Is Your Immune System Attacking You?

Thyroid Word CloudDo you have days when your body seems like a bit of a drama queen?

Perhaps you were sick with the flu, you’ve been fighting a migraine, or you’re feeling sore and achy all over for no particular reason. Other days, it might seem that you’re no longer able to tolerate the foods you used to eat with abandon – you’re dealing with a major case of indigestion and you’re carrying around an extra twenty pounds (that you can’t seem to lose, no matter what you eat).

Does any of this sound familiar?

I call these on-going annoyances “mimics, marauders and masqueraders” – because that’s basically what they are – but what I’d really like you to take away from this, is that it’s an important part of your immune system and how it functions.

The good news is that your immune system is beautifully designed to deal with these pranksters at a moment’s notice, and it’s exactly that on your behalf so 24/7 – even though it might seem at times that your body is working against you.

Sometimes your immune system DOES get confused. However, even though you might think it’s making a mistake, the reality is that it’s simply doing what it’s designed to do – protect you. Consider too, that 70% of your immune system is in your gutBut because it’s inside, and you can’t see it, and you can’t necessarily feel it – you’re not at all aware that anything is wrong.

The symptoms are often subtle.

What’s really happening, though, is that some of these invaders are actually very clever,  mimicking or masquerading as something other than what they really are.

Let me explain.



As you may already know, gluten is a family of proteins found in wheat and is therefore present in any foods that are made from wheat – although it can sometimes appear in other guises, as well.

While many  foods contain proteins, the immune system can get confused when these different the proteins start to look similar.

For example, if you have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy – in addition to gluten – that small amount of dairy can trick your immune system into thinking you’re still eating gluten, even when you’re not!

We call this cross-reactivity & it happens because the protein structure in gluten & dairy are almost identical. (Something to keep this in mind the next time you’re eating chocolate, especially if it was made in a factory that also processes dairy).

Your immune system will respond accordingly, and go after the perceived threat – or invader.

(By the way, this isn’t the same thing as cross-contamination – that’s entirely different. Cross-contamination is when you accidentally ingest gluten – or another allergen – because your food wasn’t safely prepared, either during the manufacturing process or even in your own kitchen!)


Your Immune System

Your immune system is involved in these masquerades, by default, because this is where the confusion is happening.

Keep in mind, that by attacking the invaders your immune system is only doing what it’s designed to do. And that’s actually a good thing, because it’s always on the lookout, always scanning your inner terrain so it can protect you

By the way, the immune system isn’t any one organ, but rather a collection of many cells and body systems all working in tandem.

We refer to this web as the innate Immune System, because it’s, well, ‘innate’.

You don’t have to think about it, right?

When you stub your toe, or inhale a crumb of gluten, your body knows exactly what to do.

Of course, with that last example (the crumb of gluten) this is where things can get ramped up to a whole other level.


Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune disease is rather unique, because in this case your immune system is now working so hard to protect you, it actually starts attacking your own tissues. This sounds bizarre – but the key word here is ‘protection’, even though it might feel as though your body is failing you on every level.

As with these other so-called invaders I’ve listed here, your immune system is only doing what it’s designed to do.

So let’s take a step back and explore this from a slightly different angle.

No matter if it’s Hashimoto’s Disease (a thyroid disorder) Celiac Disease (an inability to digest gluten), or any of the hundreds of known autoimmune conditions (way too many to list here) – it all comes down the same thing:  even though your might THINK it’s about your thyroid, or your gut, or your joints, it’s really about your immune system struggling to keep up.

If that’s the case, what is triggering this fight within your body?

WHY is your immune system on high alert?

Those are the questions you need to answer! And by that, I mean getting to the root cause. Yes, you can take medication for relief from your symptoms – but that’s like slapping a bandaid over the piece of glass in your foot and taking Tylenol to cover the pain.

Why not just remove the piece of glass?

Autoimmune disease is a lengthy topic – I explain more about it in my article “Autoimmune Disease & You“, and also in this video “A Is For Aging – & Autoimmune Disease“.


Yeast, Bacteria & Parasites

Believe it or not, these little critters are present in your gut micro flora all the time.

They’re supposed to be there. But here’s the clincher: they must always be in perfect balance with each – neither too much or too little – or they can wreak absolute havoc throughout your body.

(Think of the unfortunate side effect of taking antibiotics: they kill off both the good and bad bacteria, thus upsetting that delicate balance).

Anyone of these masqueraders could easily be the cause behind all your symptoms. Which isn’t all that surprising, since everything in your body is so intimately connected with everything else, there’s almost no way these critters could not be involved.

If you’ve believe that a bacterial or yeast overgrowth or infection does not apply to you, you might want to reconsider – especially since the possibility of a leaky gut (an intestinal disorder that is also a lot more common than most people realize) invites a similar reaction.

If you have a leaky gut, there’s also a good chance that a Candida overgrowth or SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) have invaded your body, as well.


Hormones & Things

While not the same thing as eating a food which doesn’t agree with you, your endocrine system is also delicately balanced.

Unfortunately, we live in a time when over-exposure to numerous toxins in our environment is common.

We inhale them, we ingest them and we also absorb them through our skin. These toxins (known as xenoestrogens) have a way of piggy-backing onto your various hormones and causing mass confusion. This is why we call them endocrine disruptors.

Even worse, those toxins are also fat-loving! This means they latch onto your fat cells (even if you’re thin), only to be stored indefinitely, from that point forward.

If you’ve ever gone an a diet, Elimination or otherwise, or tried a Detox or Cleanse, consider this:  a funny thing that can happen on a detox – or really, any time you drastically change your diet. It’s almost as if your body has decided to throw a full-blown tantrum, because you’re depriving it of it’s favorite foods.

And it does exactly what any two-year old will do – screaming it’s head off, so to speak – until you give in. By that I mean the nausea, fatigue and headaches – migraine, or otherwise – and general aches and pains, are your body’s equivalent of an all out tantrum.

Your immune system has said, “something isn’t right here”, and has launched a defense. This is WHY you’re feeling sick.

Put another way: your body is in distress, and is sending out very strong signals.

It’s saying, “Please listen to me – or I’ll ramp things up even more!”

So what can you do?

Paying close attention to your body and the messages it’s sending you, and education – in the form of “A Gluten Primer – Everything You Wanted to Know From A – Z” – along with hands-on support are at the top of my list. Ultimately what you want is a team of experts whom you trust, and whom you can count on to help you navigate your way through.

There is hope and light at the end of the tunnel, I promise.

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