Patti Bess: Your kitchen can save your life
STAYING HEALTHY AND WELLTeri Patterson is a nutritional therapy practitioner and life coach. She helps people make changes to their diet and works with alcohol issues. “This is not the time to indulge ourselves by binging on chips and sodas. We’re not powerless here. Good nutrition and (a walk in the fresh air) is the first line of defense to build our immune system to fight off this new virus.” Contact her at http://www.nourishyourbestself.com. FOOD — 90% of our immune system lives in our gut! Keeping our gut healthy means more good bacteria (‘bugs’) and less bad ones. Eating whole, nutrient dense food is key: think vegetables, fruits, proteins. Our gut needs pre-biotics and pro-biotics to be healthy, and it loves a wide variety of food. Eating junk food and processed carbs or food with excess sugar actually harms our gut microbiome by giving the bad bugs fuel to grow and overpopulate the system. VITAMIN D — Vitamin D is critical to maintain our immune system and help us fight off infection. While we can get Vitamin D in food and capsules, the best way is to get outside into the natural light. Think about a daily walk or drinking your morning cup of coffee or tea out on your front porch or back deck. Your body will thank you! HYDRATION – Drinking water helps flush toxins out of our bodies. During this time of ‘shelter in place’ we are thrown off our normal routine so it can be challenging to remember to stay hydrated. Your lungs need hydration to expel foreign particles, your kidneys need water to flush pathogens. Your entire body needs hydration to boost your immune system! SLEEP — According to the Mayo Clinic, studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. While it may be tempting to stay up late or sleep in when we don’t have to work or go to school, sticking to a regular bedtime routine can enhance sleep quality and our immunity. BREATH — COVID-19 lodges in the lungs. Begin your day with deep breathing. Count to 12 for an in breath, hold it for a count of 12, and breathe out for a count of 12 (or whatever number is comfortable for your age and ability).
Your kitchen can save your life. Does that sound like one of those exaggerated internet claims that gets you hooked into listening to a sales pitch that goes on and on and on? We have been through the most complex two weeks that most of us have ever experienced. Changes to our lifestyle, safety and comfort level happened by the hour, sending us scrambling to re-create and re-define our entire lives.
When I see (used to see) friends in town they would often say, “I read all your articles.”
And I respond, “Did you try the recipe?” That’s when they slink away. Trying something new in life, as simple as a new recipe, stretches our brains. It builds our flexibility and confidence to be able to face the uncertainties of our changing world. And it is one way to tap into the creative side of ourselves. Also, a little Aretha Franklin or Ladysmith Black Mambazo to cook by definitely lifts the spirit and maybe puts a little zing in the food as well.
The more important benefit is having something extra delicious and abundantly nutritious at the end of the day. And then, of course, there is something to look forward to. Now, more than ever, we need to make healthy food choices to build our resistance.
I have a hard time understanding why people don’t like to cook. Have you relished the creaminess of a still warm risotto? Felt the polenta thicken and pull away from the sides of the pan as you stir? There is something so sensual and satisfying in these simple tasks. The world tells us we need to be multi-tasking. The Buddhists, yoga teachers and meditators tell us that the way to strengthen our mind power is to focus on one task at a time.
But we need to nourish our whole being. Did you know that your brain, emotions and immune system are in continual communication? If you are worried, depressed and anxious; your immune system is also depressed. Changing our attitude can improve our own health. Nothing is totally negative. Our lives have completely stopped, but we have time to sit on the deck or in the yard and watch spring come alive in this incredible place we live. Just this last couple of weeks air pollution has plummeted because we are not driving, achieving, shopping, working, remodeling, carpooling and shuffling families around.
Here in the West we are constantly manipulated by the enticement of distractions keeping our lives on the go. What a wonderful opportunity we have now to reflect on what’s really important. I scrounged around for my dusty, old journal a few days ago to write and ask myself, “What is it that really nourishes me? What is this insane situation trying to tell us about our lives? What can I do to make a difference for my body, my family and my community? I recently picked up a Time magazine special supplement on mental health. One of the most important suggestions by doctors for people suffering with depression was to do something for other people. (Of course, that is only one simple example.)
I feel so grateful to live in a community with a strong local food movement that has grown immensely in the last 15 years. It only takes a short trip to the Midwest to realize its value. My head of lettuce, bought from a local farmer, still tasted crisp and full of vigor after two weeks in the refrigerator (I forgot it.) Too many people eat old, de-natured food. It’s nowhere near as vital and nutrient dense as fresh. Our farmers deserve our support in these difficult times. And don’t forget, when you can’t or don’t want to cook, ordering takeout and curbside pickup from our local restaurants helps them pay their expenses while they are closed.
Patti Bess is a freelance writer and cookbook author. She has written for more than 25 magazines and lives in Grass Valley.
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