Enzymes and digestion: new ways to prevent and treat autoimmune diseases

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19727697_mWhat is the connection between enzymes and autoimmune diseases?

People like us, who have been working every day, for years, trying to help healing or, at least, controlling these diseases, understand the basic importance of a complete digestion and of the removal of food antigens from the intestine. The use of enzymes is one of the weapons most frequently used within each one’s treatment plan, together with anti-inflammatory and immune regulatory drugs.

The validation of such clinical appearance derives not only from the practical experience of the treatment, but especially from the numerous research projects, which in recent years have featured a better understanding of many autoimmune diseases.

Many people think of autoimmune diseases such as conditions in which the body builds antibodies against itself, facilitating self-destruction.

Such belief is truly wrong, because in reality many autoantibodies are “normally” present in people who do not have any kind of symptom and in many cases (such as in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), the presence of autoantibodies, even at high levels, does not necessarily mean that the thyroid will stop working.

The presence of autoantibodies, in fact, can sometimes be detected by chance after years in people whose thyroid continues to work correctly.

What causes a “disease” is the inflammatory reaction, almost always triggered by an inflammatory reaction in which food-related inflammation often plays a decisive role.

The cytokines BAFF and the PAF are often associated with such trigger, while autoantibodies give rise, together with certain types of proteins absorbed from the intestine but only partially digested, to complex molecular networks that are filtered by certain organs, activating a cascade of inflammatory reactions of strong impact to the entire body.

Intestinal malabsorption, food-related inflammation and the “leaky gut syndrome” (in which intestinal permeability is increased) are all conditions which facilitate the emergence of autoimmune diseases. Just think, for instance, to the close relationship between thyroiditis and gluten sensitivity.

Increased intestinal permeability is the possible cause of many autoimmune diseases, as published on Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology by Fasano et al. (Fasano A. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2012 Feb;42(1):71-8. doi:10.1007/s12016-011-8291-x) while the complete enzymatic digestion of gliadin, accomplished by proteases produced by the mould genus Aspergillus, may reduce or cancel the response triggered by gluten-reactive T-cells (Toft-Hansen H et al, Clin Immunol. 2014 Aug, 153(2):323-31. doi: 10.1016/ j.clim.2014.05.009. Epub 2014 Jun 3).

This last work, published in August 2014 on Clinical Immunology, explains why the complete digestion of gliadin can reduce the reactivity that leads to celiac disease in susceptible individuals.

A similar example of correlation has been known for a long time for rheumatoid arthritis, and in fact in our centre we guide people suffering from autoimmune diseases to recovery of well-being through specific therapeutic paths.

Therefore, autoimmune reactions are often stimulated by the presence of a lattice of undigested proteins in which autoantibodies are the “binder” and their presence triggers the action of the complement (detectable in the blood as C3 and C4 proteins), which in fact results to be often reduced in that scenario.

When these cases of “traffic jam” of undigested proteins, forming big clusters, occur in wrong areas, they activate the C3 (complement) cascade, causing specific organ damage.

Logically, the potential interfering role played by gastric protectors towards this type of process comes straight to our mind.

Already since 2003, their possible action in exacerbating allergies and inhibiting digestion has been extensively documented. The use of digestive enzymes in support to complete digestion is highly effective when any type of gastric protector is used in parallel.

For every form of autoimmune condition, in our clinical practice we tend to combine natural anti-inflammatory substances such as Ribilla (consisting on perilla oil and blackcurrant) with the use of enzymes to facilitate a complete food digestion, thus reducing the part played by food-related inflammation. Together with this, we obviously analyse the food personal profile through an IgG evaluation test.

We do remind everyone about the importance of prolonged chewing, which immediately starts the best possible form of digestion, helping pancreas and the other digestive organs in their action and reducing the presence of intestinal antigens to a minimum.

If a sandwich has not been digested well, one will end up having bits of pig, cow and wheat field in the gut; instead, if it was digested well, only neutral amino acids, the energy source of everyone.

The fact that a vast majority of the autoimmune, inflammatory and allergic conditions followed by us do benefit from the use of enzymes (usually 1 capsule before each of the three meals for 15 days, followed by 3-4 days of suspension before re-use) suggests how poor digestion is probably not the sole cause but certainly an important co-factor of such disorders, and among all the causes it is an easily solvable one, for sure