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Why now is the best time to optimize your diet.

We are certainly living in truly unprecedented times. Stress can take its toll on our minds and bodies. Our best defense is to work to support both through a multipronged approach to health.

Consuming the right foods is vital to support good health and a healthy immune system but the right foods and particularly the right balance of foods each day can do much to help our bodies deal with stress and better manage its response to stress and stabilize mood.

Consuming added sugars (including artificial sweeteners), processed foods, and excess alcohol, although tempting, can work against stabilizing the body’s response to stress. Eating whole foods with a focus on plant foods throughout the day adds so much to providing the body the nutrients it needs. Eating every 3 to 4 hours, whether a meal or small snack, can stabilize blood sugar, cravings, and serotonin which, if in balance, can have a powerfully positive effect on mood. Plant-based foods containing the amino acid tryptophan help boost serotonin production include dark leafy greens, sunflower seeds, soybeans (including tofu), pumpkin seeds, spirulina, green peas, mushrooms, and broccoli. Animal foods all contain tryptophan with eggs, salmon, yogurt, cheeses, and turkey as very good sources.

Include protein in each meal or snack. For example, have beans, nuts, and seeds on your lunch salad or have a snack of fruit and nuts or veggies and hummus rather than just having the fruit or veggies by themselves.

Work to also include exercise into your daily routine. Perhaps we cannot go to the gym right now but taking a walk or run in nature can work wonders. Cycling is another exercise to do while easily maintaining social distance. Yoga and meditation are great adjuncts to your daily routine. I love the app Insight Timer.

Consider addressing any chronic disease. We have seen the effect of COVID-19 on individuals with chronic diseases, especially diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disease. If you are at risk or already have a chronic disease, there is no better time to work to reduce that risk or better manage that disease. Customized nutrition counseling can help you find the best foods and dietary plan for your unique self. The right diet and exercise, along with other therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic, and energy healing work synergistically to give the body the support it needs to heal. Many practitioners are starting to open now.

Don’t forget hydration! Start the day off with 2 glasses of room temperature water with a splash of lemon juice and continue throughout the day. Lemon is alkalizing to the body which supports a healthful body pH. Add rooibos tea, a wonderful herbal tea that works to calm the mind and body. This tea a great warm in the evening before bed but also makes an awesome iced tea.

Lastly, stay connected with friends and family. This has been particularly challenging of late but that’s what the phone, Zoom, and perhaps even socially-distant picnics are for. Make your own new healthier normal!

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