Sunday, June 14, 2015

Autoimmune Diseases

AI.  Those are the two letters on my mind right now, and, no, they don’t stand for artificial intelligence (though that is a pretty cool topic).  The “AI” I’m talking about relates to the word “autoimmune,” which is used to describe diseases in which your immune system--yeah, that pal of yours who’s supposed to keep you healthy--attacks itself.  Like, really, immune system?  You’re attacking yourself?  Please don’t!  I love you!
The reason I’m posting this is that autoimmune diseases have been a part of my life for quite some time now, and I just recently read an article in SELF about the “epidemic” that’s taking place.  Autoimmune diseases are on the rise, but they’re still not receiving the recognition that they should be.  That’s right--many of the victims of these illnesses (mostly women, as AI diseases have been linked to female hormones) don't even know they have them.  It isn’t until they visit several doctors that they’re finally recognized as having one (or more) AI diseases, and by then it’s often too late.  AI diseases are tricky to diagnose because their symptoms can, at first, be very general, and it is only now that significant research is being done. That said, it's important that you visit a doctor if you have symptoms (read some of the girls' stories in the SELF article for examples).
I have seen firsthand the effects that AI diseases can have on people.  Several of the women in my family have/have had 1+ AI diseases, ranging from Graves’ (hyperthyroidism) to lupus to RA to Cushing’s, and people I am close to have died because of them despite being strong and acting like they were fine.  That being said, seeing AI disease sufferers has helped to show me methods of managing AI diseases.  I don’t know any cures, and I am definitely not a doctor, but I have a few tips:
-Eat healthy and organic foods.  Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables.  Avoid things that are processed.
-Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night.  This one is really hard to follow given the very nature of life itself, but it’s crucial.
-Stay hydrated!  Water is detoxifying, and 70% of you is composed of it, so drink up.  No sodas, though, and try to drink green tea as opposed to black tea.  Adding a splash of (fresh) lemon helps, too.
-Find an exercise regime that you enjoy.  There’s gotta be something out there that keeps you healthy and happy.  Biking, swimming, yoga, running....personally, I love dancing/aerobics.
-Look into herbal supplements.  You can talk to your doctor/find a holistic doctor/read a book (Prescription for Nutritional Healing and The Natural Remedy Book for Women are great) to learn more about herbal remedies. 
Visit a doctor.  This is important so you can figure out what's going on with your poor little immune system.
-Try not to get overstressed.  I know this is really difficult.  The world is a stressful place, and it can feel like you’re living on a drip of anxiety at all times, but, if you want to get better, it’s important to not let the stress of life overwhelm you.
-Listen to your body!  Pains?  Aches?  Write them down if you think they may be connected to your AI disease.  
-Avoid toxins.  Don’t use chemicals like bleach and odorous paints, and wear proper gear (face mask, gloves) if you have to.  Environmental toxins may be a cause of AI diseases.
-Envision yourself as healthy and happy and whole. 
Imagine a pink glow radiating from within.  This sounds a bit new-agey, perhaps, but it's something that one of my grandmum's doctors told her when she was diagnosed with lupus and cancer and told she only had a few years to live.  She somehow made it until she was 57, and I've taken to heart the concept of imagining the pink light protecting you and healing you internally. 

I know this is a long post, but it really bothers me that so many people are suffering from AI diseases and not knowing it. These illnesses are very tricky beasts to manage, but it’s possible so long as you take care of yourself and understand what’s happening.

<3 Frances

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