Do You Have Sickness Behavior?

by
Dr. Ariel Thorpe

If you’ve been under the weather recently, you may have noticed some fatigue and lack of motivation associated with the illness. This “sickness behavior” is your body’s intelligent way to force you to direct your energy toward healing rather than going about day to day life. If we don’t shift our short-term focus toward healing, we prolong the healing time and the underlying fatigue may become chronic.

The cause of this fatigue can be a result of altered brain function due to a cascade of neurotransmitters, ultimately ending in inflammation. Systemic chronic inflammation is the precursor to many diseases including diabetes, kidney disease, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. These outcomes can be avoided with lifestyle decisions to keep inflammation at bay. So, if it feels like an illness has been hanging on for a while, what’s the best plan of action to efficiently reduce the inflammation and get back to 100%?

Start with getting enough nutrients into your body. If you are unsure about your diet, you can bolster your anti-inflammatory nutrition with supplements while you start adding healthy foods to your meals. Ask your healthcare provider before starting any supplementation, as the therapeutic levels may be significantly higher than the recommended daily intake.

Here are some top anti-inflammatory nutrients and where you can find them in nature:

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids are in fish like salmon, anchovies, and sardines. Flax seed oil is one of the best vegetarian options.
  2. Vitamin A is in liver, sweet potato, carrots, and spinach.
  3. Vitamin C is in citrus fruits, peppers, berries, and broccoli.
  4. Zinc is in oysters, red meat, crab and lobster. Baked beans and pumpkin seeds are good options for vegetarians, but still relatively low in zinc, so supplementation may be necessary.
  5. Vitamin D is produced by the body after sun exposure. If you can’t get outdoors with plenty of exposed skin, a supplement is the best option. (For light-skinned people, think shorts and t-shirt and enough sunlight to start to see some red or tan color on your skin. If you’re dark-skinned, the color test may not give you adequate feedback. Either way, a blood test will give you the most accurate reading of vitamin D levels.)
  6. Fibre-rich foods include raspberries, celery, carrots, pears, peas, and apples.

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