In our clinic, I help many people with auto immune diseases. Defined as any of these diseases where your body turns on itself and attacks itself, the list of auto immune diseases is a long one, containing 98 medically diagnosed conditions including:
- Addison’s disease targeting the adrenal glands
- Autoimmune hepatitis affecting the liver
- Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis of the gastrointestinal tract
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis attacking the thyroid gland
- Multiple Sclerosis affecting the nervous system
- Autoimmune pancreatitis leading to insulin and blood sugar control problems
- Rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis causing muscle and joint pain.
Statistics say that 1 in 5 people have an autoimmune disorder, and a first-degree relative with auto immune disease will dramatically increase your risk of developing some form of autoimmunity.
I’ve spoken earlier about the gluten connection to auto immunity, but today I want to cover one of the other common drivers of autoimmunity: mineral deficiency and heavy metal, toxicity, or excess.
Mineral Deficiency & Autoimmunity
Would you believe that despite how over caloried many Australian’s are we are in fact chronically under nourished? Our mineral deficient soils produce mineral deficient plants and livestock, and even a healthy diet is lacking in minerals.
The link between mineral deficiency and autoimmunity is a two way link: deficiencies in key minerals trigger auto immunity by breaking important functions; for example: hydrochloric acid production in the gut and the proper maturation of white blood cells. At the same time damage from auto immune diseases, particularly to the digestive tract and small intestine, prevent the absorption of minerals.
Despite the fact magnesium is a well-known mineral, and an often supplemented mineral, deficiencies are quite common.
One of magnesium’s many functions is reducing inflammation. So, it’s not surprising that many patients with auto immune disorders– which are highly inflammatory– are often quite deficient in magnesium.
Magnesium plays an important role in the energy production cycle and a deficiency can lead to insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and restless legs.
A little less well known than magnesium but still a regularly supplemented mineral, zinc is another common mineral deficiency. Zinc deficiency is particularly common in men.
Zinc is an important mineral for regulating immune function and patients with autoimmune disease will test low in zinc. The zinc catch 22 is that to absorb zinc properly, requires that you already have sufficient levels to properly produce and release hydrochloric acid in your stomach.
Zinc absorption is further hindered by the high levels of copper in our water and food. Copper and zinc compete for absorption, and sadly it is copper that is more readily absorbed.
It is well known that Australian soils are deficient in zinc. In addition to proper immune function, Zinc is essential for skin health, appetite regulation, and hormonal balance.
The least well known, but probably one of the single most important minerals in auto immunity is Selenium.
A powerful antioxidant and essential for healthy immune function, Selenium is one of the most important minerals for detoxification, particularly of heavy metals. Unfortunately, modern farming methods and depleted soils mean that selenium is at very low levels in our food chain and deficiency is common.
Insufficient selenium stores can allow toxic mineral accumulation, particularly mercury, and cadmium.
Toxic Mineral Excess & Autoimmunity
On the flip side of mineral deficiency is excess, particularly an excess of toxic minerals and heavy metals. Studies have linked heavy metals– including mercury, cadmium, lead and aluminium– with auto immune disease.
Through testing I have found heavy metal toxicity to be incredibly common. Heavy metals are long lasting, cumulative toxins that are present in our food chain, environment, and homes. Exposure to heavy metals is small and incremental but happens day in and day out leading to; eventually, toxic levels. It is important to stress that heavy metals are naturally occurring elements, and sometimes even needed elements, it is their accumulation in the body that is a problem.
Heavy metals are so toxic that your body will rapidly remove heavy metals from the blood and store in fat and other body tissues. This makes detecting heavy metals through blood testing difficult as high levels will only show for a short time after exposure. Accurate detection of total heavy metal exposure requires hair mineral testing or Oligoscan. Oligoscan has recently been approved for use in Australia as a class IIa approved medical device. It is the preferred method as results are obtained immediately as opposed to sending a hair tissue sample and waiting weeks for results.
The most common, also one of the most toxic. 9 out of 10 clients show evidence of high levels of mercury.
Mercury toxicity can affect every system in the body. Cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, nervous system, digestive system, and lungs, all are negatively affected by high levels of mercury.
Sources of mercury toxicity include dental amalgams, pharmaceutical products, fish and industrial byproducts.
Some toxic effects include:
- leaky gut syndrome
- cognitive delay,
- fatigue and
- thyroid dysfunction.
One of the major sources of Cadmium is from cigarette smoke. So both current and past smokers as well as passive smokers are at significant risk of cadmium toxicity.
Even if you have never smoked or been around a smoker you’re not off the hook. Cadmium is also found in exhaust fumes from cars, burning plastics, and coal fired industry. Even worse, Cadmium is now present in the food chain through contamination of soil with highest concentrations in potatoes and leafy greens.
We regularly see Cadmium toxicity in clients with auto immune diseases. It commonly manifests as symptoms including:
- Chronic Fatigue and un-refreshing sleep
- Kidney dysfunction
- Increased risk of bone fractures
- Learning difficulties in children
- Disruptive action of the immune system
While not technically a heavy metal, I find most clients have high levels of aluminium. This isn’t surprising when you consider how widely used aluminium is. You not only find aluminium in kitchen utensils and anti perspirants, but it is also frequently used in:
- tap water where aluminium sulfate is used to eliminate micro-organisms
- vaccines where it is used as an adjuvant
- food additives such as dyes and anti-coagulants.
Like the other heavy metals I’ve spoken about, aluminium doesn’t just lead to auto immune diseases. Other common signs of aluminium toxicity include:
- rickets and osteoporosis due to impaired calcium and phosphorus absorption
- muscle aches and inflammatory muscles disease
- digestive disorders, impaired liver function, colic and renal failure
Aluminium has also been shown to be highly toxic for the brain and can cause memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Several studies show that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is eight times higher in people who consume an unusually high amount of aluminium.
Correcting Mineral Deficiencies & Mineral Excesses
The first step, and often the hardest, in correcting mineral deficiencies and excesses is identifying the problems.
Blood tests for mineral and heavy metal toxicity are inaccurate as blood is used for transport not storage. Minerals and particularly heavy metals are quickly transported out of the blood and into surrounding tissues, fat, and bone.
Using hair mineral testing is time-consuming as a sample need to be sent off to a lab and processed. This makes it impractical for regular testing.
The Oligoscan is a revolutionary technology that allows health practitioners to make a precise analysis of minerals, trace elements, and heavy metals currently present in the tissues and peripheral blood vessels, in real time and obtain results within your consultation. No biopsy, blood or hair sample is needed.
Passion 4 Health Natural Medicine Centre now offers this cutting edge technology that has been around for years in Europe, performed in clinic, quick, pain free and test results are ready within minutes to review.