Are you one of thousands of women who suffer with unexplained muscle or joint soreness, fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, or skin problems? While you may brush off these seemingly minor symptoms as normal, they could be indicators of a bigger underlying problem. In fact, over 50 million Americans—mostly women—suffer from various types of autoimmune disorders. So how can we take steps to prevent and heal autoimmunity? You may be surprised to learn about the link between metabolic disease and autoimmunity.
Autoimmunity refers to a failure of the immune system to properly recognize its own cells. The body launches an immune response against these cells as if they are foreign bodies. Figuring out the cause of this misidentification is key to shutting off autoimmunity, but getting to the root can be tricky.
Risk Factors of Autoimmune Disease
Certain factors increase a person’s risk for developing an autoimmune disease. These include:
- Gender: Women are far more likely to develop autoimmune disorders.
- Genetics: Autoimmunity runs in families.
- Having an autoimmune disease: People with one autoimmune disorder are more likely to develop more.
- Environmental toxins: Smoking and other toxins cause an inflammatory response that can trigger an autoimmune attack.
- Epstein-Barr virus: Studies link EBV with various autoimmune disorders.
- Stress: Physical and psychological stress disrupt hormone balance and can trigger autoimmunity.
- Gut health: Gut microbiota regulate the immune system. An imbalance in the microbiota or leaky gut contribute to immune dysfunction.
Metabolic Disease Defined
Metabolic health is the ability of an individual’s body systems to assimilate nutrients from food into usable energy. We eat foods that contain various nutrients that must be broken down by our bodies to make cellular energy.
Because every cell in your body requires energy, a disruption in your metabolic function can cause a cascade of dysfunction throughout the body. Metabolic disease can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), infertility, cancer, fatty liver disease, arthritis, and —you guessed it— autoimmune disorders.
The Connection Between Metabolic Disease and Autoimmunity
One of the primary indicators of metabolic disease is insulin resistance. This occurs when cells don’t respond well to insulin and therefore can’t break down glucose into usable energy. To compensate, the pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, blood sugar levels increase.This state of hyperglycemia leads to problems like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
Elevated blood sugar also causes deterioration of intestinal walls and can lead to leaky gut. When the intestines become permeable, bacteria can leak out of the GI tract. While certain bacteria perform necessary functions inside the intestine, they are not always welcome on the outside. Rather, the immune system goes into attack mode against these bacteria. From here, everything basically goes haywire, as the immune system creates more and more inflammation throughout the body. This is the beginning of autoimmunity.
Healing the Gut
Because so much depends on the health of the gut, many autoimmune disorders can be corrected through addressing gut health. Fortunately, simple changes to your daily lifestyle and diet can go a long way to improving gut health. If you are ready to take control of your health and conquer autoimmunity for good, check out this free booklet to get started.