The immune system is a defence mechanism that protects us from unwanted invaders such as bacteria, viruses and infections, but is also used to clean up waste products and damaged or diseased body cells. In people with an autoimmune disease something goes wrong: the wrong cells are eliminated.
The immune system in action
The immune system is complex. There are many players involved. If one of these players gets overworked and starts making mistakes, anything can go wrong and an autoimmune disease can develop. To make it easier to understand, let's compare a bacterium to a burglar of a business building and the players of your immune system to the police force.
Once the intruder enters the home, an important protocol is initiated, called the inflammatory response. First, the guards come into action, the macrophages, which overpower the intruder and sound the alarm.
The neighborhood officers, called T-helper cells, arrive at the business park and assess the situation. If necessary, they send out messengers, called cytokines, to call in the arrest team and, if necessary, a detective.
The arrest team, called the T-killer cells, take out the burglar and the detective, the B cell, takes all the burglar's data. Since this burglar might come back again or be part of an organized gang, the B cell creates an arrest poster for this burglar as a precautionary measure. This allows the immune system to immediately recognize and eliminate the burglar next time. You can compare this arrest poster to antibodies.
From the police station, regulatory T cells monitor the situation. When the danger is over and the work is done, they send the arrest team home. This completes the inflammatory response.
The autoimmune disease
The immune system clears out damaged, harmful or dead cell debris in addition to invaders. Thus, a properly functioning immune system recognizes both intruders and superfluous cellular debris.
An autoimmune disease occurs when something goes wrong in the clearing of the body's own cellular debris. These cells are cleared away, but also end up on an arresting poster! In our case, antibodies were made for TPO (Thyreoperoxidase) and TG (Thyreoglobulin). These are endogenous substances that occur in the thyroid gland and are involved in the production of thyroid hormone.
In total, there are more than 100 autoimmune diseases. Well-known examples are Hashimoto, Graves, Diabetes 1, MS, Celiac Disease, Alopecia Areata and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Emergence of an autoimmune disease
Scientists have been studying the causes of autoimmune diseases for years. What is certain at present is that there is a genetic component. However, this genetic predisposition does not lead to an autoimmune disease in everyone.
For a gene to be 'turned on', certain environmental factors must be present, causing the system to make mistakes. Examples of such triggers are (chronic) infections, parasites, viruses, fungi, smoking, hormone imbalances, adrenal problems, food intolerances, heavy metals, pregnancy, exposure to chemical toxins, trauma and medication.
To develop an autoimmune disease, a third factor is also important - an overactive immune system.
What all autoimmune diseases seem to have in common is the fact that the patient has a leaky gut, which causes the immune system to be constantly active.
So to get an autoimmune disease, you have to:
- have a genetic predisposition;
- have been exposed to a trigger;
- have a leaky gut.
Once an autoimmune disease has shown itself, the gene cannot be turned off. An autoimmune disease is a chronic disease. There is a fairly good chance that a second or even third autoimmune disease will develop over time.
Yet there is hope! It is true that we have no influence on the genetic predisposition. Nor can we often prevent the trigger. But by adjusting our diet and lifestyle we can often remove the original trigger and heal the leaky gut. As a result the immune system responds less frequently and can return home more quickly after a break-in.
What happens when the immune system is overactive?
In a healthy body, the immune system is only active at night. When we sleep, our immune cells patrol the bloodstream looking for bacteria and viruses to get rid of. The reason the immune system only works at night has to do with our energy supply.
The immune system needs a lot of energy to do its job. We do not have enough energy to provide both our daily activities and our immune system with energy during the day. Only when there is an acute danger of a flu virus or infection will the immune system temporarily start to work during the day. The immune system will then temporarily be given priority over the energy supply. When the danger is over, the immune system goes back to rest and the other organs and body systems get the energy they need to function again.
People with an autoimmune disease have an overactive immune system. It does not go into rest, but remains active in the background day and night. And because we don't have enough energy to run both systems at the same time, our bodies have to switch to an alternative energy distribution.
How does your body regulate this energy distribution?
The fuel for all our body functions and our immune system is glucose. An immune system at rest needs 5 grams of glucose per night. An active immune system, which is also active during the day, consumes 300 grams of glucose per day.
So the immune system has to think of something that will allow it to secure its glucose supply on a daily basis. The immune system solves this problem with a number of clever solutions.
- The immune system activates the fight-flight mode, producing adrenaline, which then opens the tight junctions in the intestinal wall. This causes more glucose to enter the bloodstream faster. (But at the same time also other unwanted substances)
- The immune system makes your cells less sensitive to insulin, so less glucose can enter your cells and more remains available to the immune system in the bloodstream.
- The immune system switches to another way of creating energy. From aerobic combustion with the help of T3 hormone, to anaerobic combustion with the help of rT3 hormone. The latter system, based on rT3, is lightning fast and provides the immune system with enough energy to work. Unfortunately, this also means that your other body functions that are not of life-saving importance are put into energy-hibernation mode. No energy to repair, grow or flourish.
How can you tell if you have an overactive immune system?
As long as your immune system is active, your body will convert more T4 into rT3. Your body cells and organs are then in energy-saving mode, which means they cannot function at full capacity. The longer this lasts, the more complaints will arise. These symptoms are similar to the symptoms of a slow thyroid gland. Many will therefore be recognizable for you.
- Organs and structures that are not necessary for survival are slowly broken down to be used for energy production for the immune system. Think of muscles, ligaments, tendons, hair and nails.
- Vital organs are inhibited, such as liver, kidneys, digestion, heat regulation, sexual organs.
- Brains are large consumers of glucose, which can cause problems such as concentration and memory, depressive feelings and deterioration of thinking processes and learning ability.
- You become insulin resistant and are always hungry.
How can you measure if you have an overactive immune system?
By looking at the ratio between your T3 and rT3 blood levels. So when you have too much rT3 in proportion, you have an active immune system (or extreme emotional stress) and your other organs are not getting enough energy to thrive and feel good.
In addition, measure your thyroid antibodies (anti-TPO and anti-Tg) to see how many arresting posters your immune system has created. The higher these values are the higher the inflammatory activity in your thyroid. These values are also a good indicator to assess whether all your health efforts are paying off and calming your immune system.
How do you bring your immune system back to normal?
To get your immune system back to calm, where it only goes into action at night, you need to take a number of steps. These steps are not the same for everyone and in the same order. These steps may include:
- Closing the doors, by repairing the protective mucus layer in the intestines.
- Preventing holes in the intestinal wall by adjusting diet and avoiding stress.
- Detecting latent infections or viruses.
- Support your body with pre- and probiotics and certain supplements.
To measure is to know
Unfortunately, not every doctor can check these blood values. Fortunately, these tests are available through bloodvalueest.nl.
You can put together your own custom research by adding these tests to your shopping cart:
1 . To measure an overactive immune system:
2. For measuring antibodies to the thyroid disease hashimoto:
3. To measure a cellular immune defect:
4. Does your immune system make you insulin resistant?
This contribution was made possible by Vera Kamphorst.She will gladly help you with thyroid problems
Clarina Kosat May 16, 2019
Vera Kamphorstat May 16, 2019