When something tastes this good and is this good for you, how can you resist? Well, on a cool and wintry day I cannot, and will not. Drink up let these hot cacao elixirs melt your heart and your soul!
Cacao is loaded with health promoting flavonoids and polyphenols that are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It is also a great source of magnesium which is awesome for us ladies and plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body (enzymes are how things get done, kind of like a mom, IMPORTANT).
Since I love foods that promote health but also love delicious tasting food that nourishes not only my body but my soul too, I give you my 3 favorite ways to enjoy a hot cacao elixir.
Note- Cocoa powder is usually highly processed and is often alkalized, which reduces the amount of antioxidants. Raw cacao is high in antioxidants and has many more beneficial nutrients, so stick with cacao.
Note- These drinks taste wonderful anytime but I am convinced they taste best at 3pm or after any outdoor snowy adventure, rosy cheeks and all. You choose what’s true for you.
Recipe number one and my go to when I am at home (makes 1 cup)-
1 favorite mug of choice
1 tablespoon raw organic cacao powder
1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
8 ounces of hot water
1 tablespoon of coconut milk (from the can not carton)
15 drops of stevia (adjust according to taste. You can also add a 1 tsp of coconut sugar depending on where you stand with sugars. I love it with stevia and my blood sugar and hormones do too)
Mix all together and stir with whisk or fork.
Bonus variations- Sometimes I put in a few drops of peppermint extract, other times I put in a dash of cayenne powder to heat things up. Both are YMMMMMM good What is your favorite variation of this one?
Recipe number 2 (makes 2 cups)
2 cups of unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons cacao powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 3/4 ounce dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
Add almond milk to a saucepan and heat it over medium-low heat. Once it is warmed through (not boiling), add the cacao powder, maple syrup and dark chocolate. Whisk well to combine. Continue to whisk until all ingredients are evenly distributed and it has reached your preferred temperature. Taste, and add more maple syrup if needed. Divide into mugs and enjoy!
Recipe number 3 (not really a recipe as these are pre-made but so yummy and clean/quick/easy version). I have this at my office
1 mug of hot water with either (I have no affiliation with any of these, I just love them for a quick delicious cup of hot cacao). Some of them have a bit of sweet in them but they all have great, high quality, health promoting ingredients and taste delish.
1 package of Four Sigmatic Mushroom Cacao Mix
1 scoop Kos Holy Cacao
1 scoop Laird Superfood Hot Chocolate Mix
Enjoy and let me know which one is your favorite! Tag @mountainrebalance with a picture of you enjoying your mug of Cacao Elixir
Our gut is the place that the outside world interacts with our inside world, all day every day. The health of our gut impacts every single system in the body and must be addressed when looking at any disease or symptom. What happens in the gut sets the stage for health or disease to take root. No matter what other route you are taking to heal, addressing gut function is key.
1.Many of our genes are turned off or on depending on what comes in from the outside world through our gut and the condition of our gut. New science shows us that we are not our genes but instead what health promoting or disease promoting genes turn on depending what environment they are in (epigenetics and gene expression). 7, 1 Humans do not have that many genes, it is our life experiences and the world around us that dictate so many of our differences.
2. Around 70% of our immune system is in our gut. What we eat directly affects the status, health, and activation of our immune system. Our immune system can be under functioning (as with cancer or when we constantly catch infections) or over functioning (such as in autoimmunity, allergies, and chronic inflammation). We need our immune system to activate, work, and then return back to monitoring. The foods we eat, how we digest them, and the environment of our digestive tract can turn this chronically on or deliver input that leads to downstream immune dysfunction. (Take the thyroid for example you can have high antibodies for 8 years before your thyroid is seriously damaged or you even have symptoms! That gives you almost a decade to turn things around with food before disease sets in!) 8, 4
3. Many of the neurotransmitters we need for brain health are produced in our gut and are essential for our mental health. When the gut is not functioning correctly the brain can be directly impacted through these messengers. That serotonin that helps you to feel good? Most of that is made in the gut! Even gluten, cassein, and sugar can have opiate affects in our brain! 1, 3
Our gut is even considered our second brain. The vagus nerve directly connects our gut to our brain and there are messages that go both ways on this nerve, keeping the brain in our head constantly informed as to what is going on in our gut (not just vice versa as we once thought). When our gut dysfunctions or is inflammed our brain can dysfunction in result. This is known as our Gut/Brain Axis. 7
4. Almost every nutrient we need to function is broken down, absorbed, or made in our gut. We need our gut functioning properly to get these vital nutrients and precursors. We can be eating a perfect diet and still not be getting these nutrients we need if we are not digesting and absorbing them correctly (stomach acid problems, lack of enzymes, bile issues, vili damage, the wrong microbes, eating foods we are sensitive to, and more). Stress can even cause a digestive system breakdown leading to downstream symptoms and disease. 1,3
5. Our gut is the home to millions of microbes. We have 150 times more bacterial genes than human genes and 10 times more intestinal bacterial cells than human cells. What? Yes! This bacteria communicates directly with our entire body and impacts gene expression, brain function, metabolism, nutrient absorption, immune function, hormone detox, and more. These microbes produce certain nutrients and break down harmful substances. The food we eat and our lifestyle directly affect the quality of our gut bacteria (microbiome and dysbiosis) and in result our overall health. The new research coming out around our microbiome is outrageous and indicitive of 1, 4,5,6
6. We need our gut to absorb the appropriate sized particles but to keep out particles that do not belong in our bloodstream and that our body sees as invaders. The food we eat, our lifestyle, and medications we take all impact this important barrier function of our gut. Leaky gut’ or hyper-permeable membranes are factors involved with autoimmunity, oxidative damage and the source of chronic inflammation that drives most modern chronic disease. Even healthy foods can cause damage when there is a leaky gut. 1, 3, 4, 6
7. We need a properly functioning gut and liver/kidneys to eliminate and get rid of waste. It is important this happens in a timely manner so these substances can be eliminated and not linger in our body, wreaking havoc. Toxins can cause endless downstream problems and the truth is we have exponentially more exposure today to these harmful substances than ever (pesticides, air pollution, plastics, chemicals, etc). This is known as an evolutionary gap, where our body has not had the time to keep up with the extra demand. Ensuring our body has the extra nutrients it needs to detox toxins properly is vital. 7,8,1,3
8. Our gut can be a major cause of chronic inflammation. New research shows that Chronic Inflammation may be a leading factor to all chronic disease. Processed food, oxidized oils, and many others can cause inflammation as does our gut when it is not functioning properly and able to break down food properly. Down regulating inflammation is essential to healing and staying symptom and disease free. We must remove offenders and add foods to support and heal our digestive system. 2, 4, 5
9. Our Mitochondria, or energy makers in our cells, are also impacted by the condition of our gut! What? Our mitochondria need certain nutrients to produce energy and to remain undamaged as free radicals are created when we make energy. We get these nutrients, precursors, and antioxidants from the foods we eat and depend on the integrity of our gut being intact 5, 2
10. Hormones– Blood sugar dysregulation and stress from eating the wrong foods can be the primary cause of many downstream health and hormonal problems, including sleep struggles, energy crashes, cravings, infertility, pms, and many more. With today’s diet is easy to have blood sugar problems and I am not talking about diabetics but instead most Americans because of the foods we choose have some kind of disregulated blood sugar. Getting a handle on blood sugar and other food stressors are key to overall hormone health and set the stage for healing to occur. 1, 2, 3
No matter how minor or major the health problem or symptom is that you are dealing with and regardless of using other medical interventions- the gut needs to be addressed.
Helping people optimize the gut from top to bottom, and in result optimize health for today and for decades down the line is my specialty (and dare I say obsession). I am a Functional Nutritionist, a body detective if you will. Let’s see how the food you eat and your environment are impacting your gut and ultimately how you function and feel as a unique individual. I take a true holistic and grass roots approach to wellness and listen to your story.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates. But that is a bunch of blah blah blah if your digestive system is not functioning correctly.
Heal Before Ideal! Which means we must heal the gut before even the most ideal diet can serve us. Plus, since we are all biochemically unique, what is medicine for me might be poison for you. That fast that saved you might be what tanked me. What? For real.
Janel Ferrin Anderson PhD NC- Board certified Holistic Nutritionist, Functional Medicine Nutritionist, Doctor of Natural Medicine, Family Herbalist, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist, endless pursuer of why, and now specializing in advanced individualized diets such as salicylates, oxalates, FODMAPS and more.
Mountain Rebalance- Empower, Support, Investigate, and Integrate
1-Nakayama, Andrea. (2018)Full Body Systems. Functional Nutrition Lab.
2-Bland, Jeffery. (2016) The Disease Delusion. Harper Collins. NY NY
3-Bauman, Ed. Friedlander, Jodi. (2016). Therapeutic Nutrition Textbook Part 1. Penngrove, CA. Bauman College.
4-O’Bryan, Tom. (2016) The Autoimmune Fix. New York, NY: Rodale Wellness.
5-Jones, David MD. (2010) Textbook of Functional Medicine. Washington
6- Fasano, Dr. Allesio. (2019) Gluten, Autoimmunity, and Leaky Gut. https://chriskresser.com/pioneering-researcher-alessio-fasano-m-d-on-gluten-autoimmunity-leaky-gut/
7. Perlmutter, Dr. David. (2019) Autism Spectrum Disorder and Pesticide Exposure. Dr.Perlmutter.com
8. Romm, Dr. Aviva. (2018) Reducing Thyroid Antibodies Naturally. Natural MD Radio episode #73
Finding snacks that are loaded with healing and beneficial nutrients, plus ones that contain the important balance of fat/fiber/protein, AND that taste delicious is a major win in my world. Because here is the thing, I love good food and I love giving my body what it needs to function as best as it can. Win Win
When considering what to eat every day for long term and sustainable health I am always thinking 1. what can we add? 2. what can we take away? And of course what is DELICIOUS.
This snack is beautifully free of all the major common inflammatory foods that can gradually lead to symptoms/disease, pain, faulty digestion, immune disfunction, mental health problems, and more . Plus, it adds tons of important nutrients our body needs to stay strong as well as that fat/fiber/protein ratio to help balance hormones (insulin, cortisol, thyroid and even sex hormones!).
What’s up with the fat/fiber/protein? This ratio of nutrients is the key to keeping our blood sugar balanced (glucose and the hormone insulin) and feeling satiated while getting important building blocks for body functions. (In our house we call fats brain food, protein muscle foods, and fiber energy/plant nutrient foods) When our blood sugar spikes from eating fast carbs, refined carbs, or carbs with out fiber (bagels or pretzels for example), it starts a cascade of hormonal events that can cause energy problems-problems sleeping, problems with sex hormones, fatigue, and more. By eating a healthy fat, a clean protein, and loads of fiber each time you eat you are doing your body and mind a huge service. It’s an easy, delicious, and satisfying way to eat!
This snack is a perfect mix of fat/fiber/protein and is loaded with nutrients. Here are all of the star ingredients-
A few of the stars-
Sweet potatoes- sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They contain loads of vitamin C, vitamin A, B6, manganese and many more healing nutrients. The fibers in them are awesome for your gut health and microbiome, which impact your entire body. Thy support immune health, brain health, hormone balance and more.
Avocados– Avocados are an awesome source of important healthy fats. They are primarily oleic acid which is an anti-inflammatory fatty acid. They are a great source of vitamin K, potassium, vitamin c and folate.
Garlic– Garlic is used as medicine all over the world. It is known to boost immune function, be helpful in lowering blood pressure, heart health, cholesterol, and has tons of antioxidants to prevent free radical damage.
And here is the recipe so you can enjoy the goodness for yourself
Sweet potatoes- sliced into even rounds
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic cloves (smashed and chopped fine)- 2-4 depending on your love
Fresh cilantro- 1 tbsp plus more for garnish
Juice from 1 lime
Procedure for sweet potato chips- Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or not). In a bowl, add the sweet potato rounds along with avocado oil and sea salt. Toss to combine. Place the rounds on the baking sheet, ensuring they are spread out evenly. Bake for 12 minutes, flip and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove and set aside.
Procedure for avocados and snacks- In a bowl, add the avocado and mash with a fork. Add cilantro, sea salt, lime juice and fresh garlic. Add the mashed avocado mix to the sweet potato crostini. Eat as is or I like to top it with smoked salmon and chives. Serve and enjoy!
You can make a big bag of the sweet potato chips and store the ones you don’t use in the refrigerator to use another day for a quick snack.
A few of my other favorite snacks include- almond butter with apple slices, carrots/celery and hummus, kale chips with nutritional yeast, hard boiled eggs chopped up in lettuce wraps, olives, artichokes, chia pudding, and clean smoothies with a good fat/protein. What are your favorites?
Janel is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist, Board certified holistic nutritionist, herbalist, yoga therapist and has her PhD in Natural medicine. She works with people using food and lifestyle to help them function their best today and for decades to come. She believes in empowering people to understand their body and take charge of their health.
The smell, the taste, the color, how it makes me feel, and of course the health benefits- they are all amazing.
Golden milk has so many health promoting players including turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, coconut milk, coconut oil, and black pepper. It is actually the synergy of them together that helps their magic work.
First a bit on the star players, then the recipes………..
Turmeric Root- Turmeric has several anti-inflammatory agents and is used as medicine all over the world. There are many studies showing curcumin, one of the chemical constituents in turmeric, is as affective as many medications for reducing inflammation and pain. It has many antioxidant actions as well helping protect the body from free radical damage. It can be helpful in protecting agains heart disease, Alzheimers and boosting immune function (Murray, Michael.)
Ginger Root- Ginger has been used historically for gastrointestinal distress as well as many other medicinal uses. It can help with relieving gas and nausea. Ginger also has many anti-inflammatory agents including gingerols adding to its ability to ease pain and modulate immune function (Murray, Michael).
Cinnamon- I love that cinnamon comes from the inner bark of an evergreen tree. It is not only delicious but it also has many wonderful health benefits as well. People have used cinnamon to help ease many inflammatory conditions including menstrual pains, arthritis, psoriasis and more. It is helpful as a warming digestant but also has proven to help regulate blood sugar (Davis, Paul).
Coconut milk and MCT oil- Coconut milk is loaded with healthy fats that we need for hormones, brain health and for the integrity of every cell in our body. It contains many medium chain triglycerides that are easier to digest than other fats and can be used more easily for energy. Coconut milk has anti-inflammatory properties as well as antiviral and antibacterial benefits (Murray Michael).
Black pepper- Black pepper is warming and is helpful with digestive disorders. It aids in digesting fats in particular but also boosts digestion as a whole. Piperine is one of the components in it that has several benefits including boosting the liver’s detox function and helping increase the absorption of nutrients (Murray, Michael).
Now, let’s get to that golden milk! My mouth is watering already.
Yes, the ingredients in golden milk are healing and health promoting, but what I really love about it is the taste and as well as the ritual of enfolding my hands around my mug, taking a deep smell, admiring the golden beauty, and slowly sipping and savoring this elixir.
Golden Milk Recipe #1- The Longer, Heart Melting Delicious Way. Making a Golden Milk Paste From Whole Turmeric Root
This one is my favorite and I love when I remember that I have the paste made already! I really love that it has some fiber in it and that along with the fats from coconut milk and MCT oilmake it better on blood sugar regulation as well as satiation. Ymmmmm
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon water, or as needed
2 cups almond or coconut milk
1 teaspoon MCT oil or coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon raw honey
For the Paste- Combine 1/2 cup water, turmeric, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon water. Continue cooking until thickened into a paste, 7 to 9 minutes. Cool completely, 15 to 20 minutes. Pour into an airtight glass jar.
For the drink- Whisk 1 teaspoon turmeric paste with the almond milk, coconut oil, ginger, and cinnamon together in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in honey.
Strain milk mixture into mug. Drink. Enjoy! Ymmmmm. ( I like to sprinkle on cinnamon and turmeric on top
Golden Milk Recipe #2- The Scoop Scoop Scoop and Go
2 cups of full fat coconut milk
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp MCT oil or coconut oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp raw honey
heavy pinch of black pepper
Blend all the ingredients (excluding honey) together in a blender until it is smooth
Put mixture into saucepan and heat over medium about 4 minutes or until desired temp.
Take off heat and add in honey. Drink and enjoy
Golden Milk Recipe #3- Quick Version
So this is technically chai but it feels close enough to me that when I want a cup and want it fast this is an awesome choice. One scoop in warm nut or coconut milk, splash of honey and you are on your way golden bliss. The Golden Masala Chai from Blue Lotus Chai does have black tea in it, so be aware of that if you are wanting it later in the day. It still features turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper making it very similar. For an added benefit it has Maca as well which is a powerful adaptogen that helps modulate stress.
However you make your golden milk, enjoy it. Cheers. Janel
Murray, Michael and Pizzorno, Joseph. 2005 The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Atria Books. New York NY
Janel is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist, Board certified holistic nutritionist, herbalist, and yoga therapist. She works with people using food and lifestyle to help them function their best today and for decades to come. She believes in empowering people to understand their body and take charge of their health. Schedule a free 15 minute inquiry call today
Bring in the fresh and light energy of the spring so your entire body functions better. Nourish your body and your soul during this natural time of year to cleanse. Set or reset new habits that move you towards feeling your best. Connect with community.
Join Board Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Functional Medicine Nutritionist, Doctor of Natural Medicine, Herbalist, and Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist Janel Ferrin Anderson on this AWESOME and unique spring cleanse and deep dive into detoxification, your liver, gut health and optimizing how you function.
Previous group participants and clients get 20% offcode-alumni20 (previous spring cleansers code is springalumni40)
4 Live Classes on Mondays at 7pm PT (recorded)
Cleanse is the week May 10th- 17th
Any classes can be watched anytime as they will be recorded
Yes this is an awesome cleanse but it is so much more! Learn new habits and recipes to nourish your body for decades to come, empower yourself by learning the ‘why’ behind cleansing, connect with like minded community, learn what herbs and lifestyle practices aid us in detoxing, get the chance to work with Functional Medicine Nutritionist Janel Ferrin Anderson, and eat delicious food while nourishing your entire body.
THIS IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL COOKIE CUTTER CLEANSE THAT I AM RE-MARKETING. NOPE! IT IS UNIQUE AND SPECIFIC
Choose what level you want to participate depending where you are at in your life and with your health needs. I will help you choose what is best for you. This cleanse is appropriate for anyone because of this flexibility.
Get helpful handouts, lists, recipes, support from me during the week, lifestyle practices to enhance detox, daily guided breath work practices, and more.
What have people said in the past about this cleanse?
“Spring Cleanse! Oh my. What an incredible experience. I’ve never done something like this in a group. I’ve cleansed before but doing so in a group was so uplifting and encouraging. I LOVED the recipes, the online support, and the WHY! It all made it so much more feasible. Janel shares amazing, obtainable, knowledge on not only the “how” but the “why”. I’d definitely do it again!”
“Working with Janel was a great experience. I felt supported and educated about why this was a good thing for my body. When I believe I am benefitting my health it is easier to stay committed to the cleanse. I feel really good and I will move forward having gained some healthy habits and a better understanding of why nutrition is key to not just my physical health but also my emotional well being. Thank you!”
This is NOT about depriving ourselves but instead about NOURISHING ourselves with specific cleansing foods. If you have done 20 cleanses or if this is your first one, this is for you! You can choose which level you participate at because as I always say there is not one size fits all plan for everyone. I will be available to help you decide.
Learn how to activate your systems of elimination, give your body a chance to reset, restore depleted nutrients, reduce inflammation, reduce the stressors on your gut so it can do it’s job allowing all your body systems to function better. Awesome!
Most of us want to support our immune system but we don’t understand how it works well enough to know how best to support our unique system. It is empowering to learn a bit of the physiology so we can better understand why the choices we make with diet and lifestyle impact our body the way it does. It drives me nuts to be told what to do with out understanding why. I find most people I work with agree.
The Immune System is a complex and dynamic system, which changes with our environment and diet.
Here are the basics to help you start thinking around what might impacting your immune system. Add what you need to boost its various functions and layers and consider what you might need to remove that might be reducing its effectiveness and barrier functions.
IMMUNE SYSTEM 101
According to the National Institute of Health the purpose of the Immune system is to have a network of cells, tissues and organs working together to protect the body against foreign invaders. The immune system has three very distinct jobs that need to be executed as intended for the whole system to work properly.
These jobs are
Identify an invader. This includes properly identifying self from non self and harmful from friend.
Communicate with other immune cells. So, the watch guards start talking and informing other immune cells about what is happening. They may call in back up cells or alter the biochemistry to set the stage for defense (aka inflammation).
Attack the invader. The immune cells need to launch an appropriate attack to kill the invader without doing excessive damage to the host, aka you. This includes shutting off the attack when appropriate.
We need each of these jobs functioning effectively.
Our body is constantly exposed to invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites, and it is our immune systems job to keep us safe. That is when it is functioning properly, anyway. When it is over working we may experience allergies, autoimmunity, or chronic inflammation and eventually the downstream diseases that come from chronic inflammation (Heart Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s and many more). When it is under functioning we may get sick often or cancer cells may grow. So again, we want our immune system to function how Goldilocks likes things, juuuuust right.
We have 2 distinct parts of our immune system
The Innate Immune System– This is the part of our immune system that we are born with. There is no specificity or memory. It is all about identifying all invaders and killing. The components of the innate immune system include
Our Physical barriers such as our outside skin and the internal ‘skin’ of our respiratory tract, digestive tract, and urogenital tract. This also includes the acidity in our stomach, the mucous membranes on all our internal ‘skins’, our microbiome or the good bacteria that covers our skins. Around 70% of our immune system is in our digestive system alone. Anything that reinforces these barriers will boost our immune system, and vice versa.
The cells of the innate immune system- This first layer of immune defense also includes several white blood cells- monocytes, neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, and natural killer cells. All of which play key roles in keeping us safe from invaders.
The Adaptive (Specific) Immune System– This is the part of our immune system that develops over time and involves a great deal of specificity. These are the more highly trained cells of the immune system and include our B cells (immunoglobulins come from B cells) and T cells. B stands for Bone Marrow and T stands for Thymus, which is simply where they each get their advanced training. The adaptive immune system is how we more easily fight off invaders after being exposed previously, it is why vaccinations work, and it is these immune cells, IgG or IgA or IgE antibodies, that we look to for certain foods or body parts that the immune system may be overreacting to.
Whew. Okay. We did it. That is the basics and it is from there that we can identify what food and lifestyle choices increase or decrease our specific immune functions and layers. The specific jobs of the immune system can be impacted as can the various layers by the outside world. Our immune function is dynamic and the food and lifestyle choices we make directly impact it. Some things decrease its effectiveness making them important to remove. Other things enhance how they function making them important to add.
You can skip below to the lovely infographics if you want the lists. Otherwise keep reading if you want the why.
10 THINGS THAT MAY NEGATIVELY IMPACTING YOUR IMMUNE FUNCTION
Sugar- Sugar suppresses white blood cells and how responsive they are. Also, white sugar depletes our body of key immune nutrients
Eating foods you are sensitive to or allergic to or foods that are hard to digest– These foods can decrease immune function in different ways. Hard to digest foods can damage the intestinal tract (damage the barrier function aka leaky gut), cause inflammation, and can distract the immune system. Foods you are sensitive or allergic to activate antibodies and again can cause the immune system to be on chronic attack, using up valuable resources and attention. (Foods that are often hard to digest include anything not chewed well, foods eaten while stressed, trans fats, dairy, gluten, soy, processed foods, beans that are not soaked prior to cooking, and more depending on a persons unique physiology).
Alcohol- Alcohol reduces white blood cell count like sugar does and impacts the flow of oxygen at a cellular level preventing the body from functioning optimally
Nutrient Deficiency- Nutrients such as vitamins A, D, C, zinc, selenium are critical building blocks for immune cells. From either lack of consuming them but also from lack of digesting and absorbing them a person can be depleted. Make sure digestion/absorption is functioning optimally so you can get the nutrients from your food as well as ensuring you are eating foods high in these nutrients.
Toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, pollution, smoking, chemicals, etc- can inhibit antibody formation, depress T cell and B cell function and Natural Killer cells. Pollution can Damage protective mucus membranes (line of defense) as well.
Chronic stress – Psychoneuroimmunology (big new area of study on immune system and nervous system interaction). Natural Killer cells are impacted by high chronic cortisol and this is a critical and aggressive cell for fighting viruses as well as cancer.
Lack of sleep- During sleep your body releases immune cells that fight inflammation and infection. Lack of sleep reduces immune cells and hinders the protective response of the immune system. Melatonin (sleep hormone) helps protect our lungs as well as activates natural killer cells.
Trauma from surgery or accident including over exercising- Inflammation may be tying up the immune response
Frequent Antibiotic use or other medications- antibiotics can damages important bacterial balance in the gut which is a line of defense while certain medications like ibuprofen and aspirin can damage the epithelium or inner skin of our digestive tract.
Exposure to chronic infections from the inside or outside- Epstein Barr, candida, lyme disease, etc, or with people working around kids all the time or on airplanes may be exposed chronically to bacteria and viruses, depleting immune function.
Helpful For Proper Immune Function
A healthy lymphatic system, which houses many immune cells – Using your skeletal muscles helps move lymph as does deep breathing and bouncing.
Appropriate nutrients- we make 2000 immune cells every minute, the better nutrition the better we are able to make those cells. Specific foods listed in infograph below but think colorful vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds.
Vitamin A- supports mucus membranes throughout the body, is needed for white blood cell production as well as thymus and spleen health.
Vitamin D- The sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D, aids monocytes and T cells. Vit D triggers and arms the body’s T cells, the cells in the body that seek out and destroy any invading bacteria and viruses. It also reduces inflammation
Vitamin C- protects white blood cells from the enzymes they release to kill microbes, it’s an antiviral, it makes interferon, is antibacterial, and is an antihistamine. Supports innate and adaptive immune function.
Vitamin E- strong antioxidant protecting cells from oxidative damage. Boosts immune cells and enhances immune response
Zinc- Zinc is part of a wide range of immune functions. Needed to activate immune cells
Selenium- Antioxidant, boosts immune response and decreases inflammation
Quercetin- antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and aids in immune cell communication
Supporting digestive system- Tools to help include fiber, microbiome support, hcl, mucus membranes, chew (releases growth factor which helps improve barrier)
Sleep- See above. Sleep is hugely beneficial to our immune system and we need between 7-9 hours a night for our immune system to function optimally.
Decreased stress and anxiety- Excessive cortisol (stress hormone) depresses immune function by decreasing Natural Killer Cells and diverting energy towards fighting a pressing or perceived ‘danger’ instead of fighting an immune invader.
Appropriate exercise increases NK cells and other infectious fighting immune cells, it also decreases stress and increases circulation.
Sauna or hot/cold therapy- This has been shown to increase both T cells and Natural Killer cells impacting both innate and adaptive immune function
Microbiome- Important in barrier function and immune activity. Some bacteria in your gut spend their lives making antibodies! Look for a blog post dedicated to this important topic coming soon.
Proper Hydration and herbs that sooth and nourish the mucous membranes such as aloe, licorice, slippery elm, and marshmallow root.
So what can you add? What can you remove?
Please Give a Shout If You Are Interested In Working Together! Book A Free Call Now………….
Okay, this was already my family’s and many of my friends favorite granola recipe, we just gave it an immune boost by adding specific Immune nutrient rich foods.
Our Immune system is not static and it changes its effectiveness in relation to many lifestyle and nutrition factors. What we eat and do everyday can help boost our resilience and immune function or decrease its ability to fight off invaders. This recipe offers healthy fats and protein as well as many immune nutrients to give your immune system what it needs to function its best.
Zinc- There is a lot of research showing that zinc has anti-viral properties against many different viruses. Pumpkin seeds and oats are loaded with zinc.
Selenium boosts our immune response and decreases inflammation so our immune system can focus on fighting bacteria and viruses. Brazil nuts and oats are rich in selenium.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, protecting cells from oxidative damage. It boosts immune cells and enhances immune response. Almonds and Sesame seeds are loaded with vitamin E
You could add gogi berries at the end with the dried fruit for a vitamin C boost too.
You can make any variations that you like really. Omit nuts/seeds if you don’t have them or like them or add others like walnuts or flax seeds. This is the base we use though that disappears in just a couple of days. We love it with homemade almond milk, on a banana with nut butter, or with coconut yogurt. Store what you don’t use in a mason jar or give a jar to a friend.
Janel is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist, Board certified holistic nutritionist, herbalist, and yoga therapist. She works with people using food and lifestyle to help them function their best today and for decades to come. She believes in empowering people to understand their body and take charge of their health. Schedule a free 15 minute inquiry call today
Sprouts are crazy good for your overall health! Plus they are easy, cheap, delicious, and super fun to grow at home. Win, win, win, win.
It may be one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase the nutrients you are eating and the nutrients you are able to absorb. Wowser!
Sprouts are seeds that have germinated and become live plants. They have woken up, so to speak. Sprouting seeds, nuts, whole grains, and legumes dramatically increases their nutritional value and how easy they are to absorb. Although the specific nutrients vary according to variety, sprouting increases the amount of protein, fiber, the amount of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and especially vitamin C!
Many plants and seeds we eat contain antinutrients that serve to protect the plant but also make them harder for us to digest. Antinutrients can lock up the vitamins and minerals in plants. Some antinutrients include phytic acid, lectins, and tannins which keeps nutrients in foods such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chickpeas tied up. Sprouting appears to reduce these antinutrients, allowing us to digest them easier.
The phytonutrients (aka plant nutrients) in sprouts are outrageous. My favorite seeds to sprout are broccoli and alfalfa seeds. They contain awesome phytochemicals and antioxidants such as sulforafane. I also try to soak or sprout my almonds and beans before I cook with them or eat them to make them more digestable.
Don’t stress about it though. Just start! Grab some seeds, soak them, drain, water, watch them grow, and enjoy the nutrient boost. Watch my 2 minute video that will show you how.
I am not into all the fear and frantically grabbing for a miracle supplement but I am into staying updated on the current situation and taking practical everyday science based action steps where I can to boost the resilience and immune function of my family, no matter what is going on.
What simple things can we do everyday to help boost our immune system and shift the terrain in our body towards resilience and health? Well, as it turns out, a lot. And don’t wait to get sick, start these now!
Eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack (yes, every one). They contain many important vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants to support our immune system. For example bell peppers, strawberries and oranges contain vitamin C which is antiviral, antibacterial and boosts antibody production. Camu Camu, inca berries, acerola cherries, and gogi berries are awesome sources of vitamin C also!! Vitamin E, vitamin A (also found in fermented cod liver oil and liver) and B vitamins are important too and many come from all those brightly colored foods.
Reduce consumption of processed sugar. Sugar consumption robs our body of minerals such as zinc which is crucial for our immune system, it reduces the ability of our white blood cells to fight invaders such as viruses, Dr. Sears teaches that 1 tsp of sugar suppresses the immune system for 5 hours, high blood sugar is an immune suppressant, and glucose competes with vitamin C. Yuck!
Reduce the overall inflammation in our body so our immune system can focus on what is important. Eliminate or reduce dairy, gluten, sugar, soy, all processed foods, toxins, pesticides, food coloring, and any foods you are personally sensitive to. Add foods like turmeric and omega 3 fats to reduce inflammation. These changes, as well as healing a ‘leaky gut’ (think bone broth) and optimizing your microbiome (think probiotics and fermented foods) will help your immune system focus on fighting invaders like viruses and bacteria instead of dealing with hard to digest foods and unnecessary inflammation.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep (Shoot for 7-9 hours) every night and do what you need to support this. Ideas include reducing caffeine, eliminating screen time before bed, using calming herbs such as camomile, passionflower, valerian and lemon balm, getting blood sugar under control, taking magnesium before bed, or taking a magnesium and lavender bath. Ahhh. My family has a pre-bed tea time ritual around the fire, which I love.
Vitamin D is important for immune function because it activates monocytes (an immune cell) to kill viruses. We get Vitamin D from the sunshine, fatty fish, grass fed butter, egg yolks, and fermented cod liver oil. Eat up or supplement if needed with D3.
Consume important immune minerals, including zinc and selenium. Foods rich in immune boosting minerals include pumpkin seeds, oysters, brazil nuts, lentils, cashews, shrimp, salmon, sesame seeds, and lamb. Eat some of these foods every day.
Super Immune Plants- Other plants to include that are supportive to our immune function include elderberry, garlic, ginger, turmeric, astragalus, mushrooms (chaga, shiitake, reishi- I like these in tincture form), echinacea, goldenseal and more! Any and all herbs and spices will help too. Eat, drink, or supplement when desired for an extra immune boost.
Laugh, rest, relax and get some playful exercise outside everyday. Stress depletes B vitamins, vitamin A and zinc and lowers immune response. I love guided imagery, breath work, or restorative yoga to chillax at home too.
Stay hydrated. Drink 1/2 your weight in ounces of water every day. Bone broths, mineral broths, and herbal teas all help.
And off course, wash your hands with soap and water often!
Functional Nutrition is all about taking steps towards optimal overall function, in this case immune function. I consider the terrain as important as the virus. These are the things we can do to impact the terrain that health or sickness take root in. Stressing out over the situation is certainly not going to help, so we are all about action steps instead of stress.
Take a deep breath and eat up (but wash your hands first, did I already say that?)! Happy Optimizing, Janel Ferrin Anderson
Oh you know you have them too. Those evenings you get home from work, shuttling kids, crushing the chores, and all that you do just to realize “Oh shit, what’s for dinner?”
If only we had a magic fairy that was home taking care of that all day everyday.
Alas, we need to be our own damn fairy.
I love it when I am all organized and have all my meals planned out for the week and shopped for. I actually enjoy preparing nourishing meals when my day allows for it. However, the reality of working, having a family, and a life of my own is why some nights I completely space dinner until we walk in the door after dark, famished, with little eyes looking at me like I know what to do.
Luckily, I have a back up plan for those nights that usually works (and I am not talking about pizza delivery, ok, well not always anyway).
Feeding my family nutritious food is crazy important to me. I know how it directly impacts our hour to hour health as well as our long term resilience, mental capacity, and vitality So, I have a back up system in place for these nights so we can keep our meals nutritious and avoid the inflammatory white food nutrient depleters.
Although not perfect or optimal, I always have a few things on hand in the house that allows me to cook a nutritious and delicious dinner when I totally space it.
I always prefer fresh foods but emergency staples to always have in the cupboard for last minute dinners- non bpa canned beans (black, garbanzo, kidney, pinto, lima, etc), organic brown rice, quinoa, pasture raised grass fed chicken bone broth (lots!), organic coconut milk, ghee, dried herbs/spices, jarred tomatoes, jarred artichokes.
Emergency perishables I try keep in abundance- onions, garlic, ginger, celery, carrots, eggs, nuts/seeds. avocado.
I also always make extras at meals to have Quick leftovers for lunch, dinner, and oh shit moments.
So, tonight this was my miracle recipe.
Extra virgin olive oil to sautee
1 yellow onion diced
4 celery sticks diced
4 carrots diced
4 cloves of garlic diced
about 45 ounces of bone broth
1 28 oz can organic garbanzo beans drained
10 ounces of organic canned diced tomatoes
left over diced chicken from last night
left over roasted asparagus diced
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
sea salt and pepper to taste
Seeds to sprinkle on top (I keep salted and roasted pumpkin and or sunflower seeds on hand)
Directions- Sautee onions, carrots, celery for a few minutes in the olive oil on the stove in a stainless steal pan. Add the garlic and sautee a couple of more minutes. Take a moment to enjoy the smell:) Add the spices, broth, beans, and tomatoes. Cook together about 20 minutes until veggies are soft. Add the pre-cooked chicken and asparagus for the last few minutes to warm up. Ladle into your favorite soup bowls, gather around the table, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds if desired and enjoy a quick but nourishing Heck Yes This Is For Dinner meal.
Note- all ingredients can be exchanged for other similar ones you have one hand. The basics are onion, garlic, celery, carrots, bone broth, protein, veggies, and herbs/spices. You can add brown rice or quinoa if you have them too.
Boom! Way to rock it, last minute unplanned dinner fairy.