nutrition

Supporting Immunity in the Kitchen

By on December 1, 2020

The seasons are changing again and the cold/flu/and pandemic season is raging. When the seasons change, I like to do all the things to keep our immune system strong. Today I am going to share how we support our immunity in the kitchen.

Filling our diet with nourishing foods is one way we support our immune system. There is so much value to eating whole foods and choosing nutrient-dense items. They support gut health and immune function with necessary vitamins and minerals.

Immune Supporting Vitamins in Food

  1. Vitamin A is the #1 protection against viruses. Not just COVID-19. Foods that are vitamin A rich are egg yolks sourced from pastured hens and grass-fed butter.
  2. Vitamin D and Vitamin A work hand in hand to support immunity. Ways to receive Vitamin D nutritionally is through fatty fishes, red meats, and egg yolks. Another easy way to receive Vitamin D is to opt outside as much as possible to receive Vitamin D from the sun. Avoid sunscreens so that you are able to absorb the vitamin. 10-20 min twice a day is an adequate amount of time. The thing about vitamin D is that we do not store it or have reserves, so it is necessary to receive it each day.
  3. Vitamin C is used to prevent and address viral infections. Vitamin C has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce the severity and symptoms of colds. I always make sure to have an absorbable form of Vitamin C on hand, but a wonderful food to add to your diet is sauerkraut or other fermented veggies. Sauerkraut has 10 times more Vitamin C than fresh cabbage. Fermented veggies are also great for the gut microbiome. Increasing your green vegetables are essential. They provide Vitamin C, as well as B-vitamins, Vitamin K, and other important nutrients.
  4. Healthy Fats— Coconut oil is our best natural source of these healthy fats. Also, the lungs can not work without saturated fats, so grass-fed butter, avocado oil, olive oil, and ghee are great sources of healthy saturated fats. Just make sure to avoid all industrial fats and oils.
  5. Hydration— Staying hydrated keeps the pipes flushed, so to speak. Water is wonderful, adding an ionized mineral supplement is ideal and you can receive additional minerals in your kitchen by making herbal infusions.
  6. Bone Broth–is another one of my favorite ways to receive nourishment. Roasted bones leftover from a previous meal or picked up from your favorite butcher. I make sure to use grass-fed or pasture-raised meats. I often make it in my Instant Pot. However, I have been loving making this on the slow cooker function– I use the same proportions, just slow cook for 24 hours instead.

Sugar & Immune Support

With the holidays we start “sugar season”. It all starts with Halloween, then it seems to go until January. Sugar feeds inflammation and the “bad guys”, so being mindful of sugar consumption is a simple way to support immune function.

There are many healthier alternatives that we use in our kitchen. These sugar alternatives also prevent sugar highs and lows and the insanity that comes with sugared-up kids, lol. I use coconut sugar, monkfruit sweetener, and sometimes Swerve for baking. Maple syrup and honey are also natural alternatives.

Immunity Begins in the Belly

Since about 70% of our immune system begins in the gut, it only makes sense to start supporting it in the kitchen. Being mindful of what you are eating and drinking goes a long way in addition to the other germ-fighting techniques we have! Having essential vitamins, minerals, and a healthy gut aids in fighting illness and improving recovery.

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family wellness

5 Easy Immune Boosters for Children

By on November 25, 2019

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A couple of posts ago I wrote about the lost art of convalescence. My little kids are going through their developmental time of catching viruses and building their immune systems. At Mira’s 6 month well-check her pediatrician told us to expect about 1 new virus per month and expect fevers of 103 as “normal”. I am a mom who loves home remedies and tries to avoid antibiotics unless we are in a situation where they can not be avoided, so I spend a lot of time learning and trying new things.

As my kids develop their immune systems I have several things I am passionate about and have found great success with. My new favorite thing is cod liver oil. My grandparents always swore by it, I watched my oldest son’s Norwegian family administer it to the kids, and for me, I never quite caught on until reading some incredible information in Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. This book has several informative chapters on caring for babies and young children through illnesses.

I laugh at myself because I get excited about fat-soluble vitamins and remedies, lol. My five favorites for this season are:

1. Cod liver oil Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K are tremendous for building a healthy immune system. Vitamin A and Vitamin D in adequate doses (so it is truly important to look for a good brand, some commercial brands contain very little Vitamin D) can help to stave off colds, flus, and asthma. Fat-soluble vitamins help with mineral metabolism, cognitive development, intellectual development, and vision. 

When a child runs a fever, the heat and inflammation in the body quickly deplete vitamin A. It is said that a Vitamin A deficiency is why some children have febrile seizures or end up with febrile blindness.

2.Hydration– Staying hydrated is also important, and in the time of a high fever, it is difficult to stay hydrated. Pedialyte and those types of beverages are loaded with crap. I have been mixing up my favorite mineral supplement and having my toddler drink it to stay hydrated. It provides excellent sources of minerals and electrolytes and tastes so yummy. I usually make a glass for myself and just fill his sippy. Babies only need breastmilk or formula.

3. Elderberry Elixir is another super immune booster. I have been interested in elderberry syrups and have researched a lot about elderberry immune-boosting properties. I wasn’t too keen on giving the honey or maple syrups to the little kids and not being able to find where the berries were sourced from was another one of my mind-bogglers, so I was happy to come across this elixir that is farmed in Maine (hubby’s home state), on a biodynamic farm, with a very controlled process.

4. Probiotics— I have blogged and blogged about gut health and probiotics. A healthy gut contains 5-7 pounds of healthy gut bacteria, which secretes vitamins that we absorb, creates anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral substances that fight pathogens and helps us detox and keeps our feel-good chemicals in balance. If our balance gets disrupted then our whole immune system is compromised. A good quality probiotic is vital so that the necessary strains of bacteria survive the digestive tract and juices and can reach the gut to populate and do their job.

5. Outdoor time– Fresh air and sunshine are amazing. 10-30 min per day can work wonders. It supports healthy vitamin d levels. I luckily live in Florida, so our outdoor weather is usually pleasant. However, if you’re in a different climate, appropriate clothing still makes outdoor time possible.

Generally, if it seems like your child is always catching a cold, don’t panic. The advice my pediatrician gave me was that the kids’ immune systems are still developing, and because of that, they are more susceptible to colds and infections. Over time, as long as health is supported with a healthy diet and physical activity their immune systems will catch up and this too shall pass.

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women's health

B Vitamins for a Healthy Mama

By on February 4, 2019

As soon as women enter childbearing age, we hear about the importance of folic acid. Folic acid is vitamin B9 and is extremely important to the development of a fetus. Although folic acid is important, there are a whole plethora of b-vitamins and adequate amounts account for many of our metabolic processes.

There is more published research on the importance of all of the B vitamins for women’s health. Scientists have uncovered a link to vitamin-b deficiencies and postpartum depression.

Recently, I had a few days where I felt depression creep in. I was recovering from a cold and could not quite get my mind back in gear. After one night of adding an additional b-complex vitamin, I felt back to normal.

The B’s

    B1, Thiamine is the B that helps convert carbs to energy. B1 supports our nervous, cardiovascular, and muscular system as well as brain development. B vitamins are easily depleted when a diet is high in carbs and sugar. 1.4 mg is suggested for adequate levels.
    B2, Riboflavin is essential for proper eye health and skin repair. It also is required to absorb iron, so proper levels can prevent anemia. The body will not store B2 because it is water soluble. For a pregnant mama, adequate levels of B2 can reduce the risk of preeclampsia and supports proper development of baby’s bones, muscles, and nerves. 1.4 mg is required during pregnancy.
    B3 is important for the health of our adrenal glands. Our adrenals control cortisol production– the stress hormone. B3 also helps remove inflammation and chronic inflammation is the root of many health issues.
    B5 is required for wound healing. This is important during pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery.
    B6, Pyridoxine is important for support the of brain and nervous system as well as the metabolism of protein and carbs. B6 deficiency is being studied as a possible root of anxiety and panic disorders. It is a vitamin responsible for regulating sleep and supporting adequate production of seratonin and dopamine. B6 is synthesized in the hemoglobin. B6 is often suggested to prevent or help with morning sickness. It is known to reduce nausea and vomiting due to its role in protein/carb metabolism. 1.9 mg during pregnancy and 2.0 for breastfeeding mamas.
    B9, folic acid assists in cell reproduction and helps prevent neural tube defects. Folate is also water soluble and we do not store any additional reserves in our bodies. That is why it is so important to supplement this vitamin preconception and during pregnancy.
    B12 is important in preventing neural tube defects. This vitamin is essential for making DNA, our genetic material. It is responsible for the growth of new nerve cells and helps us have adequate energy levels and feelings of happiness! 2.5 mcg is the suggested dose.

Many foods provide us with b-vitamins. Dark leafy greens, nuts/seeds, asparagus, etc. It is difficult to receive all we require through diet alone. Cooking processes, the way our food is grown, fertilized, and processed plays a role in whether or not we will receive enough nutrients from the food alone.

Fortified foods and synthetic folic acid needs to be converted to 5-MTHF (aka methylfolate) to be metabolized in our body. The way the body metabolizes synthetic supplements is a strange chemical reaction that can actually cause toxicity. This is especially common in folks with the MTHFR gene mutation.

This is why high-quality whole food supplements are vital so that we can get the job done and our bodies can utilize the vitamins the way nature intended. My favorite supplements are these or these.

Having proper levels of b-vitamins can change our genetic predispositions and help reduce deficiencies we inherit from our maternal lineage, such as insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and other metabolic disorders. Repairing our DNA is quite profound. Just because we are predisposed does not mean we are doomed, and we can prevent issues for future generations!

 

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