“You Can Do Hard” by Les Brown

Hiliary Hoffner: then and now ~

You Can Do Hard by Les Brown

“It’s hard…it’s hard changing your life. It’s hard picking up the pieces and starting all over again. It’s hard getting your mind together after you’ve gone through a life shaking experience (being a primary caregiver for someone; hearing a diagnosis you didn’t want; starting over again from a loss of any kind; being alone in a new place; wanting a friend.) But you can do hard. You can weather the storm. You will come through this.

Affirm to yourself every day ~ several times a day. No matter how hard it gets…I’m going to make it!! Stand up inside yourself and look yourself in the eyes and say “I can do hard!!” Exercise, pray, seek solitude, allow for periods of sadness…but know that you will get through this. Keep the faith; continue to work; and expect to make it through. You may not be able to change your circumstances or situation…but, you can change yourself! Hold on! You can do hard! You have GREATNESS within you!”
— Les Brown

The young woman, Hiliary Hoffner, pictured above, has the same rare life threatening condition that I have. We almost lost her a year ago. She was hospitalized for 4 1/2 months. She fought hard. She’s a warrior. Today she’s doing quite well, engaged to the man of her dreams planning a wonderful future together!

When you’re going through hard times, remember, this too shall pass!

For Coping Strategies, go here.

Photo Credit: Hiliary Hoffner

Anti-Inflammatory Superfoods – who needs it?

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

The answer is: actually everyone needs anti-inflammatory superfoods

You can unknowingly have chronic inflammation for years before becoming symptomatic.

Chronic inflammation is an epidemic that leads to countless debilitating, painful and even life-threatening diseases. Many of them are auto-immune.

“It’s important to realize that dietary components can either trigger or prevent inflammation from taking root in your body. If you have not already addressed your diet, this would be the best place to start, regardless of whether you’re experiencing symptoms of chronic inflammation or not.” – Dr. Joseph Mercola

Implementing an anti-inflammatory superfoods regimen prior to symptoms is a very good lifestyle practice in an effort to avoid inflammatory health issues which can be extremely difficult to deal with once you become symptomatic.

“Anti-Inflammatory Foods Can Transform Your Health. Patients who consumed anti-inflammatory foods found enough relief that they were able to discontinue at least one of their medications. ” – Dr. Josh Axe 

When I was pursuing my degree in holistic nutrition, I did in-depth research reports on anti-inflammatory superfoods & supplements; and auto-immune superfoods, I covered auto-immune superfoods recently and now I want to cover anti-inflammatory foods.

When I first started searching for anti-inflammatory foods and diets, it was unheard of! Now many books have been written on the subject and it’s a household term!

Pro-inflammatory foods to be aware of, cut out, cut back on

  • GMO’s!
  • Processed foods
  • Processed white foods: flour and sugar and the foods that contain them: most baked goods – opt for organic, whole grain baked goods.

Top 15 vs My Extensive List

I have an extensive list of anti-inflammatory foods and herbs that I’ve researched and compiled, much too long for this blog, so I’m including here, The Top 15 according to Dr. Axe, with a few health benefits in addition to each one being anti-inflammatory.

And if you’d like my much longer list, an accumulation of many scientists and doctors lists, I will be happy to email it to you! 

The Top 15 Anti-Inflammatory Superfoods (organic is best: GMO and pesticides make them pro-inflammatory!!)

  1. Dark Green Leafy Veggies: antioxidants, restores cellular health (hide in fruit/berry smoothies if you don’t like veggies! Watch for recipes!);
  2. Bok Choy: powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals;
  3. Celery: improves blood pressure and cholesterol, heart health;
  4. Beets: repair cell damage caused by inflammation;
  5. Broccoli: antioxidant powerhouse, anti-cancer (hide in smoothies!) 
  6. Blueberries: antioxidant powerhouse, improves cognitive and motor function;
  7. Pineapple: immune system health, fights blood clots, heart health;
  8. Wild Alaskan Salmon: omega-3, brain function (avoid farmed salmon at all costs!)
  9. Bone Broth: rich in minerals, heals leaky gut, fights colds and flues;
  10. Walnuts: protein, omega-3, brain/cognitive health;
  11. Coconut Oil: antioxidants, fights osteoporosis and colds and flues;
  12. Chia Seeds: increases energy, heart health, improves cholesterol and blood pressure
  13. Fresh Ground Flaxseed: omega-3, antioxidants, gut health, fights yeast and candida;
  14. Turmeric: reduces pain, gut health, diabetes;
  15. Ginger: immune system health, detox, painkiller.

Leave a comment if you’d like my extensive list of anti-inflammatory food options. 

The way we eat is just part of the regimen. The way we exercise plays a role as well. Click on these links for more methods to combat inflammation:

I’ve included some links for some of my favorite anti-inflammatory foods, below! That’s a great deal on the coconut oil!

Note: This drug interaction checker is great to check supplement interactions with medications, go here.

Here’s to health ♥️

References

Harvard University, Dr. Josh Axe, Dr. Joseph Mercola

Easy Delicious Anti-Inflammatory Superfoods Oatmeal 

World’s Yummiest Oatmeal

If you hate oatmeal, this is the recipe for you! Try it! 

I used to hate oatmeal! And I still can’t stand traditionally prepared oatmeal.

But I know how nutritious it is so I was determined to make it palatable. I have an issue with textures and traditional oatmeal is over-cooked in my opinion and the texture is unbearable for me! So I experimented until it was not just bearable, but delicious! 

Highly recommended for anyone with a chronic inflammatory condition.

All ingredients are anti-inflammatory!

Note: I’ve included some links to some of the ingredients. They were the best deals I found on some of my favorite brands!

All ingredients have a long list of health benefits – superfoods!

Organic Ingredients:

  • Oats (not quick oats) (preferably thick cut)
  • Coconut oil (a delicious brand such as Nutiva)
  • Walnuts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Raw local honey
  • Cocoa

Optional:

  • Cinnamon
  • Other healthy toppings/mix ins of your choice

Instructions:

  1. Barely cook the oatmeal in a small amount of water. I cook it for a minute or two tops. If you have excess water, add more oats or pour water off and cook a few more seconds.
  2. Add other ingredients and enjoy!

My brother’s secret is to cook it in chai tea! But pure water is good to keep it simple.

Just a few of heath benefits in addition to being anti-inflammatory:

Oats: lowers cholesterol, heart health, high in fiber

Walnuts: brain health, anti-cancer, omega-3

Chia Seeds: increases energy, digestive health, omega-3

Raw Local Honey: counters pollen allergies, increases energy, digestive enzymes

Coconut Oil: fights infections, brain health, overall health

Cinnamon: lowers blood sugar, fights infections, brain health

Cocoa: promotes blood vessel health, improves blood pressure and cholesterol

Here’s to deliciously fighting inflammation! Enjoy ♥️

References

Dr. Josh Axe, Dr. Andrew Weil

34 Autoimmune Disease Superfoods

Autoimmune Disease Superfoods

Autoimmune diseases affect one in five families. How we eat is crucial.

This is a list I compiled when I was in college, pursuing my degree in holistic nutrition. The assignment was to compile a “new list of super foods,” so I researched and chose foods specific to autoimmune and vasculitis diseases. I’ve updated it to include the newly discovered superfoods that benefit autoimmune conditions.

Note: These are in addition to the well known nutrient-dense superfoods, such as coconut oil. (I’ve included some links to some at the end. They were the best deals I found on some of my favorite brands!)

  1. To top off the list: Bone Broth! (Link at end)

Recent research reveals that bone broth is an autoimmune superfood! But it can’t just be chicken or beef or fish broth, where the bones are cooked quickly, the bones need to cook for at least 6 hours and preferably longer to reap the benefits! Adding a couple tablespoons of organic raw vinegar helps extract all the beneficial nutrients! Great Grandma was onto something back in the day with taking all day or even a couple days to make that good old fashioned chicken noodle soup which is scientifically proven to fight off colds and flus as well as autoimmune diseases and many other health benefits! Run of the mill canned chicken noodle soup will not provide the outstanding level benefits as the bones are not cooked long enough. It has to be labeled ‘organic bone broth’ – or make your own. Watch for the recipe!

2. Glutathione – the mother is all anti-oxidants (link at end)

Plays a crucial role in immune function. Essential for preventing and fighting autoimmune disorders.

Studies have shown that people who have autoimmune diseases are deficient in glutathione.

Note: This is important to know if you have an autoimmune disease and you have children as autoimmune diseases run in families, so make sure your children have sufficient levels of glutathione in an effort to prevent the diseases.

When glutathione is deficient, all other antioxidants and vitamins are deficient as a result, as glutathione is necessary for their absorption.

Until now glutathione supplements fell short as it’s hard to absorb, but now we have the new ‘setria glutathione’ which is readily available and absorbable. Read the label and make sure it’s “setria.” (I’ve included a link for this type of glutathione at the end.) 

Foods rich in glutathione include:  spinach, potatoes, asparagus, avocado, squash, okra, cauliflower, broccoli, walnuts, garlic and tomatoes;

3. Fermented Foods

Sauerkraut, kimchi, Greek yogurt, kombucha, pickles, miso, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, and other fermented foods. The fermentation creates probiotics, which greatly benefits gut heath! Improved gut health equals improved overall health! Autoimmune diseases and other health issues have been linked to gut health, so heal the gut with fermented foods and heal the immune system! Fermented foods also help boost and maintain energy levels.

Note: Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar is a fermented food. BACV  (Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar) or similar brand –  must be raw, organic, unfiltered, ‘with the mother.’ – Reduces moonface caused by steroids, increased energy, long list of health benefits; improves gut health and ph balance, and so many other health benefits. 1-3 T day can really help overcome fatigue as well as many other health issues! No matter what your level of health is, it’s beneficial.

How to consume raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, such as Bragg’s: 

1-3 T/day, diluted in water, juice or Emergen-C. Add raw local honey if needed. I usually add 3 T to several ounces of water and sip throughout the day. But mixing with Emergen-C is the most palatable, IMHO, and it will give you quick energy without a letdown!

4. High Quality Organic Undenatured  Whey Protein

It increases glutathione production, immune system support, promotes weight loss, improves cognitive performance, reduces blood pressure, controls appetite. Whey protein contains all the amino acids the body needs in the best possible balance (also alleviates the sweet-tooth!);

5&6. Sockeye Salmon & Sardines (in it’s own oil)

High omega-3’s to fight inflammation, increased brain function, combats depression and mood swings, good for memory, and blood sugar control. Also good for kidney health.

Note: I choose sockeye salmon over all others because: “it is never farmed, it’s always wild, from the pristine seas of Alaska, where they feed on omega-3 rich krill and the waters are cleaner than most anywhere on the planet. And sockeye do not live as long as other species of salmon so therefore do not accumulate the toxins that other choices may accumulate.” – Dr. Andrew Weil;

7&8. Maitake and Shitake Mushrooms – For counteracting fatigue and nausea caused by chemo drugs, as well as help prevent some of the damaging side effect of chemo drugs. Immune system support. Available in pill/capsule form;

9&10. Black and Green Tea – Black for the quick repair of damaged blood vessels; Green for reducing the risks of blood clots, strokes and weight gain and improving mood and increased relaxation. Both teas are anti-inflammatory. They are packed with powerful anti-oxidants;

11. Yerba Maté (link at end)- Has all the benefits of green tea tenfold. Plus bone Health. And a great Fatigue Buster/Energy Booster;

12. Rosemary – Fights inflammation of the respiratory system! Protects the liver, anti-biotic, anti-viral, improves brain function, memory, and disease of the head and brain;

13. Thyme – Anti-inflammatory, aids digestion, long history of relieving respiratory problems, including cough and bronchitis;

14. Avocados – Anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, good for eyes and skin, contains glutathione;

15. Cherries – Anti-inflammatory, good for respiratory health and allergies;

16. Raisins – Bone health, anti-inflammatory;

17. Turmeric/curcumin – Anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, protects the liver, long list of health benefits, including pain reduction (take with black pepper to increase absorption, most supplements include pepper – pepper improves absorption of all nutrients);

18. Ginger – Immune system health, anti-inflammatory, alleviates pain, alleviates nausea;

19-22. Pecans, Macadamia Nuts, Walnuts and Almonds (with skins) – High Omega-3, anti-inflammatory, helps with brain function & moods;

23. Spinach – Anti-inflammatory, promotes lung health;

24. Serrapeptase (link at end)– Systemic enzyme: anti-inflammatory, lung & airway health, reduces mucous, eliminates fibrosis – when taken on empty stomach;

25. Rosehips – Reduces CRP (inflammatory marker in the blood);

26. Oil of Oregano – anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, good for immune system and respiratory health;

27. Oregano – anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, aids digestion and joint function;

28. Artichokes – heals the liver;

29. Milk Thistle – protects and heals the liver from medication damage;

30. Digestive Enzymes – gut health essential for immune system health, alleviates indigestion, digestive health;

31. Pro-biotics – gut health essential for the immune system health, stave off infections;

32. Multi-Vitamins – the disease and the medications deplete our vitamins. We need to replace them with a high quality multi-vit;

33. B Complex and extra B-12 – for energy and stress, we are deficient due to stress, disease and meds;

34. D-3 – fights disease, we are deficient, it’s a pandemic deficiency

Note: To check for medication-supplement interactions, go here.

Note: Avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as processed foods and GMOs as much as possible. For more on anti-inflammatory/pro-inflammatory foods, click here.

Here’s to health ♥️

References

Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Josh Axe, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, Lorna Vanderhaeghe, BSc, Colombia University

Understanding Invisible Illness and Disability

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Understanding Invisible Illness and Disability

As we kick off Vasculitis Awareness Month, I’d like to talk a little about invisible illnesses and disabilities, as vasculitis is a chronic illness which is most often invisible. And a lot of mystery and misconception surround invisible illnesses and disabilities.

People with ‘invisible illnesses’ don’t look sick or disabled.

Even cancer is often invisible these days. I’ve seen friends and family go through cancer without losing any hair or losing any weight – and they look just fine. 

Those of us with serious illnesses are not always emaciated, gaunt, or pale. We often have all of our limbs, we’re not always in wheelchairs.

Sometimes we need wheelchairs and sometimes we don’t.

When we are lucky enough to walk, it’s often a great effort to do so – but we try really hard not to let the effort show.

We try hard not to let any of our struggles show which adds to the invisibility of our illnesses.

We try to hide our struggles because: A) we want to be “normal” and; B) we don’t want to be a burden.

Sometimes we’re missing vital organs but you would never know by looking at us.

For instance, I’m missing a lung and a large percentage of the population is missing a lung, making many simple tasks difficult for us.

Some have insufficient airways. I’m in that club as well.

Many have an invisible heart disease. Many others have only one kidney, or they’re waiting for a kidney.

On top of missing or damaged organs, we are most often afflicted with chronic pain, crushing fatigue, low energy, depleted stamina, and reduced vitality.

We need to pace ourselves. We need to rest. We need to use the handicap-designated parking spaces.

There are times I can’t walk across a parking lot and also walk through the store to do my shopping. Walking across a parking lot can trigger the same symptoms as running a race – leaving me extremely dizzy, sweaty, gasping for air, my heart pounding out of my chest, and exhausted. It often triggers an asthma attack. We need close parking.

Everything is an effort. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

I often can’t grocery shop and cook in the same day. If I cook, forget about being able to clean up after. Just getting dressed or taking a shower can leave a serious/chronically ill person exhausted. The smallest task can be a huge undertaking for us at times – for some, it’s all the time. 

I love to cook, but anymore, it has to be rather quick and simple, no more cooking big feasts. I lack the required energy and stamina. And cooking is often painful.

The struggle is profound.

Living with serious/chronic invisible illness symptoms and medication side effects takes a daily toll, draining our strength, stamina, vitality, overall health and well-being.

Medication side effects can be severe. They can even cause other diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis. Even cancer.

“The person who takes medicine must recover twice, once from the disease, and once from the medicine.” – Sir William Osler

The struggle is real.

It’s like having the flu or a hangover or UTI that just never really completely goes away. Even on our good days, we are not up to par with the average healthy person of our age.

It’s often harrowing.

And you don’t usually see us on our bad days – those days when we have to cancel plans and stay home in bed, or on the sofa – or go to the ER/ED. These days can hit at anytime.

But what about remission?

  • Even in times of remission, we live with the permanent damage caused by active disease. When the disease is quiet, I still have only one lung and other internal damage. And if it’s a drug-induced remission, we live with the daily side effects of the medications.
  • Remission does not always mean symptom-free.
  • Most of us still have limitations during remission.
  • The word ‘remission’ isn’t always accurate and some doctors won’t even use the term to describe disease inactivity.
  • We still encounter bad days during remission.

Not everyone who looks healthy and able-bodied, is.

So when you see a “healthy-looking” person park in the handicap-spot, remember, they more than likely have an invisible illness/disability.

Smile and offer to get a cart for them.

For coping strategies, click here.

For fatigue and energy issues, click here.

Thanks for reading ♥️