Monday, March 16, 2009

Gluten Sensitivity & Autoimmune Disease – the 3rd leading cause of death

Scientific American in 2007 stated that if you take all autoimmune disease as a group it would be the 3rd leading cause of illness and death. A dramatic statement only worsened by the fact that the numbers of people that are actually diagnosed with autoimmune disease compared to the numbers that are preclinical (not yet diagnosed) are huge.

Arthritis, MS, lupus, thyroiditis, Sjogren’s, irritable bowel disease and celiac– the list is long. But did anyone ever think there was something in common amongst them?

Traditional medicine tells us they don’t understand the cause of these autoimmune diseases. They state that “for some reason” the body attacks itself. Well, having worked with this amazing machine we call a human body for well over two decades, I’m here to tell you that the body does not attack itself – it attacks its DAMAGED SELF. There is a big difference. It would be rather stupid for your body to attack itself when what it was healthy. It is not stupid to attack something which the body feels is damaging it. And that is what’s happening in autoimmune disease. Now the question is why.

Remember, your immune system has the ability to distinguish “friend from foe”. However, certain “friends” for one body are “foes” for another. Take gluten as an example. If 40% of us are sensitive to gluten, 60% of the population does fine with it. So when a non-gluten sensitive individual consumes wheat, rye or barley their digestive tract breaks it down and there is no negative reaction. But for the gluten sensitive individual that protein called gluten is looked upon as a toxin and the immune system tries to destroy it. This “war” happens on the surface of the small intestine and after several years of “battle”, the integrity of the small intestine becomes compromised.

A leaky gut develops and partially digested food (including gluten) passes though these “holes” and enters the bloodstream. Because these molecules are not properly digested, the immune system may identify them as foreigners and attack them.

The immune reaction to gluten is not just occurring within the intestine but in the bloodstream as well where gluten has migrated via the leaky gut. When the immune system attacks the gluten protein it can confuse other bodily proteins for gluten due to their similar molecular structure. The term used to describe this phenomenon is “cross-reactivity”.

This cross reactivity is the cause of the immune system attacking “self”. It believes it’s attacking a toxin, in this case gluten. In some cases the trigger to attack self can be an infection.

An autoimmune disease called ankylosing spondylitis (arthritis of the spine) has a known infectious trigger; a bacterial organism named Klebsiella. This is a well established mechanism whereby the organism has a similar protein structure to bone tissue and in some predisposed individuals, having this infection results in this severe arthritis condition which eventually fuses the bones of the spine.

What’s exciting is that long before the debilitating effects of autoimmune disease occur, we can turn the body around. Our bodies don’t want to attack themselves, their simply fighting a “war” wherein collateral damage results in the destruction of body tissue. The “true enemy” needs to be isolated and destroyed with the result of a healthy immune system not longer needing to attack “self”.

For years we’ve seen positive changes in patients suffering from autoimmune disease. Frequently gluten sensitivity has been at the forefront. Chronic infections are also common.

Please share this information with those whom you know are suffering. They and their families could benefit.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-Author of The Gluten Effect
www.healthnowmedical.com

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