By Lisa King RPh
When starting a healthy living journey to lose weight, feel better and prevent disease; most people first think about diet and exercise. While diet and exercise are both important facets of preventing disease; there are other life style changes that should be included as well. Many people are looking to live a healthier lifestyle to prevent disease and that also includes preventing and reducing symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
When the body’s immune system begins to attack one or more organs, it can lead to auto immune disease. There are over 80 different types of autoimmune disease including Type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s disease, lupus and multiple sclerosis. The symptoms of auto immune disease include fatigue, joint pain and swelling, brain fog, hair loss, rashes, stomach bloating and more.
Eating to reduce inflammation is key
Eating to reduce inflammation in the body is key to helping reduce symptoms and prevent disease. However; there are other parts of a healthy lifestyle that should be included in everyday living. Stress reduction and self-care are extremely important in helping prevent and manage symptoms of autoimmune disease. When the body is stressed, the adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol. Increased cortisol levels can weaken the immune system and this can lead to or exacerbate auto immune disease. Be sure to take time for yourself.
Take time for yourself
Some great ideas for self-care are to meditate, listen to music, take a walk, call a friend, spend time with loved ones, take a bath or write in a gratitude journal. You can not pour from an empty cup. It is tempting to take care of everyone around you all of the time but it is also important to take care of you!
Sleep is also essential in any healthy living plan. Sleep is the time that your body naturally detoxes, imparts cellular repair and also heals itself. Some tips for a better night’s sleep include resetting your own internal clock by going to bed and waking at the same time every day and night. Limit your caffeine and stimulants to 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. Even having caffeine early in the day can sometimes keep you awake at night. Also, be sure to limit screen time by turning off technology at least 2 hours before bedtime to give your brain a chance to rest and wind down. Rest when you need to rest. There is no reward for not sleeping and it is an essential part of a wellness plan.
Naturally detoxing also helps to reduce inflammation in your body and can help prevent auto immune disease. Drinking water and staying hydrated helps to release toxins from your body. Reducing plastic and toxins in your home is also an important part of detoxing naturally. Essential oils make great Do It Yourself cleaning products or choose products from a natural grocer. Your skin is your largest organ. The toxins, preservatives and other chemicals in your skin care, soaps, lotions, shampoo and make up are readily and quickly absorbed. Look for natural options online or at the store. Be sure to read labels. Many products may appear to be natural but they are not. A lavender lotion may have the artificial scent of lavender alongside many other preservatives. When you look at labels, avoid products with Parabens, Phthalates, Sodium Laurel Sulfate, Formaldehyde and Mineral Oil to name a few. Leading an overall healthy lifestyle means reducing toxins in your home, for yourself and even in your food by choosing organic when you have the ability to choose organic.
Make one change at a time
Leading a healthy lifestyle can sometimes seem overwhelming. You want to eat healthier, exercise, reduce stress and make even more healthy choices but at times it may seem a bit daunting. Tiny changes really do lead to big results.
Make one change at a time and keep moving forward by taking it one day at a time. Choose one item that you would like to change to improve your health. Let’s take an example of better self- care. Make the decision and write it down on paper. Tell a friend and have an accountability buddy! It is fun to have a partner to yoga with or compare notes from a book you are both reading. Plan your first step. If it is to practice yoga then go and buy a new yoga mat or look up the nearest yoga class. Take it one step at a time and celebrate your successes.
Always give yourself permission for a redo! If you didn’t get to your yoga class today there is always tomorrow! Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or other any other difficult diagnosis can be very unsettling. Taking care of yourself through a better diet, self- care, more sleep and naturally detoxing can help your feel better and better every day!