Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Everybody gets sick, it is simply often unavoidable. But during cold and flu season it can’t hurt to take every opportunity to build up your body’s natural immune system, which is of course your best defense against illness! Taking care of yourself can come last in line when you are taking care of everybody else, or putting your all into work, but these easy Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System can go along way in warding off sickness whenever possible.


1. Get Outdoors

Spending time outdoors, where you can naturally absorb vitamin D from the sun, is an easy way to keep you from getting sick! If you live in seasonally colder regions of the country you may tend to stay indoors during the winter, which can result in low levels of vitamin D. Studies have shown that increasing your vitamin D uptake reduces your risk of catching the flu.

And despite the myth of “catching a cold” from the cold weather, cold and flu season is during the winter because most people are indoors and in close proximity to one another so spreading germs is easier. Escape those germs, get fresh air and catch some rays! Go for a walk with the dog, try winter sports like skiing or skating or bundle up the kids and take them out to the park!

Boost Your Immune System Naturally

2. Max Those Micronutrients

Ongoing research shows that deficiencies of iron, copper, folic acid, zinc, vitamins A, B, C, and E are linked to decreased immune response. But how do you know you’re consuming an adequate amount of micronutrients? The answer is variety.

Make your plate colorful: Different colors in fruits and vegetables mean they are yielding different nutrients. Change things up and add some different fruits or vegetables to your cart the next time you are at the grocery store.

If you really don’t love vegetables or having variety, this is when you should consider a multivitamin that will allow you to obtain an adequate amount of micronutrients. Keep in mind however that these are supplements, not substitutes. When choosing a multivitamin look for a USP verification, 100 percent of the daily value of most of its ingredients, has the right balance for your age and sex, and lastly has calcium, potassium and fiber.

3. Try Turmeric

Turmeric has the nutrient curcumin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. There is extensive evidence that it can help prevent illness due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Try adding it to a dish or sip on a warm golden turmeric milk latte before bed.

Check out these LCK turmeric recipes:

Dairy-Free Golden Turmeric Latte With Espresso | Lexi's Clean Kitchen

4. Mix in Some Mushrooms!

Japanese mushrooms like shiitake, maitake, and oyster mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants are our body’s army against free radicals which are unstable molecules that naturally occur in your body that damage cells and cause disease (and aging). Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants help counteract the effect of free radicals and build your bodies defense. Mushrooms are easy to include in your diet through cooking or another option is to start your day with some mushroom coffee (link Four Sigmatic) containing lion’s mane, chaga, reishi and turkey tail powders.

Check out these mushroom recipes:

6. Namast’ay in Bed

A wide variety of studies have shown that stress and inadequate sleep has a negative affect on your body’s immune response. Everyone deals with stress in different ways so finding your personal mechanism to decrease your stress is key.

Here are some ideas to try to lower your stress level:

  • Meditation. Headspace is a great beginner app for a guided meditation option. Spotify and Youtube also have many guided meditation options.
  • Read a good book. LCK’s favorite books of 2018.
  • Do a face mask while taking a steamy hot bath. Try our all-time favorite detoxifying mask.
  • Go on a walk to clear your mind. Trails is an app that shows you trails, hiking areas, and bike paths around you.
  • Do some yoga. Find a yoga studio near you here.
  • Spend quality time with people that make you laugh.
  • Journal your thoughts, feelings, frustrations, gratitude. Write it all down.
  • Adequate sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Having trouble falling asleep? Try showering before bed, wash your sheets every two weeks, decrease screen time before bed, try using a noise maker or a fan, and/or limit caffeine consumption after 3:00 pm.

Here are some additional small ways to strengthen your immune system:

  • Daily probiotics: 80% of our immune system is in our digestive system. A healthy gut = strong immune system.
  • Seagreensproducts like chips, powders, and teas. Seagreens such as seaweed and algae are excellent sources of nutrients. Vital protein has a Spirulina Capsules. Spirulina is an amazing superfood sourced from blue-green algae.
  • Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is loaded with vitamins, minerals and beneficial probiotics.
  • Immune boosting shot: KOR’s is a great store-bought option. We love our Kick That Cold Juice!
  • Bone broth: from Bonafide Provisions or make it homemade. Don’t forget some Classic Chicken Soup.
  • Hot herbal tea: before bed with some lemon and honey.
  • Elderberry Syrup: store-bought or homemade.
  • Other natural cold remedies:
    • Lots and lots of Water
    • Oregano Oil
    • Echinacea Capsules and Zinc
    • Apple Cider Vinegar
    • Hot Steamy Shower or Bath (Add Epsom Salts/Essential Oils to Your Bath)
    • Hot water with Lemon, Raw Honey, Turmeric, Apple Cider Vinegar and a Dash of Cayenne

Gabby - In-House Nutritionist Bio

Natural Ways to Boost Immune System

How a Nutritionist Decodes a Nutrition Facts Label

A nutrition label can be a useful tool to evaluate how healthy (or not) a food can be, but it also can be tricky to truly decode all of the language and facts. Our in-house nutritionist Gabrielle McGrath shows us How a Nutritionist Decodes a Nutrition Facts Label to help you fill your cart with good-for-you products and understand what you’re buying so you can make the best, informed choices!

How to read a nutrition label

How a Nutritionist Decodes a Nutrition Facts Label

The key for a successful grocery shopping haul is to be able to quickly and truly understand the nutrition facts label. Knowledge is your best defense when it comes to the products you are adding to your pantry and ingesting in your body. In an ideal world you want to mostly fill your cart with unprocessed whole foods that are not packaged, like fruits, veggies, meats, but obviously it’s important to be able to evaluate the nutrition information on the packaged products.

Product names and health claims put on the front of the package are often misleading and you should be weary. For example, “Low calorie” usually means a chemical sweetener has been added, that “organic” does not mean it is healthy, and that “all natural” means absolutely nothing since there is no strict definition to “all natural.” Advocating for yourself is a necessity.  

How to read a nutrition label

Some questions to ask yourself when looking at a nutrition label:

  1. How much daily added sugar is in one serving?
  2. Is there a high protein content?
  3. What ingredients are actually in the product?

Below we will go through how to answer all of these questions to help you make the best possible food decisions for yourself and your family!

What is Most Important to Look at On a Nutrition Label

  • A short ingredient list looking for minimal ingredients
  • Fiber content versus net carbohydrates
  • Higher protein versus added sugar
  • The percent daily values

Nutrition Label

How to Understand Food Labels

There are a lot of different components to a nutrition label. Below find out some key pieces that are important to understand.

Ingredients List

Looking at the ingredients list should always be your first priority to make sure they are simple, real, and minimal. Try to choose food with ingredients that sound familiar to you. If you cannot pronounce them, the likelihood is that they are chemicals and/or processed food ingredients, which you want to limit or avoid.  

Something to note, is it is arranged by order of amounts, so if sugar is the first ingredient, it’s the majority.

Serving Size

The nutrition facts labels is not reflective of what is in the whole product.  It is telling you how much is in ONE serving. A serving is a measurement of food or drink within a product, such as one slice of bread or eight ounces of milk and this fact is dictated by the company creating the product. There are many food products on the market that are a meant to be a single portion but the nutrition fact label says they contain multiple servings.

For example, you may pick up granola see that it has 200 calories with only 5 grams of added sugar. But if your personal serving size is larger than the indicated product serving size, you could end up consumer way more than you intended. If that granola serving size was ¼ cup and you typically have 1 cup of granola, you will be consuming 800 calories and 20 g of added sugar.

Carbohydrates and Fiber…are they different?

Carbohydrates are broken down on the nutrition panel. There are simple carbohydrates that are found in sugars and starches and then there are complex carbohydrates that are found in fiber. This is important when looking at the total carbohydrates to distinguish the two. Net carbs represent the starches and sugars in food after fiber contents have been subtracted.   

Net Carbohydrates = Total Carbohydrates – Fiber

Net carbs account for carbs that get digested as sugar and affect your blood glucose while the carbs that come from fiber do not actually get digested and rather aid in good digestion while helping you feel full longer. Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day and males 38 grams of fiber per day.  When purchasing high carb items try to stick with ones that have 2-3g of fiber per serving.

More Protein, Less Added Sugar

Look for products with a higher protein content than added sugar, especially if it is a snack food that is meant to keep you satisfied if you are feeling hungry between meals. Food manufacturers love adding excessive sugar to their products to make them taste better, especially when masking for “low-fat”. Added sugar can also be disguised as: dextrose, glucose, sucrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup, or high fructose corn syrup.

  • The average male is recommended to consume less than 37g of sugar the average women less than 25g. Choose snacks with less than 10g of added sugar.
  • The average person should be consuming about .5 grams of protein per lb of body weight. For example if you weigh 200 lbs, you should be consuming about 100 grams of protein per day. Additionally, the more active you are, the greater your protein needs are.

Percent Daily Values (%DV’s)

%DV’s are the average levels of nutrients for a person eating 2,000 calories a day so they should be considered more of a rough estimate. %DV’s are for the entire day, not just one meal or snack. Aim for products low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, with an ideal %DV less than 5%.

Avoid trans fats. You want to avoid trans fat as often as you can because they raise your bad cholesterol levels and decrease your good cholesterol levels. They’re naturally occurring in very small amounts in some dairy and meat products but don’t have the same negative effect as the hydrogenated trans fat in processed foods

 Aim for foods high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, with an ideal %DV greater than 20%.

How to read a nutrition label

Now that I’ve shared my tips on How a Nutritionist Decodes a Nutrition Facts Label from top to bottom I want to share one more thing: We are all busy and sometimes don’t have time to scan through the entire nutrition label with every item we put in our cart. So if forced to choose one component from the nutrition label to pay attention to, focus on the ingredients list. If you are choosing a coconut cream for various health reasons and then you look at the ingredients and see the first three are water, sugar and vegetable oil then put it down… or you’ll be adding water, sugar and extremely processed oil in your coffee every morning.

The best route is to always choose real food with minimal ingredients added in their purest form!


Gabby - In-House Nutritionist Bio

10 Reasons Why Having a Dog is the Best

Two years ago Jax (our golden retriever) came into ours lives. Getting him was hands down the best decision I have eve made! Having a dog has taught me a lot of things about being a dog mom, but also about life!

Jax

I didn’t grow up having dogs, and didn’t know what to expect AT ALL when we got him. If you follow me on social media, you know that Jax is such a huge part of our family, and working from home, my little (or big) sidekick.

Over the past two years many of you have sent me questions about getting a dog, having a dog, what we do with Jax, what goes into having a puppy, and more. So when Stella & Chewy’s reached out to me to be a part of their Everyday Awesome campaign, I was SO excited and thrilled to finally share some insight with all of you!

10 Reasons That Having A Dog Has Impacted My Life

When Jax first came home he looked a little something like this: 

10 Reasons That Having A Dog Has Impacted My Life

Can you even handle that face? He was a tiny little teddy bear that instantly won over our hearts. And yes, we did a puppy photoshoot. Haha! 

10 Reasons That Having A Dog Has Impacted My Life

Today I’m going to share things that Jax has taught me, and I’ll also share about things we do to keep him happy and healthy, and try to answer some of the questions you’ve asked me! 

10 Reasons That Having A Dog Has Impacted My Life

Why Having A Dog Is AWESOME:

1. They Get You Into Nature: Dogs get you moving, and they get you out into nature! We take Jax to some BEAUTIFUL parks and on hikes and nature walks. We get to enjoy the quiet and the beauty of nature.

2. They Give You Unconditional Love: The love that Jax gives us is unlike anything I have experienced. You make them SO happy, and they simply love you so much. 

3. They Teach You Responsibility: It’s true, and it’s an important component to take into consideration when getting a dog. Dogs, like humans, require love and your time. You need to be home every number of hours for them. You have to guide them and teach them how to act. You have someone else you need to feed and care for. I don’t have kids just yet so Jax is like my first child. If he’s up in the middle of the night with a stomachache, guess what? So am I!

4. They Boost Your Mood: Dogs snuggle you, love you, and are SO excited to see you when you walk through the door. It’s like an instant mood boost. Whether I am outside for 1 minute getting the mail, or away for the weekend, it’s instant excitement!

5. They Help Relieve Stress: Studies show that being around dogs can help reduce stress, and I find that to be so true!

6. They Help You Find Joy In Simple Things In Life: Dogs are simple. They get excited by the leaves on the ground or the tennis ball at the park. Jax has taught me to step back and find joy in the tiny moments.

7. They Make Us More Social: Every day at the park or on a walk somebody comes over to say hi and pet Jax. I’ve met so many interesting people, nice neighbors, and even friends, from having Jax!

8. They Get You Moving Daily: They make you get up, get outside, and get moving!

9. Dogs Give Us a Sense of Purpose: You now have another being to care for! Dogs need you every day, and puppies even more so. They are like your child! Jax gives me a sense of purpose that I love.

10. They Make Us Laugh: There’s never a dull moment with this cutie around. He’s always doing something funny that makes us laugh.

10 Reasons That Having A Dog Has Impacted My Life

Tips:

Finances: When you’re considering getting a dog make sure you think about a budget for them. Between the vet, food, annual shots, insurance (optional), daycare or a dog walker if needed, and grooming, it’s definitely an expense to consider. The first year of their life, puppies tend to get sick, so between that and supplies year one is always a bit more money, from our experience.

Your time: Make sure you are ready for the responsibility! Make sure your work schedule allows for it, and while you may not be able to leave at a moments notice without planning, I truly believe coming home to that sweet face is so worth it. 

Finding a Breeder or Adopting: Wherever you choose to get your dog from, do your research to ensure you are getting him/her from someone trustworthy. We got Jax from a breeder here in Massachusetts that many of my old-coworkers had goldens from.

Invest in training:  We started training very early with Jax and truly believed it helped him socially with other dogs as well as house training. While you think you may be able to take on the task yourself, the training really trained US on what to do and what not to do!

10 Reasons That Having A Dog Has Impacted My LifeThings We Do:

We feed him good food! Which is a huge part of today’s post! Jax eats a grain-free, limited ingredient kibble diet with added Stella & Chewy raw food Meal Mixers (which are made with pure proteins and organic fruits and vegetables) for additional nutrients. Food has healed so much of my ailments and health issues, so I definitely make sure I feed Jax well and get him nutritious (and delicious) food!

We did training early on and constantly work on it with him! I can’t recommend it enough. 

We get outside with him every day. Hello, vitamin D! 

Early on in his life, like the first few weeks, we traveled with him places, and it’s made him comfortable now when we travel or are away and he’s in different places.


 BONUS: If you like, you can post your dog’s excitement about Meal Mixers via a photo or video on the Stella & Chewy Facebook page or on your Instagram along with the hashtag #MealMixerChallenge. Be sure to include the package in your shot! They’re giving away a grand prize that includes $1,000 in Meal Mixers and a PetChatz pet cam valued at $400!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Stella & Chewy’s. The opinions and text are all mine. I only work with brands that I 100% support personally!

 

Beyond the Kitchen

Life Lately:

We had this AMAZING Thai brunch in Boston at Banyan. I’m still dreaming of this gluten-free sandwich on scallion pancakes.

brunch

Earlier this week I took a few days to go on our annual spa trip with very special friends. We had the best time relaxing, laughing, and enjoying Norwich Spa and Mohegan Sun!

Norwich Spa & Mohegan Sun

We stayed at The Spa at Norwich Inn, then took quick 5 minute taxis to Mohegan each night. We ate at Tuscany and Bar American, and visited our favorite, Vista Lounge, both nights!

CSA

Does it get any better than this? I can’t wait to cook through this week’s CSA haul!

CSA SHARE

Now I’m back to work, work, work and WEDDING PLANNING! We are one month away!


Blog Posts I’m Loving:

The most gorgeous Summer Fruit Plate ever.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Vegan Fudge? Sign me up!

I want this Skillet Fish with tomatoes this weekend!

The perfect way to use avocados and my tomatoes and cucumbers is this salad.

Grilling a Delmonico Steak just got easier!


 Quote of the Week:

“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love…” ― Marcus Aurelius


What’s HOT on Pinterest This Week:

Caribbean Pulled Chicken Lettuce Wraps: Recipe | Pin It 

Hosting the Perfect Brunch: How To | Pin it

Easy Blueberry Jam: Recipe | Pin It

Loaded Paleo Nachos: Recipe | Pin It


Current Must-Haves: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Edition

This off the shoulder top.

These booties.

This casual T.

This awesome structured bag.

My favorite everyday bra.


What You May Have Missed:

This Easy Beet Slaw.

My Thai Curry Soup with ALL THE VEGGIES! 


Better Beauty & Safer Skincare

I’ve been talking a lot more about what products I’m using to create a non-toxic home and I can’t say enough amazing things about what I’ve been using lately.

skin-beauty-withLCK

Here’s a look inside my medicine cabinet!

inside-my-bathroomcabinet

Hair: I love Oi oil by Davines.

Teeth: I brush with Dessert Essence Toothpaste in this flavor, and find it at Whole Foods Market or on Amazon. We love it.

Deodorant: Primally Pure in Lemongrass. It’s fabulous!

Pre-cleanser: I like this pre-cleanser oil to remove dirt and make-up before washing.

Face Cleansers: I use this cleansing bar in the shower, and this face wash for AM & PM.

Face Exfoliators: Here’s my light exfoliator. Here’s my go-to heavier exfoliator (my favorite).

Face Moisturizers: I love this serum oil, this moisturizer for AM, and this for PM! I also still have this serum that I like.

Face Mist & Toner: I really like this complexion mist, and I use this clarifying toner from Norwich Spa.

Lip Treatment: I love love love this lip conditioner

Eye Cream: I love this rejuvenating eye cream.

Face Masks: I love this charcoal face mask and this camphor mask from Norwich spa.

Shampoo: This is my favorite, and a little goes a long way.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or email me!


 Enjoy the weekend, loves! Thanks for reading! 

Technology Break: 5 Things To Do Daily

When the lovely folks at smartwater told me about their upcoming #lookupsweepstakes on Instagram, I was immediately inspired. I place a huge importance on sleep and down time as part of my healthy lifestyle. Sleep, removing stress, and making time to do what you love are key. A stressed out life lacking sleep and relaxation is by no means healthy! Yet, I honestly can’t say I always put this into play.

My days are pretty jam packed, and while I am doing everything I love: teaching elementary art, exercising, cooking, photographing, and blogging; it rarely leaves time to sit, relax (without a smartphone, laptop, or tablet), and take in the world around me. For months now I’ve been telling Mike that I want to fit time in to relax and meditate, but the days roll into each other and that hasn’t quite happened yet.

This challenge was perfect for that. The idea is to take quick technology breaks throughout the day by getting up from your laptop or looking up from your cell phone to raise your gaze to the sky and the world around you. I did just that. School ended for the summer, and while my planner is just as packed, I got home I sat on my porch and then on my hammock and took in the trees, the sun, and the quiet sound of the wind. It was great, and is something I want to incorporate into my daily routine.

LOOKUPP.S. This is part of our new backyard pre-landscaping!)

Here are 5 ways to make time for you throughout the day, and take a technology break. This is one of my summer goals! Are you with me?

Technology Break

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by smartwater through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about smartwater, all opinions are my own.

You can share what you see by tagging #lookupsweepstakes and tagging @smartwater on Instagram!

What do you do daily to make time for a technology break?

5 Simple Exercises You Can Do Around The House

Last week I shared on social media that I bought a fitbit and how much I absolutely love it. I mean, I seriously love it. I can’t get enough of it! It tracks my steps, stairs climbed, calories (if you choose to enter food), sleep… everything! 

AXP140422_LCK_DAILY_TASKS---AK-EveryDay-Life-Hack-3

Since I started wearing it, I’ve noticed a huge change in my daily energy and desire to just move. I am constantly wanting to walk around and be active, especially around the house. So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ‘life hacks,’ like attaching a sticky to the remote with the word ABS on it, or swapping out your desk chair for an exercise ball!

What are your favorite ways to turn your daily house tasks into mini sweat sessions?

I was selected by American Express to contribute to their Tumblr community. As such I was paid for my services, but all opinions in general and about American express are my own.