autoimmune disease and coronavirus

Autoimmune Disease, Aging, and Coronavirus

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diabetes-weblog-Autoimmune and Herbal Remedies
diabetes-weblog-Autoimmune and Herbal Remedies

What is Autoimmune Disease?

Young woman with the typical “butterfly rash” found in systemic lupus erythematosus

Autoimmune illnesses are conditions where the human disease-fighting capacity attacks healthy human tissues within you. Take for example, Lupus. It’s a chronic, autoimmune disease affecting an estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. It can affect many different systems and organs in the body, creating a wide range of symptoms such as fatigue, headache, painful joints, anemia, abnormal blood clotting, and hair loss.

Lupus is an inconsistent disease, with a constant cycle of flare-ups and periods of remission. Hair loss occurs when antibodies created by the body infiltrate the hair follicles, causing the hair shaft to be rejected by the body and fall out. Hair may grow back on its own during remission periods. If scarring occurs in affected follicles, hair loss is usually permanent.

Autoimmune Diet

Although the science may seem somewhat bleak, there are many wonderful stories of people putting these diseases into remission simply by changing their diet and lifestyle. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s highly recommended that you watch Dr. Terry Wahls’ amazing story of vastly improving her multiple sclerosis.

When dealing with an autoimmune disease, the standard Paleo diet is a good starting place.

Aging Immune System

If anything we learned from COVID- 19 pandemic, that would be how important it is to keep our immune system strong. Aging or compromised immune system can make you more vulnerable to disease.

The irony of COVID- 19 if you will; a 104-year-old man from Oregon survived the virus while a songwriter from Wayne exactly half the age died of complications. As there are statistical outliers, there is a need to look into what factors make some of us more fit immunity-wise than the others regardless of age?

As you know your immune system declines with aging known in medical terms as immunosenescence. According to Dr, Insoo Kang, M.D., associate professor at Yale School of Medicine who has been studying aging for 20 years,

Immune cells, especially CD8+ T cells [a type of white blood cell], are critical in recognizing microorganisms like the novel COVID- 19 viruses.

Effects of Aging on Your Immune System

An aging immune system can make you more vulnerable to diseases like COVID- 19.

The human immune system simply put is complex, but essentially means, our body detects an intruder–a virus, bacteria or a foreign object-and produces white blood cells to defend against the attack. The take-home lesson here would be how it might be possible to slow down the decline in immunity and raise the immune reserves for the next time you get sick.

Aging effect #1: Reduced Immune Cells

Our body simply does not produce as many immune cells as we get older, and no one really knows why.

Atul Butte, M.D., Professor, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Pediatrics -University of California

According to Butte who worked with 242 immunity studies indicated patterns, how our immune system changes as we get older. For example, the human body possesses two types of T cells: “memory” cells that encountered a certain pathogen and ‘remember’ how to fight it next time around.

And there are these ‘naive’ cells that have yet to encounter anything. A case in point, COVID- 19. There is nothing that matches this virus in us and therefore we have no memory T cells to mobilize. The naive cells will have to take on the fight and older folks have few of them to fight with, making them vulnerable.

So now what makes these key cells decline over time could be: (a) Bone marrow produces white cells. Is that where the problem is? (b) Is it genetic? (c) Lifestyle? Let’s leave that to the immunologists to figure out.


Aging effect #2: Inflammation

Inflammaging: Chronic low-grade inflammation that develops with advancing age. Inflammation causes a part of your body to become reddened, hot, painful, and swollen. This is how your body fights disease, protects from the germs, and other foreign invaders and fixes injuries.

Chronic inflammaging occurs with age for a host of reasons: Weight gain, stress, poor sleep, and diet, etc. Other systemic issues, like autoimmune diseases, leaky gut, persistent viral infections, weak and reduced kidney, and liver functions.

Our immune system operates abnormally when our bodies are in a state of chronic low-grade inflammation. This accelerates the aging process on a cellular level, leading to type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, etc.

How to Save Your Immune System?

2 thoughts on “Autoimmune Disease, Aging, and Coronavirus”

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