April is Sjogren's Awareness Month
Why it’s important
Tanika Harper, our founder, is personally affected by an auto immune disorder, Sjogren's, which is what led her to start her all-natural skincare line, Harper’s Naturals. After months of struggling to find a safe and effective option for her skincare, she threw up her hands and decided to create her own. Tanika is now an advocate for understanding the effects that skincare can have on the body.
What is an auto immune disorder?
According to WebMD, an auto immune disorder or disease is when the immune system is either over or under activated. If the immune system is overactive, the body attacks itself. If it becomes underactive, the body struggles to fight off infections and other diseases.
Three contributing factors to auto immune disorders...
According to the Global Autoimmune Institute,
- Women make up 80% of the people with an auto immune disorder.
- People who are considered medically obese are more likely to develop an auto immune disorder.
- Toxins can contribute to the development of an auto immune disorder.
Understanding These Contributing Factors
Women and auto immune disorders
There are two significant reasons why women are more affected by auto immune disorders. The first is due to the higher presence of the X chromosome, and the second is due to the many hormonal changes a female endures throughout their lifetime.
The biology of a woman is made up of two X chromosomes, whereas the biology of a man is made up of one X and one Y chromosome. According to a journal article from the National Library of Medicine called, "The Prevalence of Autoimmune Disorders in Women: A Narrative Review," the X chromosome contains significantly more genes than the Y, and of those X genes, the majority accounts for a greater percentage of those that are immune-related, which increases the opportunity for such genes to be affected.
Obesity and auto immune disorders
Another factor that contributes to auto immune disorders is obesity. According to Research America, in the United States, approximately 40% of adults and 20% of children are considered medically obese, meaning they have a higher amount of body fat (adipose tissue). Adipose tissue in the body can increase the secretion of adipokines, a protein that signals cells in the immune system to become active. When body fat increases, so do adipokines. When adipokines increase, the immune system is triggered, and too many can cause the immune system to become overactive and remain in a constant state of battle.
Toxins and auto immune disorders
According to another article from the National Library of Medicine called, "Toxicology of Autoimmune Diseases," there is enough evidence to indicate that toxins are a major contributing factor to auto immune disorders. Toxins and chemicals are found both in our environment and in the many products we use daily, including cosmetics, skincare products, and detergents. Exposure to these chemicals affects the way hormones function and/or triggers an immune response. As we know, hormones play a large role in the development of auto immune disorders. Women not only have more hormonal changes throughout their lives, but they are also more likely to use cosmetics and skincare products that further affect their hormonal functioning.
What can be done?
The more we learn about auto immune disorders, the more we can adjust our lifestyles to improve our health. Exercising daily, maintaining a healthy diet, and reducing our exposure to toxins and other chemical filled products are a few simple steps to take toward helping the immune system heal.