There is an incredibly complex process going on in our bodies, both leading to migraines and headaches as well as to autoimmunity. Luckily, by understanding what causes it, triggers it and “throws gasoline on the fire” we can take steps to avoid falling into this vicious cycle. In this article, I will be covering 4 factors that trigger autoimmunity, migraines and headaches. Let’s start with what autoimmunity is and how we can understand it.

What is autoimmunity?

Autoimmunity is a process by which our adaptive immune system targets substances in our body and attacks them.

Often these substances are made up of proteins which are chains of amino acid sequences.

Our actual immune cells will target sections of these sequences and create millions of antibodies that are targeted to find this specific sequence of amino acids and attack it.

Throughout this process there are millions of immune cells that are brought in so that the combination of each of them finding and attacking that specific sequence can actually make a difference in the grand scheme of our body.

But we can run into problems because these immune cells only know that they need to target the specific sequence of amino acids. They aren’t necessarily keen to the idea that there may be helpful tissues, chemicals and substances that contain these same sequences.

This is where molecular mimicry comes in.

Molecular mimicry is where the same sections of amino acids on substances such as gluten are found on bodily tissues like those of the thyroid.

This can set us up for a problem if we have something like leaky gut which I will get into below.

If our immune cells find that gluten is a problematic food that keeps being found in our blood because of a leaky gut then it can begin targeting them and develop billions of immune cells that will be specifically targeted to attack gluten.

Now, if this system begins making immune cells for the sequences of amino acids found in gluten and one of them happens to be the same sequence as is found in our thyroid….

Then our immune cells can begin attacking our thyroid creating inflammation, destroying our thyroid and subsequently developing metabolic issues and diseases like hashimotos.

But our body is not dumb, there are systems to regulate the immune cells targeting, creation, as well as double check to make sure that they are not destroying friendlies.

This is where we understand how the body goes into dysfunction where the fail-safe systems backfire and the destruction continues.

4 Factors That Trigger Autoimmunity, Migraines and Headaches

There are 4 factors that will predispose us and push our body over the edge to the point that there is more dysfunction in the system than there are fail-safes to keep us protected. The first is our genetic susceptibility.

1. Genetic Susceptibility

This is the hand of cards we’ve been dealt in life. But it’s also the way our parents have lived, how we spent our childhoods and the beliefs we hold.

I’m not one to leave you believing that just because of your genes, you are stuck sick, unhealthy and unwhole for your entire life. It’s simply not true because of epigenetics.

Epigenetics are the controllers of genes and even though our genes might be the blueprint to the tissues made in our body, it is our epigenetics that decides what gets acted out and which genes are activated.

This is why Bruce Liptons work on the power of belief has been so amazing.

The behaviours, attitudes and emotions that you hold are constantly turning on and off genes and their ability to support your functioning.

Genes are not a static thing, they are constantly changing.

On top of understanding that by changing the way we feel about our health and how we show our body we feel about our health we can also change the way our childhoods have programmed us.

Childhood is the period of our lives where we act like a sponge and absorb all of the information necessary for our body to assess how we should function in the world.

If our body and mind gets the idea that we live in a world of scarcity, fear and a massive lack of safety and security it will be programmed differently.

We will literally program into our genes and bodies expression that the world is not safe and that we have to be highly vigilant all of the time incase something bad happens.

But this is not true. We live in the most abundant world to date and have all of our needs taken care of with the push of a button. We are far from the wild natural world full of predators and actual life threatening fears.

We just need to learn it consciously and then take the time to program it into our bodies subconsciously.

Using journaling, mindfulness, meditation, affirmations and gratitude to change the way our body is responding to stress.

Not only is stress a major part of how well we rest, digest and repair our tissues but it’s also a determining factor in how our genes function and which ones are on or off.

If we are on high alert all of the time, so will our immune system be. This will give us a much higher chance of developing the immune antibodies that are destroying just a little too much ending up in the detriment of our own tissues.

But it is up to you to choose and set the course.

2. Environmental Stressors

There are over 100,000 brand new chemicals in our air, food, water and soil with thousands more added every year.

The problem is only a few hundred have been tested for safety in humans and many are being found to be unsafe.

The creation of them is progressing much faster than the regulation and we’ve seen with substances like glyphosate, BPA and lead that we need regulation before it gets into everything we use.

We want to make sure we check over our surroundings and the areas that chemicals are coming in to them.

This includes a few key areas that I will list below but the big troublemakers here have been the petroleum products and synthetics.

Things like iron, cotton and ceramics have been around a long time. It is the newer additions like alloys that contain heavy metals, fibres and their colorings that contain endocrine disruptors.

Not only are these substances aggravating our immune system but they are also clogging up our systems of detoxification like the liver, kidneys, lungs, skin and intestines.

The average woman will put on over 100 chemicals before she goes to work in the morning and this is largely from hygiene products, fragrances and makeup.

Ever heard the term obesogens? Its a term used to describe endocrine disruptors like BPA which are found in many fragrances that deregulated the way your hormones function and literally make you obese.

These chemicals are not without reprecussions and even though we cannot be completely free of them because of the world we live in we have to do our part to reduce our intake especially in the directly absorbable areas.

New products are well known for their offgassing(that new car smell) which is full of tens of thousands of chemicals that have adverse effects on our bodies. We inhale litres of this every breath and during the first year a car is manufactured this is the worst.

The biggest tips here are:

  • Everything you put on your skin needs to be assessed as your skin absorbs 60% of what’s put on it

  • Makeups are massively unregulated and one of the largest contributors to toxicity in women

  • Look at ingredients and understand that things like “fragrances” are industry protected terms that can contain hundreds of different unregulated chemicals

  • It can be incredibly annoying to look at ingredients and have to decipher everything so its much easier to choose trusted and reputable brands that have safe products and high standards

  • Anything you put into your body – Know where your water is sourced from and what is in it, avoid plastics – Only eat pastured and grass fed meats along with as many organic fruits and vegetables as you can find to decrease how much your microbiome is affected by these and avoid things like contributing to leaky gut which we will cover in #3

  • Cleaning products are anything but easy on the body especially because they are specifically there to kill bacteria of which we have 100 trillion of that we need and depend on – Many of the natural and old school cleaners like vinegar and baking soda will do the job well if not better than the new stuff, without clogging you up

  • Reduce ALL EMF exposure and distance yourself whenever and wherever possible

  • See the Environmental Working Group (EWG)

We want to reduce our exposure in our environment to foreign substances which interact with our immune system and add to the burden on our bodies. It is only in the last 50 -100 years that we have completely shifted our entire exposure and now our genes have to scramble to make sense of things.

Our genes expect a certain way of living based on the million years it took to get here, give it as close to what it expects and it will thank you.

3. Leaky gut

Leaky gut is the newer kid on the blog because it has only been in the last 20-30 years that it was discovered and 5 years that it has become more main -stream.

But it is anything but second priority.

Our gut contains 80% of our immune system and 30% of our nervous system. This ranks it very high on the list of priorities of the body to protect because it knows that this is where we interact with the outside world the most.

A substance that we eat is technically not inside of our bodies until it is absorbed. The long tube from our mouth to butt is designed this way to protect us from any pathogens or organisms that should not be in the body while still being able to break down food.

But then we have leaky gut.

This is a mechanism by which the cells that form the tube in our intestines get spaced apart because of a process of disease and because of a substance called zonulin.

When the space between cells opens up, it allows molecules that should not be in the body to get through. Anything from microorganisms to food particles to toxins to genetic material to nutrients.

They can all get through because the space between these cells is unregulated.

When these substances get into our body, they get flagged by our immune system because they are not supposed to be here.

If we are lucky we only get a few immune cells to come in, break them down according to the right sequences in their amino acids and that’s that, problem over.

But especially if we are high strung, if our immune system is on high alert and we are being bombarded with toxins and substances we are not digesting then many particles get into our body.

With foreign particles getting into our body our immune system starts to target them and then develop reserves of antibodies that can target them if they ever come back.

If even one of these substances they begin attacking has the same sequence of amino acids as our bodily tissues, queue the tissue destruction and rampant inflammation.

Or if the particles are landing in our joints and our immune system is attacking them there then we can set ourselves up for massive joint pain and inflammation.

There are many systems that have to go wrong and go through dysfunction and this is why the body needs support through lowering toxic burden, and healing leaky gut.

Healing leaky gut requires that we address what is causing the leaky gut in the first place and this is often:

But we can also go about supporting the healing and recovery of our gut using substances like:

4. Trauma

This is one of the least talked about causes of autoimmunity and migraines but it absolutely needs to be talked about.

Trauma and specifically anything in the category of ACEs or adverse childhood events should be considered when we are dealing with healing and recovery.

These are events which change the way we behave, act or perceive in the world.

They are the basis for making massive epigenetic changes to our systems which can wire us up for our entire lives.

Do you ever find yourself put into a situation where you feel incredibly thankful and happy only to be triggered by thoughts or emotions that make you feel like you should be doing something about perceived problems?

A tell tale sign is finding that you worry about things going wrong when everything is actually okay.

You want to look deeper into this and see a tension, stress and trauma therapist(TRE), see the work of Byron Katie or try some EFT.

It is important to combine these 4 factors in your own life to add to the ability to calm down and regulate the immune system and cool any inflammation that may be going on.

  • Understand that your current perceptions and behaviours are insights into how your body is wound up

  • Reduce the load that the environment, everything on us, in us and around us has on our physiology

  • Look at and address the causes of leaky gut while supporting its repair

  • Release those deep emotional wounds with some help

See our video below on the 4 Factors that trigger autoimmunity, migraines and headaches here:

Click here to join the migraine professional community and learn more about migraines and headaches than you’ve ever known before.

Do you struggle with one of these 4 areas? Which one?

Mark Canadic

Mark Canadic

Holistic Health Practitioner

Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.

 

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