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Optimizing Your Immune System

I feel that with the current events, this is a good opportunity to talk about ways to boost our immune system. This past winter, our house was sick almost continuously. I know there are many reasons for that, but it caused me to dig deep and explore ways to boost our immune system.

 

Experts do not know much about COVID-19 at this time, but we do know some steps we can take to boost our immune system. Contrary to what we would all like to do, this is actually not the time to sit and veg out on sugar and treats. Now is the time to pay attention to what you are eating, decrease your sugar intake, and “eat the rainbow”.

 

The best way to get all your vitamins and minerals in is to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but supplementation can also be helpful. Listed below are some key vitamins to include in your diet. I will be working on a follow up article with foods high in these vitamins and minerals.

 

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D decreases inflammation and optimizes immune function. Most Americans are vitamin D deficient. Many experts believe it is impossible to get adequate vitamin D from food sources alone. The best way to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin D is through the sun. By standing in the sun during the brightest time of the day (10am-3pm) without sunscreen, with arms, legs, and face exposed for 5-30 minutes an individual should get sufficient vitamin D. If an individual is unable to be out in the sun, supplementation is necessary. Now is a great time to tell your elderly family members- those isolated in their nursing homes or assisted living centers to OPEN THE BLINDS, stand on their balcony or porch if they are able. These individuals are really suffering when it comes to vitamin D. For everyone else, go outside. You can easily be outside and maintain the recommended 6 ft distance from anyone else under these mandated conditions.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can help prevent infection and shorten the duration of a cold. Individuals should ingest vitamin C regularly, but should also increase their vitamin C intake at the onset of an illness.

Follow this link to receive $50 a purchase of $75 or more on vitamin C and other products to help boost immunity:

Vitamin A and Zinc

Vitamin A is helpful in fighting respiratory infections. Zinc can reduce the length of some viral infections. Current studies show that Zinc may prevent the coronavirus from entering the cells.

 

Decrease Sugar Intake

Sugar decreases the body’s ability to rid itself of infection, increases inflammation, and increases oxidative stress- all scenarios you do not want when seeking to support your immune system. Put down the candy and pop, but don’t forget, sugar can hide in many processed foods. Be sure to check your food labels for any words that end in “-ose” (dextrose, fructose, sucrose, etc.).

 

 

Warm beverages

Warm beverages can help soothe pain in the back of the throat associated with the common cold. It can also help keep you hydrated which is highly important during an illness. Furthermore, warm beverages have been shown to moisten the nasal passages which helps with nasal congestion. If you choose to ingest a warm beverage, make sure it is not loaded with sugar or contains dehydrating ingredients (i.e. coffee). A sugary hot latte will not help your COVID-19 situation.

 

Stress reduction

Stress increases inflammatory cytokines which are increased in COVID-19. One should use previous stress reduction techniques that work for the individual. For some this can be exercise, a walk outside, listening to music, guided meditation, reading a book, or yoga.

 

Quality sleep

Your body repairs during sleep. Sleep also increases the body’s production of melatonin which may reduce the severity of the coronavirus. Aim to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep a night. No more, no less. Some things to boost sleep quality include avoiding alcohol close to bedtime; Avoid ALL forms of caffeine after 2 pm, participate in some form of physical activity during the day, and leave electronics outside of the bedroom.

 

What about Elderberry?

Elderberry use has been greatly increased in recent years because of the evidence of warding off the common cold and influenza. Once an individual contracts COVID-19, it has been shown that Elderberry can increase inflammatory cytokines and should therefore be discontinued with a positive COVID-19 test result or with the first signs of sickness.

The CDC currently recommends that individuals should wear masks when leaving the house. While this may not keep one from contracting the virus, it has been shown to help decrease the spread among asymptomatic carriers.

For greater details of anything discussed in this post, please refer to the links at the bottom. Information in this article is meant to inform and should not replace medical advice from your primary care physician.

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

Alschuler, L., Weil, A., Horwitz, R., Stamets, P., Chiasson, A. M., Crocker, R., & Maizes, V. (2020). Integrative considerations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Explore. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2020.03.007

 

Calder, P., & Kew, S. (2002). The immune system: A target for functional foods? British Journal of Nutrition, 88(S2), S165-S176. doi:10.1079/BJN2002682

 

Kafeshani, M. (2014). Diet and immune system. Immunopathologia Persa1(1), e04.

 

U.S Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2014. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27. Available at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata.

 

Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

 

Vitamin D. (2020, March 27). Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

 

Boosting Immunity: Functional Medicine Tips on Prevention & Optimizing Immune Function During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.ifm.org/news-insights/boosting-immunity-functional-medicine-tips-prevention-immunity-boosting-covid-19-coronavirus-outbreak/

 

Fruits-and-Vegetables

Everything is Different

Everything is different.

Last night I was in bed thinking of how different my life is now compared to a year ago. Even how different it was 2 ½ months ago. I was trying to explain how I felt to Tony and the only thing I could say that made sense to me was, “everything is different, the way it feels to breathe is different”. What I meant by that was that everything in my soul feels different after having a baby.

 

My daily routine is different, the choices I make are different, the things I day dream about are different, the clothes I wear are different, the songs that have meaning to me are different, the conversations I have with my friends are different. The first thing I think about in the morning to the last thing I think at night is different. The way I feel inside is different.

 

I love it. I know everyone experiences motherhood differently, but the changes I’ve felt have been amazing. I don’t think I expected it to feel like this, to be honest.

 

Tony and I danced to the first verse of a song for our first dance at our wedding. The song was about not knowing what you wanted until you married the person you married. I actually never listened to the second verse of that song because I knew we weren’t going to use the whole song. I recently heard the second verse of the song:

 

Never pictured myself singing lullabies
Sitting in a rocking chair in the middle of the night
In the quiet, in the dark
You’re stealing every bit of my heart with your daddy’s eyes
What a sweet surprise

And now I’m holdin’ what I never knew I always wanted
I couldn’t see, I was blind ’til my eyes were opened
I didn’t know there was a hole
Something missing in my soul
‘Til you filled it up, oh, with your love

Life has a way of showing you just what you need
And who you were made to be.

Adeline’s First Week

My baby is less than one week old, and I’ve never wanted time to slow down more than I do right now. Ya, it’s been hard not sleeping for a week straight, but I know I’m going to blink and it’s going to be over.20181122_111311

I actually feel guilty for doing that to my own parents. I know they blinked and I wasn’t a baby anymore, and when you’re holding your one week old, that’s such a scary thought

I’ve had probably less than 20 hours of sleep since last Saturday night and somehow I’m not tired yet. Adeline’s least favorite thing to do is sleep for longer than 30 minutes at a time.

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I am so proud of Owen. He was terrified of Adeline at first. He was shaking and howling and crying and cowering when he first came home and heard her crying. I was so nervous that was not going to change. It took him less than 24 hours to warm up to her. I feel like I have a new dog overnight. People said this might happen, but I totally didn’t believe them. He is calmer and less needy than he’s EVER been and he is already running to her every time she cries to make sure she is okay. I think they are going to be best friends.

20181121_174903Lastly, I don’t know what I would do without Tony. This is all easy because of him. He doesn’t have milk, but he has arms that take her more than they need to so that I can get sleep even though he’s the one that has to get up in the morning for work. I never doubted he’d be the perfect dad but when you see it in action you fall in love all over again.

Adeline’s First Week

My baby is less than one week old, and I’ve never wanted time to slow down more than I do right now. Ya, it’s been hard not sleeping for a week straight, but I know I’m going to blink and it’s going to be over.20181122_111311

I actually feel guilty for doing that to my own parents. I know they blinked and I wasn’t a baby anymore, and when you’re holding your one week old, that’s such a scary thought

I’ve had probably less than 20 hours of sleep since last Saturday night and somehow I’m not tired yet. Adeline’s least favorite thing to do is sleep for longer than 30 minutes at a time.

Snapchat-325309287

I am so proud of Owen. He was terrified of Adeline at first. He was shaking and howling and crying and cowering when he first came home and heard her crying. I was so nervous that was not going to change. It took him less than 24 hours to warm up to her. I feel like I have a new dog overnight. People said this might happen, but I totally didn’t believe them. He is calmer and less needy than he’s EVER been and he is already running to her every time she cries to make sure she is okay. I think they are going to be best friends.

20181121_174903Lastly, I don’t know what I would do without Tony. This is all easy because of him. He doesn’t have milk, but he has arms that take her more than they need to so that I can get sleep even though he’s the one that has to get up in the morning for work. I never doubted he’d be the perfect dad but when you see it in action you fall in love all over again.

Kingman Part II

Kingman Part II

Long overdue

This post is so long overdue. But before I pick blogging back up, I think it is important for me to do this post.

Tony and I were assigned a location months ago to a tiny little town in Arizona called Kingman.

kingman

When we arrived, we had no idea what we were getting into, what we were going to do for fun, where we were going to go out to eat.

I was so thankful there was a Starbucks.  We joined a crossfit gym before we even had a place to live (We were living out of different hotels), primarily so we could get into shape, but also so that we had something to do.

Fast forward six months. Kingman totally stole our hearts.

During our time in Kingman we made some great friends that I truly believe I will stay in touch with.

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The vision for our future clinic developed during our time learning what crossfit was all about.

We learned how great of a hub Kingman is! We were able to go away almost every weekend to a new location: The Grand Canyon, Oatman, California, Las Vegas, Flagstaff, and multiple random hiking adventures.

I learned what a really well functioning ICU looks like.

We found a great church.

We joined a volleyball league.

We learned how fun a small town can be.

We learned that the people really make or break a town.

This post is short and does not do our experience justice, but hopefully some of the pictures will. We will definitely pick up travel health professionals again in the future.

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Dr. Ritter

I met Dr. Ritter when I was 21 years old right out of college, working on getting into nursing school.

I finished my first degree and was unsure exactly what the next step was. I knew I wanted to be a nurse, but I did not exactly know what that meant. While I was working on getting into nursing school I got a job as an in-home caregiver.

Mrs. Ritter was my first “patient”. I remember being introduced to Dr. and Mrs. Ritter and thinking how amazing Dr. Ritter was, being almost 90 at the time, able to do pretty much anything he wanted physically, and able to communicate on any level. You would have thought he was in his 70s, and doing well.

He was smart and wise, kind and realistic. Over the years taking care of Mrs. Ritter, Dr. Ritter taught me so many fundamental nursing skills like how to transfer a patient or change a bed. He taught me what was going on with Mrs. Ritter medically as her health was declining and we talked a lot about the progression of dementia since I had gone through it with my grandpa. Mrs. Ritter napped a lot while I was working, so it gave me a lot of time to talk to Dr. Ritter about nursing school, my future plans, and life in general. Once she passed away I was sad that our talks would end and I was so thankful for the wisdom I felt I had gained from him over those few years I spend with them.

But I decided I wasn’t ready to let the relationship go. I felt like I still had a lot to learn from him and I really cherished our talks. I decided after Mrs. Ritter passed away that I would try to keep in touch with him.

And I did.

He was one of those people that never gave you the answer to a problem. He asked you questions until YOU reached the answer.

A week before I was going to be starting nursing school one of the patients I took care of in home was dying and at that point I had never experienced that. I did not handle it well. Some very unexpected things happened to me in the short time I was with that individual. When I left the house I had this overwhelming desire to talk to Dr. Ritter about my experience. I was going to be starting nursing school in one week and I suddenly didn’t know if this was supposed to be my life course.

I’ll never forget our talk that day as I was on the verge of tears sitting in his kitchen. He asked me, “Who determined who lives and dies?”

I said “well, God, but what happens if I make a mistake?”

He told me that many health care professionals get very cocky or very discouraged when they start to believe they are the determinant of life and death. And then he asked me again, “who determines who lives and who dies?”

There was a lot more conversation that day, and he spoke much more eloquently than I can write, but that simple talk with him that day really helped me in my development as a nurse.

He told me I could do anything I wanted with my life as long as it was honest and I enjoyed it.

If I made dinner, he never let anyone eat until I was sitting down.

Once I became a nurse I would come to him with questions when I would experience things as a nurse that they didn’t teach you about in text books.

I was always so excited to tell him about new things that were happening in my life. He was a great listener. Whenever I would ask him about his life and he would say “Oh I’m fine, just fine”, and ask me more about what was happening in my life.

I tried really hard to teach him facebook, but unfortunately I was never very successful.

He would ask me about new developments and the hospital and in the ICU and would love it when I would tell him what I was learning and what new technologies they were coming out with.

I never told him when I was dating anyone, but as soon as Tony and I were engaged I couldn’t wait to introduce them. I knew he would be proud of my decisions. And I’m so happy he was able to make it to my wedding.

I presume he had an effect on many people. I know I was not the only person’s life he had an impact on. But he was important to me. I believe I am a different person and I look at the world differently because of his friendship and mentoring.

I heard of his passing last Saturday and although he just reached his 96th birthday, it came as a shock to me. I am broken hearted I will not be able to make the funeral. It’s an interesting phenomenon because we did not really know anyone mutually, so I feel as though I am sad alone, as if our relationship didn’t exist.

In 6 years we never took a picture. It wasn’t our focus, our focus was talking and learning. I found this picture when I was digging through wedding photos and am really thankful for it.

I am so thankful I got to know Dr. Ritter.Dr. Ritter

Camping trip #1

Coyotes ARE afraid of humans, starting a campfire is harder than it looks, make sure you read the tent set-up instructions, and more lessons from our first camping trip.

Tony and I decided to engage in a new adventure-Camping!

Here is a short story about how it went:

We figured it wouldn’t be hard to find a campsite in the wild wild west, so we decided not to look ahead and just adventurously find one when we were tired of driving. This wasn’t a bad idea. We luckily did find a free campsite at Walker Lake.1280px-Walker_Lake_Nevada

We got to our campsite around 5 pm so we had time to set up and go into town for marshmallows, sticks, and firewood (obviously).

I will admit that I have never set up a tent, but since Tony has set up a tent before he proclaimed himself as an expert and “Mr. Camper”. While the tent went up relatively smoothly, there was a moment where the tent was completely set up and we had a piece that we didn’t know what to do with. I found this hilarious and figured we would just pray that the tent stayed up.

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Fast forward to our fire experience. All I wanted was a fire because 1) whats the point of camping if you cant roast marshmallows? and 2) I was cold.

So we set out to gather wood, marshmallows and sticks. What I didn’t think about was the fact that the wind was blowing at 4382890 miles per hour. We couldn’t even get the match lit long enough to touch the wood, let alone keep the wood burning.

But we kept trying. After probably 30 matches and a lot of grass and sticks, we kind of had a fire. I didn’t care, we had enough of a fire to burn my marshmallow black and I was happy. :))

Once we realized it was way to cold and windy to sit out by the fire we climbed into the tent.

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THEN we realized how loud the wind is when your camping.

And wondered just how close the coyotes were that we could hear howling. One of us (I won’t mention who) said “coyotes are afraid of humans right?” Suddenly all I pictured was Tony getting malled by coyotes and me watching. I figured I could call the police, but we were literally in a ghost town, and I pictured the police asking me what I wanted them to do about it.

Needless to say coyotes ARE afraid of humans and we are both in one piece.

I’m kind of amazed the tent stayed standing because I’m telling you, I’ve never felt wind blow that hard before.

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All in all it was a hilarious and fun adventure and I would totally do it again. Next time though, I might check the weather!

#lessonslearned

Tell us some of your fun camping stories!

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