Before I was diagnosed with my autoimmune disease, Central Nervous System (CNS) Vasculitis, I never thought twice about the word “inflammation”. I mean, who knew a healthy and fit 26-year-old could get so sick?
Back then, I was cutting corners waking up at 4:30am to teach fitness classes, work, and spend evenings out. The combination of years of being a competitive athlete, little sleep and inadequate nutrition caught up to me and my health. Our bodies are like the iceberg in the Titanic, we don’t know what lies beneath the surface until it rears it’s ugly head. We have no way of knowing if we’ll get sick but we can make healthy choices to prevent illness as much as possible.
When Vasculitis attacked my brain, I had to relearn to walk, talk, read and write. My story is documented in my book Maze of Thorns. Once I was well enough, I made some lifestyle choices about my health to be more responsible and not take it for granted.
Here are the 10 lifestyle strategies I’ve learned to implement that help ward off illness and inflammation. Autoimmunity and inflammtion now affects more than 23.5 million Americans*. In comparison, cancer affects up to 9 million and heart disease up to 22 million.
1. Put Your Health First
Think of it this way, when you’re sick, you can’t focus on your family, friends and everything else. Put your health first so you’re doing everything in your power to positively impact your life. And you don’t have to be sick for poor health choices to affect your work, a “fit”-brain works so much better. Commit to do something for your health today so you show up in the world better everywhere else! Click To Tweet
What you choose for movement is up to you. Do what makes you feel good and at a time where you can stick to it. I’m a big believer in exercise first thing in the morning because it makes me feel great the rest of the day. There are many statistics that the best time to make exercise a habit is morning. What you do for exercise may change over time and should change. Be aware of what makes your body feel good. I practice yoga first thing in the morning, walk my dog and sometimes do a quick cardio workout.
3. Eat a Whole Food Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Get your nutrition from whole foods like fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants. Avoid saturated fat, processed foods and completely avoid trans fats. Eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids and use oils that contain healthy fats and use spices known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Get 25 grams of fiber a day from natural, unrefined sources of real food. This is a whole topic in itself we’ll talk more about, check the links to get started.
4. Fix your Gut
It’s long road between what you eat and when it leaves your body, a lot can happen in between. Your gut holds billions of bacteria – the healthy bacteria do the good work of processing your food, taking in nutrients, fighting disease, and even crowding out the bad bacteria. When the bad bacteria overpowers, it screws us up and leads to constipation, candida, allergies, arthritis, headaches, depression, autoimmune diseases and more.
If your gut is in good shape, about 80% are the good guys and 20% are the bad guys. When this gets out whack, you’ll know it – you might experience bloating, gas, food sensitivities, headaches, acne and more.
Some of the things that cause leaky gut are poor diet, chronic stress, toxins, alcohol, food allergies and more.
5. Avoid Chronic Stress
Pick a healthy way to manage your stress – exercise, meditate, get fresh air, walk the dog. Also, this is very important, realize when “hell-week” has become “hell-month” and decide to do something about it. This goes back to the very first point.
6. Get 8 Hours of Rest
Lack of sleep can damage your metabolism and cause cravings for sugar and carbs making you want to eat more. In turn the lack of sleep puts you at risk for numerous conditions from diabesity to autoimmune disease. Sleeping well is essential for vibrant health and reversing inflammation.
7. Take Good Supplements
Nutrients like fish oil, vitamin C, vitamin D, and probiotics can help calm your immune response naturally. Also consider anti-inflammatory nutrients like turmerichttps://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric, quercetin, and grapeseed extract.
8. Know When to Make a Change
When I was younger, I could get by with less sleep and was up at 5 am. I sleep now until 6 , to give my body a bit more time to repair inflammation. Also, for 10 years, my exercise was weight training and cardio. When my body started feeling achy all the time, I knew I was in a constant state of inflammation. As of August 2016, I’ve incorporated yoga – it’s been life-changing.
9. Get Support
As mentioned earlier, find a workout partner or someone who will join you in your clean-eating journey. If you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, find a group that shares your illness and use them to stay accountable.
10. Laugh and Have Fun
What can you do to start your day with a laugh? I play with my dog every morning and evening, play as many jokes on my family and friends as I can and chat with a friend daily. And I’m always planning the next vacation or party! Some of the best advice I got from my mom when we were writing our memoir was her quote “[clickToTweet tweet=”The best part about memories is making them!” quote=”The best part about memories is making them! @MyHealthyAngel”]
What’s worked for you to reduce inflammation? Please feel free to comment below, I’d love to hear!