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covid nutrition and supplements

Anyone else having trouble social distancing from their fridge right now? Yeah, me too. 

To say social distancing and sheltering in place has been disruptive would be an understatement. For most of us, it’s completely changed our daily lives and limited access to things we normally take for granted - groceries and household items not being the least of them. Likewise, staying home 24/7 has, for me personally, led to some less-than-healthy eating habits. When boredom comes knocking, comfort food seems to be the one to answer...but it usually doesn’t leave me feeling nourished physically and mentally or really, well, full.  

I know I’m not alone in this - we are truly facing this crisis together as a global community right now. The good news for those of us privileged enough to have some time and space is that there is still a way to still make your mental and physical health top priorities. In fact, now is a more appropriate time than ever. All it takes is a little reading and preparing shopping lists ahead of time to know how to bring home the healthy goods on your next grocery run.

 

Getting Started With Supplements

In case you missed our blog Getting Started With Herbal Supplements, Bluebird’s Research & Development Lead and resident Certified Clinical Herbalist, Johnnie Heider-Kuhn, shared some really helpful tips on getting started with a supplement routine. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a great precursor to what we’re discussing here. 

The most important takeaway Johnnie shared in that blog, which still rings true today, is that dietary supplements are intended to do just what their name implies - to supplement a healthy diet, not replace. That means developing healthy, nutritious eating habits to lay a strong foundation for any additional supplement use. 

Some of the most important nutrients to prioritize right now are those that support healthy immune function and stress response. This includes: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin A
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acid
  • Bonus points: L-Theanine

These vitamins and minerals are naturally present in the brightly-colored fruits and vegetables you buy from the grocery store. Truly, any brightly-colored fruit or vegetable is loaded with Vitamin C, along with the dietary fiber that often constitutes the “skin.” That’s why it’s better to eat an actual orange over drinking a glass of orange juice or taking a vitamin C supplement. Not only do these methods lack the fiber from the real fruit, but many fruit-based beverages like orange juice also contain concentrated fructose that can actually damage your immune system. Having a regular portion of fruit is a great, significantly cheaper way to get your vitamin intake compared to purchasing supplements. 

 That being said, it can be difficult to get every single nutrient you need just from your diet alone, even if it’s a really healthy diet - especially if you adhere to a restrictive diet like veganism.

 That’s where supplements come in! 

 When incorporating supplements into your diet for the first time, it’s helpful to your body to diversify the supplement delivery methods as much as possible. For example, capsules are one of the most common delivery methods because they’re usually flavorless and easy to swallow. However, consuming a large number of capsules can be difficult for the digestive system to process, as gelatin capsules tend to gum together in the stomach. If you’re taking several capsule supplements, we recommend spacing them out evenly throughout the day to ease the digestive process.

 Tablets are similar to capsules - they’re essentially composed of pressed plant material but they do dissolve better than capsules. Likewise, you could consider liquids and powders as alternatives. Both are easier to digest and also often easier to take - they’re great for blending into beverages like smoothies or your morning coffee.

 Another great way to incorporate herbs into your diet is with teas. Brewing your own herbal teas not only benefits your body but can also help soothe your mental state. It all ties back to the meaning behind the self-care movement - taking time to nourish and rejuvenate your body can help you feel stronger, happier, and healthier. Try brewing some herbal tea each day as part of a self-care ritual - you might be surprised at the effects!

 

Nutritious Foods to Stock Your Quarantine Pantry

 Here are some of the best natural sources of essential vitamins for immune support. Many of the items on this list are already likely to be in your quarantine pantry as they’re relatively inexpensive, easy to come by, and are often staples in many popular dishes. Please note that some of these items are typically only available as canned or frozen goods. If you’re faced with that choice, it’s wise to select frozen over canned as more nutrients are preserved that way.

 

Vitamin C

  • Berries - especially strawberries!
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Rosehips, rose petals, and hibiscus - these ingredients are loaded with vitamin C and make a delightfully tasty tea when brewed together. You can source your own herbs or try Traditional Medicinals Rose Hips with Hibiscus tea bags. This blend is a great way to wind down before bedtime.
  • Chili peppers
  • Culinary herbs like thyme and parsley
  • Acerola cherries
  • Kale
  • Kiwi
  • Broccoli
  • Citrus

 

Vitamin E

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Salmon
  • Avocadoes
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Trout

 

Vitamin A

A quick note: Vitamin A is best to source from food as supplements have a high risk of overdose. Likewise, vitamin A is very available to us in these common food sources so the need to supplement is often limited to pregnant or nursing mothers or children with vitamin A deficiencies. 

  • Liver - you can try beef, lamb, cod liver oil, or goose if you’re feeling adventurous.
  • Fish - especially tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • Goat cheese - and cheese in general. Just make sure to avoid the overly processed cheese like American singles or big blocks of cheese-like substance.
  • Butter - especially grass-fed!
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Sweet potato
  • Winter squash - including pumpkin, kuri, acorn, and spaghetti squash
  • Cooked kale
  • Cooked collard greens and turnip greens

 

Vitamin D

  • The sun - yes, it’s true! When the skin is exposed to sunlight, it absorbs UV B radiation and converts it to previtamin D3 which in turn isomerizes into vitamin D3. 
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mushrooms
  • Cod liver oil
  • Canned tuna
  • Egg yolk

 

Omega 3 Fatty Acid

  • Mackerel
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Oysters
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Soybeans

 

What Makes CBD Oil a Great Supplement?

CBD works a little differently from the other nutrients on this list. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, one of the largest neurotransmitter networks in the body whose role is primarily to maintain homeostasis. Phytocannabinoids such as CBD and THC engage the endocannabinoid system and therefore help contribute to overall health and wellness. Because of this, CBD has exploded in popularity over the past several years as a powerful dietary supplement 

Beyond the properties of CBD, full-spectrum hemp extracts make great daily supplements in other ways. Full-spectrum hemp extracts have not only the entire array of 100+ cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant but also other beneficial nutrients including terpenes, flavonoids, vitamins, omega fatty acids, trace minerals, and more. 

Likewise, quality CBD manufacturers like Bluebird blend their full-spectrum hemp extracts with nutritious, natural carrier oils like organic hemp seed oil and organic olive oil. These oils have omega fatty acids, particularly omega 3. So when you add Bluebird’s full-spectrum hemp extract to your daily supplement routine, you’re doing your body a bunch of favors!

We hope you find these tips on shopping for nutrient-dense foods and supplements to be helpful. Have a go-to health food or supplement that we didn’t cover? Let us know what you like on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

 

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