Sport / Columnists
Sean Van Staden
Sometimes being in the health industry can be frustrating.
There are so many people with various issues and all one wants to do is help but, in some cases, it is simply not possible.
Let’s say you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and want to see the best specialists in the field.
But this is not as straight-forward because they can be fully booked to up to a year in South Africa.
If you have an autoimmune disease, ordinary doctors can do very little for you.
If anything, they can cause further damage through false diagnosis or administer the wrong medication which could cause a chain of adverse effects.
You need a specialist to diagnose correctly and once you know exactly which autoimmune disease you have, then you
can look at researching yourself on appropriate lifestyle changes you can take while looking or waiting in queue for the right specialists in the field.
Today I am covering autoimmune disease and by no means am I a doctor, but rather I am covering it from a layman’s
point of view trying to understand the disease as much as you.
Autoimmune disease occurs more frequently in women than in men and in some countries like America, a little over
8% of the population suffer from it and it’s the top 10 causes of death in women under the age of 65.
Unfortunately, even if there were stats from South Africa, it wouldn’t be accurate since our health care and proper diagnosis is not exactly world-class.
Autoimmune disease is a disorder where your own body’s natural defence system identified your own healthy cells
as the bad guys and starts to attack it.
In order to understand this disease better, you need to understand how your immune system fights off the bad guys first.
When your body gets a foreign substance in it (antigens), the immune system triggers B Lymphocytes to make antibodies.
These specialised ninja assassins proteins lock to the foreign specific antigen and then attack it.
The problem with an autoimmune disease is that the good guys identify the good healthy cells as well as the bad guys.
It produces assassin ninjas to attack the good guys, weakening and damaging tissue, cell and joints.
With over 80 different known immune diseases, diagnosis is a little tricky and if your usual doctor gets it wrong, not only are you getting strong meds for a wrong condition, but you still have your immune system attacking yourself.
The primary question people will ask is: “why is this happening to me?”
It could be genetically related, or you could have had a predisposition to an autoimmune disease and through stress and environmental causes, it activated the gene.
Researchers also believe a “Westernised’’ lifestyle high in bad fats and high sugar leads to a state of internal inflammation as well as exposure to chemical and solvents found in our daily product uses.
According to a study in 2015 there is a theory of “hygiene hypothesis”.
Due the increase of vaccinations and antiseptics children aren’t exposed to as many germs as in the past.
The immune system therefore is not as strong and more prone to being sensitive to harmless substances.
With over 80 different types of diseases it is difficult to cover them all here, but I will tackle one at a time in future
articles to come.
In the meantime, those suffering from an auto-immune disease and feeling helpless, depressed and frustrated
with your current state, how about tackling factors that are in your control?
If you throw your hands up in the air and say nothing I can do works, then you can’t be helped but if you are a fighter
and want to do everything you can to get a hold on this disease then put the gum guard in for the fight for quality of life.
Amy Meyers wrote a New York Times best-selling book called The Autoimmune Solution saying there are four ways you can fight your autoimmune disease.
Eliminate food toxins
Add restorative ingredients and supplements
Identify environmental toxins around you
Healing autoimmune-related infections
These four factors might not be the drugs you are hoping for that will magically fix you by your doctor. There is no major cure for autoimmune disease but “what if” your solution to a better life lies in these four steps above? Would you not do everything in your power to at least try?
Sean van Staden is a sport scientist. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanVStaden or visit advancedsp.co.za.
Last week’s column can be found here.
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