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Support Your Immune System with Nutrition

There is no guarantee that following a healthy lifestyle will make you completely immune to every illness, but the more steps you take to support your immune system may certainly help. Even more importantly, the steps you start taking now will potentially improve the quality of your life for the long-term. You are worth it!


What exactly does “eat a healthy diet” even mean? There is no one perfect template for everyone. Our dietary approaches vary due to religious beliefs, ethnicity, socio-economics and your own personal preferences. I get it…what I personally choose to consume may not be your cup of tea (pun totally intended), but here are some guidelines that all nutrition experts can agree on:


Eliminate or greatly reduce your consumption of sugar, alcohol and refined carbohydrates that convert to sugar. Forget about the empty calories and weight gain, we know that sugar suppresses the immune system. If you’re trying to prevent illness, avoid sugar. If you are already sick, avoid sugar. If you want the chance of having a healthier life for the long-term and avoid many of the chronic health issues that plague our country, avoid sugar. Now, reread those last three sentences and replace “sugar” with “alcohol” and “processed/junk food.”


Eat a rainbow of vegetables and fruit. Vegetables and fruit contain a variety of phytonutrients and antioxidants that support a healthy immune system and body. If fresh produce isn't available, frozen is a great option. If purchasing canned goods, look for BPA-free.


Enjoy healthy fats for happy hormones and metabolic balance. Especially during times of stress, our metabolic system (hormones + blood sugar) may become imbalanced more than usual. Healthy fats are necessary for proper hormone conversion, and luckily many are shelf-stable. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Ghee, and Avocado Oil are all great choices. Stay away from processed vegetable oils (Canola, Corn, Soy) and margarine as much as possible. Nuts and seeds make great snacks, too, and will provide a little protein, healthy fats and carbs.


Quality protein. If you consume animal protein, pastured and/or organic is best (this applies to eggs, too), and sufficient protein intake with complete amino acids is necessary for cellular repair.


Beans/Legumes/Gluten-Free Grains. I typically advise consuming beans/legumes and any grain-based foods in moderation (or not at all, depending upon the person), but having some of these foods in your pantry is a good idea. Dried beans/lentils are best, as you can soak and prepare properly to make them easier to digest and less destructive on your digestive tract. Rice is a good gluten-free grain, if needed. I realize not everyone eats gluten-free, but I will always recommend it, especially if you’re dealing with any autoimmune issue. Eliminating gluten is recommended in almost every type of elimination diet to reduce inflammation and/or heal the gut. It is NOT an essential nutrient, so no harm whatsoever in avoiding it.


Water. Everyone should be drinking approximately half of their weight in ounces of water each day (a 150 lb person should consume 75 oz of water). If you have a medical condition (like kidney disease) and your doctor has advised a specific amount, obviously follow those instructions. If you’re sick, you need more water, especially if you have a fever. If you have typical cold symptoms, sufficient hydration will also help thin your mucous secretions. Any beverages w/caffeine do NOT count as water, as caffeine is dehydrating. Non-caffeinated tea or coffee DOES count towards your water intake. Alcohol is also dehydrating and doesn’t count towards hydration. For every ounce of caffeinated beverage or alcohol you consume, you need that much water, in addition to the already recommended amount, to make up for it.


Odds & Ends. Be generous with your use of garlic...it has anti-viral properties. Using a small amount of honey each day is also a good idea. I mix 1 tsp of raw honey with 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and take 1-2 tsp a day when I’m feeling yucky. Finally, if you’ve never tried medicinal mushrooms…consider it. Mushrooms, especially Reishi, have immune modulating properties.


Those are the basics of good nutrition. Any questions?



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