As a Nutrition Coach, I guide and support clients in a way that encourages the body to do the work of being well. Essentially I am a teacher with a wish to share knowledge of how food and lifestyle choices affect your state of wellness and how to make them work to your advantage. Sometimes our choices affect us in positive ways other times in negative ways. Too often we see people go down a path of ill health because they do not have a wellness plan in place.
Maintaining, or improving health does not have to be complicated so the purpose of my talks/articles are to get you not only thinking about your health but to help you take action.
Colds, flu, sore throat or strep, sinus infections, chest infections – sound all too familiar?
Wise protocols such as avoiding crowded areas, covering your mouth when coughing, sneezing, washing hands regularly may help to stop you picking up bugs, but really…
It all begins with a strong immune system.
- And this begins in-vitro with the health of your parents and as a newborn, through breast feeding and the passing on of antibodies.
- If you have symptoms such as allergies, recurrent or frequent infections, chronic fatigue, herpes outbreaks, auto-immune disease, inflammatory disorders (eczema, psoriasis), dysbiosis (yeast overgrowth, fungal infection or parasites) these are signs that your Immune system is under duress.
What makes up your Immune system?
- Primarily your white blood cells WBC and the Lymphatic system which includes nodes, vessels and organs that collect, transport and generate defender cells.
Organs include; Bone marrow -where B lymphocytes are made, responsible for producing antibodies.
Thymus –where T lymphocytes are produced, these can kill cells infected with viruses and activate other immune cells.
Spleen – the largest organ, clears cellular debris and is a blood reservoir
GALT – gut assoc. lymphatic tissue – tonsils, adenoids, appendix, Peyers patches in the small intestine. (this makes up approx 70% of Immune System)
How do we ensure a strong Immune System?
- Feed your body what it NEEDS, (not wants) – Provide the raw materials it needs to nurture, repair and fuel the body – it relies on quality nutrients to function optimally including the Immune system. Deficiencies of even one or two nutrients can impair its protective ability.
– Avoid processed, refined, artificial and overcooked foods, they are lacking in balanced nutrients and natural enzymes
– Limit caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats
– Eat plenty of whole, clean, unaltered foods
– raw, lightly steamed or sautéed
– Include health promoting EFA’s
– Ensure a balanced amount of protein intake from both animal and vegetable sources –quality is important. Protein is made of Amino acids, and these are essential for the synthesis of antibodies, (as well as enzymes and hormones). Sufficient enzymes for breakdown (+Zn)
– Holiday season! Don’t over-eat, particularly over cooked/ processed foods. Lots of enzymes and energy is required to digest large, heavy meals. WBC’s are enzyme rich so they will step in when demand is high, but this reduces the availability of these defenders to fight bacteria and pathogens.
- Support the beneficial flora in your gut.
– These guys have a symbiotic relationship with us – we support them, they support us, not only aiding digestion, but defending against the Nasties.
– Unlike the bad flora, who are more parasitic in nature, taking from our bodies, and leaving behind their waste products – toxins that must then be neutralized and eliminated (more energy consumption)
– Consuming nutrient dense foods, as in points already mentioned support better populations of the good guys.
– The addition of ‘live foods’ bolsters their numbers even more – fermented foods such as sauerkraut, organic miso, fermented soy, kefir, Kombuca (Rise tea), yogurt and sprouts.
– Avoiding refined foods (excess simple carbohydrates) and particularly sugars provides less of what the bad guys love to feed on.
- Be aware of the effects of some drugs
– Some directly inhibit immune function – immuno-suppressants, for AI diseases, medications for cancer treatment
– Antibiotics (as the word means anti – life) have their place for serious bacterial infections (not for viruses) but they also destroy the beneficial flora – this compromises the strength of your Immune system.
– Anti-bacterial soaps contain anti-microbials that can penetrate the skin and may not be so discerning between good and bad. Our largest organ – the skin is also a line of defense – over washing removes natural oils that help provide a natural barrier.
- Limit exposure to toxins. This is my #1 step to building better health
– Avoid food additives, preservatives, pesticides, altered foods, fragrances, pollution, cosmetics and personal products with heavy metals, petroleum, phthalates, parabens etc. These overburden the liver and some may affect the digestive tract creating an immune response which over time, depletes the system.
– Supporting the liver is therefore critical – foods containing chlorophyll or sulfur – greens, cruciferous, onions, garlic, lemon, beets, etc, and limiting alcohol are all beneficial along with staying well hydrated and allowing appropriate time for the detoxification process.
- Get regular exercise.
– Low to moderate activity is beneficial in so many ways – circulation, muscles and especially for the lymphatic system which does not have it’s own ‘pumping’ system.
– Repeated over-exertion causes tissue damage and a pro-inflammatory situation and therefore an immune response.
- Find ways to manage stress.
– Stress can upset normal digestive function – poor digestion can cause intestinal damage and affect the absorption of nutrients. (Celiac and IBD are extreme examples) The problem is two-fold – damage creates an immune response and deficiencies occur with poor absorption – micro-nutrients that are essential to a healthy glandular and immune system
- Maintain good sleep protocol
– Rest is the best medicine, ensure suitable quantity, and good quality.
What role do Free Radicals play and how do antioxidants help?
- Free radicals are the by-products of metabolism. They are electrically charged molecules that attack and damage cells. This of course causes an immune response. This attack is known as oxidative stress and shows itself through poor cardiovascular health, joint degeneration, muscle weakness and accelerated aging and ultimately over time weakens the immune system.
– If allowed to go unchecked auto-immune disease may also occur.
– Following all of the mentioned recommendations will prevent this from happening.
– Supplying Anti-oxidants helps prevent damage by FR. – dietary sources, plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains provide Beta Carotene, vitamin C and E while minerals such as zinc and selenium from nuts/seeds, cacao beans, also play a role.
– Scientific studies have found that phytonutrients in foods – the elements that provide colour, flavor and smell to foods also have potent antioxidant properties. Berries are a good example, especially blueberries.
– Once again balance is essential and indiscriminate ‘popping’ of supplements can be counter productive.
– Selenium Essential trace min. best source Brazil nuts, fish, meat, eggs, whole grains, other nuts. Deficiency is associated with reduced immune cell counts so it is important in reducing disease progression. It aids in the absorption of iodine (thyroid), for cancer prevention, reduces incidence of Heart Disease by limiting oxidation of LDL. Best from foods, only supplement short term – excess = side-effects
- Vitamin D – Study by Donald W. Miller, Jr M.D.
– A fat soluble, steroid hormone, Vitamin D is involved in the expression of 200+ genes and the proteins they produce. – some involved as mediators that regulate the immune system. Research shows a link with influenza – occurring in the winter months with vitamin D deficiencies. D expressed genes instruct macrophages (immune system defenders) to make antimicrobial peptides that will attack and destroy influenza virus particles. Other D-expressed genes control the response to avoid over-reaction. Living above latitude 35 degrees North means we are unable to synthesize D from sunlight from Oct to April. Recommended Daily Amounts are insufficient as are ‘fortified’ foods. Oily fish contain some D.
Take D3 1000 – 5000 iu daily Skin can make 20,000 IU in 20 min. down south
Recipe makes 5 – 16 oz jars
Fall is the time to take advantage of the abundance of locally grown tomatoes, rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that help keep you healthy.
Soak 12 to 15 medium to large tomatoes in boiled water to remove skins
Chop and Saute 2 large onions
4 large cloves of garlic
in a large pan with 1 tablespoon of butter
Chop (remove excess seeds) 10 cups of peeled tomatoes (preferably fresh farmers market organic) add to the pan along with;
2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes
2 tsps sea salt
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp organic garlic powder
½ tsp Tabasco sauce
2 heaping tblsps brown sugar
2 tblsp dried oregano
Simmer for 1.5 hours to reduce
In the last 5 minutes of cooking add;
Handful of chopped fresh basil
Splash of Apple cider vinegar
If you prefer it thicker, dissolve 2 tblsp tapioca starch in water and stir in and simmer a few minutes.
Pour into hot mason jars (250 oven, 10 minutes, lids too), loosely cap, return to oven for ½ hour.
Tighten caps so they seal as they cool.
Try this for a wholesome desert – or breakfast! Chia is a seed that is rich in minerals and omega 3, along with soluble fiber which makes it a pudding-like consistency
Pour into a blender, or use a deep container with hand blender
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1-2 teaspoons pure vanilla
or halve with 1 cup 100% pure orange juice
1 heaping tablespoon of pure cocoa powder (or more ;-))
1 – 2 tablespoons of local maple syrup or liquid honey
Blend on low.
Pour into a bowl and add ½ cup of Chia seeds, stir well.
Refridgerate, allow to sit a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.
Stir several times with a whisk to avoid lumping.
Top with berries, nuts or coconut flakes or with the orange version, tangerine pieces.
Applesauce and xanthan gum make these moist and light.
Melt 1/4 cup coconut oil
Add 1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp sea salt
Blend to make 2 cups
1/4 cup oat bran, 1/2 cup ground oatmeal
1/2 cup brown rice, 3/4 c. white rice flours
Add 1 ½ cup grated carrot Mix all ingredients well.
3 tsp baking powder Add enough water to make
1-2 tsp ginger, 2 tsp cinnamon doughy consistency. Put in
1 tsp xanthan gum greased muffin tin and bake
1/2 cup of raisins, currants OR walnuts at 400 degrees, 15 – 20 minutes.
Classic rice and beans make a complete protein vegetarian dish.
Thoroughly rinse and cook one cup of white rice
in just enough water to cover, OR if using brown
rice, cover with 1” of water. Cool
Rinse until all foam is gone, 1 can of bean medley
Fine shred 1 carrot
Chop 1 stalk washed celery
¼ cup spring onion
Handful of parsley
Toss ingredients with a dressing of;
¼ cup virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic crushed
1 ½ tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon
Sprinkle with torn basil leaves
An excellent combination to keep you warm and ward off winter germs.
Chop 12 medium cloves of garlic, 1 cup of celery and some leaves.
Saute for 10 minutes in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
Add to the pot;
1 medium, peeled & cubed baking potato
3 cups of home-made chicken or vegetable stock
1 ½ cups water
¼ teaspoon sea salt, ground black pepper
Simmer 15 to 20 minutes until potato is soft.
Puree with a hand mixer or in a blender.
Add ½ cup of 10% cream and gently reheat.
Serve with finely chopped dill, parsley or young celery leaves.
Winter squash and its rich source of beta carotene is not just for pie!
Blend together the following dry ingredients; (gluten reduced version)
½ cup white flour, ½ cup whole wheat, ¾ cup brown rice flour, ¼ cup oat bran
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp xanthan gum, pinch of sea salt
½ tsp baking soda, 2 tsp baking powder
1 tblsp chopped fresh sage
2 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground clove
Using your fingers, blend into the dry ingredients ¼ cup of butter or coconut oil, or a combination of.
In a cup beat 1 egg. Add ¾ of this to the mix along with 1 cup of cooked pumpkin,
or for a sweeter flavor, butternut squash.
Mix with a fork, then by hand to form a ball of dough.
Turn onto a floured surface and knead to a smooth consistency.
Flatten dough to about a 1” thick circle on baking parchment
and place on a cookie sheet. Score surface into 8 portions.
Add a little milk to the remaining egg and brush over the top
Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden and the
center is cooked through.
Serve warm with organic cinnamon applesauce.
Dark berries are rich in nutrients and antioxidants.
Wash and stem 1 cup of black currants,
1 cup of blueberries or black raspberries.
Simmer on medium/low in ½ cup of water
until fruit is softened, mash.
Add 2 tblsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp brown sugar
or more to taste. Heat on low 15 minutes to thicken.
Compotes are fruit sauces and can be used
Drizzled over pancakes, ice-cream or yoghurt.
Summer at it’s best! Packed with flavor and loaded with vitamins.
3-4 heritage tomatoes (mixed colours)
½ cup sweet pepper
½ cup sweet onion
¼ cup celery
¼ cup fresh basil, oregano &/or cilantro
Sea salt and pepper to taste
To spice it up you may add 1 chopped jalapeno
Spoon onto ¾” slices of wholegrain artisan bread
Sprinkle with finely grated parmesan or asiago cheese
Serve fresh or lightly oven grilled.