Let’s acknowledge that we are living through an unprecedented time in our history: a 100 year pandemic. This is a time when we need to practice love, kindness, and patience in order to come out of this stronger and more resilient. We must approach this with a level head, and an open heart. We must focus on doing what is necessary to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. This is a time to stay home, practice good hygiene (wash hands and clean surfaces), cook nutritious whole foods, learn new things, laugh as much as possible, love and cherish our loved ones, and be grateful for the little things in life.
Aside from following the national and state guidelines of washing your hands, wearing a mask, and staying home while practicing social distancing, what can you do to protect yourself from this virus?
Support your Immune system
Your immune system is your bodies defense system. When it is functioning optimally it can and should handle viruses that invade the body. In order to do this, you need to make sure you are consuming important nutrients that support your immunity.
P3’s “Musts” for Optimal Immune Function:
- A Whole-Food, Nutrient Dense, Diet – Nutrient deficiencies are the major cause of a poorly functioning immune system. More than 90% of Americans are deficient in at least one nutrient (at the minimum dose). We all need to focus on improving the quality of our diet.
- Reduce and Eliminate Sugar and Refined Starches – Studies show that sugar and processed foods adversely effect your immune system for hours after ingesting them. This is a great time to do a sugar detox.
- Make Sure You’re Eating Clean Protein – Every cell in your body needs protein. Make sure you’re getting it from clean sources: wild caught fish, grass finished beef, wild game, pastured poultry and eggs, collagen protein, or homemade broths. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, make sure to consume hemp hearts, nuts and seeds (preferably soaked and sprouted), spirulina, fermented soy (in small quantities), and organic beans and rice (combined to make whole proteins).
- A Wide Variety of Colorful Non Starchy Veggies – Make sure you eat a rainbow of color every day. The color in veggies and fruit is from polyphenols (strong antioxidants) that eat up free radicals in the body, and help your immune system fight off viruses. Garlic, onions, fresh herbs (such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, and turmeric) are natural antimicrobials. Colorful berries are another source of antioxidants, but keep fruits in moderation. Too much fruit spikes blood sugar, which weakens the immune system.
- Multiple Servings of Foods High in Vitamin C – These foods contain phytonutrients that protect the immune system from damage caused by too many free radicals. Make sure you purchase organic sources – papaya, bell peppers (all colors), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, pineapple, oranges, kiwi, cauliflower, and cantaloupe. Aim for 1-2 servings (1/2 Cup) of fruits and 8 more servings of vegetables!
- Multiple Servings of Foods High in Zinc – Zinc is a vital co-factor to ensure proper immune function. Make sure to eat a variety of these foods throughout the day. Grass finished beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, cashews, organic turkey, quinoa, wild caught shrimp.
- Eat Colorful Fruits and Vegetables High in Vitamin A – Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, kale, mustard or collard greens, turnip or beet greens, Swiss chard, and winter squash. A serving is 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked.
- Probiotic-Rich, Fermented, Foods – These foods support both your immune system and your microbiome (which houses your immune system). Include sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, miso, tempeh, unsweetened yogurt, and kefir. They also keep well! Include prebiotic foods such as asparagus, artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, plantains, dandelion greens, leeks, onions, garlic, bananas, apples, jicama, flax seeds, and seaweed.
- Drink Your Fluids – Your body is up to 60% water. Water is the primary building block of cells. Make sure you are drinking ½ your body weight in ounces of filtered water per day (i.e. – a 150lb person needs 75oz of water each day, and even more if exercising). You can also drink immune boosting warm bone broths, soups made from scratch with organic vegetables and herbs. These are rich in vitamins and minerals and count as part of your water. Herbal teas are also a great way to get water and immune supportive herbs and spices into the body. Try, echinacea, elderflower, turmeric, ginger, lemon, elderberry and rosehips for a few good options. Traditional Medicinal is a trusted brand.
- Sufficient Sleep – Getting enough quality sleep is now a no brainer. Sleep restores and heals the body. Without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible! To follow the body’s natural circadian rhythm, head to bed earlier. A sleep window of 10pm to 6am is ideal for most people. Aim for 7-8 hours per night. Incorporating meditation, prayer, deep breathing and or gratitude practices throughout the day will help manage stress and quiet the mind.
- Exercise – In spite of being on lockdown in our homes, try to take a walk outside (practicing social distancing with your mask); or – if you have a backyard – just spend time outside. There are many excellent free exercise programs being offered online now. You can go to our Facebook page and do some exercises with our own Tarah! There are apps with 7 minute or short Tabata workouts. Just get your body moving! Your immune system needs movement to flush out the lymphatic system and remove toxins. Our bodies are meant to move!
- Sunshine – This virus doesn’t like the sun or warmer weather. Get out in the sun for 20 minutes a day. Your body will create vitamin D, which is life-giving to your immune system. Try some deep breathing and gratitude while you take note of the gift of nature.
- Stay connected – Being in close touch with those you love and with your P3 team is essential for your mental and emotional health. Thank God for FaceTime and Zoom! Have virtual get-togethers, coffee dates, dinner parties, or anything that tickles your fancy… just stay connected.
If you are practicing all these immune boosting lifestyle interventions and feel you need additional support, P3 suggests the following supplements (please check with your practitioner to make sure these are right for you personally):
- The Foundations: Vitamin D3, Omega 3, B12 …EVERY DAY
- Melatonin 10-20mg
- Vitamin A 10,000iu daily
- Vitamin C 5,000mg daily
- Liposomal Glutathione 5cc twice daily.
Immune Boosting Stirfry
1 pound grass finished beef, chicken or shrimp
1 medium onion sliced
1-2 cups sliced organic mushrooms
1 1/2 cup sliced Brussels Sprouts
1 cup chopped organic Collard greens stem removed *
1 cup chopped organic kale stem removed**
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1. Pre-cook your chicken, beef, or shrimp ahead of time. You can grill or bake or slow cook with some oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
2. Saute the onions, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts in olive oil on medium to medium low heat until soft and a little caramelized
3. Add in the meat- make sure you cut it into small pieces
4. Add the chopped collard greens and kale and toss till the greens are soft and the meat is heated through.
5. Toss with 1/4 – 1/2 of the peanut sauce depending on preference.
* If you are a vegetarian you can use organic sprouted tofu or leave step 1 out and put chopped nuts and hemp hearts on top.
** You can use whatever greens you like just make sure you use greens because they are so nutritious
Asian Style Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter or almond or cashew butter
1-3 Tbs water if you want a thinner consistency
2 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp tamari or coconut aminos
2 cloves garlic minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 tsp grated ginger or 1/4 tsp ginger powder
1 Tbsp raw honey or Monk fruit
1 tsp toasted sesame oil- if you don’t have it omit it
2 Tbsp avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 small diced jalapeno diced or use half or 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1-2 Tbsp cilantro chopped fine
Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until well blended. If you don’t want it spicy, remove the jalapenos or the red chili flakes. Store in a mason jar in the fridge. Jar will need to be shaken well before using, once chilled.
Serve over cooked brown rice/millet ramen noodles (from Costco), over brown rice, zucchini noodles, or by itself. Top with sesame seeds or chopped cashew for added nutrition if you like. This is a delicious and chock full of nutrition… and makes awesome leftovers.
Written by Gwen Krieger, P3 Health Coach