Fighting The Coronanvirus (or ANY Virus) With Food And…….

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Stay hydrated. Drink 1/2 your weight in ounces of water every day. Bone broths, mineral broths, and herbal teas all help.
  10. 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

Featured post

Kicking the coffee habit….or just reducing it… ok, at least optimizing it;)

We all respond differently to coffee and caffeine.  Some people metabolize it better than others, some of us are addicted to it, some people replace eating food with it, for some of us it is destroying our blood sugar balance for the day causing huge ups and then downs, and for some of us it is having too big of an impact on cortisol and our adrenals. There are some health benefits to drinking a small amount of high quality of coffee but many of us overuse it or misuse it.

  If you are ready to kick the habit for good or for just a bit here are some steps to making it a bit easier. I even included ways to work with coffee if you can’t give it up. Remember, we are all unique so what works for one person might not work for you.   Find what works for YOU and what your body needs to function its best.

Possible Benefits of cutting the coffee

Again, since we are all genetically and metabolically unique coffee effects us all differently. For some people, taking a break from coffee may help with sleep, digestion, appropriate hormone production/balance, liver detoxification,  blood sugar regulation, anxiety, and more. Heres the thing, when you drink a cup of coffee your body responds by increasing cortisol and epinephrine, our stress hormones.  This starts a cascade of events that cause a spike in blood sugar, which is the king of the endocrine system and affects all of our hormones.  If you find yourself needing more than up cup a day, or getting headaches if you don’t have it, having a hard time sleeping, feeling fatigued, experiencing highs/lows throughout the day,  it might be a good idea to try a break or reduce your dependence for a bit. 

Who might want to consider giving coffee a break? 

You may want to consider giving coffee a break if you

  • feel like you need it to get going in the morning
  • are trying to balance your sex hormones (estrogen/progesterone)
  • if you have been stressed out for a long time and are in over drive, taxing your adrenals
  • if you get revved up by caffeine more than others (depending on specific genetic variations you may process caffeine more poorly than others).
  • if you have any sleep problems
  • if you have fatigue
  • if you drink for than 2 cups in a day
  • if you depend on it to get through the day
  • if you are curious what your body would be like with out the dependence on this powerful medicine

If you want to try life with out coffee for a bit…………….

First off consider why you drink coffee, spend some time here first.  I think this is the most important part of successfully cutting back and often overlooked.

Some people drink coffee for the caffeine, some people enjoy the morning ritual, or the flavor and smell,  some people feel comforted by the warm morning wake up drink, some people love going into the coffee shop for social reasons, or perhaps your cup of joe helps you poop, or ….. fill in the blank for you.  Is there a story around your coffee habit?

From there you can consider your exit strategy with the help of a proper replacement for YOU.

Experiment with different replacements. Be playful and open minded!

  1. If caffeine is your reason for drinking coffee you can slowly start cutting back on fully caffeinated coffee by adding in organic decaf or try reducing the number of cups each day.  Either way working gradually can prevent or reduce headaches. From there you can transition to a healthier option or even green tea which has many health benefits if you can tolerate some caffeine.   By breaking up with your dependency on caffeine you can listen to what your body needs and that might be rest, more sleep, better nutrition, less stress, better blood sugar balance, or a number of other things as your body shifts, your hormones adjust, and you go back to not needing it. 
  2. If it’s the morning ritual of making a cup of coffee you might want to start trying different kinds of  teas. Loose leaf tea is fun as you still get to scoop, pour, brew, smell, and enjoy. Most health food stores sell good quality loose leaf tea or it can be ordered online through Mountain Rose Herbs, for example.  Some bitter favorites for replacing coffee are roasted dandelion root, roasted chicory root, or reishi mushroom powder.  I love loose leaf green tea and there are so many different kinds.  Each of these offer many additional health benefits and hit the spot.  Try some out
  3. If it is the flavor you love you can either try organic high quality decaf right away, go through the gradual decaf transition (start with a 1/4  decaf and move to full decaf), or try one of the herbal coffee replacements that are still super bitter like Ayurvedic Roast organic herbal coffee substitute , Four Stigmata, and Rasa Koffee organic herbal coffee substitute.  
  4. If it’s the coffee shop you love, you are in luck.  Most coffee shops today sell many other great options. Most offer peppermint tea or even cinnamon or  rooibos which are naturally sweet, rich, and satisfying. Just steer clear from the “latte” teas (even Matcha) as they are loaded with sugar when purchased at the coffee shop.
  5. If you are just looking for a hot drink in the morning there are endless tea options.  Some of my favorite morning tea options are raspberry leaf, nettles, rooibos, alfalfa, and peppermint.   They even have great health benefits but again quality of tea matters. Make sure it is organic to reduce toxins and increase flavor. Even a good quality loose leaf green tea or matcha tea have amazing health benefits if you can tolerate some caffeine. Golden Milk is another fabulous alternative and  You can find my recipes here.  Here you will find my recipe for a rich warming and spicy chai tea that my family loves, especially in the colder months.
  6. Drinking your coffee at 3pm to avoid an afternoon slump?  First off pay heed to your blood sugar and try having a protein rich snack just before that normal bonk time.  Tuning into blood sugar swings can be profound. And remember that it is not sugar that impacts blood sugar, it is stress, skipped meals, food sensitivities, toxins, insomnia, anything that your body perceives as stressful.  One afternoon alternative I enjoy is my cocoa elixir with a couple of brazil nuts, or a matcha latte with kale chips.  Start being creative and thinking outside of the coffee bean.

If you still want your coffee……..

If you still want your 1 cup of coffee a day, there are a few ways to help make it work better for your body.  

  1. First and foremost make sure you always drink organic coffee.  The pesticides on coffee can place an extra detox burden on your liver.  Go organic.  I love Purity
  2. Another way to keep coffee as an ally  is to make sure you have some fat or protein before having your cup of coffee in the morning.  Never drink coffee on an empty stomach or use it instead of food. This will reduce the cortisol spike from drinking the coffee and the eventual blood sugar dysregulation that follows (highs and crashes, what goes up must come down).  
  3. Another option is turning your coffee into Bulletproof coffee.  This technique adds healthy fat maximizing the benefits of coffee and again helps with blood sugar regulation.  My favorite recipe is here but there are a ton online.
  4. And of course, consider what you are putting in your coffee.  Skip or reduce the sugar and choose a milk that works for your body (cashew, coconut, etc).  And no matter what, do not use artificial sweeteners as these can throw many systems and organs off balance as most are toxic and your body cannot digest.  

Alternative ways to get an energy boost

There are lots of great ways to get a healthy energy boost during the day.  You may feel more energized just by reducing or eliminating caffeine alone, as your hormonal system will come back into balance.  However, adding booster foods can give you additional sustained energy without the highs and lows of caffeine. Booster foods include greens powders, ground flax and chia seeds, nutritional yeast, and more.  See my favorites here.

Starting your day off right!

Try starting each day with a glass of lemon water or apple cider vinegar water first thing.  Adding a calming morning ritual such as deep breathing, meditation, or guided imagery can have deeply restorative and grounding affects.  This does not have to be complicated or long: 10 mindful breaths, 5 minutes meditating, focusing on 3 things you are grateful for, setting an intention for your day,  or simply lighting a candle. Sometimes just taking the time in the morning to slow down may be all we need to feel more awake and ready to face our day!

Click here to learn about one of our Seasonal Cleanses or Rebalance Groups and nourish yourself from the inside out!

Click here to book a free phone call to see if a One on One appointment is the best way to go for you to feel more energized, balanced, and in control of your health!

Enjoy your mornings and find what works for YOU!  Janel

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