4 signs your immune system is attacking you (and what you can do about it)

Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases  are becoming more prevalent and include Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Grave’s disease, Celiac’s disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, eczema, asthma, irritable bowl syndrome and Crohn’s Disease.

Most of us know someone with one of these, and some of us are unlucky enough to have one ourselves.

These diseases occur when our immune system goes wrong and attacks parts of our body, like the thyroid in my case, and/or when our immune system is constantly triggered into activation – Chronic Inflammation.

If having one of those diseases wasn’t bad enough, chronic inflammation also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke (Kristensen et al. 2013) and is linked with 25% of cancers (Eiró and Vizoso 2012). Click here to read my about experience as a carer for Cancer.

It’s really important to be aware of inflammation and to keep it as low as possible.

4 signs of chronic inflammation:

  1. You’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune or inflammatory disease
  2. Tiredness and fatigue
  3. Muscle and joint aches and pains
  4. Strange things are happening with your digestion – e.g. you feel you have developed food intolerances, you have lost or gained weight or you are bloated.

(the last 3 points are general signs that something might be wrong and may need further exploration in collaboration with your doctor).

How to reduce inflammation

The best way to ensure we don’t put our body through any unnecessary inflammation is to avoid situations that tend to provoke it. Unfortunately, usually the foods we eat and the lifestyles we lead tend to promote chronic inflammation.

Here are 5 things to cut out today:

  1. Refined sugar and starches – These trigger the release of inflammatory messengers (cytokines) and are linked with increased intestinal permeability. Want to quit sugar? Contact me HERE.
  2. Alcohol (see my post “Why I’m going Dry for January”)
  3. Red meat – the NHS guidelines suggest a daily intake of 70g/day. See what Cancer Research UK has to say about it HERE.
  4. Stress – does what it says on the tin. Our bodies weren’t designed to be in constant fight or flight mode. Take time to relax, be mindful and look after your body.
  5. Chemical irritants – Get rid of unnecessary chemicals in and around your home! Help your family and the environment at the same time. Hints and tips for going eco-friendly coming soon!

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Your body and lifestyle are unique and so your inflammation triggers will be.  

Get in touch to work out what yours are and start feeling well again! 

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10 signs your thyroid is struggling

Tired in bed

It turns out I’ve had an under-active thyroid for the past 17 years. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease –  my immune system attacks my body.

Your thyroid is pretty important. It’s responsible for producing hormones that control metabolism, digestion, heart, brain development, muscles… the list goes on and on.  It’s therefore unsurprising that when it goes wrong the list of signs and symptoms is pretty lengthy – and it can be very debilitating.

Like so many people, my signs and symptoms were put down to “being a teenager” then, “being a student” then just “working too hard” or “not getting enough sleep”…

Tired, cold and in pain became my norm.

I wish I’d known about these 10 signs when I was 15:

  1. Fatigue/exhaustion. We’ve all been a bit over tired, but the fatigue I am talking about is on a different lever.
  2.  Anxiety – triple checking the car is locked or suddenly being nervous about leaving the house or driving the car.
  3.  Muscle and joint aches, pain and weakness (fibromyalgia-like)– Oh the pain!
  4.  Scratchy, full and sensitive eyes – Mine felt full of sand and about to pop out.
  5. Brain fog – yep, I had brain fog throughout school, my degree and my PhD – brilliant!
  6. Depression, lack of motivation and difficulty handling emotions – It’s hardly surprising with this list of symptoms, but it is more than that.
  7. Being cold, especially hands and feet – there was a reason I moved to the tropics!
  8. Weight problems – uncontrollable weight gain, or in my case weight loss.
  9. Sleep problems – wakefulness due to anxiety, being wakeful in the night and being unrestored by sleep.
  10. Hair loss and thin, grey hair – beautiful!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of thyroid signs and symptoms.

The good news is that many if not all of these signs can be managed through diet and lifestyle!

I am now fully functional, having been housebound for about 18months a few years back. I’m on thyroxine and I have made some dietary and lifestyle changes that me I no longer have aches and pains and my hair is slowly growing back.

Want some help getting your thyroid under control? Get in touch here for a FREE Discovery Session to find out how I could help you.

What are your thyroid signs and symptoms?

Photo credit: LichtCatchingToby via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Caring for Cancer: 6 things I learnt

My husband was diagnosed with Cancer about a year ago. We had just moved into our first house and just had our second child. Our world was turned on it’s head and it was our worst nightmare. Here are 6 things things I learnt while Caring for Cancer:

  1. Health is our most valuable asset: We all know this really, but if we tend to take it for granted. When you are faced with the mortality of a loved one, the only thing that matters is that health is reinstated. I pushed myself beyond what I thought were my limits to so this. I booked hospital appointments, I drove to and from hospitals, I sat in waiting rooms, I packed up the house, I tried to be super Mummy – the list goes on. I was trying to “fix” him, to make everything right. Slowly I realised that my own health was suffering, and with that realisation came another – that if my health goes then the whole house of cards falls. People were depending upon me, I had to prioritise my health.
  2. Complacency kills: If we hadn’t pushed for a diagnosis, my husband would probably be dead by now. We fought and insisted and went back again and again. I am immensely proud of the NHS and am constantly amazed at the kindness and dedication doctors and nurses who make-up the NHS have. But, you are the expert of your own body – do not be complacent about your health.
  3. I want to help people be their best: I’ve invested a lot of my life into caring for the natural world and wanting to protect our planet. I am pleased that I have done this and I will continue to do so. However, we are making the natural world sick and ourselves at the same time. How can we hope to “save the planet” if we can’t make healthy choices for ourselves? I want to be the catalyst for positive change in people – empowering them – and I hope the world will be a little bit happier and a little bit healthier as a result.
  4. We are all capable of change: I have always been able to adapt to new situations reasonably well. I’ve lived in several countries and explored different cultures. But, the change I am talking about is a deep, fundamental change. I have always been a planner, a goal setter. I have always known the path ahead and found comfort in that. This year that was all taken away. I couldn’t plan, I didn’t know what was around the corner or what the next day would bring, let alone the next month, three months, year… I changed. I lost my tenacity for planning and living in the future. I relaxed and smelled the roses.
  5. Mindfulness and “accidental” meditation: I learned to be in the moment. To observe it, enjoy it and accept it. I learned to be non-judgemental and compassionate. I learned to let go of anger and embrace happiness despite the bigger picture. In doing so, I realised that I have been meditating accidentally for a long time! Many people over the years have suggested I meditate – that it would be good for my state of mind, help me relax and sleep more easily. This year I actively began to meditate. I realised that I did it through both of my child labours, that I did it on every dive – I would enter a different zone, I would be calm, but focused.
  6. All you need is love: Ok, so the Beatles were right. This year we, as a family, have been stripped back to nothing – nothing else mattered, just us.  When you really don’t know what tomorrow will bring, all that matters is that you are there and that you love and you show love. In reality, none of us know what tomorrow will bring. Show compassion. Declare your love. Be kind. To yourself and others.

Have you “cared for Cancer”?  What did you learn? 

Click HERE to book a FREE Discovery Session about how I can help you through the struggles of being a carer

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The last of the mince pies!

In the run-up to Christmas I developed a recipe for #GlutenFree, #DairyFree, egg-free and soy-free mince pies. I wanted to make something that everybody could enjoy – something “free-from” that was just as delicious a “normal” mince pie.  So I did just that, and created a low-sugar version for our diabetic friends!

IMG_4801They turned out to be rather popular – people placed orders, I put them in the post and and I sold them at Tavistock Farmer’s Market. I have now made my last batch for the season.

I intend to continue to make gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods and chocolates, so let me know HERE if you’re interested in buying them and what you’d like me to bake. Watch this space for spicy apple bars, cakes, bread, seedy crisp bread, breakfast muffins, chocolate torte and more!

Tavistock Farmer’s Market is full for the moment, but I’ll be popping back as and when there is space, and I’ll let you know.

In other festive gluten, dairy, egg and soy-free ventures, I made Chocolate Truffles (which I also sold), a very yummy Christmas cake (so yummy I failed to get a photo), Parsnip and Cranberry nut roast, ice cream and rum sauce!

I am hoping to go to more Christmas markets this year, and take orders for mince pies, truffles and Christmas cakes!

In the mean time comment below and tell me what you want me to bake!

Did you try my mince pies and/or truffles? What did you think of them? Comment below 🙂

truffles display

Why I’m going dry for January

I’ve made the decision to quit alcohol for January. This seems rather drastic, particularly as, in general, I believe that most things are fine in moderation. However, In the run up to, and over, Christmas I had an extra glass of wine here and a festive drink there. It’s all well and good to have a social drink every no and then, but it can easily become more. Plus, I haven’t always been able to tolerate alcohol – I’d get stabbing pains in my stomach within minutes of it passing my lips and a hangover like no other!

Even though I can tolerate alcohol now, I know that it’s easy for a drink to become habit rather than a treat or a celebration. From that point, the quantity easily creeps up.

I’m using Dry January as a way to create a clean slate and give my health a boost. Here are some of the things going Dry of January could do for you:

  1. Help with weight loss – our body can use alcohol for energy, so it adds to our total calorie intake. We also tend to overeat when we have had something to drink!
  2. Improve your sleep – many people have a drink to relax before bed, but even a small amount of alcohol disrupts our sleep patterns and makes us more wakeful. This leaves us tired and less able to concentrate the next day – and more likely to drink again.
  3. Improve general health and lowered risk factors – A few years ago, the staff of New Scientist abstained from alcohol for 5 weeks (study synopsis found here). Quitting for 5 weeks caused decreases in cholesterol and blood glucose, reducing risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. They also saw an average of 15% decrease in liver fat, which is the prelude to liver damage and weight loss.

Are you in? It’s not too late to start! Check out my Facebook page for yummy alternatives

Goals for 2016

Happy New Year! 

Have you made New Year’s resolutions?  Really make them stick by turning them into goals with a plan of how you aim to achieve them.

Win a FREE coaching session – Sign me up!

I’ve listed a few of my goals here:

  1. Boost my health:
  • By doing the FREE email series “31 Days to a New You” along side you – Sign up for FREE HERE.  Tea peppermint
  • Going alcohol free for January, want to join me? Follow me on Facebook for support, to monitor my progress and to get hints & tips.
  • Extending my mindful practice by planning my evenings (preparing dinner early and the kids to bed on time!) to ensure I have ample time for yoga before bed.
  1. Be more environmentally friendly:
  • Stop buying disposable nappies – we have some beautiful re-usable ones. I need to get the family onboard here!
  • Get rid of my chemical cleaners by using my eco-friendly cleaning cloths, towels and mop, which don’t require any cleaning products – they are amazing and have just started being sold in the UK! Email me caroline@flourishwellness.co.uk for more information
  • Converting all our light bulbs to LEDs by buying one LED light bulb a month.
  1. Help others regain their health
  • This starts with my family. Getting everyone well rested and well fed by getting back into a daily routine after the Christmas madness and planning the week’s meals (so I remember to soak nuts and pulses the day before I need them!).
  • I will also help others by being their nutrition and wellness coach through Flourish Wellness. I will do this to the best of my ability by ensuring I am prepared, energised and mindful – being present, non-judgemental and engaged – during each session.

Enter my 2016 PRIZE DRAW for a chance to win a FREE coaching session HERE

Do you resolve to be healthier this year? Want to make sure you stick to it? Contact me for a no obligation chat on how I can help you.