Category Archives for Diet

Inflammation and Sugar, the Connection


By Theresa Harding

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no cost to you when you click a link to make a purchase.

How Sugar Causes Inflammation

Are you currently taking supplements for inflammationInflammation and sugar is one topic searched by many who are struggling to find the root cause of their pain.  Do you find that no matter what you take for body aches and pains and inflammation, you still experience some level of pain in your body?  The reason may lie in your diet and sugar consumption.  Sugar contributes to inflammation!

More and more research indicates that most disease – including all chronic disease – begins with some kind of inflammation. If you could control inflammation and improve your health, you’d want to, right?

Inflammation is vital as part of the healing process. It defends the body against foreign invaders (including bacteria and viruses), repairs damaged tissue, restricts damaging motion through swelling, and a lot more. Some foods, like sugar, can also cause inflammation in the body, which is normal.

However, eating too many inflammatory foods may cause chronic low-grade inflammation. This can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and allergies.  Eating low inflammatory foods can prevent this. 

One trigger is the food we eat – and sugar tops the list for several reasons. Sugar triggers pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Cytokines are small proteins that work as signal molecules. They summon cells to infection sites, trauma, and inflammation. Sugar may promote pro-inflammatory cytokines and reduce anti-inflammatory cytokines.

Foods That Cause Inflammation

While many foods cause inflammation in only certain individuals some foods are known to be pro-inflammatory (promote inflammation) in many.  It’s very important to be aware of these foods, as they either contain added sugar or they are simply inflammatory.  These foods are:

Sugar– A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  found that processed sugars may cause the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.

Refined carbohydrates- Refined or simple carbohydrates include sugars and refined grains with the bran, fiber, and nutrients removed.  These foods are white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and many breakfast cereals.

Saturated fats- like cheese, full-fat dairy, fatty red meat and highly processed fats (hydrogenated and trans-fats) used in processed foods, such as baked goods, stick margarine, and chips.  Deep fried foods (which used to be my favorite!), and the food from many fast food restaurants are high in these unhealthy fats.

Food additives-NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) reported that dietary emulsifiers, which are chemically similar to detergents, are added to many processed foods to improve texture and extend shelf life.  The scientists investigated whether dietary emulsifiers might affect the risk of colorectal cancer by altering the gut microbiota.

processed meat and red meat- Processed meats include meat prepared through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation. Those meats are hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausages, corned beef, and beef jerky, along with canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.

Alcohol The World Journal of Gastroenterology reported that chronic inflammation is commonly associated with alcohol-related medical conditions.

Gluten- Certain foods are pro-inflammatory and that includes gluten-containing grains and the thousands of foods made from them as reported in an article from the Arthritis Foundation.

Artificial Sweeteners That Cause Inflammation


Artificial Sweeteners & Inflammation

The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) approved the use of artificial sweeteners in place of sugar to combat obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, as these are considered all risk factors for heart disease. (You may read the full statement here.)

The FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners:

  • saccharin
  • acesulfame
  • aspartame
  • neotame
  • sucralose

It has also approved stevia, a natural low-calorie sweetener

There is a concern that people who use artificial sweeteners may replace the lost calories through other sources, possibly offsetting weight loss or health benefits, says Dr. Ludwig. This can happen because we like to fool ourselves: “I’m drinking diet soda, so it’s okay to have cake.” This recommendation was also added by the AHA and ADA.

Overstimulation of sugar receptors from frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners may limit tolerance for more complex tastes,” explains Dr. Ludwig. That means people who routinely use artificial sweeteners may start to find less intensely sweet foods, such as fruit, less appealing and unsweet foods, such as vegetables, downright unpalatable.

Artificial sweeteners are also known to cause more sugar cravings, causing us to choose sweet food over nutritious food, and weight gain.

Your body cannot process artificial ingredients well, so artificial sweeteners like aspartame may trigger an immune response, according to research.  Aspartame is a neurotoxin that the body frequently “attacks” therefore causing inflammation.

Artificial sweeteners may increase your risk of type 2 Diabetes by inducing “metabolic derangements,” according to a report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism.

As reported by Business Insider, the research team concluded that all of these sweeteners “had a toxic, stressing effect, making it difficult for gut microbes to grow and reproduce.

These artificial sweeteners are;

  • Aspartame
  • Sucralose
  • Saccharin
  • Neotame
  • Advantame
  • Acesulfame potassium-k

Drinking sugary drinks can spike inflammation levels. Moreover, this effect can last for a considerable amount of time.

For those with arthritis, artificial sweeteners may be a culprit that should be avoided.  Experts have recommended that people with this condition to reduce their sugar intake so as not to aggravate arthritis.

If you’re sensitive to these substances, your immune system may react, triggering an inflammatory response, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

This inflammatory response can cause arthritis symptoms like joint pain and swelling.  The resulting inflammatory response may aggravate arthritis symptoms like joint pain and swelling.

Sweeteners that Don’t Cause Inflammation

Today, we have many choices of sugary foods and beverages available to us.  Natural sweeteners are available for us to use effectively.  they provide the sweetness that most people crave.  Here’s a list of natural sweeteners in order based on a low glycemic index and additional health benefits.

  • Monk fruit Lo Han Extract is also called monk fruit. o Han has a very low glycemic index and low sugar content.  This is a wonderful sweetener but it can be hard to find and expensive.


  • Yacon syrupYacon syrup is extracted from the roots of the Yacon plant which grows throughout the Andes mountains in South America. Yacon syrup is rich in prebiotic fibers (roughly 40-50%) called inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) which are undigestible by the body but feed healthy gut bacteria.  Using Yacon syrup has been shown to reduce obesity and insulin resistance.


  • Coconut sugarThis is a very low glycemic liquid sweetener derived from the liquid sap of the coconut the glycemic index is 35 making it one of the lowest of natural sweeteners.  The fructose levels are very low at 10% and it contains a wide variety of antioxidants, minerals, and other nutrients that enhance blood sugar stability.  Coconut sugar is my second choice in sweeteners.


  • Raw honey, organic- is superfood does have an effect on blood sugar and contains approximately 53% fructose so one should only consume this in moderation.  This is my personal favorite and first choice in sweeteners, as it takes less to sweeten foods.


  • Molasses is a byproduct of the processing of sugar.  It does have an effect on the glycemic index and must only be consumed in moderation.


  • Maple syrup– contains sucrose, glucose & fructose and therefore has an effect on blood sugar and insulin levels.

How Sugar Affects Your Body


Inflammation and Sugar

  • Sugar triggers AGEs (advanced glycation end products).
    Other foods high on the glycemic index do, as well, by promoting high insulin release. AGEs stimulate inflammation and have been linked with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and such age-related diseases as Alzheimer’s and stroke.


  • Suppresses white blood cell activity. White blood cell activity is a natural part of the healing process. When the process is suppressed, healing may be incomplete. Chronic inflammation can result.


  • Triggers the release of inflammatory prostaglandins.  Prostaglandins are short-lived, hormone-like chemicals, produced by the body’s cells.  Instead of moving through the bloodstream, these hormones move from cell to cell and regulate all kinds of cellular activities.


  • Consuming too many added sugars and refined carbohydrates can lead to an excess amount of advanced glycation end products (AGEs).  AGEs are formed as a normal part of metabolism; however, with a surplus of glucose (from added sugars and refined carbs in our diet), excessive AGE formation occurs.


  • Having too many AGEs contributes to oxidative stress and inflammation by binding with our cells and integral proteins, changing their structure and interfering with their normal function. This alteration can eventually lead to a buildup of plaque in our arteries (atherosclerosis) and decreased kidney function, among other effects.


  • Also, as many of us know, a diet rich in added sugar and refined carbohydrates can often lead to weight gain and obesity. Excess body fat, especially in the abdominal area, causes continuous, chronic levels of inflammation that can alter the action of insulin.


  • Insulin is a regulatory hormone that plays an important role in transporting the glucose in your bloodstream into your cells, where it is used as energy. However, with chronically high levels of blood glucose, the production and regulation of insulin are altered, and insulin resistance can result. Consequently, the excessive amount of blood glucose can lead to an accumulation of AGEs.

How to Reduce Inflammation 

I’ve always learned that taking supplements for inflammation was the only answer.  I never looked at my diet and sugar intake as the contributing factor to my pains, but once I eliminated refined sugar from my diet, and added low inflammatory foods, I experienced new results! 

No pain!  I first started with low sugar intake, then eventually I eliminated refined sugars from my diet altogether, then I started to see results of the decreased pain, and today, no knee pains. 

Chronic inflammation is often a result of diet and lifestyle, so you can take important steps to minimize inflammation and its harmful effects on the body.

  • Limit unnecessary sources of added sugar and refined carbohydrates in your diet.  Minimize your consumption of foods with low sugar intake.  (These foods are listed on the food label as sucrose, low inflammatory foods, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose).  Also foods with refined carbohydrates (this includes many processed foods such as pasta, white bread, and white rice).
  • Eat more whole grains. Choose whole grains such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and barley.  Due to the high fiber content, whole grains can help slow down absorption.  They do this by decreasing the speed at which sugars enter the bloodstream.


  • Increase your daily intake of vegetables and fruit. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain complex carbohydrates and naturally occurring sugars.  These foods also contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals which conversely help to reduce AGE formation.


  • Additionally, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber which can help decrease the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream. Try to get at least 10 servings a day.


  • Include a variety of antioxidant-rich foods and heart-healthy fats in your diet. Other sources of antioxidants include flax, chia and hemp seeds, avocado, nuts, wild salmon, omega-3 rich eggs, olive and canola oil, and small cold water fish such as mackerel, herring, and sardines. Eating these foods on a regular basis will help to counter inflammation and reduce oxidative stress.


  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Factors such as exercising regularly, managing stress, and not smoking can help to reduce inflammation.  Maintaining a healthy weight is also important in promoting proper insulin function. 


If you find that after doing all these things, even a low sugar intake, you still experience the same level of pain, then supplements for inflammation may be needed.  Always remember, speak with your doctor before trying any new diet or supplements.  If you need another form of sugar to use in your foods, try coconut palm sugar or raw honey. 

I used raw honey most of the time.  Occasionally, I use coconut palm sugar in my baked recipes instead of sugar.  Try these and see how you like them.

What remedies do you use to reduce inflammation?



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By Theresa Harding (updated 11/3/19)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission at no cost to you if you click a link to make a purchase. 

Did it ever occur to you that your diet is the culprit to your body aches and pains?  If you knew that some of the reasons we experience pain and inflammation are because of our food choices, you might want to reconsider your diet plan. 

Even if you try taking supplements for inflammation, like turmeric, diet first is always key to an anti-inflammatory diet plan.  It’s important to eat low inflammatory foods to avoid chronic inflammation.

Your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. This often triggers a process called inflammation.

What Triggers Inflammation?

Inflammation is a totally normal bodily function. It is generally triggered by the immune system when it recognizes an invader or damage to tissue that must be kept under control. The immune system stimulates different cells and proteins—like white blood cells—to help eliminate the threat of an outside invader and repair any damaged tissue.

Inflammation is instigated by chemical mediators called cytokines that act as signals to recruit more parts of the immune system to help with healing.  

Chronic (or ongoing) inflammation is said to occur when the immune system attacks the body’s healthy cells leading to autoimmune diseases.  Such diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, states of immune deficiency including Crohn’s disease or skin conditions including psoriasis.  Underlying chronic inflammation also may play a role in heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Foods That Cause Inflammation

Interestingly, the foods you eat can have a major effect on inflammation in your body. Low inflammatory foods are best.  Some foods are notorious for promoting inflammation. Consider minimizing to a low inflammatory diet or cutting these out completely.

  • Sugary beverages: Sugar-sweetened drinks and fruit juices.
  • Refined carbs: White bread, white pasta, etc.
  • Desserts: Cookies, candy, cake, and ice cream.
  • Processed meat: Hot dogs, bologna, sausages, etc.
  • Processed snack foods: Crackers, chips, and pretzels.
  • Certain oils: Processed seed- and vegetable oils like soybean and corn oil.
  • Trans fats: Foods with “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients list.
  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption.

Foods That Fight Inflammation

Foods that Fight Inflammation

Foods that Fight Inflammation

There are also foods that combat inflammation. These foods are often referred to as Anti-inflammatory Diets or a low inflammatory diet.  These low inflammatory foods can help prevent you from reaching the point of chronic inflammation

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet is not a diet in the popular since – it is not intended as a weight-loss program (although people can and do lose weight on it), nor is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet an eating plan to stay on for a limited period of time.  Rather, it is the way of selecting and preparing anti-inflammatory foods based on scientific knowledge of how they can help your body maintain optimum health.

Along with influencing inflammation, this natural anti-inflammatory diet will provide steady energy and ample vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids dietary fiber, and protective phytonutrients.  There are also supplements for inflammation if you feel you suffer from it.

The Anti-inflammatory Foods You Can Eat

  • Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.
  • Fruit: Especially deeply colored berries like grapes and cherries.
  • High-fat fruits: Avocados and olives.
  • Healthy fats: Olive oil and coconut oil.
  • Fatty fish: Salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies.
  • Nuts: Almonds and other nuts.
  • Peppers: Bell peppers and chili peppers.
  • Chocolate: Dark chocolate.
  • Spices: Such as turmeric, fenugreek, and cinnamon.
  • Tea: Green tea.
  • Red wine: Up to 5 oz (140 ml) of red wine per day for women, and 10 oz (280 ml) per day for men.

There are ways to eat anti-inflammatory food in order to reduce any chance of chronic inflammation.  As mentioned above, there are supplements for inflammation in one way.  But food is always the first option I recommend.

Ways to Incorporate Them Into Your Diet for Optimal Health:


Add Anti-Inflammation Foods to Your Diet

  • Consume at least 25 grams of fiber every day.
  • Eat a minimum of nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Limit saturated fat to 10 percent of your daily calories.
  • Consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Eat fish at least three times a week.
  • Use oils that contain healthy fats.
  • Eat healthy snacks twice a day.

Inflammation can occur in response to many triggers. Some of these you can’t do much about, such as pollution, injury or sickness. However, you have much more control over the foods and beverages you choose to eat and drink.

To stay as healthy as possible, keep inflammation down by minimizing your consumption of foods that trigger it.  Though diet is important, it’s not the only factor. Quality and duration of sleep and other lifestyle factors can have a direct impact on inflammation.

Overall, to avoid issues with chronic inflammation, make it your mission to achieve a healthy, low inflammatory diet, maintain a healthy weight, get adequate sleep and engage in regular physical activity.

Have you experienced any symptoms of pain due to inflammation?  What methods are you using to heal the pain?



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The Top 10 Winter Foods for Your Immunity

By Theresa Harding

Winter is the time to slow down, nourish the soul, and focus on strengthening our immunity. Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables allows us to do this as they are effective at being natural immune boosters.

By focusing on these top winter foods for your immunity, you create a natural defense against unwanted illness.  Some additional symptoms are headaches, digestive issues, a weak immune system, and dry skin that can plague you in the winter months. Cold and flu season becomes less of a worry when your immune system is strong.

If you want to avoid succumbing to countless sniffles and colds during the colder months then there are many steps you can take.  Keeping wrapped up when outside and making sure your home is warm is a must.  You should also consider the types of foods you eat that will boost your immune system.

This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission if you click a link to make a purchase.

How to Boost Immunity in the Winter

When it comes to a winter diet plan, the goal is to adjust your diet to the current season.  There are many benefits to eating this way.  One benefit, being that foods consumed in the current season are nutrient-dense, will help to boost your immunity.  Another benefit of eating foods in-season is that your body will be more in-line with the current season.  This provides your body with a high level of nutrition.

For example, during the winter season, there are specific fruits and vegetables that provide many health benefits to your body, such as root vegetables.  Root vegetables are a heavier food and your body needs more dense, rich foods to keep warm in the winter.

Of course, eating in-season also has financial benefits to your food budget.  The foods sold in-season cost less because they are more abundant.  When you purchase watermelon in the winter months, the price is higher than it would be when sold in the summer months.

Why?  Because watermelon and other melons are summer fruits that keep your body cool during the hot summer months.  You don’t need to cool your body during the winter months.  There’s no benefit in being cold in the winter, right?  Not only that, but the nutritional content of the off-season watermelon is lower.

Let’s not forget that eating foods in-season helps support local farmers and it also promotes balance with the resources of the earth and its lifeforms.  We definitely want to embrace the natural source and diversity of the changing seasons rather than negating them.  So stay in-line and grounded and this will help boost your immunity.

Of course, you’ll need to eliminate foods that will suppress your immune system such as sugar and processed foods.  These such foods are loaded with artificial preservatives, colors, and other chemicals.  A suppressed immune system means that it can take your body longer to heal from a cold or flu bug, should you contract it.

Missed days from work due to a cold or flu is no fun for anyone, as this could affect the income of some workers.  As reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Common colds are the main reason that children miss school and adults miss work” each year.

Here are some foods you can add to your diet, either daily or at least a few times a week to help boost your immunity:

Garlic for Immune Strength

Garlic can be considered Mother Nature’s antibiotic.  It’s known for its medicinal properties since ancient times.  In investigating its beneficial effects, garlic is one of the most extensively researched products.  It has acquired a reputation as a formidable prophylactic and therapeutic medicinal agent in the folklore of many cultures, over the centuries. 

Garlic is known for the role in its antimicrobial, anticancer, antioxidant, immune boosting, anti-diabetic, hepatoprotective, anti-fibrinolytic and anti-platelet aggregatory activity and its potential role in preventing cardiovascular diseases, according to an article published by Science Direct.

It contains a whole host of beneficial components, one of which is called allicin, a potent antibacterial agent. Additionally, allicin has immune-enhancing effects by stimulating lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell.  These white blood cells are key players in your body’s immune response.

Pumpkin Seeds for Immune Strength

As stated in research by the Journal of Molecular Medicine, “Zinc possesses anti‑inflammatory activity by inhibiting NF‑κB signaling and modulation of regulatory T‑cell functions that may limit the cytokine storm in COVID‑19.

Therefore, Zn may possess protective effect as preventive and adjuvant therapy of COVID‑19 through reducing inflammation, improvement of mucociliary clearance, prevention of ventilator‑induced lung injury, modulation of antiviral and antibacterial immunity. However, further clinical and experimental studies are required.”

Zinc is a metal required for all kinds of biological processes in your body. This micronutrient is involved in tissue growth and proliferation, and it’s important for normal brain functioning.  For example, zinc regulates neurotransmitter release, which is vital for mood regulation. 

Especially at this time of year, zinc is involved as your body copes with the threat of infection.  It has been shown that zinc deficiencies result in a reduced immune response, or weak immune system, to invading pathogens.   Zinc is also known to shorten the duration of a cold and flu virus.

Zinc is naturally found in protein-rich foods such as lamb, pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, chickpeas, cocoa powder, cashews, kefir, mushrooms, and spinach.  I love to make my own pumpkin seed milk. Even though the color is not the most attractive-looking, the milk is very nutrient-dense.  My favorite source is raw pumpkin seeds.

Onions and the Immune System

The benefits of onions are endless. To begin with, onions are often neglected as a health food but are usually a common ingredient in many staple dishes. Onions, especially red onions, are a wonderful source of flavenoids – plant compounds that have a whole range of antioxidants add benefits for your body and can boost the immune system.

According to research from Emerald Insight, “the organosulphur compounds in these spices scavenge oxidizing agents, inhibit the oxidation of fatty acids, thereby preventing the formation of pro‐inflammatory messengers, and inhibit bacterial growth, via interaction with sulphur‐containing enzymes”.

Though the evidence is somewhat mixed, some flavenoids found in onions have been shown to have anti-viral effects. Just like garlic, onions are very easy to incorporate into your diet. Try having them raw in a salad.  They can also be effective at helping strengthen a weak immune system.

Ginger and Immune Health

Ginger Prevents Infection

Ginger Prevents Infection

Ginger has long been used as an herbal medicine to treat various symptoms including vomiting, pain, cold symptoms and it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, anti-tumor activities, anti-pyretic, anti-platelet, anti-tumorigenic, anti-hyperglycemic, antioxidant anti-diabetic, anti-clotting and analgesic properties, cardiotonic, and cytotoxic.

It has been widely used for arthritis, cramps, sprains, sore throats, rheumatism, muscular aches, pains, vomiting, constipation, indigestion, hypertension, dementia, fever, and infectious diseases.

Ginger is also great for relieving the feeling of nausea and vomiting if you are not well. Additionally, it can help prevent infection and boost your immune system. Ginger is incredibly warming on a cold winter’s day. That warming effect can act as a natural decongestant and it can also help to promote sweating, which is part of your body’s mechanism in fighting colds and flu.

Interestingly, sweat contains a potent anti-microbial peptide called dermcidin that may help fight off infections – which may be another reason why exercising regularly during the winter months to promote sweating can help to keep infections at bay.

Probiotics Support Immunity

Having a healthy digestive system is probably the number one thing you can do this winter to improve a weak immune system.  It has been shown that exposure to beneficial bacteria as an infant improves health in later life, reducing infections, allergies and the risk of asthma or other autoimmune diseases.

Probiotics provide a unique solution for disease prevention and treatment.  Modulation of the immune system is one of the most plausible mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of probiotics on human health.

Research shows that probiotics have been found to enhance the natural immunity and balance pathogen-induced inflammation through receptor-regulated signaling pathways.

For sure, our hunter-gatherer ancestors would not have been exposed to the sterile, overly clean environments in their early and later years, like those of us who inhabit the developed world.

Foods rich in natural healthy bacteria that your body can make use of include yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha tea, and sauerkraut. If you want an extra probiotic boost, then probiotic supplements, particularly those that contain prebiotics to feed the bacteria, are great for this time of year.


Curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric, has been shown in the last two decades to be a potent immunomodulatory agent that can modulate the activation of T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells.

Like ginger, the curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties; but it also has anti-microbial features too, combatting bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A great way to get turmeric into your diet is by adding it to your smoothies, cooked eggs, vegetables, or other favorite dishes. 

This suggests that curcumin’s reported beneficial effects in arthritis, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer might be due in part to its ability to modulate the immune system.

I personally love to add ¼ tsp to my smoothies every morning and you can’t even taste it!  Another way I add turmeric to my diet is to make golden milk with it.

Green Tea to Strengthen the Immune System

Green tea is a beverage that has been consumed in Eastern cultures for centuries. It’s rich in phenols, with great antioxidant properties. Additionally, it’s useful to know that powdered green teas (matcha, for example) release their antioxidants much quicker than whole leaf teas.

The antioxidant benefits of green tea provide a whole variety of potential advantages – from protecting against heart disease to reducing your risk of cancer.

That aside, the antioxidants in green tea are beneficial in offering general support and adding strength to your immune system. Antioxidants protect against damage from compounds known as free radicals, which can keep your immune system healthy.

Honey and Immunity


Honey Supports Immunity

Honey has been known to have antibacterial properties for many years. As such, it is sometimes included in licensed wound care products.  Since honey is thick and sticky, it coats your throat and provides a natural way to soothe soreness.

Honey has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, which help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The antimicrobial activity of honey appears to be due to its high sugar content, as well as hydrogen peroxide.

Studies show that honey is widely known for its antibacterial properties against H. pylori; however, the mechanisms of its antibacterial activity are not fully known.

Mushrooms Strengthen & Support Immunity

Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells. They become more aggressive when fighting bacteria.  Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms pack the biggest immunity punch and are great natural immune boosters. 

These three mushrooms can be found in supplement form at your local health food store or purchased online at or  I like to take them during the winter months as a preventive measure for that added protection.

Kiwi Fruit Protects from Viral & Bacterial Infections

Kiwi fruit is a great source of vitamin E! It helps protect your body from viral and bacterial infections. While the jury is still out on whether vitamin C helps boost immunity, kiwi has more of it than most citrus fruits, including oranges – and that can’t be a bad thing.

Water Supports the Immune System

Staying hydrated fuels the cellular processes that keep your body moving and grooving. Hydration is also key for proper function of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell.  I can’t say enough how so very important it is to drink your water daily. 

“Water helps to carry oxygen to your body cells, which results in properly functioning systems. It also works in removing toxins from the body, so drinking more of it could help prevent toxins from building up and having a negative impact on your immune system”, as explained by Culligan Water.

Many of us don’t drink enough water and experience many symptoms of dehydration such as constipation, poor digestion, bloating, and gas.  If you want to eliminate these conditions instantly, increase your water intake.

The winter foods listed above can definitely be seen as natural immune boosters, giving you greater results than over-the-counter drugs for healing colds and flu symptoms.   We should always see food as medicine, as a way to treat the whole body, not just the symptoms.

What is your winter remedy for a healthy immunity?


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Multiple Food Sensitivities and Weight Gain

By Theresa Harding (Updated 5/13/19)       

One of the many challenges to my weight loss efforts was trying to figure out why I was always feeling bloated.  It seemed like, the more careful I was at selecting my snacks, the more I was feeling bloated after snacking on my favorite treat.

I always noticed that I would feel bloated after eating my favorite blue corn tortilla chips, and this caused me to increase weight in return for my indulgence.  This was my favorite snack.  I figured it’s only a snack, so why would I feel bloated only after eating a simple snack?

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no additional to you if you click a link to make a purchase.

I did consider at one time, to see my doctor for food sensitivity testing, but I never did.  Then I started taking digestive enzymes to help alleviate the bloating.  For a while, I did get some relief, but I continued to eat the corn tortilla chips because I craved them all the time.

Well, after doing more research, I learned that I am now sensitive to this snack food.  So, I no longer eat blue corn tortilla chips for a snack.  I’m also happy to say that my midsection does not inflate anymore, lol!

Whether it’s low fat, low carb, low GI – most of us have tried, and failed, to lose weight at some point.  Some of the weight gain problems could be much more deep-rooted – multiple food sensitivities.  According to medical estimates, food sensitivities affect 75% of the population, having a profound impact on their health and weight.

How it Affects the Gut Lining

Multiple food sensitivities can damage the gut lining.  Damage to the gut can lead to a leaky gut, allowing food particles to be exposed to the gut’s immune system.  This then triggers a system-wide immune response, leading to inflammation all over the body and producing obesity by increasing insulin resistance.

Inflammation from any cause — infections, food sensitivity, or a high-sugar, bad-fat diet — will produce insulin resistance, leading to higher insulin levels, and an increase in weight.  Since insulin is the hormone that signals your body to store more fat — mostly around the belly.

In his article, “Wheat Disorders, Dr. O’Bryan shares information about wheat and gluten sensitivity and how it can lead to intestinal symptoms and cardiovascular disease.  You can read more about this on his website.

Symptoms of Food Sensitivities 

Food sensitivities, also referred to as food allergies or food reactions can result in digestive disturbances such as gas, belching or bloating after meals. They can also cause symptoms not related to the digestive system including headaches (including a migraine), joint pain, arthritis, hyperactivity, skin rashes, asthma, dry cough, wheezing, diarrhea, kidney damage, and elevated liver enzymes.

Food sensitivities can make you feel lethargic, sleepy, or low in energy, especially after eating. They can also be responsible for mood swings and cravings.  No one ever thinks about getting tested for food intolerances to find out the underlying cause of their weight gain.

Food Cravings

Multiple Food Sensitivities and Weight Gain

Food Sensitivities Can Be Your Food Cravings

I always craved the blue corn tortilla chips all the time, even though I would feel bloated while eating them.  They were my guilty pleasure.  Unfortunately, the foods that most people crave are also the foods that they are likely to be sensitive to.

Some people feel that they are addicted to their problem foods, but it is not the food itself, it’s the endorphins—the body’s opium-like painkillers which are triggered by the problem foods—that they are addicted to.   Because of the cravings associated with food sensitivities, there is a tendency to overeat and increase weight, which is likely to be a problem.

For underweight individual’s,  some food intolerances may have the opposite effect, making it difficult for them to gain weight. Both overweight and underweight individuals often find it easier to reach and maintain their ideal weight.  This is because their intolerances are properly addressed through nutrition and lifestyle changes.

You can find out now, what foods to avoid by simply seeing your doctor for food sensitivity testing.  This might be the solution to your weight gain.

Common Food Intolerances and Food Sensitivities

These are the top foods to which people are sensitive. Some of the common food sensitivities are;

  • GMO, genetically modified Organism, foods.
  • Gluten (in wheat, rye, barley, and some oats).
  • Dairy
  • Corn
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and chestnuts).
  • Nightshades are a family of vegetables that include potatoes (except sweet potatoes and yams), tomatoes, peppers (green, red, yellow, orange, jalapeno, chili, and pimentos), eggplant, tobacco, spices (from peppers like cayenne, chili, red pepper, curry mixes, paprika)
  • Citrus
  • Yeast (baker’s, brewer’s yeast, and fermented products like vinegar)

Common Reasons for Food Sensitivities and Food Intolerances

There are also common reasons why most people suffer from multiple food intolerances. The reasons are related to too much of one food, Leaky gut syndrome, Deficiency of Probiotics, over-worked immune system, and Genetics.

If you are overweight and can’t seem to lose that last ten pounds, multiple food sensitivities are likely part of the problem. They are the cause of inflammation, which is the underlying cause of weight gain. You can lose a significant amount of weight just by eliminating foods from your diet which you are sensitive.

It is also recommended to short-term, eliminate dairy and gluten because, both dairy (milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt) and gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, some oats, spelled, triticale, and kamut) are linked to insulin resistance and, therefore, weight gainTemporarily cutting them out of your diet, allows the inflamed gut to heal.  This one move may be the single most important thing you can do to lose weight.

Have you tried the food elimination process to identify what foods you’re sensitive to?  Please share.

If you think you have food sensitivities, you can take my free Diet Makeover Course.  It’s a step-by-step guide to help you eliminate unhealthy, processed foods from your diet and start adding clean foods to your diet for proper nutrition. 
It’s what I did to normalize my husband’s high cholesterol, eliminate my son’s severe eczema, and normalize high blood pressure for my 12-year-old son. 
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The Connection Between Weight Loss and Multiple Food Sensitivities

By Theresa Harding

My Experience

I never knew that something as simple as knowing that my “go-to” foods were causing me the extra weight gain over the past 3 years.  I was doing every healthy thing I knew to do.  All accept researching the possible reasons for my weight gain. 

After doing some extra “digging”, I found some other possible reasons for my weight gain that I had not considered before, and I was able to prove that food sensitivities were the problem.  I did experience inflammation with some body aches in my knees as well and had a hard time eliminating the pain. 

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So I started taking an Omega 3 supplement for inflammation.  The pain lessened but did not completely go away until I discovered I had issues with some food sensitivities.

Food Sensitivities

Food allergies in children are rather intense and easy to detect. The case is different in adults because the presentation of food sensitivity symptoms comes in the form of mild allergies and sensitivities. Your body begins to reject such foods as corn, wheat, eggs or even milk.

In fact, it has been proven that once you cut the potentially problematic foods, you will deal with other challenges like low mood and headaches.

In your attempt to cut weight, you probably have tried low GI, low carb, low fats, etc. and failed. According to experts, the problem lies in food sensitivity.   Sensitivities have been proven to contribute to weight gain, even added calories in your food, and failure to exercise.

The challenge with identifying food sensitivity symptoms is because one ends up with a headache or fatigue that is not associated with diet. It takes a specialist to pinpoint the problem.

Hidden Dangers of Food Sensitivity

The fact that many people are exposed to foods they are allergic to, may escape their attention because the reaction is mild.  Some consume the food over breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.  Over the years, vague food sensitivity symptoms of fatigue, constipation, unexplained weight gain and bloating continue undetected.  

The problem escalates by taking a toll on your immune system. With an overworked system, the problem spills over to such conditions as arthritis, irritable bowel, and weight gain, among others.

Allergies and Weight Gain

As it has been noted, with multiple food sensitivities, most people are allergic to the prohibited foods. These foods are known to give you a ‘feel good’ effect. However, this effect does not last long, leading to an insatiable craving.  

When serotonin is released, you become an eater who must eat for comfort.  With allergic reactions that lead to inflammation, cytokines lead to a reduction in serotonin which ends up complicating weight gain and loss of balance.


The anti-inflammation hormone called cortisol is also responsible for the uncontrolled weight loss. It is produced by the body to control inflammation. Unfortunately, it works by raising your blood sugar levels.

With inflammation caused by allergies, your blood sugar goes up, leading to excess production of insulin.  Eventually, diabetes spikes out of control. Cortisol is also blamed for causing accumulation of fat around your midsection. You end up with an apple-shaped body.

Allergic Reactions

It has been proven that allergic reactions to foods cause nutrient deficiencies because of the inflamed guts alongside an immune system that is overworked. Beneficial bacteria may also be lacking in the gut, leading to nutritional complications.

To fight the allergy, your body may result in using a lot of nutrients. Sometimes those nutrients are not available to your body and therefore it does not operate efficiently.

The solution to Weight Gain Caused by Multiple Food Sensitivities

The solution is to use the elimination of food method, to capture the delayed food allergies and multiple food sensitivities. This helps you identify the foods that have been affecting your body. Once you have eliminated the problematic foods, you can expect quick weight loss that may be visible within seven days.

You may need a specialist’s guidance to be certain that the identified foods are responsible for the unending weight gain problem.  For me, I learned that by eliminating grains from my diet during a Diet Detox, I could actually pinpoint the foods I no longer needed in my diet. 

I’d noticed that when I added those “bad” foods back into my diet, the weight gain returned.  Those foods were causing me the weight gain and inflammation!  This was a lesson learned.

If you want to lose weight and you find yourself in a cycle of gaining weight or bloating throughout the day, start paying close attention to what you’re eating throughout the day. 

You might find that upon waking, you feel good and your mid-section will appear flat.  Then, as you start eating your first meal of the day, you might notice the bloating start to take effect.  This is when you should consider what you ate for your last meal. 

If you really hone in what you eat throughout the day, you will find that certain foods are causing you the weight gain.  These same foods are probably the foods your body is sensitive to and you should take a break from these such foods. 

I would say eliminate certain foods for about 2 weeks then introduce them back into your diet and see how you feel again, after eating them.  This is what I had to do when I discovered that my favorite snack-blue chips were causing me bloating.  I had to change my favorite snack.

Have you Considered Food Sensitivities for Your Weight Loss Efforts?

If you want to change your diet from nutrient deficient to nutrient dense you can take my free Diet Makeover Course.  This is what I did to normalize my 12-year-old son’s struggle with weight loss and High Blood Pressure.

This diet makeover also helped keep my husband from needing medication for High Cholesterol that his doctor prescribed when his test results showed his cholesterol levels were too high. Get started with the free course today!  Complete the form below.

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Winter Warming Foods – Soups and Stews

Foods for the Winter
By Theresa Harding (updated 1/24/21)

My Experience with Soups and Stews

During this time of year, I enjoy hanging out in the kitchen often, cooking up wholesome dishes like comforting winter soups and stews made from my homemade bone stocks and other winter warming foods. Homemade bone stocks are made from the bones of beef or poultry.

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The bones from these meats are simmered for up to 24 hours to produce a healing and flavorful, rich broth. This healing and warming broth can then be used to make soups and stews, and other foods requiring water to cook.  I like to add collagen powder to my broth to increase the health benefits.

Hearty Soups and stews can be easily started in the morning hours in a slow cooker and enjoyed by dinner time. These are great winter meals for the family. My family enjoys these slow-cooking dishes with a side of salad or steamed vegetables — at least once-a-week.

Here are some family-fun meals that can be enjoyed during the winter months. Hanging out in the kitchen for these dishes is no chore:

Winter Beef Stew

Beef Stew is best known as the “medicine” for the winter cold, this is a healthy winter soup that’s the best food for chilly weather, as stews are loaded with wholesome vegetables! Knowing that you’ll have plenty of anti-oxidant protection needed to keep your immunity up.

It is good to note that a winter beef stew can aid in common colds and flu viruses. They’re not a lot of work to prepare either. Simply add the ingredients to a slow cooker first thing in the morning and dinner is served by 5:00 pm!

Oxtail Stew for Winter Cooking


Oxtail Stew

Oxtail is also known as the cow’s tail. The fat, cartilage, and bone marrow give an abundance of flavor to oxtail stew. When cooked for a long period of time, the meat becomes very tender and can be enjoyed during the cold winter months.

This is my most favorite of the stews to prepare during winter. My family enjoys the flavor of the tender meat so much that I have to make a large batch of this stew to be enjoyed DAYS after it’s cooked.  I have my top ten winter foods for the winter if you want to know more foods to eat during the winter.

Not only are these foods great to eat during the winter, but oxtail stew for winter cooking is a hearty soup that also supports your immunity.  We need immune support when we move into the winter months, as the sun isn’t available to us a lot to keep us healthy.  It’s important to eat according to the seasons to keep your immunity strong.

I explain more in this blog post on how to keep your body virus-free during the winter months.  In this article, I share with you 9 ways to strengthen and support your immune system.  These are things I do for myself and my family every winter to keep us healthy and strong.

Chicken & Noodle Soup

I grew up eating chicken & noodle soup. This healthy winter soup was always the soup of choice when things were feeling dull. Chicken & noodle soup is a nourishing soup of nostalgia is a great dish to eat when fighting a cold during the cold/flu season.

It’s loaded with nutrients and vegetables to keep you feeling warm while aiding with the healing process. So the next time you’re feeling “under-the-weather”, have a bowl of chicken & noodle soup!

If you want to learn how to make a nutrient-dense, healing chicken broth, read the book “Nourishing Broth” by Sally Fallon”.  In this book, you will find many healthy, healing recipes and instructions on how to make a healthy bone stock for your chicken & noodle soups.

Winter Lentil Soup

Lentils are loaded with nutrition and my favorite lentils are the red ones, as I love the color in my soups.  I always keep these lentils on hand for my soups and salads.  They’re high in fiber, lean protein, and iron. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods like lentils can lessen your risk of many serious medical problems.

Winter Lentil soup is very easy to prepare and doesn’t require a long soaking time like other beans. Rich in folate and iron, they’re a great choice of beans that require less cooking time.

Lentil soup is also used as a detox soup with added detox spices to aid the detox process.  It’s also known to help with healing the body overall.

Winter Spices 


Winter Herbs & Spices

Let’s not forget to add those winter spices to these delicious soups to top them off.  I like to add my favorite ginger, garlic, onion, turmeric, onion powder, and seamoss powder to add minerals, flavor, and heat to my winter soups and stews.  These spices add antioxidants, heat, and minerals to the soups to boost them with dense nutrition.   

I personally add the sea moss for the 92 minerals that it contains, along with the thickness it adds to my soups.  There’s no need to add a flour mix to my soups when I add the sea moss, so it’s become a staple in my home.  We also add sea moss to our smoothies and other dishes.

We all know about the onions and their many uses for healing topically, for hair rinses, and for adding to winter soups and other dishes.  As Tasty explains, it does matter what kind of onions you use in your cooking, especially for these winter warming soups and stews.  I like to use yellow onions for my soups, but you may use what you prefer for your family, whether it be red, white or yellow onions.  You could also use the onion powder if the fresh onions are not favored.

Winter Herbs

When you’re fighting a cold or flu virus, you need these healing spices to help bring your body back into balance quickly and healthfully.  The fresh ginger root is known to have thermogenic properties that heat you up and can increase your metabolism and increase blood flow.  It’s been recommended to use to help with circulation.  Ginger root should be grated freshly for that added heat or if you prefer, there’s the ginger root powder that is not as strong but has some benefits too.

Garlic freshly diced or minced is an herb known to work in the body as a natural antibiotic and is recommended to help with healing from a cold or flu virus.  An article published by Healthline describes in detail how garlic aids with cold and flu.   You could also use garlic powder if you don’t like the strong flavor of fresh garlic.

It adds the natural healing properties to the soup while giving your body a boost in healing and warmth.  You will find these soups to not only be hot but heated with these herbs and spices.

Turmeric has a peppery taste and can be paired with ginger when added to soups, as this is the perfect combination for warming, healing winter soups.  You can find many recipes online that include turmeric as an added spice.  Grate fresh turmeric or use it grounded, as this spice is known for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties.  This spice is used in smoothies (my main use), soups, medicinal concoctions, etc. 


I hope you will try these healthy winter soups and stews as warming foods. These nutrient-dense soups will help support your immunity while providing many health benefits to keep you strong in the harshest season.  Be sure to add them to your seasonal menu to help you with the frigid frights of winter!  You could also read more from Sally Fallon’s book, “Nourishing Broth“, where she teaches all about making bone broths the traditional way.  I use this book as a reference to make my own soups, stews, and broths.

However, if you find that you don’t have time, you can purchase bone broth online if that’s easier for you.  I like this brand when I purchase it myself.

These soups and stews will get you well on your way to making hearty soups this winter season, and more to come.  The winter season is the time to make adjustments to your diet to align with the cold season.  It’s always a good idea to eat foods that are in season so that your body will adjust to climate change. 

Eating foods out of season can deprive your body of the nutrient-rich foods that nature provides for us at the proper time.  Foods in-season are mineral-rich and nutrient-dense.  Focus on nature and the abundance it provides for us.

What’s your favorite warming winter food?

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