According to the Lupus Foundation of America, an estimated 1.5 million Americans are living with lupus. It is also estimated that more than 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
Lupus is more common in women than in men (with 90% of those diagnosed with lupus being women) and even more common in women of color (2 to 3 times more common than in Caucasian women).
With such a significant number of people living with this disease, it is important for the rest of the population to be aware and educated about it.
What Is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system begins to attack the body’s own tissues, not just foreign invaders. There are cycles where the disease flares, causing symptoms like pain to increase. Then there are periods of remission, with an improvement in symptoms. It can affect any part of the body, from skin and joints to the organs of the body. Symptoms can range from mild in degree to life threatening, when organ damage becomes severe.
Marta T, who has had lupus for over 20 years describes what it is like to live with the disease, “Living with lupus is a constant challenge and one way to describe it is, it feels like the flu that doesn’t go away. Some days are better than others and symptoms include fevers, body aches, low stamina and energy, and insomnia.”
Increase In Autoimmune Diseases
Since the mid 20th century, there has been a significant rise in autoimmune diseases in general. The rise in autoimmune diseases corresponds to a significant decrease in infectious diseases like rheumatic fever, tuberculosis, and the measles in the Western world.
The decrease of infectious diseases has been brought about by better sanitation, the development of vaccines, and the widespread use of antibiotics.1
While it is truly a positive thing that infectious diseases have become much less common, the corresponding increase in autoimmune diseases is troubling.
Lowering Your Risk Of Developing Lupus
In 2008, the Human Microbiome Project was established to research and study all the microorganisms living in association with the human body.
What the research has shown is that bacteria out-numbers human cells by approximately 10 to 1 and that most of these bacteria are not harmful to us but, in fact, are essential to maintaining our health.
Some of the tasks that these good bacteria assist with include making vitamins that we do not have the genes to make ourselves, helping to break down our food and fully extract its nutrients.
They teach the body’s immune system to recognize what are dangerous pathogens that need to be reacted to and what are simply harmless bacteria that the immune system doesn’t need to target.
Recent research is showing that in many cases, individuals with an autoimmune disease like lupus often have an over-reactive immune system that targets the body’s own tissue and that over reactivity is often linked to an imbalanced microbiome, especially in the gut.2
One of the factors that contributes to a major imbalance in the body’s microbiomes is the widespread use of antibiotics and antibacterial products.
These medications and products target not only the pathogens but also the good bacteria. It is important to be cautious about the overuse of antibiotics and to limit the use of antibacterial products like hand sanitizers and soap.
While antibiotics can be life-saving when they are truly needed, they kill off all the good bacteria in the body along with the pathogens. Taking antibiotics for something like a cold is not only not useful but helps to destroy or at least imbalance the body’s ecosystem.
What If The Ecosystem Is Already Imbalanced?
Sometimes individuals already have an imbalanced internal ecosystem and microbiome. It could be due to being delivered by C-section, the need for frequent use of antibiotics, or not eating a diet filled with plant fiber that adequately nourishes the microbiome. What can be done in those cases?
One of the simplest ways to start shifting the balance of the body’s ecosystem is to start eating a diet rich in plant fiber. Research has shown that our good microbes need about 10 times the recommended daily amount of fiber to flourish and thrive. Shifting your diet can result in a noticeable change within about a week since microbes reproduce so quickly.
Other things to do are to expose your body to dirt more regularly, again helping to train your immune system, and to avoid antibiotics and antimicrobial products.
For those with a significantly imbalanced microbiome, a mind-body medicine approach called BodyTalk can also be a useful way to help re-establish a more balanced internal ecosystem.
Through working with the body’s internal chemistry and microbial ecosystem, we can increase the number of certain strains of good bacteria and help the immune system target pathogens.
Because BodyTalk is a safe system that does not rely on medications or supplements, the recent research on the human microbiome can be applied today, without many years of research and development.
The BodyTalk System also takes into account the impact that psychology has on the body and on health.
Because many illnesses like autoimmune disease have as a key component a collection of emotionally charged memories and traumas, it is essential to address these aspects for effective results.