Inflammation is a word used more regularly, but what's the big deal?
In this episode I share:
🌸 why you should care about inflammation, 🌸 what advice your healthcare team & the fitness industry is giving you that is increasing inflammation; and 🌸 4 simple strategies to start reducing chronic inflammation
so that you can regain control of your hormones and your body.
Well hello and welcome back to the Perimenopause Podcast. I’ve had a wonderful few weeks inside my free 10-day coaching program with over 80 ladies in there. I honestly love running that program, as there are so many aha moments and so many private messages to me of women finally starting to make sense of what is going on with their bodies.
The more I teach women about perimenopause and hormonal imbalance, the more I learn that there are 3 major things that is the problem for us as women.
Firstly, we don’t know how to understand our symptoms. We were never trained to understand the language of our bodies, and especially when symptoms are common, we just accept it as being normal.
Thirdly, we’ve been conditioned to think that, as long as we can get on with life and do all the things, even if it’s not in a state of thriving, we should push on and not pay attention. As long as we can function, we should keep going.
And thirdly, we’ve been conditioned over hundreds of years to believe that they only way to go about it, is to treat individual symptoms and not find the underlying root cause.
And so my entire goal always is to bring a message of hope that teaches women these core 3 things:
If something feels off, even if it’s common, your body is communicating with you and you should pay attention to that. I’m talking about sudden change in your periods, fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, skin conditions, low libido and gut issues. That is not normal and you need to pause and find a functional health practitioner to help you figure out what’s going on
Secondly, no symptom is too small to resolve. You don’t need to be totally debilitated before it’s justified to take action. If something feels off and you’ve noticed change and you don’t like the direction that you’re health and body is heading in, then it’s justified to take action
And thirdly, don’t allow the medical system to spot treat your symtpoms. Hormonal contraceptives for messy periods and endometriosis, cortisone creams for skin conditions, anti-depressants for cycle related low moods, sleep tablets for disrupted sleep patterns, etc. Those are all symptoms that form part of a bigger picture and the most important thing for you to do is to find the root cause.
Which is why I wanna spend some time today talking about chronic inflammation.
This is a word that is being thrown around a lot lately on social media, but many of you still don’t know what it means. So I wanna talk about that for a bit today.
First of all, inflammation is not all bad. It’s the body's natural response to injury or infection. It's a complex process that involves many different types of cells and molecules and when you're injured or sick, your body releases inflammatory chemicals that help to fight off infection and repair damaged tissue.
But when the inflammation becomes chronic, in other words when your body's inflammatory response is turned on all the time, even when there's no injury or infection, this can lead to a variety of health problems, including hormonal imbalance.
Things that causes your inflammatory response to be turned on all the time, include inflammatory foods, too much or very little exercise, stress, smoking, alcohol and lack of sleep or disrupted sleep patterns.
In perimenopausal women, I would say the main causes include the foods we eat, the lack of good nutrition and often over exercising
And chronic inflammation really is the cause of so many different health issues, but I wanna focus specifically on hormonal imbalance today.
There are a few different ways that chronic inflammation causes hormonal imbalance. One way is that inflammation can damage the glands that produce hormones and another way is that inflammation can interfere with the way that hormones work. For example, inflammation can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol which then suppress the production of other hormones, like specifically progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and and thyroid hormones.
So when your body is chronically inflammed and your hormones are completely out of balance, the main symptoms that you might be experiencing is not necessarily painful joints and muscles, but more specifically symptoms that you would want to address individually. Things like:
Constant fatigue, low energy levels and brain fog
Mood swings, anxiety and depression
Disrupted sleep patterns
Acne; and quite often
Changes in your periods. So they become heavier, last longer, the time between your periods become shorter, you may potentially now require pain medication for cramping and they become really unpredictable.
Now unfortunately, the main message and guidelines that is out there in terms of healthcare providers and the general health and wellness industry, often lead to higher levels of inflammation, which leads to aggravated hormonal imbalances and these symptoms intensifying.
I wanna talk about the 4 major ways that inflammation increases in the body and give you one very simple strategy for each of these to start reducing that inflammation, so that you can start experiencing relief of these symptoms.
Firstly, no dietary education is provided in terms of quality of the food that you eat, but recommendations are given to restrict calory intake. And this strategy increases inflammation through various different mechanisms. But what is important to understand here, is that restricting calories is not a good strategy to follow if you wanna regain control of your hormones and your body or if you are trying to lose weight. It is likely to have the opposite effect, especially if you are perimenopausal.
So simple strategy that you can start implementing as of today is to have a good nutritious breakfast withing 1-2 hours of waking every day. And I know this is very tricky sometimes for many of you, because mornings can be really busy. But the way to master this one, is to be prepared and plan ahead. Find 3 or 4 recipes that are easy to prepare and start with those. I love making overnight oats, because I can make the whole week ahead on a sunday night and breakfast is ready every morning. You can find a link to my favourite overnight oats recipe in the show notes, which was posted on my social media about 2 weeks ago.
OK, the second major cause of inflammation for perimenopausal women, is either a lack of movement, or excessive exercise, which is what the case was for me.
For 10 years, I religiously did crossfit. I loved it, it was my sport, I was really good at it, but it was silently destroying my health. When we do excessive exercise, like high intensity interval training or HIIT training as it is abbreviated, we constantly increase the production of cortisol, but also constantly cause inflammation in the body. So for me, literally, after 10 years of doing this exercise 4-6 times a week, I suddenly stopped one day and started walking. And literally in 7 weeks every single one of my symptoms either completely resolved or was in the process of healing. I lost a whole heap of weight, I lost the fatigue and brain fog and one thing that was absolutely significant for me, was the irritability that faded and the general improvement of my moods and feeling of wellness. It was mind blowing.
So since then, I’ve done my fair share of research and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, if you are in hormonal chaos, the very best thing that you can do right now, is to start walking. And doing it every single day. You will be amased at the rate at which healing will happen.
So the simple strategy that I wanna share here, is to make a commitment to yourself to take up walking and doing it every single day, even if it’s just for 20 minutes a day.
Number three, ah man and this is a big one, is the management of stress. You may have heard me say this before, but there are 2 major causes of stress. The first is emotional an mental stress. You know, we stress about money, our jobs, our children who are soon to be or already teenagers, and everything in between that you can stress about.
And then there is the physiological stress, which in my opinion, is the biggest cause of stress for perimenopausal women.
These are not eating enough, not eating good quality nutritious food, not sleeping enough, not having down time which allows the nervous system to reset, in other words a to-do list and schedule that does not allow for any rest during the day, drinking alcohol every day and too much caffeine, sugar that leads to an exaggerated insulin response. These are the small habits that you need to get right every day that will bring the biggest change for you.
There are many things to mention in this category, but my simple strategy that I wanna share here, and I absolutely love, is creating pockets of white space in your day. Aim for 3 times a day, set your alarm of a reminder if you need to, and take 5 minutes to walk outside, sit outside with a cup of tea, go for a quick stroll, whatever it takes to step away from everything that stimulates your nervous system.
And then lastly, the 4th major contributor of inflammation, is not getting enough sleep. You’d be surprised how this is the most overlooked strategy for healing. And I totally get it. My kids are a bit older now, but I remember hanging out for them to be in bed so I can crash on the couch and hang out there in silence for as long as possible before heading to bed.
Your bedtime routine, together with the quality of sleep you get every night plays a big role in your healing and reducing inflammation.
If you’ve been struggling to fall asleep at night or waking between 2 and 4, this is not uncommon, but you’ll have to be very intentional about your sleep if you want to heal this!
So a very practical way to start with improving your sleep routines is by setting a sleep alarm that starts blocking out all of your notifications. On my iphone, I’ve set my sleep routine and at 8:45 pm, all of my notifications stop coming through and my phone goes to dim. So unless I unlock it, I won’t see any notifications.
Stop lying in bed, scrolling on your phone.
Find something that will help you wind down.
For me, that is reading or knitting. If I start knitting, 10 minutes and I’m out.
So what is the thing that will help you to wind down and be intentional about it.
I’m telling you, the amount of energy you’ll start feeling if you prioritise your sleep far outweighs the joy of crashing on the couch or scrolling on your phone for hours every night.
So there you have it.
The 4 major contributors to chronic inflammation and how to change that.
Let me do a quick recap for you.
Have a decent, nourishing breakfast every morning within 1-2 hours of waking. Remember to find the link to my recent reel on the overnight oats recipe in the show notes.
Start walking every day instead of high intensity exercise or if you’re not doing any exercise at all at the moment, take up those walks
Create pockets of white space in your day, 3 times and use 5 minutes at a time to switch off from all stimulation
And finally, set a bedtime alarm and the settings on your phone to go into sleep mode so you can limit your exposure to blue light before bedtime.
Now I KNOW if you start implementing these small changes consistently, you’ll see significant improvement in your hormonal chaos.
If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and you found it helpful, please place a rating or review wherever your listening to your podcasts if you haven’t done that yet, and then share this episode with a friend or family member that you know might be in the middle of the perimenopausal years and need to learn this information.
Ok my friend, thank you for joining me today.
Until next time
Bye for now