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Modern medicine has been successful in eradicating much of the traditional childhood epidemics like measles, mumps, polio, whooping-cough and rubella. However, what we are dealing with today is a very different type of epidemic – one that has its roots in chronic inflammation, Immune dysregulation.

Chronic conditions like allergies, eczema and asthma have risen exponentially in babies and children and are today considered to be the new childhood epidemics. Sadly, the new “normal” for children today are chronic health issues with chronic symptoms and medications to manage them.

Sadly, the new “normal” for children today are chronic health issues with chronic symptoms and medications to manage them.

What has changed for our children?

Our children today are experiencing various forms of what is called “immune system dysregulation” leading to symptoms such as allergies, asthma, food sensitivities, eczema and many more. This onslaught on our children’s immune systems stem from three major changes that have taken place in the recent past:

  • increase in exposure to toxins.
  • undernutrition due to poor food choices as well as nutritionally depleted foods.
  • Poor gut health and our disconnect with nature and in particular with our “old friends” – our gut microbes.

Our immune system’s primary role is that of “tolerance” that is, to surveil the environment for possible threats and then NOT react. In fact, the hallmark of a healthy immune system is that it mounts a response appropriate to the level of threat and is tightly controlled through multiple mechanisms. Thus, most immune functions in our body occur without our knowledge. However, due to the reasons mentioned above, our immune systems are increasingly overwrought and confused (this is especially true of our children where the immune system is still developing). Also, an integral part of our immune response includes secretion of inflammatory chemicals like cytokines. It is only when this inflammation goes on for extended periods of time and becomes chronic when it can become harmful for us.

The hallmark of a healthy immune system is that it mounts a response appropriate to the level of threat.

PC: momtastic.com

More than 70% of our immune system is in our gut

The other critical aspect of our immune system is that it is intricately connected to our gut health. This is because more than ⅔ of our immune system is actually in our gut! Also, the collection of gut microbes plays a key role in making sure that our immune system remains calm and is not over reactive. It is only when there is a disruption in our microbial health that we see the effects of immune dysregulation manifesting as eczema, allergies, asthma, arthritis and other autoimmune disorders.

More than ⅔ of our immune system is actually in our gut!

This chronic inflammation is at the root of many chronic conditions that we see today. Thus the key in dealing with these kinds of conditions is to find and then address the root cause. Since chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation usually start in our gut, that is usually where we need to focus first.

For more information, you can watch this webinar “Is your child’s immune system at risk?

Anindita is India’s first certified Functional Medicine Health Coach from the US-based Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCA). She is also the author of “I have eczema…so what?” The views expressed are the author’s own.
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