Viewing entries tagged
colds

Elemental Family Focus on Immunity: My Three Simple and Straightforward Immune-Boosting Dietary Tips

Comment

Elemental Family Focus on Immunity: My Three Simple and Straightforward Immune-Boosting Dietary Tips

Miso.jpg

Do you know a sure-fire way to eat to keep your immune system strong, as well as how to support a run down or sick system? I have three simple and straightforward tips to keep in mind this holiday season. Read on to discover what they are...

I know the holidays are fast approaching, and I am not trying to ruin all the fun, but I do believe that having a few guidelines to follow when facing the feasts ahead can help to keep you healthier. The tips in this post are mainly applicable to when you are feeling run down or when you are actually sick; however, the way you treat a sick system is usually optimal for illness-prevention as well.

Main point here: Try and make choices about what you eat with care, mindfulness, and moderation, and your system will thank you for it. And above all, enjoy what you eat! Savoring your food encourages proper digestion.

Chinese medicine has observed the influence of diet on health for thousands of years, and nutritional advice is often incorporated into my healing protocols as an acupuncturist. In the Chinese medical view, diet is intimately connected to the proper functioning of all systems, and impacts the quality of your blood, energy reserves, and immunity. What we eat, as well as how we prepare and eat it (cooked or raw for example), matters big time.

Diet is a tricky part of supporting immunity because it isn’t as simple as just wanting to eat right. Most of us want to eat well and to feed our kids a healthy, immune-supportive diet. The break is usually somewhere between the wanting, the doing, and the know-how. All sorts of things get in the way of putting real food on the table on a regular basis: time, money, interest, knowledge, overwhelm, and did I mention, TIME?

The fact remains though, dietary choices are always important, especially when you are trying to stay healthy or slogging through an illness. What you put in your system holds even more weight when your body is run-down, since it can make the difference between maintaining wellness and plunging headfirst into a cold or flu.

My Three Simple and Straightforward Immune-Boosting Dietary Tips:

1) Eat. Warm. Food.

Cold and raw food is damaging to the root of our immunity, the gut, which we acupuncturists refer to as the Spleen organ system. The Spleen appreciates and thrives on a diet of primarily warm foods, versus the ice water and salad-obsessed Standard American Diet (aka SAD – a fitting acronym really). This is especially true in the winter, when the Spleen is up against environmental chill as well as cold in our diets.

General fatigue and muscle weakness, bloating after eating, and easy bruising are all signs of Spleen weakness, so taking a break from cold and raw food can support proper functioning of the Spleen, rather than taxing it further.

Old wives tale-y though it may be, soup is an incredible food. It is, wait for it, warm and can be filled with any number of nourishing ingredients. Miso soup with plenty of scallions is good at the onset of a cold or fever, and chicken soup with veggies has cold-fighting properties. There is a special kind of soup called bone broth that is a mainstay of traditional diets the world over. Bone broth is a powerful nutritive and immune tonic. Stay tuned for soup and bone broth recipes on my site this winter!

2) Cut down on the refined sugar.

Sugar is delicious (duh), but it is also bad news when consumed in inappropriate quantities. In moderation, and in health, our bodies can metabolize some amount of sugar (especially of the fruit and honey varieties). But if you are stressed, sleeping too little, and eating poorly, then sugar becomes a bad guy in and of itself. Sugar lowers your immune power and generates heat (Chinese medicine-ease for inflammation) in the body.

If you are desperate for something sweet, go for an apple drizzled with honey and cinnamon or a few squares of real-deal dark chocolate (Endangered Species and Theo are two of my favorite brands).

3) Dairy is phlegmy and therefore not the best choice when you are also phlegmy.

Dairy is a cold (see #1 above) and damp-producing food in the eyes of Chinese medicine. Barring an allergy or intolerance, dairy can be a healthy part of the diet, when consumed in small to moderate amounts (same as #2 above), especially when the dairy products are organic and varied (choosing goat and cow milk cheeses for example). But when you are dealing with phlegmy conditions, manifesting as sinus congestion or phlegm anywhere in the respiratory tract, from the nose to the lungs, then removing dairy from the diet will make it easier for your body to clear the gunk that is already there.

IN SUM, if you are experiencing the beginnings of a cold in the form of a runny nose, scratchy throat, sneezing, fatigue, or even just feeling "off," then give up the raw/cold food, sugar, and dairy for a bit. By choosing foods that are clear, light, and immune supportive (and eating the not-so-healthy stuff in moderate amounts), you will lighten the digestive load and your immune system will be respond in kind.

 

Comment

Elemental Family Focus on Immunity, Part 1: Preparatory Medicine

Comment

Elemental Family Focus on Immunity, Part 1: Preparatory Medicine

Preschool-Drop-Off-original-e1411146028465.jpg

This post is the first in our Elemental Family Focus on Immunity series, where I will be touching on various aspects of supporting and preparing the immune system for the upcoming cold and flu season…

Happy end of summer, friends! This is a special time in our house because my daughter is starting kindergarten this fall! How the heck did that happen? Just the thought fills me with a myriad of conflicting emotions: excitement for all of the new and enriching experiences ahead of her, sadness for the inevitable passage of time that starting school really brings home, and, to be totally honest, a fair amount of trepidation at all of the germs that are awaiting her in a school environment.

As a practitioner who treats both children and adults, I certainly deal with a fair share of germy-ness, but it feels different when I know I won’t be there to make sure my daughter washes her hands before she eats or doesn’t accidentally use someone else’s cup, and so on. In the hopes of tempering my anticipatory germaphobia, we’ve recently started a simple and straightforward immune boosting regimen in my house. Cold and flu season is just around the corner, and Chinese medicine truly shines in its preparatory approach to illness.

Preparatory medicine is a unique approach to supporting immunity and it differs in one significant aspect from preventive medicine. Preventive medicine is a buzzword in our ever-evolving healthcare landscape and is focused on early screening, counseling, and other interventions to detect and prevent disease. This is an invaluable practice, especially when it comes to serious and life-threatening illness.

Preparatory medicine, on the other hand, is more applicable to the day-to-day illnesses that I see on a regular basis in my clinic, and that many of you parents are more than used to dealing with: coughs, colds, fevers, tummy upset, etc. Preparatory medicine offers the perspective that building immunity is a developmental process. Successfully fighting these types of illnesses contributes positively to the complexity of a flexible and robust immune system.

Trust me, as a parent this is a very challenging concept to keep in my brain. No one wants to see their child or partner, or self for that matter, feeling icky and down for the count. It is lousy for sure, but it can help to remember that much of our immune system is acquired over time, so with each illness the body really does get smarter and stronger.

So, what does preparatory medicine look like?

  •   Thinking ahead to the next challenge on the horizon, be it seasonal or developmental
  • Supporting your unique adaptive style to ensure as smooth a transition as possible into the next stage: for my daughter this meant preparing her both emotionally and physically for the transition into school
  • Treating the body in preparation of that next challenge, ie starting immune prep well before cold season hits or prepping the body for spring allergy season during wintertime

Now that we have set the appropriate expectations around getting sick, we can move into tools for HOW to prepare the body! Over the next few posts, we will cover dietary, supplement, lifestyle, and wellness massage recommendations.

Comment