This is a very special episode featuring two of my colleagues and friends: Dr. Terry Wahls & Dr. Sarah Ballantyne! I’ve known these wonderful women for over a decade now. They’re both powerful leaders in the autoimmune community. They are also autoimmune warriors themselves. Today, we’re doing an Autoimmune Q&A: I’ll be asking us all a series of questions about our personal experiences with autoimmune disease, and our best tips for all of you!
+ Lifestyle Podcasts
Podcasts are such a wonderful way to learn! You can listen while doing other things like cooking, cleaning, going for a walk, or just enjoying a cup of tea on the sofa. If you like what you hear, subscribe to the Phoenix Helix Podcast through your favorite podcast app: iTunes, Stitcher, Google, TuneIn, Spotify, Amazon, etc.
Sound Healing is a therapy that uses sound and vibration to balance the mind, body, and spirit. I know that might sound woo-woo to some listeners, but as long as there have been people, music has been used for both expression and healing. There’s also some modern scientific research into its benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, reduced pain, improved mood, and an overall sense of wellbeing. I personally fell in love with sound therapy after developing rheumatoid arthritis. The first time I received a 1:1 sound healing session was transformational. I don’t think I’ve ever felt a relaxation so deep, or my body so perfectly balanced. So, today, we’re doing a deep dive into sound healing, including different types, different instruments, and we’ll be demonstrating some sounds for you as well. It’s going to be a fun episode! My guests are two autoimmune warriors who are also sound healing practitioners: Jo-Anne Suriel and Jennifer Roseman.
This is one of the most popular podcast episodes – for good reason! Why does exercise feel so different after an autoimmune diagnosis? Activities that our bodies loved in the past can now cause an autoimmune flare. Yet, not moving at all isn’t healthy either. So, what do we do? In this podcast, we get professional insight into this topic. My guest, Andrea Wool, is a fellow autoimmune warrior, certified personal trainer, and founder of Autoimmune Strong – a fitness website designed specifically for people with autoimmune disease. She’ll be sharing her personal story, as well as scientific insight into the unique challenges and benefits of exercise for people with autoimmune disease.
We tend to notice boundaries most when they’re getting crossed – by other people, or by ourselves. We also notice when we struggle to set them at all. Today, we’re focusing on the holiday season. If you have autoimmune disease, there’s a powerful intersection between your ability to set boundaries and your ability to protect your health. So, we are here to help! In this podcast, we share tips for setting healthy boundaries around food, time, energy, and money. My guest is Dr. Ellen Vora. She is a psychiatrist who takes a functional medicine approach to mental health. I love the way she educates around boundaries, which is why I asked her to be my guest today. She is also the author of the book, Anatomy of Anxiety.
Morning and bedtime routines are a wonderful way to bookend your day, starting and ending it with some joy and self-care. They can also make a big difference in the quality of your sleep. So in today’s podcast, we do a deep dive into the science of circadian rhythms and learn how to create morning and bedtime routines that support autoimmune health. My guest is Dr. Sybil Cooper. She is both an autoimmune warrior and an immunologist. She has a deep understanding of the immune system both personally and professionally. She’s also a health and nutrition coach who helps people create new habits to thrive.
With autoimmune disease, flares are part of the experience, and we cannot prevent every single one. However, that doesn’t mean we’re powerless. Discovering our own flare triggers is a powerful piece of self-knowledge. It can help minimize how often we flare and how severe those flares are. That’s the focus of our discussion today. I’ve invited two other autoimmune warriors to join me. We’ll be sharing our personal flare triggers and how we manage them to live our healthiest lives.
Autoimmune disease brings a lot of changes to our lives, and as we all know, it doesn’t just impact us alone. It also impacts those we love – friends, family, and children. Today, I’ve invited three parents with autoimmune disease onto the podcast to talk about their experiences. What has been the most challenging part? How have they adapted as parents? How do they talk to their children about their health? And how have their children grown in response? This is a deeply personal conversation, and I’m so grateful to the guests for sharing. I hope it resonates with every parent listening, and helps you know you’re not alone.
When we think of pollution, the first images that come to mind are things like smokestacks, oil spills, smog, and greenhouse gases. But you may not realize that your home can contain pollution as well – in your water supply, in the air you breathe, and in the products you purchase. More than 80,000 new chemicals have been released into the world since the industrial revolution 150 years ago, and most of them within the past 50 years. These chemicals have never been fully tested for their effects on our bodies or the environment. And a lot of them are inside our homes. On top of that, people with autoimmune disease are often more sensitive to chemicals, and toxins can be an autoimmune trigger. I don’t say this to scare anyone. This podcast is about empowerment. So, today we’re going to share tips for reducing the toxins in our homes. Every step we take is a positive one. My guest is Dr. Aly Cohen, an integrative rheumatologist and an expert on non-toxic living.
Before autoimmune disease, did you have a yoga practice that you loved but can no longer do? Do you struggle to find a way to adapt your practice to your ever-changing autoimmune body? Do you miss yoga and want to make it part of your life again? Or maybe you have never practiced yoga, but would love to try and don’t know where to begin. This podcast is for you! My guest is Jivana Heyman, founder and director of the Accessible Yoga Association and co-founder of the Accessible Yoga Training School. He has over 25 years of experience teaching yoga to people of diverse abilities. In this episode, we’re going to troubleshoot a wide variety of autoimmune symptoms and talk about how to develop a personalized yoga practice.
When it comes to a healing lifestyle, our daily choices matter. Small steps and habits add up over time, and many of my podcasts teach those skills. Today, we’re going in a different direction. There are times when the big picture is overwhelming everything else. It might be a toxic job, a toxic relationship, or a toxic home. Change is rarely easy, even in difficult situations. Sometimes you need to wait for the right time and opportunity. Sometimes it’s a matter of courage. Other times it’s a matter of resources. Usually, it’s a combination of these things. Today, I’m sharing three inspiring stories of people who made big changes for their health. Lucia moved to a new country. Stephanie left a toxic job. And Irene left an abusive relationship.
Have you ever been under a huge amount of stress and then stepped outside for a minute, and almost immediately felt your heart rate slow down, your breath deepen, and your mind start to calm? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. There is a growing body of research into nature’s impact on the human body. One of the problems of modern life is that it’s possible to spend our entire day and night indoors, with no exposure to nature at all. What are the benefits of nature? Can regular time in nature improve our autoimmune health? If we live in the city, can we still access those benefits? What about people who are homebound? We’ll be discussing all possibilities in today’s episode. My guest is Dr. Austin Perlmutter, an internal medicine physician with a passion for holistic health. He’s also the co-author of the bestselling book, Brain Wash.
There are health benefits to play and health benefits to exercise, and there’s a special power in the combination. Children know this naturally, but adults rarely combine the two. How can we incorporate more playful movement into our lives? With autoimmune disease, a playful spirit can be hard to find sometimes, and when we’re in pain, movement may feel impossible. Yet play and movement are still available even in those moments, and may potentially reduce our pain and autoimmune symptoms. My guest is Darryl Edwards, founder of the Primal Play method.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia is more effective than sleeping pills, and doesn’t come with side effects. How compelling is that? We talk a lot about the importance of sleep on this podcast. Lack of sleep can lead to autoimmune flares, which in turn can interfere with sleep, creating a vicious cycle. This happens to everyone once in a while, and there are some basic interventions we can do to support our ability to sleep well. But what if you’ve tried all the basics, and nothing seems to work? That’s called chronic insomnia, and that’s the focus of our podcast today. CBT-I is specifically designed to help you overcome chronic insomnia. My guest is Dr. Jade Wu, a clinical psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine researcher. The focus of her research is treating sleep disorders in people with chronic illness.
We talk a lot about nutrient density and diversity on this podcast. Every food has a unique nutrient profile, and when we get in food ruts and eat the same thing every day, our nutrition suffers. The same thing happens with movement. Modern life limits the way we move our bodies, but then chronic illness can limit it even more. This creates a vicious cycle. How do we break free and expand our ability to move, enhancing our health at the same time? My guest is Katy Bowman, a biomechanist, teacher, speaker, and author. She’s written 8 books, including the bestselling Move Your DNA, which has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Self-soothing behaviors are the things we do to comfort ourselves in the moment, especially under stress. Sometimes those behaviors are healthy and double as self-care. Other times, they are the opposite of healthy. Most of us have impulses in both directions. What drives those impulses? How can we get in the habit of soothing ourselves in ways that both comfort us and support our health? My guest is Dr. Lili Wagner, a psychologist with over 20 years of experience treating patients. She’s also trained in nutrition, has 3 autoimmune diseases herself, and understands this topic both personally and professionally.
Flares are one of the scariest parts of autoimmune disease. They’re unpredictable, often very painful, sometimes disabling, and always disruptive to our plans. In this episode, three autoimmune warriors share their best tips for making it through autoimmune flares with strength and self-compassion. We talk about favorite foods, lifestyle hacks, mindset techniques, and more.
This is one of the most popular podcast episodes! The right exercise has the potential to improve our health, but the wrong exercise can cause an autoimmune flare. Our needs will often change from month to month, maybe even from day to day. In this podcast, I share my own experience of how my exercise needs have changed since being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I also interview 3 other people about their exercise experiences as well. One guest has multiple sclerosis, one has Crohn’s disease, and the other has Hashimoto’s.
When we feel lonely or isolated, it can seem like we’re the only person experiencing it, yet loneliness has become an epidemic affecting millions. Living with chronic illness can be an especially isolating experience, and it all becomes more poignant around the holidays. In addition to being emotionally painful, loneliness also carries health risks. It’s been compared to smoking 15 cigarettes a day for its negative impact on health and longevity. But loneliness isn’t a life sentence. In this podcast episode, we share practical tips for overcoming feelings of loneliness and expanding our social connections again. My guest is Dr. Ellen Vora. She is a psychiatrist who takes a functional medicine approach to mental health.
Sexual intimacy can be challenging even in healthy couples. It’s an area that many of us aren’t comfortable talking about, but when you add chronic illness, the obstacles increase exponentially. Depending on your condition, you might be experiencing extreme fatigue, chronic pain, limited range of motion, muscle spasms, disability, bowel issues, skin conditions, and more. It’s natural for this to have an impact on libido, body image, and relationships. My guest, Kate Wolovsky, is a mental health counselor who specializes in the intersection of disability and sexuality. She also has multiple sclerosis herself, and her husband is disabled as well. In this podcast, she helps us break through taboos to talk about sexuality openly, sharing both her personal experience and professional advice.
Our topic today is Resilience, that ability to bounce back from life’s hardships. With autoimmune disease, we get lots of practice. Sometimes we feel strong and capable of overcoming suffering. Other times we feel beaten down and frightened by our body’s unpredictability. The good news is that resilience isn’t something you either have or you don’t. Resilience is a trait we can nurture. My guest is Dr. Cynthia Li, a functional medicine physician who has autoimmune disease herself. The intensity of her own health challenges ended up being a masterclass in resilience, and also changed the way she practiced medicine.
This is one of the most popular podcasts – for good reason! In cultures around the world, we gather together over food: we have dinner dates, drinks with friends, favorite festivals, and big family meals at our grandparents’ house. What happens when we can’t eat that food any more? Some people make the mistake of giving up their social life altogether because they simply don’t know how to manage it. In this podcast, 3 experienced AIP-ers share their experience and advice for having a full and fun social life while still staying true to your healing diet. It can be done!
Everything happens for a reason. What did you do to cause this? At least it’s not cancer. Oh, I heard about this cure online… Is this sounding familiar? An interesting part of the human experience is that when faced with someone’s pain, people are often at a loss about what to say and end up saying some really unhelpful and hurtful things. But occasionally, people say exactly the right thing. In this episode, we vent about some of the most outrageous things we’ve been told about our autoimmune diagnosis, and celebrate some of the most helpful.
In this podcast, we’re taking a big picture look at time. How can we gain clarity on where our time goes? How can we start to feel in control of time, rather than buffeted by it? What makes it slow down in some moments and speed up in others? Is it possible to be productive and feel relaxed at the same time? And how can we flex our expectations and our schedules when our health fluctuates? My guest is Laura Vanderkam, an expert on the subject of maximizing time.
When we’re trying to heal from chronic illness, self-care takes time – everything from preparing homemade meals, to taking time out to manage our stress, to prioritizing sleep at night. If we say yes to these things, we will need to say no to other things. The opposite is also true: if we don’t set boundaries, we won’t have the time we need to take care of ourselves. But today’s podcast isn’t just about time. Boundaries are also about respect and relationships. How do we want to be treated? What types of people do we want to surround ourselves with? And how do we have difficult conversations with those we love? My guest is holistic psychologist, Dr. Nicole LePera. Together, we share our best tips for building our boundary muscles.
This is one of my favorite podcast episodes! As Dr. Sarah Ballantyne says, “Dietary changes aren’t effective in isolation. If you don’t address lifestyle factors as well, it won’t matter how ideal your food choices are.” In this podcast, I interview four people about one lifestyle change that has made a big difference in their autoimmune healing journey.
For my 100th podcast episode, instead of interviewing someone else, I thought it would be fun to share what I’ve learned on my autoimmune journey so far. I developed rheumatoid arthritis in 2012, started blogging in 2013, and started podcasting in 2014. While I never would have chosen autoimmune disease, it has transformed my life in positive ways, alongside the really painful ones. I’ve come a long way from where I started, and I’m not done learning yet! I hope these insights will help those of you facing a new autoimmune diagnosis, and resonate with those of you who have been walking this path for years. Tell me where you agree and disagree, and what lessons you’ve learned along the way.
In modern life, most people feel insanely busy, but few realize that they’re spending hours each day on their phones. The average smartphone use in the United States is over 4 hours per day. What does this have to do with autoimmune disease? A healing diet and lifestyle takes a lot of time to implement, so right away, a smartphone is competing for that time. But it impacts our lives in other ways, too. Technology use has been linked to increases in anxiety, depression, feelings of social isolation, insomnia, brain fog, the inability to concentrate, and more. When we have these issues, we often blame our diets or our autoimmune disease (which can be the cause), but technology can be a root cause is well. In this podcast, two guests and I share our experiences “unplugging” in a variety of ways, from small to large. I also include a printable PDF in the show notes, which lists all 10 experiments, so you can try them yourself.