Today we’re going to talk about inflammation and how it is silently affecting us with Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Nutrition and Wellness Coach Maryam Stevenson. Maryam has over 3 years of experience working with clients in Orange County. We love talking with Maryam because she is so warm, knowledgeable, and helpful!
Candice: Hi Maryam, it’s so great to have the chance to ask you some questions today about inflammation. Why don’t we get started with laying the foundation here. What exactly is inflammation?
Maryam: Inflammation is the Cornerstone of the body’s immune function. It is a normal response to a variety of stresses on the body, like an infection, or an injury, a response to help protect the body against outside harmful influences.
Candice: Why should we care about inflammation?
Maryam: Anyone who is trying to live a healthy lifestyle needs to be informed about inflammation. If you let inflammation develop chronically, that is, over a period of time, it often contributes to a larger, more serious issue that you will need to handle. Acute inflammation, as we just talked about, is a just a temporary healthy reaction, but chronic inflammation is what we should be more concerned about. And that’s what I want to discuss with you today.
Candice: Ok, well let’s dive in to it! How does chronic inflammation affect our bodies?
Maryam: Chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases, like Heart disease, many cancers and immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and MS.
Candice: Right, I’ve encountered a lot of people with skin issues, like Eczema or Rosacea, and that seems to be a rising concern.
Maryam: Skin inflammation can be characterized as acute or chronic inflammation. Conditions such as dermatitis (eczema), rosacea are associated with chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation of the skin can come up with chemical irritants, like some ingredients in soaps and hair dyes.
Candice: What do you think contributes to the rise of these conditions in today’s population?
Maryam: I think our lifestyle and what we are eating is contributing. A lot of Americans today have habits that put them in a pro inflammatory state vs. an anti-inflammatory one, and this is definitely and issue in 2014. Our lifestyle these days is a lot different than it was 100 years ago. For example, our diets, exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals, our personal hygiene products, household cleaning products all affect your hormone system. When your hormone system is affected, your body becomes stressed. That stress contributes to inflammation that should not be there in the first place. Even second hand smoke is a pro-inflammatory agent that affects your skin as well.
Candice: There seems to be a lot of things that cause inflammation out there. Let me ask you this. Is inflammation ever a good thing?
Maryam: Definitely, when you fall down and hurt yourself, your body’s first step to repairing itself is to create inflammation. Basically, as we mentioned earlier, inflammation is the cornerstone of the body’s immune function. We need inflammation to help repair temporary damage or respond to an illness and return the body to its normal state. When you have a cold and you get a fever, your body is working overtime to repair the issue.
Candice: Ok so it sounds like if the inflammation is temporary, then it can be a good thing. Is that the case when you work out really hard and your body gets sore? Does inflammation occur in a situation like that?
Maryam: Yes, a bit of inflammation can occur after exercise to actually help rebuild the tearing of the muscle fibers. The body is working hard to build muscle and some people, depending on their levels of physical activity, are sore within the 24-48 hours immediately following their workouts.
Candice: What is the best way to handle that kind of inflammation and reduce the soreness after a workout?
Maryam: I’ve found that foam rolling before your workouts, properly warming up, and immediately following up your workout with stretching eases the soreness. Also, drinking lots and lots of water to help flush out the lactic acid built up in the muscles is one of the best ways to help reduce the soreness. Also, in order to replenish some electrolytes lost during your workouts, I also have recommended making your own homemade Gatorade.
Candice: Really? Can you give us a quick recipe for this homemade Gatorade?
Maryam: Filtered cold water, salt (a tiny bit), sugar or raw honey (also a tiny bit), and lime or lemon, based on preference, try both! Usually I’ll drink that before my workout, and if I ever feel the need to have more after, I’ll make a fresh batch and drink it for the rest of the day. It’s a great way to drink more water throughout the day, especially if you put it in a bottle and take it with you. I recommend drinking a minimum of half your body weight in ounces per day.
Candice: That’s certainly a lot more natural and cost effective than buying a sports drink every day. Very cool, thank you for that. Are there other things that we can do to help decrease the amount of inflammation in our bodies?
Maryam: Our diet and what we put into our bodies is the most important in my opinion. The main rule of nutrition is to stop eating refined, processed and manufactured foods (it is that simple).
You want to make sure to eat a variety of fresh, wholesome, unprocessed foods. Change it up every couple of days to include fish, chicken, and some lean grass fed beef if possible. I recommend eating organic when possible, making sure you cover all of your nutritional basis. Also, make sure you are not getting too much of something that is not good for you, like refined sugar.
Candice: What about supplements?
Maryam: Yes, make sure you are consuming and/or supplementing with sources from Omega 3 Fatty Acids and plant enzymes such as bromelain to assist your body in the repair of your cells. Also, take an ample supply of probiotics on a daily basis for your gut health.
Exercise is also super important in keeping overall inflammation down– just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week is sufficient to get started. As a health coach, I use dynamic exercises to help eliminate muscle imbalances and improve posture. We are beings of activity. The more sedentary you are, the faster you age. Exercise is a long term solution, and many people get turned off of exercise when they do too much weight lifting early on. We don’t want that to happen.
Sleep is also really important. Prioritize your sleep. It will help with recovery and immune function therefore, helping ease and get rid of inflammation. Rest, relaxation, meditation and yoga are also powerful agents to combat inflammation. Take some quite time for yourself, love yourself and your body will love you back.
Candice: What about personal care products?
Maryam: Yes there are a lot of harmful chemicals in personal care and household care products, like parabens, which are used as preservatives. You absorb whatever is put on your skin, and your body’s alarm system goes off when you absorb toxic chemicals and pesticides, contributing to inflammation. Take care of your most important organ of all – your skin by using products made with organic ingredients whenever possible. Make sure that your skincare products are preserved organically as well, instead of with parabens. That is what I like about your line – Organic Radiance Skincare – that it is organic, it doesn’t have harsh chemicals, and it has the essential oils that reduce inflammation. I also like that it provides anti-oxidants to your skin and helps fight aging. Those are three things that I do every day – exercise, brush my teeth, and moisturize my skin!
Candice: Well thank you very much for all this info, and we’ll give people a way to get in touch with you if they have more questions. We look forward to talking with you again soon!
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