I've decided that it would be really helpful to my readers if I added a few easy to access pages with very basic, but very important, information.  A full understanding of the basics can help a person immensely when they are trying to tackle a disease and start a brand new lifestyle.  I'll be calling these pages, "Starting Point" and each one will cover a different aspect of the basics.

The very first thing to have a good grasp on is autoimmunity itself.  If you are here chances are you or someone you love are dealing with autoimmune disease or maybe you suspect it as the cause of health issues you are experiencing.  So what is autoimmunity?

cellsIn the simplest terms, autoimmunity is when your immune system fails to recognize you as you.  This happens a little bit in everyone, but normally that reaction is stopped.  In some people (with a genetic predisposition that has somehow been triggered) the "Stop!  That's not a bad guy!" message is ignored.  When this happens an autoimmune disease develops.  The immune system was doing its normal job of protecting you from invaders, like bacteria or viruses, and suddenly it didn't recognize you anymore.  It starts attacking the cells it was protecting.

The area it was protecting and is now attacking defines the autoimmune disease.   The diseases fall into two categories:  organ-specific and non-organ-specific.  If your immune system suddenly stopped recognizing your pancreas as you and started attacking it, you would develop Type 1 Diabetes, an organ-specific autoimmune disease.  If the inappropriate immune response is more widespread, you might develop a non-organ specific autoimmune disease, like Rheumatoid Arthritis.  There are 80-100 autoimmune diseases, with 40 others suspected as possibly being autoimmune in nature as well.

It is not well understood yet why the immune system does this in a person with a genetic predisposition, but once an autoimmune disease develops others often follow.  About 25% of people with autoimmune disease develop Multiple Autoimmune Syndrome (MAS), which is defined as having three or more autoimmune disorders, usually one of them is a skin disorder.  Particular autoimmunes often group together, for instance Hashimoto's Thyroidistis and Celiac Disease.

There are approximately 50 million Americans with autoimmune diseases, which is 1 in 5 of us.  Of those, 30 million or a whopping 75%, are women.  Autoimmune disease is also on the rise.

I highly recommend the following site as a great source of info on autoimmunity:

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc.

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