There are several factors that affect the immune system and how well it will protect us from viruses and pathogens. Taking a holistic approach to health means addressing the body as a whole and paying attention to all these areas. Watch the first video in my new series of health tips in 2 minutes or less.
My entire 6-part video series on how to follow an anti-inflammatory diet is now up on my YouTube channel!
This is probably some of the most important information I have to share because inflammation is connected with so many different health conditions, including multiple sclerosis, which I have been living with for 19 years now. As long as the body is inflamed, it will be very difficult to manage any health condition.
Excessive levels of inflammation has also been found in people diagnosed with Covid-19. In severe cases, hyper-inflammation, also know as a cytokine storm can exacerbate breathing difficulties.
Watch the first video in this series below, which will help you assess your levels of inflammation.
Part 1: Are you Inflamed?
Part 2: Lifestyle Factors That Contribute to Inflammation
Part 3: Digestive Inflammation
Part 4: Inflammatory Foods
Part 5: Anti-inflammatory Foods
Part 6: Anti-inflammatory Herbs and Supplements
* If you would like a copy of all the notes from this series, which includes a list of both inflammatory foods, anti-inflammatory foods and supplements plus some bonus information, it can be found HERE.
I am not a doctor. I am a holistic nutritionist.
This information is intended for general wellbeing and educational purposes. It is not meant to substitute for the advice of a medical professional. Never take any nutritional supplement before talking to your primary health care provider. Please follow public health advisories.
Scroll down for holistic tips.
Also see: What to do at the first signs
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to grow, I thought I’d put together a holistic protocol that covers both prevention and recovery.
How the Virus Spreads
Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:
- respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
- close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
Standard Prevention Protocol
In general, the following advice can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:
- stay home if you are sick
- when coughing or sneezing: cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs
- dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
Holistic Strategies for Added Protection
Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Studies show that sugar compromises the immune system by decreasing neutrophil activity (cells in the immune system that fight infection and pathogens). Sugar also makes our bodies more acidic, which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses to thrive. The more sugar we have in our bloodstream, the less immune protection we have.
- Use lower glycemic sweeteners such as stevia.
- Replace heavily sweetened and processed candy and sweets with fruit or homemade, low sugar treats.
- Healthier treats: baked apples sprinkled with cinnamon, zucchini banana muffins sweetened with apple sauce or homemade pumpkin spice oatmeal cookies.
- Kale, zucchini or apple chips and baked chickpeas make delicious and nutritious snack options.
Vitamin D (antiviral)
Multiple studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency can harm immune function and increase your risk of developing respiratory illnesses. Vitamin D is necessary for the proper functioning of your immune system, which is your body’s first line of defence against infection and disease. Studies provide evidence that vitamin D deficiency may lead to an increased risk of viral infections such as influenza and respiratory tract infections. For those of us living in North America, shorter days during these winter months means less exposure to sunlight and greater odds of suffering from low vitamin D, which can lead to lowered immunity.
- If you can’t spend at least 20-25 minutes in direct sunlight each day, try supplementing with vitamin D3.
Increase your consumption of vitamin D rich foods like fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna), eggs and mushrooms.
- Be sure to also get enough magnesium. Vitamin D needs magnesium to activate.
Zinc is important for a healthy immune system and is known to stop viral replication and is useful in relieving respiratory symptoms and sore throats.
- Zinc supplements and lozenges are available in most health food stores or pharmacies.
- Food sources include: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, kelp, legumes, lima beans, pecans, whole grains, eggs, liver, and oysters.
Vitamin C (antiviral)
Vitamin C for is important for immune support because of its strong antioxidant and antiviral properties.
A lack of vitamin C has been long known to increase susceptibility to viruses. In fact, studies have shown that vitamin C deficiency is related to the increased risk and severity of influenza infections.
However, not all vitamin C is created equal! Vitamin C in tablet form does not deliver the full range of benefits since they poorly absorbed.
For optimal immune support against viruses I recommend at least 1,000 to 3,000 mg of liposomal vitamin C a day. Liposomal delivery allows the vitamin C to bypass through the digestive system for better absorption into the bloodstream.
- Increase vitamin C from whole food sources like lemons, limes, red peppers, broccoli, cantaloupe, papaya and leafy greens like kale, spinach and swiss chard.
- Avoid drinking orange juice. Eat the entire orange instead! Orange juice is not the best source of vitamin C since both glucose and vitamin C have the same receptor sites for absorption (glut-1 receptor transport system). Orange juice is a concentrated form of sugar. Higher levels of circulating blood sugar means less vitamin C will enter the cells. The Glut-1 receptor transport system has a preference for glucose, which means it will choose sugar over Vitamin C when given the opportunity.
Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions possess natural antibiotic and anti-microbial properties. Use them in your everyday cooking to keep colds and viruses at bay.
- Use daily in meals by adding fresh garlic and onions to soups, salads, pasta sauces and stir-fry recipes.
- For acute cold and flu symptoms, crush one clove of garlic on a spoon, cover with manuka honey and swallow with a tiny amount of water before bed.
- For extra immune system protection, try combining fresh garlic, onions and ginger in recipes for an increased synergetic effect!
Turmeric has potent anti-microbial properties to help the immune system fight off bacteria and viruses and acts as a potent pain reliever. Fermented turmeric optimizes its potency and is 1.5 times stronger than the regular turmeric.
- Add to soups, stews, stir-fry or smoothies.
- For acute pain, mix 1/2 tsp. of turmeric to one cup of almond milk with 1 tsp. honey.
- Turmeric can also be purchased in capsule form.
* Use caution if you have an autoimmune condition.
Scientists have identified a chemical compound in elderberries that immediately immobilizes the flu virus. The unique phytochemicals found in elderberries block the virus from entering, or even attaching to, our healthy cells, when taken preventatively during flu season.
Even if the flu has already taken hold, the compound prevents the virus from replicating, eliminating symptoms within 48 hours.
The high antioxidant, antiviral properties of elderberry extract is useful for treating coughs, colds, flu, tonsillitis and bacterial & viral infections . It is also recommended for upper respiratory tract infections and headaches associated with the common cold and helps to promotes sweating, which can help break a fever.
Oil of Oregano
Numerous studies have shown oil of oregano to be a potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal agent. Remarkably, it accomplishes this without promoting the development of drug resistant viruses and other problems often attributed to the use of standard antibiotics.
- Oil of oregano drops can be placed under the tongue or added to a tiny amount of water.<
- It also comes in capsule form./li>
* Use caution if you have an autoimmune condition.
There have been over 300 scientific investigations into the immune-enhancing effects of the echinacea purpurea root. Unlike traditional antibiotics or natural herbs that kill bacteria directly, echinacea works indirectly by stimulating the body to produce more infection-fighting white blood cells. It may also stimulate the release of interferons, one of the body’s most potent infection-fighting weapons which prevent bacteria and viruses from reproducing.
Probiotics support the immune system by improving digestion and absorption of nutrients. They also reduce inflammatory responses in the body. Probiotics are also important during and after a round of antibiotics to replace the beneficial bacteria in the gut that is destroyed during antibiotic therapy.
- Supplement with a high quality multi-strain probiotic. 50 Billion strength is ideal if you have taken antibiotics.
Stress Reduction and Relaxation
Ongoing stress can make us more susceptible to illnesses. Reducing the amount of stress in your life and improving your ability to cope with stress can help improve the immune system. There’s evidence that when you put your relaxation skills into action, interleukins (leaders in the immune system response against cold and flu viruses) increase in the bloodstream.
- Try deep breathing exercises to lessen the effects of stress.
- Practice guided imagery, meditation or yoga.
- Enjoy a warm bath with lavender or clove essential oils at the end of a long day.
Regular exercise appears to have the ability to reduce the frequency of colds and flus. With exercise, the number and aggressiveness of certain immune cells, such natural killer cells, increase by as much as 50% to 300%. If you exercise regularly, this increase can help make the immune system more efficient at destroying intruders that cause illness.
During the winter months, take advantage of the wonderful activities the cooler weather can bring.
- Explore walking or biking on park trails
- In colder weather try ice skating, tobogganing or skiing, build snowmen
- Indoor activities: listen to music and dance while doing house chores, take the stairs instead of the elevator, run or walk in place while watching t.v.
Cold and Flu Recovery Diet
What if you’ve already caught the virus and want to recover faster? Follow these diet and lifestyle tips to boost your recovery.
Lung Healing Protocol
Avoid Lung Irritants: Smoking, chemicals, bleach, fragrances, dust, pollution
These increase the risk of lung infection by irritating the nose, throat, and lower airways. This causes the body to produce more mucus.
Helpful Herbal Tinctures
Respirafect by St. Francis Herb Farm
- Contains a combination of antiviral, anti-inflammatory herbs. Combats lung and bronchial infections, especially when accompanied by sputum coughed up from lower airways.
- Demulcent anti-inflammatory that helps the lungs eliminate the burden of excess mucus.
Dealing With a Cough
A cough may develop when the body is trying to expel fluid from the lungs to get rid of the infection. Therefore, using a cough suppressant is not the best idea. It is still possible to reduce the severity of a cough using natural methods.
Mucus sitting in the throat and chest can lead to more coughing and irritation. A warm saltwater gargle may help eliminate mucus or germs in the throat, which may provide some relief.
Herbal Teas to Treat A Cough
Peppermint, eucalyptus, ginger, licorice root, marshmallow root, mullein
Consume Mucus-Reducing Foods
Warm fluids help break-up mucus, flush your system of toxins and promote hydration.Stay hydrated with herbal teas, vegetable soups and bone broth.
Vegetable soups, bone broth, leafy greens, broccoli, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, onion, garlic, ginger salmon, tuna, nuts and seeds
Avoid Mucus Forming Foods
Milk, bread, pasta, cereal, bananas, potatoes, corn, soy products, sweet desserts, candy, coffee, soda, alcoholic beverages
Dealing With a Fever
Allowing a low-grade fever (up to 102° F) to run it course may actually be beneficial. An elevated temperature is the body’s way of fighting infection.
- Stay Hydrated. Replace fluid loss by drinking water, herbal tea, fresh juices and broths.
Get plenty of rest.
- Take a cool sponge bath.
* If you are living with an autoimmune condition or any other serious health condition, please consult your primary health care provider before taking any herbal supplement.
Natural Factors Vitamin D3 Softgels
Liposomal Vitamin C
Oil of Oregano
Echinacea Super Concentrated Softgel Capsules
Advanced Gut Health Probiotics
Zinc-Copper Balance Capsules
Stop It Cold Throat Spray
Respirafect for Lung Infections
Chocolate Avocado Pie
Gluten-free * Dairy-Free
283g bag Chocolate chips, semi-sweet (Enjoy Life- Dairy-free chocolate chips)
2 Ripe avocados
½ cup Peanut butter (unsweetened, creamy)
½ cup Almond milk, unsweetened
1 Graham cracker pie crust, store-bought or homemade
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1. Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a double boiler on the stove or in the microwave, stirring frequently.
2. Peel the avocados and add them to a food processor with the almond milk, peanut butter and melted chocolate. Blend until smooth.
3. Pour into a prepared graham cracker pie crust and spread it evenly.
4. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or until firm
If you don’t want to use a premade pie crust, below is my favourite homemade pecan pie crust.
Homemade Pecan Pie Crust
2 cups raw pecans
2 cups rolled oats, processed into flour
12 dates, pitted
1/2 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350° F.
1. Grind the oats into a fine powder using a food processor, then transfer to a bowl.
2. Add the pecans to the food processor and grind until finely chopped. If the mixture becomes too dry, scrape down the sides of the food processor, add a bit of coconut oil and continue.
3. When the pecans are fully ground, add the dates and process until finely chopped.
4. When the dates are broken down, add the previously made oat flour and salt. Process until well combined.
5. Press the mixture into bottom of a lightly greased pie pan.
6. Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool before continuing.
From heart health to joint health to skin health, avocados are one food that definitely nourishes the body from the inside out!
Anti-inflammatory Turmeric Pumpkin Seed Bars
Grain-free * Gluten-free * Dairy-free
Add the ingredients below to your food processor.
• 3/4 cup almonds
• 3/4 cup cashews
• 8 medjool dates, pitted
• 3 Tablespoons water
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon allspice
• 1/4 teaspoon cloves
Keep these ingredients whole
• 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (whole)
• 1/2 cup hemp seeds
• 1/2 cup golden berries (chopped)
1. Place all ingredients (minus the golden berries, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds) in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
2. Pour mixture into a bowl, and mix in the golden berries, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds.
3. Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper, and press mixture into the pan. Smooth out the mixture with the back of a spoon. You can also roll the mixture into bite-sized balls.
4. Place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to allow to set, then cut into squares.
* Will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Ginger Pear Chai Tea Smoothie
I’ve been craving smoothies lately, but as we get closer to December and the weather gets colder, I’m also wanting more warming meals. So, why not combine the two!
The first time I made this, I did not peel the pear and apparently the blender I was using wasn’t strong enough to give it a smooth texture. So if you don’t have a Viatmix and want a smooth and creamy consistency, I suggest peeling the pear. For this recipe, I used this organic chai tea, but if you enjoy making your chai tea from scratch, by all means do so. Chai spices are a combination of spices including ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Not only a delicious blend of spices, but very anti-inflammatory. Lately, my schedule is extremely hectic however, so whenever I can speed things up – I do so. Instead of making the spice mixture myself, I simply used chai tea.
*Makes 2 servings
1 pear, peeled and chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 cup of chai tea
¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ tsp. Vanilla
¼ tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Maple syrup
Optional: 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- Begin by making the tea.
- While the tea is steeping, prepare your other ingredients.
Wash/peel the pear and cut into cubes. Peel and chop the ginger.
- Add the almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup to a blender and process until smooth.
- Carefully add the warm, steeped tea to the blender and process until well combined. Make sure the tea is not too hot when pouring it into the blender!
- If using this smoothie as a meal replacement, it’s a good idea to add protein. Add 1 scoop of your favourite vanilla protein powder and blend until smooth.
- Pour into a mug and enjoy!
You probably came here looking for a definitive answer about what specific diet is the very best diet to follow when you have multiple sclerosis. From vegetarian to vegan, to raw vegan to paleo – I’ve known people who have tried them all, including myself!
One thing I would say is this. Be cautious of taking advice from someone who gives general advice claiming one specific type of diet either cures or heals MS.
Even though nutrition can have a profound impact on our health and how this disease plays out in the body, there is no ONE specific type of diet for slowing, halting or preventing multiple sclerosis – other than a whole foods, anti-inflammatory diet that addresses some of the points I discuss further down in this post. Each and every one of us who have been diagnosed with MS are metabolically, genetically, biochemically unique, and we have different factors that could be contributing to inflammation in the body.
What is balancing for one person, isn’t necessarily going to have the same effect for someone else. And why would it? Your liver, your kidneys, your adrenal glands – every cell in your body has lived a distinct life specific to you and your experiences. Even the state of your digestive health is unique to only you. We all might have been diagnosed with the same health condition but the lives we have lived are very different.
I have been living with multiple sclerosis since 2001, and I’ve spoken to so many people who follow all kinds of different diets. Some people manage their MS quite well following a vegan diet, but that might not work for you if you an intolerance to grains, beans and legumes, or serious digestive problems.
Many people with MS have a tendency of having food sensitivities, meaning certain foods can keep the body in a state of low grade systemic inflammation and steady rate of progression. It’s up to each of us to figure out what works for us as individuals.
One popular diet for MS is the paleo diet, which includes animal proteins. Vegan and paleo are both completely opposite diets from one another, yet there are many people who are quite successful in managing their health while eating in these different ways. And well, some people are not successful at remaining symptom-free at all. So why do you think this would this be?
We each have to figure out what is anti-inflammatory for us as individuals! And this doesn’t just include food. Sleep, stress levels, and exercise also play a very important role.
The online program I have created is not a specific diet plan. It’s a program designed to teach you how to bring balance back onto your body – YOUR unique body. There has to be balance in the diet no matter what type of diet you’re following. Most importantly, it needs to be anti-inflammatory!
So the best diet for MS?
– is anti-inflammatory for YOU as an individual
– focuses on gut health
– corrects nutritional deficiencies
– supports brain health
– contains nutrients that helps regenerate myelin
– supports natural detoxification and functioning of the liver
– helps you identify and minimize all stressors that could be contributing to inflammation (above and beyond diet)
– addresses the importance of restorative sleep
– incorporates stress management techniques and exercise
The best diet for MS is one that nourishes your mind, body and spirit!
The best diet for MS doesn’t give you unrealistic, unattainable goals. It helps you achieve balance in your body and develop healthy diet and lifestyle habits for lifelong success.
My online program A Holistic approach to Living with Multiple Sclerosis, is now up and running!
Never let any medical diagnosis stop you from pursuing the best health possible!
~Chantale, Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001
Health conscious and relapse free since 2007!
Studies have shown that the bacteria in our gut play a very important role when it comes to the development and progression of autoimmune conditions.
Researchers have discovered that MS patients have a distinct microbiome compared to their healthy peers. One specific study divided RRMS patients into groups that separated those with active disease and those in remission. They found there was less diverse gut bacteria in the patients in active relapse compared to those who stay in remission for longer periods of time.
One cause of this gut bacteria imbalance is caused by an overgrowth of candida, a type of bacteria that lives throughout different regions of the body. Even though it’s natural to have a certain level of these types of bacterial colonies in the body, problems arise when the levels grow to unhealthy levels.
Not all gut bacteria are created equal!
Some of the good bacteria in the gut help to digest food, some manufacture specific vitamins, and other strains of bacteria even help protect the lining of the digestive tract. When there is an imbalance, too many strains of certain types of bacteria outnumber the beneficial strains. This can cause digestive problems and is an irritant to the cells that line the digestive tract. When left untreated, any irritation in the digestive tract can lead to inflammation and something called leaky gut syndrome, which can be linked to autoimmune reactions.
Anything that irritates or stresses the digestive system can lead to systemic, wide-spread inflammation. By controlling inflammation in the digestive tract, we can begin the process of bringing balance back into the body and potentially stop the immune system from misfiring.
To learn more about the different underlying causes of candida and how balance gut bacteria, visit the second module of my free online program: A Holistic Approach to Living with Multiple Sclerosis.