Month

January 2019

January 28, 2019

Stop Trying to Reduce Your Inflammation

When you take a shower the room fills up with steam. If you don’t take the precaution of turning on the fan then the humidity can lead to issues like mold.

Let’s say you don’t turn on the fan. Instead, you clean the mold once it builds up and then you cycle through it all over again. Clean the mold, mold builds up, clean the mold, mold builds up. It’s a never ending cycle. So, if you have the option, doesn’t it make more sense to just turn the fan on and prevent the buildup of mold in the first place?

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is your immune system’s response to some kind of stress. I really dislike that word because it’s so ambiguous, but ambiguity is okay right now. Inflammation is a normal and healthy response, with the exception of autoimmunities. If your immune system isn’t attacking itself, your body wants to have inflammation in order to heal. So when you look at people who have tons of inflammation and are stressed out, their body is trying to heal itself. Maybe it’s lack of sleep, poor diet, work stress, family stress, sedentary lifestyle, dehydration, whatever it may be, the point of the inflammation is to heal your body because you’re actually just damaging it. So when you take pills and herbs and do detox cleanses to reduce the inflammation you’re actually targeting the wrong thing.

Stop trying to reduce your inflammation.

Reduce the cause of your inflammation. This is super important in shaping our scope and the way we live. Maybe some of the supplements or diets or whatever work on reducing inflammation because they are targeting the source of the inflammation. This is a really important distinction to make. The reason it’s so important is because if we wait to do “cleanses” when we’re really inflamed we just constantly go back and forth between chronic stress and overload then do a “cleanse” and feel better and repeat the cycle. Your body is telling you to slow down, to make changes, that’s what the overload of inflammation is telling you… it’s telling you that you need to change.  If we target the source of the inflammation we can actually make long lasting changes. This is where we see the long term health and behavior changes that are important for feeling good.

Cover your bases.

If you have symptoms of chronic inflammation make sure you consult a doctor as well. You can make lifestyle changes and fix sleep hygiene and diet etc., but if you have an underlying infection or condition like SIBO that goes untreated then your body will not reduce any inflammation. In fact that inflammation is the body’s way of signaling that there is a bigger issue that still needs to be addressed.

How can people with autoimmunities use this mindset?

When you have an autoimmunity sometimes you do need to target the inflammation with immunosuppressant drugs. For a simple explanation, the body has lost the ability to regulate the immune response and now it has unmanageable and harmful inflammation. So how can you help these people? You can still try and target other sources of inflammation. If you’re suffering from an autoimmunity or frankly any kind of infection then reducing other sources of inflammation is a great way to let overall stress on your body be reduced and hopefully some normal function can return. We know inflammation and stress can be a trigger for flare ups so make sure you’re fixing the source of the inflammation in order to keep the symptoms and hopefully some of the flare ups at bay.

So, if you haven’t picked up on this by now I’m not really talking about mold in the beginning. I’m talking about inflammation. Instead of cycling through detoxes and juice cleanses to eliminate toxins and reduce inflammation etc. why don’t you just eliminate as much as the source as possible?

Stop trying to heal your inflammation. Heal your body so it doesn’t need so much inflammation. Turn on your fan. 

 

January 24, 2019

It’s Not Okay

The Symptom of Chronic Diseases that No One Talks About

**please note that when I use the words “chronic disease” I am describing autoimmunities and other diseases that cause people long term health problems that are relatively unknown or untreatable**

 

Joint pain, muscle pain, numbness, fatigue, swelling of the joints, headaches, loss of appetite, etc. People with chronic disease have symptom lists longer than a page. It’s never ending and it’s things people struggle with on a day to day basis. The thing about chronic disease is that there’s typically no rhyme or reason behind any of it. Yes, there’s a correlation between stress and flare ups (and I strongly believe stress is the entire reason behind most of them and that’s what causes the system to break down, but nothing has been proven yet). The piece that most people forget to talk about is the mental health aspect.

 

Picture this: a 23-year-old, new graduate is trying to begin her life as an adult and has finally gained her independence to start fulltime in the workforce, live on her own, make a living, prove herself and her worth to the world, but she is rapidly losing her vision. This is not hypothetical, this is the reality of one of my very dear friends. During her senior year of college she found out that she has juvenile open angular glaucoma that for some reason made her develop such high pressure around both of her ocular nerves that they have began to die. Over a year later of trying surgery, medications, painful eye drops, lifestyle changes, diet changes, everything in the book and she’s officially blind in one of her eyes and soon to be in the other. She’s 23. This is unrepairable.

 

Now, I’m not telling her story for people to feel bad for her or to start awareness about glaucoma, but there is a very important lesson with this story and it’s one I can relate to as well. I spoke with her recently on the phone and she, understandably, is having a very hard time not only accepting her reality, but adjusting to her new lifestyle. Life is hard enough when you’re 23, trying to find a job, trying to make a living, be an adult for the first time, and be independent, but now add losing your vision to that list. There goes all of her independence, goals for a career (she can obviously still have one, but it will be different than she has planned and imagined her entire life up until now). She can’t drive, she often bumps into things, she can’t even run outside because she falls and this is a girl who ran 12 seasons of track and cross country in college (try telling an avid runner that he or she can’t run anymore and see what it does to his or her mentality). Eventually, she’ll probably be able to do some of these things again, she can still have a normal life, she’ll be able to live and work almost independently, but making that adjustment is really, really challenging. Which brings me to my main point of the article; sometimes chronic diseases are accompanied with some incredible self-loathing. Right now she hates what her body is doing to her. She feels limited, her life feels like a mess and words can’t describe the disappointment, fear, and stress she is going through.

 

She’s totally entitled to feel this way. I know because what I go through isn’t nearly as devastating and there are days I absolutely hate my body. I work in the fitness industry, but I can’t workout. I haven’t been able to workout in over a month as I’m writing this and I absolutely hate it. I hate how I feel, I hate how I look, I’m embarrassed and ashamed and want to hide in my house all day. My body is tired all of the time and it feels like I’m just wasting my life lying on a couch or in bed because I physically cannot move. And even when I haven’t done anything to cause the flare up like exercise or not follow my diet, or not get enough sleep, I still get sick. Yes, feeling this way can feed the negative energy, but sometimes this is part of the process. Holding in the negativity and pretending to be positive all of the time is even more negative. No one can be perfect and optimistic about dismal outlooks all of the time. Sometimes it’s good to feel angry or sad even if it’s about yourself as long as it’s not long term. It’s part of the process.

 

So here’s my advice: be angry, be upset, feel bad yourself, and then move on. Find a professional to talk to. Find a support group. Ask for support from friends and family. Tell people you aren’t okay. You’re allowed to have moments of weakness! Be frustrated. But, allow yourself to process everything and move forward with your life anyways. Take care of yourself to the best of your ability. Given all of your resources do whatever is in your power of control to make your life good and ask for help to keep improving. Even though a chronic illness seems to take away your life it doesn’t, if anything it makes you more empathetic and a beacon of positivity and strength for other people that are going through the same things. People who are mentally tough didn’t get there by staying strong in hard situations, they break down, regroup, and grow from the adversity in their lives.

 

And for people reading this who have family, friends, and loved ones in these situations please stop telling them that they’ll be okay. We know we’ll be okay. Sometimes the only thing we need is someone to confirm how shitty our lives are right now and just listen to us complain. With that being said, sometimes we need some hand holding and positivity as well. There’s no protocol on how to accept life-altering diseases and everyone will be different. Do what you can and ask from them what they need from you. It’s also okay for you to be angry. Chronic illness affects more than just the person who is sick so make sure you seek help and guidance from behavioral health specialists as well and family support groups as well.

 

An update on my friend for those of you still reading: she’s one of the strongest people I know and after our conversation, some moments of getting angry at her body/people in her life who tell her she’s going to be okay, she regrouped and is doing the best she can right now. Hang tight nugget. Keep living your best life.

 

*January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month*
Wear green to show your support and help spread awareness.

 

Check out these resources below to learn more or donate to the cause:

https://nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts

https://getinvolved.glaucoma.org/donate