• -Natalie

Let's Talk About Autoimmune Disease...

The immune system is like a surveillance system. It constantly surveils (patrols) the human body looking for altered self (such as malignancy) and dangerous non-self (such as pathogens).


What exactly is altered self? These are mutated cells in our body.

What exactly is non-self? Anything that isn't YOU! Cells that are not part of your body, they don't carry your unique DNA.


There are two types of non-self: harmless and dangerous.

Harmless non-self would be things like food, pollen, and dander.

Dangerous non-self would be pathogens, as mentioned above.


The job of the immune system is to eliminate dangerous non-self as well as altered/mutated self, and ignore harmless non-self.


But what happens when the immune system does not function properly? What happens if you can't discriminate between self and non-self?


Scenario 1:

The immune system does not ignore the harmless foreign cells such as food and dander. Instead, it attacks. This results in allergic diseases.


Scenario 2:

The immune system cannot discriminate between self and non-self. This results in autoimmune diseases.


Scenario 3:

The immune system cannot recognize dangerous, non-self (malignant cells). This results in cancer.


In summary, although food allergy is an immune system "malfunction", it is not technically an autoimmune condition.

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