by Bruce Dooley, M.D.
According to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association, 53 million Americans are suffering from autoimmune disorders including autoimmunities against our body, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), Guillain‐Barré syndrome (GBS), amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and others. Autoimmune diseases can take many forms by attacking different tissues and organs in the body. These include the nervous system, joints, skin and internal organs.
I recently attended an astonishing medical conference in Ft. Lauderdale, The Brain-Gut Relationship, where experts presented convincing evidence that imbalance in our intestinal flora can create a severe negative reaction by our immune system. And it appears this immune backlash is likely the primary cause of most autoimmune disorders, as well as chronic neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, headaches, chronic fatigue, autism, ADHD and depression. Wow, how many millions of people have these conditions!
So how does this occur? You see, estimates are that we have 10 times more gut “bugs” than cells in our body—over 100 trillion living on an area the size of a tennis court! This is called the microbiome and weighs 3 pounds, as much as our brains! In addition, it now is very clear that the gut and the brain are intimately interconnected and whatever happens in one has an often profound effect upon the other. Your microbiome acts as a mucosal antibody-saturated barrier and the first line of defense against attack, as well as processing vitamins and nutrients and producing 70% of our serotonin. It acts to prevent invasion through a single layer of mucosal epithelial cells that have tight junctions between them. When all is well, these selectively allow small molecules to pass through. However, in the past five decades our diet and environment have dramatically changed and has brought devastating health effects along with it.
Our gut microbiomes affect and influence our brains in three ways: (1) Biochemically, (2) Immunologically, (3) and via Neuroendrocrines. Endotoxins, called lipopolysaccharides (LPS), from an unbalanced microbiome activate an excessive outpouring of inflammatory cytokines from our immune system. This breaks down the tight junctions causing what is commonly known as “leaky gut.” This allows unwanted LPS, large food molecules and bacteria to invade our sterile body. Remember that we have an unsterile environment on our skin AND in our intestinal tract from mouth to anus. Now our body responds vigorously with a broad systemic inflammatory reaction, and the brain gets involved. Studies prove that the accumulation of abnormal white matter in the brain is a direct result of the leaky gut process. The body’s immune system creates specific antibodies to brain and gut component molecules… this is autoimmunity…not good. The terrific news is that a remarkable man, Dr. Aristo Vojdani, the keynote speaker at the Gut Brain Conference, has developed specialized testing to accurately detect and diagnose these many different antibodies.
From Glyphosate (Roundup) residue on our non-organic food and GMO soy, corn, etc., to the antibiotics in feedlot animal meat, to alcohol, salt and stress effects, to the five TRILLION pounds of chemicals manufactured in the U.S., the speakers went on and on describing the many modern-day insults on our amazingly important organ, our intestines. Suddenly overcome with emotion, I turned to my friend, a well-respected Functional Medicine physician in Jupiter, and said “We have a duty to pass this information on to our fellow docs!” He nodded… and so it begins!