Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Autoimmune disease and leaky gut?

Chronic inflammation is the underlying cause of most autoimmune disorders. But for many who suffer from autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, the big question is “What triggers the inflammatory reaction in the body?” “A growing body of evidence suggests that virtually the same trio of factors underpins most, and perhaps all, autoimmune diseases: an environmental substance that is presented to the body, a genetically based tendency of the immune system to overreact to the substance, and an unusually permeable gut," said Dr. Alessio Fasano, a leading researcher at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (1).

Intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome are terms used to describe an inability of the stomach lining to absorb protein molecules. Instead of being absorbed and digested, these protein molecules circulate throughout the blood stream. Here, they stimulate the immune system, and, in turn, immune system cells react to their presence as they would to any foreign protein by initiating an inflammatory reaction that leads to autoantibody production and autoimmune disease development. Evidence for this theory includes the presence of gastrointestinal tissue damage seen in patients with a number of different autoimmune diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis, and fibromyalgia. In many of these conditions, a reduction of digestive inflammation correlates with a reduction or remission of autoimmune symptoms. (2)

“There are many foods that trigger digestive inflammation. Among the most common are wheat, milk, and beef. In order to discover exactly what which are the culprits, the best approach is to eliminate the suspected foods for a period four days to three weeks until the symptoms are gone and then add back them one at a time” explains Dr. Claudia Pillow, coauthor of The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook.

Recent research has showed that the risk of rheumatoid arthritis is inversely associated with consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (3) and some trials have produced benefits when patients eliminate cereal grains altogether and emphasize proteins rich in polyunsaturated fat, such as fish and nuts. These low-carbohydrate diets may help because they suppress growth of harmful or immune-active intestinal bacteria (4).

Please remember to consult your physician before trying anything new. I am not a doctor and no information should be considered medical advice. Any information provided should not be used to take the place of advice from your personal physician or other professional. Links to other sites are provided for ease of research. Information on those sites is the opinion of those who publish the sites and is NOT necessarily that of FibroChick. I offer what I can as help. I believe in educating myself on all my medical issues and being my own advocate, for no one else will do that on my behalf. I recommend we all do the same!

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