It was a conversation with a friend recently that made me realize, not everyone is as fascinated with the inner workings of the body like I am and may need a clearer understanding of how the body is trying to protect us AND what we can do to help.
When she asked, “What is inflammation anyways?”
I explained as best as I could, but let’s look at Dr. Andrew Weils explanation; Inflammation in the body is a normal and healthy response to injury or attack by germs. We can see it, feel it and measure it as local heat, redness, swelling, and pain. This is the body’s way of getting more nourishment and more immune activity into an area that needs to fend off infection or heal.
Just like the body wants to heal itself from cuts and infection or repair a broken bone, it also wants to protect us from diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, auto-immune disorders and dementia, just to name a few. Illnesses such as these, essentially don’t just ‘happen’, they occur because there has been a break down at a cellular level where the bodies internal environment has been disrupted.
My personal goals have changed over the years, but certainly in the last few years, my main goal has shifted into one of helping my body into a state of optimal wellness and aging wel. I have witnessed too much pain, sadness and suffering of loved ones in poor health. This has driven me to take a more pro-active approach to my well-being.
Why is it that all to often, we ignore the signs and signals the body is sending us? Let’s not wait for that BIG wake up call to come, instead, let’s tune in and take care now.
As I continue to expand my knowledge in healthy living, I have felt this overwhelming sense of responsibility to help people ‘wake up’ and to stop sleep walking through their life. My hope is to inspire a greater mind-body connection, reduce stress, and advocate that we need to become our own greatest ‘doctor’ when it comes to living life ‘well’.
As I mentioned earlier, I am super fascinated with inner workings of our bodies. The human physique is an amazing structure made up of 37 trillion cells which form tissues that are arranged into organs and then all combined into these fascinating systems: the cardiovascular, digestive, nervous and immune system.
When the body is working optimally, we feel healthy and energized. The cells function best when the body is kept in a state of homeostasis (which is simply a balance of bodily functions). The systems that are in place in the body are at work 24/7 to keep conditions stable despite what is going on around us.
Cell function becomes disrupted when the body is unable to maintain that stable internal environment.
There are many outside factors that cause a breakdown at a cellular level, allowing disease to creep in, and one of the biggest culprits of these factors is STRESS.
I was reading an article in the Huffington Post recently and it reported that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 90% of doctor’s visits in the U.S. may be stress related.
So, what are the common sources of stress and how does this relate to inflammation?
As reported in a Harvard Medical School publication, think of inflammation as the body's natural response to protect itself against harm. There are two types: acute and chronic. You're probably more familiar with the acute type, which occurs when you bang your knee or cut your finger. Your immune system dispatches an army of white blood cells to surround and protect the area, creating visible redness and swelling. The process works similarly if you have an infection like the flu or pneumonia. So in these settings, inflammation is essential—without it, injuries could fester and simple infections could be deadly.
In 2012, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University discovered why frequently having high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) can do damage to our bodies. Cortisol is produced to help turn off inflammation, but prolonged stress can cause chronic inflammation and makes immune cells insensitive to the hormone’s regulatory effect.
As a result, the inflammatory response that the immune system normally launches to protect the body goes into overdrive. When chronically elevated, cortisol can have deleterious effects on weight, immune function, and chronic disease risk. That excess inflammation may lead to anything from the common cold to, in the long run, heart attacks, stroke, cancer and auto-immune disorders.
Prevention is key.
How we live our lives each day matters. What we put into and on our bodies, the quality of our sleep, our relationships, career, how we handle stress … all these factors affect us at a cellular level. The greater awareness we have, the better we can protect ourselves from life-altering, and in many cases, life-threatening diseases. We can do this by putting a greater value on our health and well-being by accepting full responsibility for our lives and then, to act.
My wake-up call happened a few years back where I found myself at a crossroads and 2012 is when my journey of awakening began.
I was 37 years old with 4 busy teenagers, working 3 jobs, on various committees - giving my time and energy to everyone but myself. It left me feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and unable to give the best of me to my family.
The mountain of stress that had been building up began to rob me of my joy.
I had put on weight, I wasn’t sleeping or eating well and after having 2 root canal procedures that year - caused by the constant grinding and clenching of my teeth – along with other issues with my health, I began my search for a better way.
When I examined my life, I became very aware that I was the exact age my mom was when she broke down and walked out on our family. Even though I had spent most of my life trying to be better and do better, I came to a very startling discovery. I was inhabiting some of the not-so-healthy ways I had learned from my mother.
I was carrying the burden of feeling damaged, unworthy and unimportant.
Poor lifestyle choices and chronic stress left my Mom plagued by disease, chronic illness, battling addiction and surviving cancer on 4 separate occasions. The fear of getting cancer, really scared me.
I knew I needed a better way to cope with stress, find more balance and to learn how to love myself and make myself a priority.
In 2013, I studied with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I learned many different facets of living a healthy lifestyle and began implementing what I had learned in my own life.
Over time, with the support of my husband and children, my health an well-being improved.
Then, in 2015, some friends introduced me to a line of nutritional supplements that were to help with weight loss, improve energy and assist my body in achieving homeostasis. In a few months I had lost about 20 lbs, I was sleeping better, my stress reduced even more, and I had a lot more energy. I loved how my body was changing and becoming healthier from the inside out.
January 1 of 2017, I made the decision that 2017 was going to be my best year yet. I wanted to be the example for my family, my business partners and my coaching clients and show them that transformation was possible for me and for anyone who desired it.
My quest to become the happiest, healthiest version of myself is where my commitment to my mindfulness practice developed. When I learned that you could retrain your brain, reduce your levels of stress, increase your happiness, boost your immune system and become more productive through meditation, I decided to give it a go.
I have since learned that there are many different facets to mindfulness, but I simply began with meditation, just 10 minutes a day. I mean, if Oprah, Ellen, Steve Jobs and even Kobe Bryant could find time to mediate everyday, so could I.
Some of the changes I noticed were how much calmer I felt throughout the day. Little things I used to let bother me, became like water off a duck’s back. My mind grew clearer, my intuition grew stronger and I became filled with this amazing sense of inner peace.
In 2014 another study at Carnegie Mellon University found that just three 25-minute sessions of meditation can alleviate stress.
According to The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, mindful breathing exercises have been shown to help control blood pressure, improve heart rate, make arteries more flexible and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which tamps down the bodies fight or flight response to stress.
Consequently, mindfulness has helped me get more in tune with my own body. I used to ignore the signs and symptoms from my body, pop a pill and plow ahead. I now stop and check in with myself and ask what is going on and recalibrate by practicing self care.
The growth of my mindfulness practice has led me to become in alignment with who I really am filling me with a sense of purpose and inner happiness I had never experienced before. The love and compassion I feel towards myself and others is perhaps the greatest gift I have received from this practice.
Mindfulness began weaving itself into all areas of my life – The way I began taking care of my body and my mind improved dramatically. Mindful eating and self care became a priority. I became less reactive, more balanced. My relationships have grown stronger, my business has prospered … everything exponentially enhanced.
I hope you found this article helpful in understanding how stress and inflammation affect our bodies and that by making a few choices in altering our lifestyle we can find extremely powerful ways to reduce stress, minimize inflammation, and reduce the risk for illness and chronic disease. The more we learn about the way the body responds to the demands placed on it, as well as its extraordinary healing power, the more effectively we can change our lives by improving our health, inspiring change, and increasing longevity.
Tuning into my body, practicing stress reduction through ways of self-care, becoming conscious of what I am putting into my body and through proper supplementation along with time spent educating myself and others everyday, I am no longer fearful of disease. This is what I want for you too.
To learn more about how I can support you on your journey to discovering your best self, take the time to book a 0ne-on-One free Clarity Call with me here. You can also call (403)331-7687 or email email@example.com to learn more about my life transforming products and programs.
Yours in Health and Happiness,
Marci an Integrative Health Coach who Specializes in positive Life Transformations. She wants to guide you to have more confidence, live an authentic and purposeful life & really connect to your inner power, get healthy inside & out and live a limitless life of complete joy, freedom and happiness. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart for 22 years and a mother to 4 beautiful children. Marci believes that life is to be enjoyed & laughter is always the best medicine. Marci is passionate about teaching people to value their health and freedom. She is a Certified Health Coach, Blogger & NWM Professional.
Her mission: To help you 'Live Your Best Life Now'!