The 12 rules of Christmas: Christmas tips to survive the food and frenzy.

By Andrea Cullen

I am going to make the shock assumption that most hard-working triathletes know how to eat a balanced and supportive diet to reward the hard training that their bodies agree to.

But just in case here is a reminder:

A well thought out nutrient dense diet is imperative if you want to go long and hard for a long time without injury, illness or burn-out 😊.  All the various vitamins, minerals, plant and food based antioxidants, amino acids from protein, fatty acids, resistant starches from specific carbohydrate foods, prebiotics and compounds with long names that research keeps identifying in natural foods are important for our health and for the cells, organs, brain, muscles, tendons and ligaments, tissues and even our gut microbiome to function optionally. Food is not only fuel but also provides the structural and supportive ingredients to allow the body to operate, recover, and repair from daily life and training. Don’t forget salts and water; these are very important also.

Nutritious food also aids hormone balance, immune system function, and the correct balance of bugs in our guts (these form our first line of defence against bacterial, yeast and viral infections and they also are involved in the digestive process, making some vitamins and neurotransmitters, and gut healing substances called short chain fatty acids; wow!).

This diet that we call balanced looks like a diet based on mostly plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds; with some whole grains such as oats and rice for example, along with a moderate amount of protein from animal, fish, eggs, and dairy foods. We need all of these foods for various reasons and in varying proportions depending on the work that we ask our bodies to do and our unique and individual constitutions.

No one diet is perfect, and this can make the journey rather confusing in how we find the optimal for us. However, for most of us a fad diet, an extreme diet, or a diet eliminating a major food group is rarely needed. The first rule is to choose natural and un- to minimally processed foods with the least amount of chemicals, additives, preservatives and sweeteners added. Yes, your body works hard but no this doesn’t mean that you can just eat anything as a response because we need more than calories. Junk food is mostly empty calories and is lacking in goodness; furthermore, it comes packaged with other stuff that we just don’t need.

Many athletes make the next step an extreme but what if you focused on improving your diet by making choices directed by quality, source/location and ethics and perhaps upgrading your cooking or fermenting skills.

Our bodies have this amazing thing called HUNGER to tell us when it needs food and sometimes this directs what foods we desire (i.e. cravings for meat or fat or carbs), and SATIETY which is fullness, and this tells us when to stop. If you pay attention, you can learn a lot about what the body needs. This intuitive system works best if you avoid processed foods, junk choices, eating without taking the time to allow the digestive system to operate correctly and excess stress; all of which interfere with this intuitive signalling system. At the end of the day survival is what matters and nothing screams chocolate bar and cake better than eating on the go and emotional stress.

So here are my 12 rules of Christmas

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Life Event, Stress and Illness

Life Event, Stress and Illness

Here is a nice little article about just how significant stress can be in our lives and the impact on our health if we do not by choice make changes to bring balance into our lives. It is up to us to be accountable to and responsible for our health; as best we can.

I am here to support your journey from ill to well. 
To read more, click here: Life Event, Stress and Illness

Abstract

The relationship between stress and illness is complex. The susceptibility to stress varies from person to person. Among the factors that influenced the susceptibility to stress are genetic vulnerability, coping style, type of personality and social support. Not all stress has negative effect. Studies have shown that short-term stress boosted the immune system, but chronic stress has a significant effect on the immune system that ultimately manifest an illness. It raises catecholamine and suppressor T cells levels, which suppress the immune system. This suppression, in turn raises the risk of viral infection. Stress also leads to the release of histamine, which can trigger severe broncho-constriction in asthmatics. Stress increases the risk for diabetes mellitus, especially in overweight individuals, since psychological stress alters insulin needs. Stress also alters the acid concentration in the stomach, which can lead to peptic ulcers, stress ulcers or ulcerative colitis. Chronic stress can also lead to plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis), especially if combined with a high-fat diet and sedentary living. The correlation between stressful life events and psychiatric illness is stronger than the correlation with medical or physical illness. The relationship of stress with psychiatric illness is strongest in neuroses, which is followed by depression and schizophrenia. There is no scientific evidence of a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the immune system changes and the development of cancer. However, recent studies found a link between stress, tumour development and suppression of natural killer (NK) cells, which is actively involved in preventing metastasis and destroying small metastases.


The relationship between stress and illness is complex. The susceptibility to stress varies from person to person. An event that causes an illness in a person may not cause illness in other person. Events must interact with a wide variety of background factors to manifest as an illness. Among the factors that influenced the susceptibility to stress are genetic vulnerability, coping style, type of personality and social support. When we are confronted with a problem, we assess the seriousness of the problem and determine whether or not we have the resources necessary to cope with problem. If we believe that the problem is serious and do not have the resources necessary to cope with the problem, we will perceive ourselves as being under stress (2). It is our way of reacting to the situations that makes a difference in our susceptibility to illness and our overall well-being.

Not all stress has negative effect. When the body tolerates stress and uses it to overcome lethargy or enhance performance, the stress is positive, healthy and challenging. Hans Selye (3), one of the pioneers of the modern study of stress, termed this eustress. Stress is positive when it forces us to adapt and thus to increase the strength of our adaptation mechanisms, warns us that we are not coping well and that a lifestyle change is warranted if we are to maintain optimal health. This action-enhancing stress gives the athlete the competitive edge and the public speaker the enthusiasm to project optimally. Stress is negative when it exceeds our ability to cope, fatigues body systems and causes behavioral or physical problems. This harmful stress is called distress. Distress produces overreaction, confusion, poor concentration and performance anxiety and usually results in sub par performance.

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Illness is a real thing; but never lose hope that the body will not heal; it will when given the correct support and love.

Healing stress and how this impacts the body is often about learning new skills, new lifestyle strategies and new ways to nourish our whole being.

Love,
Andrea

Impact of Childhood Trauma and Stressors in Pain Disorders and Adult Health

This is a recent article from the Townsend Letters that is worth a read:

Impact of Childhood Trauma and Stressors in Pain Disorders and Adult Health

Traumatic experiences and stressors in childhood have historically been overlooked as predisposing factors in the development of various chronic pain disorders and psychiatric conditions, including fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic fatigue syndrome. However, the tide is turning as research is revealing a significant correlation between childhood trauma and adult health. Childhood trauma can cause cumulative damage and foster the biological embedding of adversities (via epigenetics) during developmental stages – both of which have been proposed mechanisms for the development of various adult physical and mental conditions.

click here to read on: Impact of Childhood Trauma and Stressors in Pain Disorders and Adult Health