I am not a scientist but I am a wellness person who spends a few hours each day devoted to learning about how our bodies function, so hang in here with me as I share my take on autoimmunity, which I have been studying these past five years or so. It is amazing stuff even if you tend to view numbers as a soporific.
You possess billions of these itsy bitsy teeny tiny things but can’t see them or feel them; without them you would not be alive. I am talking about the approximately 1 trillion human cells that make up your body.
According to the Human Microbiome project of National Institute of Health, “…there are approximately 10 trillion bacteria in (and on) our bodies versus only 1 trillion human cells. That’s right. We have 10 times more bacterial cells than we do human cells,” states Dr. Marc Ryan, LAC, in his book “The Healing Hashimoto’s Diet”. That means 10,000,000,000,000 x 10. That is a crazy big number. Ryan goes on to say:
“Even though there is some dispute among scientists as to the actual number of bacteria and human cells, there is basic agreement that the microbiome is a big deal. Functional Medicine understands that inflammation at some point involves the gut. The microbiota can overwhelm its host by a factor of 10-ish, causing microscopic tears in the gut lining, where contents, meant to stay inside the intestines, are released to travel throughout the body, thereby poisoning the body with what the body can only recognize as foreign substances. This is known as intestinal permeability or leaky gut.”
So we know that inside our body are a whole lot- a veritable mind-blowing, quantum amount- of human cells and even more microbiota. It’s a bona fide universe inside each of us. We also know that we have an epidemic of autoimmune diseases in the U.S., most of which did not even exist 100 years ago, let along affect ap. 60 million people. Autoimmune diseases are described, perhaps inaccurately, as the body attacking itself. We know autoimmunity signifies high levels of internal inflammation, where the white blood cells, so good at rallying to defend you against cuts and colds, become so ineffectual as to surrender their armies and attack the wrong enemies in the body. Why would the body’s amazingly-designed white blood cells, heroically guarding your systems against foreign invaders, get so confused as to attack its own cells?
Let’s stick with Dr. Marc Ryan to see what he says about the war against foreign invaders:
“What’s common in Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune diseases is that triggers contribute to your body developing something called “a lack of self-tolerance.” This is when the body is no longer able to recognize its own tissue as part of itself, but instead starts viewing its tissue as a foreign invader. It is no longer “tolerant” of itself, and this is what leads to an autoimmune condition.
What happens can be described as a case of mistaken identity. First, (bacterial) cells from an infection actually do trigger the body’s immune system to attack the invading cells.
Triggers can be food sensitivities, nutrient depletions, toxin exposures, chronic infections, a poor stress response, and a number of other things. Some triggers can actually also lead to intestinal permeability (leaky gut) issues as well, such as with what happens with gluten sensitivity.”
The body ‘attacking’ itself due to mistaken identity on a mass scale makes a lot of sense. The body is trying to protect itself from the invasion of billions upon billions of foreign invaders, misreading its own cells as the enemy. Dr. Mark Hyman explains:
“When your body senses foreign invaders, a specific cascade of events is set off in which your white blood cells and some special chemicals called cytokines mobilize to protect you.
This normal type of inflammation is a good thing. It helps your body protect and heal itself. But, when your immune system shifts out of balance, inflammation can run rampant — causing a chronic, smoldering fire inside your body that contributes to disease.”
The body is trying to protect itself from foreign invaders. It is certainly not trying to attack itself. Those valiant white blood cells, barraged by this endless assault of 100,000,000,000 + bacteria per millimeter multiplied by many millimeters in the intestines, get overwhelmed from the endless deluge. It’s a tsunami of inflammation. The body’s finely tuned immune system goes haywire and blows up, dazed and confused.
When you think of the pesticides, the glycosphates in Round-up, the low-nutrient processed foods we consume, the nonstop ingestion of white death, electro-magnetic pollution, the over-proliferation of plastics, toxic chemicals in our water, mold in our homes, mercury in our dental fillings, the over 150 inorganic items we use each morning when we shower, apply skin care items and makeup, the overprescribing of drugs, aren’t our bodies trying to protect us, by attacking them, even though them is us?
The body is smart. It knows something is wrong on the cellular level. It senses danger and foreign bodies and goes on the attack, without correct differentiation, because it knows the bad guys when it sees them. The body is trying to protect us from whatever is inflaming us and ironically, in the process, we become more inflamed and get a full-fledged autoimmune disease.
Those hot cells need our attention and help to find their natural state of health and wellness. The body hues towards healing. We can turn autoimmunity around. We can calm down those hot cells. We start with the gut. We start with a breath. We are on the mind-body journey to healing our very own precious cells so that they can all live in peace inside our bodies.