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3 Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System this Season

What if you didn’t have to avoid your sniffly neighbor or that co-worker that refuses to take sick days for fear that you might get whatever they’re suffering from? As we move into the winter months our potential for getting sick increases, but there’s a lot we can do to protect ourselves from it beyond washing our hands and eating vitamin C. The body’s ability to fight off sickness can be significantly enhanced by incorporating certain foods and avoiding things that deplete our wellbeing. Here are some tips on ways to strengthen your immune system and ensure that you’ll be well protected from getting sick.

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Have More Energy and Vitality in Your Daily Life

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It would seem that many of us are becoming old and tired very quickly. I’ve begun to notice that most people, when asked how they’re doing, respond with a sigh, ‘I’m ok, pretty tired.’ This normally begins in the early twenties and carries on into adulthood – unless we do something about it.

Most of us were born into perfect, healthy bodies. It is what we do to them over time that causes us to be tired, weak, and exhausted. Restless nights, cranky mornings, and afternoon crashes tend to be results of our own doing.

Here are some small changes you can make to brighten your days and get your energy flowing once again.

1. Start your day of with hot water and lemon, and three minutes of meditation

When you wake up in the mornings you’ve been fasting for the last five to eight hours. This is the perfect opportunity for a mini-cleanse to flush toxins from your body and hydrate your system.

Lemons are high in vitamin C which helps boost your immune system and neutralize free radicals associated with aging and disease, wrinkles and acne. Drinking hot water with lemon hydrates the lymph system responsible for secreting necessary hormones that regulate energy levels, hunger, metabolism, sleep and much more. It’s easy to do and will brighten up your body immediately!

I know, I know, meditation is for people who eat raw food and play hacky sack, BUT, many studies show that even a few minutes of meditation can generate happiness, improve concentration, maintain optimum blood pressure and benefits many other functions of the body. Starting in the morning, take three minutes to sit and calm the mind. For some simple tips on meditation: http://ow.ly/hEq8y. Beginning your day with meditation will activate your brain and flush obtrusive thoughts that obstruct clear thinking.

2. Confine snacking to nuts, fruit and other whole foods; AVOID refined sugars and carbohydrates

When you eat refined carbs and sugars your body works overtime trying to process the food you’ve just eaten. The body digests and converts food into sugar, and the more refined the food is the faster the conversion. The pancreas then begins to rapidly pump insulin to move sugar into the cells and store them as fat. This process is what creates the sugar highs and sugar crashes that most of us feel throughout the day when snacking on overly processed, overly refined products.

Not only do refined sugars and carbohydrates widen your waistline, they harm your brain by reducing production of chemicals that aid our memory, keep us alert, fight depression and anxiety, and improve our sleep. By switching your snacks to whole foods; walnuts, cranberries, grapes, hummus, and carrots provide an enormous benefit. Whole foods with a low glycemic load slow the conversion process, and the food is used as fuel instead of acting as an enemy.

Do yourself a favor and have small, tasty snacks with you at all times – at work, after the gym, out and about running errands. Changing your snacking style will absolutely increase your energy and reduce the unnecessary consumption of extra sugar helping prevent weight gain, bad moods, and poor concentration.

3. Cut down on meat

People tend to think that meat is a complete meal. While meat does contain a lot of protein, it lacks many essential vitamins and fats at the same time putting a huge strain on your digestive system.

Human being have long digestive tracts, as do all herbivores. Meat takes a very long time to pass through our systems. Converting meat takes a huge toll on our systems. Digestion is the most energy intensive process in our bodies, so eating meat once or twice or even three times a day takes a huge amount of energy  that could be used elsewhere.

I understand that meat is a big part of a lot of peoples’ diets, so I suggest gently reducing your intake. Begin by eliminating meat on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If that feels good, take it out of another day, and so on.

Although meat does provide us with a good amount of protein, we tend to overestimate how much protein we really need. If you are eating a well-rounded plant based diet (this doesn’t necessarily mean vegetarian, just that your meals begin with plants) including hemp seeds, nuts, legumes, lentils, mushrooms and green veggies, you’ll surely get plenty of protein. Since plant foods are so quickly and easily digested, you’ll have significantly more energy. They also provide you with vitamin D, magnesium, iron, antioxidants, vitamin C and tons of other nutrients that are great for your energy, skin, hormones, mental clarity, metabolism and more.

4. Make sure every meal includes a protein, fat and a carb

A lot of times when we end a meal we don’t feel satisfied, so our focus turns to finishing with something sweet or just continually eating throughout the day. This feeling of dissatisfaction is largely due to not eating a complete meal. Doing your best to eat a carb, a protein and a fat at each meal will help ensure that you feel satisfied and energized afterwards, and won’t crave food until your actually hungry again.

When many of us hear the word ‘fat’ we get concerned about weight gain, but healthy fats are extremely important for heart health, brain function, metabolism, healthy skin, and the absorption of important vitamins like A, C, K, and D.

Trans fats or hydrogenated oils MUST be avoided. This fat is used to extend the shelf life of processed foods foods. is one molecule away from being plastic. It harms your body the moment you ingest it. It thickens your blood and scars your arteries. Be sure to read labels and avoid hydrogenated oils and trans fats at all costs!

Protein can be derived from seeds, nuts, legumes, and green veggies. Fats from animals tensd to be high in saturated fat so good options are fish, nuts, coconut oil, avocadoes, and olive oil. Quinoa, rice, buckwheat, barley, or oatmeal are excellent examples of low-glycemic carbohydrates.

Examples (P = protein, F = fat, C = carb):

Breakfast – Two eggs (p), an avocado (p & f) and a slice of rye or whole wheat bread (c)

Lunch – Green bean salad (c) with goat cheese crumbles (f & p), pine nuts (f) and a palm-size piece of chicken breast (p),

Dinner – Sautéed zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms, and kale (p) with olive oil (f) and rice (c)

5. Know your sensitivities and allergies

A lot of people know that they have sensitivities to dairy and gluten, but continue to consume them. I understand that it can be tough to get off things that are staples of our diets, but continually eating foods that don’t agree with us sap our energy as our bodies work overtime trying to break down and digest the foods that they don’t have the enzymes to aid digestion of that particular food.

To become more aware of your sensitivities, pay attention to any foods that gives you a headache, stomachache, acid or indigestion. If you can’t cut them out altogether, do it slowly and mindfully, If you’re allergic to dairy, replace your cow milk with almond, rice, hemp, coconut, or soy milk (be careful with soy however as that can actually be very hard on the stomach). If gluten bothers you make your cereal with nuts and seeds in the mornings, switch to rice pasta (I love Tinkyada), and try a gluten free tortilla for a wrap at lunchtime.

Try some of the suggestions above to realize your full potential. You’ll have so much more energy and mental clarity to wake up early, get your work done efficiently, play with your kids, go out with friends, try new exercise programs, and have an all around better quality of life.


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The Importance of Having an Alkaline System and Three Ways to Improve Your Own

— Olivia Janisch

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You may have heard the words ‘alkaline’ and ‘acidic’ used together lately and wondered what on Earth it’s got to do with you, and why these are the new buzz words in nutrition. I’d like to briefly explain what they mean and why a proper understanding of these terms is vital to your overall health, energy levels and quality of life.

Just as we have a normal temperature of 98.6 degrees F, there are other measures of homeostasis within our systems. One of the biggest measures is that of our pH level, which is the balance between alkaline and acid. Ideally, we want our pH of all bodily fluids to be 7.4, which is slightly alkaline.

By having this slightly alkaline balance within our bodies we’re able to fight off illnesses more efficiently, have higher energy levels, reduce inflammation that leads to ailments from headaches to heart disease, and create an internal environment that is easy to maintain and supports our everyday lives in a healthy and non-intrusive way.

Unfortunately, the typical American diet is extremely high in acid forming foods that cause our bodies to use excessive energy desperately trying to return to an alkaline state, and to call on stored reserves of alkaline minerals.

Not all acid forming foods are unhealthy (ie organic meat and eggs, organic unrefined oils), and you want to have a balance of 20% healthy acid forming foods and 80% alkaline forming foods for every meal. The problems arise when there is a stark imbalance in one’s diet. This imbalance occurs with over-consumption of processed foods like sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed and antibiotic-laden meats, soft drinks, dairy, tofu, refined grains and alcohol.

Common discomforts like fatigue, headaches, bloating, and poor sleep- things many people deem to be a normal part of life- can be resolved by eating more alkaline forming foods and reducing acid forming foods. While cutting out processed and excessively acidic foods is the best thing you can do, here are three small steps that will make a noticeable difference.

1. Drink hot water with organic lemon in the mornings on an empty stomach

I know what you’re thinking: aren’t lemons acidic? Lemons on their own are acidic, however in our systems they are very alkaline. After a long night’s sleep it’s important to first hydrate in the mornings. Hydrating this way cleanses your body from the day before – hot water and lemon help to detoxify your system – and activates your metabolism. It also boosts your immune system and helps with weight loss (If you’d like more info, check out this article http://ow.ly/ccyea). There’s literally no reason not to start your day off like this.

2. Eat celery before, during, and/or after meals

Celery is extremely alkaline and contains a balanced content of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients. It helps to neutralize acid that is created by things like meat, breads and sugars, and has high water content good for hydration. You can add it to salads, soups, or sandwiches, or eat it on it’s own with almond butter or hummus. It aids in digestion and is a great source of vitamin C, reducing inflammation and discomfort after a meal.

3. Pair your foods properly

This one is probably the hardest as many common recipes combine foods that actually require different enzymes to be digested properly. When food isn’t digested properly it gets stuck in the digestive tract and putrefies, causing a toxic and acidic environment. Here is a basic breakdown of what foods do and don’t go together:

Proteins + Starches = do not mix

Proteins + vegetables = mix

Starches + vegetables = mix

Different starches = mix

Different proteins = do not mix

Fats + protein = do not mix well, pair moderately

Fats + starches = do mix

Fruits = ALWAYS eaten on an empty stomach

Fruit + raw greens = mix

For a more in depth explanation on food pairing, here is a great article: http://ow.ly/cb6B6

Combining your food the right way will reduce bloating and gas after meals, help control or more likely reduce your weight, and will increase your energy levels.

To give you an idea of a balanced day, here is a little menu.

Breakfast:

Hot water with lemon (on empty stomach)

(20%) Scrambled organic eggs (1-2)

(80%) Sautéed onions and greens, sliced avocado

Lunch

(20%) Quinoa (1/4 cup)

(80%) Sautéed carrots, peas, asparagus

Lentil soup

Dinner

(20%) Grilled salmon

(80%) Green beans with garlic

Leaks and yellow squash sautéed with oregano

When making diet changes, always remember to be gentle on yourself. If you try and change every meal or several habits at once, chances are you’ll get burned out and frustrated. Small steps are easy to incorporate into your daily routine and don’t take a toll on your lifestyle so that your good intentions are able to have long-lasting, sustainable effects. Good luck and let us know what works for you!