My family history (that I know about) is replete with autoimmune disorders such as autoimmune thyroid, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and rheumatoid arthritis...
Thinking about this as a lay person - it would seem these diseases, and the resultant suffering they cause, can be chalked up to the "cards you are dealt" in life. That sums up my thoughts about these illnesses in my family as I grew up...until I unraveled the mysteries of chronic illness.
Since I have been in the never ending learning mode after graduating from chiropractic college - I've learned there are measurable causes to just about every illness.
With my training in functional immunology, functional endocrinology, functional neurology and functional blood chemistry analysis - these illnesses are becoming much less mysterious.
I like to learn things from a deep perspective. Motivated to reduce or eliminate the tendencies for me and my children to develop these illnesses so common in my family history I decided to run various tests on myself to find out how my body was doing. Lo and behold, I find out I have a celiac gene and a gluten senstivity gene and my immune system is actively attacking gluten, soy, (casein) dairy protein, yeast and chicken eggs as well as my intestinal cells. That means I have gluten sensitivity with autoimmune attack to my intestines.
The research I've learned about gluten sensitivity tells my that this is a major source of my family's autoimmune tendencies. Most people of northern European descent have gluten and/or celiac genes. My family lineage is from Sweden.
When you have these genes and you are exposed to gluten (which is a peptide found mainly in wheat, rye and barley), your immune system has a reaction again gluten and develps antibodies to various components of gluten.
Some folks will develop intestinal damage. If you only have the gluten sensitivity gene, you will likely develop non-celiac gluten enteropathy (intestinal destruction). If you have the celiac gene (HLA-DQ 2 or 8) you will develop celiac disease with continued gluten exposure. In addition, gene carriers (like myself), will often develop other health challenges.Without the HLA-DQ genes you can still develop tissue inflammation, tissue autoimmunity and/or a gluteomorphin reaction. Antibodies can develop to the following:
- Myelin: (the insulation on our fastest nerves) and can lead to multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating diseases.
- The cerebellum: (the back part of the brain responsible for fine movement and coordination, certain eye movements and our spinal postural muscles as well as cognition) and can lead to balance disorders and more.
- Parietal cells: (stomach cells that produce acid) and can lead to osteoporosis, improperly digested food and thus GI disorders and malnourishment.
- Islet cells: (pancreas cells that produce insulin) and can lead to hypoglycemia and diabetes.
- Thyroid peroxidase: (enzyme that makes thyroid hormones in the thyroid gland) and can lead to hypothyroidism. We call this autoimmune thyroid or Hashimoto's disease.
- Cardiolipin: (an important component of the cell wall of the energy production organelles called mitochondria) and can lead to all kinds of autoimmune issues such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, etc.
- Intrinsic factor: (substance made in the parietal cells of the stomach that is necessary to allow the body to absorb vitamin B12) and can lead to pernicious anemia (autoimmune vitamin B12 anemia)
- Glutamic acid decarboxylase: [GAD] (an important enzyme needed for the production of the brain neurotransmitter GABA and is important for insulin production in the pancreas) and can lead to GABA deficiency and type 1 diabetes.
If you have a gluteomorphin (a breakdown product of gluten as it is digested) reaction, you will develop neurochemical imbalances in the brain as this chemical disrupts brain function and this is postulated to be one of the causes of autism.
The good news is that with diet, lifestyle changes and specific supplementation I can change the course of my future and that of my family. I intend to do just that! I invite you to learn more about how to detect and correct the triggers that may be contributing to your health challenge as well.
In another article I will discuss the reasons why gluten sensitivity seems to be much more prevalent of late.
The latest numbers indicate that as many as one in every 5 people
(yes, that's right) have some form of gluten-sensitivity.
Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2010 Jun;14(6):567-72
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