Discover the Top 5 Triggers for Auto Immune Deficiency - Part 1 Toxins
I think it is important to talk about toxins and auto immune deficiency since inflammation and auto immune deficiency disorders are on the rise. There is also an increasing body of evidence that chronic inflammation causes and advances many diseases.
My passion for health and wellness, and auto immune deficiency started in 2010 when I developed 3 autoimmune/endocrine disorders in the same year. I hope by writing these blogs, and sharing my personal story and how I reversed my auto immune deficiency disorders I help other people who are suffering from auto immune deficiency diseases.
All Disease Begins in the Gut – Hippocrates
Your health is the sum of your environment. You are what you absorb – eat, drink, breathe, put on your skin, and where and how you live.
What is an Autoimmune Disease?
Your immune system is designed to protect and defend your body against disease. An autoimmune disease develops when your immune system attacks your own body tissue. There are roughly 80 types of autoimmune diseases. It is possible to develop more than one at the same time. The most common autoimmune diseases are: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, Hashimoto’s disease, Grave’s disease, type 1 diabetes, vitiligo (white patches on skin), pernicious anemia (inability to absorb Vit B12) and Sjogren’s syndrome (destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva).
It is amazing how life throws you curve balls. I never expected my life to take a 180 degree turn in a completely different direction where I would spend the next several years learning how to reverse autoimmune disease and hormone imbalances. In 2010, I developed hyperthyroidism, Grave’s disease and stage 4 endometriosis all in the same year. In fact, my doctors had to perform an emergency laparoscopic surgery in January of 2011 to find out that I didn’t have cancer but stage 4 endometriosis. I developed two large masses on both of my ovaries, and after 2 pelvic ultrasounds and an MRI they were unable to determine if the masses were cancerous.
Medical doctors are not taught about nutrition (~ 7 hours), alternative medicine, herbology, psychiatry or anything else besides pharmacology in medical school. They do not know or understand how the body and its functions/systems/diseases are connected.
After my surgery, my doctors were unable to give me any solutions on how to reverse my conditions so I did what I do best – RESEARCH – to find alternative healthier solutions to reversing my conditions. I knew I had to listen to what my body was trying to tell me. I did not want to live with my diseases/disorders for the rest of my life. If I could identify the triggers, maybe I could reverse my conditions.
Sadly our environment is becoming more toxic. We are exposed to toxins from a variety of sources. Many have been found present in human blood, urine, body tissue and breast milk. Majority have never been tested for safety.
There are 5 triggers for autoimmune disease:
- Food & Dietary Components
- Leaky Gut and Dysbiosis (imbalance of gut bacteria)
This blog post will concentrate on toxins.
“There is no doubt that autoimmune diseases are on the rise and our increasing environmental exposure to toxins and chemicals is fueling the risk. The research is sound. The conclusions, unassailable.” Dr. Douglas Kerr, M.D., PhD. John Hopkins School of Medicine
You may have heard the phrase “body burden.” It refers to the total amount of toxic chemicals stored in the human body. Approximately 120 chemicals in personal care products are used every day by women and roughly 80 chemicals are used every day by men. The majority of these chemicals are untested for safety because the government does not have the authority to do anything. Several of them are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and hormone mimickers. There are currently over 80,000 chemicals used in consumer products.
Our bodies are designed to detoxify themselves, but when our bodies become overloaded with toxins; it can cause a lot of health issues such as leaky gut, DNA damage, inflammation, autoimmune reactivity such as malabsorption and food sensitivities, and finally full blown autoimmune disease.
The Toxin-Autoimmune Connection
- In a study of 300,000 death certificates in 26 states over a 14-year period, researchers examined links between occupation and death from autoimmune disease. They found that farm workers who worked in fields where pesticides were used were more likely to die from an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and systemic sclerosis.
- Excitotoxin poisoning from aspartame found in diet sodas has been linked to several autoimmune diseases such as MS and lupus (decadal long studies).
- A study published in the journal of Chemical Research in Toxicology in 2011 found several substances associated with autoimmunity in humans and animal models used to examine disease mechanisms. Substances such as silica/asbestos, drugs (procainamide), adulterated rapeseed oil, iodine, trichloroethylene, heavy metals (mercury and lead), dioxin, pesticides/fungicides and mineral oil.
- Patrick Kingsley, the UK’s leading expert on MS, reports that of the nearly 4,000 patients he has seen, only 5 did not suffer from mercury poisoning.
Minimize/Eliminate Known Toxic Triggers
The most commonly used toxins linked to autoimmune disorders are:
- Bisphenol A (BPA) – a chemical used to harden plastic. It can be found in water bottles, food containers, utensils and toys. BPA can leach into your water and food, especially when containers are heated. It appears to cause many immune reactions involved in the development of autoimmune disease.
- Medications – there are at least 46 commonly used drugs that can induce lupus. Medications used to treat heart disease, thyroid disease, hypertension and neuropsychiatric disorders. Examples are procainamide (Pronestyl), hydralazine (Apresoline) and quinidine (Quiniglute).
- Pesticides – frequent or extended exposure to pesticides can increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, according to the research from a long-term study involving 77,000 postmenopausal women.
- Excitotoxins – are chemicals that over stimulate neuron receptors and our taste buds. Common excitotoxins that may trigger autoimmune disease are monosodium glutamate (MSG), soybean extract and aspartame.
- Personal Care Products – there are over 80,000 chemicals used in personal care products. Majority of them have never been tested for safety. Many are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and hormone mimickers such as dioxane, triclosan, formaldehyde, silicon-based ingredients aka plastic (i.e. siloxanes, dimethicone), parabens, fragrance, toluene, diethyl phthalate, oxybenzone, and heavy metals (such as mercury and lead).
How You Can Protect Yourself
You need to reduce your body’s toxic burden. The best approach is to do a proactive continuous detoxification rather than a few harsh and quick cleanses per year. Work with a nutrition health coach like myself to investigate your toxic exposures, nutrient deficiencies, and check your methylation status. The methylation cycle is a biochemical pathway that manages many essential functions including detoxification.
Practice these daily habits to reduce your body’s toxic burden so your body is free to build new cells, get rid of old cells, and repair cellular damage. This will increase your body’s detoxification ability, help you eliminate stored toxins and alleviate autoimmune disorders related to toxicity.
- Use Non-Toxic Certified Organic Products – this includes personal care and home cleaning products. A good rule of thumb: start reading labels! Ingredients are listed from the highest concentration to lowest on a label. The first five ingredients besides water make up over 90% of the product. So if you do not recognize or can pronounce the ingredients – don’t buy it. Better yet – don’t use it if you wouldn’t eat it.
- The words ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are not regulated by the government. Without certification, any company can claim their product is ‘organic’ or ‘natural.’ As a consumer, look for products that are labeled ‘certified organic.’ The term ‘certified organic’ implies the product’s ingredients have been validated by an independent third party. The top two organic certification standards organizations are the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). To be classified as ACO, the products must contain more than 95% certified organic ingredients. It is one of the most stringent certification organizations in the world. No GMOs, synthetic ingredients or chemicals are allowed. The remaining 5% must be natural ingredients that meet strict processing criteria.
- Be careful of homemade products that contain ‘natural’ ingredients. The periodic table of elements are all naturally occurring but I wouldn’t put most of them on my skin or in my body. Just because a product is made with plant/herbal extracts/oils doesn’t mean it is toxic free. Make sure you ask if the products were made with certified organic or wild crafted essential oils (latin name, part of plant used, country of origin, distillation method and properties). Otherwise the plant/herbal extracts/oils could contain toxins such as pesticides.
- Reset Your Diet – eat organic whole foods. Avoid GMOs. Our food supply is riddled with pesticides. Add detoxifying herbs such as dandelion root, burdock and milk thistle. These herbs cleanse the liver which is your major organ responsible for filtering toxins from your body. Avoid processed and artificial foods. That means no preservatives, sweeteners and colors. If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. Eat plenty of fiber. Fiber grabs a hold of the toxins in your body and pulls them out through elimination.
- Drink and Bathe in Filtered Water – tap water can contain toxins and contaminants including fluoride, chlorine, aluminum, arsenic, herbicides, silicon-based ingredients and even prescription medications.
- Stick to Steel or Glass – avoid drinking hot beverages from paper, plastic or foam cups. Paper cups are often lined with plastic increasing your toxic exposure.
- Drink Green Tea – catechins in green tea (disease-fighting flavonoid and antioxidant) have been shown to promote optimal intestinal microflora and pH, and to support healthy bowel function – 3 important qualities that further support optimal detoxification.
- Exfoliate & Sweat – move daily, exfoliate your skin and sweat it out. Try a sauna or hot yoga. Incorporate dry brushing. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Dry brushing boosts circulation, gets rid of dead skin cells, stimulates lymph nodes and helps the body remove waste. Sweat helps eliminate toxins. Exercise produces an enzyme in muscles that purges the body of harmful substances. This may explain why aerobic exercise elevates mood and reduces stress. This is a very potent detoxifier.
- Alkalize The Body – this is an important step in detoxification because it floods the body with an abundance of easily absorbed and assimilated alkalising nutrients so the body can detoxify, cleanse and rebuild itself. Nutrients such as wheatgrass, green juice or smoothies. And consume a lot of water! 8 to 10 glasses a day.
- Minimize Medication Use – reduce or eliminate your use of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Drugs are a top trigger for autoimmune disorders.
- Minimize Your Electro Magnetic Frequency Exposure – do not use your laptop on your lap. Always use a headset with your cell phone. Put your electronics on airplane mode when not in use and when you sleep. Keep electronics out of your bedroom.
“We are our environment. What we put into it, we also put into ourselves. What we do to it, we also do to ourselves. With our eyes open to that knowledge we can begin to make critical and profound choices, embarking on a journey of small steps that will slowly start to make all the difference between health and disease.” Donna Jackson-Nakazawa, author of the book The Autoimmune Epidemic
Reversing my conditions did not occur over night. It took 2 ½ years to reverse my conditions. I am happy to report that it has been over 4 years since I have gone off my medications. My endometriosis has never come back.
What small steps will you take today to ease your body burden?
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