How Are Molecular Mimicry and Autoimmune Disease Related?
When your body is working optimally, you barely even have to think about it. In fact, it probably never occurs to you that your body can actually make mistakes. Yet there’s something called molecular mimicry that’s a dangerous case of mistaken identity made by your immune system. A host of health issues — including the autoimmunity that affects up to 753 million people around the globe1 — can ensue when this occurs in your body.
Molecular mimicry usually has its roots in your gut, which is the home to 70% of your immune system. To understand molecular mimicry, we must first understand leaky gut.
What is Leaky Gut?
Your digestive system breaks down the food you eat to nourish all the cells in your body. Most of this process happens within your gut. Inside your gut there are tiny projections called villi. They look like little fingers covered with hairs called microvilli.
The villi grab micronutrients floating in your gut that have been broken down from the food you eat. The villi and the microvilli push these micronutrients toward tiny openings in your gut wall directly into your bloodstream. Then your blood carries this nourishment to all the cells in your body.
When you eat an inflammatory diet and are exposed to environmental toxins, infections, and stress, the toxic overload becomes too much for your body. As a result, the tiny openings in your intestinal wall break open in what conventional medicine terms increased intestinal permeability. Microbes, toxins, and undigested food particles that should have been passed out of your body enter your bloodstream through these large openings. Once this happens, you have a leaky gut.
What Causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?
At the top of the list are foods like gluten and dairy products, followed by viruses and environmental triggers. Let’s focus on foods. When gluten is present in your small intestine, the protein gliadin (found in gluten) signals the release of a chemical called zonulin. Zonulin causes the tight junctions of your intestinal wall to open up, resulting in leaky gut.
Once your gut is leaky, the gluten molecules — and others! — can escape into your bloodstream, where they were never meant to be. Your immune system memorizes the structure of the invading pathogen and develops a defense system to recognize it in the future. This is what it should do.
What is Molecular Mimicry?
Molecular mimicry, as I stated, is a dangerous case of mistaken identity. Essentially, your immune system takes aim at the wrong target — your own tissues — because it confuses your cells with the molecular structure of an “invader.”
You actually have two parts of your immune system: the innate and the adaptive. Innate immunity is programmed in our genetic material. This part of the system naturally activates your white blood cells to go to the site of a cut, for example.
The adaptive immune system complements the innate system. The adaptive system learns and can mobilize your entire immune system. It springs into action against such things as the common cold, the influenza virus, and other viral infections. Both parts of the immune system can stimulate the lymph nodes.
However, in molecular mimicry, T cells and B cells made in your bone marrow as part of your adaptive immune system, go rogue and attack cells similar to the invaders.2 And, as I mentioned before, one of the most common triggers is the foods we eat. There’s a very strong correlation between the consumption of gluten and milk products in molecular mimicry. This occurs because the protein structure of gluten and dairy are similar to those of your body’s own cells, particularly those of your thyroid gland.3
As your gut remains leaky and more and more particles escape into your bloodstream, your immune system sends out wave after wave of inflammation. This inflammation can land you on what I call the autoimmune spectrum.
At the low end of the autoimmune spectrum are those of you who are only moderately inflamed with symptoms that come and go such as occasional acne or digestive issues. At the middle of the spectrum are those who experience chronic symptoms which might include joint pain, obesity, allergies, muscle aches, and fatigue. At the far end of the spectrum are those who have been diagnosed with a full-blown autoimmune disease such as lupus, Hashimoto’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or multiple sclerosis.
How to Support Your Body and Reverse Autoimmune Disease
We often think of the word “disease” as something that’s happening to you. Yet with an autoimmune disease, the reality is that it’s most likely something we have caused through diet and lifestyle choices. The good news is that also means we can act to reverse it and my free training will show you how.
In the free training, I talk extensively about The Myers Way®. I created The Myers Way® to help people just like you (and me!) work their way back down the autoimmune spectrum. I have used this approach successfully with thousands of patients in my clinic. I’ve also shared this information with people around the world.
When it comes to molecular mimicry, the first pillar — heal your gut — is the key. This pillar incorporates my 4R approach to healing your gut. The 4Rs are:
- Remove. Aside from removing gluten and dairy from your diet, you’ll also want to eliminate toxic and inflammatory foods as well as gut infections and any other factors that negatively affect the gut including food allergies.
- Replace. Replace the good that’s gone missing, such as adding back digestive enzymes required for proper digestion and HCL for optimal pH balance and mineral absorption.
- Reinoculate. Restore a healthy balance of good bacteria with a high-quality, multi-strain, high-potency probiotic supplement.
- Repair. Provide the nutrients necessary to help restore your gut lining. My most comprehensive weapon against leaky gut is Leaky Gut Revive® which repairs damaged cells and helps build new intestinal tissue.
Conventional doctors would say you must learn to live with your symptoms and the negative side effects of conventional medicine. However, as I saw in my clinic thousands of times, there are alternative solutions that work! You can make lifestyle changes that will enable you to take back control of your health. My free training is the ideal place to begin your journey to optimal health.