How to Support Your Immune System Naturally

I get the question all the time… how do I support my immune system? You can do so in many many different ways – my approach usually includes multiple strategies. Often if you are living a healthy lifestyle, you are most likely incorporating some of these ideas!

Natural ways to support your immune system:

  1. Sleep – don’t skimp on this, there’s a reason why it’s #1
  2. Eat a nutrient rich diet – see below
  3. Hydration – stay fully hydrated
  4. Lymphatic massage
  5. Avoid food allergens
  6. Supplements:
    1. Elderberry syrup – daily maintenance
    2. Super Bio Veg – Priority One – when you feel like you’re getting sick and during sickness
    3. Probiotics – over 50 billion per day
    4. Planetary Herbals Wild Cherry Bark Cough syrup –
    5. Osha tincture – STRONG – when you feel like you’re getting sick – strong immune stimulant, heavily antimicrobial as well as antiviral
    6. Mushroom capsules – Paul Staminets
    7. Probiotics – Renew Life 50 billion – your immune system is in your gut
    8. Zand Elderberry Echinacea Zinc tablets
    9. echinacea = immune stimulating and modulating
    10. NAC – great natural mucolytic
    11. Essential oils – diffused
    12. Astragalus – good for chronic use, immunomodulating and immune stimulating
    13. Andrographis – anti-viral
    14. Carlson’s ACES+Zn is a great supplement – immune “catch- all”
    15. DO NOT TAKE Emergen-C – vitamin C and glucose (sugar) compete for entrace into your cells, so if you are eating sugar along with vitamin C rich foods or supplements, preference will be given to glucose uptake, and your cells will not assimilate the vitamin C
  1. Diet
    1. Avoid sugar and processed carbohydrates
    2. Vitamin A – orange foods, liver, animal products, grassfed butter
    3. Vitamin D – SUNLIGHT
    4. Zinc – oysters, pumpkin seeds
    5. Selenium – brazil nuts
    6. Onions, garlic
    7. Mushrooms
    8. Bone broth
      1. Make it at home
      2. Buy it frozen from the store (Bonafide and FlavorChef brands)
      3. There is a reason why “mom’s chicken soup” made you feel better – there is a synergism between the ingredients that actually help your immune system function more efficiently (they’ve done studies on this!)

Common mistakes people make in trying to stay healthy and how to avoid them:

  1. Extremes – this goes with supplements or diet. Extremes won’t get you anywhere, and often deprive you of other nutrients
  2. Not rotating your diet, do not eat the same thing every single day
  3. Waiting until it’s too late to do something
  4. Not doing anything to prevent sickness

Top 5 tips on how to stay “cold-free” this season

  1. Do not touch your face!
  2. Wash your hands, immediately when you get home
  3. Avoid sugar, sugar suppresses your white cell response for up to 6 hours after ingestion
  4. Eat a vegetable rich diet – gives you all the vitamins and minerals that you need on a daily basis so you can fight the bad guys and not be susceptible
  5. Decrease stress = take some time for yourself – give your immune system a break

Lastly, do not get the flu shot. It is completely ineffective, and contains toxins, like thimerosol, which is a type of mercury, and all mercury is toxic.

[This post is no substitute for medical advice]. As always, please consult your doctor to determine what diet and supplements are going to be both safe and effective for you to take!

 

Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean Brownies
makes one 8×8 pan

2 cans (15 oz x 2)  black beans  (make sure you get the unseasoned versions)
1/4-1/2 cup  sugar  – can also use about 6 dates
1/4 cup  coconut oil, melted
2  eggs –  large or medium sized
1 cup  unsweetened cocoa – mine favorite is mixture of dutched and non-dutched
1 cup  unsweetened almond milk OR milk of choice
1/2 tsp  baking soda
~9 oz  dark chocolate chips, usually 3/4 of one choc chip bag
2 tsp – 1 Tbsp  vanilla extract
1/2 tsp  real salt

Directions:
1)  Un-can the black beans into a fine mesh strainer. Strain and run under cold water x1 minute or until water over the beans runs clear.
2)  Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips, into Vitamix blender (or equivalent) and blend for about 30 seconds to 1 minute OR until all ingredients are incorporated, and the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Stir in chocolate chips with a soft spatula.
3)  Pour into one greased or parchment paper lined 8×8 pan. Bake at 350 degrees non-convection for 40-45 minutes. Brownies are done when slightly pulling away from the sides of the pan, and the middle is slightly set. Bake longer to be slighly less fudgy. Let cool on counter. Store in fridge for best results.

Gut Healing Smoothie

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I use smoothies in my practice a lot, so we can pack in a lot of #nutrition in one punch— because a lot of my patients have tons of deficiencies! The gut healing smoothie is my favorite.

Here’s the recipe:

2 scoops   Inflammacore protein powder, strawberry flavored (DM me for more details)
1 TBSP   glutamine powder
2 scoops   probiotic powder (about 40 billion good bugs)
1 cup   almond/coconut milk blend
1 cup   frozen strawberries (6-7 berries)
1 TBSP   MCT oil
1 tsp   vanilla extract
BLEND!

Now off to crush this smoothie…. 🙌🏼

 

 

Paleo Treats Ambassador

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bandito paleo treats

I’m so excited to partner with my friends @paleotreats – who run quite the epic paleo-dessert based company here in San Diego, California. They make the most delicious, low-sugar, high-fat, keto-friendly, GLUTEN-FREE, grain-free, desserts.

I LOVE PALEO! I LOVE PALEO TREATS! Match made in heaven!

My current favorite is the ‘Bandito.’

I’ve watched them just be founded, and grow into a thriving business with a real store-front in San Diego. Their instagram is also HILARIOUS, so give them a follow, you won’t want to miss all the good stuff they post.

Click the LINK to order all their awesome treats. Use the code “DRMEG” at check out to get a little discount!

Happy DEVOURING 🙂

Chia Pudding

Classic Vanilla Chia Pudding
    makes one quart mason jar

1 qt  organic coconut milk, (tetra-pak Arroy-D is my favorite)
1/2 cup  whole organic black chia seeds
1/2 tsp  vanilla extract
15 drops  Stevia Clear liquid (optional, adds sweetness)

To make your pudding:

1)  Grab a clean mason jar with a tight fitting lid.
2)  Add coconut milk; add vanilla, add stevia
3)  Pour your chia seeds into the jar.
4)  Screw on lid and shake shake shake.
5)  Put jar in fridge and go do something for 5 minutes. Come back, shake shake shake. Return to fridge, come back a few minutes later. Shake, shake, shake. Repeat.
6)  Let pudding do it’s thing and get all yummy overnight, or wait 30 minutes for seeds to fully take on the coconut milk.

For more info, visit this post at http://mutritiousnuffins.blogspot.com/2014/08/classic-vanilla-chia-pudding.html

Good Workups

Everyday I met new people and hear their stories, both what’s going on in their life and their medical history. Every once in a while, I am astounded at what I hear. They tell me stories of how doctors have managed their cases, and I am appalled – what is medicine coming to?

In medical school you are taught about the “standards of care.” These are guidelines about how to treat conditions like PCOS, migraines, hypertension or diabetes, to name a few examples. Knowing the standards of care for each condition is important, because if you deviate from them, you need to let your patient know, but also, if a doctor hasn’t followed the standards of care, especially when working up a patient to investiage if they have xyz condition, it raises some red flags because they need to be worked up accordingly – it’s a doctors due dilligence.

As a Naturopathic doctor, I don’t have a Naturopathic standard of care to follow – we learn the same standards of care that DOs and MDs use. I am happy about this (while some of my colleagues believe we should establish and teach just ND standard of care), because knowing what’s going on in conventional medicine is very important to manage some emergencies and also to work up a patient accordingly before using my alternative therapies to treat them.

When it gets interesting, however, is when a patient comes into my office and they claim they have seen 5, 10 or more doctors, that they have xyz symptoms, and that they had xyz testing. While the patient believes they have been appropriately worked up for a typical list of differential diagnoses (list of possible diagnoses based on the patient’s symptom picture), I usually find they have not.

Generally what happens is, when a patient walks into the office, a doctor will then create a DDX based on what the patient tells them, then the doctor investigates using the standards of care and any other diagnostic tricks they’ve learned throughout their practice, the results of these tests then narrow down the DDX and eventually get the practioner to one or two possible diagnoses. Then it’s time to refine, and begin treatment.

Typically when patients visit me, they have been worked up. I ask them questions to make sure I understand what their previous practioners have done (one rule in medicine is that you always do your own investigating, even though a patient claims they’ve had a thorough workup), and then if they have had an appropriate workup, we move on to what I do best – the natural therapies and figuring out the root cause. But too often, and especially recently, I discover that the patient hasn’t been appropriately worked up, and I am either left to work them up, diagnose the condition and figure out what’s truly going on behind their medical diagnosis (putting my detective hat on!), or I need to recommend that they see xyz type of practioner to the standard workup for me.

This is unacceptable. While doctors do not know everything, why is there this pretense that we have to “know” it all? We are human. We do our best with what we’ve been given. Sometimes that makes our job difficult, especially when patients are poor historians. But to not do all the appropriate investigations while using the standards of care, baffles me. If that condition is on your DDX, then you need to investigate!

Patients, ask questions of your doctors. If they brush you off or aren’t able to fully explain something to you, find another doctor. Your health is important and their unwillingness to explain their thoughts about your case, is a big red flag.

Doctors, ask questions of your patients. Don’t assume they’ve had the appropriate workup. Make a long DDX and have reasons why you cross conditions off the list. Think about the medical dangers, the zebras and the horses. Include them all. If you can’t work them up (some states limit what us NDs can do, because each state has it’s own set of rules and scope of practice), send them to someone who can. If the need for workup is urgent, make sure you explain this to the patient and get them to a specialist in an appropriate amount of time.

I went into medicine because I hate the mediocrity that I sometimes see in the profession.

Be the medicine, and stay curious!

— Dr. Meg

The Rate-Limiting Step

Have you ever noticed how life seems to be like one big decision? We are all faced with decisions – every day, every hour, every minute, and every second. How do you navigate these decisions, and how to do you decide which move is the best to make?

It all comes down to what I call the “rate-limiting” step. This is actually a phenomenon that comes from biology. You see, your body is a huge network of cells. These cells work together to acheive common goals, and create functions, vitamins, enzymes, movements so that we can BE a healthy, alive, functioning human being. Biochemically, your cells are all working very hard. They are signaling between eachother, talking, sending messages, and being affected by messengers that travel throughout your blood, most commonly known as “hormones.” Enzymes are what we call catalysts of chemical reactions – they actually help the reaction happen! Enzymes are usually protein molecules, and these molecules “have needs” if they are to function properly, in order to later carry out the process they were created to catalyze. Enzymes “need” things like co-factors, which include vitamins and minerals, and also they need other parts in the biochemical pathway to work properly, otherwise the system gets gummed up with one type of molecule, or substrate, the enzyme cannot work with just yet. So if there aren’t the right cofactors, or the rest of the system is not functioning fully, the enzyme can’t work. Often, when the enzyme is dependent on other substrates in order to carry out it’s action, this is called a rate-limiting step, because the enzyme has to wait for the substrate to be available in order to do it’s thing. If the substrate isn’t around, the enzyme can’t work, and the biochemistry stops there. The rate limiting step is always that part of the biochemical pathway, where, if the substrates and enzymes do not come together in the right amount OR with right timing, the reaction will not occur.

This idea is applicable to human behavior. For example, this morning when I woke up, I had a choice, do I go to the gym like normal, even though it’s a Saturday and I woke up late intentionally, and I know the gym will be busy, and I’m slightly tired because I’m fighting a cold my roommate is trying not to give me? OR do I go to the gym regardless because I love the gym?

That moment when you wake up and have to decide is the moment that determines the momentum for the rest of your day.

As I was contemplating what I was going to do, I thought about this concept of the rate-limiting step. I thought about the pros and cons of going to the gym. I realized the rate limiting step of me wanting not to go, was fact that it was late (8 am for me is late), and I was starting to get hungry. I prefer to do my morning workouts fasted, but I didn’t have a real dinner before going to sleep, so naturally I was feeling low on food. I decided to get up, have a small protein bar (just tried these – love the ingredient list!) and get to the gym. It was 100% the right decision at the time, and now as I am typing this, I am so happy that it’s 1230 and I’ve already gotten in my workout, showered, breakfasted, and have some laundry in process.

As a doctor, I am often talking to clients about their lives – how they make decisions, what goes on day to day, and in general, figuring out how their brain works — because that influences their choices, both mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually — AND whether they are going to do what’s on their treatment plan OR make changes in their lives. I’ve found that once I tell them about this idea of the rate-limiting step, they are easily able to identify areas in their lives where they are stuck and can’t move forward.

It’s been game-changing for them, and I’m sure it will be game changing for you!

How will you apply this idea of the rate-limiting step in your own life?

Until next-time,

Dr. Meg