Episode 100: Immune Confidence Tips for 2024
Kara Wada, MD: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to this exciting day. We have been waiting for the past 99 episodes. Welcome to episode 100. My name is Dr. Kara Wada. I am a board certified allergy immunology, lifestyle medicine, physician, and autoimmune patient. So I was diagnosed with systemic Sjogren's about five years ago, and I am so excited today to talk to you about my Tips for Helping You Become Immune Confident in 2024. But it also talking just a little bit more and circling back on what Becoming Immune Confident means, how this continues to evolve for me, both as a physician, as a patient, as your guide here in helping you become immune confident. And really helping you become the hero of your own story and health and wellness, especially your immune system, health and wellness.
New Year, New You: A Different Perspective
Kara Wada, MD: We think about the new year as new year, new you, but I would rather us really take a step back. Take a deep breath. In through our noses Hold it for a second. And then breathe out through your mouth. And I would love for you to think about new year, more authentic version of me. As in new, instead.
And I think of the new year is this time to rebrand this idealized version of what we hope to see in ourselves for this upcoming year. And what I have realized is that I have grown over the last three, four years. Started this podcast out as Success with Sjogren's and The Crunchy Allergist podcast.
And it really has evolved into so much more. And yet still held true to those core values for me, which are remaining naturally minded yet scientifically grounded in my approaches to health and healing. But I am also on the cusp of my 40th birthday. It's this spring. I am feeling stronger, healthier, and more confident in who I am through this work and through helping you in your work. And I am excited about continuing to help others in this work.
And I am saying, hell yes, to all of that.
Rebranding and Evolving Identity
Kara Wada, MD: And so on social media, you are going to see me switching over to immuneconfident instead of crunchyallergist because I have outgrown that that name, it will always be a nickname and I will always think fondly of it. I still have my mug with my little logo on there but this really is so much more than that. And really it's because I help women and families who are struggling with too much inflammation. Rediscover the confident, vibrant, bad ass self through simple and sustainable symptoms systems that are rooted in science and common sense. And those things that you would expect from a Midwest mom of three. They are personal, they're intrinsic to ourselves and they are paradigm shifting processes. These aren't something that you can delegate to others or that you can just fix with a supplement, a meal plan or some other cookie cutter template type program. And really, these are tested and proven both through my experiences personally, and through coaching, but my experiences in the office as well. And as a reminder, as you're listening and realize that, is Kara the right mentor for me? Is she the person that I want to follow?
What You Won't Get From Me
Kara Wada, MD: I think just as much as who I am and what I stand for, I think it's also important to share what you're not going to get from me. You aren't going to get shady endorsements or proprietary supplements or some crazy labs that your insurance won't cover that I'm going to be recommending or giving you a link to shop through.
I really aim for 100% transparency in the financial incentives that I have and things that I promote. And share those with you.
You are not going to get a one size fits all way of eating.
You are not going to get a complicated elimination diet that leaves you with less variety and diversity in your microbiome. You are not going to get anything else that is diet culture wrapped up as wellness with a bow on top. And you're also not going to get shaming. Shaming for the lifestyle that you choose, shaming for the medication that you choose to take or not to take. We are all trying the best that we can with the limited resources that we have, whether that is time, energy, money. And we instead, and I instead, I'm going to lead with curiosity and compassion instead of judgment.
So these are my ideals and obviously I'm also human, right? So I know that I will have some missteps along the way. That is part of being human. And that is part of learning to respond with self-compassion. And so if you have a problem with that, certainly I look forward to being called out.
But also I expect as I am giving others the benefit of the doubt to also be on the receiving end of that. And if not then maybe we're not a good fit.
All right. Let's hop into, the meat of today, which is how we can build these habits, what are the tips that I am sharing so that you can Become Immune Confident in 2024? And the reality is, as I've said before, these are things that are not rocket science, and I know each and every one of you listening to this is so intelligent and wise. And yet we are all human. We all have human brains and we've talked about this. Our human brain is really a lizard brain with a monkey brain with a human brain on top. And it's really hard for us to build these habits that are healing into our everyday routines. This is something that has taken me years and continuous work. To continue implementing these in my life because the reality is, things are going to throw us off our schedule's going to change our lives, evolve, our kids grow, our work changes, our health changes. We get sick. We go on a trip, all these things that make it challenging for us to stay in the routine. And it's this continuous coming back to those core things that we know are so important for our health and our healing. What are those?
Tip #1 Sleep 7-9 hours per night.
Kara Wada, MD: First and foremost, what I have realized personally, Sleep is the number one critical thing that influences my mood, my pain levels, my energy.
It is so critical for our immune system health and our pain regulation, our hunger cues to really make our sleep top, top priority. And if you are not getting great sleep, what can you do about it? You can go back to our previous two podcasts all about sleep.
We have two wonderful sleep experts we'll have those linked in the show notes. But Dr. Bhopal and Dr. Funke who talked all about the importance of sleep and some great tips on sleep management and when you should seek professional help with your sleep as well. But really aiming for seven to nine hours of good quality sleep. And this is not always easy. Sometimes we need help with this and that's okay.
All right. Number two.
Tip #2 Center your diet around vegetables, fruits, legumes/beans, nuts/seeds, whole grains, and herbs/spice
Kara Wada, MD: Centering your diet around plants, vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains, herbs and spices.
The more variety, the better. And if you're having trouble digesting some of these foods, that's when going back. And listening to some of our nutrition experts like Jenifer Tharani. Her episode on anti-inflammatory nutrition is our number one episode from the podcast. It's incredible. Going back and listening to Dr. Will Bulsiewicz and talking about fiber and how it feels our gut bugs and how we can help improve our body's ability to digest fiber. These are some really great inspirational episodes to help you refocus and understand the importance of diversity in our diets.
Another tidbit on diet is number three, keeping preservatives, emulsifiers, refined grains, and sugars and processed meats to a minimum. Go back listen to our episode called Eat Everything where are we talk about the importance of minimizing these aspects to our diet that are degrading the mucus lining in our gut that are increasing the permeability in our intestines that are resulting in increased risk of auto-immune and allergic conditions.
Tip #3 Move your body daily in ways that feel good
Kara Wada, MD: Okay. Moving on quite literally moving. To segue into the importance of moving our body and moving it in ways that feel good. So you can go back and listen to my episode with Dr. Basil or episode I'm in talking all about moving our body in the office and how we can incorporate movement into our everyday being. The thing with movement is, for so long, personally, I saw exercise as punishment, something my body needed to do to make it look good to fit into that dress or that pair of pants or that cute skirt that I love so much. But when I shifted my frame of mind in this last year to the ideas of some is better than none in regards to moving my body 5 minutes is just as worthy as 45 minutes. And the idea of how movement is medicine.
It helps me feel better, it decreases my pain especially when I'm not overdoing it. Reminding myself of this by writing it in my journal several times a week has really been helpful. I just hit 10 weeks on a streak on my Peloton. Really recommitting to moving my body in some way every day, whether it's a little bit of stretching or a quick little Pilates beginner workout or lifting some weights with my arms. Getting some variety and having a sense of playfulness, just like my kids when they're outside playing on the playground.
And trying to recapture that frame of mind from childhood when playing was so much fun. So I would encourage you to give that a try.
All right. This one might be a little bit easier. Next on our list is drinking eight glasses of water or more per day. Water helps our bodies detox through your nation with our kidneys and helps us have regular bowel movements by combining with that fiber and allowing us to get waste out. That way.
And I'm having a sip right now. As I'm thinking about it, it's extra critical for our oral health. If you want to go back to, I think it's episode three with Dr. Jillian. And talk about the importance of water with our dental health, we're going to have another upcoming episode this season, fingers crossed with another dental expert, talking all about the importance of our oral health and inflammation and our immune system health. So drinking water, it's critical.
If you're having trouble switching to drinking water, a few tips, I have found really helpful. One is thinking about flavoring the water with a couple of slices of cucumber or a few berries or lemon lime slice. You also can put some different herbs sense of some mint leaves are really delightful.
And then the other thing that I have found really helpful is getting a water bottle with a straw. I know folks love their Stanleys. I love my Owala. It helps me gulp water more, and I tend to drink more when I am gulping, as opposed to just sipping. So that's another food for thought something to try.
I also do better with water that is room temperature. I know some folks love their ice water and that's great too. Whatever helps you to hydrate. Two thumbs up.
Tip #4 Avoiding Unnecessary Toxins
Kara Wada, MD: Next on our list is avoiding unnecessary toxins in the air we breathe and what we put on our skin. So this includes things like the term fragrance, which we have talked all about with Dr. Leonardo back in, oh goodness, one of our very first episodes and the nontoxic without the nonsense series. I also talked with Dr. Jenna all about the importance in our health and healing and minimizing our exposure to things like fragrance things in candles, smoke, alcohol plastics, especially plastics in the microwave.
These are all things that we know have physiologic effects that are irritating, that are allergens both in skin and breathing. Minimizing our exposure to those is really important as we're thinking about, especially those of us with immune systems that are already prone to misbehaving.
Tip #5 Consider adding omega 3, vitamin D & curcumin
Kara Wada, MD: If you've been following me for a while, I am not one to promote using a bunch of supplements or other things outside of our diet and our lifestyle. There are a few things you may consider in discussing with your healthcare team, your physician, your nurse practitioner, your PA, whoever is on your healthcare team. They do have some pretty good science behind them when we think about anti-inflammatory living. Now here's the caveat, each of these things, although they are considered somewhat natural, right? They still have physiologic or body consequences when we take them. If you want to hear all about my foray into a superfood, that was not so super, we will link to that episode too. Ended up with a big needle in my liver and a piece of my liver at the National Institutes of Health. Yep, don't encourage you to do that. But some things generally have a pretty safe track record are things like taking Omega-3 supplements, which typically known as fish oil, but there are also some plant-based options. Vitamin D most of us are deficient. And another one to consider is curcumin or the substance from tumeric that's active. Now each of these has some pros and cons, has potential side effects. Again, talk with your care team, but these are things to consider, especially if you are someone who is dealing with too much inflammation.
All right. Now.
Tip #6 Engaging in a Daily Mindfulness Practice
Kara Wada, MD: I have two left on our Immune Confidence Tips for 2024.
And honestly, I think these. Maybe just as important, if not more important than the first series of these The first is engaging in a daily mindfulness practice whether this is a time of journaling or prayer or meditation. We're just sitting with yourself and rusting. For 10, 20 minutes once a day. I urge you to carve out this time, this mandatory me time. Just for you and your mind.
Following your breath. Following your heart, listening to your heartbeat. Feeling your chest or belly rise as you're breathing. This can be so centering and spiritual in many ways. Even if you're religious or not. Can be really helpful at regulating our nervous system, allowing our brains to get a workout.
We spend so much of our time in where we consider the left side of our brain, the logical side of our brain, the side that becomes so strong through our education system and our current capitalist work. Life and when we spend time in this mindfulness state, in this quiet, reflective state of being, we are working out the other side of our brain. The side that is expansive that has empathy that can get curious. This whole other side of us that doesn't get explored nearly as much in our modern, everyday living. As it would have in centuries and millennia past. And when we don't spend time doing this, we are missing out on this huge, amazing part of who we are down to our core. If you do nothing else. This year, I would encourage you to just carve out whether it is five minutes to start. We're 10 minutes to start every day. There currently is a 30 day challenge going over on Insight Timer.
It's a free app. There's a paid option, but you don't need it. You can do the free that's all I used. 10 minutes a day over all of January, really just helping you carve out this time to spend
in this other world within you.
Tip #7Put down the screens to make room for more meaningful moments with those you love
Kara Wada, MD: Similar to this and in a safe, in a similar vein. The last and final Immune Confidence Tip I have for you in 2024 is to put down the screens, turn off the screens and make room for more meaningful moments with those you love.
Your partner, your children, your best friend. You. Whoever that may be. We can so easily, myself included, fall into this Dopamine hitting amazingness that is in this computer, in our pocket, in our phones or on our laptops, through social media or reading the headlines, doing puzzles or games what have you.
But as humans, we are a social species. We heal, especially heal trauma through human to human connection. Through sharing shared experiences with one another. From physical touch. All these things are so important.
One thing that I did this last six months that, I slip up from time to time, but I'm still coming back to it, is plugging my phone in. I have to plug it in in the kitchen before I go up to bedtime, otherwise I tend to fall into bad habits. And then I don't touch it again until the next morning when I come downstairs to do my morning meditation. This is what has worked for me. I tried plugging it in the bathroom and I would grab it in the middle of the night. The pull of these devices and the dopamine hit that our lizard brains get from them is profound and it takes us away from those meaningful moments that we have with those humans in our lives. That really are our reasons for being right. Those that we love and those communities that we are a part of.
I realize this is a lot. And as I said, none of this probably comes as a surprise to you. Each and every one of you, as I've said, and I know deep in my heart and my being, is so smart. And knows this stuff. But knowing is not doing. And if you are looking for support, You realize that 2024 is the year that you are going to gain. Deep understanding of your body. You're going to learn to trust your ability to navigate. The uncertainties that come along with living with a condition that causes too much inflammation. And you're going to build a lifestyle.
Joining the Becoming Immune Confident Program
Kara Wada, MD: Habits that are healing that support and nourish your immune system and your whole body and being, I would love to help guide you on that journey. There are several ways we can connect that we can work together. If you are interested in joining our becoming immune confident jumpstart, we have a new group that is enrolling.
Now this is our 12 week program. It's a group program. We meet twice a month. There are lessons to go through on your own time.
Deep, meaningful work, real self-care kind of work that is going to help you for today, tomorrow, the longterm. Remember, these are simple, sustainable, science supported and practical from what you would expect from a mom of three. And we would love to welcome you to the community within the Becoming Immune Confidence space. If you want more information on that, we're going to link to that for enrollment.
Additionally, we have two free Facebook groups.
One for those who are dealing with Sjogren's. It is the Success with Sjogren's Sisterhood. We will link to that. We also have free Becoming Immune Confident group. Within that, we will send you when you join those groups, we will send you a great little jumpstart tool to get, going on some of these sustainable changes within your life. And if you're thinking, goodness, I am someone who really likes to hit the ground running. I would love to work with with you one-on-one, more of that VIP experience. You can click on drkarawada.com click work with me and get scheduled through there for a session with me there.
Stay Tuned for the FREE Becoming Immune Confidence Starter Pack
Kara Wada, MD: I look forward to helping you helping guide you in Becoming Immune Confident. And I would ask you stay tune because the team has been working super hard on an amazing gift for all of our listeners as part of our 100th episode celebration and the celebration of going into our third year of the podcast. They've been putting together the Becoming Immune Confidence Starter Pack. This is an amazing free course that we have put together from our highlight episodes over the last two years, it includes thought problems and questions and next steps things to help you really get started in this journey and this is going to pair so, so nicely for those of you who are going to join us. The jumpstart program. So stay tuned for announcements on when this is ready.
We cannot wait to share it with you. And we hope that you will share it with all of your friends as well. I hope you have an incredible week and I can't wait to talk with you next week. Take care.
If you are loving this mix of self discovery and science found here on the Becoming Immune Confident Podcast, I'd love to invite you to sign up for my email list. Hop over to drkarawada.com and hit subscribe to ensure you don't miss out on any insights into new immune system science or how we can harness healing through our daily habits.
Are you ready to feel confident, energized, and more like that BA that you used to be? Here's how we can work together. Jenifer, an Auto immune Dietician and I, Board Certified Immunologist I've put together the one and only
Becoming Immune Confident Comprehensive Course Coaching and Community Membership.
What we do is we help women with misbehaving immune systems, reclaim control over their health while minimizing fatigue, fog, and pain, all caused from too much inflammation. So, if you are ready to have confidence and clarity around your immune system health, and a sense of certainty, knowing that you are doing the best for your health and the health of your family, hop over to immuneconfident.com for details on how we can work together. We can't wait to connect.
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