Disorders of our body’s immune system are frustratingly complex and affect the lives of more than 20 million Americans. Finalizing a diagnosis with the range of symptoms that are possible in these diseases is a complex process. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune problems noted on Medline Plus. People with one of these diagnoses need to be acutely aware of the risk posed to their health by the virus.
Grasping the critical importance of the immune response in the body is essential for everyone today as the viral invasion shines a spotlight on our baseline health. We carry a vast array of beneficial microorganisms in our body and they have a key role in helping our body defend itself against infection. You may have heard the term microbiome, often seen on supplements, to describe their ability to increase microorganisms in the intestinal tract.
Immune System on Alert
Our amazing and complex immune systems have two primary components, the innate system (which likely evolved with us through the millennia ) and the complement system which is the source of our ability to resist infection. Sometimes, as autoimmune diseases have taught us, this complex system attacks the host instead of outside invaders, causing pain and disabilities.
In this pandemic, people with one of the autoimmune disorders are at greater risk. Dr. Victoria Seligman, a Rheumatologist, recommends looking at controllable risks to your health for everyone, not just for her patients who have an autoimmune disorder. She says we need to treat our microbiome as a precious protector of our health.
Consider these questions:
- Am I smoking?
Research is clear this habit negatively affects our immune system.
- Am I drinking alcohol?
It seems the amount and type of alcohol consumed is the source of the negative affect.
- Am I significantly overweight?
Research again shows that weight is a driving factor for many of the chronic diseases.
- Am I a sun worshiper or other factors such as poor air quality or tobacco smoke around me?
These factors are constantly surfacing in research as contributors to various ills.
No Hidden Secrets
The research into key areas that impact our immunity has been validated and is expanding our knowledge all the time. In fact, this list may seem unimpressive because they are not new, but the evidence is continuing to mount in favor of their benefit. The research overview for this information is part of the Cochrane Library.
Work toward a diet that is based on anti-inflammatory foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish such as salmon with high amount of omega 3.
Move your body daily. The easiest way is to walk. Even during social distance and lockdowns get outside and move. In cities you must be more alert to others as you keep distance and wear a mask. When you return home, take off the mask, wash your face and hands.
The great healer is sleep. It helps our brain and microbiome re-tool themselves. But sleep is hard for many during the pandemic so increase the time before bed with calming activities, and low lights.
Self-soothing stress relief goes hand-in-hand with sleep to increase our body’s resilience. Yoga, walking, mat work with Pilates, and meditation have all be shown to bring benefits.
This can be a tough habit to change and there are many strategies that are offered and products to support this goal. It is an environment risk factor in autoimmune joint disease.
Understanding the ways you can support your immune system can help you prepare for seasonal threats, like the flu, or critical ones, like COVID. Learn more through evidence-based research from the global collaborative Cochrane Resources, offering plain language summaries of extensive reviews from one of the many Cochrane review groups.