Posts tagged #stress

10 Ways to Reduce Total Body Inflammation

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Inflammation is one of our biggest risk indicators for developing disease. Whether it’s in the gut causing poor digestion, in the brain causing diseases like Alzheimer's and Dementia, or throughout the body. Inflammation is the body’s response to the environment and its toxins and infections to prevent us from getting sick.

The strongest marker to measure for total body inflammation is high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). This protein reflects the presence of inflammation in your body. We all make this protein, which at normal levels helps fight off infection. Research has shown that hs-CRP levels have been associated with risk for developing cardiovascular disease, where levels below 1 mg/L are associated with the lowest risk, levels between 1 and 3 mg/L are at average risk and levels above 3 mg/L are associated with highest risk. However, there is more to the story. Recent studies have shown that low grade inflammation is also associated with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Multiple factors can exacerbate inflammation including stress, poor diet, physical inactivity and an overall unhealthy lifestyle. Below is a list of ways you can reduce your stress1.

  1. Cut the sweets- sugar increases inflammation and is the fuel source for many chronic diseases. Reducing intake will not only help lower your CRP levels, but decrease your risk for diseases. 

  2. Eat a well-balanced diet- eating a diet rich in omega-3 source (like fatty fish and grass fed beef) can decrease inflammation since this healthy fat has anti-inflammatory properties.Fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E and K) can also lower your body's inflammation.

  3. Get a good night’s rest- good quality sleep is beneficial in many aspects of our health. It can improve productivity, decrease risk of weight gain and chronic disease, improve your immune function and lower risk of depression. Another very important function sleep has is lowering CRP levels. 

  4. Get moving- exercising has shown to lower inflammation levels and decrease risk of all morbidity diseases. In addition, it can increase mood, energy and overall health.

  5. Increase your probiotic intake- research has shown that consistent intake of probiotics (naturally sourced or supplements) can reduce inflammation and decrease CRP levels2. Good sources of probiotics include kefir, kombucha, yogurt and other fermented products. 

  6. Be positive and mindful- being positive and distancing yourself from negative relationships can decrease the inflammation present around the body. Practicing mindfulness through meditation and being present has also shown a decrease in inflammation by slowing down and decreasing stress. 

  7. Try becoming a tai chi or yogi master!- slower, relaxing activities also have a role on stress and inflammation reduction. By practicing these unwinding moves, you can also dig into self-reflection, more mindfulness, muscle strength and toning. 

  8. Get adequate B vitamins- although there are many B vitamins, they all play an important role in the body and in reducing inflammation. The most dominant one being the B vitamins involved in the methylation pathway3. When deficient in these vitamins, homocysteine levels can increase, which is associated with higher CRP levels. 

  9. Decrease alcohol consumption- lowering intake of alcohol has been associated with lower levels of CRP. When consumed in limited amounts, red wine consumption can actually lower inflammation as well. This is due to the antioxidant properties in the wine. 

  10. Grab a cup of coffee- Good news right?! Coffee, along with green tea, have been associated with lower CRP levels due to their polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds.


    At Thrive Nutrition we offer different types of lab testing, including a cardiometabolic test, which measures hs-CRP levels. Good news, you don't have to be a client to take us up on this opportunity. Just go to our website to read more and purchase the lab test you are interested in. We work with the most comprehensive and detail-oriented labs to get you the clearest results!

Posted on September 14, 2018 and filed under Food.

Handling Holiday Stress with Self-Care & Hygge

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Hello!

The holidays are a stressful time of year for many people. It's definitely not supposed to be, but all the plans, the food, the gifts, the traveling, and the days full of family time can really wear you down. It's a lot! Especially when we have 2 major holidays within about a month of each other. Who thought that was a good idea?!

It's important to stay on top of your stress during this time of year. Focusing on reducing it and maybe even having an action plan to get ahead of it can help you enjoy the season as intended.

Tips for managing holiday stress

Get your hygge on

Hy-what? Hygge is a Danish term for getting cozy and you pronounce it "hue-guh". My favorite thing about hygge is that you don't need to buy anything to help bring this into your life. I really like the way Hygge House talks about it. It's something that can be experienced in completely different ways by each individual. For me, hygge is curling up in a cozy blanket on the couch with a warm cup of tea and a good book. It's enjoying the moment for what it is by being present to the simplicity and charm. It can also be eating your favorite nourishing meal and savoring every bite. Maybe it's lighting a candle and taking a bath, or meditating in your favorite room. Finding ways to hygge every day, to take care of yourself and notice the simple, cozy moments in your life can really go a long way for helping manage your stress.

Plan ahead & delegate

Knowing where you have to be and when is half the battle. The other half is knowing what you're bringing, whether it be food or gifts.  If you're hosting an event, create a list of the foods needed. Ask people to pick a dish or assign a dish to everyone so you're not  the one cooking all the food. For the things you do need to cook yourself, don't be afraid to make things ahead of time. Most things can be prepared 2-3 days in advance, or even a couple weeks in advance if you throw it in the freezer. Leaving it all for the day of is a recipe for stress.

It might be a little late to use this tip for this year, but I like to keep a list of gifts I find throughout the year for my family members on my phone. Whenever I hear them talking about something they want or see something that would suit them perfectly, I hop into the note on my phone and write it down. This makes gift buying so much easier each year, especially for those who say they don't want or need anything.  I also keep a running list for myself so when someone asks me what I want for Christmas, I can send over something from my list really easily.

Don't feel obligated to spend $ on gifts

The holidays can be a financially stressful time of year due to the cost of gifts. It definitely doesn't have to be that way. Consider giving experiences over physical gifts. These experiences may cost money, like a trip to the zoo or dinner at a popular restaurant. But you can also give experience such as a half day hike at a local state park. Gifts like these cost time, but are very achievable financially. They're fun to give as well because they're often cashed in at a later date. If you're going along on the experience you're gifting, you get to spend some time together again outside of the holidays.

Take time for yourself

Spending some extra time and maybe even $ on self-care this time of year is definitely worth it. A client of mine spent the morning of Black Friday on self-care after spending Thanksgiving day with a lot of family. She went to yoga, then got a massage, and then did an infrared sauna session. It took a little over 3 hours and allowed her to recharge and de-stress. Consider carving out some time for a candlelit bath, a meditation, or a bundled up walk in the woods. Self-care doesn't always have to cost money, but sometimes a massage or facial is just what you need to get back on track.

Only say "yes" to things that bring you joy

There are so many awesome events that could easily fill up your nights and weekends during the holiday season. For many people, this doesn't bring joy at all. It brings a whirlwind of socialization that leaves you exhausted and wishing for it all to be over already. Consider saying no to the things that don't sound as exciting. Maybe there are multiple events happening with the same people and you can attend the one that works best for you. Or maybe you can suggest postponing until January to spread things out a bit. Whatever it is, consider if it'll actually bring you joy, make you feel good, and give you energy. If not, it might be best to say no. And you never have to feel guilty about taking care of yourself.

But, there will always be some things that you're obligated to attend, so to that I say...

Set a time limit

If you have to attend an event and you're not wild about it, agree to attend for a specific amount of time. There's nothing wrong with looking out for yourself. People will be glad you attended even if you couldn't stay the whole time.

I hope these tips help you to have a wonderful holiday season.

If you need more support with your stress or getting back on track after the holidays, you know where to find me!

Posted on November 30, 2017 .

Warm Up, Relax + Detox your Body all at Once with THIS Powerful Tool

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It's that time of year where things start to cool down and I sometimes find myself longing for some heat. The days are shorter, which means a lot less sunshine to boost our spirits (and our vitamin D!). We're also moving into "sick season", and I'm all about finding ways to avoid coming down with anything nasty. This is where my love for the infrared sauna comes in!

Infrared saunas are a healing modality I often recommend to my clients. You can find many claims of health benefits, like these outlined by Sunlighten, a maker of infrared saunas. There hasn't been in-depth research on many of the benefits though, so some may be skeptical. I can say from personal experience, and the experience of my clients', that I definitely notice some of the benefits when I use the infrared sauna throughout the winter months.

Besides warming my body up when it's -20 below, I experience a boost in my mood and my immunity. And it feels so good to sweat out all the junk in my system! Whenever I feel something coming on, or if I have a stuffy nose, the infrared sauna provides relief. It's also a great place to disconnect and catch up on some reading or meditation.

How does an infrared sauna work?

The temp in an infrared sauna is much lower than a traditional sauna. It's usually adjusted between 110-150 degrees and your session is 15-40 minutes. If you've been in a sauna in the past, know that an infrared sauna will feel very different.

These types of saunas use heat and light to create the warmth that penetrates your body and helps you to detox. It's similar to the infrared rays of the sun, which are the healthiest rays. There are near, mid, and far infrared rays and each have different benefits. It can be most beneficial to get the full spectrum, which many infrared saunas have available. Fun fact: these rays are the same type used in neonatal units for premature babies.

Some of the immediate effects you'll notice:

  • Lots of sweating:  This is how your body detoxes. It can sometimes feel like you're doing a super intense workout even though you're just sitting there. Definitely bring a couple towels with you and water to replenish.
  • Increased heart rate: Your body is heating up and your circulation and blood flow are improving, so your heart rate increases slightly as well. It can truly feel like a little workout even though you're not moving.
  • Relaxation & decreased stress: This is similar to effects you may get from exercising, but you're relaxing in an infrared sauna instead.

What are a few of the potential benefits?

  • Detoxification: All that sweating you'll be doing? It's helping move the toxins stored in your body out through your sweat.
  • Pain relief: The heat penetrates your muscles and can provide relief from chronic pain.
  • Stress reduction: It's easy for your stress to reduce when you're in a relaxed state. The gentle heat relaxes you and can also improve your sleep.
  • Lower blood pressure: Your heart rate and blood flow increase while your blood pressure lowers.
  • Skin purification: You can notice glowing skin immediately after detoxing in an infrared sauna because the impurities are pushed out.
  • and so much more!

For more info on infrared saunas, benefits, and even some research, check out this article from Dr. Axe or this article on 23 Health Benefits of Saunas, According to Science. And if you want to read about someone's experience in an infrared sauna, you can read this article from the HuffPost.

Feeling enticed? Awaken for Wellness in St. Paul is my favorite place to go for infrared sauna if you're in the Twin Cities area. If you're not, there's likely a holistic practice, yoga studio or spa near you that offers it.

As always, I'm here if you need support for detoxification. It's so important that it's built into many of my healing programs here at Thrive Nutrition.

Posted on October 19, 2017 .

Meditate Your Way to Better Health

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With these newsletters I've been trying to strike a balance between nutrition and lifestyle tips. Health is about so much more than just nutrition. Your environment and your mindset make a huge difference as well.

That's why I wanted to talk a bit about meditation today. It's a powerful tool I use to reduce my stress, improve my concentration, and ultimately achieve the balance I need in my life to experience my best health.

My favorite time to meditate is before I leave for work each morning. When I don't have time to meditate, or I miss multiple days in a row because of a trip, I can truly feel the difference. I'm easily agitated, more prone to anxiety, and don't have the normal sense of calm and emotional resiliency I usually experience on days when I meditate.

These days I dedicate 20-30 minutes a day to meditation, but I definitely didn't start out that way. And some days I only have time for 2-5 minutes of focused breathing before heading out the door. It still works better than skipping meditation completely and helps bring focus to my day.

Over time, I've also become better at listening to the cues my body is giving. When the muscles in my jaw, neck, or shoulders are tense, or my breathing is shallow, I know I need to pause and take a few deep breaths. Meditation doesn't have to be a long guided experience in a quiet space every time. It can look very different every day depending on what you feel you need. 

The only health benefit I knew of before I gave meditation a try was that it helped with anxiety. I began to notice many changes in my life, and when I dug into why I began to understand the true power of meditation.

Did you know meditation can:

  • Lower blood pressure & improve chronic illness
  • Increase the gray matter in areas of your brain responsible for learning and memory and the regulation of emotions (check out the study here)
  • Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Decrease negative emotions/increase feelings of positivity
  • Improve concentration & focus

…and the list goes on

It's pretty incredible that paying attention to your breath and your mind can have such a profound impact on your life.

There are many different types of meditation as well. The one you likely hear about most is called mindfulness. This is what I practice most commonly. Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment and non-judgmentally paying attention to your thoughts, sensations, and experience.  Mindfulness meditations are typically guided by someone telling you what to pay attention to, but they can be unguided as well once you get the hang of it.

If mindfulness doesn't seem like a good fit, there are many other types of meditation available.

Here's an overview of 23 different meditation types if you're interested in exploring more of them. They all have different methods and benefits, so there's surely one out there that will resonate well with you.

Think you're ready to give it a try? Here are some apps I recommend:

  • Headspace: I got started with Headspace using their Take 10 program, which is 10 minutes a day for 10 days. It really helps you understand how to meditate using the mindfulness strategy.
  • Insight Timer: This is my favorite app these days. It's kind of like social media for meditation. You can see ratings and reviews and you can even see what meditations your friends are doing if you connect with people. There are over 2 millions meditations available and many different types as well. They're all organized by category and you can filter by length of meditation.
  • Calm: I got into this app after Headspace. All the meditations are by the same woman, so if you like her voice, you're golden! I love to go to the calm website while I'm working and turn on the nature sounds (called scenes) for calming background noise.

As always, I'm here to help when you're ready to take your health to the next level! I love helping my clients find balance in their lives so they can achieve their optimal health.

Posted on October 19, 2017 .

A Tip for Finding Freedom From Worrying

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I was recently listening to a podcast recommended to me by a friend who happens to be a runner. It was episode 188 of The Running Lifestyle Show. The topic was actually acupuncture, which I'll definitely be sharing more about in the future. The thing that really grabbed me was right at the end, and I knew I wanted to share it with you!

Health is SO much more than nutrition. It's also about sleep, movement, taking time for yourself, finding joy in life, and reducing stress.

Worrying can be a source of stress for many people, including myself from time to time. You know that feeling when you lay down to sleep and your mind starts racing? Or you wake up in the middle of the night and that flight you have to take or important conversation you need to have pop into your head? Here's an approach shared by Kari on the podcast to help calm your worrying, reduce your stress, and improve your sleep.

When a worry arises, acknowledge it and determine a specific time you'll dedicate to thinking about it. If it's the middle of the night, you might determine you'll think about it at 7am when you wake up. This will hopefully allow you to fall back to sleep without trying to get rid of the worry completely.

When the time you're dedicating to the worry arrives, do the following forecasting exercise:

Worst case scenario: what is the absolute worst thing that could happen?

Best case scenario: what is the best thing that could happen?

Most likely: What is the most likely thing to happen?

Chances are, the worst case scenario will rarely happen, but this exercise will help you think through and prepare for whatever you're worrying about.

Here's an example of how this could be applied in real life based on something that often causes me to worry. Job interviews always tend to be stressful for me, even when I know I'm a great fit for the job. It feels like there is a lot of pressure to be absolutely perfect in these situations.

Worst case scenario: I don't get this particular job and I have to continue my search.

Best case scenario: The interview goes amazingly well and I get offered the job on the spot.

Most likely: There are things I could've done differently, but overall I feel good about how it went and I'll hear back from the hiring manager soon.

Now, whenever I'm starting to worry or hear someone else worrying, I can give this forecasting exercise a try. I hope you find it as useful in your life as I've found it to be in mine.

Posted on August 22, 2017 and filed under stress, mindfulness.