It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
The Holiday season is known to be filled with love, joy, family, and friends. Even in 2020, I hope you’re able to connect with loved ones and keep some traditions alive. This season can also be filled with stress, lack of movement, and over-consumption of sugar and alcohol which means systemic inflammation can be at an all-time high.
Inflammation is no friend of your fertility, and finding ways to reduce inflammation can have huge positive impacts on both male and female fertility. Inflammation can contribute to hormonal imbalances that leave us feeling bleh and not like ourselves.
But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on celebrating the holidays with loved ones! In this article, we’ll discuss 7 practical ways to keep inflammation at bay while enjoying the holiday season so you can continue to nourish your health and fertility.
Water is the most important nutrient in your body! It flushes toxins, enables cellular hydration, and transports nutrients, which all play a huge factor in managing and combating systemic inflammation.
As a general rule of thumb, aim to drink half your body weight in fluid ounces of hydrating fluids each day. For example, if you’re a 140 lb person, your daily goal is 70oz of hydrating beverages. These hydrating beverages include high-quality filtered water, coconut water, bone broth, and uncaffeinated herbal tea. Keep in mind, for every 8oz of dehydrating beverage you consume (coffee, tea, alcohol, soda) you’ll want to add another 12oz of hydrating beverage to your daily baseline.
Move your body.
Moving your body is crucial for a variety of reasons. Regular physical activity has health benefits that includes stress reduction, weight control, strengthening of the heart, bones, and muscles, and reducing the risk of certain diseases¹ — all of which are vastly important for combating inflammation. Additionally, exercise is critical for the movement of lymphatic fluid that is responsible for filtering out bacteria, viruses, and toxins, which, if left stagnant, causes high levels of inflammation. This can be as simple as a walk and some youtube yoga before bed.
Slow down and breathe.
While we cannot go three minutes without oxygen, too seldom do we sit and focus on breathing deeply. Our respiratory system is responsible for filtering out fumes, allergens, mold, and airborne toxins, all of which are highly inflammatory to our system. Focus on breathing in deeply to oxygenate your cells and breathe out completely to remove carbon dioxide and other accumulated toxins in the lungs. In addition to the oxygenation of our system, this deep breathing slows down our nervous system and allows the body to enter a parasympathetic state so we can “rest and digest”.
Chew your food.
While this may seem like an odd suggestion, it’s a small but powerful habit to combat inflammation. When we eat too quickly, we swallow air and large chunks of food, which can cause digestive dysfunction. Our digestion is so important for being able to get all the nutrients that we need for our fertility to run at optimal levels. Aim to chew your food 20-30x per bite or until the food is a liquid-like consistency. This tiny habit will vastly improve digestion, can help reduce bloating, and help make sure you’re extracting the maximum amount of nutrition from your food.
Sleep is a time where we restore and repair! Ensuring you get 7-9 hours of deep restorative sleep per night is especially key during times of excess stress and overindulgence of sugar and alcohol (i.e. the Holidays!). Try blue blocking glasses in the evening while watching Hallmark movies, and find some comfy ear plugs to use so Santa (or whatever else is up in the night) doesn’t wake you up too.
Avoid too much refined sugar
A high sugar diet can have harmful effects on your health and can result in chronic inflammation, where the body’s immune system activates, resulting in damage to healthy cells².
To reduce inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet filled with nutrient-dense whole foods. During the Holidays, do the best you can to avoid overindulging in sweet treats filled with refined sugars. Learn how to make some of your favorite treats with more natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, and even dates.
If you want a hormone healthy hot chocolate recipe with no refined sugar or dairy (which can also be inflammatory), check my recipe out here!
Cook with high-quality fats and oils.
Highly refined oils like vegetable, canola, and soy, are inflammatory and should be avoided. These industrial seed oils undergo a refining process that uses solvents and other harmful chemicals. They are also stored for long periods of time and may be rancid by the time we purchase them and work our way to the end of the bottle.
They also contain too many Omega-6 fatty acids and an imbalance in the ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet has been linked to the rise of some health problems.3 There’s a reason that Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), such as those found in fatty fish or fish oil, are recommended for pregnancy and fertility. Baby uses tons of Omega-3s in the 3rd trimester to really build that brain. Eating and cooking with too much Omega-6s doesn’t help that process.
For high heat cooking choose animal fats or ghee from pasture-raised sources and for medium heat cooking choose extra virgin olive oil or grass-fed butter. Butter contains important nutrients for fertility like vitamin A and E and it’s incredibly tasty.
By following some of the tips listed here, the Holidays can be a time of true celebration where we also celebrate, honor, and nourish our health, while still enjoying the festivities of the season.
- “Does Sugar Cause Inflammation? What the Research Says.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326386.
- “Exercise … It Does a Body Good: 20 Minutes Can Act as Anti-Inflammatory.” UC Health – UC San Diego, health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/Pages/2017-01-12-exercise-can-act-as-anti-inflammatory.aspx.
- Hibbeln JR, Nieminen LR, Blasbalg TL, Riggs JA, Lands WE. Healthy intakes of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids: estimations considering worldwide diversity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jun;83(6 Suppl):1483S-1493S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/83.6.1483S. PMID: 16841858.