By Jonathan Landsman
(NaturalHealth365) Autoimmune diseases currently affect at least 24 million Americans, reports the National Institutes of Health – and this group of devastating disorders is on the rise. Experts say that autoimmune disorders, which include such serious diseases as multiple sclerosis and lupus erythematosus, will soon affect 1 in 12 men and 1 in 9 women.
Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakes healthy cells for foreign invaders or pathogens and attacks them. This over-reaction creates inflammation, destroys tissue and causes organs to malfunction.
Yet, interesting to note, developing countries with primitive conditions and poor sanitation have virtually no autoimmune disorders. Douglas Kerr, MD, PhD, a faculty neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, asserts that most of the risk of developing an autoimmune condition is the result of environmental exposure to toxic chemicals. (Genetics may also play a role)
Of course, in all fairness, autoimmune diseases – with all its overlapping systems and symptoms involved – can be quite difficult to diagnose, especially for the untrained healthcare provider.
Gastrointestinal problems pose a primary threat to human health
Since 80 percent of immune system cells are located in the gut, it’s not surprising that autoimmune diseases are often connected to gastrointestinal issues. For example, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain can be a clue that you may have Celiac disease – one type of autoimmune disorder which causes inflammation of the small intestines.
Diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps are also common symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic inflammation of the gut and lining of the large intestine. And ‘leaky gut’ – in which undigested food particles and bacteria escape the intestine and enter the bloodstream – feature symptoms of cramping, gas and bloating that are virtually indistinguishable from those of IBD.
Other signs that you may have an autoimmune condition include, constipation, diabetes, frequent urination and unusual changes in body weight or appetite.
Don’t ignore the warning signs: Emotional instability and sleep disorders demand your attention
Autoimmune diseases can wreak havoc on your mood. Keep in mind, depression that doesn’t go away – after a reasonable amount of time – can be a sign of serious (underlying) health issues like, Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease.
Don’t panic: If you’re diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder – just understand that there are a variety of natural protocols designed to eliminate your unwanted symptoms and promote the self-healing response of the body. The right diet – filled with allergen-free, anti-inflammatory organic foods will most certainly help.
Other key components toward healing the body (and mind) involve cleaning up the gut; taking the right dose (and quality) supplements and incorporating many other useful lifestyle habits like aromatherapy, homeopathy and stress-reduction techniques.