Root Causes of Autoimmune Illness
January 13, 2012
Dr. Ben Kim
By Dr. Ben Kim
You have countless immune cells in every corner of your body that are constantly working to keep you healthy by identifying, packaging, and eliminating harmful substances that have made their way into your blood.
If your immune system falters and begins to identify some of your own tissues as being harmful or unnecessary, it will work to attack and eliminate these tissues through an inflammatory response that can cause pain and discomfort in many forms – this is how autoimmune illness develops.
The specific tissue or groups of tissues (organs) that your immune system decides to attack is determined by your genetics.
But just because you have a genetic predisposition for an autoimmune illness does not mean that you are guaranteed to experience it sometime during your life, or that you cannot recover from it.
Genetic predispositions are largely triggered, maintained, and kept under control by environmental factors, namely, your diet, lifestyle, and how much stress you experience.
Ultimately, the development of autoimmune illness requires that your immune system begins to identify some of your own cells as being harmful, and that control mechanisms that are in place to prevent such “glitches” no longer do what they are supposed to in preventing such occurrences.
There are several theories that attempt to explain why and how these glitches occur. Rather than get into biochemical jargon that will not do much, if anything, to help you get better, we can explain these glitches in the following way:
Over time, as your cells are abused by lack of rest, lack of optimal nourishment, accumulation of waste products, and direct insult by excessive amounts of free radicals and toxins, your cells gradually become less efficient at eliminating waste products and exogenous toxins (toxins that are produced outside of your body).
Eventually, waste products and toxins may incorporate themselves into your cell membranes, and if this happens, your immune system may identify such cells as being old and damaged. At that point, your immune system will work to attack and eliminate such cells from your body.
How does your immune system go about attacking and eliminating such cells? By producing antibodies, attaching said antibodies to the cell membranes of cells that have been identified as old and damaged, and then sending other components of your immune system to destroy these antibody-tagged cells. Your immune system destroys such cells using a process of inflammation, which is why autoimmune illness is often accompanied by discomfort.