There are many science-backed benefits into the positive power of dance for autoimmune disease: improved mobility, reduced pain, reduced anxiety and depression, improved body image, and better quality of life. That said, if you’re living with chronic illness and chronic pain, dance poses challenges. If your body has changed with autoimmune disease, can you still dance? On hard days, can dancing make your day better? The eight people featured in this article answer a resounding yes to both of those questions. They each share what dancing means to them, and how they adapt dance around their autoimmune symptoms. They also share videos showing their joy in dancing.
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The choices we make every day can have a huge impact on autoimmune health. Below you’ll find multiple ways to foster an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. If you’re an audio learner, I have a great podcast as well. If you’re not sure where to begin, start here.
Lymph is essential to our body’s ability to detoxify, reduce inflammation, and fight infection. Supporting the lymphatic system can benefit anyone’s health, but it’s especially important for those of us with autoimmune disease. Chronic inflammation puts an extra burden on this system and can even damage it long-term, reducing its efficiency. In a prior career, I was a lymph drainage therapist for 15 years. Most of my clients were people with chronic illness. As someone with rheumatoid arthritis myself, it’s one of my favorite self-care techniques.
When it comes to MS, muscle weakness isn’t the cause of weak muscles or difficulty walking. The cause is weakness in the neural pathways from demyelination. The MSing Link is an online exercise program created by Dr. Gretchen Hawley, a Doctor of Physical Therapy and MS Certified Specialist. Every exercise in her program is designed to strengthen your muscles AND your neural pathways at the same time. In this article, Dr. Gretchen shares three sample exercises that you can try today!
Dr. Emily Kiberd is a chiropractor with Hashimoto’s who created a strength training program for her fellow Hashi warriors. Joint pain, extreme fatigue, and weight gain are common symptoms, which can make exercise challenging. Many people choose gentle forms of exercise that don’t strain the body further, but this can lead to a loss of muscle mass. Muscle is the body’s metabolic engine. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Muscle is also the largest endocrine organ in the body, so contracting muscle tissue has been shown to help with the turnover of thyroid hormones. This is why Dr. Kiberd created Thyroid Strong, a special exercise program designed to help women with Hashimoto’s safely regain strength, boost their energy, and alleviate pain at the same time.
DNS stands for Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization. It’s a fascinating form of exercise that uses positions and movements associated with infant development to help people heal from a variety of physical issues. With autoimmune disease, it can be hard to find forms of exercise that support our body’s changing needs. DNS can be modified for everyone. This article is written by Maggie Rintala, a fellow autoimmune warrior and certified personal trainer who specializes in DNS. She demonstrates three sample exercises, along with resources for learning more.
Have you heard of the Spoon Theory? It’s a way to explain chronic illness to people who don’t understand, and I love that aspect of it. (The spoons represent daily energy). But the Spoon Theory also assumes we can never get more spoons. I don’t believe that’s true. In this article, I share the history of the spoon theory and how we can all get more spoons!
Some people love the holiday season; others approach it with a sense of dread. Either way, it tends to be a busy time with extra stress, obligations, food temptations, and travel. This can be a recipe for an autoimmune flare, but it doesn’t have to be! I’ve made a list of one simple thing to do each day throughout the month of December. At the bottom of the post, there’s a printable PDF that you can post on your fridge. Happy Holidays!
Autoimmune disease often causes insomnia, and then poor sleep increases autoimmune flares, creating a vicious cycle. In this article, I tackle some of the biggest sleep challenges: pain, anxiety, restless legs syndrome, snoring, hormones, blood sugar imbalances, new parenthood, and more. I also review sleep trackers, sleep supplements, and a special form of therapy that’s more effective than sleeping pills in resolving insomnia.
Most often, if you say the word “treat” people immediately think of sweets. It’s how we reward ourselves for our achievements, and it’s how we soothe ourselves when life is hard. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional sweet treat. They’re delicious! However, if sweets are the only way we treat ourselves, the excess sugar can increase inflammation and even kick off an autoimmune flare. So, I’ve come up with 101 alternate ways to treat ourselves. Thanks to the mind-body connection, these treats can actually decrease inflammation while simultaneously bringing more joy to our lives. That’s my kind of to-do list! I even included a PDF you can print and put on your fridge, for ongoing inspiration!
If you’re someone who unplugs air fresheners anytime you see them, this article will resonate with you. If you’re someone who loves air fresheners and didn’t realize they might be harming your health, this article may surprise you. “Fragrance” isn’t a single ingredient. It’s a chemical formula that can contain up to 100 different chemicals. Many of them are harmful to health, and there is no regulation of this industry. In fact, since fragrance is considered a “trade secret”, the chemicals aren’t listed on the ingredient labels. In this article, I dive deeply into the science and share tips for naturally freshening indoor air instead.
I asked this question of my fellow autoimmune warriors, and their answer was a resounding yes! In this post, I share beautiful photos of people with their pets, alongside their testimonials. I also dive into the research and share what science says about the potential health benefits. In balance, I also honor that there are times when pets aren’t the right choice and I share those circumstances, too.
Have you noticed that if you pause and take a slow, deep breath, you feel a little bit calmer? Deep breathing taps the relaxation response. For people with autoimmune disease, this is an amazing power at our fingertips, since stress is a common trigger of autoimmune flares. In this blog post, I share four of my favorite deep breathing techniques. You can use them as “medicine in the moment” to alleviate your anxiety, give you an energy boost during the day, or help you fall asleep at night. You can also make deep breathing a daily practice. Just a few minutes can make a big difference.
iPhones automatically shift into low-power mode when their batteries get low. The goal is to conserve energy. There are times in life when our body and soul ask us to do the same. It’s about letting nonessential responsibilities go, and focusing our limited energy on what’s most important. In this blog post I share my recent experience doing this, and give you tips to do the same.
When you first start thinking of making diet and lifestyle changes to improve your health, it can be pretty overwhelming. There are so many things that can drive inflammation, there are almost countless interventions to try. This blog post is for anyone who needs tiny steps to get started. There’s no shame in that! Baby steps are cumulative and can lead to huge improvements over time. It’s all about taking that first step. You don’t have to do this whole list at once, either. Choose one action step today.
Have you heard of Araza Natural Beauty? They’re the only certified paleo makeup brand. Non-toxic skincare is an important component in autoimmune health, and makeup often contains some of the most toxic ingredients. Our skin actually absorbs what we put on it, so this matters. Unfortunately, truly natural makeup often has a reputation for not working well. So, I asked my friend Christina to put this makeup to the test. As a former makeup artist, her standards are high! Read her expert review and enter the giveaway to get a chance to sample it yourself.
We are so careful what we put on our babies’ skin. We intuitively know they are precious and pure, and we don’t want to risk exposing them to any harm. Why does that care disappear as we get older? The truth is that our skin is porous at every age, and what we put on our skin absorbs into our bloodstream. We need to read the labels of our skincare products, the same way we read the labels on food. In this blog post, I talk about the current lack of regulation in the cosmetics industry and share where we can find truthful information on what our personal care products contain. I also share the top 10 ingredients to avoid, and the 3 paleo skincare companies I love.
One thing you may not know about me is that I worked as a therapeutic bodyworker for 15 years. In this article, I share the research into massage for autoimmune disease, describe a wide variety of techniques to choose from, share my best advice for finding a skilled practitioner, and also how to make sure your session helps rather than harms your health.
Harnessing diet and lifestyle to improve autoimmune health is something no one can do for us. Yet, we don’t walk this world alone. We’re surrounded by friends, family and co-workers who are powerful influences on our lives. It’s a lot easier to stay on the healing path if we’re supported by those people, rather than thwarted by them. So, how do we get that support? In this blog post, I share my 10 best tips.
How many of us try to squeeze extra time out of the day, by staying up late or getting up early? We sacrifice sleep, because in our modern culture, we don’t value it. We consider it unproductive time, but we’re wrong. When it comes to reversing autoimmune disease, sleep is as important to our health as diet, and it might be the key (or the obstacle) to remission. Research also shows that we can’t “catch up” on sleep over the weekend. It feels like we can, because we’re less tired after a couple of good nights’ sleep, but on a cellular level we haven’t recovered. In today’s post, I share the research along with tips for how to sleep well and long.
When we follow the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, food is foremost in our mind. We avoid the foods that exacerbate autoimmune disease and eat the foods that help us heal. The right food is essential, but healing is about more than just food. Lifestyle affects autoimmunity just as strongly. Here are 5 ways to tap your body’s full healing potential.
It’s a fact of human nature that we tend to notice what’s wrong, more than we notice what’s right. This blog post is about the power of writing things down, and how that can affect our awareness, our choices, and our mindset. I share tips for keeping 3 kinds of journals: a symptom journal, a gratitude journal, and a let-it-out journal.