3 Ways to Feel Better Right Now
I only talk politics with my dogs – especially this election year. (We always align exactly!)
No matter one’s political leanings, we can probably all agree that this election cycle has been uniquely stressful, exhausting, and has made a lot of us want late night snacks and comfort food, all of which can wreak (further?) havoc on our hormones, disrupt our immunity, and throw our adrenal system completely off kilter.
So I wanted to make today’s blog post short, sweet, and GOOD. There’s a lot in lifestyle medicine that isn’t stressful, helps to get us immediate results, and helps us heal after stressful periods of time (whether election-related or not).
Here are three bits of good news when it comes to addressing the immune system and balancing hormones. Let them soothe you this election week – and on your health journey for many moons to come!
Good news #1: Blood sugar is regulated from meal-to-meal.
Jill and I talk about this all the time. We have the ability to regulate our blood sugar every single time we eat. If dysglycemia (dysregulated blood sugar) is a struggle for you, your next meal is one of the most powerful levers you have to pull to in regulating it. Reach for healthful fats (think avocados, olives, pastured meats, coconut products, fatty fish), healthful proteins (pastured animal proteins, fish, nuts (if tolerated), eggs) along with complex carbs (vegetables, including root vegetables).
Even if you’re usually vigilant about blood sugar but slip up from time to time – like I did just this week when I ate a Paleo apple crisp without enough healthy fat to keep my blood sugar steady and I fell into a blood sugar pit so low that my fiancée had to basically air lift me out of Target and straight to our refrigerator where I inhaled two lamb sausages and a bowl of kale + coconut soup – you can get back on track the very next day. I woke up, had an egg and veggie scramble with some leftover chicken, and felt fully restored – and no longer acted like a wild-eyed caged animal (much to my fiancée’s delight).
The takeaway: Your next meal will bring you back to baseline and every fat- and protein-rich meal after that will keep you there. If you’re feeling off kilter, there’s nothing like a balanced meal to help bring about a sense of calm and wellbeing. If that isn’t a sign of the power of nutrition, I don’t know what is.
Good news #2: One good night’s sleep immediately – and powerfully – starts the process of resetting and balancing hormones.
That’s right, just one, though maintaining good sleep habits after you adopt good sleep hygiene is also key.
Our circadian rhythms, or the internally generated 24-hour diurnal cycle that our bodies follow and that’s strongly influenced by light and dark are soothed by consistency and predictability. To this end, circadian experts advise keeping a regular bedtime each night and only deviating half an hour on either side. So if you usually go to bed around 10:00, it’s not recommended to go to sleep past 10:30 or before 9:30.
They also point out that it’s not just duration or how long you sleep that matters. When you sleep is just as critical. The hours of sleep you get before midnight are the equivalent of two hours after midnight (the angel train). So strive to be early to bed and early to rise. Keep your room dark and just say no to electronics on your bedside table. The lights (specifically “blue light” that’s been shown to interfere with melatonin production), the beeps, and the ambient radiation can all interfere with sleep.
Why is sleep so important for hormone balance and immune regulation? It all has to do with adrenal function and blood sugar regulation. The adrenal glands need proper rest to function optimally and the pancreas needs adequate sleep at the right time (when it’s dark outside) in order to best process sugar. When sleep goes wonky, everything goes wonky.
The takeaway: A regular sleep routine, starting with just one good night’s sleep, can powerfully influence your health for the better. So skip the late night news (pretty stressful right now) and go to bed!
Good news #3: When it comes to supplements and health interventions, less is more and simple is often better.
Jill and I advocate a “homeopathic approach” to supplements, which posits that a small amount of an herb or phytomedicine is more powerful and effective than larger doses. That less is more thing. Taking a little bit of a plant everyday allows your body to better recognize the plant’s intrinsic intelligence and the healing messages it sends to your cells.
This approach also has welcome benefits for your pocketbook. When you take specific, targeted supplements in homeopathic doses for limited periods of time, you don’t hemorrage money on unnecessary and ineffective products.
Another example of a simple – and inexpensive – intervention? Drinking warm lemon water in the morning. It’s is one of the single best ways to support the liver, which is where excess hormones are processed and directed out of the body. It’s also where some key thyroid hormone conversion takes place. You can powerfully, positively influence both these processes with a cup of hot water and the juice of half a lemon. It’s no more complicated than that.
[Now available: the #1 best selling cookbook: The Essential Thyroid Cookbook: Over 100 Nourishing Recipes for Thriving with Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s.]
And yes, many have weaned off of their morning coffee habit with this refreshing and energizing drink. Several of our clients have said, “I love how this makes me feel. I’m never going back to my morning coffee.”
The takeway: Some of the healthiest changes are the simplest and least expensive. In fact, the most important component of real, effective change is your commitment – and that’s 100 percent free.