Winter-Proof Your Wellness: Tips For Immune Resilience

Winter is certainly one of the prettiest seasons, but its frosty landscapes come with specific challenges, especially for our immune system. Beyond the enchanting snowfalls lie factors that can impact our well-being. From the dynamics of indoor gatherings to the scarcity of sunlight, each element plays a role in testing the resilience of our immune defenses.

While we can catch illnesses at anytime of year, winter certainly seems to bring with it more than it’s fair share of sick days. This makes sense when we think about how both the weather and our activities change during the colder months.

Winter-Proof Your Wellness - Tips for Immune Resilience

Closer Contacts

We spend a lot more time indoors and in closer contact with other people when the temperatures dip. The extra social gatherings around the holidays also increases how many different people (and their germs) we are exposed to. This, along with the closer quarters, are prime conditions for illnesses that are transmitted through droplets. Commit to bundling up and getting outside for a dose of fresh air (and maybe a much needed break from those relatives!).

Less Sunlight

Not only are the days shorter in winter but, depending on where you live, freezing temperatures make it a lot less tempting to get outside and enjoy some sunshine. Vitamin D, which our bodies make when we expose our skin to sunlight is an essential nutrient for the proper functioning of the immune system (it also plays an important role in keeping our moods bright during the winter months). While it’s difficult to dress warmly AND get enough skin exposure to make the Vitamin D in the winter, there are other ways to support your Vitamin D levels. Introduce foods into your diet that are rich in Vitamin D. Fatty fish, like salmon and mackerel, egg yolks and mushrooms are some options. Taking a vitamin D supplement is often the easiest way to ensure adequate levels (I recommend getting your Vitamin D level tested to see what amount of supplementation is necessary). You can read more about Vitamin D and Vitamin D deficiency here.

But It’s a Dry Cold

Cold winter air holds less moisture than warmer air. Add in the drying effects of the forced air from furnaces and our skin and mucus membranes  pay the price. The membranes that line our nasal passages and respiratory tract are like the first line of immune defense. When we breathe in this drier air and these membranes dry out, they become more susceptible to small tears and cracks, allowing invasion from the viruses and bacteria that are just waiting for a weakened point of entry. A humidifier can help lessen the impact of the drier air. Saline nose sprays or lubricating gels can also provide relief for dry nasal passages.

Maybe Mom Was Right!

Do you remember the massive eye roll you’d shoot your mom when she told you to dress warmly or you’d catch a cold? She may have been on to something! A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that cold air damages the immune response in our noses.1 Even a small decrease in air temperature can kill off up to 50% of the helpful bacteria fighting cells and viruses found in the nasal tract. While this was an in-vitro study and more research is needed to determine if what happened in the petri dish actually happens in your cold nose, listen to your mom and put a scarf on!


You knew I’d sneak nutrition in there! With the cold weather comes the yearning for warm, “stick to your ribs” comfort food. These foods can tend to be high in starches and lacking in the nutrients we need to support our immune system. And let’s not forget all the holiday treats that are never far from reach at this time of year! High in sugar and empty calories, they certainly aren’t doing our immune systems any favors!

The good news is that there are plenty of delicious, seasonal, immune system supporting foods you can incorporate into your diet in the colder months! By choosing to include some of these foods in your meals on a regular basis, you can keep your immune system humming (and still enjoy a holiday treat or two)!

Citrus Fruits: The Vitamin C Powerhouses

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that plays numerous crucial roles in enhancing the immune system. From maintaining our skin and membrane integrity, to supporting the activities of immune cells to enhancing antibody levels, Vitamin C is a vital nutrient for immune health.

Getting more Vitamin C in your diet isn’t hard at all – simply choose from any of the delicious citrus fruits available this time of year – Mandarins, Pomelos, Grapefruits, Limes, Lemons….whatever tickles your fancy. 

Eat them as a snack with some nuts or incorporate them into a winter salad or zippy homemade salad dressing!

Root Veggies

When it comes to veggies – go back to your ROOTS! Sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips, parsnips – it’s hard to get bored with the variety available!

Not only do these vegetables contain vitamins, like vitamin A and C, and other nutrients that are needed for immune health – they are also a great source of fiber. 

We know that fiber is important for good digestion and gut health, but did you know that roughly 70% our your immune system resides in your gut?

Fiber feeds the “good” bacteria in our intestines and, in turn, these bacteria help our immune system’s T cells develop.2 These beneficial bacteria also produce short chain fatty acids, which nourish the cells of the colon. A stronger gut = a stronger immune system!

Root veggies are tasty and versatile – add them to soups or stews (always a cold weather favorite), roast them in the oven or serve them mashed with a little grass fed butter!

Dark Leafy Greens

Not to sound like a broken record, but consuming a variety vegetables is one of the best things you can do to support your immune health!

Like those root veggies, dark green veggies, like spinach and kale also contain immune loving Vitamins A and C and the oh-so-important fiber. They also contain good amounts of Vitamin K and folate, both of which are important in immune system support. 

Eat them raw in a salad, saute them with garlic (another immune fave) or roast them into delicious, crispy “chips”!

*Note: Another function of Vitamin K is the production of blood clotting factors. If you are on a blood thinner, like warfarin, consult your health care provider before making any changes to the amount of leafy greens you are consuming.

Spice It Up

Winter spices, like ginger, cinnamon and, yes, garlic not only make delicious additions to your winter meals, they may help keep doctor away too!

Studies of the active components of garlic, ginger and cinnamon have shown antibacterial, antiviral and anti fungal effects.3,4,5,6

Hydration Matters

It’s not uncommon to let hydration lag in the colder months. The idea of a quenching glass of water just isn’t as appealing. Combine that with the drying effects of indoor heating and we run the risk of getting dehydrated.

Adequate water is necessary for transporting nutrients (like those needed to support the immune system), removing waste from the body, aiding communication between cells and is important for a well functioning lymphatic system. Along with transporting immune cells throughout the body, a well functioning lymphatic system removes toxins, wastes and pathogens.

A great way to help boost your hydration and fight the chill in the winter is to consume warming beverages, like teas and bone broth. Bone broth is rich in amino acids, which the immune system needs to function properly and produce infection fighting antibodies.  Teas, like the green and black varieties, contain antioxidant polyphenols. Herbal teas lack the caffeine and will be slightly more hydrating than their caffeinated cousins. Try adding slices of ginger or cinnamon to get an extra immune boost!

Bottom Line

When all is said and done, the best way to support your immune system, during winter and year round, is to consume a diet that is primarily whole foods. Not only will you reap the benefits of all the immune supporting nutrients and fiber that occur naturally in these foods, you will be limiting the sugar and processed foods that can work against your “bug” fighting capabilities! 


  1. Huang, D., Taha, M. S., Nocera, A. L., Workman, A. D., Amiji, M. M., & Bleier, B. S. (2023). Cold exposure impairs extracellular vesicle swarm-mediated nasal antiviral immunity. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 151(2), 509–525.e8.
  2. Shim, J. A., Ryu, J. H., Jo, Y., & Hong, C. (2023). The role of gut microbiota in T cell immunity and immune mediated disorders. International journal of biological sciences, 19(4), 1178–1191.
  3. Oriola, A. O., & Oyedeji, A. O. (2022). Plant-Derived Natural Products as Lead Agents against Common Respiratory Diseases. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 27(10), 3054.
  4. Sun, L., Rogiers, G., & Michiels, C. W. (2021). The Natural Antimicrobial trans-Cinnamaldehyde Interferes with UDP-N-Acetylglucosamine Biosynthesis and Cell Wall Homeostasis in Listeria monocytogenes. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 10(7), 1666.
  5. Akullo, J. O., Kiage, B., Nakimbugwe, D., & Kinyuru, J. (2022). Effect of aqueous and organic solvent extraction on in-vitro antimicrobial activity of two varieties of fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) and garlic (Allium sativum). Heliyon, 8(9), e10457.
  6. Bhatwalkar, S. B., Mondal, R., Krishna, S. B. N., Adam, J. K., Govender, P., & Anupam, R. (2021). Antibacterial Properties of Organosulfur Compounds of Garlic (Allium sativum). Frontiers in microbiology, 12, 613077.

Ready to take on some healthier habits, but don’t know where to start?

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The (Super)Powers of MicroGreens

It’s garden season and nothing is cooler than finally seeing those little shoots start to emerge from the soil. But did you know that these tiny plants are like nutritional powerhouses in miniature form?

The (Super)Powers of Microgreens

What are Microgreens?

Microgreens are immature plants harvested around 1 to 2 weeks after germination. They are usually 1-2 inches long and include the stem and leaves. 

Are Microgreens and Sprouts the Same Thing?

No! While both are little nutritional powerhouses, microgreens are grown in soil (or a growing pad) and the stem and leaves are eaten. The seed is not consumed. Sprouts are grown in water and the stem and seed are consumed.

Types of Microgreens

These are just a few of the variety of microgreens:

  • Radish
  • Broccoli
  • Basil
  • Peashoots
  • Beets

Health Benefits of Microgreens

Bursting with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, microgreens offer a range of health benefits. In fact, they can contain up to 40 times the nutrients of the full grown plant!(1) Let’s take a closer look at what microgreens bring to the plate:

  • Nutrient-Rich: Radish microgreens are packed with essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E and minerals including zinc, iron, and magnesium. (1) These gems support energy production, immune function, bone health, and more, helping you reclaim that pep in your step! 💥
  • Digestive Support: Are you dealing with bloating, IBS, or heartburn? Adding microgreens to your meal could help your digestion run more smoothly. They contain enzymes that aid digestion and enhance nutrient absorption and are high in fiber. This fiber is a prebiotic, providing a source of food for the good bacteria in your gut. Imagine that? Relief through REAL FOOD! (2)
  • Inflammation Tamer: Joint pains got you down? Microgreens are rich in antioxidants that help combat inflammation in the body. By including them in your meals, you’re helping support overall joint health.(3) 🕺🌱

How to Incorporate Microgreens into Your Meals

Now that we’ve got the sciency stuff out of the way, let’s look at how to get more of these little delights into our diets!

  • Salads: Upgrade your greens game by adding a generous handful of microgreens to your favorite salads.Their crisp texture, fresh flavor will be a welcome addition! 🥗🌱
  • Sandwiches: Elevate your sandwich by layering on some microgreens for an extra crunch and burst of nutrients. They’re a perfect match for avocado, roasted veggies, or your protein of choice. 🥪✨
  • Smoothies: Power pack your morning routine by tossing a handful of microgreens into your smoothie. You’ll be amazed at how well they blend with fruits and greens, giving your smoothie an extra nutritional punch. 🥤💪
  • Stir-Frys: Throw a handful of microgreens into your stir-fry toward the end of cooking. This will preserve their crispiness and add a burst of freshness to your dish. Your stir-fry game just got a major upgrade! 🍲
  • Soups: Top your bowl of soup with microgreens to not only give it that restaurant-like pizzaz, but an extra helping of good-for-you nutrients.🥣

Growing Radish Microgreens

Even if your thumb is far from green, you can grow radishes (and, therefore, radish microgreens)! Radishes are a fast going crop and one of the quickest ways to get homegrown microgreens into your diet. Within as little as 7 days of planting the seeds, you’ll have adorable little shoots! When they are 1 to 2 inches tall, thin the rows by removing some shoots, leaving about 2 inches between plants. Crowded radishes don’t grow well. You can now add your harvested microgreens to your meal! The remaining shoots will continue to mature into radishes (or, if your goal is to only grow microgreens, you can harvest the lot and start a fresh batch!)

No garden? No worries!

You can easily grow microgreens indoors. Check out THIS article for the How-To.

Incorporating radish microgreens into your diet is a small but powerful step towards nurturing your gut and overall well-being. So, grab a handful of these nutrient-packed greens and let them work their magic!

🌱💚 Unlock Your Body’s Innate Healing Power:

If you’re ready to take charge of your health and make sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle, I’m here to support you every step of the way. As a functional, nutritional therapy practitioner, I specialize in helping individuals like you find relief from symptoms that have been ruling your life. Contact me HERE.


  1. Zhenlei Xiao, Gene E. Lester, Yaguang Luo, and Qin Wang. (2012). Assessment of Vitamin and Carotenoid Concentrations of Emerging Food Products: Edible Microgreens. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 60 (31), 7644-7651
    DOI: 10.1021/jf300459b
  2. Holscher H. D. (2017). Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota. Gut microbes8(2), 172–184.
  3. M. H. Ahmed et al. (2015). Phenolic Composition, Antioxidant Potential, and in vitro Digestibility of Different Parts of Sprouted Radish (Raphanus sativus L.), Journal of Food Science and Technology, vol. 52, no. 12, pp. 7855–7863.

The RESTART® Program

The RESTART® Program - Start your journey to better health now!

It’s hard to believe summer is soon coming to an end. As much as I’ll hate to see the Pacific Northwest rain clouds replace the summer sunshine, I do love autumn. The colourful leaves, crisp air on morning walks, cozy sweaters and swapping out grilled foods for some comforting, slow cooked fare – all are great reasons to embrace the change of the season!

As the weather changes outside, it’s also a great time to check in with our internal environment and how we are feeling. Tuning into our bodies and the subtle messages they send us is something most of us need to work on. Our lifestyles and responsibilities keep us focused on, and prioritizing, pretty much everything but ourselves! We take our cars in for regular inspections (or, um, we should), so we should definitely be doing regular “mileage” inspections on the state of our well-being!

Check-in With Yourself

Take a few minutes during your day. Find someplace quiet and free of distractions. Drop out of your stressed, fight and flight state by taking several slow, deep belly breaths. Now – what are you noticing? Some questions you might ask yourself are:

How’s my energy level? Are you dragging yourself through the day, fuelled on caffeine and sugar? Do you need to snack to make it through to your next meal?

How am I sleeping? Are you getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep? Do you wake up during the night and can’t fall back asleep? Do you wake up tired or refreshed?

How’s my digestion? Symptoms like heartburn, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pains, stools that float or are light coloured, or undigested food in the stool are all warning lights that require some attention.

Am I nourished? Feeding ourselves regularly doesn’t necessarily mean we are nourishing ourselves. Relying on packaged and processed foods, hitting the drive thru on the reg and consuming foods high in sugar might fill the belly, but they aren’t fuelling your body with the nutrients it needs to work optimally.

What other things are showing up that aren’t “normal”? – Headaches? Joint Pain? Anxiety? Skin rashes? We often get so used to these type of symptoms that they become our status quo. They may be common, but they aren’t NORMAL. Symptoms are your body’s warning lights and it’s way of telling you something isn’t right!!

Now that you’ve run through your checklist, what have you discovered?

It could be you realize summer ice creams have become a daily occurrence or you completely Hulk out on anyone in your vicinity when you miss your between meal snack. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you slept through the night or perhaps the drive-thru guy knows you by name. You might realize your bathroom has become your second home or, you can’t pinpoint exactly what is wrong, but you know you just don’t feel your best. If any of these things hit home, it may be time for a RESTART®.

What is RESTART®?

The RESTART® program is a 5 week, online, group program that combines loads of nutritional education and a 3 week sugar detox. When you add in the element of group support, it’s a powerful (and fun!) combination.

Who should RESTART®?

Whether you have been dabbling in healthy eating for awhile or don’t know your kale from your kohlrabi, RESTART® is for you! It’s the perfect combination of education and action that teaches you, not only how food affects us, but lets you experience how powerful real food can be. RESTART® is great for individuals, couples or families. You can join with a friend to have an accountability buddy or make pals in class or the free Facebook group.

Since the classes are conducted via Zoom, you can join from the comfort of home, no matter where in the world you are located!


Maybe the question should be “Why NOT RESTART®”? Let’s face it, most of us need to do a better job of putting ourselves, and our health, first. Self-care isn’t selfish! To paraphrase a quote from Katie Reed, self care allows you to give the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you!

Everybody gets a little something different out of the RESTART® program. Below is a list of some of the benefits RESTART® participants have experienced.

Benefits of the RESTART® Program

Where and When is RESTART®?

I’m super excited to be offering THREE different class times this fall! All classes are conducted live on Zoom.

How can I register for RESTART®?

If you think you could use a RESTART®, you can register for class by clicking HERE.

If you have more questions about RESTART®, visit the RESTART® page on this website or send me a message HERE. I’d love to chat with you about it!

Oh! One last thing! If you don’t see a class time that fits your schedule, contact me. I’m happy schedule additional group classes (minimum of 4 participants) at a date and time that works for everyone!

What are you waiting for? Go on! Get (RE)STARTED!!

Tending Your Gut Garden

Your Gut Garden

Chances are, if you’ve done any reading on health in the last decade, you’ve seen the term microbiome. But what exactly is it? Why are scientists and health professionals so enamoured by it? And why the heck should you care?

Your ‘Gut Garden’ aka Microbiome

Your microbiome is the community of micro-organisms that live in and on your body – in your mouth and nose, on your skin and the surface of your eyes and in your gastro-intestinal tract.  There are trillions, yes, TRILLIONS of bacteria, fungi, viruses and even parasites co-existing with us everyday.

I like to think of the gut as a garden, with the bacteria that support our health being the flowers and the non-beneficial, or potentially detrimental, microbes being the weeds. Like any garden we want to feed and nurture the flowers, while keeping the weeds under control.

If the thought of bajillions of microbes existing in and on you gives you the heebie-jeebies, fear not. We NEED these little guys for so many things and, as long as everything is in balance (plenty of flowers and not too many weeds), it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

Roles of the Microbiome

The microbiome, particularly the gut microbiome, is a hot topic for health research these days. Researchers have made many connections between a person’s overall health and the health of their gut garden and the consensus is that there are still many more discoveries to be made.

Our microbiome is an integral part of almost every single aspect of our health. Some of the roles it plays include:

  • Supports the immune system by keeping “bad” bacteria/pathogens in check (1)
  • Helps us digest and extract nutrients and energy from food (1)
  • Produces chemicals that improve the health of the cells of our intestinal lining (1) (2)
  • Produces vitamins, such as Vitamin K, thiamine, folate, biotin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid (3)
  • Acts as our second brain and affects our moods and motivation by producing chemicals that positively influence brain health, including serotonin and dopamine (4)

Signs that all may not be well in your garden

When we don’t have enough beneficial bacteria and/or have too many non beneficial microbes in our gut, it’s called dysbiosis. The signs and symptoms of an imbalanced gut, or dysbiosis, are wide ranging and, as you’ll see, there are many you would not automatically associate with the health of your gut garden.

Signs of Gut Imbalance(Dysbiosis)

What impacts the health of your gut garden?

So. Many. Things.

Frequent rounds of antibiotics growing up, dietary choices, not being breastfed as an infant, not properly breaking down our food, stress, chemicals and toxins in our food and personal care products….the list is long!

The good news is that, while there are some factors we have no control over, there are plenty of things we can do to nurture and support the health of our microbiome. Your gut garden is constantly changing depending on your environment, lifestyle and what you feed it.

How to tend to your garden

Just as there are many things that negatively impact the health of our microbiome, there are also lots of things we can do to support those health promoting microbes.

Eat Your Veggies/Feed the Good GuysVegetables are loaded with fibre. Us mere humans can’t digest these fibres, but the good bacteria in our guts love it! They consume these fibres and produce short chain fatty acids which, among other things, help build and maintain a strong gut lining. Getting a wide variety of fibre-ific veggies on your plate can also help bolster the diversity of your microbiome (more types of flowers growing in your garden).

ExercisePhysically active people have more robust and diverse microbiomes. This may be due in part to exercise’s ability to help us burn off some stress.

De-stressStress is a double edged sword when it comes to your gut health. Too much stress can negatively impact your microbiome and an unhealthy microbiome can impair your ability to manage stress and your mental health. Put self-care on your “To-Do’ list by incorporating more “me” time, whether that’s meditation, time in nature, exercising or just saying no to things more often.

Eat Fermented Foods Naturally fermented foods are a great source of probiotics. The bacteria and yeast that cause the fermentation and make these foods so yummy also boost the population of the beneficial microbes in your gut. This means more flowers to crowd out the weeds! Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir are good sources. Just make sure they are raw and not pasteurized. The heat involved in pasteurization will kill the good microbes.

Don’t Overdo AntibioticsSometimes antibiotics are necessary but, as their name suggests, they kill bacteria, regardless of if it is beneficial or non-beneficial. Avoid antibiotics in hand sanitizers and other personal care products. Ensure the meat you buy is antibiotic-free. If you do find yourself in a situation where you need an antibiotic, work with a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner to both support your microbiome during and rebuild it after your course of antibiotics.

Cut out Sugar and Processed FoodsNot only do these foods contribute to inflammation in the intestines, they provide no usable food for our good bacteria and we want to feed these good guys!

Get Your Zzzz’sAim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Growing evidence is showing that not getting enough shut-eye may disrupt the microbiome (5) and increase your chances of developing inflammatory diseases. Good sleep hygiene, like avoiding screens 1 – 2 hours before bed, ensuring your room is dark, cool and quiet and not eating right before bed, can go a long way in ensuring you get your 40 winks.

Test Don’t Guess!We can do a lot of things to support our microbiome, but to find out what’s actually going on in there, you need to test. Symptoms can suggest there is a gut imbalance, but testing is the only real way to know if there is an infection, not enough good guys to keep the bad guys in check or issues with properly breaking down our food. I use two tests in my practice, the GI Map stool test and the MRT food sensitivity test. Used together, we can determine what is contributing to the issues in the gut, lower the inflammation driving the symptoms, heal and seal that gut lining and restore the balance in your gut garden.

I’ll be talking more about these tests in future posts. Until then, if you are thinking your gut garden might be in need of some tending, reach out! I’d love to chat and explore your options for restoring balance and healing that gut!


  1. Zhang, Y.J., Li, S., Gan, R., Zhou, T., Xu, D.p., & Li, H.B. (2015). Impacts of gut bacteria on human health and diseases. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16(4(, 7493-7519.
  2. Flint, H., Scott, K., Louis, P. et al. The role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 9, 577–589 (2012).
  3. Morowitz, M. J., Carlisle, E. M., & Already, J.c. (2011). Contributions of intestinal bacteria to nutrition and metabolism in the critically ill. The Surgical Clinics of North America, 91(4), 771-vii.
  4. M Hasan Mohajeri, Giorgio La Fata, Robert E Steinert, Peter Weber, Relationship between the gut microbiome and brain function, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 76, Issue 7, July 2018, Pages 481–496,
  5. Smith, R. P., Easson, C., Lyle. S. M., Kapoor, R., Donnelly, C. P., Davidson, E.J., Parikh, E., Lopez, J.V., & Tartar, J.L. (2019). Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans. PIoS one, 14(10), e0222394.