Hot Health Issue: Autoimmune Disorders
As we continue to explore the top issues of women’s health, let’s review. Your happyfication includes your health, big time. Per WebMD, the Top 5 Women’s Health Concerns include Heart Disease, Depression, Autoimmune Disorders, Breast Cancer, and Osteoporosis.
Though physicians do not always lead with this, all of these items can be both prevented and treated with good lifestyle habits to include superfoods and plenty of happy-fying exercise. Because this is difficult for most, physicians are more apt to write you a prescription to put a band-aid on your symptoms. However, nutritionists and more progressive physicians are adamant about ensuring your optimal environmental circumstances for optimal health!
This must include what goes into our bodies and what we do to move our bodies and take responsibility for our own health. This allows us to both take responsibility for our illnesses and to understand that we are more than powerful enough to work with our own bodies to heal ourselves through holistic means.
This week’s health topic of concern is autoimmune disorders, which are much more likely to plague women these days than in any other time. Autoimmune disorders include Lupus, Celiac Disease, Alzheimer’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s and Grave’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis.
Per EverydayHealth.com, the majority of people living with autoimmune disorders are women, usually of childbearing age. In fact, autoimmune diseases are among the leading causes of death and disability in girls and women 65 years of age and younger.
There are dozens of different types of autoimmune diseases, which occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own organs and tissues. The majority of these diseases are far more common in women than in men — an estimated 75 % of those living with autoimmune diseases are female.
Although it is not yet entirely clear exactly why autoimmune diseases occur more frequently in women, some theories involve:
- Gender differences in immunity. Some researchers believe that women are at increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases because their immune systems tend to be more sophisticated than men’s. Women naturally have stronger inflammatory responses than men when their immune systems are triggered and inflammation plays a key role in many autoimmune diseases. While this often results in superior immunity among women, it may also increase a woman’s risk of developing an autoimmune disorder if something goes wrong.
- Sex hormones. Another theory that may explain why women are at higher risk of having autoimmune disorders has to do with hormonal differences. Many autoimmune diseases tend to improve and flare along with female hormonal fluctuations (for example, during pregnancy, in line with the menstrual cycle, or when using oral contraception), which indicates that sex hormones probably play a role in many autoimmune diseases.
- Genetic susceptibility. Some scientists have proposed that women, who have two X chromosomes in contrast to men’s X and Y chromosomes, are genetically predisposed to developing certain autoimmune diseases. There is some evidence that defects in the X chromosome may be related to susceptibility to certain autoimmune diseases. The genetics of autoimmune diseases are complex and studies are ongoing.
- History of pregnancy. There is some evidence that fetal cells can remain in circulation in a woman’s body for years after a pregnancy, and these fetal cells may be involved in the development or worsening of certain autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune Diseases and Women: What the Future Holds
Researchers are investigating why women are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, in hopes of finding new ways to prevent, treat, and possibly even cure these diseases. Among the clinical trials currently underway, scientists are studying why women with autoimmune diseases often have flare ups during pregnancy, whether endometriosis is an autoimmune disease, and why women with lupus tend to have a higher risk of coronary heart disease.
Either way, most of these immune system dysfunction disorders are due to environmental factors and the easiest way to protect the body from an overreaction of the immune system is to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
The Lesson: ditch gluten, dairy, sugars, and alcohol for good. Get rid of the extra stress in your life and generally happyfy yourself. Know when to say ‘no’ and be more mindful of your movement and your life.
Give yourself plenty of rest and exercise. Smile more. And know that happyfication is surely an anti-inflammatory lifestyle practice. Love yourself, keep health and vitality strong, and your body will thank you!