Whether you’re enjoying a slower pace of life at home or are one of the heroes on the front lines, we can all benefit from a strong immune system at the moment. Here, we asked nutrition educator/diet counselor Lillian M. Franke for her advice on staying healthy in these unique times.
How can those of us on a plant-based diet build up our immunity at the moment?
Drink water in the morning, before eating, to break up the fast from sleeping, and not to shock an empty stomach. Do not overload your system with unnecessary calories or too much sugar or food. Exercise portion control with your meals to avoid overtaxing the body and its immune system. Eating at the same times will place less stress on the system as well.
What nutritional foods and supplements do you typically include in your daily diet?
Depending on my current nutritional needs and physical activity, I make a daily elixir. This consists of water with a teaspoon of a variety of powders and herbs. Today, this includes spirulina and chlorella (4 tablets each), goji berry and acai powder, MSM powder, multiminerals, and multivitamins. I also forage edible plants regularly to receive further nutritional support. I carry nuts, seeds, and homemade tofu strips or baked polenta strips for on the go nutrition that is small and discreet.
Social distancing and quarantining are likely putting pressure on many people’s mental health at the moment. What advice can you offer those who are struggling with anxiety and/or depression?
Isometrics or a resistance band can provide sufficient cardiovascular benefits, and fresh air can do much for these uncertain times. Stretch in your kitchen, use your countertops for support. Get some fresh air in your yard or balcony and breathe deeply using diaphragmatic breath to stimulate the mind and gut.
What are some daily nutritional practices that every person on a plant-based diet should be incorporating into their diet?
Hydration can alleviate many health issues. Drink more than you eat. Carry dried hibiscus or tamarind to turn ordinary water into digestive support. Hibiscus is a natural diuretic and tamarind is a gentle natural laxative, depending on your needs. Carry powders or dried flowers with you on the go for a quick lift if needed (acai or goji berries) or to relax (chamomile or cloves).
Can you offer any advice on finding a healthy balance between proteins and carbohydrates on a plant-based diet?
Small concentrated protein prior to an activity and carbohydrate with small protein after is what I have been doing with much success in maintaining my health, energy, and ideal weight.
What resources do you recommend for anyone who has recently made the switch to a plant-based diet?
Finally, learn to cook. YouTube offers many recipes. Educate yourself on basic digestion and keep a journal in the kitchen noting what you’re eating, how much, and the effects if any. This will help the body communicate your needs more intuitively and you can have also a reference.
Trying to figure out what to make for your next meal? Check out our wide selection of plant-based recipes!