Take Control of Your Own (Auto)Immune System

arched bridge metaphor for bridging gaps in autoimmune care

By: Tiffany Simms, Bonnie Feldman, Ellen M. Martin

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Autoimmunity is individually, statistically, institutionally invisible.

Just reading the stats around autoimmune and chronic diseases could get you down in the dumps. Perhaps the worse part is that millions, probably billions, world-wide face this disease with a health care system that treats symptoms without looking at underlying causes.

  • There are 100+ autoimmune diseases
  • 16% of the US population has an autoimmune disease; more than cancer + heart disease
  • Taken in aggregate, autoimmunity is a top 10 cause of death in women under 64 years
  • Patients may wait as long as 3.5 years and 5 doctors to get a diagnosis
  • 27% of children under 19 have at least 1 chronic condition and that number is increasing
  • By 2023 there will be approximately 230 Million Americans with chronic disease
  • 85% of US health dollars are spent on people with chronic disease

But there is hope.

Recent discoveries and innovations show us that disease prevention and a healthier self could begin today! So while we wait for a preventive health care system to become mainstream, here are some changes you can do to kickstart your path towards a healthier you.

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1. Your body is the most important source of data for personalizing your health care. It is a process not a structure. Be aware of it and don’t ignore it. 

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2. Gadgets, like wearables that track your body’s movements or physiology, can help you stay aware of your body and figure out what’s normal for your health. Plus they’re really cool and futuristic.

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3. Track track track to identify triggers for health issues that pop up.


4. Your emotions, social interactions and relationships, and environment could influence your gene expression.

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5. So don’t stay lonely! Use online platforms to connect, inspire, and educate!

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6. You can influence the structure and function of some of your brain regions just by physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Try out meditation, tai chi, mindful self-compassion!


7. Getting healthier could simply be a matter of sleep, stress management, movement, emotions, and nutrition.

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8. Use technology as a tool to improve health management daily.


9. Don’t give up! Resilience is a matter of purpose, connection, and control. You’ll get through those obstacles!

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10. So imagine yourself healthier, find a friend, and take your health into your own hands!

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In March 2016, we brought this thinking to the SXSW crowd. Why? Because even though we may think we are healthy now, “now” is not enough. We need to start thinking prevention so that we can stay healthy longer and lead generations following us towards a healthy future.

One thing threatening this future, are chronic diseases including autoimmune diseases. With more and more 20 year-olds and younger developing chronic conditions, “invincible” is no longer a mindset we can afford!

Providing evidence-based information on how lifestyle changes can influence health, our Hacking for Healing panel shows how prevention is possible and can start today!

Learn more about our panel with panelists; Linda Avey (We are Curious Inc.,), Poonacha Machaiah (JIYO), and Nicole Guthrie (HopeLab) here, or dig into the research yourself with Your HacktoHeal is in your Back-Pocket.

For full statistics references see: An Invisible Epidemic
gifs not referenced from Giphy.com


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