Thursday, April 2, 2020

Dr. Neal Barnard Lectures on Covid - 19

IMMUNITY AND COVID-19 (From Dr. Neal Barnard, PCRM)
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Each month Food for Life instructors are treated by PCRM to outstanding Professional Development seminars. Since I started with PCRM back in 2008, I've been privileged to participate in these monthly events. I'm an eager forever student!
Last night we had a treat. Dr. Neal Barnard, President and Founder of Physicians Committee, presented on Immunity and Covid-19. The following are snippets from his talk. Hopefully, this will help disseminate between myth and fact regarding foods and the virus.
Know that there are more questions than answers re nutrition and Covid-19, but we do know that nutrition impacts immunity.
However, important to keep in mind that no foods have, yet, been researched on immunity impact and the virus.
Folks with heart, lung, and high blood pressure (HBP) issues are at added risk when contracting the virus.
40% of folks with severe infection had HBP before infection.
Immunity decreases with obesity - fat on our bodies and fat in our foods.
During the H1N1 crisis, half the folks diagnosed had obesity issues which directly impair white blood cell function.
White blood cells recognize, destroy, and engulf viruses but fat impairs their strength.
Fat may influence immune strength. An Australian study showed reduced lung function, killer cell supression; white blood cells don't work in an oil slick!
Including vegetables and fruit in diet increase immune function.
Blueberries have been shown to increase killer cell function.
Currently, none of the foods have been tested for immunity impact on Covid-19.
What we do know is that re garlic, a 12 week study of 146 participants showed that garlic supplements impacted effect of colds: 1/2 the participants took a placebo, the other half the garlic supplement. The placebo group evidenced 65 colds; the garlic group, 24 colds.
Resveratrol does seem to inhibit replication of viruses. (Found in grapes and wine.)
Ginger: Dr. Barnard is not sold on ginger being an immune booster; it is an anti-inflammatory., but no research showing that it knocks out viruses!
Carrots and sweet potatoes which are loaded with beta-carotene; research needed on if that anti-oxidant is an immune booster. Unknown right now.
Vitamin C can boost immune function.
Vitamin D can have immune boosting capacity. Can reduce risk of respiratory infection.
Many folks take zinc to boost immunity. Be careful; in excess can impact immunity negatively. Cold eez product, which contains zinc, is good for initially fighting a cold as it reduces the length of a cold, but do not take zinc supplements.
*Please remember that nutrition can impact immunity, but diet has not been researched regarding this horrid Covid-19!!!!
A Q&A with Dr. Barnard added additional info:
* There is some evidence that Elderberries may fight inflammation, and may be an immune booster, but that has not been verified, as yet, by research.
* Studies being done re nutrition and Covid-19 are including a cohort study to track health of vegans.
* Contracting virus is more common from hand to mouth than nasal.
So, folks, we must maintain our social distancing, wash hands frequently, and keep hands away from nose, eyes and mouth.
I'm wearing a mask and gloves every time I go to the grocery store.
We made a batch of homemade masks today without having to sew. There are many tutorials on You Tube showing you how. Very easy. Anything helps.
So, I pray that some of this may be helpful, and that this brief update finds you well, while maintaining faith and hope during this very difficult time. We will get through this, and God-willing emerge more loving and centered when on the other side.
To your health!
Joanne Irwin
FFL and CHIP Instructor

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Homemade Tofu Scramble and Vegan Pizza - Chasing Covid-19 Blues Away

     Each day Bill and I set goals for ourselves - be it taking a long hike along the lovely trails on Cape Cod (a favorite is the Rail Trail which we access from a short walk in the woods behind our development), working in the garden when weather cooperates (not too often on Cape Cod right now), organizing the basement for my son (his house; we're here and caring for it), and, for me, cooking up a storm!!!
     Including lots of immune boosting foods in our daily meal regime is priority. Lots of berries for breakfast, especially blueberries and blackberries, served over a hearty bowl of steel cut oats or grits with chopped walnuts and hemp seeds, along with a huge salad for either lunch or dinner.
     Last night it was homemade vegan pizza, the dough made by a good friend who's a master baker, topped with a tasty pizza sauce and loaded with artichokes, onions, kalamata olives, mushrooms, onions, and chopped vegan sausage. And some organic alcohol-free vegan wine since I'm Sicilian!!
The only 'real' drink we'll enjoy is sharing a can of Guinness - it's medicinal, so say the Irish!

     This morning the cooking crave lingered, and I needed more than our regular oatmeal and/or grsts. Since I had plenty of leftover cut up veggies from last night's pizza, I concocted a Tofu Scramble topped with the onions, mushrooms, olives, artichokes, vegan sausage, and chopped kale! The scramble is seasoned with a few drops of tamari, about 1/2 tsp ground cumin and turmeric, that great anti-inflammatory spice that we should all be consuming these days and every day!! That plus toasted homemade bread with olives and Italian seasoning, along with a bowl of fresh fruit, will have us happily satisfied till our immune boosting smoothie time this afternoon. Since we got up late, Scramble was more a brunch meal.

    Weather on Cape Cod is rather gloomy today. The sun made a gallant attempt to appear for a few brief minutes, then snowflakes shockingly  but thankfully left quickly, and now it's a pervading cold,  gray day. Still, a walk is calling.
    Take care, everyone, and remember social distancing. We will get through this. This is a major boulder in the road, but the sun will come up tomorrow!!!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Staying Healthy and Covid-19 Free!

     Who would have ever thought we'd be experiencing such a frightening pandemic? Let's all hang on to hope and faith, knowing that even though this is a huge bump in the road, this, too, will pass. When, we don't know, but it will!

     I'm guessing that many are feeling fearful and anxious. That's natural when we're not in control. However, there is much we can do to boost our health, and remain positive and hopeful.
     Let's explore a 3-pronged approach: Body, Mind, and Spirit.

     First - our Bodies. Consuming foods that boost immunity and create an anti-inflammatory environment are vitally important to not only fend off viruses and other creepy crawlers, but assist in healing when affected with those dastardly visitors!
     Those healing foods are first and foremost our Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Seeds and Nuts. Basically, plant based nutrition - Fruits, Veggies, Legumes, Grains, Seed and Nuts! They're a winning combination.
     Important to fill our bodies with dark, leafy greens, high fiber foods, and avoid dairy, animal protein, and processed foods, all of which are inflammatory and factor in chronic disease formation.
     Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and feast on hibiscus tea - the tea known to boost immunity, so says our wonderful nutrition expert, Dr. Michael Greger,
     Exercise is a must. Keep the body moving. Our bones and joints will thank you. Important, as well, is resistant training. Lift weights at home.  Take a walk outside, and if that isn't possible, enjoy some of the fun videos that are available through the media - TV and YouTube. 

Our Mind and Spirit:
     Spring is a time of rebirth - flowers, blooming trees, green grass, birds singing in the early morning hours, and even welcoming the bunnies and chipmunks that have returned to the garden!!
     If we remain glued to news, and I admit I'm a big offender, it's important to also take time to step away and calm ourselves. Listening to the daily dose of negativity increases our sense of anxiety and nervousness which, in turn, increases stress hormones, thereby decreasing our body's immune defenses. Turn off the TV and media for a while.
   Instead, walk, meditate, pray, read, do yoga, Reiki, whatever is your usual mind/spirit practice. We need to arm ourselves so the daily drone of negativity will remain at arm's length. It's important to hear the FACTS and know what's happening in our nation and world, but important, as well, to engage in those practices which generate hope, peace, and faith!
     Many Church communities are offering online services. My own community on Cape Cod has initiated such contact, and it's refreshing to chat and check in with community friends. Those connections are immune boosters!
     And in spite of the social/physical distancing we all must adhere to, isn't it gift to have so many technological choices in which to stay connected?! Facebook, Facetime, Instagram, YouTube, iPhone, etc. Chatting  with family and friends each day affords a sense of normalcy and connection. We all need that. And sometimes we all need a listening ear. Some feel it's a sign of weakness to ask for help, but the reality is that it's a sign of strength.
     Stay strong, friends and family. This will pass. And, God-willing, we will learn from this experience and emerge on the other side as a nation and peoples filled with more compassion, empathy, and kindness!


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Food for Life Class at Cancer Alliance of Naples

"How Foods Fight Disease and Create an Inner Terrain for Health, Wellness & Healing"

March 5th, 2020 from 5 - 7 pm
At: Cancer Alliance of Naples, 3384 Woods Edge Circle, #102

Class is FREE to the Public and will be limited to 23 participants.

Class includes education (researched based science), cooking demonstrations, and enjoying all prepared foods.
Instructor, Joanne Irwin, M.Ed. is a certified Plant Based Educator with PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), Dr. Colin Campbell's eCornell certification, and with the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP). Joanne has been teaching plant based classes since 2008.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October 2016 Newsletter

New Newsletter Format

      Over the past few years, my monthly newsletters have been sent to online subscribers and many who've participated in both my Food for Life and private cooking classes for health and wellness. Writing those newsletters has been a complete joy! However, change is on the horizon!

     All of us receive too many emails. That's a common complaint. Having to redo my website this summer, I decided to use the new site as a vehicle for disseminating info that would usually be posted in a newsletter. My mantra - simplify and reduce duplication!

    Health information, recipes, classes, events, all in one place - on my new site.

    The Blog site on my Navigation bar will be used to post additional info and, over time, videos and cooking demos. 

    Any suggestions and feedback are most welcome.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Monthly Green Noshes - Lifestyle Support

    For those of us who embrace the plant based lifestyle, support is a necessity. Class participants continually question, "My friends think I've lost it. What do you do when you go out to eat? When you're invited to friends' houses for dinner, how do you tell them that you don't eat meat and dairy? Should I bring my own food? And worst of all, my husband/partner/wife refuses to eat this way! What do I do???"
     These are a few of the questions that continually arise from folks who commit to eating their way to health and wholeness. We meet monthly, not only to share dishes, exchange recipes, and learn more from the experts on nutrition and health, but to offer support, listen, and applaud one another's achievements. Even though the paradigm shift to plant based foods is occurring across the country and world, it is a very slow shift. We're still among the 1% of the population.
     When you go to a party where pulled pork, bacon, and greens are killed and drenched in ham hocks, and you walk in with your black bean, mango and quinoa salad, you stand out. The question is, 'Can you handle standing out and being different?' Truth is, me, you, we..... are the only ones who will be safeguarding our health, our bodies, our souls. No one can do it for us. 
     So, if you can't locate a meet-up group in your area, then think of starting one. You might start out small in number, but group size isn't important. It's the support and commitment that matter.
      After our monthly Noshes on Cape Cod, someone will come up to me to comment on how much the group support means to them. They need the enthusiasm, and, at times, a much needed boost to remind them why we eat this way, and that they're not alone.
     I'm continually energized by the people who participate in our monthly gatherings. Hearing their health successes and creative recipe ideas fuels my passion and commitment to spreading the information, and inviting people to embrace this lifestyle - the way to health and wellness.
     Our next Nosh will be on Monday, December 17th at my home on the Cape. We're going to have a "SOUP NOSH", and folks will be bringing different soups for us to enjoy. Looking forward to those warm, cozy tastes on a cold, December Cape Cod Monday.
    If you'd like to participate, email me:

     Here are some photos from our 2012 Green Nosh Season on Cape Cod:

Healthy Fruits, Veggies, Grains and Legumes. That's the recipe to health.
Enjoying one another's tasty, healthy creations.
Sharing the journey....listening, supporting and encouraging!
Time to feast!
Having fun explaining their creations!
Indulging in good food!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Check out Cookbook Author, Robin Robertson

    Robin Robertson is an acclaimed vegan cookbook author. I love her books and recipes - healthy, hearty and creative. My collection, to date, includes: "Party Vegan", "Vegan Planet", and "The Vegetarian Meat & Potato Cookbook". Each is fabulous! 
    I just received an email where Robin announced a cookbook giveaway for her cyberspace followers. Check out the link below to get the details. 
    To my friends and followers - Have a Safe, Fun and Fabulous Memorial Day weekend. And may we create Peace on Earth!