self-care, Uncategorized

Protecting yourself from the flu!

 

My husband came home last night¬†and said, “Everyone at work is out with the flu.” I quickly suggested he take that zinc and those multi-vitamins I had just purchased for him, and (maybe for the first time) he didn’t blow me off. Side note: It’s hard to be married to a health coach. Good thing I can cook.¬†ūüėČ

This flu season is predicted to be one of the worst in recent history, and that is pretty scary especially for those of us with a whacked out immune system. Here is what I am doing to protect myself and my family. 

Disclaimer: I am a health coach and not a doctor, a dietician, or a nutritionist.   I make no claims to any specialized medical training, nor do I provide health care, medical or nutrition therapy services; or to diagnose, treat or cure any disease, condition or other physical or mental ailment of the human body.

1. Wash your hands! I know this is super fundamental, but I see people in public bathrooms. I know that at least some of us are not washing our hands as often as we should. Wash your hands before you eat, after you come in from being out, and after touching stuff like money, handrails, and elevator buttons.  In other words, if one potentially sick person touched it, wash your hands! 

2. Stay away from sugar. Sugar is just horrible for us. It creates inflammation and harms beneficial gut bacteria which leads to immune system problems. If you must have something for that sweet tooth buy yourself some richly colored fruit so you get the fructose¬†you’re craving and the vitamins you need. Note:¬†Fruit juice doesn’t count!

3. Get that sleep. We need at least 7 hours of sleep each night, but most of us get about 5. We have to get the sleep we need so our body can do its job of protecting us.  If you need to be scared straight on this topic, I found this interview with sleep scientist Michael Walker to be very effective. 

4. Eat the rainbow. Load up your plate with veggies of all colors! Vegetables are full of vitamins, nutrients, and fiber our body needs to nourish our cells and feed our good gut bacteria. 

5. Take your supplements. I’d rather get my nutrition through¬†food because I know that work better for my body, but there are somethings that I can’t get through our food.¬† This looks different for all of us, but for me, this means making sure I get my vitamin D, omega-3, and gut healing probiotic every day, without fail.¬† Note: People with very active autoimmune symptoms should not be taking loads of immune-boosting vitamins like echinacea. If you aren’t sure what you should be taking, talk to your openminded nurse practitioner or doctor to see what they recommend for you.¬†

7. Eat all those probiotics! If it isn’t clear by now our gut health is super important. SEVENTY (70%) percent of our immune system is located in our gut. If you have lupus or another autoimmune diagnosis you have to address your gut health.

During this flu season, I’m making sure I give my gut everything it needs (and avoiding what it doesn’t) to make sure my immune system is given the best chance to protect me. I’ve written about eating your probiotics here, but for a shorter version, I’ll just tell you that I am loading up on miso,¬† tempeh, homemade sauerkraut, and these Bubbies pickles that I can’t seem to replicate.

So far, staying vigilant¬†about these things has kept the flu at bay, and I’m hoping and praying that it will stay away. However, if it does happen, I am confident that my little family and I will be in good enough shape to weather the storm.¬†

May the flu pass you by!

Public Service Announcement: Stay home if you are sick. I know that’s¬†hard. I know that kids have to be places¬†and sometimes work is unforgiving about days off, but you have to get the rest you need to protect yourself. And you have to keep your germs to yourself. You flu could literally kill someone with a weak or whacky immune system. Stay home in bed and binge watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel because it’s brilliant.

healing journey

Another side of wellness

alex-sick

When we think about what it looks like to be healthy, we envision eating lots of vegetables and doing lots of exercise. While all that’s¬†true, sometimes being healthy looks a little different when you aren’t. (Think cold and flu season.)

Imagine, if you will, that your partner/kid/loved-one is really sick. Your response (hopefully) is to get them to bed, make them some soup, and give them comfort. We do this because we know they feel awful and we don’t want them to feel awful. Now, try to remember the last time you were sick. Did you push yourself to work through it? Did you say horrible things to yourself because you aren’t exercising like you needed to be? Did you change your diet to reflect your body’s needs? Probably not.

Our body sends us messages all the time about what it needs, but we are either deaf to it or willingly ignorant. If we want to be healthy — full of energy, a healthy body weight, strong and happy into our old age, etc. — then we have to start listening. When your body says sleep, sleep! Listening to those signals and actively working to heal your body when you are ill is just as important as all the kale salads and trips to the gym you take when you are well. ¬†So speak and treat yourself like you would someone you love and let the healing commence.

Gut Health

Gut health 1: Bugs, guts, and antibiotic

antibiotics

This week I’m wading into the pretty controversial¬†topic of antibiotics as an introduction to a new series on gut health. First, I want to put it out there that I am really glad we live in a time where antibiotics are available, but I believe we need to seriously reduce our exposure to them at all levels and tend to our gut health every day.

Why I like them 

Before the advent of antibiotics, people died at an alarming rate from things we now can treat in 5 to 10 days with a cheap trip to the drug store. ¬†It’s been said that if we had had antibiotics during the plague we could have saved countless lives. ¬†Just a few weeks ago two people that I love had to take antibiotics. I say had to because these people are not the type to run to the doctor demanding antibiotics for the sniffles. ¬†One had a serious ear infection and one a serious kidney infection, and in both cases, antibiotics played an important and vital role in their recovery.

Why I tend to avoid them

Aside from antibiotic resistant bacteria like MRSA that will usher in the coming zombie apocalypse (kidding!), we are starting to make connections between antibiotics and what Dr. Martin J. Blaser calls our modern plagues. He writes that obesity, diabetes, asthma, cancer, autoimmune disease, and a whole host of prevalent modern ailments are a direct result of our abuse of antibiotics. From the pills we take to the antibacterial gel we squeeze all over our kids, antibiotics wrecking our microbiome, i.e. the trillions of fungi, bacteria, etc that live inside us.

Antibiotics¬†kill everything, the germs we are trying to kill and the healthy microbes trying to keep us healthy. And that’s a real problem because antibiotics are way¬†overprescribed, especially for kids. ¬†Not to mention that here in the States we have something of a germaphobic culture that causes us to sanitize everything, including ourselves and our living environments. This is devastating to our microbiome. In the coming weeks, I’ll be talking more about healing and taking care of our microbiome, but the first step is to address how we actively¬†destroy it through the medicine we take, the products we use, and the food we eat. ¬†Here are some tips to reduce your and your families exposure to antibiotics.

1. Ask your doctor questions. When your doctor offers antibiotics to you or your children ask the following:

  1. “What should I expect if I take these drugs?”
  2. “What¬†can I expect if I don’t take these drugs?”
  3. “What would happen if we took a wait and see approach?”

I can’t tell you how to respond to their answers because we all have our limits, but I will take a few more days of being sick to protect my long term health.

2. Stop trying to sanitize your world! ¬†Back away from the sanitizer gel, get rid of the bleach, and stop being so scared of germs. Before you eat or after you use the restroom wash your hands with NORMAL (not antibacterial) soap and water. Believe me, this is enough. Also, when you clean your house, you don’t need to try to wage war on the germs because, honestly, you aren’t going to win but you will probably do some damage to your own health in the process. For tips on cleaning without harming yourself, check out¬†this post.

3. Reduce the amount of ¬†antibiotic-laden meat and animal products you eat.¬†¬†There has been some ¬†movement from big producers like Tyson’s and Cargill to reduce the amount of antibiotics used in their animals, but we have a long way to go before conventional meat is free from antibiotics. So be more conscientious about the animal products you put in your body. Vote with your checkbook by buying foods from farmers that do not use antibiotics, which is typically going to mean going with the product that is certified organic. ¬†It is going to cost you a little more for those antibiotic free eggs, but in the end¬†it’s still going to be cheaper than managing a disease.

Good luck and stay tuned for more information on healing your gut.

 

Recipes

Green and blue smoothie

 

yumy

My whole family has been fighting off the plague. Okay, it’s probably not¬†the plague. ¬†Actually, it was baby’s-first-week-in-daycare-and-she-brought-back-a-bunch-of-weird-little-kid-germ thing. You’ve probably heard of it. Little kid germs are some tough suckers, so we spent the weekend resting and eating healing foods like bone broth and shots of Fire Cider for my husband and me. ¬†We are on the mend, but I’m taking extra care to nourish and support my immune system. ¬†One method of support is this lovely smoothie, which is full of things my body needs like avocado, banana, flaxseed, spinach, blueberries, and a touch of coconut milk. ¬†I chose these ingredients because 1.) I had them and 2.) they have powerful nutrients that I felt my body needed.

Avocado —¬†The heart healthy fat in avocados helps the body to absorb all the nutrients that are going into this smoothie, making it a great base.

Banana¬†— The sweetness in a banana is a great reason to add it to a smoothie, but it has so many other benefits. Bananas have vitamins, minerals, and fiber our bodies need, and they help to keep a good balance of¬†Bifidobacteria in our lower intestines, which¬†in turn¬†keeps our guts healthy. Healthy gut = healthy you.

Blueberries — These also add sweetness and turn the smoothie a lovely purple all while delivering¬†antioxidants, vitamin K and C and more¬†beneficial¬†fiber.

Spinach — Spinach is a powerhouse and a great source of¬†greens for people that are watching their intake of¬†cruciferous vegetables. In addition to all the lovely vitamins and minerals, research seems to show that spinach helps to protect the lining of our gut from inflammation.

Flaxseed — Adding ground flaxseed to anything you eat is a great way to get a big dose of omega-3 fatty acids, a fat that helps with all manner of things. It helps reduce inflammation and lower triglyceride levels. Researchers believe it may even protect us from Alzheimer’s. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of my diet.

Green and blue smoothie

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: silly easy
  • Print

In your blender, blend together the following:

  1. 1/2 avocado
  2. 1 banana
  3. 2 handfuls of washed baby spinach
  4. 1 cup frozen blueberries
  5. 1.5 TBS ground flaxseed (optional)
  6. 1/4 cup pineapple (optional)
  7. the contents of 1 probiotic capsule (optional)
  8. enough coconut milk or other non-dairy milk to turn the ingredients into a smoothie.
  9. 1 to 2 tsp of hemp seeds to top it off
  10. Enjoy!

 

Recipes

Homemade Vegetable Pho

pho

I love pho so much, especially when its cold outside and I’m feeling a cold come on. Unfortunately, there is only one place in my area that sells vegan, gluten-free pho, and it’s all the way across town. But this time, instead of giving in and jumping in my car, I went into the kitchen to see if I could figure it out myself. I’m happy to say that with this easy recipe I might just be done with drives across town.

Not only is this a delightful and easy meal, but it’s also a great way to get some more vegetables into your diet.

Vegetarian Pho

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Broth

  • 3 pieces of whole star anise
  • 5 pieces of whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 10-15 black peppercorns
  • 1.5 inch ginger cut in to smaller chunks
  • 1/4 a medium size yellow onion
  • 4 “no beef ” bullion cubes in 8 cups of boiling water¬†or 8 cups of your choice of broth¬†(A non-vegan but wonderful idea is to use¬†bone broth)
  • 1 TBS ¬†gluten-free tamari ¬†(optional)

Soup goodies

  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 4 ounces of mushrooms (shiitake, white, or baby bella)
  • 1 or 2 carrots
  • 1 to 2 cups broccoli
  • TBS coconut oil
  • 1/2 package rice noodles (I use brown rice seaweed noodles from Star Anise Foods).

Topping (optional but delicious)

  1. Cilantro,
  2. Basil
  3. Jalapeno
  4. Lime

Instructions

  1. Throw all the broth ingredients into a 3 quart pan and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for as long as you like. I simmered mine while I was preparing the next part of the soup.
  2. Chop your vegetables into bite size pieces.
  3. Throw the veggies in to a 6 quart pot with coconut oil and saute for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. With a strainer over the 6 quart  pot pour the broth into the vegetables. Your broth should be a little like a concentrate. Add 2 more cups boiling water and the rice noodles. Cook on medium high until the noodles are tender (usually just a minute or two).
  5. Serve with cilantro, basil, jalapeno, and lime wedges.
  6. Enjoy!