Auto-immunity is a complex process where the body’s immune system mistakenly targets its own tissues, leading to various autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or rheumatoid arthritis. This process begins with something known as “leaky gut,” where the intestinal lining becomes more permeable than normal, allowing large molecules (macro-molecules) to enter the bloodstream. The immune system, always on the lookout for potential threats, doesn’t recognise these macro-molecules and starts producing antibodies against them. This can lead to a reaction against certain foods like gluten or dairy.
But that’s just the start. Due to a phenomenon called “molecular mimicry,” these antibodies can also target human tissues that resemble the macro-molecules. The specific tissue targeted depends on an individual’s unique vulnerability, such as the thyroid or neurological tissue. Over time, this ongoing attack damages the targeted tissue, leading to the development of an autoimmune condition.
Dr. Alessio Fasano, a leading expert in the field, explains that three underlying factors contribute to autoimmune conditions: genetics, a trigger (such as a specific food or infection), and leaky gut. This process can begin years before symptoms appear and a diagnosis is made. Understanding and addressing these underlying factors can be key to managing and potentially preventing autoimmune condition.
Triggers for auto-immunity
Triggers for auto-immunity can include particular foods such as gluten or dairy, heavy metals like mercury or lead, viral infections like Epstein-Barr virus, chronic stress, hormonal imbalances, and environmental toxins. These triggers can act in those who are genetically predisposed, setting off a chain reaction that leads to the immune system attacking the body’s own tissues. The specific tissue targeted depends on an individual’s unique vulnerability, and over time, this ongoing attack can lead to an autoimmune condition.
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