Probiotics and the Autoimmune Epidemic
I’m going to introduce you to your microbiome. These trillions of microbial organisms, which normally inhabit a healthy small and large intestine, are your friends. They’ve been co-creating with humans since the beginning of time, but it is likely you know very little about them. We depend on these microbes for our health and well being, and they depend on us for their survival. I love them with all my heart because they made me well, and they gave me a life beyond my wildest dreams and continue to do so. So, I am their voice and messenger so you can understand all they do for you and then harness their power to make your body feel better than ever before.
Trillions Of Bacteria
How Do They Help Us?
Our bodies house trillions of bacteria. If we feed them properly, they will keep our immune system running strong. These bacteria digest foods that are indigestible to us, such as fiber, and they make this food into vitamins and compounds that we need but can't make for ourselves. But what are you feeding your microbes? They multiply and do their job based on how you take care of them; and when you do it properly, they make you shine in ways like never before. It's a partnership and we need to pay attention to what our trillions of bacteria do each and every day. This large microbiome will change with disease and many experts are now linking autoimmune diseases to this shift in the gut.
What is autoimmune disease?
With more than 80 different types of autoimmune disease, they're difficult to understand; but basically, the immune system finds proteins and tries to destroy them as if they were harmful foreign invaders. The immune system is quite an interesting system. It will go after a pathogen, such as a virus, and create inflammation to clear that pathogen from the body. However, an autoimmune disease causes the immune system to continue attacking these proteins and keeps us at an elevated state of inflammation.
Let’s talk about inflammation. We do want to get rid of inflammation if it's chronic. Inflammation is our body's normal response as it destroys pathogens and moves them out of the body; but when inflammation is chronic, you get into trouble and can wind up with an autoimmune disease.
Most doctors tell you to treat inflammation with anti-inflammatory medication (Advil, Motrin, steroids, etc.) but they're not addressing why the inflammation is there in the first place. The real causes of these inflammatory conditions include a microbiome that has diminished in numbers, hidden allergens, infections, environmental toxins, an inflammatory diet, and stress. If you want to cool off inflammation in the body, you must find the source. Treat the fire, not the smoke. Most physicians are taught to diagnose disease by symptoms, NOT by their underlying cause.
Toxins can accumulate in your tissues, and autoimmune disease is a sign that your body is on high alert and needs your help. Your immune system is your defense against invaders. It is your army that lives inside of you and works on your behalf. It has to clearly distinguish friend from foe — and then your body has to be your brother-in-arms and fight to keep you well. This is its job 24/7. But you are not usually conscious of this, so you don't assist your body in becoming well because you don't know what to do.
Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system gets confused and your own tissues get caught in friendly crossfire. Your body is fighting something — an infection, a toxin, an allergen, a food, or the stress response — and somehow it redirects its hostile attack on your joints, your brain, your thyroid, your gut, your skin, or sometimes your whole body.
Dr. Alessio Fasano, a world-renowned gastroenterologist and expert in autoimmune disease, describes one of the components that must be present for an autoimmune disease known as "leaky gut." Intestinal permeability (also referred to as “leaky gut”) means that the (normally) tightly knit cells of the intestines are weakened and “leaky.” This allows large compounds, such as proteins from food or bacteria, to enter our bloodstream. Leaky gut can occur due to any number of reasons including food sensitivities, gut infections, or chronic stress. More and more research is coming through that the microbiome plays a role in autoimmune disease. More doctors are starting to prescribe probiotics for autoimmune diseases and certain strains seem to be most effective.
Lactobacillus and its many strains can be found naturally in kefir and other cultured foods that I teach you how to make and enjoy. They found that these strains work very well for autoimmune diseases. Many patients and clinicians now believe that probiotics may be helpful in mitigating the signs and symptoms of disease by restoring the balance and function of microbes in the gut (where an imbalance is believed to cause or contribute to the disorder).
I've seen this again and again with people who have IBS and also Rheumatoid Arthritis. Once they start fixing their gut and paying attention, their symptoms get better or go away. Just today a woman posted on my Facebook page saying this:
Donna, since I've been on a rich probiotic diet I have managed my Hashimoto thyroid disease. Gone are my digestive issues unless I eat something I'm sensitive to. You made me discover probiotics Donna Schwenk's Cultured Food Life and I'm very grateful to you, thank you for being you :)
Autoimmune conditions are multifaceted and there is no quick fix, but this is where we really need to talk. We all want a quick fix and a pill that will fix what ails us, but this doesn’t work long term. Any disease is our body’s cry for help and listening will change your life dramatically. Many have found autoimmunity a thing of the past.
What To Do
Dr. Mark Hyman. MD, a functional medicine doctor, works with many patients fixing all manner of autoimmune diseases. He has helped many people discover what is causing their chronic inflammation and keeping their immune system in the "stuck" mode.
He’s not only cured himself from chronic disease but he has helped thousands of others. Here are some of his recommendations.
- Fixing your gut is crucial in detoxing from heavy metals. I have done this quite effectively by consuming lots of cultured foods. My Get Better Kefir Smoothie is a good place to start. These foods allow my body to clear and eliminate debris along with re-establishing a newly balanced system.
- Check for hidden infections — yeast, viruses, bacteria, Lyme, etc. — with the help of a doctor, and treat them. Candida is a sign that your gut bacteria are out of whack from too many antibiotics and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
- Get checked for heavy metal toxicity. Mercury and other metals can cause autoimmunity. This is a common problem these days and one that often goes unnoticed until we get symptoms. It’s a very real problem and I have witnessed how the body can clear out these metals and heal. Symptoms vanish and you feel better than ever before.
- Use nutrients such as fish oil, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Help calm your immune response naturally and experience healing in so many regards. It's important to include these nutrients in your diet.
- Exercise regularly — it’s a natural anti-inflammatory.
- Practice deep relaxation like yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or massage, because stress worsens the immune response.
Do not underestimate the healing crisis (the medical term is "Herxheimer reaction") that can occur when you start to heal. As the body releases these toxins to be eliminated, you may feel worse. As pathogens die, they leave toxic chemicals that can feel like disease. We take for granted how our bodies heal us and we think it happens instantly, but it doesn’t. We need time to heal and for our microbiome to change and grow. Once this happens, you won’t believe how good your body is designed to feel. It’s amazing, and you deserve to feel good. And when you do, hang on to your hat - you're gonna fly like never before.
Check out more about the Healing Crisis and Cultured Foods:
Listen To My Podcast
Are autoimmune diseases the result of an imbalanced gut/immune system? Find out why Hippocrates said, “All disease begin in the gut.” I will discuss how healing your microbiome can also help heal autoimmune disorders.
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