Currently, over 80 types of autoimmune disorders have been identified, including diabetes type 1 and 2, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and many more. Although the causative factors of several autoimmune disorders are now understood, multiple other factors have also been linked to the development of these diseases, including genetics, age, environmental toxins and especially viral infections.
Autoimmune diseases were previously believed to be conditions in which the immune system mistakenly attacked a person’s own body cells instead of guarding them. In an autoimmune disease, it was believed that the immune system mistook your body cells as foreign invaders and released antibodies to attack these healthy cells.
Many researchers now believe that this previous theory is not correct – in fact, the body is not attacking itself at all, but instead, is attacking extremely small viral particles embedded in cells that are difficult for doctors to observe on typical medical tests. The infectious viral particles can only be seen on advanced medical tests such as PCR (which are too expensive to be used in the typical medical doctor’s office). That’s why these tiny micro-infections are routinely missed in mainstream medicine.
We now know that viral infections are considered to be a major trigger of autoimmune diseases in many people. For example, enteroviruses are considered to be the main viruses that cause type 1 diabetes in humans. In another example, the onset of diabetes and other pancreatic diseases have been linked to viral flu infections. An infection by Cytomegalovirus is now linked to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. There are many other examples of viral infections that are known to create autoimmune symptoms.
Who is more likely to get autoimmune diseases? Can autoimmune conditions be prevented? How do you know if you are suffering from an autoimmune disease? What can you do about it? Let’s dive in.
The Rise of Autoimmunity
Did you know that the rate of autoimmune diseases have increased dramatically in recent years? In fact, according to the Journal of American Medical Association, the rate of chronic health conditions rose almost 15% between 1994 and 2006 among U.S. children.1 The largest growth of these conditions is linked to autoimmune conditions, including obesity, asthma, and behavioral and learning problems.
However, despite these rising numbers of autoimmune conditions, many people struggle to be diagnosed with an exact disease. Nearly one in six people in the United States struggle with an autoimmune disease.
Is the Gut to Blame?
Several studies have investigated the cause of autoimmune conditions. In addition to viral infections, studies in medical journals such as the British Medical Journal and the International Journal of Gastroenterology have theorized that leaky gut syndrome can be a main cause of autoimmune diseases. Researchers also suggest that other diverse health issues, including autism, allergies, depression, psoriasis, and metabolic syndrome can be considered autoimmune diseases.
Their reason for this theory? The body has a natural system of checks and balances to keep antibody activity stable. The key player in the checks and balances system is the microbiome.
The modern American diet does not contain the same quantity of natural, organic foods that it once did, which is leading to a scarcity of some “old friend” bacteria in our guts. These bacteria are essential in supporting anti-inflammatory functions and keeping a peaceful balance between immune cells. The loss of these helpful bacteria (which help create alkaline reserves and fight against pathogens) can be directly related to the uptick in autoimmune conditions.
Don’t be discouraged! You can make an effort to heal your gut through healthy dietary changes. Filling your diet with plant-based nutrients, such as organic fruits and vegetables, can help you get the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy gut. In addition, supplementing your daily diet with plant-based probiotics can help support healthy digestion and gut health.
Symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases
Some autoimmune diseases can develop slowly, which makes it difficult to diagnose these conditions because many people may not realize that anything is wrong. Although the symptoms of autoimmune diseases vary person-to-person, here are a few common symptoms that you can look out for.
- Brain fog
- Body Rashes
- Frequent colds
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue or hyperactivity
The Bottom Line
Autoimmune diseases impact a large percentage of people in the United States. Despite how widespread these conditions are, medical personnel may not be trained in how to use advanced testing protocols to diagnose the causative factors of these diseases. However, you can make great strides to heal your gut by consuming healthy probiotic nutritional formulas, a plant-based diet with a wide array of organic foods, and gut-boosting supplements such as plant fiber and glutamine.