What causes Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
The fact is, no-one knows, sure there are lots of theories and studies, but none that are proven or definitive. I have far too many of my own theories and thoughts and often sit wondering what brought IBD into my life. What did I do wrong (or not do right) to bring on the auto-immune system meltdown that’s attacking me from the inside?
Before you read on, please understand that I’m not trying to say that my thoughts and theories below are the potential cause of any diseases. These are simply my own private thoughts flowing out of my over active brain and into this blog post. I sit and do a lot of thinking like this since my diagnosis, trying to justify the ‘WHY ME’ questions that rattle around in my head daily!
Is the cause something specific to an individual lifestyle and diet?
Unlikely, IBD can affect anyone, any age, anywhere and in varying degrees of severity, so it wouldn’t be rational to pinpoint any particular lifestyle, diet or environment as being a direct cause, would it?
Clearly it has to be something that we’re ALL exposed to then?
OK, that makes sense to me, does it to you? If you’re following my line of thought, there aren’t that many common things that the entire population of the World are exposed to.
We can rule out diet as I’ve suggested, so the root cause probably can’t be specifically food related, diets across the world vary so much. (From personal experience however, I know that food choice affects IBD once you have the condition, so who knows?)
We can rule out habitat, so the cause probably can’t be attributed to the location you live in or local environment, again, this varies dramatically right around the world. (But, Crohn’s is more likely to appear in white people of European descent, especially those descended from Ashkenazi Jews who lived in Eastern Europe and Russia)
We can also rule out age as a contributory factor, IBD is indiscriminate, the very young to the very old can all be affected. (The disease can start at any age, but usually appears for the first time between age 10 & 40)
OK, so what does that leave? What could be a common factor across the entire globe, no matter who you are, where you live or what you eat?
I’ve added water to my theory, simply because everyone the world over consumes water, fact! We’re made of water and we exist because of water. But could there be something in water that promotes an inflammatory response in humans?
Very unlikely don’t you think? Or is it?
Is there something in the very air we breathe that’s an inflammatory agent? You could argue that someone living in the heart of a city ingests different air to someone living in a rural community. BUT, air moves freely around the world, it crosses borders, oceans and continents and carries pollutants and chemicals with it. Yes, the quantities of pollution will be lower away from the congested cities, but that pollution will still be present. Maybe in sufficient amounts to cause a variety of health issues?
Is that a possibility? Something I can think over in my puddled little brain later!
Stress or emotion?
Well one thing’s for sure, everyone, everywhere can be subjected to stress. It could be a wild animal stalking you through a jungle, or a deadline to get that report in to the boss. The stress triggers may vary, but the emotional response always remains the same. Stress is an emotional response or a series of emotional responses to a situation. But do stress or emotions originate in our head, our guts or both?
Now think of the phrases you hear often :
The gut and the brain are connected on an emotional level. The guts are more than just a simple production line, designed to process food and dispose of waste. The gut reacts to every emotion we feel, from the butterflies when we’re excited to acid indigestion or even diarrhea when we’re upset.
We know that the immune system is out of control in any auto-immune disease such as Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, but maybe, just maybe, it begins with a malfunctioning emotional system? Maybe the brain returns to it’s normal, relaxed state after an emotional response, but the second emotional centre, the guts, don’t go back to doing their job the way they should, don’t know when it’s time to sit back and relax again. What if the ‘brain to gut’ connection is the thing that’s broken, the brain switches off it’s reaction to emotion but forgets to tell the poor old guts to do the same?
I don’t think our emotions can bring on an inflammatory bowl disease. But, maybe, the emotional response simply never gets switched off in some people and our bodies get confused and attack themselves.
I’m going to give more thought to this, who knows, perhaps I can get my brain and guts talking again and they might just make friends with each other and put an end to this internal bickering. Come on guys, let’s all try to get along, it’s your home your destroying.
And your home is eeeerm, well…… ME 🙂
Everything you’ve just read of course is unscientific, probably impossible to prove and most likely utter rubbish, but it is food for thought and today, my brain has spit this out to try and find some justification for my sore, angry innards.
Interestingly, the most stressed (or distressed) I’ve ever felt in my entire life was in the 1990’s when my mother was seriously ill and eventually died, around the same time I began having symptoms, my mother died as a result of complications with Crohn’s disease!
Thanks for reading and please add your comments below 🙂