Are Environmental and Lifestyle Choices Responsible for the Rising Number of Cases of Lupus, Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks healthy organs and tissue in the body. In other words, the immune system can no longer tell the difference between healthy tissue and harmful substances such as bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.
To us, this feels like the body no longer recognizes itself, and the cells no longer recognize what is healthy. Think about this for a moment. If one thinks negative, unloving thoughts about the body and oneself, how will the cells know not to similarly attack themselves?
Research shows that there are at least 100 different autoimmune conditions. As of 2005, nearly 24 million Americans were diagnosed with autoimmune illnesses and the numbers are on the rise worldwide, particularly in Western, industrialized nations. Seventy-five percent of sufferers are women, often of childbearing age.
In fact, autoimmune conditions are one of the leading causes of death in young and middle-aged women, the second leading cause of chronic illness, and the third leading cause of Social Security disability (after heart disease and cancer).
Some common autoimmune diseases include:
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Diabetes (type 1)
- Food allergies
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Pernicious anemia (severe lack of B12)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Vitiligo (a skin disorder)
Examples of disorders also thought to be related to autoimmune conditions are autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, eating disorders, Lyme disease, and narcolepsy.
Autoimmune symptoms often involve pain, fatigue, fever, and general lack of well-being; most are considered chronic and incurable. A perplexing aspect to auto-immune conditions is that most people show no outward signs that they are sick and appear perfectly healthy to their friends and loved ones. In fact, until someone is diagnosed, they are often told that the symptoms are “all in your head” or a result of anxiety. Unfortunately, many with autoimmune illness have been viewed as hypochondriacs.
Scientists around the world have been baffled by the rising numbers of auto-immune diagnoses and can find no cause. The current theory is that the environment, genetics, and lifestyle could be contributing to the increase in these types of conditions.
A New Perspective on Health: Your Health Is a Mirror of Your Relationship to Self
The growing “epidemic” of stress, lifestyle diseases, and autoimmune diseases has no root cause according to mainstream medicine, yet that root cause seems simple to us: it’s really an epidemic of not loving the self.
This is a new perspective on health. It’s actually not so mysterious, and it brings the power back into your hands. Your health is a mirror of your relationship to yourself and your body. We don’t believe in incurable dis-eases; we believe that illness is an invitation to change your relationship with yourself for the better.
Interestingly, new findings in science seem to agree. For example, Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized cell biologist who performed pioneering studies at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. In his best-selling book The Biology of Belief (now celebrating the 10th anniversary of its publication), he talks about a new paradigm of health based on the science of epigenetics.
Bruce conducted some groundbreaking experiments showing that our genes do not control biology. The idea that genes control biology is a faulty scientific assumption that was debunked by the Human Genome Project around the year 2003, a finding that fit very well with experiments Bruce was doing with cells in the lab. His experiments showed that it was not the genes that controlled the cells, but how the cells responded to the environment they were in. Bruce explains that since human beings have brains, our response to our environment is much more complex than that of a cell. We have beliefs, and it is through these beliefs that we respond to our life situation (or environment).
What Message are You Giving to Your Cells Right Now?
If you believe that you are a bad person, your cells are listening. If you believe that you are sick, your cells are listening. Likewise, if you believe that you are a beautiful being worthy of love and that you are healthy, your cells are listening. What kind of relationship do you think you are creating with yourself and your body if you’re sending negative messages and embracing negative beliefs about yourself?
Ahlea Khadro Elaborates On Her Approach
In addition to Pilates and bodywork, the part of my work that keeps my clients coming back for more is that I can see the stories that lie beneath the surface of people’s lives and under the layers of the human body. I can hear the stories that people’s organs, tissues, and bones want to tell. It’s listening to these stories and sharing them with my clients that has such a profound effect on their health. Responding to the stories with love is how healing begins.
Catherine, a woman in her 50s, came to me after having been to many doctors and receiving a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease characterized by all-over muscle and joint pain, tender points in the body, and fatigue; it often leads to depression.
Catherine was understandably scared about her condition and how to treat it. I started slowly by teaching her some deep-breathing exercises to get more oxygen in her body, and stretching exercises to get some circulation in her tissues. She began to notice that she could breathe easier, and within a month, she felt calmer and her pain started to go away. Her nervous system was beginning to move out of fight-or-flight and into “rest and digest” mode, which allowed her body to start healing. This gave her the confidence to move forward with her health protocol.
The next step was for me to work with her on removing old physical and emotional trauma from a car accident, which happened just before the fibromyalgia showed up. As Catherine started releasing this trauma, she felt ready to move on to a nutrition protocol.
The first thing I recommended was for Catherine to give up sugar. Within a couple of weeks, Catherine felt good enough to start doing Pilates, which allowed her to develop muscle and abdominal strength. This new strength helped to support her joints, and the pain dropped away.
The best part about Catherine’s symptoms resolving was that she started to dance. She had always wanted to do so and felt she had an inner ballerina. Pretty soon, she’d show up for her healing sessions in a leotard and dance across the room with great joy. I saw that Catherine’s inner child was thrilled to feel playful again, and that the adult Catherine trusted this new-found freedom in her body.
With autoimmune and other dis-ease conditions, we often see that the physical symptoms are accompanied by emotional trauma. When you work on both the body and the mind, the benefits increase exponentially.
Heather Dane’s Perspective
For 16 years, I searched for answers to help me recover from bulimia. And while I was successful on the surface and very optimistic, I held back some happiness and self-acceptance because of the shame and guilt I felt for having an eating disorder. I kept this secret locked away, worried that people would not accept me if they knew.
One day, I realized that the shame, guilt, and lack of self-acceptance was keeping me from fully enjoying my life. I began to wonder, What if I never recover? Could I accept myself anyway? Could I maybe just enjoy precious moments in my life anyway? What if I could love myself just as I am? As you can imagine, it felt a little scary to think these thoughts because most of us are taught that in order to change, we can’t accept where we are. However, this was the beginning of my recovery. The moment I decided to accept myself just as I was, something inside me shifted. I began to look at life from a more open, loving perspective. Within about a year, I was able to connect the dots that led to her recovery. Accepting myself did not stop me from looking for answers—it allowed me to love myself and my life more fully, which led me to a recovery that felt miraculous and simple.
The three of us are passionate about health, and we’ve often found our way into deep conversations with each other about how simple good health could be with the right ingredients. Two of them, as Louise has always taught, are thoughts and food. If you get both right, good health follows.
Most people are confused about what to eat, especially if diagnosed with illness, such as an autoimmune disease. In our book, Loving Yourself To Great Health, we teach you to listen to your body, first and foremost, and to make more loving food choices. We teach you that nourishing your body makes affirmations, good moods, willpower, and better decision making much easier.