anti-inflammatory lifestyle Archives - Dawn Laflin

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I’m super excited to share this new series and collaboration with my friend and fellow health coach, Gabriela. We’re thrilled to have kicked off our first series all about BREAKFAST! For the next 4 weeks, we’ll be coming to you on Instagram LIVE on Saturdays at 12 PM (CT) to share tips, resources and recipes to help you get back into the kitchen! You can find us on Instagram @dawnlaflinhealth and @gabriela_wellnessbloom. Give us a follow so you don’t miss an episode! We’ll be sharing ingredients to our next series a few days beforehand so you can cook along with us. To truly lead a healthy, anti-inflammatory lifestyle, carving out time in the kitchen is a must. BUT that doesn’t mean it has to be boring or a chore!

Cooking can be so much fun! Take time to experiment. Don’t be put off or confined to the exact ingredients listed in a recipe. Missing some of the required ingredients? Are there alternatives that would work just as well? Would it greatly be missed if you omit the ingredient altogether? If it’s someone else’s recipe, check the comments. Many times people will share where they substituted an item. If it’s a recipe from my site directly, feel free to contact me. Sometimes the only way to know for sure is to experiment. Think outside the box; get creative.

The more you cook and give different recipes a try, the more confident you’ll become in the kitchen. Not only that, but you’ll start to truly discover what foods, flavors, textures and tastes you really enjoy.

Protein Packed, Sugar-Free Granola

You guys! Gabriela introduced this granola to us on the episode today and let me tell you…the aroma filled my kitchen even before I put it into the oven. It smells heavenly! But aside from that, it’s LOADED with protein, healthy fats, spices (that are packed with antioxidants…hello anti-inflammatory fightin’ goodness!!) and flavor.

PREP TIME:  15 Minutes

COOKING TIME:  25 Minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes
  • 1 1/2 cup raw pecans, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup slivered almonds or raw almonds, chopped
  • 1 cup raw walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds (or a mix of both)
  • 1/4 chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed meal
  • 3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1/2 tsp of sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • Optional – 1/4 – 1/2 cup dried fruits (dates, raising, blueberries, apricots)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the vanilla and coconut oil. Once combined, add the vanilla and coconut oil; stir well to combine.
  3. Spread mixture evenly onto a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Stir, then bake another 8-12 minutes until nice and golden, adding in any dried fruit right at the end of baking time.
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to a couple of weeks.

SERVINGS:

24 servings (1/4 cup/serving)

For extra sweetness: add a couple tablespoons of coconut sugar, maple syrup, date syrup, or agave in with the coconut oil.

AUTHOR:  Adapted from Minimalist Baker. Original recipe from Veganchickpea.com

Milk Alternatives

Now let’s talk non-dairy milk. With so many people not able to tolerate dairy or choosing to move away from it for other reasons, knowing how to make a super simple batch of nut milks is a must. You’ll not only save money, but you’ll also be saving your body from the preservatives, chemicals and added sugar that many of the nut milks include. Today I share a super simple way to make almond and cashew milk.

What I love about making my own at home is there’s no more almond milk going to waste in the refrigerator (because we couldn’t use it fast enough). AND I’m able to customize it to my liking as far as flavors and sugar content.

Almond Milk

Friends, making almond milk can be as simple as adding pure almond butter to water. Add your choice of flavor enhancers and natural sweetener and call. it. done! Yep, it’s that easy! Don’t have almond butter on hand, no worries, I got you! I’m also including how to make it with fresh almonds. This recipes makes 12 oz. of almond milk, adapt as necessary for your family.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (or 14 raw almonds)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Optional add-ins:
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 Dates, pitted (or other natural sugar such as raw honey or pure maple syrup)

DIRECTIONS:

Add all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend. Use immediately or pour into glass storage jars. Seal tightly and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Enjoy with overnight oats, chia pudding or any of your favorite non-dairy ways!

Cinnamon Date Cashew Milk

The name alone makes me want a glass! This milk is another home-run as far as ease in making. It does take a little prep ahead of time, but comes together in minutes. Get creative and make this your own. Add flavors and natural sugar as you see fit for your family.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup of cashews (pre-soaked and rinsed)
  • 2 cups of water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 Dates, pitted (or other favorite natural sugar such as raw honey or pure maple syrup)

DIRECTIONS:

Soak cashews for 4 hours. Rinse and drain. Add cashews and 1 cup of water to a high-speed blender and blend until cashews are fully broken down. Add remaining water, vanilla and dates (or natural sugar of your choice). Blend again and enjoy! Store any remaining milk in glass storage jars. Seal tightly and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

When it comes to ingredients and the pursuit of an anti-inflammatory diet, eating whole, real food will serve your body every time. By making these items from scratch, you’re avoiding the added chemicals, preservatives and excess sugar that comes with most store bought granolas and nut milks. Give it a whirl! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to whip up a batch of nut milk to use for the next couple of days. And that granola we made today…it’ll easily last you a couple of weeks! We’ll work the 15 minutes it takes to throw it together!

Be sure to catch us LIVE next week as we continue to share ways to think outside the box when it comes to breakfast! We’ll see you LIVE on Instagram @dawnlaflinhealth at 12 PM (CT)

Key Takeaways

  • Living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle means getting back to the kitchen. Take control of the ingredients in your food so that you can feel your best
  • Skip the preservatives, chemicals and added-sugar of most store-bought granola and nut-milks
  • Enjoy a batch of high protein, sugar-free granola that helps add healthy fats, protein, texture and flavor to your dishes and snacks.
  • Making almond and cashew milk can’t be any easier than this
  • Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game
  • Follow me on Instagram @dawnlaflinhealth
  • Make an appointment for a free discovery call with me (your anti-inflammatory lifestyle coach) to chat about your safer beauty swaps. Click HERE to schedule

About Gabriela and Dawn:

We’re PASSIONATE about helping people feel more confident in the kitchen! We know first-hand how challenging it can be to start this journey with food. Through our series, we’re hoping to empower others to try new foods, learn what ingredients to avoid (and why) all-the-while becoming more confident cooks when it comes to leading an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

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The key to a boosting your immune system is living a lifestyle of good-for-you behaviors. When you take care of yourself, your immune system will take care of you.

As a first line of defense for your body to fight off infection and illnesses, your immune system requires some TLC. It’s a complex system of cells, tissues and organs including your digestive system, skin, tonsils, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and the thin membrane tissues inside the nose, throat and genitals. Basically it plays a prominent role in your entire body. 

Taking action today, will help ensure your tomorrows are healthy and happy. Wondering where to start? Here are 6 ways you can boost your immune system.

Eat More Whole Plant-Based Foods

When it comes to supporting your immune system, plant based foods will always serve you well. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber…all the things that keep your body healthy, happy and operating at an optimal level.

The antioxidants found in plant-based foods will go to work gathering up the excess free radicals floating throughout your body. Free radicals are a very normal part of our body’s make-up. And although we naturally have antioxidants in our body to balance out free radicals, their availability decreases as we age. If left unchecked, these free radicals can wreck havoc on our systems, building up to the point of chronic inflammation which leads to numerous health conditions ranging from autoimmune diseases, heart disease, alzheimer’s to certain cancers. That makes it even more imperative that we increase the amount of antioxidants we take in through our food.

In addition, plant-based foods will add a great deal of fiber to your diet. This makes the members of your gut flora (your microbiome) do the happy dance. Fiber feeds the healthy bacteria found in your gut, meaning they thrive, keeping the unhealthy bacteria to a low roar. When your gut is out of balance, your unhealthy gut bacteria are thriving…leaving you with the feeling of bloating, gassiness, constipation, diarrhea, etc. Not so fun!

Focusing on eating more plant based foods supports your gut which supports your immune system, lowering inflammation and improving your overall health.

Cut Back on Sugar and Processed Foods

Sugar.  Ahhh…we all love the short-lived sweet sensation of a treat, but the long term effects of having too much sugar in our diet significantly increases not only your weight, but also the chance to develop Type 2 diabetes or heart disease. All three of these conditions weaken the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to colds, flu and infections.

Did you know there are over 56 different names for the types of “sugar” you’ll find in processed foods? Looking at the ingredient list for just SUGAR may leave you with a false sense of security. Stick to whole, real, natural sugars, (i.e. maple syrup, honey, date paste, etc.) if you find you find yourself in need of a sugar source. Have an urge for something sweet? Reach for some fresh fruit and add a couple of nuts in as well. And above all, try to limit your intake to 5% of your daily calories (i.e. 2 tablespoons or 25 grams in a 2,000 calorie diet), 

Hydrate

Water has a starring role in many of your body’s functions, especially the immune system. Keeping your cells hydrated with water allows them to operate at an optimal level.

Water helps carry oxygen to your body’s cells, remove toxins from the body, aids in digestion and helps the body produce lymph fluid which is a critical component in the lymphatic system working properly. It also helps keep your eyes, mouth and skin properly hydrated, which is critical because these are points of entry for fighting off invaders.

Be sure you’re drinking adequate water each day.

Make Movement Part of Your Everyday

Being on stay-at-home orders does not mean we shouldn’t be moving our bodies on a daily basis. Engaging in regular exercise is an important part of supporting a healthy immune system. As little as 20 minutes of daily moderate exercise has been shown to boost the effectiveness of your immune system.

Not only will it improve immune function, it will also decrease inflammation, reduce stress, brighten your mood, keep your muscles strong and your joints fluid. It’s safe to say, regular exercise can have a profound affect on your health!

When you exercise, your sympathetic nervous system gets activated. This triggers a rise in your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate, all of which boosts your body’s circulation. This enhanced circulation enables immune cells to travel more easily through your body, doing what they do best, enhancing the immune function.

Catch Plenty of Zzzz’s

Sleep is all too often over-rated. Once upon-a-time, I was guilty of believing that myself. However, I’ve come to learn nothing can be farther than the truth. When you sleep, your body kicks into over-drive. That is, it goes into maintenance and repair mode.

Research shows that sleep improves and strengthens immune cells, in particular, the T cells. These T cells are critical for fighting against intracellular pathogens. When your body lacks sleep, the effectiveness of your immune cells decreases and other hormones (such as stress hormones) remain high, potentially further inhibiting the function of T cells.

At a minimum, adults need at least 7 hours of sleep for optimal health. That is a baseline number. Some people find they need much more, especially if they are battling chronic inflammation. It’s important to learn what your body needs and take steps to get there if it struggles to stay asleep through the night.

Reduce Stress

Did you know that 60%-80% of doctor’s office visits are due to chronic, unmanaged stress? Symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, heartburn, stomaches, anxiety, depression, etc. are just some of what sends people to the doctor’s office.

While stress is a natural part of our everyday lives (and our body was created to handle it in a fight or flight situation), stress that is ongoing can wreck havoc on our health. When your body is stressed long-term, it depresses the immune system’s ability to function properly, leaving you more vulnerable to colds, flu and infection.

High levels of stress can also lead to chronic inflammation. Inflammation left unchecked not only causes you to age faster, it also increases your risks of autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, to name a few.

Some ways to combat stress include:  meditation, exercise, yoga, talking with a trusted confidant, deep breathing and journaling. Keep in mind what works for one, might not work for another. It’s important to find what works best for your stress levels and do that.

Supporting your immune system looks like living a lifestyle full of good-for-you behaviors. Make each of the above a priority and you’ll start to notice how good you can feel in life. Additionally, you can feel good knowing you’ve increased your odds for fighting off or at least decreasing the severity of any colds, flus and infections that might come your way.

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on plant-based foods for optimal intake of antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber
  • Reduce your sugar intake
  • Stay properly hydrated
  • Move on a regular basis for at least 20 minutes per session
  • Get adequate sleep each night
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game
  • Follow me on Instagram @dawnlaflinhealth
  • Make an appointment for a free discovery call with me (your anti-inflammatory lifestyle coach) to chat about your safer beauty swaps. Click HERE to schedule
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Our emotions, positivity and negativity, have an impact on how our body’s immune system responds in our day-to-day lives. Finding ourselves in the midst of something as serious as a world pandemic is enough to send even the most positive of people into a tailspin.

As towns, cities and states start to make stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, it can feel like we’re loosing control of our own lives. The news is bleak and constant. We’re at home 24/7, with everyone in the house. Homes have been transformed into schools, offices and residences. There’s a lot of meal-making, cleaning up, doing laundry, etc. It can all feel very heavy, raising our stress and anxiety levels.

More than ever we need to take stock in what we’re feeling and reframe our thoughts before it makes an impact on our already taxed immune system (for those of you already dealing with chronic inflammation).

How Do Our Emotions Effect Inflammation?

Research shows negative mood and emotions have been associated with increased levels of inflammatory biomarkers. Meaning, when you’re stressed, anxious, sad, angry, etc. your immune system responds by increasing the release of inflammatory cytokines into your body.

While experiencing negative emotions is part of life, it’s important to note if we become stuck in a place of negativity, the inflammation in our body begins to build up. These high levels of inflammation can then become chronic, increasing your risk for chronic illnesses. Chronic illness can include anything from autoimmune disorders, heart disease and cancer to diabetes, just to name a few.

The good news? Positivity has been shown to decrease the levels of inflammation circulating through the body. That’s powerful information, especially in a circumstance where you feel you don’t have control! Learning how you choose to view a situation gives YOU the POWER to positively impact your immune response.

What is Positivity?

Now that we know how good positivity is at tamping down inflammation, what exactly is it? And how do we learn to seek it?

According to Oxford’s Online Dictionary, positivity is the practice of being or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude. When you have a knack for being positive, you’ll look at the bright side of things; seek the silver lining in tough situations. Sound easier said than done? Maybe, but with a little practice you can cultivate a more positive outlook on life. One that carries you though your good and hard days.

Before we go further, know that having positivity in your life doesn’t mean you’re striving for perfection or living in a world where hardship doesn’t effect you. Two truths I know to the core of my being:  hard times are inevitable and perfection doesn’t exist. It’s ok to experience the emotions you feel when you find yourself in a challenging situation or season. That’s natural and expected.

The difference between a person who displays positivity and one who is negative, is their attitude and outlook for the future. A positive person will see a hard situation, experience the emotions, then keep moving forward. They share their feelings, lean on their faith knowing that things will get better and look for glimmers of hope in the midst of a dark storm or season.

What are Some Ways to Improve Your Positivity in the Midst of a Challenging Time?

When going through challenging situations or hard times, it can be hard to focus on positivity if you haven’t made it part of your everyday life. That said, it’s never too late to start!

Now more than ever, as we’re in a season of uncertainty and unknowns with the coronavirus pandemic, we should use this time and these activities to help lift spirits and improve mindsets.

  • Acknowledge what you’re feeling, share it with someone you trust, take stock in the things you can control and let go of the ones you can’t.
  • Be informed with the latest information, but limit how much media you consume regarding the news.
  • Listen to your favorite music, and dance like no-one’s watching or sing like you’re in your shower!
  • MOVE! Make sure you get out and move everyday. Practice yoga, exercise, walk the dog, etc. It all counts!
  • Listen to an uplifting podcast that inspires, encourages and motivates you.
  • Start a daily gratitude journal:  take time to find 3 things you’re grateful for each day. Focusing on your blessings makes it hard to sit too long on the things trying to weigh you down.
  • Encourage others with uplifting thoughts and sentiments:  let those in your circle know how much you love and appreciate them; make a goal of complimenting 3 people throughout your week; etc. By lifting others up you brighten their day and raise your positivity meter!
  • Create a space that inspires you. In our current situation, we’re all spending a lot of time at home. Use this time to clear the clutter and reset your spaces. It doesn’t cost you a dime to repurpose your furniture into new spaces, toss old paperwork and create boxes for donations.
  • Share kindness with those in your neighborhood and within your circle.

Seek Positivity and Enjoy the Good Vibes (and Lowered Inflammation Levels) that Comes with It

There’s no time like the present to make change in your life. Choosing positivity is a great place to start, especially as we’re in the midst of one of the most challenging times of our lives as a society and country.

Looking for resources to start (or deepen) your journey toward more positivity? Download my Positivity Tips and Resources Guide in the form below.

 

 

Friend, you are not alone in this journey. Be sure to share what you’re experiencing with others. Take time to surround yourself with positive people (yes, even if it’s only virtually!), practice some of the positivity tips listed above and look for the glimmers of hope. There are beautiful moments to be found in this season, you just have to be willing to look for them.

Key Takeaways

  • Stress, anxiety and negativity all have an negative impact on your inflammation levels
  • A correlation has shown between positivity and lower inflammatory biomarkers
  • Review the list of ways you can increase your positivity and put a few into practice this next week. Note how you feel, how your mindset starts to shift
  • Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game
  • Follow me on Instagram @dawnlaflinhealth
  • Make an appointment for a free discovery call with me (your anti-inflammatory lifestyle coach) to chat about your safer beauty swaps. Click HERE to schedule
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October 10, 20190

by Dawn Laflin Wellness

Exercise is Beneficial on So Many Levels, But How Much is the Right Amount?

How much exercise do you *actually* need to get in shape?

Twenty minutes three times per week? Half-hour per day?

And how much is too much?

Do you need to sweat it out for an hour or more every day?

Let’s go over the (sometimes) mysterious amount of exercise that is ideal. Ideal for your health and wellness. Ideal for getting into shape.

Starting with the minimum.

What’s the Minimum Amount of Exercise?

Of course, you’re going to have to start from where you are right now. If you’re not already exercising regularly, there is no need to go overboard. In fact, trying too much too soon may derail your motivation, and become a reason you just throw in the towel.

So, let’s say you’re not that active (yet). What if I were to recommend “ten to twenty minutes every other day at a level you think you can do?” How does that sound as a starting point?

Pretty do-able, I’d say!

If you’re not training for a competition, you can absolutely get into great shape starting with this plan.

It’s going to longer, I’m not gonna lie. But that time is going to pass anyway, so when the next season comes around wouldn’t you want to be proud of your improved strength and fitness?

Yes, I thought so!

How to Design Your Exercise Plan 

Now, there isn’t one answer for everyone. The main rule is to begin with where you are. Take note of your fitness level and your goals and increase and improve slowly. There really is no quick fix (at least no quick fix that will give you lasting long-term results).

Always consider what is reasonably sustainable for you, based on:

  • What is your long-term fitness goal?
  • What else is going on in your life (i.e. how much time do you really have)?
  • What is your current state of fitness?

But don’t stop there!

As you create a sustainable exercise habit, it will start getting easier. So, don’t forget to make it a bit more challenging as you go. Every week do something to push yourself a bit farther than you were before. If you’re strength training, do another repetition or grab the next heavier weight. If you’re doing cardio, go a bit longer, farther, and/or faster.

A great motivational tool is to log your workouts. A simple notepad or workbook (or app) will do! Just enter your reps, sets, and/or times each time you workout. This will not only help you to keep motivated to continue, but it will also help you see where you can squeeze in that extra challenge as you progress.

After several weeks you can stop and evaluate. Keep going the way you are, ramp it up, or change it completely. Eventually, you will find yourself getting stronger, and more fit!

Don’t Forget Your Nutrition

While exercise is very, very good for your health, wellness and longevity, it’s not the only thing to consider. What you eat is going to have as big, or bigger, impact on your shape.

Some of my favorite super-simple tips that give you the biggest “bang for your buck” are:

  • Eat more veggies
  • Swap the soda for soda water with fruit
  • Cut your treats and sweets in half (and hide half) before indulging
  • Reduce the serving size of your main meals (try using a smaller plate)
  • Eat slower and savor it more by chewing each bite of food more thoroughly
  • Carry around healthy (unsweetened fiber-rich) snacks like nuts, fruit and berries

Key Takeaways

You don’t need to exercise like crazy to get into shape. I promise! But you do need to do the following:

  • Start from where you are, and don’t go overboard.
  • If you’re a beginner, that means 10 – 20 minutes every other day at an easy level.
  • Log your workout progress to track improvements and keep motivated.
  • Slowly increase the difficulty every week as you get stronger and fitter.
  • Don’t forget to eat your veggies, reduce your serving sizes (especially treats) and carry around healthy snacks.
  • Talk with your doctor before beginning any new exercise or nutrition program.
  • Make an appointment to chat with me (your health coach) on how I can support you getting into shape