The Foundations of Health and Immunity
I am sure you are familiar with the virus prevention checklist: washing your hands well, not touching your face and socially distancing, etc. All of this is important and valuable however, in my opinion, there has not been enough emphasis placed on prevention and how to focus on some of the foundations of health and immunity… enter NUTRITION AND LIFESTYLE CHOICES.
“The greatest single influence of whether you develop a bad chronic disease or die prematurely is your diet quality.” ~ Dr. David Katz, MD.
“I am being asked by clients, ‘What should I be doing to stay healthy and support my immune system and do I need to be fearful of what is coming?’ I do not have all the answers by any means,” he said. “I continue to read and follow the research and hope this blog below empowers you to that you CAN and MUST take action to stay healthy throughout this coming fall and winter.”
Immunity as a priority
During a pandemic, so much feels beyond our control. When it comes to immunity though, there is a great deal of opportunity to take back some control and help ward off illness. Here are some tips to help support your immunity:
1. Choose foods as close to their raw and natural state as possible — avoiding processed foods whenever possible.
2. Choose lots of colours and loads of colourful vegetables and a couple of fruit servings daily. Reduce meat, dairy, wheat, sugars and processed and packaged products which can be inflammatory.
3. Choose good fiber sources such as apples, raspberries, chia seeds, flax seeds and lentils /legumes which can help the body to eliminate toxins by binding with the harmful substances and showing them the way out.
4. Stay hydrated! Besides being critical for overall health, water helps to flush toxins out of the blood and liver. Try herbal teas (green tea, white tea ) or cucumber and mint infused filtered water if you prefer it flavoured.
5. Choose detoxifying foods such as beets, asparagus, artichokes, garlic and onions. Garlic and onions are some of the best natural infection fighters. Aim for lots of nutrient dense vegetable soups containing cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower and bone and mineral broths.
6. Look for antioxidant rich foods which help to protect your body against degenerative diseases and contribute to longevity. The top antioxidant vegetables include broccoli, spinach, kale, green beans, beets, carrots, squash, asparagus, peppers and artichokes. The top antioxidant fruit are blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, apples, and pears.
7. Favour organic when possible, referencing the EWG Dirty/Clean dozen. Sneak more nutrients into your food choices: develop a green smoothie drink; add leafy greens, tomato and sprouts to sandwiches, choose lettuce wraps, grate carrots and celery into tuna or chicken salad; puree soups; make zucchini muffins; add spinach or beet to a dip and use vegetables for dipping. Try one new vegetable in your salad each week, and add guacamole (healthy fat) as a dip or side dish.
1. Sleeping is the time when the body heals best, making 7-8 hours of good rest really important.
2. Practice stress reduction since stress elevates cortisol is connected to decreased immunity and an increase in the production of disease-causing free radicals. Check out these apps: Calm, Ten Percent Happier, and Headspace.
3. Exercise regularly to increase oxygen and circulation, helping move toxins though the lymphatic system. Perspiring and sweating itself helps to rid the body of toxins so saunas may also helpful. Include both cardio and strength or resistance training.
4. Limit toxic load by reducing alcohol and substance abuse as well as reducing/eliminating tobacco use.
5. Remember to continue to practice correct hand washing with soap for 20 seconds or the length of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”. Alternatively use alcohol gel when hand washing is not available. Rub the sanitizer into the hands until they are dry. And finally, cough or sneeze into the inner side of the elbow avoiding contact with eyes, nose and mouth is always advised.
6. Practice gratitude and mindfulness – start with 10 minutes daily (I have initiated this practice), call a friend, go for a walk in nature and practice deep breathing.
Your health practitioner can help you determine which, if any, supplements would be helpful for your particular situation. Each protocol needs to be individualized
The following represents a partial list for consideration.
1. Omega 3 fatty acids are needed for the integrity of cell membranes.
2. Probiotics replenish and maintain the “good” bacteria that work in the gut and fight pathogenic infections and are particularly important during and after antibiotic use.
3. Vitamin D3 is a potent immune system booster available through sun exposure or supplementation.
4. Antioxidants are vitamins A, C, E plus the minerals, selenium and zinc. As mentioned previously, they are readily available in many foods.
5. Antivirals may stimulate the immune system. Effective sources include garlic, onion, turmeric, ginger and other herbs.
Marsha Fenwick, C.N.P. R.R.T.
Marsha is not your typical nutritionist. She began her career 20 years ago as a Registered Respiratory Therapist. Later, she earned her certifications as a Registered Nutritional Consultant Practitioner, Certified Nutritional Practitioner, and Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner. Marsha is also a Certified Cancer Coach. Her clinical practice specializes in: sustainable healthy weight loss, digestive health, women's hormones, diabetes, heart health, and cancer prevention and recovery. For more information and to book a FREE 15 minute consultation go to www.marshafenwicknutrition.com