“Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food” -Hippocrates
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
The second topic in our series to improve our immune system is nutrition, which is at the core of many health issues as well as the most natural thing...
As all living things we need food as our fuel to function properly, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Food provides the building blocks for our cells, our muscles, our bones, and our brain. Sometimes food can be soothing, empowering us to write an exam or even to run a marathon. We enjoy it with family and friends or home alone. It can be pure medicine or making us sick, give us comfort or be a source of pain and food can support and strengthen our immune system!
Many ancient cultures like the ancient wisdom of Ayurvedic Medicine knew about and used the power of food to heal and restore. Over centuries all human beings followed a natural, seasonal, and local diet passing healing recipes like chicken soup from generation to generation. Yet, due to scarcity of food and the lack of diversity in food choices, malnutrition was prevalent. When humankind entered the 20th century most of us improved their chances to having access to healthy food sources and to thrive on them…But wait a minute… then why are 64% of all Canadians overweight, 25% of which are obese? Why do so-called lifestyle diseases soar?
Convenience hit… instead of home cooked meals, processed foods slowly found their way into our kitchen. Mac and Cheese in 5 minutes, TV dinners, microwavable packaged foods with years of shelf life, whose ingredients lists are only understandable with a chemistry book on the side… not to mention the abundance of fast-food options. A full meal for a few dollars - a tempting option not only for the many women who joined the work force having to juggle family needs and work demands… but at what price!
Along with the promise by big food corporations to make cooking easier came an army of highly processed ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, trans fats, preservatives, genetically modified organisms or simply too much sugar. All of those contribute to increasing rates of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardio-vascular disease, and other lifestyle diseases in our so-called developed world…
But how can we eat healthier without having to spend a fortune and hours in the kitchen?
A good start is to mainly focus on whole foods – fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, and fats. To support your immune system you want to aim for reducing inflammation and enhancing the liver’s ability to detoxify. Let food be thy medicine…
Eat multiple servings of organic veggies and fruits a day to increase your intake of Vitamins and Phytonutrients. Their antioxidant properties are much needed to fight so called free radicals which can cause inflammation. Did you know that peppers contain more Vitamin C than lemons? Or that sweet potatoes contain a staggering amount of beta-carotene, a carotenoid which helps protect you from heart disease and cancer?
Eat sufficient amounts of healthy protein. A good rule of thumb is 1gram per kg body weight a day. Proteins are important building blocks for enzymes, neurotransmitters, both involved in a healthy immune response. If you can, choose humanely raised, ideally grass-fed beef or chicken as well as sustainably caught fatty fish like rainbow trout or salmon, which additionally contain heaps of Omega 3 fatty acids which are able to reduce inflammatory processes in the body.
Choose healthy fats, such as olive oil for salads and coconut or avocado oil for cooking.
Add generous amounts of garlic and onions. They have multiple anti-microbial properties and support the detoxification of the liver.
Add generous amounts of anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric and ginger.
Make sure you are having enough fluids, ideally water, tea, or broth.
Cut down on sugar and refined starches, such as white bread or noodles as they may suppress your immune system for hours after eating. Try instead natural sweeteners like honey which besides being a sugar has a lot of anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Locally sourced, raw honey can even soothe seasonal allergies. (Please keep in mind that children 1 year or younger should never eat honey, because of the potential danger of Botulism which is caused by contamination with spores!)
Reduce your intake of stimulants such as alcohol or coffee.
Avoid processed and fast foods as much as possible. May be consider instead getting a “food box” delivered with all ingredients needed for a proper home-cooked meal, including an easy step by step recipe
Enjoy what you do - give yourself time to prepare and to savor the meal you have made
But what if you are on a budget, especially in these challenging times? Please don’t sacrifice the well being of cattle and chicken for a few dollars less… if you have ever watched a documentary on livestock farming you know what I am talking about. Conventionally raised cows and chicken are often enough treated with antibiotics to prevent infections which occur due to factory farming, not to mention the extreme tightness chicken are raised in, which increases abnormal behavior such as picking on each other…
Your decision as a consumer is more important than you think. It can be a vote against the use of glyphosate for the survival of our pollinators, it can be a vote against chicken factory farming, it can be a vote for farmers who do care about our environment… Together we can change the world!
If you can’t afford organic produce, consider non-GMO verified and/or local products
Get in touch with local farmers - many farmers sell their produce and eggs, meats directly at the farm for a much cheaper price. Additionally, you learn where your food is coming from.
Consider the weekly/monthly delivery of an organic food box – it’s always a surprise what’s in the box and you get to know a lot about unknown local vegetables. Some farmers even offer a partial ownership.
Check out your local farmers markets to buy food in bulk
Consider legumes like beans and lentils as source of protein. You usually can buy them in bulk for a fraction of the price of a steak.
Get familiar with the “clean fifteen and the dirty dozen” * - a list by the EWG (environmental working group), evaluating the pesticide load of common fruits and veggies, with recommendations what you should buy organic or what you can by conventional
Check-out offers at your local health food stores. Prices differ tremendously!
As we all are individuals with our very own history and needs, I am aware that the above can only provide general information to support your immune system. Moreover, it not only matters what you put into your body, but how well you digest and absorb your food. Therefore, I have decided to give you information on digestive health as “Nutrition part 2” next week. See you back then!
Should you consider a nutritional consultation providing you with individualized recommendations on nutritional and lifestyle choices for your immune system and more, please feel free to give me a call at 905-580-9946 or check out my website.
I will be there for you,
Avocados, Sweet corn, Pineapples, Frozen sweet peas, Onions, Papayas, Eggplants, Kiwis, Cabbages, Cauliflower, Cantaloupes, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Honeydew Melon
Strawberries, Spinach, Kale, Nectarines, Apples, Grapes, Peaches, Cherries, Pears, Tomatoes, Celery, Potatoes
The information on this page is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health care professional. This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any diseases. Always consult with your primary care physician or licensed healthcare provider for all diagnosis and treatment of any diseases or conditions, for medications or medical advice as well as before changing your health care regimen.