Autoimmune-COVID-19 and You
Viral infections have been linked to triggering autoimmunity through several paths. A viral infection disrupts immune homeostasis and can send your immune system into a tailspin. Which is one of the reasons researchers are concerned about the long-term effects of our current COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, researchers have been working tirelessly to understand the virus and how we can fight it. And as we learn more about exactly how this virus works, a pattern is beginning to emerge. Researchers are finding that:
Infection with coronavirus causes an elevation in biomarkers that directly correlate with autoimmunity
COVID-19 infection has the appearance of several auto-inflammatory disorders and immune diseases
Following the contraction of COVID-19, there’s been a spike in cases of autoimmune disorders such as:
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome
Macrophage activation syndrome
Kawasaki disease shock syndrome
These findings clearly show that the damage caused by COVID-19 extends far beyond the lungs. And while more research and time is needed to truly identify exactly how COVID-19 and other viral infections may trigger autoimmunity, many researchers think that we may be facing a wave of new autoimmune cases in the aftermath of this pandemic.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from COVID-19 and bolster your immune system against developing autoimmunity.
Washing your hands frequently: Use soap and warm water – making sure to scrub all surfaces of your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. And don’t forget to get under your fingernails! Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer: If soap and water aren’t available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can kill any germs that you may have come into contact with. Just remember hand sanitizer isn’t effective if your hands are visibly soiled.
Regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces: Frequently touched objects or surfaces should be regularly disinfected with cleaning sprays or wipes.
Staying home and avoiding close contact: If you’re sick or feeling under the weather, stay home to protect yourself and others, and avoid coming into contact with people who are sick.
While staying informed and taking precautions are important, they are only part of the equation. Protecting yourself from potentially developing autoimmunity requires a multi-layered approach.
While some people assume that autoimmunity is entirely caused by your genetics, which may make certain people more susceptible, the truth is, your lifestyle has a much bigger impact on your likelihood of developing autoimmunity. When it comes to minimizing your chances of developing an autoimmune disorder, minimizing inflammation and promoting a balance of your immune system is the name of the game. So what are some powerful ways you can support your immune system?
Focus on Gut Health. The beneficial microorganisms that reside in your gut influence your immune system by regulating the cells and chemicals released during the immune response and maintaining the integrity of the lining of your gut – a crucial barrier designed to keep invaders from reaching your bloodstream. The health of your gut and the health of your immune system are linked. So, focusing on keeping your gut healthy and happy is one of the most potent ways to keep your immune system balanced.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Minimize foods (like sugar, refined oils, and processed foods) that increase inflammation. Focus on basing most of your meals around real whole food to give your gut the nutrients it needs to stay balanced and healthy.
Reduce Your Toxic Burden. We’re all bombarded with environmental toxins on a daily basis. Our bodies are naturally designed to process out potentially harmful compounds through our natural detoxification pathways. The problem arises when your body can no longer keep up with these exposures and toxins begin to accumulate in your body – increasing your overall toxic burden.
An increased toxic burden can stimulate your immune system and disrupt hormones. This low-level chronic inflammation causes your immune system to work overtime, depleting its energy and leaving it with fewer resources to direct at potential threats.
Take Immune Boosting Supplements. In an ideal world, we would get plenty of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from our diets. But the truth is, thanks to modern farming practices, less than ideal diets and lifestyles, and increasing levels of environmental toxins – most of us simply can’t get all of the necessary nutrients through diet alone. That’s where allowing supplements to compliment your diet comes in. Supplements are some of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to keeping your immune system in tip-top shape.
So, How Concerned Should You Really Be?
Both COVID-19 and autoimmunity are no laughing matter and can have serious implications for your health and life. And more time and research is needed to truly know to what extent COVID-19 is linked to developing autoimmune disorders. But the good news is, you’re not simply at the mercy of your genes, or the environment, or a virus. When it comes to advocating for your health, you are in the driver’s seat. The choices you make on a daily basis gives you immense power over the state of your health.
Change is hard!