Your Body Has a Hidden Language.
If you're like most people, you've probably got a couple of ongoing issues that seem to ebb and flow from day to day and from week to week, but it's hard to exactly pinpoint why. If you seem to swing from "doing OK" to "not so good" in seemingly random ways, you're not alone. And there's some good news and effective strategies that can help you avoid a great deal of these swings.
But first it's helpful to take a personal inventory of your own unique "pain points".
Do you ever experience any of the following?
- Weakness in your muscles?
- Discomfort in urination that isn't UTI related?
- Loss of appetite?
- Brain fog?
- Excess fatigue?
- Bad mood?
- Digestive distress?
- Easily angered?
- Feeling overwhelmed?
- Joint pain or stiffness?
Your body has a language that doesn't use words. Instead it communicates through issues like those above. Because this language isn't using words, it is easy to confuse or entirely miss the message that's embedded in the symptoms. What is the one factor that's causing or aggravating all the issues above? What underlying function is so easy to miss that it's created an unnamed epidemic?
If you guessed excess Inflammation, you're absolutely right!
Understanding Inflammation: What is it?
To understand inflammation, you must understand the immune system. In order to protect your life, your body developed an inflammatory response system. This heroic system of complex bio-electro-chemical actions recognizes and reacts to threats that enter your body through vulnerabilities in your skin, your nasal passage, your stomach, your eyes, your lungs, and in your whole GI tract.
Your immune system has two parts: the Innate System and the Adaptive System.
The Innate System reacts instantaneously, and its job is to protect you from threats like open wounds. The Innate System is the more primitive part of your immune system, and is common to all multi-celled organisms. The Innate System has no 'memory' and does not provide lasting immunity. This is where the second part of your immune system steps in.
The Adaptive System has a 'memory' and can recognize specific threats after it has been introduced to them. Prior exposure to pathogens and toxins trains your Adaptive System to neutralize familiar threats to your health. So the job of protecting your body from threats like measles falls on the Adaptive System.
A powerful tool used by both the Innate and Adaptive immune responses is a mechanism we know as 'inflammation'. Acute inflammation is the tool of the Innate System. Chronic or persistent inflammation is the tool of the Adaptive System, and the response of its use of antibodies that trigger inflammation.
So, inflammation is a key part of your immune function, and is fundamentally your friend! It's a tool your body uses to defend its health. But, if the Adaptive System gets over-worked, it can begin to create inflammation that actually harms your health. This is why having a healthy immune system means one that is balanced, and in a good state of equilibrium. If your immune system is over-stimulated, it can begin to confuse your own tissues and healthy nutrients as threats.
Long-term inflammatory responses can turn into chronic imbalances that create health problems ranging from minor aches to Auto-immune diseases ranging from mild cases of Fibromyalgia to terribly debilitating Thyroid dysfunction!
This is where some health practices mistakenly convince us into thinking inflammation is the enemy. We confuse symptoms for causes, treating inflammation as the sole cause of disease instead of treating the true cause that brings on the inflammation in the first place. Remember, your body's only goal is vibrant health. Even a body that is chronically inflamed or suffering from an auto-immune condition is only seeking to regain balance and harmony!
And all the good data suggests that you should be thinking about inflammation as your ally. It's your friend telling you what direction to look to discover better strategies and practices in your life.
Inflammation is a Language of Your Body.
Remember, inflammation is a profound language. Please listen to your body speak with symptoms, so that you can take truly informed and empowered actions! Learning this language - and listening to it - allows you to make simple changes in your diet and lifestyle that will bring you less inflammation, and much greater health.
Factors in Your Personal Inflammation Profile:
- Stress - You've heard this before. In fact, you may have heard this so many times that you're getting tired of it. You may have become desensitized to the topic of stress. But please do not ignore the importance of the "basket of stressors" in your life and its effects of excess inflammation in the body. Are you ready to upgrade any aspects of your life that would reduce your stress? And in addition, what can you do to dramatically strengthen your body's stress response mechanism?
Simple techniques are the easiest to implement into your life. And learning how to make small changes in your day can bring about big change. Simple practices like breathing deeply and slowly, stretching our bodies mindfully, and taking just a few minutes a day to sit and relax by ourselves can be great and easy methods for reducing stress in our lives, and preventing stress from finding a home in our bodies. Taking just a few minutes or even seconds a day to perform these practices is like talking to your nervous system in its own language.
- Food Sensitivities - One of the most potent techniques for instantaneously lowering or eliminating inflammation in your body is to remove foods from your diet that you are sensitive or even allergic to.
Do you need to look at the "Big 8 Allergens" in your diet? The FDA lists these as milk, eggs, fish, crustacean, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and soybean. Practicing the elimination of these foods from your diet can be a great way to learn the language of your body's inflammation and its connection to food.
And here is a possible ninth allergen that the FDA does not list: Gluten.
It is important to note here that sensitivities and allergies, though similar, are not the same thing. Gluten is a great example to consider when understanding the difference between the two. Some people have a condition called Celiacs Disease, in which they experience allergic reactions to gluten. The reactions can include having their immune systems actually attack their digestive tract and having rashes appear on their skin.
But, just because you are not having these more obvious allergic responses to gluten does not mean that you are not sensitive to gluten. Gluten is an inflammatory substance, causing subtle or even unnoticeable amounts of chronic inflammation in our bodies. Though few people are actually allergic to gluten, many are sensitive to it, and both parties stand to gain from removing gluten from their diets.
- Refined Carbs - Simply put, these are carbs that have been altered from the forms they are naturally found in. The term "refined" applies to everything from ground powders, to lab extracted and chemically altered sugars. This means there is some grey area when defining something as refined, so always use your own judgement. If in doubt, go for foods that are the least refined as possible, i.e. choose whole grains over white flours, or simple minimally sweetened cacao bars versus milk chocolate.
Most sugars and carbs available to you in today's supermarkets have been processed in some way. These refined carbs are too easily absorbed, and rush into your blood stream, spiking your blood sugar and insulin levels. When blood sugar and insulin levels become out of balance your whole system can suffer. Sugar-altered cravings and emotions can begin to wreck your health. Your diet can become compromised, your inflammation levels can jump up, and your health may begin to decline.
- Alcohol - Fermented mixes of sugars and grains make up the bulk of your favorite wines and beers; if distilled, this next level of refinement creates spirits and other stronger concentrations of alcohol. When consumed, for many of us the pros are greatly outweighed by the cons.
It's obvious, but consuming alcohol can be detrimental to your health. First off, anything in liquid form is far easier to absorb into your blood stream. This means alcohol can drastically and instantaneously affect your blood sugar. And you know what that means.
Beyond the dehydration that occurs in your organs and tissues, the pressure put on your organs to filter your blood can be very taxing on your system. Combine this with a lack of sleep, and a night of libations can become days of inflammation!
- Toxins and Pollutants - These come in natural and unnatural forms from molds in the air or food, to smoke in the air. Here's some things we recommend avoiding: flouride in the water and toothpaste, microwaved food, and plastic water bottles which contain BPA etc. Toxins and pollutants are a subtle part of our lives. The more steps it takes to get the food unpackaged and in your body, the more likely the chance that toxins have been introduced. However, this isn't your call to find the world around you to be one big threat. Rather, this is your opportunity to see how small changes in your life can bring you better health!
Avoiding packaging is an easy way to avoid many toxins. And, doing so has a wonderful side-effect of lowering your carbon footprint. Other easy practices include using stainless steel containers and utensils, drinking better sources of water, and steering clear of the middle aisles of the grocery store!
You'll notice that the most packaging exists on foods in the middle aisles of the grocery store. These tend to be the most processed or refined foods that have been wrapped up in plastics, papers, and metals.
Today, toxins seem like a normal part of life, because in many ways they are. But, they don't have to stay this way. Choosing healthier, more sustainable means of food and beverage consumptions and storage is easier than you think. Buying bulk can save you money and remove unnecessary run-ins with plastics and other toxic packagings. As well, reading the labels on the back of the products you buy can be an easy and effective technique for avoiding many common toxins.
- Media and Entertainment - Diet is a word that can be applied to many things beyond our food and beverage choices. Please consider your mental, emotional, and spiritual diet. It is important to be aware of what you absorb beyond just your food and water on a day to day basis. Media, movies and shows, and video games affect your body.
Studies have shown that people experiencing violence on their television screen show similar brain activity to those who actually experience these things in real life. Your body doesn't always know the difference! Now, this isn't a soapbox rant about pulling the plug on specific parts of your entertainment, it is merely pointing out that your body is affected by what you watch, hear, and feel.
- Over-stimulation - Because our culture has become so stimulating, we often miss how beneficial it can be to unplug, turn off the radio, and simply sit. This stimulation has an effect on your body, which has an effect on your health. In some cases over-stimulation outside of the body can lead to over-stimulation inside of it. For example, consider how a few stressful days can bring on a disease in the body such as a cold or headache.
Observing which stimulations in your life create peace and which create stress requires mindfulness. Luckily, mindfulness only requires a bit of relaxing. So by being brave enough to be bored, and content with fewer, simpler things, your lifestyle can have a great effect on your nervous system and your health.
- Lack of Exercise - Chinese Medicine has a saying that "where there is inflammation, there is stagnation." A body is a complex system of relationships; this means that effects can also be causes. Inflammation can cause stagnations, which can cause inflammation. Therefore, one method that can be helpful for breaking the cycle of inflammation-stagnation is exercise.
The lymphatic system depends on exercise to move its fluids. Your body is made up of over 60% water, so moving the fluids around in a healthy way is very important. Therefore exercise acts as a fantastic means of keeping the 'water' of your body in healthy circulation. This allows the good nutrients to reach where they are needed, and supports the proper removal of toxins and waste products from our tiny cells.
- Worry, Doubt, and Fear - Just as the body can affect the mind, the mind can affect the body. As you know, positive and negative emotions are natural, but persistently operating from chronically heavy states of mind can affect the nervous system and create stress in the body.
Just as any friendly back rub can show you, it is good to be conscious of where emotions get 'stored' in the body, and work them out. Massaging or exercising the muscles and joints of the body in a gentle and healthy way helps to rid your body of the toxins that can become trapped in these places in the body by tension created from these emotions.
Finding ways to lower or eliminate the factors in your daily life that create these heavy emotions can be one of the most effective things you can do for your health.
Simple Ways to Lessen Your Inflammation Today
You've heard these before. But, don't let the familiar become the over-looked and under-appreciated. Simple things can bring monumental shifts in your health. What is it that gives these simple solutions their power?
Relearning How to Breathe
Perhaps the easiest and most influential tool we have for lowering stress in our body is our breath. Breathing is directly connected to the nervous system. Just by breathing through your nose, you can shift yourself from destructive states like fight or flight into a state of relaxation.
Simply understood, a body that is under threat needs to fight or flee to keep itself alive. This requires moving the body quickly, which requires more oxygen. Breathing through the mouth allows for more oxygen to enter the lungs more quickly.
By breathing through your nose, you are directly communicating with your body. You are speaking its language, telling it that you are safe. Scientifically speaking, this shifts you from operating in the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system.
Learning different breathing techniques teaches you how to shift your body back into the parasympathetic nervous system, giving you an amazing method for eliminating the harmful effects stress has on your body.
Hidden Power Behind Rest and Relaxation
- Sleep - Surpassing even laughing and crying, perhaps the most effective tool for your health is sleeping. It allows your body to truly reset. Energy used for functioning in your daily life is replenished while your body focuses on recovering, removing toxins, and flushing its systems.
- Meditation or Just Sitting Still - Another language of the body, movement communicates different things to your nervous system. Excessive or stressful movement can tell your nervous system that you are being threatened. Avoiding danger requires us to move out of the way of a threat. Therefore, a body at rest must be safe. By sitting still, you are speaking the language of your body, telling it that all is well.
You can deepen the benefits from sitting still by meditating. Meditating has a lot of buzz surrounding it, but don't let that complicate this simple practice. First off, there is no wrong way to meditate. And it is not striving to control or avoid your thoughts, nor is it psychologically evaluating yourself. These are practices that meditation can allow healthy space for, but to meditate is to simply observe what is going on in you - body, mind, and soul. That's it...
Learning to witness yourself deepens your understanding of yourself. This deepening bares many fruits and provides you with knowledge that can feed your health and your satisfaction with life.
- Sitting in Warm Water - When your nervous system is over-worked, calming it down is easier said than done. Sometimes we can't sleep, sometimes sitting still doesn't help. Aiding your intention to calm down with calming aromas, music, and warm water can be a very effective way of calming the nervous system. Warm baths remind our nervous system of the womb (where all needs were met), and are capable of calming us to our core.
Hidden Power Behind Movement, Yoga, and Exercise
As stated earlier in this article, movement is good for the body. It encourages the fluids of your body to circulate, bringing nutrients where they needs to be, and pulling toxins from where they are stuck. Everybody is different, and every day requires a unique method for retaining the balance that is health.
Learning what different forms of movement do for your body and nervous system can be extremely beneficial to your health. Some people go to the gym, go on a run or go on a bike ride. Others do yoga, dance or sing. And many do a combination of these things.
Discovering what gets you to move is key to finding out how to keep your body strong, fluid, and flexible well into your elder years.
Getting Rid of Clutter in Your Life
A simple technique for de-stressing is to get rid of what objects in your life are not absolutely necessary. This is a more sincere and lasting version of cleaning up.
We all know how good it feels to clean up our room or office. Imagine putting this clarity and space into a more permanent place. Clutter in our external environment can reflect and feed clutter in our internal environment. Cleaning up your space can feel like cleaning up your mind or your heart. Getting rid of some of your possessions can bring you a deep and lasting source of relaxation, as you remove objects that are actually blocking your road of connection to your body, mind, and soul.
This cleansing goes for non-material things as well. Clearing up your schedule of unnecessary commitments, unnecessary responsibilities, unnecessary bills, and relationships that do not serve you can be an immediate source of healing and relaxation in your life.
This practice of clearing up stagnancy and clutter in your life can seem daunting or impossible, but only takes making that first step of commitment. Remembering that you make changes in your life out of self-service and self-love can fuel you with the bit of bravery it takes to let some of those old odds and ends go.
Clearing out the clutter brings new space into your life that you can then fill with new potentials of health and happiness.
The Simplest Diet
You know you need to get healthy and high-quality macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients every day. This allows your cells to get the fuel they need to function happily and healthily, while eliminating the toxic load that refined foods and stress put on your body.
Putting the wrong fuel in your body does not allow the body to work properly. Because your body is so complex and capable of adapting to your changing environment, it can be difficult to notice when something is not serving you. Inflammatory responses can happen days after our exposure to stress, pathogens, or toxins, making it hard to pinpoint exact reasons for our inflammation.
Unless there is screaming pain in your body, it is easy to ignore what parts of your diet are not serving you. Learning to implement a few simple techniques when eating allows you to liberate yourself from degradating habits and - most importantly - prevent the onset of future disease.
Eat whole foods! You know the downside of refined foods that are missing all the micro-nutrients. So please give yourself the gift of vitality by eating more whole foods. And eat organic as much as possible. Can't do organic? No big deal, just eat as little refined and processed foods as possible!
Get your micro-nutrients and fiber! Most diets have plenty of macro-nutrients, but make sure to get your phyto-nutrients, anti-oxidants, insoluble fibers, and also remember to boost these foods' effects with a high quality probiotic.
Get your nutrients from bio-available sources! Our bodies evolved while getting nutrients from food, so the more nutrients you get from whole food the better. If food sources don't cut it and can't provide you with the nutrients you need and deserve, consider non GMO, organic supplements. Always talk to your healthcare provider regarding decisions about your supplement choices.
Chew your food! Chewing slowly and efficiently allows your body to: properly break down your food before putting it into the stomach, release enzymes vital to healthy digestion, and encourages you to breathe through your nose while eating, calming you and allowing your system to recognize the food as food and not as an invader. Simultaneously, chewing removes the heavy work of breaking down heavy, large pieces of food from your stomach and intestines.
Simple, holistic living enhances your health. Small changes bring about big shifts in your life. This means big changes can come easier. Be patient. Stick to the practices in small ways every day. You are worth it, and will reap the benefits! You have the power to have the life and health you desire. These methods can be helpful for bringing you a deeper understanding of your health and your potential. If more is needed, we have provided links for you to our anti-inflammatory, micro-nutrient packed Superfoods. This isn't a sales pitch. These foods are designed to bring you optimal health.
Simple, Effective Anti-inflammatory Foods
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~ Love Your Body ~ Love Everybody ~
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