Deanna is a wellness advocate and educator. She combines her western health training in nutrition with her eastern yoga training to help her clients achieve optimal health. She has a passion for yoga, Ayurveda, digestive health, and an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. This passion provides a unique perspective on overall wellness.
Deanna offers weekly in person and virtual yoga classes, monthly virtual wellness workshops and annual wellness coaching programs encouraging each individual to be a better steward of their God-given temple.
Winter is upon us! In the Midwest that means cold temperatures and lots of snow. I personally love the change of seasons in the Midwest, even winter. The air is clean and crisp, the snow covered trees are beautiful and there are so many fun things to do outside that you can’t do in any other season.
Winter can also seem like a season of hibernation. Lounging on the couch under cozy blankets, reading books or just being lazy. This downtime can be just as rejuvenating as the outdoor activities. The key is to find the balance.
For me, excuses seem to be more prevalent in February than in any other month. The excitement and fun of the holiday season is past. The new year motivation may have dwindled a bit (or a lot). Staying nestled under the covers for just 10 more minutes becomes more of a daily habit than an occasional Saturday thing. I struggle to find ways to break free of this February hibernation.
BACK TO BASICS & FOCUS ON THE “WHY”
I recently went back to basics, to the first program I purchased from Health Mastery Institute (HMI), the 66 Day Health Mastery Program. I continue to be amazed by how much information packed into this program. Not only does it give you a detailed program to follow for a healthy diet, it also gives you all of the reasons and science behind the program. The beautiful bonus is that the program also gives you exercises to help with motivation and helps you focus on “why” you are working towards changing your lifestyle. I think this is the key to implementing a program into a lifestyle.
SKIP THE “ALL OR NOTHING” MENTALITY
One of my biggest challenges with taking on a lifestyle change is an “All or Nothing” type of thinking. For example, “I ate a slice of pizza when I came home from work because I was starving, now all my hard work is ruined” or “I haven’t worked out all week and now I feel more tired and sluggish, I’m too lazy to make any real changes.” With this type of thinking and self talk you simply set yourself up for failure.
THINK IN “SHADES OF GRAY”
A simple and profound concept that I learned from the 66 Day Health Mastery Program is to think in “Shades of Gray”. I am not 100% perfect even on a great day and this is ok. Shades of Gray means that I accept that I am not perfect and that I can gauge my day, and all of the elements within my day, on a scale of 0% to 100%. For example: “I worked a 10 hour shift, I ate healthy balanced food that I planned ahead of time, I went on a 15 minute walk and I had popcorn when I got home from work because I was “craving” something salty and crunchy.” If I focus on my choice of eating popcorn so close to bed and only getting a short walk in for exercise, I feel like I sabotaged the entire day. If I look at my entire day on a scale of 0% – 100%, I can give myself a 100% for work, 60% for exercise, and 80% for diet.
WE LEARN MORE FROM OUR STRUGGLES THAN FROM OUR TRIUMPHS
In my opinion, we can learn more from our struggles than from our triumphs. I can learn from this day by looking more closely at how much I ate throughout the day and perhaps add something more to the food I bring to work or pre-plan to have something to eat when I get home from work. I can look at my 10 hour shift and my 15 minute walk and be happy that I got a little movement in. This can show me that I only have so many hours in the day and 15 minutes is not bad for that day. Even on a day where you have little motivation and you stress eat, but you pay bills and fold laundry and do dishes. This is still a productive day, just not one that feels great. So it is a 50% day and you get to have a different day tomorrow.
CHANGE “I SHOULD” TO “I GET TO”
This brings me to another pearl of wisdom from the 66 Day Health Mastery Program. Stop using “Should/Shouldn’t Statements.” I should exercise. I should do yoga. I should meditate. I shouldn’t eat donuts. Even though these statements are true, they make you feel rebellious, don’t they? Feeling rebellious makes you want to do the opposite. Simply rephrasing these statements can have an amazingly positive effect. I am able to exercise. I get to do yoga. I choose to meditate. I have the choice to eat that donut. You can still choose not to exercise on a particular day and that is ok, after all, it is your choice. Just because you choose not to exercise on a particular day does not negate the 10 other days that you were able to and choose to exercise.
DITCH THE DOUBLE STANDARD
Love yourself at least as much as you love your children, or your spouse or your parents or your best friend. Think about how you would respond to one of them if they choose not to exercise for a day or any other scenario you can think of. Then respond to yourself in the same manner.
LEARN FROM TODAY & MAKE DIFFERENT CHOICES TOMORROW
Winter is a season that can be challenging to find motivation. You can choose to do anything you want to do. Experiment with these little changes, how you approach your choices and how you evaluate them at the end of the day. Even a 15 minute walk, or completing household chores or eating popcorn and watching a movie after a long day gets you better than 0%. Learn from today and make different choices tomorrow.
The VITAMIN C, plentiful in raw fruits and vegetables, benefits the body in many ways. It aids in wound healing, bone and tooth formation, strengthens blood vessel walls, improves immune system function, increases absorption and utilization of iron and acts as an antioxidant.
Since our bodies cannot produce or store vitamin C, it is very important to have an adequate daily intake.
It is beneficial to have a daily intake of at least 2000mg/day. Supplementation is typically necessary to achieve this amount.
2. EAT MORE HEALTHY FATS
Healthy fats, like those found in coconut oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds and avocados are anti-inflammatory and may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens. Since chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system, these fats may naturally combat illnesses.
Low-level, acute inflammation is a normal response to stress or injury, chronic inflammation is damaging to your body and can suppress your immune system.
Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those in sustainably caught, wild salmon and chia seeds, help fight inflammation as well.
3. EAT LESS SUGAR: ELIMINATE ADDED SUGARS
Limiting sugar is an important part of an immune-boosting diet.
Added processed sugar, high fructose corn syrup and refined carbs may contribute disproportionately to excess weight and obesity.
Obesity increases risk for chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Chronic health conditions can weaken your immune system and may increase your risk of getting sick.
Curbing your sugar intake can decrease inflammation and aid weight loss, thus reducing your risk of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease and keeping your immune system strong.
Sugar intake should be limited to less than 5% of your daily calories. This is about 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of sugar for a 2,000 calorie diet. This sugar is best when it is coming from whole food sources that contain fiber which helps the body to process the sugar more efficiently.
Hydration doesn’t directly protect you from germs and viruses, but preventing dehydration is important to your overall health.
Dehydration can make you more susceptible to illness.
Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These issues can increase your susceptibility to illness.
Be sure you’re drinking plenty of purified water each day.
A reasonable goal is to aim to consume half of your body weight in ounces. (Example: if you weigh 180 pounds, you would aim to consume 90 ounces of fluids per day, with a good portion of that coming from purified water).
5. MICROBIOME SUPPORT: ADD PROBIOTICS
Gut health and immunity are inseparable.
Probiotics from supplements or from fermented foods may support your immune system by crowding out harmful pathogens and introducing helpful organisms to your gastrointestinal tract.
Fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and natto, are rich in these beneficial bacteria called probiotics.
People with Candida Overgrowth may not be able to tolerate these fermented foods because they may encourage the Candida Overgrowth.
In his book, The Biology of Belief, Dr. Lipton explains that stress is responsible for up to 90% of illness, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
When an individual is in stress, the release of stress hormones shuts down the immune system to conserve the body’s energy for running away from the perceived stressor – the evolutionary ‘fight or flight response’.
Fear breeds stress and the fear of the coronavirus is more deadly than the virus itself!
Advice from Dr. Lipton: “If you are someone with a compromised immune system, it is supportive to surround yourself with loving family and friends, nature, and positive thoughts as well as any other nutrition and vitamins that you may already be taking for your health and wellbeing. Following your intuition about what is best for you is key! The point here is that no matter who you are and what your state of health, you will only benefit from steering clear of the fear and supporting yourself in whatever way feels best to you.”
8. SLEEP: GET ENOUGH & HIGH QUALITY
Sleep and immunity are closely tied.
Inadequate sleep may increase your risk of getting sick.
Getting adequate rest may strengthen your natural immunity.
Most adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Teens and Children need more. Teens may need 8–10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours.
When you are sick, listen to your body and rest! You may need more sleep to allow your immune system to fight the illness.
Blue light emitted from your phone, TV, and computer may disrupt your body’s natural wake-sleep cycle.
Limit screen time for at least an hour before bed, reading a book is a much better sleep inducer.
Consider getting blue blocker glasses or adding this feature on your next pair of glasses.
Adjust the lighting on your devices to emit less blue light and more red light. This is a built in feature, in the settings, on many devices.
Practice good sleep hygiene: Go to bed at the same time every night, Sleep in a completely dark room or use a sleep mask, and avoid screen time within one hour of going to bed.
9. STRESS MANAGEMENT
Lowering your stress levels is extremely important to support your immune system.
Long-term stress can suppress the immune response and cause inflammation.
Take an honest look at our everyday routine and notice where and when stress is most intense.
Sometimes just the simple act of respectfully saying “no” can go a long way to reducing stress.
Deep breathing is a quick and effective method to reduce stress and you can do this anywhere. Just take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of 7, Hold it for a count of 7, Breathe out slowly for a count of 7, Hold again for a count of 7, and Repeat as many times as necessary.
Exercise like walking in nature and yoga are stress reducing.
Meditation and Journaling can be helpful mindfulness practices that help manage stress.
Laughing by yourself or with a friend is so therapeutic. Watch a funny movie.
Listen to some calming music and put some essential oils in a diffuser, or just on a cotton ball. Both the music and the aromatherapy can be calming.
Decrease Caffeine Intake. Caffeine can be a huge contributor to adrenal stress. Everyday stress can be damaging to your adrenal glands as well. Even though that cup of coffee may seem necessary to get you through your day, it may be contributing to the overall stress on your body.
10. SUPPLEMENT SMARTLY
If you decide to supplement, make sure to purchase products that are high quality, non-GMO and have been tested by a third party like United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, and ConsumerLab.
Vitamin C is a powerful Antioxidant. Antioxidants bind free radicals and help your body fight inflammation which is essential for immunity and general health.
Vitamin C Boosts the immune system, reduces severity of allergic reactions and helps your body fight off infections.
Vitamin C is water-soluble and is better absorbed when taken throughout the day rather than all at once.
If you take more Vitamin C than your body needs, the excess will cause mild diarrhea. This is a simple way to know if you are taking too much.
Start by taking 1000mg twice daily, if tolerated, increase by 1000mg daily until you are taking 1000mg every 4 hours (5000mg while awake). This is generally enough when you are feeling well and can be increased when feeling ill by adding another 1000mg to each dose, one day at a time, as tolerated.
Lipophilic Vitamin C is better absorbed but also more expensive.
This is great to add at the first sign of any illness (stuffy nose, scratchy throat, headache, fever, etc.). Add one or two packets of LivOn Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C 1000mg to about 2 ounces of water, stir and drink.
Capsules are convenient and typically have less ‘junk’ ingredients than tablets.
One way to incorporate Vitamin C Powder: add ½ teaspoon (2000mg) of the PURE Vitamin C Powder to 32 oz. of water/ice, along with the juice from ½ lime, a pinch (or a shake) of pink Himalayan salt and a dropperful of Lemon Sweet Drops or to taste.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone that regulates many functions in our bodies.
Our bodies manufacture Vitamin D from sunlight. This requires 10-30 minutes of daily sun exposure with no sunscreen. Most people in northern climates will require Vitamin D supplementation for optimal health.
Vitamin D deficiency may increase your chances of getting sick, supplementing will typically counteract this effect.
In addition to decreased immune function, Inadequate Levels of Vitamin D can lead to:
Slower Wound Healing
Increased Bone or Muscle Pain
Impaired bone health
A good starting dose of Vitamin D3 is 2000-5000IU every day.
Levels can be tested with a simple blood draw. Normal range, for most labs, is 30-80 ng/ml, 30 is surviving and 80 is thriving. You definitely want to be closer to 80 than to 30; increase dose accordingly.
Zinc is considered an essential nutrient. This means that your body can’t produce or store it. For this reason, you must get a constant supply through your diet.
Zinc is important for many essential functions in your body. It supports immunity, wound healing, your sense of smell and taste, energy production, hormone function, mood and the cardiovascular system.
Zinc, as a supplement, can be helpful in supporting your immune function when you are ill or fighting off an infection.
It is typically not necessary to supplement when feeling well. Unless a medical condition is hindering absorption, you should easily reach the RDI for zinc through diet alone.
High-Dose zinc supplements can lead to dangerous side effects.
Limit intake to 20 to 50mg daily for a limited duration of time.
If supplementing, take with Magnesium and Quercetin at bedtime.
Supplements, if taken, should be chelated (attached to an amino acid which makes it easier to pass into your intestines for absorption)
Quercetin is the most abundant flavonoid in the human diet, providing you eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
It’s estimated that the average person consumes 10–100 mg of quercetin daily from fruits, vegetables, and herbal sources.
The health benefits of flavonoids, like quercetin, come from their antioxidant functions inside the body.
Quercetin may interact with various medications, including blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and antibiotics. Speak with your health care provider before taking any supplement, including quercetin.
As a supplement, quercetin appears to be generally safe with little to no side effects and many potential benefits.
People take this supplement to Boost Immunity, Fight Inflammation, Combat Allergies, Increase Exercise Performance & Maintain General Health
Recommended dose is 500mgonce or twice daily for up to 12 weeks.
Taking periodic breaks from taking quercetin may be a good idea
Taking quercetin supplements with Zinc and/or Vitamin C will increase its absorption.
Quercetin is available as a dietary supplement in powder and capsule form.
Probiotics may help give your immune system a boost and inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria. Some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies in the body.
More studies are being done on specific organisms. This will hopefully provide helpful guidance to choosing probiotics in the future.
Choose a probiotic with at least 10 different organisms and change your probiotic often to get diversity.