We all know by now that Inflammation is the root of all evil (if you did not know that…now you do). That fact alone causes stress!
What are you supposed to do about it though? What good is it to know that chronic inflammation is harmful if you don’t know where that inflammation is coming from?
There are no action steps to the simple understanding of wanting to be less inflamed. So I’ve put together a really amazing starting point to do these 2 things:
- Provide a list of variables for you to take a look at in order to ask more questions that will help get you more specific answers
- Provide ACTION that you can take to start to see some serious results.
Know this: You do not have to tackle all of these things at once! Start somewhere that feels like it will have the most impact for you and allow things to unfold from there. Get really comfortable with being uncomfortable and lean in hard. Here we go…
Sources of Inflammation:
In integrative and functional nutrition we use the acronym STAIN:
Adverse Food Reactions
This blog is going to focus on Stress, stay tuned for future blogs that will address these other underlying sources of inflammation.
Stress is problematic when it is chronic and/or unrelenting. Otherwise, stress is a survival mechanism that is essential to our evolution. It tells our bodies when it needs to use more energy for activity (like running for safety from a mountain lion) and diverts energy away from other things like digestion (which is not super important when you are running away from a mountain lion).
If you are living the type of life right now where decreasing your stress is not really an option (let’s be honest – sometimes that is the case) then you MUST create moments for your body where it has the opportunity to get some relief, switch gears, and lower it’s perceived sense of stress.
You can be stressed from:
the foods you are eating
the foods you are NOT eating
your sleep schedule (or lack thereof)
work, family, friends, relationships (emotional)
not moving your body around enough
exercising too much
infections, colds, viruses, etc…
We’re really very fragile as human beings aren’t we?
We are also extremely adaptive. If you start to implement a window of time where your body gets to come out of its stressed “fight or flight” mode – it will notice the change and thank you for it.
Action to take:
Meditate: use an app, set a timer on your phone, just start with 3 minutes a day. That is literally 120 seconds and I just do not believe you if you tell me you don’t have 120 seconds in your day to spare.
I like using The Waking Up App, I have also used Insight Timer. Setting the timer on your phone can be a perfect option as well. You can do a guided meditation, you can do it silently, it doesn’t really matter.
I would say this however:
If you continue to say that you can’t meditate because you can’t quiet your mind down and that’s why you don’t do it…you’re missing the point of meditation.
Food: I can go on and on here because this is the bread and butter of what I do with my clients. I use functional testing to determine which foods are causing them the most inflammation, develop an elimination and reintroduction plan for them, and then hold their hand through the process. It’s incredible (you can apply for 1:1 work here)
For those of you just getting started, start here for some simple options:
- Aim for 30 g of protein in your first meal of the day (whatever time that is) and allow that meal to have fewer carbohydrates (not putting a number of this one, it means something different for everyone day to day). This is going to prevent your body from having to deal with managing your blood sugar in such an intense way as soon as you start putting food in your body. Carbs are fine! They’re great! But put them a little later in the day and see if that helps things shift for you. When the body has to manage unstable blood sugars all day long, it’s stressful!
- Increase your fiber – as a rule, this is going to inherently mean that you will increase your fruits and veggies as well! So a great way to simmer that worn out message down is to have something a little more tangible. You can look at the amount of fiber in your foods and start by noticing that you are probably getting VERY LITTLE. The recommendations for women are 24 g/day but there is a lot of research that suggests ranges closer to 30-40 g of fiber each day is far more ideal.
- Purchase organically when you can. Why? The pesticides and other chemicals that are used in conventional growing need to be processed out by the liver (INFLAMMATORY), cause damage to the gut (INFLAMMATORY) and are known to have lower levels of nutrients within the actual plants themselves (LESS ANTI-INFLAMMATORY).
- I recommend this source from the Environmental Working Group to help prioritize which produce to snag organically whenever possible and which ones are known to have lower levels of harmful pesticides/chemicals in the conventional version: Dirty Dozen / Clean Fifteen
- I also recommend Butcher Box. It’s an amazing way to get your animal protein directly from farmers who raise all of their livestock with grass fed, organic, humanely, respectful, amazing practices. They deliver your order straight to your door. I know how confusing it is to read labels and know if they can be trusted or if it’s an advertising ploy. This just removes all of that brain suck for you and leaves you with tons of options you can trust and feel totally great about. CHECK THEM OUT (that link above will give you $30 off your order too!)
- Food Sensitivities. Identify them. Address them. Heal the gut from the damage they caused. Add them back in. It’s not as easy as I just typed out for you but the process and the path 100% exist. You can learn more about how I do this with my 1:1 clients as well if you’re interested. If you’d like to start the process on your own, you can use this guide that I developed: Conquer Your Gut Health
- If you are really really starting at the beginning of revitalizing your health through your food, you may even consider just starting by paying attention to the ingredient lists in the foods that you are buying. Do this without judgement and simply as an exercise of awareness. You can’t dream of making changes to something that you are unaware of. This is a really gentle and powerful starting point to consider.
Gut Health:. If your gut is inflamed, your body and your immune system will be too. Get your gut sorted out and you’ll attack the inflammation from the roots up!
- Deal with your food as above
- Get tested! Become aware of what your baseline is so that you know EXACTLY how to intervene! It’s the most basic and effective starting point. Learn more about some of the options I offer for those who do not wish to do 1:1 work:
Stay tuned for upcoming blogs that will continue to inform how to organize dealing with your inflammation…
Always cheering for you!