good.
Numerous published studies link dysbiosis to autoimmune diseases.
Help smarten up your immune system
To help minimize your chances of facing autoimmune disease (or help fight back if you’ve got one or more) you can encourage your immune system to stay strong AND act appropriately by giving it help in these two ways:
1- Support a healthy gut environment
This is a function of both the foods you eat and your intestinal flora balance.
Gut-friendly foods include fresh vegetables, whole grains and fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut.
Stay away from processed and fast foods, and avoid eating animal proteins and starches in the same meal, as foods and meals such as these are very taxing to your system and frequently result in poor digestion. (If you need more direction on good food combos and how to naturally help improve your digestion, check out Great Taste No Pain.)
Plus probiotic supplementation with a multi-strain formula like Super Shield can help repopulate your supply of friendly intestinal microbes and help support a healthier flora balance that can protect you as well as be a good home to your immune system.
2- Ease inflammatory actions with vitamin D
Although best known for building strong bones, vitamin D also helps to prevent excessive, inflammatory immune responses, such as those that are seen in autoimmune conditions and allergic reactions.
Unfortunately, vitamin D is also a very common deficiency, so supplementation with a quality formula like Vitamin D-K Factor can go a long way in helping to counteract the overzealous inflammatory responses seen with autoimmune conditions.