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Nutritional Wellness

I truly believe that HOW you eat is equally as important as WHAT you eat. Food serves many roles beyond satiation of physical hunger and nourishment. It defines cultures, customs and is a part of our daily rituals. It is an integral part of many religious ceremonies with spiritual significance that invokes many emotions. There is no greater way to connect to the physical world around you than to eat it! We all have emotional connections with food, which for some can be a challenge, others a comfort. The emotional component to eating is a good one, as long as it is kept in a healthy balance that nourishes the body as well as the soul.

With the upcoming holidays, especially Thanksgiving where we celebrate the first harvest of those who came to the new world, it is a good time to re-examine the HOW in which we eat. When you eat mindfully, you incorporate all of your senses, taking time to look at the colorful presentation, perhaps you take a few seconds to say some words of thanksgiving, reflecting on all that was involved in bringing the food and drink to the table. You smell the sweet and savory aromas, feel the textures on the tongue and the sensations it creates in the mouth and of course the tastes of the various flavors. When you eat, only eat or sit around with friends and family (hopefully in a relaxed setting). Turn off the TV, log out of email and close the newspaper. This is a foreign concept for all of us who are constantly encouraged to multi task through out the day!

I spend so much time talking to people about WHAT to eat, but I am finding that addressing the HOW can be very powerful in assisting people to make positive dietary changes. However, slowing down can be an especially difficult for some, me included. I grew up in a big family where my siblings and I raced through dinner if we wanted to get seconds! In our fast paced society where many work through the lunch hour and are always on the go, being fully present to the food in front of us is a real challenge. I encourage people to continually work at integrating this into their daily lives and coming back to being mindful when they find themselves throwing down food without much thought or chewing! The more one practices, the easier it becomes to slow down and make time for mindful eating. Besides the physical benefits of better digestion and decreasing the risk of overeating, mindfulness satisfies us beyond the physical hunger but nourishes the mind and soul as food should. So no matter what you choose to eat this holiday season, remember to sit down, take a few slow deep breathes and savor every bite!

Remember, let food be your medicine!

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially warmer fluids. With the dryer air inside and out, winter can be particularly challenging to stay hydrated! Consuming adequate fluids supports all your bodies’ functions including the immune system. Make soups and broths (from scratch with fresh vegetables is always best) and have them throughout the week. Drink herbal teas like ginger and echinacea daily. Keep a bottle of filtered water with you at all times. Avoid concentrated fruit juices and sweetened beverages, as the sugar content is harmful for the immune system. If you do drink juice, dilute it with 2/3rds water!
  • Try a daily saline flush. Along with staying hydrated, flushing your sinuses with mild salt water helps to keep mucous membranes moist which protects you from microbes. You can use a neti pot, or easy to carry plastic bottles that come with saline packets to take with you when traveling or even at the office!
  • Avoid simple sugars as much as possible! This includes those sweet treats and desserts but also the white flour and refined grain products that turn into sugar quickly. Studies have shown that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for hours after ingested.
  • Have protein with each meal. Proteins are the building blocks of the body and this includes your immune and detoxification systems. Organic, clean and lean animal protein as well as plant based (legumes, nuts/seeds) proteins are important to get with each meal and snack.
  • Add garlic, onions, ginger and lots of spices (oregano, turmeric) to your meals! Add these to your soups and vegetable dishes, as well as bean dips and sauces. Garlic and onions offer wide spectrum antimicrobial properties.
  • Eat multiple servings of colorful fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C, A and phytonutrients that supports the immune system. Choose more leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes and squashes. Aim for 3-4 servings of fruits and 5 + servings of vegetables!
  • Get sufficient sleep! We all know sleep restores and heals the body. Without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible! Get in a better rhythm and head to bed earlier on those dark winter nights. Aim for 7-8 hours a night. Incorporating various relaxation and breathing techniques throughout the day to help with stress and allow the mind to rest is also very helpful!
  • Get regular exercise: Mild to moderate exercise (for approximately 30-45 minutes) helps boost immune system. Avoid overexertion such as training for endurance events when you are feeling run down. This will lower your immune defenses .

Supplements for Immune Support:

  • Vitamin D3: Adequate vitamin D status is critical for optimal immune function and this cannot be achieved without supplementation during the winter months. It is best to get your levels of 25 OH vitamin D checked for accurate dosing. The ideal blood level is 50-75 ng/dl. Many need 5,000 IU or more of vitamin D3 a day in the winter. Start with 2,000 IU for adults, 1,000 IU for children.
  • Buffered Vitamin C: The role of vitamin C in supporting the immune system has long been known. Take 500-1,000mg through out the day with meals and snacks.
  • Zinc citrate: You can take an additional supplement or consume more foods high in this powerful immune supporting nutrient. Oysters and pumpkin seeds are the best food sources.
  • Probiotics: A healthy gut flora supports a healthy gut, a major barrier against pathogens and integral to the immune system. Look for brands that offer several species of good bacteria and contain at least 5-10 billion organisms per capsule.
  • Fish Oil (Artic Cod Liver Oil): This old time remedy for good health and robust immunity still stands true! This cod liver oil contains additional vitamin A and D for added immune protection.
  • 1-3, 1-6 Beta Glucans: Much research has shown that these compounds up regulate the function of the innate immune system. This part of your immune system is the first line of defense against viruses and bacteria. It helps your white blood cells bind to and kill viruses and bacteria. Patients with autoimmune diseases should not take this.
  • Natural Anti-viral/Anti-bacterial Herbs: Many herbs have broad spectrum antimicrobial effects or immune enhancing effects. Formulas contain different immune boosters such as astragalus, echinacea, green Tea Extract, elderberry, andrographis, goldenseal, monolaurin, various immune enhancing mushrooms, and beta 1, 3 glucan.
  • Cordyceps and Mushrooms Extracts: These provide immune supporting properties.

Immune Support for Kids:

  • Vitamin D: it is always best to get your child’s vitamin D levels checked first before supplementing. Most children do well with 1,000IU /day. Liquid and capsule forms are both available.
  • Fish Oil: (Arctic Cod Liver Oil): This old time remedy for good health and robust immunity still stands true! Cod liver oil contains additional vitamin A and D for added immune protection. Many companies sell small capsules and flavored liquids for easy administration to children.
  • Multi-vitamin/mineral: is a good way to cover the basics and ensure optimal nutrient intake. Look for brands that supply optimal levels of nutrients for children and are free of artificial colorings and sweeteners.
  • Probiotics: A healthy gut flora supports a healthy gut, a major barrier against pathogens is critical for normal immune function. Look for brands that offer several species of good bacteria and contain at least 5-15 billion organisms per capsule. There are companies that tailor probiotics to young children that are more strain specific and are in powder form that can be mixed into beverages and room temperature foods.
  • Vitamin C: The role of vitamin C in supporting the immune system has long been known. Approximately 500 mg of buffered ascorbic acid in powder or capsule, 1-3 times a day with meals is sufficient for most children.
  • Zinc: in the form of citrate orally or gluconate in a lozenge helps to ensure children are getting enough of this immune supporting mineral. Liquid forms are often not very palatable for small children but capsules can be consumed by older kids. 15 milligrams daily or every other day, taken with food.
  • Natural Anti-viral/Anti-bacterial Herbs: Many herbs have broad-spectrum antimicrobial effects or immune enhancing effects. Formulas contain different immune boosters such as astragalus, echinacea, green tea extract, elderberry, andrographis, goldenseal, monolaurin, various immune enhancing mushrooms, and beta 1, 3 glucan. There are immune supporting tinctures with these ingredients that provide and easy way for children to take these.

Nature's Ibuprofen
Pain Relief from Within!

The majority of today's chronic health conditions and the aches and pains that so many of us suffer from have one common cause, INFLAMMATION! Fortunately, Nature has provided us with some of the best ways to reduce chronic inflammation so we can feel better and live more productive lives.

The inflammatory cascade is an important part of how the body fights infection and heals injury. However, if the process isn't down regulated at some point, acute becomes chronic and that's not good! Any condition ending in -itis indicates and inflammatory condition such as arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis and gastritis. Hypertension, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, psoriasis, lupus, IBS, chronic back and neck pain, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and aging are also related to a pro-inflammatory state. The causes of chronic inflammation are multiple and for many result from a combination of nutritional imbalances, environmental toxins, chronic stress and pathogens. What you eat, breath, absorb and how you think and feel, all play a critical role in reducing and preventing inflammation.

Your diet can either contribute to inflammation or calm it down. Common Pro-Inflammatory Foods include:

  • "Bad Fats": Trans Fatty Acids /Hydrogenated oils (found in many packaged snack products and fried fast foods).
  • Refined Sugars, synthetic and artificial sweeteners (like high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, saccharin), and "white" or highly refined flours
  • Processed Meats and meat products preserved with synthetic or artificial preservatives like sodium nitrates or nitrites and were factory farmed.
  • Red Meat (grass fed beef, bison and lamb is less inflammatory because the fat content is different. Look for these in your local health food store).

Common Anti-Inflammatory Foods are what I refer to as Nature's Ibuprofen. The one's that top the list are:

  • Organic Berries and all fruits and vegetables because they contain various photochemicals like antioxidants (vitamins C, E, beta-carotene and various minerals), bioflavonoids (like quercitin, limonene, hesperidin), and fiber which is needed for daily elimination of waste and support the healthy balance of the micro flora of the digestive tract. Grown women should aim for at least 7 servings a day and men should get 9. A serving is between ½ - 1 cup. The more COLORS the better!
  • Herbs and spices are showing some very promising research in reducing inflammation and are a culinary delight! They add flavor and powerful anti-inflammatory punch to your dishes!
  • Turmeric (contains curcumin)
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Green tea
  • Ginger
  • Rosemary
  • Holy Basil

Ward, Maggie. “Mindful Eating for the Holidays.” The UltraWellness Center. 2008.
http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/Tips.aspx
8 Dec. 2009

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