Autoimmune Disease and the Coronavirus

I called my doc today to find out about any additional precautions autoimmune patients should take regarding the coronavirus. I visited with the nurse and told her that those in my yoga classes are often living with autoimmune or other chronic health issues, which translates into a compromised immune system. She explained that this is a virus, which means, it is transmitted through moisture droplets from the body — coughing, sneezing, and touching infected surfaces. The precautions the rest of the population is thinking about today are already very much a part of my daily life. As my (very awesome) rheumatologist reminded me, “When you have an autoimmune disease your immune system is always compromised. When you get sick, you get sicker. What takes a “normal” (translation: a healthy immune system) patient a few days to recover can take you a few days to a few weeks longer.” (He is right and I’ve learned this the hard way.)

Living with autoimmune issues can be a challenge but it doesn’t have to be a life-sentence of pain and drudgery. One of the best things that has happened since I was diagnosed in 2015 is that I pay much more attention to what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. Diet, exercise, sleep, hydration, while knew about these I really never gave them too much intentional thought before my diagnosis of Celiac’s and Sjogrens. Today, I invest in each of them every day. I make intentional and thoughtful decisions because each of these factors has an immediate impact on my quality of life and, like any investment, when you add good components, your return is more positive.

Collectively dealing with this virus gives us an opportunity to intentionally invest in our own health and an ounce of investment is worth a pound of cure. Chances are we will all know someone who is impacted by this virus so making a decision to intentionally invest in your health today gives your body the tools it needs to stay balanced and healthy. Here are a few things I practice daily to invest in my health and keep my immune system as healthy as possible.

  • First thing every day I drink 18-24 (or more) ounces of water.
  • Move — motion is lotion! Maybe a walk, maybe a trip to the gym, maybe some yoga. It really depends on my energy level but intentionally I move every day.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Just add one or two things to each meal. It isn’t hard — add berries to a smoothie, eat an apple or a banana at lunch, add a small salad to dinner, grab some nuts for a snack. Juicing also keeps an immune system strong. If you don’t have a juicer then pick up some 100% celery juice or some other green or fresh juice at Trader Joe’s or a local juice place.
  • Sleep — I aim for seven hours a night. Eight is better.
  • I eat lots of plants, lean protein, and limit dairy and sugar. Whole 30 has been a game-changer for me.
  • Rest when I’m tired. (seems so simple, doesn’t it?!)

As a yoga practitioner, I know when we proactively give our body the tools it needs then it can do its job. In creating a healthy environment, my body has the tools and resources it needs to do its job. Maybe dealing with this crazy virus will give all of us an opportunity to intentionally care for and invest in our own health.

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