Wednesday, April 12, 2017

So Irritated!

Hey everyone...once again, a lull in my posts...  I have had a challenging Winter/Spring, I am now enrolled in a course and have lots of homework, my back and neck went out consecutive weeks, and my son just got over having the flu for a week-and-a-half, yada, yada, yada...I'm tired.  Hahaha!

I have had all sorts of grand ideas for posts since you last heard from me...insomnia, a great Spring hand lotion you must try, and more, but here I am sharing what is absolutely top of mind, and top of season for me right now.

Unfortunately I am having a "flare-up" of some sort right now, and that is not all that uncommon for me this time of year.  The bonus about having a "chronic" illness is that you start to notice very helpful patterns, and you are able to make very interesting connections, and therefore come up with solutions.

A few weeks ago I woke-up very early one morning and my neck had completely seized up...such an awful "surprise" to have just appear like that.  Before that my back was out, and in the last week I have developed a "problem tooth."  I started freaking out and worrying that I would have to go to the dentist...and since I have never had dental work (knock on wood), I was painting a picture of how awful it was potentially going to be (thoughts can also be an unhealthy contributor, of course...which I will address in another post).  All of these issues have something in common...inflammation.

For my tooth I did what I usually do when I have a significant symptom...head to my acupuncturist...then the next day I hit my craniosacral therapist for a little jaw/mouth work...etc...  All the while throwing every home remedy I could come up with at my tooth in hopes of avoiding the dentist.  Well, here I sit today, pain-free (in the mouth, anyway), and seemingly not having to go to the dentist.

However, my insomnia is back, and it's not the old "Damn, I can't sleep" kind, it's the full-blown waking up gasping for air, heart racing, shaking, having to poop immediately (TMI?!), feel-like-you-are-dying, kind.  I like to call it "Seasonal Sleep Apnea" nasal and oral tissues get so inflamed from allergens that the poor breathing sends me into fight-or-flight/panic.  Not a fun way to "wake up."  Unfortunately I have had this off and on for the last 6 years of dealing with a chronic illness, and it is by far the worst symptom I have had.  Usually it hits me in Spring and Fall (or after a chemical exposure), but in my strongest, healthiest times it isn't as bad.  I know that the cumulative stress I have been dealing with lately set me up for the perfect storm this time.  Just a reminder that stress management and self-care are KEY!

I have written about allergies before (you can check out my allergy tips and tricks here), and I could go on and on about the crazy, Private-Investigator-dots I have connected for myself and the people I coach (things like allergies AND digestive issues, sleep disorders - teeth grinding/insomnia, dental issues, muscle/joint/nerve pain), but I really want to highlight the connection between what you eat and histamine intolerance/allergies.  About three years ago I discovered an absolutely AMAZING resource ("Foods, Food Families, and Other Food Lists") that lists many foods and what "family" they are in.  This can serve like a key or a legend to a map that will help you figure out some pretty incredible cross-reactivity stuff...for instance I was always insanely allergic to poison ivy as a kid (so reactive I had to have prednisone every Summer to reel it in)...cashews, mangos, and pistachios are in the same family!  AVOID!  I have shared this resource with anyone who is interested in decoding their sensitivities...including my son's former Kindergarten teacher, because her son has major allergies.  She looked at his diagnosed food allergies on the list (mostly tree nuts), and she found that some of the trees in their yard were in the same "family" as her son's biggest food offenders, so they cut them down, and it helped!  Knowledge is power...and sometimes even very powerful medicine!

Just this week a new MindBodyGreen article popped up: "The Surprising Foods That Are Making Your Seasonal Allergies Worse."  This is such important information to be aware of.  You may be like me, no real "obvious" signs of seasonal allergies, but just experiencing an overall not feeling well.  It could be digestive issues, body aches and pains, a general sense of agitation or anxiety.  There may be foods that you are fine eating most of the year, but can't tolerate during allergy surges...for example, you might want to skip that chamomile tea or sunflower seed butter during ragweed season!

The last few resources I am going to share with you are absolutely BRILLIANT "must reads."  The first gives an excellent overview of why so many more people have allergies in today's world...and that number is growing all the time.  I found it in one of my favorite magazines, "Experience Life" - "Taking On the Allergy Epidemic."  You will learn so much about the many factors that contribute to allergies.  "Pollen Is Not The Problem," by "The Healthy Home Economist" goes hand-in-hand with the previous article.  Sarah gets right to the heart of the matter...and per usual, it all comes down to your gut!

The other very timely article that showed up in my inbox today is by one of my fave docs of all-time, Dr. Aviva Romm - "Histamine Intolerance: Could It Be Causing Your Symptoms?"  The reason I was inspired to bust out this blog post TODAY, is because she is having a Facebook Live tonight (4/12/17 @7:00PM Eastern) to go along with this super informative article.  You might be (pleasantly) shocked by learning more about Histamine Intolerance, because much like other things (Lyme, etc.) it can be in disguise and causing significant misery...and it just might be the answer you (or a loved one) have been searching for!  Speaking of Lyme, Histamine Intolerance is sometimes triggered by (and shows up following) a virus, bacterial infection, or the onset of an autoimmune illness...think immune system overreaction (or one that can't calm/shut off after the threat is gone) if you have a chronic infection (like Lyme, Mono/EBV, etc.), a thyroid condition, or a digestive condition like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, H.I. just might be more common for you.  Though it is not common in the general population, as a whole, it is quite common in the chronically unwell/ill (especially those with "mystery"/undiagnosed conditions).

Not sure if you have allergies and/or histamine intolerance?  One clue would be you (or your child) having a "flu" or cold for a week or more, at the same time every year (this is not reserved for Spring only).  A personal example I can share of the initial immune response someone can have to a change in the air is when we bring our live Christmas tree into the house my son always has a "cold" for about the first 3-5 days until his system adjusts.  This year we didn't have one, and NO "cold."  I highly recommend keeping a detailed journal noting days you don't feel your best and adding details about what that day was like (weather, food you ate, pollen count/noticing buds/green stuff in the air).  Over time you will be able to connect your own dots and improve your quality of life!  What's better than getting more deeply in touch with yourself and how to cultivate your optimal wellness?!

If you do suspect histamine intolerance, run to this AWESOMELY AMAZING RESOURCE: Healing Histamine, created by a former CNN journalist who went through her own battle and won.

Again, I have only given a few examples and clues...allergies and histamine intolerance can come in MANY shapes and sizes.  You could be on an anxiety medication, when really you just need to cut out some of the foods you are eating and focus on healing your gut.  This is why I am studying to be a Functional Medicine coach, because in FM we investigate, connect the dots, and tend the soil, instead of spraying the leaves repeatedly with a chemical...hoping the tree will just survive, instead of thriving as it has the innate potential to do.  Inform yourself and you heal yourself in the process!
BONUS TIP: 2 "Quick Fixes" I use to stop a reaction (chemical, allergy, etc.) are 1. Activated Charcoal & 2. Alka-Seltzer Gold.  They are not meant for long-term healing but can relieve the most intense symptoms while you eliminate foods/triggers and work on a longterm wellness solution.  These are about bringing some much needed RELIEF!  (And always make sure you are drinking plenty of water!)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Pump It Up

Well, if you haven't noticed, it's Winter...sort of, anyway.  Winter can be a great time of reflection, slowing down, and rebuilding before the higher energy Spring & Summer come back around.  It can also be a time of stagnation and sluggishness.  Many people are deeply impacted by the lack of sunlight and having to constantly brace against colder temperatures.  The struggle is very real!

One thing we have to be very mindful of is keeping ourselves moving somehow.  For me, after the holidays come and go, I can get a little depressed and literally just want to sit around, doing stuff on my computer.  That's bad for many reasons, but mostly because it means I am more sedentary and I am getting more EMFs and artificial light on my eyes from too much screen-time (more to come about all of this soon).

I have been helping people through a lot of "stagnant" conditions lately...numbness and tingling in extremities, constipation, and ovarian cysts, to name a few.  Something that most of the conditions I am seeing right now have in common is LACK OF CIRCULATION!  The cold, the sitting around, it's a vicious cycle for things to get backed up, just like traffic at rush hour.  And that sets the perfect stage for problems to develop.

Today I urge you to learn more about your lymphatic system!  Some of you might be saying, "Huh...what?!"  Hopefully by now we have learned a lot about our bodies and the various organs and systems, but poor little lymphatics usually get left out.  We know that our blood has a pump (our hearts) but our lymphatic fluid relies solely on us to pump it around.  This is VERY important, because our lymphatics are our "garbage disposals."  If we leave them to their own devices they back-up and start to stink everything up.  As always, your gut is a major player in all of this as well...can you say "IMMUNE SYSTEM?!"  This is a big reason why so many more people get sick this time of year.

I want to share one of the absolute best, most helpful articles I have found on the topic, "The Secret to Staying Healthy: Get The Lymphatic System Moving!"  It explains the basics of the lymphatic system and beyond, AND it gives you many ideas to get your lymph moving.  If you are going to alert people to a concern, then providing solutions is an absolute must in my eyes!  Some of my favorite things to do are dry brushing (here is the brush I use), rebounding, yoga/deep breathing, saunas/hot baths, and massage, which are all discussed in the article.  I would like to specifically add one of my loves...dancing!

The good news is that it doesn't have to be strenuous.  Since a big "pumper" of our lymph is our big toes you can take a gentle walk, go up and down some stairs, do some toe-raises, or even sit and manually massage/bend/pump your big toes.  You can even manage some of these moves while standing in line at the store, under your desk at work, or even while sick in bed.  Do what you can!  As someone who has managed a chronic health challenge I know that exercise is not always possible.  I completely understand the fine line between moving your body and overexertion.  Saving energy for healing is very important, too!

If you are interested in learning even more, you can also check out this great mindbodygreen article, "9 Ways To Reset Lymph Flow And Decrease Bloating."

So put on some good music, and get moving...and keep yourself warm (heat packs are my best friend...especially on the abdomen and neck/shoulders)!  Your lymphatic system is counting on you!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cooking Up A Storm

Hi everyone!  Happy New Year!  I fully intended to keep posting between Christmas and New Years...and beyond...but family-time and "life" was my priority instead, and this took a backseat.  I'm good with that!  Still, I have missed posting and the awesome comments, interactions, and feedback from all of you wonderful people.

I have some great news to share.  As I have been trying to figure out how I am going to channel my passion and help more people I applied to become a certified "Functional Medicine Coach," and I was accepted into the program.  I start February 1st, and will be back in "school" for a year.  I have some other good stuff in the works around becoming certified in Mind-Body Medicine as well.  I am beyond excited and look forward to sharing the journey with you.

I knew I had to get back to blogging when within the same week I had two totally unrelated people in my life (one a high school friend, and the other a newer friend) ask me the same question..."What kind of cookware do you use?"

In my attempt to keep blogging "doable" for me, especially now that I will have homework, I will do my best to keep these posts shorter, pointing you to the resources that will help you learn more.  To find out more about the toxins lurking in your cookware, this article by Dr. Axe (one of my fave docs) is a great starting place.  You might be surprised, or even overwhelmed, by the information, but once you know better you can do better.  From this point, forward is all that matters.

As far as what I have in my kitchen, though it may not be the most perfect thing out there, I use ceramic coated cook/bakeware.  I can't say for sure what the healthiest brand is.  I think this is a space that could really use a lot more attention, but for now we will just choose as best we can.  The most important thing is knowing what to stay away from (teflon, etc.)  I was happy to see Dr. Mercola adding his efforts, but I can't say for sure what his products are like, because I have never used them.  Lots of other countries are putting safer products out there, but they are harder to get for the time being.

For baking/cookie sheets I have the "Orgreenic" Ceramic Jelly Roll Pans, but there is some debate over if the material/product actually lives up to its name (this happens a lot, so don't just believe in a product that has "Organic" in its name) - and they are no longer available, so hmmmmm?  I am still looking for a good replacement.  A good idea is to use parchment paper or a silicone sheet over the surface for extra protection.  My favorite parchment, and additional kitchen products (like the sandwich/snack bags we use), comes from "If You Care."  For pots and pans I have the "WearEver Pure Living" ceramic sets.  I purchased them from Amazon.

Other brands I would consider:
- xtrema

*Don't forget to pick up some great silicone cooking spoons, etc. to use in your ceramic pots & pans! You definitely don't want to use metal or anything harsh, and also in an effort to preserve your cookware stack them with a cloth in-between (I like to use old dishcloths/towels).

Of course glass is usually a safe way to go (check lead levels), and some people love cast iron.  Some articles claim that stainless steel is a good option, but a lot of times it has ingredients in it like nickel, which many are sensitive to.  If you have heavy metal toxicity/burden, then you want to avoid such products.  You can find this out through Functional Medicine/Naturopathic testing.  Way before I ever had such testing I knew I couldn't tolerate nickel, or lots of metals, because my skin would blister, ooze, and turn green from jewelry made from those materials.  That's a big reason I use bamboo cutlery much of the time, because every time you eat you could be exposing yourself to something that doesn't agree with your system, and that is an added burden your body does't need.  Listen to your body's messages!

I hope this article points you in some helpful directions to green up your kitchen and keep yourself and your loved ones as healthy as possible!