A Kitchen Ecology Of Health Resilience


Published:

Fermented foods like sauerkraut are beneficial to your body’s immune-enhancing microflora.

When we find ourselves on the cusp of fall, it’s back-to-school and life seems to speed up, buckle down and get more serious again. Fall’s harbinger comes as the first crisp wind. We transition from outside to in and think of soup and tea.

If catching a cold is your back-to-school ritual, thinking about your immune ecology might help you navigate the season on your feet. The combination of resisting the temptation to overcommit, getting adequate rest, a bit of silent reflection and enjoying nutritious warming foods can go far in creating inner strength this golden harvest season.

Roots Of Immune Resilience

We all need a little protection in this life: we do get by with a little help from our friends — inside and out. The role of your immune system is to protect you from invasion (such as infection, poison, toxins) or injury.

Your immune system is fascinating, complex, and through the process of living becomes uniquely your own. When we say this or that is good for the immune system, it often depends on whose immune system we are talking about. Everyone’s system is as unique as the life they have lived thus far. The state of your overall health, infections you’ve encountered, how you “do” relationships, emotional responses and stress, the food, personal and home products you surround yourself with, all tie in to your immune health. Everything connects there. You are continuously tending your immune ecological garden through the environment and experiences of your life.

The world of nutrition often gets mistakenly reductive, over-simplified and mechanistic (another good argument for the continued education of well-trained nutritionists). So much of nutrition media coverage is single nutrient-focused: take this for that and that for this. Sadly for those seeking only simple, pill-shaped answers, it doesn’t often work that way. Nutrition is much more wondrous, complex and dynamic than that.

Reductionist thinking is critical for scientific medical advancement, but in the art-meets-science world of nutrition, it loses the forest for the trees. Your immune resilience is an ecology. Your digestive tract contains an intricate community of life — your unique microflora — that encompasses most of your immune system. Just as they feed off of and influence each other, microflora are influenced by your personal dietary and environment choices. You can boost your immunity through your choices.

Food And Inflammation

Are you officially terrified of inflammation, convinced it is connected to absolutely every chronic condition, yet can’t seem to shake it? You know how it looks and feels: when you cut your hand, it gets red, puffy, hot and gooey. That’s inflammation. In addition to being an irritation, however, inflammation is the first step of healing. We need inflammation for our bodies to be resilient when we encounter life’s bumps and bruises.

Under normal conditions when we get injured or encounter an infection, we get inflamed, and then heal with rest and nutrients. However the fast-paced busyness of modern life has interfered with the rest side of the equation, and many of us no longer have the time to rest or cook the nutritious food needed for healing and recovery.

The USDA reports that over 70% of the US food supply is refined. Refined food is more convenient. While some food industry innovators have actually succeeded in making truly nutritious convenience foods, the more a food is processed or refined between its whole state and your plate, the fewer nutrients and fiber it has, and the more chemicals not recognized by your body it is likely to contain. In addition, refined foods act like sugar in your body regardless of what they are designed to taste or smell like. Too much sugar makes you hungry, tired and wired.

Consider the gummy worm or the Twinkie sent down the plumb line of your body. “What the heck is that?! I’d better trigger some protection,” your body says. Inflammation. You need to heal from that gummy worm. A nourishing meal and a good night’s rest, and your body can actually make that gummy worm nothing but a pleasant memory.

The problem comes when the gummy worm is followed by a take out dinner, and later by a caffeinated neon colored soda and the latest so-called healthy puffed grain snack. In the morning, it’s a fast food breakfast sandwich and a variation on fries. We all find ourselves in time-crunched, nutritionally challenging food situations. When you layer on unexpected stress, lack of relaxation and low nutrients, inflammation becomes a vicious cycle. That’s how a healthy immune response becomes the chronic inflammation that leads to whatever disease propensity is in your genetic inheritance. It all adds up…and you are so worth saving.

How to keep your immune system able to meet the challenges of modern life without getting caught in a chronic response is a hot topic of research. While there’s still much mystery to immune resilience, there are many clues available, like puzzle pieces lying around just waiting for us to put them into place.
We know, for example, that people who have consistently low quality diets are more susceptible to infection. There is clear evidence that micronutrient deficiencies, specifically deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E, result in immune impairment. We know that gut microflora impacts everything from our immune resilience to the quality of our skin to perhaps our lovable and not-so lovable personalities.

Food Tips For Immune Resilience

Consider these three basic food tips that will help point your way toward more resilient immunity.

1. Focus on nutrient density and overall balance. Nutrient density is a measure of food quality. It is what it sounds like — bang for your buck — or nutrients per calorie. The most nutrient dense (high nutrient, low calorie) foods in our food supply are vegetables and fruits, herbs and spices. Think of the colors and flavors of what is in season now: orange squash and carrots filled with vitamin C and carotenoids that convert to vitamin A. Think of the dark green leafies in their glory: spinach, chard, and kale. Think of warm spices and tea.

Garlic and onions are the great, flavorful healers in the food world. Both contain eye-wateringly powerful phytonutrients that help cool inflammation. In garlic, it’s the antioxidant allicin. When you crush garlic, leaving it to sit for a few moments allows the allicin to become more available. If chopping onions makes you cry, then go ahead and cry, cry, cry. If you have a lemon nearby, its smell may help you.

In addition to quality, think about balance, specifically meal timing and plate composition. One of my favorite lessons from my Ayurvedic brothers and sisters is to honor the rhythms of nature and life. Eat at regular times (not at midnight nor 3 am, nor between meals unless there is health reason). Honor the seasons, eating lightly with warmer weather and with age. Let your plate be a nutrient-dense, low-chemical load, balance of vegetables, spices, clean proteins, grains you tolerate, and mostly plant fats.

2. Fermented foods provide natural inoculations. Your gut is a teeming city of microflora. Your immune resilience (and maybe psychological resilience) lies to a great extent in that city of microflora. Some folks carry a city with a high crime rate where no one catches a break, whereas others carry cities of peace, love, light and wonder. The city you carry inside depends upon…everything you ever do! You can become a fantastic, benevolent mayor of your city by growing a healthy diverse microflora and your resilient immunity will thank you for it.

Fermented foods are natural probiotics (literally “pro-life”) that populate your gut with healthy microbes through the bacterial action created in their preparation. Making fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurts, pickles, even beer, can be simple, though you need to tend them for a while. Nearly everyone can benefit from a little fermented food everyday.

3. Enjoy nature’s adaptogens. Certain foods like tulsi (also called holy basil), ginseng, ginger, plus many other herbs and some mushrooms are called adaptogens. Adaptogens work with your adrenal and immune functions to help you adapt to stress. In the season when children reunite to exchange bacteria (a group inoculation, really) they’ve collected over the summer, having these flexible protectors in your diet makes life easier for everyone.

Recipes

GF (gluten free), DF (dairy free), V (vegan)

Tulsi Infusion

GF, DF, V, 20 minutes, serves 1

Fresh or dried herbal teas are most often infusions — steeped in hot water for 10 minutes. Be it tea bags or loose leaf, let this be your new fall ritual.

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 Tbsp fresh or dried tulsi and other complements
Here are a few combinations:
Tulsi
Tulsi and ginger
Tulsi, ginger, lemon and honey
Tulsi and rose petals
Tulsi, cinnamon and cardamom

In a mug, place tea (within a tea bag or tea strainer) in just-boiled water. Let sit for 10 minutes. Remove tea bag and enjoy.

 


 

Warm Coconut Chai

GF, 20 minutes, serves 6

2 cups grass-fed milk
1 cup coconut milk
1 cinnamon stick
8 whole black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
4 cardamom seeds
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch salt

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and warm over medium-low heat. Strain into a mug and enjoy.

 


 

Very Simple Garlic Sauerkraut

GF, DF, V, days to weeks, many small servings

1 medium head savoy cabbage, sliced thin (about 3 pounds)
1 clove garlic, smashed and left to sit for 10 minutes
2 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup water (if needed to make extra briny fluid)

  1. Place sliced cabbage, caraway seeds and salt into a large bowl and massage it with your hands for about 10 minutes. You’ll see the cabbage releasing some of its juices.
  2. Tightly pack a Mason jar approximately three-quarters full with the sliced raw cabbage. Add garlic. Pour the fluid that the cabbage released into the jar to cover the cabbage. Place a smaller jar filled with clean stones as weights into the Mason jar to press the cabbage so that it is submerged under the fluid. Add a little water if needed.
  3. Check your jar daily, pressing any cabbage that pops up above the fluid line down. Don’t be too alarmed to find a little white mold; say hello, and skim it off.
  4. Begin to taste the sauerkraut at 3 days. The longer it ferments, the tangier and stronger it will taste. You can ferment it for weeks, but I find that it’s good between 6-10 days. Once it reaches the tanginess that tastes good, keep it tightly covered in the refrigerator to slow further fermentation. Uncooked fermented vegetables can keep refrigerated for up to 6 months, but enjoying within a couple months is ideal.

 


 

Warm Spinach Salad With Spicy Sweet Potatoes And Orange Vinaigrette

GF, DF, V, 40 minutes, serves 4

This is as nutrient dense as it gets.

2 sweet potatoes, cubed
2 Tbsp grape seed oil
1/4 tsp chili powder
pinch salt & pepper
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 oranges
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
1/2 pound fresh baby spinach

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a roasting pan, toss together the sweet potatoes, grapeseed oil, chili powder, salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes until tender and browned, stirring once or twice.
  3. Peel the oranges and slice into bite-sized pieces over a medium bowl, catching as much of the juice as you can.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil, and saute the onion, ginger, and cumin until the onion is soft. Stir in the oranges and juice, and remove from heat.
  5. Toss the warm dressing with the spinach, and top with sweet potatoes.

 


 

Shellfish Corn Chowder

GF, possibly DF, 45 minutes, serves 6

One reason the Mediterranean pattern of eating is powerfully anti-inflammatory is because it features seafood rich in both protein and healthful oils.

1 Tbsp grape seed oil or ghee
1 large red onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 ears raw corn kernels sliced from ear
3 oz uncured Canadian bacon, sliced and cubed
1 small sweet potato, cubed
2 red potatoes, cubed
10-15 littleneck clams, steamed open
2 cups juice from steaming clams
1/2 pound shrimp, clean, deveined and chopped
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk
Salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot, heat oil or ghee over medium heat. Add onion, celery, corn and bacon, sautéing until onions are soft, 3-5 minutes. Add potatoes and clam juice, bring to a simmer and cook until sweet potato is soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in clams, shrimp, and soy milk. Gently simmer for 5-6 minutes until shrimp turns pink. Stir in herbs and season with pepper and salt.

 


 

Fall Red Curry

GF, DF, V, 45 minutes, serves 4

1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 onion, chopped
6 oz (generous 1/2 cup) raw pumpkin, chopped
12-15 fresh green beans
1 can garbanzo beans (look for brands packed in BPA-free cans)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 Tbsp fresh Thai basil (any fresh basil will work), chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp brown rice syrup
2 cups cooked rice

Combine coconut milk and curry paste in a wok over medium-high heat, stirring for 3 minutes. Add onion, lemon juice and rice syrup. After three more minutes, add the pumpkin, green beans, garbanzos, pepper and zucchini. If the sauce is too thick, slowly stir in a little water to thin it. Stir in basil and serve over rice.

Annie B Kay, MS, RDN, E-RYT500, C-IAYT is an integrative dietitian, yoga therapist and shamanic plant alchemist who directs programs and retreats at Kripalu and internationally. She has a telehealth private practice in Western MA. www.anniebkay.com

See also:
Distracted Eating
Spring Food Renewal

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

November 12, 2019

The excitement of the Full “Beaver” Moon in Taurus dominates the busy morning. These early hours are highly energized and with multiple planets in supportive roles, chock full with important happenings. There are opportunities to renegotiate and renew…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

November 2019

No matter how broken or damaged you may feel, there is a deep well of stillness inside of you that is always there! Connected. Whole. Unchanging and Ever present. Yoga Nidra or Conscious Sleep...

Cost: $20 each session

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

A beautiful collection of messages from Jeshua Ben Joseph (Jesus) that will transform your life, as it did his. Coming together to study these teachings, to ponder, to savor, to deepen our...

Cost: $25 per class

Where:
Heart and Soul Holistic Healing Center
130 Massapoag Avenue
Sharon, MA  02067
View map »


Sponsor: Heart and Soul Holistic
Telephone: 781-258-9942
Contact Name: Barbara Ann Strassman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In gratitude for your service, please join us at Dragonfly Wellness Center at 176 Jackson Road, Devens for refreshments and complimentary 15 minute sessions of: Chair massage Shamanic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Center
Dragonfly Wellness Center
176 Jackson Rd
Devens, MA  01432
View map »


Sponsor: Yoga Anita
Telephone: 978-227-8297
Contact Name: Anita Perry
Website »

More information

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Come join us for a guided drumming circle to celebrate the November “Beaver” Moon. Arlene Dorischild will lead fellow drummers in a celebration to honor this special lunar event....

Cost: Donation

Where:
Peaceful Creations LLC
382 Boston Turnpike
Suite 102
Shrewsbury, MA  01545
View map »


Sponsor: Peaceful Creations LLC
Telephone: 617-208-3333
Contact Name: Rebecca Resnik
Website »

More information

Free Evidence-Based Holistic Health Education Program at Wilbraham Senior Center The H.E.A.R.T. Program® (Health Empowerment and Real Transformation), created and instructed by Michelle...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Michelle Caron
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Wellness Roundtable Holistic Practitioners Network creates an environment for wellness practitioners to inspire, educate and support one another, while building community and encouraging...

Cost: $20 (Drop-ins are welcome)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman St
#108B
Westborough, MA
View map »


Sponsor: 01581
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

How would it feel to have direct education on changing your feelings so you do start to ask for what you truly want? Each month, come and practice hands-on skills to get into the habit of...

Cost: $15

Where:
Awaken Holistic Counseling Services
2 Liberty St., Unit 2L
Newburyport, MA  01950
View map »


Sponsor: Awaken Holistic Counseling Services, LLC
Telephone: 978-255-7893
Contact Name: Kerri Morrison
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This is a class that will teach you how to make your own wire-wrapped gemstone pendant! Don’t be discouraged—it is simpler than you think, and you’ll have great fun in...

Cost: Reg includes supplies $40 per person or $35 more than one

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Unit A
Salem , NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Retire the Curse, Enhance the Blessing with Sally Sugatt, LICSW, C-IAYT Do you feel locked into your family’s karma (reactions, cycles or patterns)? Come explore how you have been...

Cost: $45

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

Award winning artist, musician and channeler, David Young shares his amazing revelations. Orchestrated synchronicities over the course of four years uncover the truth of what happened 2,000...

Cost: $35

Where:
Peaceful Creations LLC
382 Boston Turnpike
Suite 102
Shrewsbury, MA  01545
View map »


Sponsor: Peaceful Creations
Telephone: 617-208-3333
Contact Name: Rebecca Resnik
Website »

More information

Facilitator: Peyton Pugmire Fridays, 9/20, 10/18, 11/15, 12/20, 9:30am–10:30am Everyone leaves with a powerful message to inspire their weekend!  Join Peyton Pugmire,...

Cost: Pay What You Wish

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Telephone: 781-797-0389
Contact Name: Creative Spirit
Website »

More information

Four week series for girls ages 11 and up with Leigh Sloss This series of classes will focus on some of the most effective yoga and mindfulness skills for reducing stress and anxiety.  In a...

Cost: Series: $75; Drop in rate $20

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn the facts about Lyme Disease and how to protect yourself and your family! The Central Mass Lyme Foundation will host its 4th Lyme Disease Conference....

Cost: In advance: $30, at the door: $40

Where:
Sturbridge Host Hotel & Conference Center
366 Main St.
Exit 9 off Mass Pike
Sturbridge, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Central Mass Lyme Foundation
Contact Name: Michele Miller
Website »

More information

With Ross J. Miller, psychic healer, medium, regression therapist. In this unique, experiential workshop you’ll learn how to identify your guardian angels and spirit guides by name and...

Where:
Newton, MA


Telephone: (617) 527-3583
Contact Name: Ross J. Miller
Website »

More information

Instructor: Peyton Pugmire Ages 16+/Adult Like meditating with a paintbrush!  Come re-connect with yourself, your heart and soul, and your divine intuition—one brushstroke...

Cost: $120 (includes all supplies)

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Telephone: 781-797-0389
Contact Name: Creative Spirit
Website »

More information

Practice what you have learned in Yoga for Plantar Fasciitis Part 1 (Nov. 2). Relieve pain on the bottom of the foot. It's not the usual stretching. It's a gentle way to...

Cost: $35 preregister; $40 at the door

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Medittaion Studio
30 Lyman Street
Suite 108b (next to hair salon)
Westborough, MA, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: Pat Lebau Yoga
Telephone: 508-393-5581
Contact Name: Pat Lebau
Website »

More information

Journey back into the experience of peace, harmony and inner power through this unique meditation practice. Explore the power of your thoughts and how they can bring you inner harmony and help you...

Cost: Free of charge as a community service, contributions welcome.

Where:
Inner Space Meditation Center and Gallery
1110 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Brahma Kumaris
Telephone: 617–547–1110
Website »

More information

Reiki Master Teacher Libby Barnett, M.S.W., integrates her healing skills with past experience as a medical social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital. 38 years experience. Reiki...

Where:
Weston, MA


Telephone: 603-654-2787
Website »

More information

Psychics, mediums, angel readers, spirit art. Reiki, chair massage, IET, Gaiadon Heart, crystal healings, etc. Sign yourself up for a few appointments and bring your friends! Appointments...

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA
View map »


Telephone: 508-230-3680
Website »

More information

Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, classes bring you through poses...

Cost: 5/$50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags