Updated: Jul 10, 2019
A friend of mine recently got diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that left her very worried and stressed out. When we met for coffee on that sunny afternoon at one of the city's uptown rooftop joints, she looked 10 years older literally and nothing like the energetic, bubbly full of life young lady that she has always been. I did not show the worry on my face, but I truly got worried about her. After going through our usual banter involving a short narrative on what was happening in our bedroom, career and social lives, I muttered the usual "are you okay?". As usual, the answer was "I am fine". The Eva in me was for a minute tempted to go all Dr. Phill on her because she had texted me earlier in the week about that she had been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition. Now she was daring to answer me that she is fine. Fortunately, I held myself back and instead of offering unsolicited advice, I chose to have a conversation about what she is doing now or planning to do to manage her condition.
Autoimmune conditions are characterized by the body’s immune system attacking its own tissues or unknown cause in which inflammation is present in one's body. Some of the conditions are common such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes while others like Hashimoto's disease or thyroiditis are rare. My friend was diagnosed with one of these conditions. Not much has been published about the causes of autoimmune diseases, however, stress has been attributed as one of the leading causes of autoimmune conditions. Stress in our bodies is a manifestation of physical, psychological or emotional tension that causes the release of cortisol. Studies have demonstrated that stress affects our body's immune through the nervous system leading to inflammation. Biologically, this can be attributed to the increase in cellular response as a result of increased number of receptors on the cell surface.
To cut the long story short, my friend's health and quality of life from then on would depend on how she would manage her daily life because and this starts by acknowledging that it is not business as usual. We discussed a number of options that she could explore to ensure that she had quality of life even as she managed the "condition". Among the topics we discussed over then next few days was the role that supplements was going to play in her life going forward. She was resistant at the beginning and argued that starting to use supplements will mean that she will be on medication for the rest of her life and that there was no guarantee that they would make her feel better. I used the analogy of glass half versus glass half empty to explain the effect that quality supplements will play in her maintaining her general wellbeing. While using medication alone would provide her the general relief of symptoms from the condition, the use of supplements would give her body the best fighting chance against deterioration of the condition while enabling her system to maintain homeostasis. After much resistance, she seemed eager to give it a go. I recommended Multivitamins, Fish oil and Apple Cider Vinegar for the vital role they play on our body's immune function. We agreed that she would use them for three months and if she saw no difference in how she felt, she could stop them because as supplements, there is no side effect in stopping at any time. Needless to say, seven years down the line, my friend is feeling good as new and her immune has never been stronger. Now she can genuinely answer my pestering question of "how are you?" with a genuine "I am fine".