There is an extremely important connection in your body that has only now become quite well known and understood. It’s the fact that your immune health depends on your gut health!
This connection is what traditional healing systems like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine have focused on for known for centuries while dealing with chronic diseases and what modern science is only now catching up with.
The most important thing you need to know first is that about ⅔ rds of your immune system resides in your gut. It’s called the Gut Associated Lymphatic System (GALT). Contrary to what most people believe, the primary role of your immune system is to assess and tolerate and remain appropriately tolerant at most times.
In other words, your immune systems’ main job is NOT to react but to respond appropriately to any threats in a timely and appropriate manner.
Your gut is also where thousands of species of microbes (parasites, yeast, fungi, bacteria) reside in an ecosystem known collectively as the “microbiome“. When you have an imbalanced or unhealthy microbiome, your immune health suffers (more on this later in this post).
Immune dysregulation at play
At the heart of any autoimmune condition lies immune dysregulation. Autoimmune disease is a progressive disease that has vibrant health at one extreme end and a degenerative state at the other.
The problem is that when we are in the beginning stages of an autoimmune disease, there may not be any obvious symptoms. This is why we can suffer from autoimmune damage long before we are diagnosed and much before any symptoms occur.
The good news is that if you actually understand how your immune system works, you can consciously take steps to safeguard your health right from the very beginning. And if you are already diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, you can still take the necessary steps to move towards a balanced and more appropriately tolerant immune system.
Symptoms are the last straw
In the case of autoimmune diseases, symptoms occur only when the body is not able to deal with the tissue damage being caused by the immune system. But usually, our bodies give us enough signs to let us know that something is wrong and needs our attention. These are in the form of common but not normal symptoms like headache, anxiety, insomnia, depression, constipation, bloating, fatigue. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often accepted as “normal” because they have become quite common, even though they are far from it.
You should neither accept these symptoms as “normal”, nor neglect and try to suppress them with medications. While there’s nothing wrong with taking medications for managing severe symptoms occasionally, we need to tune into and be able to look for the hidden “gift” in them.
Ultimately, these symptoms are your immune system’s way of letting you know that there is an underlying imbalance or mechanism which needs to be addressed before it becomes diagnosed as a proper disease.
In my coaching practice, I work with women who want to move beyond symptom management and deal with their autoimmune condition in a more holistic manner by finding and addressing the root cause of their condition. This requires working together in collaboration to delve deeper into the current state of their gut health and working towards lowering inflammation by calming their immune response.
The weird world inside your gut
Your gut is a 25-30 feet tunnel that is well-isolated, well-guarded as an entry point for nutrients and an exit point for toxins and waste products. It is also host to over a thousand different species of yeast, fungi, parasites, and other microbes which are all competing for space and nutrients inside your gut. This ecosystem is in effect a highly regulatory human organ that needs to be nourished and fed so that we can have optimal health.
As I have mentioned earlier, about seventy percent of your immune system is in your gut and this collection of microbes (collectively known as the microbiome) is the controller of your gut based immune system and is intimately involved in your body’s immune function.
Your microbiome does many things but as far as your immune health is concerned, it plays a key role in the initial development of the immune system, keeps pathogenic infections under control, promotes tolerance to human tissue and facilitates ongoing communication between your gut and your immune system.
You ideally want to have an immune system that is appropriately primed and responsive but at the same time neither under responsive to any kind of threats nor over responsive to foods that you eat and your body’s own cells. In this way, your microbiome plays an important role where it keeps your immune system from getting out of control and your immune system also keeps your microbiome from getting out of control.
Inflammation gone wild
Your immune system is constantly reacting to all kinds of threats every second of every day without your knowledge. And inflammation is the natural response of the immune system to a threat and will continue if the threat remains. It is necessary for defense, repair, and healing.
Inflammation becomes a problem only when it becomes excessive and chronic.
The other thing to understand is that oxidative stress is a mechanism by which the body produces free radicals as it takes in oxygen to create energy. It occurs due to normal everyday functioning like breathing, digesting food, countering stress.
Oxidative stress is a primary mechanism of inflammation production and is usually dealt with by our bodies with the help of antioxidants from the foods we eat. However, it can become a problem when there is excessive inflammation leading to more oxidative stress than the body can handle since it can progress into tissue damage if left unchecked.
Excessive oxidative stress causes tissue damage and when enough tissue damage has occurred, organ dysfunction begins and eventually progresses into organ disease. It is at this point that most people get diagnosed.
Your wise, resilient body
The most important thing for you to understand in all of this is that you just don’t develop a chronic disease out of the blue. This is because as you can see now, chronic disease progression is not random and does not happen overnight.
You are responsible to your body in terms of providing a healing environment and treating it as a friend rather than your enemy.
This becomes even more important if you want to deal with your autoimmune condition by finding and addressing the true root cause of your disease. This is equally true if you are healthy and want to prevent any disease progression in the future.
As Tracy Harrison had said-
Your body is an exquisitely evolved and sophisticated organism that is responding to the environment that you are asking it to live in
You get to chose what your health will be like in the future, choose wisely.