These days, it’s as though a strong immune system has moved to the top of the list of what you need to stay healthy. This has always been true. It’s your primary defense for preventing or limiting infection. And there’s never been a recent time in history that emphasizes this fact more.
Simply put, a properly functioning immune system differentiates what is supposed to be in your body and what is not, allowing the neutralization or removal of whatever shouldn’t be present.
For example, unhealthy cells and pathogenic bacteria and viruses signal threats to the body with danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) and pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs).
Damps and pamps stimulate a defensive inflammatory response to counteract the danger. This protective reaction is to help make you resistant to potential harm: immunity.
The 3 Types of Immunity
Innate immunity involves barriers, such as your mucous membranes and skin, that react to harmful substances. This is the immune system’s first response to any substance that is foreign to the body.
Adaptive immunity is the response to infection from microorganisms or vaccinations against them. This immune response can prevent reinfection for a lifetime.
Passive immunity occurs when disease antibodies are introduced to rather than produced by the immune system. The duration of this immediate protection is short, lasting for just a few weeks or months.
Being protected by your immune system is a complex affair that involves a network of cells, tissues and organs that work together against infections and disease onset. That means the immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing: providing immunity. The opposite is true of autoimmunity.
Horror of Self-Toxicity
Back in the early 1900s, Paul Erlich, a Nobel Prize-winning German physician, came up with the term horror autotoxicus: horror of self-toxicity. This was Erlich’s response to a hypothesis at the time that suggested the possibility of autoimmunity, when the immune system acts like your personal enemy, attacking instead of protecting. Erlich was certain this could not possibly happen in the human body.
As renowned as Paul Erlich was, he was wrong. However, his opinion stood the test of time until the mid-fifties, when autoimmune disorders were officially recognized.
When the immune system goes awry, it can attack healthy cells, tissues and organs. Why this happens remains uncertain although there are a number of unproven theories that suggest environmental conditions, hormonal changes, genetics and stress as possible causes.
Both physical and psychological stress are particularly interesting as plausible triggers of autoimmunity. According to Ana-Maria Orbai, a rheumatologist at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, it’s possible that your immune system reaches a point where it is unable to cope with the amount of stress, resulting in autoimmune disease.
The possibility of autoimmunity kicking in when things get too intense has also resulted in intense research. As Orbai speculates: “When does the stress on your body exceed your immune system’s ability to handle it? If we knew this, it could be the key to preventing autoimmune disease before it develops.”
Speculation on what can be done to prevent autoimmunity continues to examine different avenues of approach.
Inflammation is a major factor in many chronic diseases, particularly those involving autoimmunity. As a result, regulating inflammation plays a role in treating such conditions. It follows that preventing inflammation helps to avoid autoimmunity, especially in regard to diet.
Replacing inflammatory foods with anti-inflammatory nourishment can make a difference. The evidence points once again to a primarily plant-based diet. Even something as simple as switching to extra virgin olive oil can have a positively preventive impact.
AIM’s Supplemental Plant-Based Lineup
It can’t be said enough that The AIM Companies™ has promoted plant-based nutrition as primary food intake since first providing supplemental green food from barley grass nearly 40 years ago.
This lifestyle recommendation remains to this very day along with backing up this wholesome diet with additional nutrition that works in the form of whole-food powders and supplements that target specific health goals, including stress reduction.
The more you increase your plant-based intake, the more you support an immune system that supports your health.