How do autoimmunities start?!
I am busy absorbing information in a new book, “The Paleo Approach” by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, and loving it! Did you know that there are only 20 amino acids that mix and match in long chains to make proteins? Our proteins and those of invading bacteria? Sooo… it’s easy to accidentally have an immune system sentinel recognizing it’s own protein as an invader because they are all made with the same pieces! Crazy!
It took me reading chapter 1 several times for it to really sink in. The same pieces that identify invaders are also used to make up the proteins in ourselves. So if that’s the case why doesn’t everyone have an autoimmune disease? Here’s the gist of it. Metaphor time!
So you throw a party. All your sisters (you have tons) are wearing the same dress, all red with a teal ribbon around their waist. Guests start to arrive all wearing teal and red but in polka dots or prints. Then a group of girls arrive to crash the party. They are wearing a solid colored dress in several colors (not red) BUT they are all wearing a teal sash. You send out a text message to your brothers that there are unwelcome girls with teal sashes that need to be asked to leave and/or escorted out. As they run around the loud party grabbing the arm of all the girls in teal sashes they grab the arms of their sisters as well. It’s not til everyone is outside that they realize the problem. Oops!
Are you with me? The brothers are in TROUBLE! (lol!)
This happens daily in every human being. So why is it that some go into hyper drive and call a bus full of S.W.A.T. to come get their own sisters out of the house and others go “Oops, my bad. You can rejoin everyone. Sorry.” and stop acting on the mix up?
That is the $10,000 QUESTION!
It seems that those who progress into full blown autoimmune disease have systems that are faulty in their SELECTION and SUPPRESSION processes. The very processes put in place to stop these attacks on their own cells due to miss-identification. The cells tagged to hunt down ‘their own sisters’, as it were, are suppose to be weeded out when new cells are made and matured in the thymus gland, during selection. If, while maturing, they bond too readily with their own proteins they aren’t allowed to go to work (this is a bit over simplified). This process can break down and allow these rogue ‘brothers’ to mature and be released to continue picking on their ‘sisters’ at the party.
Then there are cells that are suppose to be in the house (our body) keeping the brothers in check from this over zealous miss identification and removal. We can call them the ‘parents’, the process of suppression . When the parents notice the brothers are dragging their own sisters out of the house they can stop them and if necessary send them to their room forever (the body squashes them but I didn’t wanna snuff out the brothers, so in this metaphor they are just put eternally in their room) ;0)
So the issue isn’t that our bodies may miss identify a self protein as an invader but that the attack on the self proteins was not successfully thwarted.
More then one autoimmune disease?
If the brothers are allowed to keep out the sisters and continue removing new baby sisters it won’t be long before they miss identify someone else in the house. For instance, a lost pet gets inside and runs a muck through the house. The brothers are sent to catch it and in trying to get it out of the house they accidentally remove all their own pets as well. Once the brothers are allowed to continue this behavior it’s easy to see that it can get out of hand and spread. Now the self cells that match the ‘red sash’ description and the ‘fuzzy pet’ cells are constantly under attack. For me it’s the cells in my thyroid (Hashimoto’s) and my estrogen/insulin balance (PCOS) that are out of luck.
There are many other factors that encourage this barrage like vitamin D deficiency. The parent cells out to stop the over zealous brothers need vitamin D. When our house is deficient the parents can’t keep up with all the brothers that are running around. They stop being effective at curbing them.
Another factor is that a person may be genetically predisposed to this breakdown in stopping the brothers so when they begin multiplying they do so too fast for the body to keep up. Ouch!
In a nut shell…..
So what to do? In this blog I wanted to explain a bit about how the body works. There will be several to follow with more such discoveries as the details of this amazing book unfold. I will also be sharing the “so what do we do about it” answers as I get to them. This book is full of so much information that it will take a bit to get it blogged, but it will be so worth it!
It’s important to know how this whole autoimmunity thing gets started and how our bodies work. It’s with this understanding that we will be better able to make good decisions for ourselves.
I pray you stick with me as we dive into the intricacies of the amazing bodies God gave us and how we can best live healthy. There are ways to put this attack on your system in remission. Like inviting people over who don’t wear teal sashes so there’s no reason to remove anyone! However that is best for it’s own blog!
I look forward to learning about the complexities of our bodies and what makes them work together with you! Please feel free to post questions or how this struck you!