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 26-year-old fitness instructor and business woman could get sick?
I was cutting corners as a typical “Type A” person by getting up at 4:30am to teach fitness classes, go right to work, and often spend evenings out. The combination of years of being a competitive athlete, little sleep and inadequate nutrition caught up to me hard. We don’t know who will respond to inflammation with autoimmunity, like my body did, but we can make some choices to treat our body, mind and spirit more graciously.
My story was much darker from a health perspective before it got better, as documented in my book, Maze of Thorns. With the Vasculitis that attacked my brain, I had to relearn to walk, talk, read and write. Once I was well enough, I made some lifestyle choices to maintain my health, those choices were initially one-sided to the fitness and “body” side of my well-being. It took writing my book and the aging process to realize that the choice must also include the mind and spirit.
Here are the 10 lifestyle strategies I practice to ward off illness that anyone could apply to live well and avoid inflammation or autoimmunity which 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
If you’re aren’t feeling your best, you HAVE to put your health first. Trust me, if it hasn’t already, it will affect your life at work and home. [clickToTweet tweet=”Commit to do something for your health today so you show up in the world better everywhere else!” quote=”Commit to do something for your health today so you show up in the world better everywhere else! @MyHealthyAngel”]
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 with my autoimmune disease, I could get by with less sleep, I was in bed by 10 and up at 5 am. I now sleep in until 6 am giving me an extra hour of sleep.
Regarding Exercise and Inflammation – For 10 years I was a fitness competitor with an autoimmune disease. My workouts were cardio and weights. When my body started feeling achy, I knew I was in a constant state of inflammation. I was no longer responding positively to my workouts despite rest and recovery. As of August 2016, I’ve become a yogi, now even teaching 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”]
I wanted to share what has worked for me. I’d love to know what lifestyle strategies and tips have worked for you to reduce inflammation – please feel free to share in the comments!