How Exercise Can Cause You To Gain Weight

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Are you exercising too much?

Being in the health and wellness world for over 17 years, I have seen my fair share of exercise advice — push harder, do this new program, slow it down, lift heavier — the advice goes on and on.

Yet, proposing the question of how much is too much is rarely asked or even encouraged. It seems that the fitness industry often speaks to and caters those that are in need of that extra push. That extra encouragement. That little kick you might need to move your body and better your physical health.

But what about those fitness enthusiasts that are regularly pushing themselves? Or, those in love with high intensity competition? What about those who are already living stressful lives and want to incorporate the right kind of exercise?

They are a special breed when it comes to exercise, at least exercising the right way for the best results.

It is common knowledge that exercise is one of the healthiest forms of self-care that we can indulge in. Strength training helps to build muscle and cardiovascular exercise helps to keep your heart healthy. But, if you do too much of either of these, a normally healthy habit can begin to break the body down and, inversely, cause you to be weak and overly stressed. It doesn’t stop there…

If you live a lifestyle that is high in stress, this is going to compound and add to the extra stress placed on your body from regular intense exercise. It doesn’t matter if your stress is related to  work, family, mental health, or emotional turmoil — it all equates to extra stress in the body.

How do you know if the exercise you are doing is placing too much extra stress on your body? It is not always so easy to spot, but there are a few signs that do begin to present. When your body can no longer take the over-exercising, signs of overtraining typically creep in. Overtraining can signal the body to start burning muscle for fuel and store more fat, resulting in some weight gain.

Overtraining shows up as —

  • Persistent muscle soreness
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Increased incidence of injuries
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Loss of motivation
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Muscle loss
  • Increased weakness

Probably not what you are hoping for with your exercise plan!

How Over-Exercising Impacts The Body

Over-exercising places excessive stress on the body. With this onset, your hormone levels begin to change — especially testosterone and cortisol (yes, women have testosterone too!).

Testosterone is important to help build lean muscle, increase bone density, and keep your heart and blood healthy. Having healthy, balanced, levels of testosterone are super important for gaining the results you want in your workouts. When excessive stress is placed on the body, cortisol levels increase and steal from your testosterone, throwing off your healthy hormonal ratios.

With the body’s delicate hormonal balance upset, it begins to signal to the body to burn muscle instead of fat. As a result, you may notice that the lifting of your usual amount of weights, running your usual distances, and performing the same type of exercises may be much more difficult than easy.

If cortisol levels rise too high and stay elevated for too long, the adrenal glands may become imbalanced and cortisol levels drop below normal. This is when weight gain occurs.

Your body has an amazing capacity to adapt, which is what makes your body so resilient.  If you keep demanding too much from your body, without the necessary rest and recovery, it will start to compromise and compensate in an effort to keep functioning.  Your stubborn body fat —especially belly fat — is just one of the ways in which your body compensates when exposed to too many stressors.

What You Can Do

Here is where I want to emphasis the importance of looking at the stress in your everyday life. Not every day will be stress-free — every day shouldn’t be — but it is about the flow of how stress enters, exits, and dances around the moments in your day. When you step back and look at the big picture, this will help guide you in the right kind of and right amount of exercise for you and your lifestyle in this moment of your life.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), how much stress do I realistically have at work, at home, and in my personal life? List out the stressors if this helps you see the big picture more clearly.
  • How am I feeling right now (i.e., tired, sore, heavy, sad, stressed, light, happy, so-so)?
  • Would pushing harder make me feel better or worse? Would slowing down make me feel better or worse?
  • Can I give my body what it really needs?

You may be quite surprised to find out how much stress you unknowingly deal with on a daily basis. When you can honestly say how much “daily stress” you are experiencing, then you can step back and look at your exercise regimen. If your “daily stress” is high, then it might be counterintuitive to hop on the elliptical trainer for an hour. It is common that people who lead a more stressful lifestyle tend to gravitate towards longer cardio as a way to deal with stress — the inner push is already in their nature. Instead, try yoga or a stretching class to emphasis stress-relieving and add gentle movement that your body is craving.

If this sounds like you and you believe you are over-exercising, here are some places you could begin:

  1. Add in more energy balancing practices. Perform low to moderate amounts of exercise and save some time to do daily stress relieving practices, such as meditation, visualization, deep breathing, and journaling. You could even sign up for a Reiki session or other energy work to help you get realigned. This allows your adrenal gland hormones to begin balancing and it helps to stabilize your blood sugar, both important for properly functioning adrenals.
  2. Stop doing long cardio sessions. If you’re doing long cardio workouts, you’re only adding to the problem.  Long cardio eats away at your lean muscle mass which is essential for increasing your metabolism to burn more calories.  And it dramatically increases your appetite making you more susceptible to unnecessary snacking and over eating. Not to mention that it can create imbalance in your blood sugar, opening you up to more food cravings and inflammation in the body. Instead of long cardio, try doing short, high intensity workouts (i.e., HIIT programs).  These workouts are much more effective at promoting fat burning hormones that target your stubborn fat. It is important to mention that if you are already dealing with more severe over-training symptoms or adrenal issues, high intensity workouts may still be too aggressive for you at this time.
  3. Change the way you lift weights. Lift heavier weights at lower repetitions instead of lower weights for higher repetitions. Lifting heavier weights has been linked to increasing testosterone levels, therefore, helping to keep the hormone balance more, well, balanced. It will also help to increase lean muscle mass and increase your overall metabolism.
  4. Make sure that you are getting adequate rest. Recovery and rest are often more important than exercising.  If you’re feeling sluggish or drained of energy, do an active recovery such as an easy walk, hike, or a leisurely bike ride. If you’re really tired, take the day off! It’s during periods of rest that your body does most of the fat burning, so don’t short change yourself.  Proper rest and recovery means you’re enabling your body to burn more fat.
  5. Feed your body (the right way). The foods we eat can place large amounts of stress on the body. A diet full of sugar, processed carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats can place a significant amount of stress on the body and increase systemic inflammation in the body. Eat a well-balanced nutrition plan of whole foods that contain plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, high quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, and a few fruits. Plenty of vegetables and colorful fruits are also high in anti-oxidants (which helps to fight the negative effects of stress on the body)! Limit your alcohol and sugar because as the body become stressed, you crave both of these more!

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How To Easily Decrease Your Aches And Pains

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Living life can be painful.

From tight shoulders to achy knees to low back strains — they can all creep in unexpectedly and leave you feeling like you have aged decades.

She prided herself on being fierce in life; Always on the go and challenging her body in ways that would make Superwoman jealous. Long days of taking care of the kids, fitting in her workouts, cleaning the house, or working a physically demanding job. Some days if was all of the above.

But as she got older, things started to change. She started to change. Her body wasn’t as flexible and her mind stopped her from trying feats that were never previously questioned.

She couldn’t squat down as low because her knees ached and her hips hurt if she sat too long.

She had chronic pain in her upper back and neck and noticed that even turning to reach in the back seat of the car caused jarring pain to shoot into her shoulder.

She would wake up in pain, wondering how she could possibly injure herself while sleeping.

She felt decades older than she really was and would say over and over, “I am getting so old.”

The worst part? She felt unattractive and uncomfortable in her own skin. She no longer felt like this young, attractive, vibrant, energetic woman. Life’s sparkle dulled a bit.

Does this sound like a version of you? I hear this story from women all the time. I have been a version of this woman myself!

It can feel daunting to take care of yourself and your body when you have so many demands on your plate. It is easy to push away what doesn’t seem immediately necessary — to change it to another day. But for many of us, that other day never really comes and if that is your story, then you may be left with years of built up tension and tightness spreading throughout your physical body.

You are an energetic being. And being an energetic being, your energy needs to flow through your body or else it could get trapped in areas throughout your body. One example of this is shoulder tightness. Stress and pent up emotion may result in you clenching your neck and shoulder muscles, unknowingly squeezing them upwards towards your ears and creating this tightness to start setting in. That continual contracting (squeezing) of the muscle creates a muscle spasm, which is a continual dose of energy being given from that muscle. This then causes the muscles and other soft tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia, etc) to start tightening even more, decreasing the flow of natural energy movement through that area. The more energy that gets stuck, the more you are thrown off physically, emotionally, mentally, and so on.

Where To Begin

There are many places you can begin when trying to get rid of the physical aches and pains that may be holding you back. You want to reevaluate questions such as :

  • Are you eating a whole foods, low processed, low sugar nutrition plan?
  • Is your gut health strong? Food allergies, autoimmune disorders (i.e., Celiac disease, IBS, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus), Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory diseases, Alzheimers, and even mood imbalances may be signs that it is not.
  • Are your shoes supportive?
  • Do you need orthotics in your shoes?
  • Are you stretching regularly?
  • Do you get massages or other body work?
  • Are you getting enough sleep and rest?
  • Are your workouts supporting you or breaking your body down?
  • Are you getting adequate nutrient support like magnesium or Vitamin D?

This is not an exhaustive list, but it can help you get a little closer to honing in on the long term support you are giving your body.

I am going to give you some pro tips you can do at home or whenever you need immediate relief. But before I do, let’s talk about some areas that will help support you in the long term.

Massage and Other Alternative Medicines

Massage is fantastic to ease pain in several different ways. It affects your nervous system through the nerve endings in your skin. This stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural “feel good” chemicals, and they promote feelings of relaxation, a sense of well-being, lowered stress, and lowered pain. But it doesn’t stop there. Massage can also increase blood flow to sore or stiff joints and muscles, assists the lymphatic system in flushing away waste products and toxins, helps to ease tightness and break up scar tissue, and it has been shown to be a natural painkiller because of it’s trigger to release opioids into the brain (and speeds up the flow of the hormone oxytocin, a hormone that relaxes muscles and encourages feelings of calmness and contentment).

Massage is not the only avenue to explore. The following have been showing high levels of effectiveness in decreasing pain and body aches from a root cause level:

  • Acupuncture
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Nutritionist for dietary healing
  • Herbal remedies 
  • Essential oils
  • Yoga, Qigong, and Tai Chi
  • Meditation
  • Hypnosis or guided imagery
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or Tapping)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

What Can I Do For Immediate Relief?

  • For tightness and pain and tension, you can try one of the above therapies that is easy to implement at home. Try 5-10 minutes of quiet or moving meditation (which could come from yoga, qigong, or tai chi). You could also perform some self-massage on the affected area using some healing salves or gels to increase the healing process. For this, I love using Badger’s Sore Muscle Rub. It has a nice soothing warming effect by using cayenne extract and it helps to ease some of the muscle tightness with it’s essential oils.
  • If it is tight muscle spasms you are experiencing, try some trigger point release. This is a technique in which you apply deep, constant pressure on the sore muscle spasm with your finger, elbow, thumb or whatever is most comfortable for you. It that is uncomfortable or you need to get deeper, you can use household items, such as a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or golf ball. Hold each muscle spasm for about 10-90 seconds or until you start to feel some release in the tightness. You can either hold each with a constant pressure or use small, kneading, circular movements to help loosen. Again, whatever feels most effective for you.
  • For tight and sore muscles, you can try foam rolling for an at home self-massage that massage the muscles and the fascia in your body. Here is a link to show you how to get started.
  • If you are experiencing tight feet, arch pain, or a sharp pain in your heel, you may be on the verge of (or already experiencing) some plantar fascitis. Try stretching and self massage. Perform a standing calf stretch or a standing step stretch. To loosen up the arch, roll a golf ball under your foot with moderate pressure,or whatever pressure feels comfortable, for a 3-5 minutes. For better results, you can use a small water bottle with frozen water inside to add the cooling effect and calm down the inflammation. For heel pain, try some light massage over the painful area, again for 5 minutes or until it feels as though the pain is subsiding slightly.
  • For cuts and burns and scraps, there are a few easy home remedies to give you relief:
    • Mix three or four drops of lavender oil together with a few drops of coconut or tamanu oil, always after it is cleaned.
    • Cayenne pepper can be used on minor scrapes and scratches for quick relief, but never on open wounds. Cayenne contains capsaicin, which helps speed healing and blocks pain messages to the brain — wipe off when pain is lessened.
    • You can also try an aloe vera plant.  Break off a leaf and squeeze gel directly onto the affected area. Aloe vera seals the injury, relieves pain and provides quicker healing. Reapply 3-4 times daily.
    • Limes and lemons have been proven to have an antibiotic effect and can kill bacteria.
    • Tea tree oil is great because it is antiseptic, antimicrobial, and has many healing properties.
    • Arnica gel provides excellent pain relief and healing of cuts, scrapes, and burns.
  • If you got an upset stomach or nausea, try sniffing some lavender essential oil and/or ingesting real ginger. There are ginger chews and ginger snacks that can relieve an unsettled stomach. I also like using Doterra’s DigestZen for immediate relief in bloating, indigestion, and nausea. It is my go-to oil for motion sickness!
  • If you are looking for some over the counter products that are reliable and easy to use, I recommend the following:
    • Topricin for soothing relief associated with arthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, or work and sports related injuries.
    • Arnicare by Boiron is an excellent homeopathic medicine to assist with pain relief, stiffness, swelling, and bruising.
    • Skin Gel by AloeLife is my go to for burns, wounds, and scars (and much more).

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Women, Weight-Loss, And How To Balance Your Hormones

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It all shifts.

Every single inch seems to shift to a part of the body that it wasn’t meant to be. 

The thighs move up to the hips, the butt moves up the belly, and the back of the arms extend their goodbye with just a little extra jiggle than you might want. 

The shift happens for men and women, but women are more afflicted because of their delicate hormonal balance that can easily get upset. 

It Isn’t All About The Calories

People have been brainwashed to think if we eat a little less or follow the latest fad diet, that the weight will just melt off of us — regardless of your age or current hormonal disposition. 

Unfortunately, there continues numerous dieting models that place this hypothesis on a pedestal, promising their female clients success. And then when it doesn’t work or only works for a short period of time? 

Well…

You blame yourself. You must have done something wrong or did not have the magical willpower unicorn to help you stay on track.

I discovered that the calorie-in/calorie-out hypothesis has been widely disproven and remains the greatest misconception women have about diet and weight loss. Calories matter, more to some women than others, but hormones matter more.

Most diets don’t work for women. They fail to address the hormonal root causes that are the most common reasons for resisting weight loss resistance — excess cortisol, insulin and/or leptin blockage, estrogen dominance, a sluggish thyroid, low testosterone, and problems with the HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal) control system.

The HPA (Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal) Axis

The HPA axis is the boss of all your hormones. It sits up high looking out over the hormonal kingdom and communicating based on how it interacts with other hormones. The root cause of cortisol imbalance is usually a dysregulated HPA axis. 

When the HPA is up-regulated, you churn out too much cortisol. Think muffin top, feeling like you’re constantly racing from task to task, feeling wired but tired, quickness to anger and irritability, and rapid weight gain.

When the HPA is constantly up-regulated, it can get super burned out, like how you feel after those days of back-to-back meetings and then coming home to making dinner and managing your kid’s soccer schedules.

At this point, the HPA becomes down-regulated and suddenly you have a lack of stamina, you are quick to catch a cold, your viewpoint turns more negative, and your thyroid begins to show imbalances.

Since the HPA is often the root cause, the key is resetting it. Any other attempt at fixing the hormones will likely fail in the long run if the HPA is not addressed and stabilized.

It All Starts With Cortisol

There are so many steps you can take to address your cortisol and it really is bio-individual. Some are more researched than others, with my suggestions below being some of the most researched and successful with my clients. Here is my simple protocol to get you started for balancing cortisol.

  • Start a regular massage routine. Getting a massage once or twice a month not only prioritizes self-care, but it also helps the muscles and the fascia to release tightness and it helps to move stuck energy throughout the body. You can do this by paying for massage and/or you can start a foam roller practice, which acts like a self massage. 
  • Add B Vitamins and Omega-3’s if you are deficient. Both of these nutritional gems helps to soothe the nervous system. You can get them in supplemental form or you can eat foods like salmon, leafy greens, liver, beef, eggs, sunflower seeds, and nutritional yeast for B vitamins. Want more Omega-3’s? Fill your meals with foods like walnuts, almonds, fatty fishes, avocados, and chia seeds.
  • Honor your voice. This was the biggest action step for my own personal success! Talk through what’s stressing you with someone you trust. Get it off your chest and learn how you can work through it so it doesn’t consume you. While you are at it…
  • Honor your energy. Restore your energy by regular meditation or yoga sessions to help calm the nervous system and bring your conscious awareness back into homeostasis and alignment.
  • Drink more green tea. L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, helps to reduce stress. Limit your coffee and alcohol, especially if you are more sensitive to either of these. 
  • Eat more dark chocolate. Yes, eat more dark chocolate, but make sure that it is the 75% or higher variety or raw cacao. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, a mineral necessary to balancing your stress response. 
  • Take phosphatidylserine.  Phosphatidylserine is helpful to take until you perceive less stress and your HPA is no longer hypervigilant. 
  • Add an adaptogen that helps to reset cortisol. You can try Ashwagandha or Rhodiola, often being successful when taken at night. To help increase your testosterone, you can try some Maca in the morning. 

As you get older and your hormones begin to naturally transition into a peri-, post-, and menopausal stage, it is even more important to pay attention to your stress levels and to the hormones that play critical roles. Next blog, I will be talking about the key hormonal players that you need to know about that keep you in balance and living your best life yet!

References: 

  1. Cuciureanu MD, Vink R. Magnesium and stress. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507250/
  2. Hellhammer, J., Vogt, D., Franz, N., Freitas, U., & Rutenberg, D. (2014). A soy-based phosphatidylserine/ phosphatidic acid complex (PAS) normalizes the stress reactivity of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-axis in chronically stressed male subjects: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Lipids in health and disease, 13, 121. https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-511X-13-121

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10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Slash Body Pain, Improve Digestion, and Lose Weight

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My grandma used to say “My knees are talking to me.”

I never fully understood what that meant until I got older. My workouts hurt a little bit more. High humidity days would swell my knees up like balloons. I would wake up hurting and left in a perplexing state wondering how I hurt myself sleeping.

And for so long I blamed it on the aging process, convinced that it was a natural sign of aging and something that I had to deal with. Or maybe it was genetic and I was destined to have my grandma’s talking knees.

I learned that it doesn’t have to be that way!

Inflammation 

Inflammation comes in many forms and can be super sneaky. You might feel it as muscle soreness or joint pain.

Or, maybe you are dealing with depression or emotional imbalances.

Perhaps you have digestive issues or a disease, autoimmune disorder, or cancer has creeped into your life. All of these (and more) are directly connected to an inflammation imbalance.

When Inflammation Is Good

The body’s inflammation response is an essential part of the healing process. Injuries, surgeries, and other traumas need to have inflammation acutely in order to help the body heal and bounce back quickly. This is a good thing!

In acute healing phases, inflammation is essential. It helps the body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over our bodies and kill us. Yay, inflammation!

When Inflammation Is Not So Good

When the body starts to heal and the effects of trauma are resolving, inflammation should begin to resolve too, right? Not necessarily.

When there was no trauma involved, the body should naturally feel free of pain and discomfort, right? Again, not necessarily.

Chronic inflammation is like a silent fire smoldering beneath the surface. Because you can’t see or actually feel this type of inflammation, it’s often referred to as the body’s “silent fire”—which makes perfect sense, because the word “inflammation” derives from the Latin word for “to set on fire.”

When the body’s immune system doesn’t communicate to shut off, it can be like a fire that is not extinguished easily. It is not entirely known why the body will not communicate the shut off. It just keeps producing immune cells, leaving your body in a constant state of alert. And the body remains in a constant state of stress.

When the immune cells can’t find an injury or illness to repair, they eventually attack healthy cells, damaging your tissues and organs. This is when you start to have noticeable problems! This damage has been linked to a slew of diseases and disorders, including asthma, ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, ulcerative colitis, allergies, some types of cancer and even Alzheimer’s.

Unfortunately, you can’t see low-grade, chronic inflammation and squash the silent fire ahead of time. This is why it is so easy to think that having sore joints and a painful body is how you are SUPPOSED to feel. It isn’t until the damage is done that you really start to step back and notice; even then you may not immediately link it to chronic inflammation.

Using Digestion To Silence The Fire

Your body is incredibly wise and does give you clues to inflammatory cues for concern.

Excess inflammation in the body can cause weight gain (especially in the belly), mental fog, and an overall ‘blah’ feeling. It can also lead to fatigue, digestive issues, depression, sleep issues, and random aches and pains. This is only to name a few!

When making changes, it is important to start at the root cause. Digestion is one of the first places to begin because the digestive tract is the most condensed area of immune cells— 80% of the immune system is located within the gut, and gut microbes can drive inflammation.

There are four main goals of an anti-inflammatory nutrition plan:

  1. Keep blood sugars balanced. Excess glucose stresses the body and causes a systemic inflammatory response.
  2. Eat the right types of fats. Fats are super important for hormonal balancing and decreasing stress placed on the body.
  3. Consume anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Some foods have natural inflammation fighting powers.
  4. Promote healthy gut flora. You got to keep the gut strong so that it can absorb all the beneficial nutrients you are feeding it.

It may sound complicated, but don’t let that frighten you. If you make a few small changes, for even a few minutes each day, you can drastically lower inflammation levels in the body.

Healthy_fats_food

10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods To Silence The Fire

  1. Dark leafy greens: Think kale, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli— these powerhouse foods are not only high in antioxidants and healing flavonoids, but they also contain a compound called “quercetin,” which acts much like anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin). Toss a handful of spinach in your morning smoothie or throw together some chopped up kale, carrots, and raisins for a delicious kale salad. You can also toss a handful of spinach into your morning omelette and cook until leaves are wilted.
  2. Turmeric:  Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and it is a very powerful antioxidant and has incredible anti-inflammatory properties. They are so powerful that even studies have shown that curcumin is more powerful in decreasing inflammation than anti-inflammatory drugs. Add some turmeric to your morning egg scrabble, season your roasted veggies, toss some into your smoothie (be careful how much you put in because the taste can be overpowering), or drink a turmeric tea.
  3. Blueberries: An antioxidant powerhouse, blueberries are high in phytonutrients that are buzzing with anti-inflammatory protection. They protect against many diseases, such as cancer and dementia. Add them to your salad, use them for your morning smoothie, freeze them and eat them as a cold treat, or top your favorite healthy dessert with a handful of them.
  4. Wild-caught salmon: Wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, that are known for their inflammation slashing. The benefits of omega-3 have been backed over and over by studies. They are shown to reducing symptoms of psychological disorders, preventing heart disease, and reducing your risk of cancer. No farmed salmon here! Two times a week, add salmon to your diet. Salmon fillets with lemon juice are a great choice! If getting in salmon is pretty challenging, opt for supplementation by a liquid or a capsule most days a week.
  5. Coconut oil: This is by far my favorite! And for good reason— Coconut oil is not only anti-inflammatory, but it also boosts metabolism, helps balance hormones, and has anti-microbial properties. It is truly a healing powerhouse. Try adding it to your morning shakes, sauté your leafy greens in it, roast your turmeric root vegetables in it, or use it as a spread on your sprouted grain bread. Remember, the skin is an absorbable organ. You can use coconut oil externally too. Use coconut oil as a moisturizer instead of the expensive, paraben-laden cosmetics from the beauty counter.
  6. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a powerhouse of nutrients. Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects your brain, decreasing inflammation that can cause depression and other brain health issues. Throw some in your salads or eat some sauce, just make sure that you are getting the skins of the tomatoes, where lycopene lives.
  7. Avocados: Not only are avocados a healthy fat that improves digestion and supports heart health, but they are good for inflammation too. They also contain carotenoids, which are linked to reduced cancer risk. You can throw some in your smoothie, on your salad, or top your scrambled eggs with them.
  8. Cherries: Cherries are so delicious and remind me of summertime. But, they are also rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, which fight inflammation. Although the health-promoting properties of tart cherries have been studied more than other varieties, sweet cherries also provide benefits. You can drink a tart cherry juice or buy a bunch of sweet cherries to munch on as a snack.
  9. Red Bell Peppers: I love red bell peppers for a hefty dose of anti-inflammatory power—but go red to reap the most benefits. According to Journal of Food Science, out of the three colors of bell pepper, red have the highest amount of inflammatory-biomarker-reducing vitamin C along with the bioflavonoids beta-carotene, quercetin, and luteolin. Luteolin has been found to neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Quercetin acts as a mast-cell stabilizer, decreasing the number of cells reacting to an allergen. Make a stir-fry or slice them up for a delicious dip in your hummus.
  10. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Olive oil is fabulous for fighting inflammation and research believes it is because of the olecanthal, found only in olive oil. It has been found to have significant impact on inflammation and helps reduce joint cartilage damage, working similarly to ibuprofen. You can sprinkle olive oil on anything — your sandwich, in your smoothie, on your eggs, and of course on your salad.

Even though nutrition is only one piece of the lifestyle puzzle for calming inflammation and silencing the fire, it is an easy one to start with. Slowly start adding some of these foods into your daily nutrition plan to take back control of your body!

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