Tag Archives: supplements

BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM TO HELP COMBAT CORONAVIRUS

weight, Rebecca Lazar - BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM TO HELP COMBAT CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus is here and Boca Raton schools and shuls (synagogues) have shut down much like many other cities across the country. My once-a-week cleaning lady has canceled, 3 of my 4 kids are at home doing online school (for those of us who have never home-schooled our kids it’s so weird seeing them in their room on their online classes, right?), and my 19 year old son cannot come back from Israel where is a lone soldier in the IDF even though he has not started service yet and likely won’t be drafted for the foreseeable future (if anyone knows a way to get him out of this and bring him home, let me know!). I never thought I’d see this kind of eerie sci-fi movie-like existence in my lifetime, have you? The good news is I think we have enough toilet paper….at least for now! tongue

We all know the CDC recommendations by now and they are so important to follow as instructed: wash your hands for 20 seconds, don’t touch your face, keep a social distance, etc. etc. But what else can we do? Well, there ARE things you can do to help boost your immune system so that if you do get the virus it will be over quickly and the symptoms will hopefully be mild.

Please note that the advice I outline below is not to replace that given to you by your medical doctor as I have no way of knowing what medications you might currently be on or what your particular health situation is. Rather, these are general guidelines for you to help make the best food, supplement and lifestyle choices to keep your immune system as strong as possible in these crazy times with such an incredibly contagious virus around the world.

Immune System Boosters

One of my son’s teachers used to tell his class “you can’t boost your immune system – you’re not a car” which always made me laugh – and get annoyed – at the same time.  To his credit, my son would argue with his teacher, something along the lines of “my Mom always gives us extra Vitamin C and herbal medicine when we get sick” to which he would respond “well, that’s just stupid.” Okayyyyy.  It didn’t matter that there is scientific evidence or the fact that it worked a majority of the of the time….some people are just very stuck in their ways of thinking.

Yes, of course you can boost your immune system! Just like there are certain activities, foods (think white sugar and white flour) and medications that will lower your immune system, the same holds true for increasing it’s ability to ward off viruses and infections.  Some people think “Well, the coronavirus is so contagious I’m going to get it anyway so what’s the point?”  That may be true but it’s important to recognize that anything you put into your body, or on your skin for that matter, has the ability to either put you “up the slope of health” or “down the slope of health,” to quote one of my mentors, the highly respected Canadian functional nutrition practitioner and teacher Josh Gitalis.  Basically, as he explains, the higher up the slope of health you are, the faster and easier your body has to respond to any type of invader and the better off you are but you have to work on getting up the slope and staying there on a daily basis.  You aren’t “healthy” or “unhealthy” – you are somewhere along that line and must keep striving toward better health.  Hopefully that puts things into perspective!

Some of the recommendations below are known to be effective against the common flu virus and we are hopeful that it has the same effect with Coronavirus although we don’t know for sure.  Others are simply known to help strengthen your overall immune system:


Immune Boosting Foods:

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables – but make sure you aren’t adding toxins to your body with pesticides.  Wash produce well but check out the annual Dirty Dozen list for produce especially high in pesticides.  It is recommended that those on this list are bought organic whenever possible.  If you don’t like to eat your fruits and veggies, juice them in this top-rated juicer or do what my family does and blend them into a smoothie such as in this high speed blender.  There are tons of fruit and vegetable smoothies online or get the kids involved and create your own!
  • Speaking of fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit are high in natural Vitamin C – known to help boost your immune system.  Interestingly enough, red peppers are even higher in Vitamin C than oranges! Red pepper juice, anyone? 
  • Drink lots of water – reverse osmosis or spring water is best.  I personally use this inexpensive, easy to install, under the sink filter.
  • Drink bone broth – I know it’s all the rage these days but with good reason: your grandmother was right, chicken soup really does help your immune system – and maybe your soul, too.  But to really get all the benefits that bone broth has to offer including strengthening your immune system, follow a bone broth recipe.  If you don’t want to wait that long for it to cook, use an instant pot and it will be ready in no time! 
  • Garlic and onions have natural anti-viral properties.  Chop them up and use them in whatever you are cooking and of course add some to your bone broth for extra benefits.  If you have IBS and/or are following a LOW-FODMAP diet, skip this suggestion.
  • Ginger – aside from being known as the anti-nausea herb of choice, it also contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols which inhibit the formation of inflammatory messengers of the immune system.[1]  It also contains antibacterial and antiviral properties and soothes lung tissues.  Make a simple tea with fresh ginger, lemon, mint and this delicious organic honey.

 

Immune Boosting Supplements:

  • Vitamin C – the immune system vitamin – 1000 mg 3x/day (or more).  Some suggest to take it to bowel tolerance – meaning, until you develop loose stools and then cut back on the dose.  Since this varies person to person, start with the recommended dose and go up from there.
  • Zinc –  the immune system mineral – 30 – 60 mg twice a day.
  • Oregano – but especially this type containing the Mediterranean source P73 wild oregano that was used in studies to successfully destroy bacteria and viruses. It is best to take it 3x/day when you feel the start of symptoms as taking high doses for a long period of time can have negative effects on the good bacteria in your intestinal tract (similar to antibiotics but not nearly as detrimental). 
  • Elderberry extract – in addition to being an excellent source of Vitamin C, it improves and strengthens immune system function, helps detoxify the body and reduces cold and flu symptoms. [2]
  • Echinacea – shown to have profound immune enhancing effects, and direct antiviral activity. [3] We like this brand.  That being said, it’s best NOT to take during a fever as it may increase the inflammatory response of this type of unfamiliar virus.  Best to take as a preventative measure or if your symptoms during the virus do not include a high fever.
  • NAC – N-Acetylcysteine is an antioxidant and precursor to glutathione, one of the major antioxidants in lung tissue.  In a double blind trial, using NAC during the flu season reduced the frequency and severity of symptomatic flu episodes. [4] While we don’t have studies showing it’s effectiveness specifically on Coronavirus, my guess would be that it would show similar effects.  I recommend this quality formula.

Make sure your supplements, whether they are Vitamins, Minerals, or Herbal remedies are low in sugar, and don’t contain fillers or other unnecessary ingredients.  It defeats the purpose to take high sugar, chemical filled synthetic supplements. They should also have enough of the active ingredient to do the job.  Often when studies are done showing supplements did not have a positive effect it was because they were too low in potency or made with unhealthy ingredients. [Hint – don’t buy them from Costco or your local drugstore.]  A health food store, quality brands like those I recommended above from Amazon or a professional Supplement Dispensary is a much better option.

Lifestyle:

  • Make your own easy natural hand sanitizer – get a spray bottle and add 70% alcohol along with a few drops of essential oil of tea trea (melaleuca), eucalyptus, thyme, lavender, rosemary, clove or a combination, and optionally a few tablespoons of pure aloe vera taken from inside the actual aloe vera leaf.  There are many brands of essential oils out there that are not pure and have added ingredients used to dilute the products.  Pure essential oils are NOT the same as botanical oils or the inexpensive essential oils you can buy at your local health food store. I personally have been using Doterra essential oils for a while since they have a great reputation but lately I have been switching to Living Libations which I feel are even more pure. 
  • Lowering your stress helps your immune system so do yoga or dance using an online streaming service (I love Les Mills on Demand), or go for a walk outside which will also benefit you by getting some sunlight.  The naturally occurring vitamin D helps your immune system as well and so many of us are deficient because of the overuse of sunscreen.  It is a good idea to be out in the sun for at least 15 minutes a day without any sunscreen. After that, use an all natural brand like this one or this one.  
  • If you feel like you are coming down with something don’t do a hard workout like running, heavy weight lifting or HiiT as these forms of exercise can increase cortisol levels – the stress hormone. But don’t sit still either – a light workout is fine as long as you feel up to it.
  • Sleep 8 hours a night – this is so important! Go to bed before 11 pm and sleep in complete darkness to have the best benefits.
  • Be happy – I know, I know, easier said than done.  Writing down things you are grateful for….it might sound cheesy but it helps.  I am personally grateful to live in Florida where I can sit in my backyard as I write this, go for a bike ride which is apparently safe for social distancing and of course grateful for my awesome family despite the fact that it’s only Day 2 of them being home and it has been a non-stop cooking and eating fest!
  • Most of all have faith….we will get through this! happy
If you found this helpful, please share with family and friends!

References:

[1] “The Healing Power of Herbs and Spices.” The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, by Michael T. Murray et al., Time Warner International, 2006, pp. 486–487.

[2]“The All-In-One Guide to Natural Remedies and Supplements: Discover the Health and Healing Powers of Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals, Fats, Enzymes, Amino Acids, Aromatherapy, Homeopathy, Flower Remedies, Leading Edge Discoveries, Nutraceuticals, Phytochemicals.” The All-In-One Guide to Natural Remedies and Supplements: Discover the Health and Healing Powers of Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals, Fats, Enzymes, Amino Acids, Aromatherapy, Homeopathy, Flower Remedies, Leading Edge Discoveries, Nutraceuticals, Phytochemicals, by Ken Vegotsky et al., AGES Publications, 2001, pp. 202–203.

[3]“Immune Support.” The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine, by Joseph E. Pizzorno et al., Elsevier, 2016, p. 391.

[4]“Influenza.” Nutritional Medicine, by Alan Gaby, Fritz Perlberg Publishing, 2017, p. 1249.

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HOLISTIC NUTRITION AND SUPPLEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS

“I have been getting these headaches lately, what can I take?” Or, “I don’t know why, but my stomach has been bothering me lately I need a supplement to fix it.”  These are a couple of examples of the questions I get asked on a daily basis.  Many people are under the assumption that a Holistic Nutritionist can offer a quick fix to their health problem or a band-aid solution to whatever ails them.  Then again, maybe I should feel honored that people believe I can cure them on the spot!  Unfortunately, it’s usually not as easy as that.  You see, while there are a number of supplements and remedies that can offer quick relief of symptoms, typically the issue has been going on for a while and we need to uncover the cause of the problem in order to find a long-term solution .

When you go the Doctor, his or her main job is to get you out of your discomfort or pain and to make sure you don’t have a serious illness.  A Holistic Nutritionist works in a completely different manner.  Of course, we also want to make sure you don’t have a serious illness, but since we are not trained to determine that, (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to “diagnose” things) it is always best to consult with your Medical Doctor if you are concerned about a persistent symptom.  On the other hand, if you have had the same symptom(s) for years OR you have already received a diagnosis of your condition, that’s where we come in.  For example, your Doctor may tell you that you have gastric reflux or chronic migraine headaches or high cholesterol, and he/she will want to give you prescription medicine to take every time your “issue” comes up, or even daily to prevent the problem in the first place.  Unfortunately, too often those medicines simply block the problem from surfacing and don’t really “fix” anything; many times, they actually make the problem worse in the long run, or cause new health issues to emerge, as in the case of antacids, corticosteroids, blood pressure lowering medication and others.

medicine-side-effects

So why are so many people tempted to go this route?  Usually because (a) it will get them out of their discomfort quickly, which is certainly understandable so I’m not diminishing that fact; and (b) for some reason I’ve never been able to understand, they are terrified of not listening to the Doctor or trying a healthier alternative before resorting to harmful prescription medications.

Unlike some others in my field, I’m not opposed to Doctors or medicine when required.  Obviously, if you have a raging infection and need antibiotics right away, or are in a tremendous amount of pain or you simply don’t feel comfortable with natural medicine, then you should absolutely follow the treatment plan your Doctor provides.  The issue I have is that more often than not, unnecessary medications or repeated antibiotics are prescribed for chronic health issues when a much simpler treatment plan will correct the imbalance with time.  And that’s the important part: the process can take a while, since it took time for your body to get so out of whack in the first place!  It involves changing your lifestyle, your diet, determining which foods you might be sensitive or allergic to, finding the type and level of toxicities in your environment and the food your ingesting as well as dealing with any emotional factors or hormonal problems that may be contributing to your problem.  This, along with the appropriate vitamins and supplements – which often need to be reviewed and updated every month to ensure progression towards better health – generally takes a lot longer than the the quick fix pill your doctor will provide.  Eventually you will feel better, have more energy and not get the symptoms making you feel like crap in the first place, but it certainly won’t be overnight.

All that being said, in acute mild illnesses or discomfort, such as a cold or sore throat, sinusitis, acute digestive upset, stress due to a particular event, etc., herbal, homeopathic redmedies and essential oils can provide fantastic quick relief in most cases without suppressing the bodies natural functions the way OTC medications do, but when those very same colds or sore throats are chronic, the underlying cause has to be dealt with.

I hope this helps clear up your understanding of Holistic Nutrition and Natural medicine.  Contact me HERE  and I will be happy to help you any way I can. happy

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CHOOSING THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS

Have you ever walked into a natural health store and looked at shelves and shelves of supplements and had no clue what you were supposed to be looking for?   You have a feeling you should be taking something to make you “healthier” but you have no idea where to begin?

Well, you’re not alone.  So many people get overwhelmed by the amount of supplements on the market claiming all types of health benefits.  The important thing is to understand the following key elements when choosing the right supplement(s) for your needs:

  1. Research before you buy – don’t just grab the first thing off the shelf because you have migraines and the formula says “migraine-ease” or something of that nature.  Look at the ingredients; research them; make sure there is enough of each particular ingredient to help your condition and that it won’t interfere with other medications or supplements you are taking.  Find out about the brand – has the company been around a while and does it have a good reputation?  Are the tablets so large that they may not break down and be absorbed properly by your body?  Do the pills contain many “filler” ingredients or additives?  It is so important to make sure that you are putting quality products into your system that really do work.
  2. Supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet.  Don’t believe that if you eat unhealthy, you can simply take lots of vitamins instead.  Many people take tons of supplements simply because their diets are not up to par and they believe that the vitamins will “cancel out” those adverse effects.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, so make sure your diet is a good one before adding numerous supplements to your regimen.
  3. Something that is healthy and beneficial for someone else may be harmful to you.  A good example of this is phytoestrogens.  While helpful for women with menopausal symptoms, phytoestrogens can be detrimental to women with estrogen-related problems, such as fibroids or some types of breast cancer.

So what should you start with?

Of course it’s always best to consult with a Holistic Nutritionist or other natural health practitioner trained to provide you with personalized supplement recommendations, because each person’s requirements can differ greatly depending on age and specific health issues.  However, the following are 5 supplements that almost anyone can derive benefit from and these can be taken on a continual basis, either individually or as a complete program:

  1. Vitamin C – There are numerous benefits to this important anti-oxidant.  The amount I usually recommend is 1000 mg/day.  If you have a sensitive stomach, take ascorbic acid, which is the most gentle.
  2. Green formulas – The equivalent of a serving of vegetables, these formulas are alkalanizing to the body, help to control sugar cravings, contain numerous vitamins and minerals and are detoxifying as well.   Many come in capsule form as well, if you can’t tolerate the taste of the powder mixed with water.  1 tablespoon per day is enough to reap the benefits of this important supplement.
  3. Probiotics – Due to the abundance of anti-biotics that many people take on a yearly basis, there is simply not enough of these “good” bacteria left in the digestive tract.  With this supplement in particular it is extremely important to look for a reputable brand, because of the instability of this product.  In other words, it may say on the bottle that it contains 5 billion active bacteria when in fact in can contain less than half, or in some cases, none at all.
  4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – these “good” fats are important for everyone and are found in fish oils (make sure they are mercury-free), flax and borage oils.  Some oils are tolerated better than others, so you may have to experiment to see which is right for you.
  5. Fiber supplement – the average person simply does not get enough fiber in their diet.  Unfortunately, many people either overload on wheat fiber or turn to supplements containing psyllium as a solution to this problem, both of which can backfire by causing bloating and constipation, as well as stomach pains.  A better choice is flax fiber (ground flax seeds), or inulin fiber, both of which are gentle and non-constipating.

One last note: Remember to take your supplements every day; if they sit on a shelf they can’t really help you! happy

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ORTHODOX JUDIASM & KOSHER-CERTIFIED SUPPLEMENTS

If you aren’t Jewish, you don’t have to bother reading this. In this topic of kosher supplements, consider yourself lucky that you can consume whatever you want. Cow adrenal glands? Sure, why not. Shark cartilage? Excellent. Basically you can move on the next (or previous) post. wave

If you are an orthodox Jew like I am, however, the source of the supplements you take is one of the most questioned and mis-understood topic that I deal with. This topic is especially important in cities such as here in Toronto, where it is difficult to find a large variety of quality kosher-certified supplements. Hopefully, this will address some of those issues and help you understand a bit better. Let me start off by saying, I’m not a Rabbi (obviously), so I do not have the authority to make decisions on whether or not the supplement you are taking is “ok”. That being said, when I first started in the field of Holistic Nutrition, I spoke with a very nice, patient and prominent Rabbi and posek in NYC, Rabbi Leibel Katz, who took the time to explain to me the following guidelines.

(1) The weight, Rebecca Lazar - ORTHODOX JUDIASM & KOSHER-CERTIFIED SUPPLEMENTSmajority of supplements are considered medicine (even vitamins, minerals and the like) and are therefore treated as such with regards to kosher laws. Therefore, any supplement in capsule, caplet or liquid form that is labelled as 100% vegetarian or vegan (such as the product shown left) is fine for anyone to take and it does not need a hechsher. A supplement that contains Vitamin D3, however, cannot be labelled as vegetarian since it is made from sheeps wool, however, it is fine to take.

(2) A supplement that is vegetarian but encapsulated in a non-kosher capsule (usually gelatin) may or may not be a problem. Most poskim agree that a hard gelatin capsule is not a problem, but a softgel cap can be a problem. This is due to the way it is processed.

(3) Fish oil sourced from kosher fish (such as sardines, salmon, etc.) is usually not a problem, but care must be taken to ensure that all the ingredients are not from traif sources. This can sometimes be difficult so unless you know a particular company’s ingredients and practices, it is best to consult a rabbi.

(4) A supplement that is completely non-kosher and has traif ingredients should not be taken in liquid, chewable or caplet form, but MAY be allowed in capsule form if (a) there’s no vegetarian or kosher equivalent and (b) the person is ill and requires the supplement to feel better. (In some cases it can be taken to prevent illness as well if this is determined to be necessary by a health care practitioner). In all these instances, a Rabbi must be consulted.

(5) If the purpose of the supplement you are taking is to get stronger or enhance sports performance (ie. creatine, whey protein) then it is NOT considered medicine and must be kosher-certified.

Obviously, if you can get kosher certified supplements that’s the best way to go. But remember, not all supplements are created equal…..the kosher brand I would recommend? Definitely Maxi Health or NutriSupreme above the other products out there. Of course, whatever supplement(s) you take, may it lead you to the best of health!

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