Recently I had the privilege of serving as keynote speaker at the Warrior Moms’ Pajama Party, an annual event held in honor of moms of special needs children by the Healing Complex Kids organization. The idea for this weekend retreat was both to give these caregivers some much needed time for themselves, and to stress the need for self care when you’re caring for others. As a specialist in women’s hormone issues, I know that self care is important to all caregivers, because if we’re not our best, we can’t give our best to others. With that in mind, I’ve adapted my presentation for a wider audience and will present it in four parts. This is part four.
At this point in my “Caring for the Caregiver” series, you probably know that the body’s endocrine system is a collection of glands responsible for producing hormones that regulate many of the body’s primary functions (metabolism, growth and development, sleep patterns, and mood, etc.) The ﬁnal installment in this series is about chronic inﬂammation and the many ways it can add stress to, and impair function of, the endocrine system.
Inﬂammation is a normal biological response of body tissues to injury or exposure to harmful stimuli such as pathogens and other irritants. It functions as one of the body’s protective measures in steering immune activity toward damaged cells and tissues and initiating their repair. Without it, harmful stimuli such as bacteria would grow unchecked and compromise health.
By contrast, too much inﬂammation over time can lead to a host of conditions and diseases affecting nearly every system of the body. In fact, chronic fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, hormone imbalances, autoimmune disease, joint pain, back pain, headaches, and brain fog can all be attributed to chronic inﬂammation.
The trouble is, chronic inﬂammation is hard to diagnose because blood work alone will not reveal where the inﬂammation is or what is causing it. It takes an experienced practitioner willing to dig deep into a patient’s personal health history to piece together the chronic inﬂammation puzzle rather than just prescribe a drug to treat symptoms.
There are several labs available to measure the body’s cardiac and systemic inﬂammation levels, as well as a patient’s genetic predisposition to it.
Causes of excessive inﬂammation include:
*Immune system stress caused by frequent urinary tract infections, parasites, viral, bacterial and yeast infections *Chronic stress such as that associated with long term caregiving
*A diet consisting of excess coffee, alcohol and artiﬁcial sweeteners, colors and ﬂavorings
*Synthetic hormones, such as those in birth control pills
*Obesity with a BMI over 25 revealing excessive fatty tissue in the body
*Having a congested liver or gall bladder
*Intolerances to foods or ingredients such as gluten, grains, and dairy
*Exposure to environmental toxins such as second-hand cigarette smoke
Once discovered, there are a variety of natural solutions that will allow your body to harness its own powers for ridding itself of excessive inﬂammation:
Eat Real Food. Because dietary choices play a big role in inﬂammation, an anti inﬂammatory diet is often the answer. Choose a diet heavy on fresh, whole foods naturally full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients over one of processed or fast food full of empty calories. Be sure to include a variety of colorful, high-in-ﬁber fruits and vegetables and steer clear of anything artiﬁcial. Limit coffee and alcohol, and increase protein from lean meats and beans. While this is not intended as a weight loss plan, the drastic change to this diet from the standard American fare of convenience foods often has the side effect bonus of a reduction in weight and body fat over time.
Food Sensitivities. If food intolerances are thought to be an issue, eliminate common irritants such as dairy, added sugar, and gluten for at least three weeks. Add one thing back every week to see if the body experiences an inﬂammatory response upon reintroduction. A variation of this elimination diet can also be used to diagnose and treat Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Treat Underlying Infections. Tired of just treating the symptoms over and over? Find the cause. Work with your functional medical specialist to determine the cause and course of treatment for chronic or recurring infections such as those of the urinary or digestive tracts.
Work Toward Nervous System Balance. By choosing a more nutritious and immunity friendly diet, getting regular moderate exercise, and striving to get adequate rest and better manage stress, nervous system balancing can be achieved giving you more physical and mental energy.
At Inﬁnity Wellness Center, our approach to functional endocrinology through a natural and personalized treatment plan can identify and eliminate many symptoms associated with chronic inﬂammation and restore overall health.